Bali, Bali, Bali!!!!
Trip Start Mar 01, 2009
23Trip End Dec 21, 2009
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Where I stayed
Bali is simply out of this world! I arrived a week ago today (Thursday) and just want to live here forever. It’s stunningly beautiful, the people are wonderfully friendly, it’s outrageous fun and I’ve never seen waves like them!
Met that Scottish guy on the bus on the way to the airport which was reassuring as I knew I wasn’t the only mad one heading out to Bali with no more than a flight booked. I had been tempted to book accommodation the day before but then it all became a little confusing and difficult and I reckoned where was the sense of adventure if I had prebooked accommodation and transport! Arriving into Denpasar airport at 9pm with no idea about anything was a far more exciting prospect. A friend from Melbourne had sent me a whole load of useful info about arriving into Bali so I reckoned with that I was pretty alright
Got through the airport as did the Scottish guy despite the immigration issues which encouraged a sense of travel with the twinkly Asian music and Balinese art and architecture everywhere to be seen. Bags came through and we went to queue for a taxi. While in the taxi queue we were approached by two young Aussie’s who were also heading to Kuta and interested in sharing a taxi. I’m still travelling with them now - over a week later! Sarah and Stephen have turned out to be two of the nicest people I’ve met travelling! So the four of us headed to Kuta - without doubt the most touristy part of Bali in search of a hotel. In the first 3 days we stayed in 3 different hotels until we finally found one that suited both budget and taste. Bali really is a country where you get what you pay for. We settled on a lovely place above a market and a 3 minute walk to the beach. It set us back a whole 5 pounds a night!
Our first day was a bit of a collapse in our new environment day! We found and sorted our accommodation, got a sense of the town and then bought half of it! It was ridiculous! Everything was so cheap and pretty and the second you looked at it it was impossible to resist! For example when we found the hotel above the markets I decided to have a poke around to see what I could find, after asking the price of a dress and then half heartedly haggling him down the little stall owner deemed the deal done
The following day was Sarah’s birthday so we all treated ourselves to a massage in her name, bought some more beautiful Balinese necessities, chilled out on the beach and in the evening went out for the best meal I have ever eaten in my life. We decided to treat ourselves and splash out on a fancy fish restaurant. Not out of necessity as the food here even meals for 75p are out of this world but just for fun. It was the sort of restaurant where all the seafood were in tanks and you went and picked out exactly which one you wanted. It all became a little confusing and so we left it in Disco’s capable hands. We ordered the biggest crab there was in an amazing Thai sauce, the most delicious prawns I have ever tasted that simply melted in your mouth, clams which were so good we were licking the sauce off the plate after and an entire barramundi in another unforgettable lemon sauce. It then got messy. We ditched the forks and opted for a hands only approach. It was the messiest meal as well as the tastiest meal I have ever eaten. There was sauce everywhere, crab shell all over the place but not a scrap of food to be found. It was simply indescribably good. My self and Sarah sampled a local wine which was interesting but drinkable but the meal made up for it a thousand times.
One effective way to freshen your self up in the morning I have discovered is to throw yourself into the biggest swell you’ve ever seen and attempt to surf it. I say attempt as a more accurate description might be to say the waves surfed me rather than I surfed them. Always room for improvement I like to think! After slight success with the waves in Peru I was looking forward to a little bit of a challenge with Bali but after haggling the lifeguards down to rent a couple of boards (hoping negotiations wouldn’t come back into it if I needed rescuing later!) I rather settled my self down in the sand and watched with amusement as the boys got tossed around like corks in a storm. With much contemplation I decided to eventually to gingerly venture to the sea, board under arm.
