Tuesday, 30 October 2012

For everything else there's Barclaycard

What's that? Last minute change of plan?

Well that was a morning. It all started rather promisingly - I was up on time at 4.55am with everything ready to go. I just had to get dressed and put my backpack (backpack) in its baggy. This is usually folded up and put away, but I only had a short transfer so stuffed it into my hand luggage. My hand luggage which I had smugly reduced to the one backpack, bird bag stowed in the side pocket for later. (Unfortunate event number 1)

I got to the airport about ten to 6, plenty of time for the half 7 flight. I made my way to check in and SHOCK HORROR couldn't find my passport. I 'lose' this sort of thing on a regular basis but it's usually lost in my black hole of a bag and a bit of excavating usually locates it. I emptied my bag and it definitely wasn't there. I then rang the hotel to check if I'd left it in my room (I was sure I hadn't) and they couldn't find it. At this point I started to flap a bit and went back outside to see if I'd dropped it when getting the baggy out, which in hindsight I must have done. It was very dark and I didn't see. About 10minutes/an eternity of quite impressive flapping later a small man called raj in a brown shirt appeared as if by magic with my passport, 'miss, miss, this you? This you?'. Poor Raj was rather taken aback when I hugged him enthusiastically and declared a fair amount of love. (Unfortunate event number 2).

So enormously relieved I headed back to check in, passport firmly clasped in hand. I scanned all my bags (again) and got back in the check in line. My booking reference was saved on my phone so I fished it out to be ready. No phone. I checked my big bag in, got out of the line and emptied my hand luggage for the third time in about 20minutes. No phone. I hooked my iPod up to the free wifi and skyped it. Ring ring, ring ring. About 3 calls later it was turned off.
No phone.
Flapping returned with some mild hysteria thrown in for good measure (it was early and I'd already filled my stress quota by then). I went into the airport police bit to see if they could help (unfortunate event number 3). They were as useful as a chocolate teapot. When it was clear they couldn't help find it (thee CCTV people on the phone said 'we can see you, but we can't see your phone') I asked for a bit of paper to show my insurance company. I kept pointing out that my flight was soon but they assured me all was ok and I wouldn't miss it. Eventually I said I had to go, ran through security, immigration etc all the way to the gate. In big letters it said TUTUP. Apparently this is the Malay for 'closed'. Bugger.
I rang Sophie in more substantial hysterics asking (cough demanding) that she cancel my phone and my debit card...again. As luck would have it she had sent some photos of it over the previous evening so I could Internet bank etc after losing the last one. The photos saved on my now stolen phone (unfortunate event number 4). At the same time I was attempting to find a member of staff to help. I found a member of staff, but they didn't help. And so I missed my flight (unfortunate event number 5). Apparently Malaysian efficiency means your checked baggage can be removed from the plane in no time at all!

SO back to departures I went to think about what I'd done. The next flight to Laos wasn't for two days so I looked for other routes - all expensive, round the houses and involving random overnights. Flights to Singapore, however, were almost hourly and pretty cheap plus I'd promised cousin Lucy a visit at somepoint, so Singapore it was!

I had to go back to arrivals to collect my backpack (backpack) again and was greeted by the same person who'd let me back in the last time I forgot my bag. He thinks I'm an idiot. Check in this time went smoothly (what with no phone to lose and my passport clamped firmly in my sweaty palm), I got the necessary paperwork from the po-lice and then followed my heart. Keep calm and have a Starbucks. One iced beverage and one muffin later I headed back through security and boarded my plane - in plenty of time.

So now I'm in Singapore. Where next? Oh who knows, it probably won't go to plan anyway!

