The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - In Bali, and more
Trip Start Nov 15, 2012
25Trip End Jul 10, 2013
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Speaking of welcoming. Bali has, by far, the most peaceful and friendly people we have ever met. They are always smiling, ready to help with anything and wanting to chat away about family and life in other parts of the world. What you do is of little importance to them - they are all about family and friendships. It's wonderful!
We have discovered that breakfast takes at least two hours. Every morning we sit down to partake in delicious fresh fruit, pancakes, bacon,eggs etc, and before we know it somebody, whether it be a waiter/ress, the manager, the owner, a guest, an ex-pat, will have come along, grabbed a chair at our table,and proceeded to engage us in a two hour conversation about whatever it is that's on their mind that morning. It's beautiful!
All the staff know our names, what we drink, how we like our coffee, what our preferred selection is for breakfast, and they knew this within the first two days. They are extremely proud of their island and all want to take us to their villages to meet their families and have lunch, dinner etc - insert here: "round two tummy issues" It's amazing!
With being on a rather strict budget, after SA & Hong Kong being SO DAMN EXPENSIVE!! We have taken to eating and/or drinking in our little bungalow, with a meal at a restaurant only once a week. Although we have already been known on two occasions to find ourselves sat up at the pool bar chatting away to some ex-pats and locals and being coaxed into going out for a bit of Gangam(sp)?style dancing for the night, only to find ourselves crawling in around 1:30am having spent the next days budget - oops. - insert here: " arriving home in 3 months due to budget being spent too quickly"! Ah but it's so worth it and ya only live once right. And anyway, if the Mayans have anything to do with it, the world is ending in T minus 7 days so we may as well live it up while we can.
I have promised to Chris not to mention on our blog that both nights out were spent in the GAY district, living it up with trannies, so I won't mention anything if you don't ok!
Apart from all the eating and drinking, because this is NOT the reason we came all this way for, we have spent a few days by the hotel pool soaking up the sunshine. We have taken some lovely walks along the beach and some long walks around the areas of Seminyak and Kuta. We have been caught in a downpour of significance and soaked through to the bone, but warm rain and the pure exhilarating experience kept us laughing. We have happened upon the most amazing beachfront bars and hotels - Potato Head being one and pictures to follow when we are in a country with decent enough wifi to upload them all. We have had the most divine massages : foot, head, back etc - oh my greatness these Balinese people were born to heal!
My dream of buying, buying, buying when we got to Bali, was quickly stomped on by the fact that it is in fact a lot more expensive here (particularly in Seminyak) than we originally thought. So mama, you won't be receiving a package from Bali of all the things I have purchased. However, saying that, I have promised myself a trip back here one day in the not too distant future, to shop, and shop only because the material, clothes and ornaments are too beautiful. Anybody fancy a trip in a year or so?
We have also just recently, yesterday in fact, been on a 10 hour adventure all the way up to the north of the island, to a place called Lovina. The hotel has a wonderful driver called Made who you can book for a day to take you around and show you places and sites. There are loads of other tour companies that do it it but for more money and you really don't get the same traditional Balinese experience.
We left at 4am yesterday morning and made our way north. Of course, it was still dark and I think both Chris and I wish it had stayed dark for a little longer as the journey there is somewhat treacherous - I thought Hong Kong bus to the Big Buddha was bad, hahaha it's nothing compared to this. Bali, being a very third world country, has built what they term "roads" all around the island. However, these roads are chaotic, there are no stop signs, very few traffic lights expect in the capital Denpasar, and pretty much anything goes. Trucks, motorcycles, mopeds, cars, monkeys, dogs etc etc. We had to trek through mountains for about 2hours and it was crazy! Road rules - WHATEVER! Don't overtake on a solid white line because you are going around a very bendy corner - WHATEVER! Their belief in reincarnation goes to a different level here! Saying this, our driver, Made, was an excellent driver and we were very thankful and grateful to him for being so!
Anyway, we headed up North to Lovina and the ungodly hour of waking up was due to the fact that if you get there in time (which we dually did) you get to head out on the boats and watch the dolphins frolicking around n the sea for an hour or two. WOW, this may have been my single most beautiful nature moment yet! It was incredible. There were around 50 boats out on the water, engines off, all floating about waiting for the moment you see a dolphin or 20 popping its head out the water. As soon as you or one of the other boats sees this, they all race off in the direction in order to catch them while they are still jumping about. Our very clever boat driver decided that perhaps this wasn't the best tactic and so instead took to chilling out where the last spotting had been in the hopes of spotting more, which we did & loads of them. We took some videos which we will upload to facebook etc but please bare in mind they are very much home video quality ;-)
After the dolphin watching, we went for a delicious breakfast on the beach and then made our way to the biggest Buddha Temple in Bali. It is quite amazing, Bali is a mainly Hindu (70% odd), but it's different to the Hinduism in India, and they work alongside the Buddhists (about 15%), so in the Buddhist temples there is always a shrine for the Hindus too, so cool. The temple was old, not sure how old as the Balinese are not great on their information giving at these tourist spots. We walked to the top and it had the most stunning views of Lovina Beach and the rice fields around Bali.
Then it was on to the Hot Springs, again information not in existence, but quite an experience. Nestled in the middle of the mountains, greenish murky water, from the sulphur only, and plenty of people heckling us along the path to the springs. Before I forget to mention it later, Bali = heckling constantly, although I think on a far less "in your face" way than a lot of countries. They try, you say no thanks, they try again, you say no again and then they usually leave you alone. Even the taxi drivers and motorcycle drivers (also a mode of public transport) hoot at your constantly whilst walking along the road. Whilst we are at the hot springs Made, our driver, decided to have a wee kip in the back of the car - fair play to him, he'd only had three hours sleep!
We made our way then to one of the main waterfalls, Manduk, having to take a detour along the way due to the main road being closed due to a cremation ceremony. This is a well known and accepted fact of life in Bali. At any given time on any given day a road or five will close due to whatever ceremony is taking place, whether a cremation or a national day such as the day of the goose which happened last week. Anyway, once at the waterfall, and after having to climb down a 500m walkway to it, we were met with a beautiful site. This was Chris's favourite part of our day!
500m back up the walkway and a promise to ourselves to do a hundred more hikes before Inca Trail in May, we were back in the car and the rain stated coming...and didn't stop!
We had a brief stop at a well known site called The Twin Lakes, on the way back, but unfortunately the fog was so bad that we couldn't see much - a pity because the pictures of it look incredible.
And so, back to our hotel, to sleep, perchance to dream, perchance to be woken up at about 4:30am with the sound of the rain till pumping, the thunder roaring and the frogs going ballistic - oh and a few crabs scuttling around our room lol.
By 5:45am, the place was flooded - bungalows were having to be evacuated and our bungalow was slowly starting to fill up too. Luckily, we woke up in time and managed to get everything I top of the bed, as well as the mini bar onto the table. Management were wading in it up to their waists but we have to admit they do a phenomenal job in cleaning it all up and getting all the water pumped back out of the hotel and into the river. The rain eventually ceased around 9am and the sun came out. All was back to normal, or close to, by 2pm. So not the end of the world then, and in fact quite something to witness and experience - mother nurture not too be messed with!
Today has been spent very much chilling. We were meant to head up to Ubud, with Made, but due to the storms we couldn't get up there so that's for another day, sometime in the next 3.5 weeks that we still have on this wonderous and magical island.
And now, the bar calls, there is a live band and our new friends are awaiting our presence, until the next entry...