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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bali Holiday

The last 2 weeks in Bali with mum and dad have been lovely. We’ve had a really relaxing time sharing our time between mum and dad’s hotel and mine and mister Al’s accommodation. The second week Mister Alex and me moved into a private lodge we pre-booked ages ago as a special treat. It was gorgeous; styled like a town house with 3 floors with a kitchen (not that we did any cooking) a living room and a bedroom, we were looked after so well by the owner Sari and her staff with lots of free little extras (shampoo and Bali soap) and the house was cleaned spotless every day. We wanted to be able to lift the house and move it back to England for when we get home!!

We did a few day trips while mum and dad were here but they all seemed to go against the grain; we went to dreamland beach known for surf and beauty but unknown to us it was the locals school holiday so the beach was crammed with college students, we went to Ulu Watu one of the worlds best surf spots but the day we chose to go there was hardly any swell at all to see, and we went to Nusa Dua for water sports only we went on a Saturday so again was full of local children. That was pretty mad though it was chaos out on the ocean with all the different companies cramming as many people in as possible to do the activities. We thought we would have lunch before doing some activities not realising that they cant do the activities when the tide goes out as its too shallow so we left it too late!!

Mostly we’ve really chilled out and relaxed, playing in the sea, reading books and eating on the beach while watching the sun go down.  We’ve all gained a new love for corn on the cob smeared with chillie butter (even if it does burn our lips), for blueberry and pineapple bread, banana bread, Bintang beer (that do give you a hangover) freshly cooked fish and established Mister Alex is the champion of the card game rummy!! Mum and Dad had their first experience of a massage; this wasn’t the best experience for my dad who at the time was streaming with a cold this meant lying face down on the massage table with his head in the hole caused snot to swing from his nose like a bungee! Sorry to write about that on here dad but it was funny!!!

We went to the “Rock Bar” one sunset, which is apparently voted to be in the top 10 bars in the world. It was very flash but cool to go and see. It was based in a very posh looking hotel (we had to dress up that night; men couldn’t go in beach shorts!) The bar itself is accessed by an outdoor lift going down the side of the rocks and the bar is overlooking the sea, set into the rocks with different levels. It was cool to have a drink and watch the beautiful sunset, we then went to one of two of our favourite Italian restaurants for tea.

We just said goodbye to mum and dad, they’ll be arriving at the airport now as I write this. It was horrible saying bye again even though we don’t think it’ll be that long till we’re home.  Thank you for a lovely time guys, it was so good to see you, love you so much cant wait to see you when we get home, lots of love, hugs and kisses.

So now Mister Al and me are in our fourth (and final) accommodation in Jimbaren, unfortunately we couldn’t keep the lodge an extra night as new guests were booked in so we’re in little home stay. We fly to Australia tomorrow, our flights to the Gold Coast (as that was the cheapest ticket to Oz) and we have no transport or accommodation booked so when we arrive at 07:30 on Friday we could end up going anywhere!!  The plan is to hopefully find some work for a little while to enable us to travel a bit more before home so fingers crossed.

Lots of love to everyone

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

hello miss Alex's mum and dad (and pink bed ted!!!)

I know mister Al talked about our 24 hours in Ubud but there are a few little things I wanted to add; the dance we went to see was the weirdest show I’ve ever seen, it was a little bit like a dream and I wasn’t sure what was going on for any of it, but the girl dancers looked really pretty in their costumes!!  The day we did the tour we got in the taxi that was taking us everywhere and as it was really hot we asked for the air con to be turned on but after a couple of minutes a funny, gassy smell filled the car and I noticed a whitish vapour coming from the air vents so I pointed this out to the driver whilst opening my window telling him it was probably best to keep the air con turned off! The day trip was fun, the volcano and rice fields were beautiful sights to see and it was interesting to find out about luwak coffee, although I wont be in a rush to go out and buy a bag when we get home!!!

My mum and dad arrived last Thursday evening and as they walked through arrivals my mum only had my pink “bed ted” waving high on the air in front of everyone!!! They’ve been here 6 days now and we’ve had a really good 6 days with them. As my dad has been full of cold L we’ve spent a lot of time chilling on the beach (topping up our tans even more), swimming in the sea, playing Frisbee and catching up. Evenings have been spent watching the sun set and eating in little restaurants right on the beach, it’s been lovely so far. We’ve been staying in a homestay round the corner from their hotel but move to a little private lodge we have treated ourselves to tomorrow for their last week and our last week before Oz.