Big thanks to:
Sophie, for dealing with a 20second, poorly connected shrieking phonecall at midnight (did I help bring on labour?)
Apple, for your most excellent iPods
James, for my power monkey
Barclaycard for funding all the mishaps
And Lucy for living in the pore and having a keyless entry flat.
Oh, and Starbucks.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Ti-OH-MAN these Mosquitos are annoying

The death plane delivered me safely to Tioman (I'm not even kidding, when we descended the clouds came INTO the cabin. No one flinched!) which is a proper rainforest island. It's all hilly dense jungle and beautiful sandy beaches. It also has (I'm guessing here) about 80% of the world's beastie population. There are flying, crawling, jumping, stinging biting things EVERYWHERE and I look like I have a nervous tic all the time. My plans to laze about on the beach were scuppered by sand flies, tiny annoying biting flea type things that appear out of the sand to bite you. Everything here bites me. By my second day I had over 80 of varying sizes. So many bites that my face puffs up. Even practically showering in deet doesn't deter the bastards. It's very much an island for people in the water, not avoiding it. On the plus side it means the beaches are mostly empty which adds to the tropical island feel. As does the general wildlife - who needs Komodo when there are giant monitor lizards roaming around!

Itching aside, it was great to see Rosie who part owns and runs a dive school here. (She's a proper local- she was wearing jeans and a jumper the other night. Granted it had been torrential rain for my first afternoon but it was far from cold). It is a very relaxed way of life on Tioman and days were mostly spent chilling in various places. Hanging at the dive centre, hanging at the next door holiday resort (pool=no sand flies), hanging at the local beach bar...you get the picture. The beach bar kind of sums up the attitude on the island - a large group of people turned up one night for a bit of a party and the owners said they were shut as they just wanted to chill! They also took us out on a giant inflatable and I had completely forgotten how much fun it is to be dragged around behind a boat. (Very fun, FYI).

Getting around the island is done by scooters (expertly driven) with a wallace and grommitesque side car (no goggles and scarf required). There's very little danger in speeding with an averagely loaded scooter but to keep everyone in check there are plenty of Malaysian speed bumps aka large bits of rope crossing the road. Simple but effective!

Also, I have changed. I spent most of my time in the SHADE. Yes, really. (This had nothing to do with the look-but-don't-touch beach)

I missed my partner in crime (after 3 weeks I was used to her constant presence and 'let's have a bintang' daily chant) but I'm sure she's pleased to be enjoying a bit of calm back home...and a break from trek-moaning. It has been lovely to chill out for a few days as next I head to Laos to find Bryony and Lauren. And I don't think 'chilled' is on the agenda.

P.s Rosie informs me that the leaking clouds were in fact condensation evaporating at altitude. I stand by the fact they were leaking clouds

Sunday, 28 October 2012

A very Random selection of photos from Bali

(I mean very random - I've no idea how to change sizes, they're in a very random order and I had to pick them at random as I only had icons. They've also taken forever to upload so I think I need a tutorial...! Will attempt to add comments at some point...)

A bit of beach at Gili Trawangan (can you see why I love it so?)

Kuta Beach fruit lady hacking up a coconut (honestly thought she was going to lose a few digits in the process)

The free MacDonalds during our airport delay (who wants to see the orangutans anyway)

The Scooter Dream Team (note the size of Sophie's smile)

Diving in Pemuteran

The Munduk Waterfall in Bali

One of the many rice field photos

Not a bad spot for lunch

Another fruit lady (maybe pineapple this time)

The monkey on the right tried to rob me shortly after this

TREK. At the crater lake on the second day. This was before The Up

Just so you know I'm not making it up, I climbed up that slope. This was taken from our campsite on the second night. It really was nearly vertical!

One of our porters...and rock formations for Bradley to tell me about 

It was VERY chilly

Team Oulala. Don't let the smiles fool you. This was before the foot destroying descent. Most of the trekking photos are on Sophie's camera. Funnily enough I wasn't in the mood to get mine out....

Post Trek Bintang ( number 5 or something)

Gili Diving!

Beauty and Grace

Kuta Beach (in low season)

First day in Kuta. Just Chillin'


Thursday, 25 October 2012

Dear Malaysian efficiency. I love you.

I know I loved Bali, but Malaysia is a welcome civilized change. I didn't have to pay a sneaky tax on arrival, the roads are big, they adhere to traffic lights, no one is shouting 'bracelet bracelet' at me and the plug sockets are British so I can charge everything at once!