Getting out there was a mission in itself. I’d forgotten about the logic of waiting for the set to end and then paddling out to the break in my many surf free months and so I headed out guns blazing only to get absolutely hammered by the waves. I’d duck under one, get tossed about, resurface, get my bearings, give a couple of kicks end up where I had been before the wave, hold my breath and duck yet another imposing looking wave
Back in the water a while later and not too much improvement - took even longer to get out but my ducking of waves I feel improved a little - instead of getting washed back into shore I discovered if I swam along side my board, held onto it really tightly and dived right under the wave it was far more effective and lessen the drag of the wave quite considerably and therefore saved energy. Not so much success with the waves though. Although saying that I do quite like just lying on a board out past them in the calm, looking like I know what I’m doing! Disco joined me this time and we just chilled for a bit before heading back into the hammering that awaited us. Caught a few waves, actually managed to get flipped off my board at one point which was quite fun as I inhaled half of the Indian ocean in one go and then surfaced just in time to have a wave break on my head. I did however catch a sweet wave on my way back in but when I attempted to stand was just way too tired in that way that only the sea can make you. I collapsed back onto the beach and stayed there for quite some time whilst Stephen found more success body surfing. A fun but utterly exhausting experience all in all. Found a few more bruises later too.
Time for a spot of relaxation again
It was then suddenly Monday and Miriam was arriving at 2pm. So we all decided to hire scooters or scooterbikes as I like to call them and we set off on a little adventure to the very south of the island. It was an interesting start to the beginning of my scootering career. Mixed one might say. One minute I’m flying along, overtaking left right and centre and the next I’m scraping my self and my bike off the road. Except it wasn’t really that dramatic. We managed to get lost firstly and so stopped to ask directions. As we were pulling out of a little lay-by on the side of a lane I managed to get the turn all wrong. Sarah and Stephen had scootered off and I was waiting for Disco to go and so wasn’t really ready however the traffic had stopped and so Disco waved me on and said I could go. I misjudged the turn and instead of taking it slowly and steady I think I kept revving even as I braked and suddenly there was a wall in front of me, I turned too tight too fast and the next thing I was on the ground, bike and all
Back on the road again and turning right was a little scary for the first five minutes but I just took it easy and got back in the swing of things. We headed to the beach where I had a swim and cleaned and freshened up. It was a nice little beach on the south tip called Nusa Dua full of very expensive resorts where everyone was paying Aussie prices for everything so we left after a while and headed to the airport. It was at this point I realised I hadn’t taken the key out of my scooter when I’d left it at the end of the lane leading to the beach almost two hours previously. As I hurried back across the beach I began to come up with all sorts of different plans as to how to make enough money to buy a new bike for the guy and keep travelling but I knew it was useless. If the bike was gone it was not good news
So we headed to the airport in convoy. I was covered in sand and much more tanned than the last time I saw Miriam but still recognisable (despite the growing numbers of scratches and bruises) and it was so wonderful to see her almost a year on from the last time when I went to stay in Belfast. Introduced her to the others, handed her rucksack over to Disco and she climbed onto the back of my bike. Easy as! In my little world that’s a pretty good introduction to Asia! Got us both home without crashing which is always a bonus and then we started on the catching up. Were still working on it.
Luckily she got on with everyone really well and so our little group of wonderfulness continued to expand.
We headed up to a temple on the west coast the following day (Miriam with her own bike this time)
That evening we headed back to the markets for dinner but myself, Sarah and Miriam detoured via the supermarket to pick up a surprise cake! We than met the boys sitting outside a 7/11 equivalent on the beach front beers in hand. It doesn’t get better than that - shop priced beers watching the sunset on a wooden table outside the 7/11. Simply yet effective.
Disco was wonderfully chuffed with his cake and although we tried to embarrass him by starting to sing happy birthday whereupon the whole market joined in he just took it all in his stride and even stood up to take a bow after! With the plates licked we headed back to the 7/11 and Disco, Stephen and me kicked off a heated debate about the origins of the Maori people in NZ. It was only yesterday I proved Disco wrong by copying and pasting articles from Wikipedia into an email for him. Just to settle the debate 2 weeks later. We failed to convince him to not turn up to his three flight the following day and so he was the first to abandon the group as he headed to Thailand and so the group was down to four as we headed out of Kuta and embarked on another adventure up the east coast of Bali.