Today we went to check out some beaches near ours, we went to a well known surf site called Ulu Watu this was cool as to get to the beach we had to crawl through a cave and then came onto a beach surrounded by a cliff with beautiful blue water. It was so hot here though as there was no breeze so after a quick swim we went to another beach called dreamland. This was full of local teenagers (we were asked to have a picture with one again, swear the kids think I’m a celebrity here!!). There was better surf here and my dad and mister Al had a good mess around in the waves.

It’s really good to see my mum and dad again and to have a good catch up. We are staying in an area called Jimbaren and it’s really chilled out and relaxing so perfect for all of us.

Lots of love xxxxxxx

Friday, April 13, 2012

Whistle stop Tour of Bali

Last Tuesday we headed for mainland bali, a town 30 miles inland called Ubud. This was meant to be a look at the real Bali and how the Balinese people lived. As sad as we were to be leaving the island of Lembongan we were looking forward to Ubud. Unlike South East Asia Bali doesn’t offer the cheaper than taxi Tuk tuk, so we had to make our way to the guesthouse on the back of a motorbike. This would normally be an easy trip but as we had 2 big backpacks and 2 rucsacks and a Cath Kidston bag used for smelly dirty laundry, this was a 2 trip job. Miss Alex went first with her backpack on and her day bag. Very relieved and impressed when the driver came back for me as it meant miss Alex was safely waiting for me at the guesthouse. My bag weighs 20kg plus my rucsack weighing 7kg and the Cath Kidston full to the brim with smelly washing, must easily have weighed 5kg. Using only my legs to balance on the bike this was a tough 5 minute ride, at one point I contemplated rolling off the back of the bike and giving in, as my backpack would have taken the heavy impact of the fall. It really was an endurance test but somehow I managed to make it to miss Alex. Once settled into the guesthouse we took our usual investigative walk around to orientate ourselves, and get some lunch.
That evening we went to a traditional Bali dance. Imagine the big theatrical Demon costumes and the ladies dancing. It was all spoken in Balinese which is ok, as it was a traditional Balinese dance but there was 2 characters on stage all the way through who played the part of narrators, with the whole audience not understanding a word they spoke. They also looked like a pantomime act. Think the chuckle brothers in Aladdin costumes and you’d have a very good picture in your mind. Not quite sure what the morale of the story was meant to be as in the end, the Demon had fought off and killed the 7 warriors sent to save bali.
The next day we took a tour in our very own private taxi which would finish and drop us off in Jimbarran. Where we’d meet miss Alex’s parents the following day. The tour covered 5 temples, a coffee platation,  amountain view of a volcano and rice fields.
First stop was an ancient temple called elephant temple. Once we arrived our tour guide kindly informed us we’d both have to wear sarongs. I was not impressed, I had the picture of David Beckham all them years ago looking like a right muppet in a sarong. Needless to say we didn’t have sarongs on us to wear, but in the car park of the temple there just happened to be a dozen market stalls all selling sarongs. Miss Alex asked the driver if we could borrow one from the ticket office, yes that’s right we had to pay as entrance fees was not included on the tour, another thing we found out after we’d booked the tour. We managed to scavenge a couple of sarongs and headed to the temple. I honestly have not got much to say about the actual temple other than it was ok. We headed back to the driver unimpressed and told him “no more temples” this meant a much shorter day but after 5 months of temples I am well and truly templed out.
Next stop on our whistle stop tour was a coffee plantation. 6 little complementary cups of coffee and tea waited for us. All grown on made off the plantation. There was Bali coffee, Ginsing coffee, Cocoa, lemongrass tea, Ginger tea and one other that couldn’t have made a big impression as miss Alex and I have both forgotten what it was. Also as an optional extra to purchase we could try Luwak Coffee. Luwak coffee is made by feeding the Luwak coffee beans. A luwak is a little animal. You don’t have to be brilliant at biology to remember what goes in the mouth comes out the …………….. Once it comes out the other end of the Luwak looking like a nutritious nutty cereal bar, it is then slowly roasted and ground down. The procedure of making the coffee is the same, teaspoon of coffee and hot hot water, splash of milk and it tasted great!!! Luwak coffee actually sells in London for £50 a bag. Now this is not some really big bag like a sack of cement, this is your normal sized bag of coffee.
Next stop was Mount Batur. It last erupted in 1994, and the landscape is still covered in a blanket of black. The view looking over to mount Batur was stunning. The biggest lake in Bali sitting at the bottom of the mountain. There is a sunrise tour up the mountain that we plan to do if we ever come back to Bali. This would be an amazing sight, overlooking the south of bali and the surrounding mountain ranges. We also had to pay for the privilege of driving through but the money was well worth paying.
Our last stop was a stop at some Rice Paddies. These look like giant green steps in the hillside. Another brilliant sight and some great pickies taken here. If your not sure what rice paddies look like, google image them after reading this. Just as miss Alex and I were about to get back in the car a bloke in uniform hit us with another entrance fee, just for simply parking the car on the side of the road and taking a couple of pictures. There seems to be entrance fees all over the place in Bali, even on roads leading down to beaches.
Miss Alex’s parents arrived on Thursday and we look forward to couple of fun weeks spent with them, chilling out before we hit Australia.