Throwing money at a situation really can help.

I booked my flight over to Tioman thinking I'd hang out in the airport overnight, then realised that they were very different airports. I got cold feet, hopped online and booked a hotel close to the second airport and thank you booking.com!
At about £40 for the night it was a lot more than my previous residences have been setting me back. i disnt want another hole-tel experience when arriving at 2am) but as I pulled up to the swanky foyer I could see why. As it turns out the star rating on the website isn't customer feedback, it is in fact a star rating. Hello 5* hotel (for 6 hours)! Little things like being able to have a bath mean that my feet finally feel clean. It didn't magically heal my ear so I have another hour of plane pain ahead of me, fingers crossed it doesn't pop (or if it does then the tramadol I've just popped helps). I also managed to leave the terminal, hop in my taxi and then remember that I had failed to retrieve my backpack (backpack) from baggage reclaim. Oops! Luckily the customs man saw the funny side and let me back in. My bag was on a solitary journey round and round the belt. Hopefully that's a once bitten, twice shy kind of event.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Bye, Bali. You're Super

Apologies for lack of posting in the last week, it's passed by in a blur of tending to my trekking wounds, sunning, diving, partying, getting new ailments, a lot of laughing (finding sophie throwing shapes on her own in the street stands out) and generally getting sucked into the island way of life.

The day after the trek was mostly spent hobbling about cursing Sophie and trying to keep the flies away from open wounds. We signed up to do some more diving (having first tried on the fins with our delicate pieds (socks+two sizes bigger)) and enjoyed not having to walk on inclines. We also gave in and ate sandwiches over local cuisine but we had had our fill of fried rice and noodles by then. I'm also really starting to miss marmite.

I love Gili Trawangan. The locals increasingly less so (I do wish they'd stop singing at us) but I still love it and we spent about 5 days chilling out and enjoying our last week. The next diving course was ace too. I won't go on too much as noone likes a diving bore but we did a night dive (amazing - pitch black with only torches. You see lobsters, crabs, hunting octopi, sleeping turtles and phosphorescent stuff. It was very cool indeed) and I did my deep speciality...and finally saw sharks! My lovely instructor promised to find them and he didn't disappoint, we saw about 10 in 5 minutes. Amazing. I didn't get narced but I was extremely trusting 40m below the surface answering every question they asked in the narcosis test...including disclosing my PIN number much to their amusement (i have always hated trick questions!). So a few more ticks in the diving boxes that I now can't use thanks to the mother of all ear infections. It had been a bit pesky for a couple of days but i was taking various pain pills for my broken feet so didn't pay too much attention. I eventually gave in and went to the clinic where the local doctor told me it was the worst infection he'd seen on the island, threw a lot of pills and drops at me and wished me luck. Oh, and made me part with a fair lump of cash. This was the same day I discovered I was missing my debit card, my camera no longer works and we were leaving the island. An excellent last day! We said our goodbyes and prepared to head back to Bali for our last night.

Our transfer back to Kuta seemed to last forever but we met some really nice girls on the bus, all went to the same hostel and then headed out for the night. Kuta is horrendous and tacky but it's also an awful lot of fun! Since surfing was out we spent our last day down in Padang Padang on a beautiful beach watching the pros show us how it's done instead.

My next stop is overnight in Kuala Lumpar before heading to Tioman for a few days to visit my friend Rosie. Unfortunately I won't be able to dive so I'll have to work on my tan ahead of meeting the girls up in Laos.

A few people have had the joy of tracking the progress of my feet over the week (you're welcome) and I'm pleased to report that it may only be the one toenail I lose. Plus my various antibiotics seem to be clearing up the coral cut infection so every cloud and all that. I have a feeling that I'm going to find a post office and send my trekking shoes home. It'll be flip flops for me and my 9 nails for the next few months.

I have absolutely loved Indonesia and will have to come back to see the things we missed. It was sad to say goodbye to Sophie but my 30days are up and it's time to move on to the next chapter of my travels. After I've bought a new camera. Hurrah for barclaycards, hey.

