After our night boat and plane journey you would have hoped the next bit would have been an easy journey, however unfortunately not! When we arrived in Bali we were greeted by two things – ripoff airport taxis and uninsured dodgy taxis. This was the time we realised our public transport usage was not over. Luckily I had done a bit of research and the best way out of the airport was to head up to arrivals and grab a local taxi to the bus stop when it drops someone off. ‘Bluebirds‘ taxis are said to be the only safe and local taxi company so this is what we did.
Once we got our taxi to the local bus station it was pretty straight forward, we hoped onto the ‘Kura Kura‘ “public” (pretty certain they are a private company) bus and headed to Ubud. After around 40 hours of travel we arrived at our hotel – it was exhausting but at least we learnt about the taxis and the local transport.
The next few days were exploring Ubud, we didn’t want to do too much touristy stuff as Robert (my brother) is joining us and we want to save that for him. We spent quite a bit of time walking around, swimming in the pool, testing Duncan’s new camera lens, and sitting in coffee shops planning the next stages of our journey. One evening we did take the night off and went to the local ‘cinema’ – we ended up watching a documentary called Tickled about a man with a tickling fetish. It was a pretty strange experience but I got a free glass of wine and we actual sat on a sofa. (You don’t realise what you miss till you are away for a few months, turns out a sofa is one of them.)
On our last day in Ubud we joined Bali Breeze Tours and completed a downhill cycle down near Mount Batur. As I wasn’t able to do the hike up we thought this was the next best thing. The tour was actually really fun, despite the weather pouring it down for most of the day!
Our journey started with us driving up the hill and stopping at both the Tegallalang Rice Terraces and the local tea and coffee farm. After a tour of the beans we tasted 16 different types of tea and coffee, Duncan and I even paid a little extra and tried Kopi luwak coffee (yes, the bean that the luwak digest first). It wasn’t the best coffee we’ve had, Hoi An still hold that title, but quite nice and better than Starbucks! We then had a pancake brunch facing Mount Batur and completed a 3-ish hour cycle ride downhill through villages, temples and more rice paddies. It was stunning and a lot of fast paced downhill cycle fun.
The young children of Bali Breeze Tours also performed traditional Balinese dancing for us during lunch – they were so cute and obviously very excited to perform.
Our next few luxurious days were spent on the Gili Air Island of the famous Gili Islands, Lombok. Our journey to Gili Air was wonderful as we ended up doing quite a bit of research into who to travel with. We originally booked through our hotel, assuming they would be the best source, however after doing a bit of research to find our return time we discovered the company (Semaya One) had 400+ one star reviews saying to avoid. While we did end up paying double price to get to Gili Air (Gili Getaways) the peace of mind was worth it.
Our trip on the boat lasted 2 hours and Duncan and I sat on the top of the boat sunbathing. We lasted all of 10 minutes before topping up our suncream and I had already burnt (first time of the whole trip!) When we eventually reached the island we did get caught in a little rain but by the time we settled in our hotel room it had stopped and we went for a snorkel.
Ofcourse the next few days were spent snorkelling as you could snorkel right off the beach. We did so much snorkelling that we ended up purchasing our own masks and snorkels. I also tested using fins in the water – it’s so much easier that I ended up in the deep end of the ocean and swimming around so fast that Duncan couldn’t keep up. Ooops. Anyone who isn’t a strong swimmer I highly recommend trying fins!
We did try to cycle around the island, however with it being mostly sand and our bikes being dodgy we gave up after ten minutes, returned the bikes and walked instead. The island was typical SE Asia, one side is beautiful and touristy and the next side is full of rubbish. However, it was clear to see that the island is preparing to become busier as a number of complexs are being built, it’s understandable but a shame the island will lose it’s deserted island feel.
Of course, knowing Duncan and I you know that we have never had a peaceful holiday, therefore we decided to try something we had never done before ‘Subwing-ing‘ ‘when was the last time you tried something for the first time?’ Subwing-ing is literally holding onto a board and being dragged by a boat – it’s snorkelling for lazy people. However for the more confident swimmers (Duncan!) you can go under the water and spin or dive deep. It was brilliant fun and we both saw giant turtles as big as a dining room table, plus I am also 90% certain that I did see a shark!
Unfortunately a few days before this our waterproof camera broke so we don’t have a video or good pictures of us doing it.
Our final few evenings on Gili were spent having dinner and cocktails on the beach, and we even managed to catch the sunset. It was a truly wonderful experience and recommend anyone close to this area to add Gili to the list!
The next few days, and the next week to come have/will been spent in Legian. Duncan had unfortunately come down with a cold (how?!) so we haven’t really been doing too much. We spent the first day most walking around the city markets and wondered to the ‘Beachwalk Shopping Centre’. It was a bit strange being back in ‘western’ shops such as H&M and being surrounded by western prices. Duncan and I have spent the last few months paying £2 for a pair of shorts to be greeted in H&M by the almost the same shorts for £20! We now understand how you can have the reverse culture shock.
We did treat ourselves to seeing ‘Doctor Strange’ at the cinema and purchased ‘VIP’ tickets for 100,000 IDR (£6) each. While we did have leather electric reclining seats and a blanket, we were made to stand in the ‘VIP’ queue while the ‘standard’ queues were empty, rather frustrating. Can’t complain though as we did have a waiter bring us our order.
Alongside this, I decided to brave a haircut, I decided it was a bucket list item to be ticked, and also an ‘expensive’ hairdressers in SE Asia will probably be better than a cheap Aussie cut! I paid a whole £23 and had a luxury haircut – what do you think?
Finally as mentioned, we have had another one join us for the next week and we are ready for an action packed week. Just getting him prepared with a few snorkelling lessons…