Love, Love, Love Indonesia

Trip Start Sep 16, 2012
Trip End Mar 03, 2013

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Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Saturday, November 17, 2012

After all our Bornean adventures we were ready to chill out for a bit and what better place than Bali, Indonesia to do just that! We found a lovely place to stay that was amazing value and had a swimming pool, I called it the 'honeymoon' part of our trip!

We stayed in a little surfing area called Uluwatu that had everything we needed for a chilled few days in the beautiful sunshine! We ended up staying for a week after having only checked in for 3 nights. We hired a scooter and explored the local area and beaches on a couple of the days. One evening we scooted up to the ancient Uluwatu temple at sunset and watched one a traditional dances, we were a bit sceptical but it was an amazing, captivating and very atmospheric show. The men that do the chanting for over an hour are amazing!

Alasdair hired a surf board and we zipped around different beaches on the scooter with the surfboard strapped to the side. I think it was the highlight of the trip for Alasdair so far :-) The beaches were stunning with azure blue sea and white sand. Most nights we would head to a little cafe overlooking the surf for the cheapest (and tastiest) meal in town, nasi goreng, washed down with a bintang beer or two!

Next stop was Ubud, the area known for its creative vibe with lots of cafes, arts and crafts, shopping and spas. Our taxi didn't know where our guesthouse was so we just jumped out and looked for it on foot. We arrived at what we thought was our guesthouse (thinking it looked too nice!) and found that it was the other side of the village, luckily the staff give us a lift on the back of their motorbikes - it was probably not the best idea with our backpacks, but we managed it without falling off! Our guesthouse was perfectly fine, if you didn't know it was there you would never have found it, we were practically staying inside a temple!

During our time in Ubud, we walked around the craft shops and markets, I indulged in a massage and reflexology session which was possibly the best value spa treatment you'll ever get! Pure bliss! We also had a couple of lovely meals out in town, the fish was divine and again such good value. On our last afternoon we visited the monkey forest which lived up to expectations a little more than we thought! They were very cheeky monkeys... If they thought you had anything interesting in your pocket they'd be after it. One literally climbed up my dress, sat on my shoulders and started chewing the beads on my wrist! Alasdair also had one that was after his sunglasses, that he had already hidden in his pocket. I'm glad we didn't buy any bananas as we'd have been mobbed!

From Ubud, we made our way back to Denpasar airport and took a short flight to Flores (labuanbajo) where we planned to take a trip to Komodo and Rinca. Flores airport is possibly the smallest airport (apart from the Masi Maria in Kenya) that I have been to. One man and his trolley took the bags off the plane and wheeled them up to the room that we were offloaded in to and you just went up to the counter and pointed at your bag, none of this carousel lark! We were just pleased to see that the bags had made it!

We stayed in a lovely small b&b at the top of town, our room had an amazing view over the bay and nearby island, plus the fresh banana and pineapple pancakes for breakfast were fantastic! Flores is a beautiful island and a bit more off the beaten track, however with the new airport in development and extra flights I'm sure it will be the new Bali in no time which will be sad in one way but great for the locals. In the afternoon, we wandered around labuanbajo and found ourselves a trip to visit the dragons of Komodo and Rinca and trekked back up the steep hill to our b&b in the heat just before the dark clouds covered us! There was a massive thunder and lightening storm passing through, we were unlucky enough for our room to get struck by lightening. I'd never heard or seen anything like it, there was an almighty bang, an arc of light across the patio and a shock through our feet and then the power went off! I immediately jumped on the bed (not sure if that's what one is meant to do but my theory was that it was insulation!) a little bit stunned we both put our rubber flip flops on and checked that we were safe. As the power was out, we decided to go and have a beer in the bar next door although they also had a power cut! One of the poor guys there had been struck by lightening, luckily he was ok and just had mild burns on his hands (he'd been on his mobile at the time). We enjoyed our beer and then walked to town to get some dinner, where they still had power!

We met our captain and fellow travellers (Michal from Poland and Sanne, Nilz & their 11month old girl, Runa from Germany) by the harbour gates the next morning and set off on our little boat. The crew were fantastic and supplied us with drinks and fresh fruit during our 4 hour sail to Rinca. When we arrived at Rinca, we were met by a park guide who took us on a 3 hour trek through the national park, looking for the famed dragons. It wasn't long before we saw dragons as they tend to hang around the camp, apparently the smell of food entices them in (they insist they don't feed them!). They are very Jurassic looking creatures...big teeth, big claws, beady eyes... Not something I'd like to get too close to that's for sure! One bite and you could be dead within hours! They have deadly bacteria in their saliva that kills their prey...they have been known to attack humans but their main diet is deer, water buffalo and other mammals. The terrain on Rinca was beautiful and as Sanne mentioned, a great location for a film. It looked like something you would see in a James Bond movie in places!

Next stop was Pink Beach for some Snorkelling, the beach was meant to be pink from all the red corals but it didn't look too pink to us. Maybe it was the wrong lighting when we visited. The snorkelling was great and we saw lots of beautiful fish and corals. When we got back on the boat our captain, Hussein asked us if we wanted to go and see some sharks, we of course said yes and nipped a few minutes around the corner before he pointed out sharks to us in the distance. We were shocked to find out that they were tiger sharks as we'd only been snorkelling around the corner! Tiger sharks are meant to be quite aggressive! As we got closer, we could see that these were no tiger sharks, Hussein had got his translation wrong and meant whale sharks. There were four, feeding on the plankton rich waters in the bay, we were so lucky to see them! Such beautiful and awe inspiring creatures, so graceful and gigantic at the same time. They swam right by the boat and we watched them for a good 30 minutes before leaving them be. The biggest whale shark was probably around 8 -10 meters. Just Brilliant!

After this we set off to the area where we would moor the boat for the night, just by a mangrove where flying foxes roosted. As the sun set we viewed as they giant bats rustled in the mangrove and set off in to the night to feed. Not bad really, the worlds only dragon, biggest fish and biggest bat all in one day! We felt very lucky to be where we were. The boat was small with only one little cabin, that Sanne, Nilz and Runa quite rightly slept in. Alasdair and I were lucky and had the best beds on the boat, on the deck under the nearly full moon and stars. Michal had a mattress on the deck floor and the crew slept in the driver cabin and on the roof! It was brilliant to hear the little flicks in the water and the rustle in the mangroves, lying there wondering what it could be (I'll try and forget the snoring from the crew, Michal and Alasdair!) it was a magical experience, minus the snoring :-)!

The next morning we were up with the sun and Hussein made us a great breakfast before we set off for Komodo for another chance at seeing the dragons. Again, not far from the camp there were a lot of dragons and also a lot of deer. The deer got unbelievably close to the dragons, they seemed used of them. I think it was perhaps because it was a watering hole and the only drink going. Everywhere was very dry. After a two hour walk up to the top and back, we made our way back to the boat for a short journey to find the manta rays. There were loads of them, at least 40 that we saw! The mantas were beautiful watch underwater, so graceful but big (around 4-5 meter wingspan). One was swimming right at me at one point which made me a little nervous but they are pretty harmless really. As soon as it saw me it changed direction and just swam past. After lunch we made a final stop at a beautiful beach where we snorkelled before heading back to Flores.

The next day we made our way back to Bali for our connecting flight to New Zealand via Singapore and Brisbane!
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