Bali Beach Bummin' (and Lombok too)

Trip Start Dec 07, 2008
Trip End Aug 09, 2009

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Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Friday, April 17, 2009

Peeps how are you??!! Sorry its been well over a month but its actually been quite hard to get to the internet here considering how touristic it's supposed to be. That, and we got into the Indonesian lifestyle and quite frankly got lazy :-) but we are back and what a month its been!!! Where the month in China seemed endless this month has just flown by.

Well we first arrived to Bali with the terrible hangover of St. Patrick's day and unfortunately had to roam the busy streets of Kuta with our backpacks at 12am, struggling through the hoards of drunken Ozzies to find a room for the night. Not the nicest of places in the world, certainly wouldn't come for a holiday to Kuta but we ducked down for two nights, literally because I collapsed like a sack of bones from so much travel. But it was great to sleep for so long (and make up for the coffin in Japan!!) Eventually we got up and explored...seen the Bali bomb monument and the names of the 200 odd bomb victims just 50m from our "hotel" (which gave an immense chill down our spines), strolled around the markets etc but the beach itself wasn't up to much so as usual we planned our exit to somewhere nicer.

We headed up the east coast to Sanur (otherwise known as Snore to the Ozzie youngins!!) and we are definitely showing our age as we loved it there. We got a gorgeous little homestay and decided to go on a we dress like scumbags most of the time ha ha!! So we donned our finest, even squirted a bit of perfume and headed out for the most delicious sushi (addicted after Japan!!). After a couple of nights at this pretty beach we headed again up the coast to Candi Dasa...not so pretty so we only stayed one night and decided we would leave for Amed further up the coast.

Only when I awoke in the morning I started to feel quite ill and nauseous...but we got in the transport and headed on what seemed a roller coaster ride of up and down mountains until a couple of hours later I thought I was going to die!!! By the time we got to our gaff I was on my hands and knees with pain and aches all through my body...nothing I have ever experienced before and never want to again. The next day the pain shifted to my stomach and I'm not kidding when I say I had to go to the toilet around 60 times that day. But it was pure agony, I really cannot literally felt like something was eating my stomach. The poor owner of the place was concerned and came and massaged oil into my body and made me take all sorts of local remedies which was so kind but by day four nothing had changed so we had to get the doctor out. Apparently, it seems there was a build up of bacteria and parasites that had built up over time, through the food I've been eating (which I'm soooo careful about!!) and that was the result. So armed with five sets of tablets and sachets I set about killing the blinking things and seven days later I was back to normal!! Oh the joys!!!

At least we were staying in the nicest place on our travels at that point. Thanks to the best ex Boss in the world (thanks Claire!!!) we were able to stay in a place with a beautiful four poster bed overlooking the sea and a small mountain with a large balcony. So we decided to stay a few extra days so that I could go snorkelling (Phil had done it every day and raved about it) and it was fantastic as there was a Japanese ship wreck not 20m from the beach (30 from the room), with oodles of fish and coral. Every morning from our balcony we would watch the hundreds of fishermen go out in their boats with multi-coloured sails, it was an amazing sight to wake up to. Definitely our favorite place in Bali.

We couldn't believe though when the owner said it was New Year (Nippi) for them!! OMG we had to celebrate our third New Year of the year and it was only March!! But I have to say this one was quite different. The Balianese NY starts the day before where they have a big party to shoo all the spirits away but the next're not allowed to leave the house or you will be arrested!!!! How mad is that?? the whole of Bali comes to a stand still, no planes, trains or automobiles!!!! At night you're not even allowed to turn the light on, watch TV or anything!! Quite surreal although apparently if you have children you are excluded, which the hotel owners did and so we were invited to the most beautiful banquet of Indonesian food with their family. It was a great insight and lovely to be involved!!

But it was time to move on and we set off for the little town of Pandang Bai for the night so we could catch a ferry in the morning.

So after two weeks of Bali we set off for it's neighbouring island of Lombok. A pretty long day of travelling got us to the south end and to another place called Kuta!?! A place renowned for surfing which neither of us do, but hey!? The first night we stayed in a pretty crappy little place but then courtesy of our lovely friends Suzi and Ant (thanks you love you love you :-) ) we checked into a beach place with a swimming pool for a couple of days. Its been the first place since we got married, all those yonks ago, that we had a swimming pool so it great having a read, then a dip!! However, in true skint backpacker style lunch consisted of what we had left over from the ferry and Phil, the ultimate chef, made canapes (one layer of crisp, slice of banana, dollop of peanut butter, peanut to top!!!!) my god we are good to ourselves ha ha :-) We spent one day pooling it and the next Phil rented a bike and went of for a beach reccie and came back to take me to the best one. I think the whole south coast has amazing beaches, beautiful clear water and little coves that make it so private but we didn't have much time as Phil had other plans for us :-(

