A wicked weekend riding the waves (or not)

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Where I stayed
The Island Hotel (again)

Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Friday, May 6, 2011

I sat eagerly awaiting Henry's arrival in the bar back at the Island Hotel, and it was a beautiful reunion if I ever did see one. We decided to take a walk to grab some lunch, where Henry decided he liked my food better than his. We caught up on each other's lives and it was so nice to be with someone who knows all my friends back home as I'd really missed that whilst travelling. We had some "made up" fun (I was definitely having fun playing the artificial windpipes) and then headed to Joe's hotel. Joe (Henry's friend he worked with in Jakarta) was staying in a swanky hotel with his Mum living the high life while us paupers could only afford a hostel (to be honest though, the hostel we stayed at was amazing). The walk along the beach to Joe's hotel was a bit of an adventure and Henry insisted on talking to every seller he could find along the way so about two hours later we arrived at Joe's hotel with Henry wearing a rather fetching pair of "Ray-Ban" sunglasses with polarized lenses he had purchased from Norman. The W Hotel, if a little hard to find, was absolutely spectacular and although we techinically weren't allowed to go in the pool, me and Henry of course took advantage of it's facilities. A couple of hours later, we decided to scoot on back to the Island, we started walking but the weather was getting worse and worse and a storm was definitely coming (I had a headache, you know my storm-sensing abilities haha!!).

A taxi ride later we were back at the hostel and it started to pour down with rain, torrential rain and loud thunder. Luckily, Senny (my favourite Balinese staff member) gave us a book with every restaurant in Bali you could order from. After a long decision process ("ok, let's get that one as long as it's with ... almonds" same time me shouting: "walnuts") pizza was on the menu. A few people then decided to go out, me and Henners umm-ed and ahh-ed and as with most of our decision making we took a long time and by the time we had chosen to go out, the others had already left. The weather was crazy so we took a cab into Kuta to an interesting bar which had a live band (English songs sung with Indonesian accents), fire cocktail flaring and bizarrely, a fashion show. We then went back to the hostel around midnight to meet Hugo, Henry's friend who he worked with in London who now lives in Singapore.

The next day, the boys decided they wanted to learn how to surf. Of course, I offered my expert advice because I was definitely a pro after my one lesson in Sydney. The boys decided not to take my advice and found a local to give them a 5 minute lesson. So I relaxed on the beach whilst the guys hit the waves, I was their surfing photographer as they all wanted a photo of them standing on the board. It wasn't until the afternoon that I was able to achieve the shots they wanted, although Henry was quite a natural on the board. Hugo, on the other hand, was not. Surfer Joe, as he is now nicknamed, took a nasty injury as Henry whacked him in the face with his board, but he soldiered on in the face of Henry's brutality. My favourite photo of the trip is definitely one of Joe and Henry paddling out with Hugo stuck behind, legs in the air even though there were no waves, excellent. A long day surfing (well, a long day relaxing on the beach for me), and a lot of chest scrapes we were ready to hit home. We got back, swam in the pool for a while and chatted to fellow hostelers, went to a cheap restaurant for dinner with Nina (a girl from Bham) and Aaron - who happened to know a couple of guys I went to uni with and then got ready to go out.

We had a few drinks on the roof and then hit Apache, a reggae bar. I was in my element, Bob and Toots were blasting, the drinks were flowing (if you order vodka, you get rum), and I was rocking out some right old dance moves on the floor. Unfortunately, it was a sweat box so the others decided it was time to leave. We then went to Bounty which was also very sweaty and finally headed to Sky Garden where we met up with the others from the hostel. The night was a blast, the dance moves were top notch, and we even spent some time re-enacting a music video. 4am, back to the hostel and a little skinny-dipping for good measures - "you're not coming in unless you're naked", a very civilised affair with 8 nudes casually chatting in the pool until we got told to get out, finally hit the sack at 5am.

The next day, super organised Joe had booked us a taxi to go to Ubud at 10am. Hugo's response of  "F off" when Henry asked him if he wanted to go meant that Joe's plans of the day did not go ahead and we spent the day nursing our hangovers with a trip to the beach again. The waves were gigantic, but Henners rode them like a bad ass, whilst Hugo (probably for the best) sat this one out. Had an encounter with an ice cream man who was so lovely that I paid well over the odds for a magnum which I ended up dropping most of anyway. That evening, we went for dinner with everyone from the hostel and got absolutely drenched by the downpour on the way, so we sat in a pretty swish restaurant all looking like drowned rats. The boys went to watch Arsenal while I went back to the Island and we stayed up chatting for a while. It has to be said, that I met some really great people while I stayed at that hostel (both times).

The next day we booked my driver Wayan to take us to Uluwatu- "it really humbles you"- temple, which is on a cliff. The car journey was pretty hilarious with us conference calling each other, riding the banter-bus and the boys being pretty lary. We had to put on some rather fetching purple skirts when we arrived (the boys really pulled them off), we walked around the temple grounds, saw some monkeys playing in a pool, sweltered in the sun and saw some kung fu-esque fighting with knives. We then drove the distance to a place we could get to Turtle Island. Being the big turtle fan I am, resembling one rather closely, I was super excited to hit this up. Joe and Henry bought some hideous Bintang vests, which Henry insisted on wearing therefore making himself look like a typical Aussie tourist in Bali. We bartered with the boat guy and rode a glass bottom boat to the island, Henry even got the chance to sail the ship. When we arrived a loud-mouthed local, who was the spitting image of Mr Motivator, named John started welcoming us to the island, in the same way I imagine you get welcomed to Jamaica. He then proceeded to drag this poor turtle out of it's cage so that you could sit on it and take a photo with it. I absolutely hated this place. There were bats/eagles/komodo dragons/ in cages and turtles in tiny baskets desperate to get out. This was not what I had imagined when I said I wanted to go to Turtle Island. Joe exclaimed that he loved the place (just to piss me off I think), Henry said he really liked it, Hugo sat on the fence and I detested it 100%. I could not get off there fast enough. We drove back to Legian, where I spent most of it grumbling about how ethically wrong the island was.

We had lunch in a local place just round the corner from the hostel. Again, Henry decided he liked my food much more than his own. I ordered banana pancakes for pudding and oh my god, they were EPIC! I have never tasted anything so delicious in my life. I have been back several times since and recommended them to everyone I met in Bali. Hugo went to the airport to catch his flight and Henry and I and some others from the hostel hit the pancake place again for dinner - everybody who ate the pancakes had to give me 3 adjectives to describe them (God, I am such an English teacher!). It was then time for Henners to leave, it was a really sad goodbye as I had an amazing time with him and Joe and Hugo. It had been a laugh a minute - so much so that I have been renamed Laugh-a-minute-Laura (I think I might have created that name for myself). It was so great to have a close friend from home to spend time with and I have so many awesome memories from that weekend. Good times guys, good times!
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