Speak soon xxx

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Paradise island with the best boyfriend ever!!! xxx

 As Mister Al said we came to Lembogan island off the east coast of Bali on Wednesday. The night before we stayed in Sanur where the boat leaves to come to the island. The place we stayed was horrible, as mister Alex said it’s surprising neither of us got bed bugs the bed felt like it was crawling!! We had a day in Sanur before the boat the next morning, mister Al wasn’t feeling very well so went for a nap while I hit the beach. It wasn’t long until I was interrupted; firstly by a man trying to get me to get a tattoo, he left when I said I didn’t want one but his 2 and a half year old son sat with me playing digging holes and burying feet until I left the beach 2 hours later! He kept trying to talk to me; he must have thought I was a crazy lady with all my “wow weeessss!!!”  Late in the afternoon the beach got swarmed by all the local high school students who had obviously finished school and were hitting the beach before going home. Suddenly I was getting crowds of students around me asking me to have a photo with them. I had all these teenagers stood around me passing their cameras to each other, I felt like a celebrity!! After a while I thought well if they’re all getting a photo of me I want one of them so got one to take a picture of us all!

To be honest Bali started out a little bit shady but as soon as we hit Lembogan island we were sold. We’ve spent the last 5 days in a gorgeous guesthouse for £10 a night right on the seafront where we can hear the waves crashing onto the beach while we sleep. We’ve been looked after so well by the older couple that own it, serving us big cheap breakfasts overlooking the beach. It’s Easter Sunday today, originally we were going to leave today but that soon changed to leaving tomorrow and now, while we ate our breakfast of banana and honey pancakes in the sunshine, we decided to stay another night until Tuesday! To be honest we could easily stay here until my parents arrive on Thursday but we think we need to see a bit more of Bali while we’re here!

We’ve been spending our days really chilling out, walking around the island and seeing how everyone lives here. The main source of income is from the seaweed farms, apparently used to thicken ice cream! Yesterday we hired a moped for the day and got lost round the island. There’s a rickety wooden slated bridge that joins this island with a little neighbouring one.  There’s a point on the other island that is a well known place to jump off the cliff into the sea and also known to be able to see manta rays. We went to check it out but, due to the massive swells that have happened over the last few days, there was no way we were jumping off the cliff. I think if anyone did it yesterday they surely would have died. The waves were enormous, crashing over the rocks and swirling around in the pool below the cliffs. There’s a little bar on the cliff where people jump off but due to the waves over the past few days a lot of the bar has been demolished. There were concrete stools that were sunk in the ground that had been uprooted by the waves and the owner had lost his house on the cliff. Apparently the recent waves have been caused by a tornado in Japan but we haven’t seen any news about this.

Our time here has been fantastic, we’ve spent the evenings going for a run and then sitting looking out at the waves crashing along the beach underneath the sunset while the owners of the guesthouse cook us full fish on a bbq on the side walk. It’s all been a little bit like a dream and I don’t think it could get any better than this, this has become our romantic part of travelling and it’s just perfect.

Plus I’ve never eaten a full fish before but I loved it here it was so tasty!!!

Today we have no easter eggs and we couldn’t find a chocolate bar in the shops on the island but we have found a cafĂ© that does snicker milk shakes and we are treating ourselves to a chocolate cake after tea tonight!!!

Cant wait to see my mum and dad on Thursday, it’s going to be fun!
Got to go now, the waves are crashing against the sidewalk next to the guesthouse, which is fab to watch!