Another long day of travel took us to the north of the island and then inland to the infamous Mount Rijiani volcano!!!! Ekkkkkssss!! It was another wicked wedding present bought for us by Jase n Jo (thanks...cough cough)...only joking we took a video for you and will send to you shortly xx ) We booked into our gaff (lush place (not!!) with no windows so that every blinking animal flew in or hopped out including a frog!!) and then booked the trip. I have to say I changed my mind every two seconds if I was going to do it or not but I felt a bit of a chicken if I didn't. We killed the rest of the afternoon down by the local waterfall where Phil took a hilarious shower with the locals i.e. they dragged him in and stood him under a thunderous waterfall till his pants nearly fell off, it was hilarious he he.

But the next morning at the crack of dawn we set off for our adventure to the rim of a volcano with our guide and porter (who carried all the food and camping gear...see Phil trying to lift it!!) And oh dear lord!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We had to walk 1.5km uphill to the base before we even started!! I never thought I was even going to make it to Position I (of four), my little legs were killing me while Phil's thunder thighs just strode on!!! I naïvely imagined a steep hill but we were accosted with extremely high steps, some man made, some made from tree roots. But so high like I had to lift one leg up to reach it and then Phil had to drag me and the other one up. By Position II the pain in my legs had soared through the roof and I actually hit the "pain barrier" that everyone talks about and I broke down crying. I hadn't expected it to happen so soon (only 2 hours into the hike) and seriously considered going home but after a bit of a rest and a sugar boost I decided to keep going (and try and save my dignity!!!)

Climbing to Position III was pretty bad but definitely not as bad as the previous two. It was at that point we me a group of people coming down and we got chatting to an English couple who said they were the same as me (hadn't phased Phil yet) and both were at breaking point and wanted to turn back....I cant tell you how relieved I was that others were the same and it wasn't just me...I could've hugged them!! It was just the boost I needed to keep me going to the top!!!

So off we went again and at Position IIII we had a long break where the guides cooked us lunch and as we waited the most amazing thing happened....all these monkeys just appeared from the forest!!! Cheeky little monkeys they were too stealing our biscuits!!! But amazing to get so close to them in the wild and not behind glass!!!

By this stage we had climbed around 7km uphill (and with no view as it was so foggy!!). I was doing pretty good at this stage until we hit a really steep climb made difficult not by steps this time but tiny bits of volcanic rock on a slant. It was Paula Abdul the rest of the way - "Two steps forward, one step back!". Unexpectedly I hit my "pain barrier" for the second time. Its a strange thing when the physical and mental pain kicks in Unfortunately Phil managed to film this one...omitted from the blog ha ha!! Not for the first time I cursed our lovely friends Jase and Jo - ha ha :-) The only thing that kept me going was that I knew I was near the top and that it would soon all be over...I honestly couldn't have done it without my lovely husband and his helping hand. Then to add insult to injury just as we get to the top it starts peeing down and while we got soaked our guides erect our tent!! When we finally got inside we were freezing and drenched so we changed and tried to huddle for body warmth while the others made a start on dinner. But we did it...a 10km climb to nearly 3km altitude 9 hours!! It was pitch black now though and we hadn't seen a glimpse of what we'd put all this effort into for.

The dinner tasted nice at the time but didn't stay too long in my stomach ha ha!! Unfortunately it wasn't just my top end that had problems!! Who else can say that had attack of the poos at the rim of a volcano (Jase I can hear you getting the jokes ready now!!!!) To be fair I spent the previous 7 days ill so my body was probably thinking "you're havin a laugh now aren't ya?!"

The temperature dropped that night to around 4 degrees and what with the cold and my poor little Phil not being able to fit properly into a tent, we spent the night awake waiting for it to get light so we could jump out....

And there it all its glory!!!!!!!!!! YAY!!!!! A real live active volcano...with smoke n all coming out of it just for effect!!!! We watched the sunrise over it and the lake within the crater with it's colours changing with the light and also we could see the whole way around the island right to the sea and back to was something else!! More so for Phil as it has always been his dream to see a volcano..and now it's fulfilled :-)

Climbing down with the sun beating down was less arduous, much more pleasant than the way up. We walked down two positions and stopped for lunch and set off again....and that's were it all went wrong. Only us eh???!! The heavens opened like I have never seen!!! Proper torrential rainy season peeing down rain!!!! At first it was fun but after four hours the path had literally become a river of muddy water (leeches included) and our trainers were just like buckets of water. It made going up seem like a breeze...I fell on my backside one of many times and by the time we got to the bottom I was barley putting one squelchy foot in front of the other.

