Tours through Bali

Trip Start Jun 29, 2006
Trip End Feb 05, 2006

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Hi everyone!
We have lost track of time, here in Bali. Can you believe we have been here for 35 days now?! Tomorrow we take off to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for the next leg of our trip.

Where did we leave off, Ubud. We spent a wonderful week there. After leaving Ubud we took transport to Sanur, a southern costal town with a big ex-pat Aussie population. We found a great pub, Lazer Bar, to watch soccer and rugby matches. They had darn good burgers and plenty of western treats that we haven't had for awhile. Their happy hour left us feeling very "happy" for a fraction of the price! The next morning we took a Perama boat to Nusa Lembongan.

While this island was not as pristine as the Gili islands we found some great beaches to relax on. We only planned on staying a couple nights, but we ended up there for about a week. Mushroom bay is the main attraction on this island, but the best piece of beach, in my opinion, was a white sand cove located just north of Mushy bay. For some reason it remained quite secluded, with the odd nude sunbather. It was about a half hour walk from No.7 and we spent everyday sunbathing and swimming. This place was not too good for swimming as it was shallow with sharp coral. Boy did we get tan and a little burned. The days were very hot, but to our surprise the water was much cooler here than elsewhere. It felt like san diego in the summer, about 72F.

We stayed our first night in the not so nice Pura Indah (the island was pretty full on arrival). The bathroom sink leaked and left a puddle of standing water, not to mention screen less windows and paper thin walls (like rattan material walls). The next morning to the disappointment of the old lady proprietor we moved to Bungalow No.7. This place was recommended by Evan and was much nicer on the second, third, and following nights of our stay. The first night we got stuck in their worst room in the noisiest section of the hotel. Simon had a hard time adjusting to the potent chemical ball smell, that nearly knocked him over upon entry. Mercifully, a room opened up the next morning that was in the much newer, quieter and better smelling location. It was a popular place filled with many Aussie, Kiwi, and Brazilian surfers and body boarders. The Brazilians were a party all by themselves. They liked to bring their samba music and guitars with them to dinner. They were quite entertaining.

We departed on the public boat. It was low tide so we had to walk out over the sharp reef to board. This was very different from our tourist boat and their private dingy. While there were a few travellers like us, there were mainly locals on board. En route to boarding Simon walked barefoot carrying all his luggage and ended up with a sharp piece of rock lodged in his foot. After much picking Sarah was able to dislodge it. He only bled a little. The ride was quite bumpy, even a local woman holding her toddler began to discreetfully vomit. We didn't use our seasickness medicine because it was only an hour ride. We almost lost our breakfast that morning.

We stayed in Sanur one more night to get our landlegs back and then we moved back to Kuta. This is the best place to shop. We shopped till we dropped! If you want surf t-shirts and shorts and jewelry and anything you can imagine, Kuta is the place to find it and for cheap. They give you a good morning price, afternoon price, and good luck price.

After a few days on the beach in Kuta we signed up for a full day tour throughout Bali with Perama, the nature and culture tour. While we only paid for the shared tour, nobody else signed up so we ended up with a private driver and van. All the pics of temples and rice paddies are from this day trip. We started with an hour drive to Tanah Lot. On the way we got to know our driver. He filled us in on Indonesia's "Dark Period", which we knew little about until this time. He told us in his broken english about the history of the communist purges during the 1960's. He said very few people acknowledge these events. He claimed upwards of ten million alleged communists and related family (communist or not) were massacred and buried in mass graves. What a day trip we signed up for. We arrived at Tanah Lot shortly following this lecture.

Tanah Lot was amazing. It is a temple built on a volcanic base that sticks boldly out into the crashing ocean. This very dramatic temple is one of the most famous and photographed in Bali. Luckily, we got plenty of photos together (don't worry mom:)) After spending some time exploring this temple, more specifically the area around the temple since only bonified Hindus are permitted to climb the steps and worship inside, we travelled on to the central mountain area of Bali.

This was the "Nature" portion. There was beautiful scenery everywhere, and the climate was more comfortable. After about another hour of driving we arrived at Jati lewi. This was essentially an excellent viewpoint overlooking the nicest rice paddi valley we had seen yet. We then drove another hour to a little restaurant with a spectacular view of mountain valleys. Mysteriously our driver disappeared before we could invite him to lunch with us. Upon returning to the car we found him asleep in the front seat. He then told us he was fasting for Ramahdan, he's Muslim. They cannot eat or drink water from dusk to dawn for a whole month. When we asked him if this made him sleepy, he denied it. To us he seemed tired from the get go. Our next stop was a majestic waterfall, where we stumbled on some tourists taking a nap without their pants. That was a quick stop. We then winded back down through the lake region.

We arrived at Lake Bratu where we saw another famous temple perched over the lake. This was an important temple to the farmers who worship the goddess of water that ensured a good harvest. One part of the temple was interesting because it was surrounded by statues of giant toads. Our guide informed us that this was because during it's construction a priest found a very very large toad. since this was so unusual they dedicated the toad as the protector of the temple and released it upon opening. We then began our trek back, stopping at another garden temple (where women are not allowed to enter if they are menstruating) with great views. It had a tower which we climbed for some great photos.

After about 5 days in Kuta we decided to move north a couple kilometers to Seminyak. We found a great little place to stay: Su's Cottages II. It is by far the most comfortable accommodations thus far. Luckily, finding this place came just in time because I fell ill with a mild stomach bug. Simon was able to rent a DVD player and buy some pirated dvds to pass the time. Yesterday, It was a mad dash to finish up our (Sarahs') shopping. However, Simon spoiled himself by ordering a hand tailored leather jacket. It is beautiful. Much Jealous of Simon's purchase Sarah had to have one to. Tomorrow before we fly out we will ship it all home. Tomorrow we leave for Kuala Lumpur. It's goodbye to Bali. We have become so comfortable here. We will update you all from Malaysia. We hope this posting finds you well. We miss everyone:)
-Sarah and Simon
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