As always lots of love to everyone xxxxxxxx

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Arriving on Lembongan

Today we landed on the beautiful shores of Lembongan Island, just off the coast of mainland Bali. Miss Alex and i took the 10.30 am public boat from Sanur and battled through the very deep, very long swells over to the island. On approach to Lembongan we both got very excited, it looked like we’d arrived in heaven with 3 to 4 metre waves rolling through. Picturesque cliffs in the distance, waves crashing in against the cliffs and sea mist in the air. The main source of income on this island apart from a secret 12% tax on your meals, is seaweed farms. Literally there are fields of seaweed grown in the shallow surf and local ladies work in the fields all day, picking big basket loads. This place is surfers heaven!! Australia has a place called Surfers Paradise and it must be something special to top this place.
Once onshore, a local man offered us a room at his guest house for a lot cheaper than what we were prepared to pay, in the past we’d have took him up on his offer and probably ended up staying there, regardless of the condition of his room, even if only for one night then moving on the next day, but we’d made this mistake last night and stayed in one of our worst rooms yet!! I’m still surprised how, either of us didn’t end up with bed bugs. Anyway I think we both sensed another crap room and made our excuses and headed off in search of a decent room. We looked at 3 guesthouses right on the beach front and each one got better than the last. Pacific Inn was our chosen destination. Even now as I type this I can hear the waves crashing onto the beach just 10 metres from the room. The room is a cracker.  It has air con, this may not sound much to you as you read this but the walls were concrete. This is a must for me as wooden bungalows often invite unwanted little guests through the gaps in the nucks and crannies.
This afternoon miss Alex and I took our usual first day tour, we both thought a little afternoon stroll to burn off lunch would be a good opportunity to look around the place. 4 and a half hours, countless miles and hills, an hour were we got lost, and 2 cwoffees later we got back to Pacific Inn exhausted. Having looked at the map tonight, we walked around the island in a full loop.
Tea was cooked for us by our guesthouse owner and his wife. Fish slowly cooked on a tiny BBQ right on the seafront, rice and vegetables prepared by the guesthouse owners wife. By time we finished eating our fish, its remains looked right out of a Tom and Jerry cartoon, just the spine, tail and a full head, (including eyes) Miss Alex is not the biggest fish fan but even she loved every bit off it. We asked the wife what fish it was and we got the famous “Dime Bar” look. I’m guessing it was Snapper.
Whilst on our walk today I stumbled across a gym, which I ll be hitting hard first thing in the morning. Teach these Balinese how to lift some weights.
Slightly gutted we didn’t bring a couple days more money. The island has no ATMs and our supply only takes us through to Sunday. But we are really looking forward to our stay here on this island.

Speak soon xxx

Monday, April 2, 2012

Goodbye Thailand......Hello Bali......

Our last night in Thailand was spent in Phuket as we flew at 6:45am yesterday morning to Bali. As we had such an early flight we decided to stay close to the airport so went to a place called Nai Yang, 10 minutes drive away.  From our previous experience of Phuket we weren’t expecting much so decided to get the later boat so we arrived at about 17:30. But Nai Yang was lovely; it was a small town on the beach with gorgeous white sand and restaurants on the beach. We enjoyed our last Thai red curry whilst watching the sun set over the sea with me drinking my white wine and mister Alex his mojito!!! The perfect way to watch the sun go down on our end of Thailand. Sadly we then watched Liverpool lose to Newcastle after diner, shame they couldn’t have won in tribute to the end of our milestone!!!

As we were leaving early we wanted to stay somewhere cheap, finding somewhere for 500 baht a night (£10). It was a basic room with no windows and a shared bathroom but we thought it would do the night. It wasn’t until we came back in the dark and realised the walk to our guesthouse was like walking down the red light district (no longer a surreal experience after spending so long in Thailand) but when we turned the light on in our room and it created a red glow we realised maybe we were even closer to the red light district than actually just staying on the same street, we think we were actually in it!!! (check the picture out on facebook, the room glowed red!!!) Only in Thailand!!!!

At 11:30 yesterday morning we arrived in Bali. Our initial thought of it was “oh shit!!” We hadn’t realised how expensive it was!!! But turns out we just got done over by the taxi driver form the airport (£20 for a 15 minute journey!!) who also then took us to expensive hotels even though we told him we wanted cheaper, think he got commission from them. We’ve come to Jimbaren on the West as this is where my parents have booked to come for 2 weeks on the 12th so we wanted to find their hotel and book a guesthouse for ourselves. We’ve sorted a lovely little homestay (what the people here call guesthouses) for their first week and we’ve pre-booked a little lodge for the second week they’re here. Plus we’ve been reassured that it’s not that expensive here; tea last night we ordered 2 cocktails, a water, chicken satays and grilled chicken but what they didn’t tell us that included in the £8 of what we ordered we also got a soup each, salad, potatoes, a big bowl of rice, selection of sauces, vegetables in some kind of spicy sauce, peanuts, and a fruit plate to finish!!!!! This was at a candle-lit restaurant on the beach, amazing!!!!

So with our plans for my parents visit arranged we are going to Sanur on the West today and then maybe onto some islands near by to explore. It defiantly feels like we’re in Bali with the dark stoned temples, friendly people with flowers in their hair and the waves crashing onto the beach!!!!  Think we’re going to have a lovely time here before hitting Oz!

Lots of love