What should have taken 4 hours getting down took 9!!!!! Can you believe it!! We pitied the poor sods going up!! Back at our lovely windowless room we celebrated with a couple of beers before practically falling asleep into our noodle soup. The next day it was like looking into the future 40 years, we were like two decrepit old people trying to move around, quite funny really. My two big toes that killed on the way up and down were ready to fall off...ok not quite but both the toenails are black and are ready to fall off (photo attached as proof)

So these two little old people decided to take themselves on a long journey again (are we sadomasochists???) to a restful set of islands called The Gilli's. We spent a couple of days recovering in the biggest and busiest of the three islands Trawangan, eating cheap food and still celebrating our achievement on cheap drink!! But actually it was my husband who suffered the most!! I was fine after about two days but it took him about five before he could move properly. Strange considering the strength of them big legs!!

We then decided it was time.....time for the beautiful mum and husband John had bought us the gift of a proper honeymoon. Only to be used when fed up of skanky beds, disgusting bathrooms and feeling in need of some TLC. The time was now ha ha.

Off we went to the smallest island of Gilli Air. Oooh so beautiful. Beautiful clear waters in which you could see the fish, no vehicles allowed only horse and cart with jingle bells that sound like Santa is coming and the honeymoon suite of our dreams!!!! Thank you thank you thank you Mum and John!! We had the deluxe room with the back door opening up to a palm tree lined garden and infinity swimming pool and the front on to the beach!!!!!

Now for all you normal people with normal holidays the room has all normal things. For us we were whooping and clapping hands at the flat screen TV and DVD, super king size mattress, air con!!!, Mini Bar!!! Massive shower!!! And includes breakfast!!!...Wait for it...all for the cost of £18 per night!!! Whooohoooo bring it on!!!

We spent 7 days there in total..being on honeymoon. No talk of flights, trains, moving on, buying visas, counting money, checking emails...nothing but us!! It really was amazing!!

With the accommodation so cheap we were able to spend the rest of mum's gift on top food and drink!! Not to eat the cheapest thing on the menu because of budget was bliss. We ate fish caught just hours before in the clear waters and had the most amazing fish BBQs ever. We spent most of the days lazing by the pool. Phil and I have both improved our swimming no end, put our heads under the water and even diving...this is seriously big news for two people scarred of the water!!! We read umpteen books, snorkeled and even kayaked round the whole island (another 5Km!!) feeling particularly smug as we kayaked past the volcano thinking "yeah we climbed you!!" (all pain and anguish has been forgotten and only the glorious remains...apart from my two falling apart toes as reminders)

Even our last night was amazing. Obviously the stars in the southern hemisphere are just something of awe but that night the galaxies were out in all their glory, so after our "last supper" as pretend rich people, we headed to the dark pier to lie down and look up at the stars...and there it was...we both seen it at the same time...and wished upon a falling star...a perfect end to a perfect honeymoon!!

After a 12 hour travelling session back to Bali we arrived in Kuta for a couple of days before heading to the land of Oz!!!

So that's it....South East Asia done!!!!! Looking back we cannot believe just how much we have travelled in each country and how much we have seen and done.

By the time we get to Oz tomorrow, we will have visited 10 countries, nearly all top to toe!!, in just 4 ½ months???!!! That is hardcore travelling!!! Even we are impressed by that!!!

The best of it is, we are even more in love than when we first married, which we didn't think was possible. We have been through thick and thin and always still come out smiling :-)

We are still missing you all!!! Thanks for keeping in contact, we really do appreciate it wherever in the world we are. Its great to know someone is thinking of us.

Lots and lots of love
the de Gruchy's

Strange things about Indonesia/things we've seen:

Corner shops have beer gardens, trees with fairy lights and beautiful picnic tables!!!! That would never work at would be full of chavs ha ha :-)

The amount of Indonesians we have seen with money is many now travel, some even to Paris and Rome?!! Things in the world are changing and soon they will be the ones backpacking Europe!

Nearly getting conned by dodgy money changers who had their calculator rigged!! And had the cheek to get angry with us when we cottoned on!!!

Despite the amount of tourism in Indonesia the transportation options are shocking and you have to pay a lot of money to get around in private transport. Bit of a killer on a budget.
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Bar on

Hi, I'm Indonesian living in Europe. You know what, some of books the youngsters in Jakarta love to read now are about backpacking in Europe. And many young Indonesians, especially from Jakarta and other big cities, really do that, I mean not just reading the books but backpaking in Europe! Most of them are occupied with DSLR. Of course there're still many poor people in that country, but we need also consider that it's the 4th most populous nation in the world, it takes time to eradicate it all. BUT Yes, you're right that the world is changing. It's not only about Indonesia and other developing countries, have you ever realized it's not so long since Ireland had famine! Thanks for staying in my country, love reading your blog! :)

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