We left Perth and had the awful 3am-7am flight. Mel slept the whole way with the aid of the film flushed away – Stu didn’t even wake her for salmon pasta!
We had arranged a 4 day dive tour with Aqua marine bali. They were fantastic – very organised, paitent, picked us up from the airport and took us to our hotel. (Paul def book your diving through them!)
So we arrived at the Grand Kumula in semilyak. We spent the afternoon shopping in Kuta – where we almost did buy a kitchen sink to add to the 6 bags we are carrying around. Thank goodness Stu’s parents arrive so we can ship some things home! We had octopus salad for dinner on Kuta beach and watched the sunset. Our most expensive meal in bali at 3 pounds per person! Beers a a quid for a large bintang!
Early start with no breakfast took us to Padangbai – we enjoyed driving through villages, past rice paddies, past police officer training, markets, chickens in baskets and a cremation ceremony. It was lovely to see the real bali.
The diving at Padangbai is super. Not beautiful bright coral but excellent variety and diversity in one place – we saw so much. Which Mel loved as she took 600 photos over 3 days with her new underwater camera – I am sure you are al looking forward to that slide show! Mel also got attacked by a titan trigger fish who was rather protective of her nest! She panicked less than the divemaster when it happened to him on the next dive.
The boat was beautiful and we had 4 staff for the 2 of us – someone even put my fins on for me! Our packed lunch was nasi goreng served beautifully on a palm leaf.
We headed to Tulumban – the divers retreat. There is NOTHING here except for diving. We stayed at Paradise bungalows but the one next door (mimpi/trench?) looked better and had a pool! We had an amazing dive at 7am on the Liberty Wreck. We then did another couple of good dives in the afternoon – stu found a cuttle fish (by mistake) which made him jump! Then dived back on the wreck at 7pm for our first night dive. It was amazing – the fish are so sleepy you can go right up to them. We also saw 6 huge 2-3m bump headed parrot fish. Definite MUST to stay atleast one night to be able to do the early dive and night dive on the wreck.
That evening we ate in the Indiana Jones restaurant – so called because Stu chose it purely because it looked like the temple from temple of doom. However the food there was super and super cheap so we ate there the next night too!
After a long drive and uncomfortable boat trip we arrived at Menjangan Island. The diving here was not as good and the currents were strong so it was dificult to take any photos or even stay together. However we made friends with lots of bat fish. We then had another 3 hour drive back to Ubud – we couldn’t go the shorter way because it meant going over a mountain and we couldn’t go high as we had been diving! In our opinion it was not worth the 6 hours drive to do diving there!
We stayed in Ubud for 2 nights at the Graha resort as Emily recommended it above Kuta. Despite being very luxurious it is set back from the road so our drivers had to do three loops of town before we found it. We loved it here, had a brief explore of our surroundings on our arrival night (everything was closing up at 10) and then rose for an Indonesian breakfast of rice and noodles! We set off, determined to walk the 20 minutes to the Monkey Forest despite many repeated offers of a taxi. The park was amazing, hundreds of monkeys with babies thronged around us, but we didn’t keep hold of our bananas very long! There were also temples to explore – all for an entry fee of 50p each!
We walked up the other side of town checking out shops and then went in the huge Ubud market, where our bargaining skills were put to their greatest test when one stall keeper refused to let mel go until she had purchased something! In the end we got 3 sarongs for 5 pounds – so thought we’d done fairly well!
Had a very cheap chinese for lunch, and then headed back across town for the fire dance show which was amazing – although the hindu epic tale told at the start with dragons and monkey kings was a little bit confusing! The music was provided soleley by a male choir of 100, which was very impressive. The evening concluded with a strange donkey man kicking smouldering coconut husks at a very shocked audience! We had dinner in a nice little restaurant, Stu had Tuna curry but unfortunately they had run out of fried frog to Mel’s disappointment!
This morning we filled the time until our pick up with a cookery course – which has left us very full but very knowledgable of Balinese cooking methods – although less sure of where we will get any of the ingredients in the UK! We enjoyed the curried prawns, Nasi Goreng and black rice pudding the most!
Stu’s family should now be in the country with us, we just have to find them!
Lots of love from the country where they sell giant penis sculptures (Cassy would you like one to go with your penis straw?)
Mel and Stu x