P.s I spent my last remaining rupiah on a Starbucks at the airport. You can take the girl out of London...

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Bikram Trekking

WARNING this post contains a lot of whinging so if you don't like a moaner, don't read!

So. Rinjani.
There is little to no joy in trekking up a volcano. It is an emotional roller coaster of mostly downs and the occasional I-can-see-the-campsite highs. When I say downs I of course mean ups. There is only up. It's up until your lungs stop working. It is long and hard and monotonous and boring.

Day 1
I started fairly positive. It'll be fun I told myself, how bad can it really be? We left the hole-tel and headed to the start where we met our guide, a couple of new recruits (two French guys, one with a rat tail) and then started. I plodded behind the guide keeping his pace for about 45 uphill minutes...until we reached the actual start. I was already sweatier than I'd ever been just from the pre-trek. I upheld the front until the first rest stop, then had a mini break down and dropped back to plod at my own pace. By the time we stopped for lunch I was in a terrible mood. Trekking is long and hard and boring and we had barely started with nearly 1600m still ahead of us before the end of the day. Essentially the whole day was spent putting one foot in front of the other, always uphill, through a dense jungle which eventually cleared into a cloud. Eventually, after much self loathing, internal rage and sweat we made it to the crater rim - our home for the evening. It was a joy to finish but contrary to what I'd been told, to me, the view was not worth it. The pictures on Ben's camera were just as nice and it was mostly cloudy so I imagined the promised 'beautiful sunset' as it went dark. Although rather chilly, camp life was definitely the days highlight, our porters rustled up a treat (including one of the most wonderful cups of tea I've ever had) and we retreated to our tents fairly early. My plan to use the outdoor facilities as little as possible lasted until 930pm when I begrudgingly got out of my tent and used my head torch to find a good wee spot. (Which included my foot. I do not like the outdoors!)

Day 2
The clouds had gone in the morning and it did look pretty, still not worth a day of dullness and pain, but pretty none the less. The plan was to go down to the crater lake and then up to the base of the summit. I could see the day's task in front of me and it looked like an everest challange. I'm not one to lose height once gained so I was seriously considering just heading back at this point - after all I'd achieved what the boys had. I foolishly carried on. When they said 'down' to the crater lake they weren't kidding. We actually had to climb down rock walls for large portions and it took about 2 hours. I lost it slightly with a German girl who was walking on my heels and spraying me with scree. Clearly she didn't know I wasn't in a mood to take lightly.
The lake was lovely, we took a slightly treacherous path around it and then stopped for lunch where it dawned on me that a) the rest of my day was up and b) that there was a storm brewing in my gut. Terrible news given my hate for 'going' outside. And so up we went. This was more of a four limbed climb than yesterday's foot route. Occasionally I'd ask our guide (Oulala) which way. He'd respond 'up' and point at the wall in front of me which, sadly, wasn't a labrynth style illusion wall - we had to climb up it. Those 3 hours lasted forever and (apologies for the upcoming TMI) I've never had to excise such sphincter control before. It's Sod's Law that my iron constitution let me down 1500 up a sodding volcano. When I finally reached the campsite I headed straight down the cliff/edge/whatever armed with a loo roll, found a bush to climb into and said goodbye to All The Evil. My first outdoor motion, and there was no choice in the matter. The rest of my group were very pleased for me. The clouds cleared just in time for sunset which was over where we stayed last night - miles away!

Day 3
This supposedly started at 2am to reach the summit. I got outside my tent and almost instantly climbed back inside my very thin sleeping back. Nighttime mountain trekking is definitely not for me! The hardy summit goers returned bout half 7 for a quick breakfast and then down. And it really was down. The first couple of hours were very steep and very slippery. This was fine until I jarred my toe and I now fear it's nail will not last too much longer. The hour from then until lunch was utterly miserable. Down was almost as bad as up but had a lot more pain! Oulala then delivered the happy news that the last 2 and a half hours could be done by flip flop, so on they went, on went the music and down went the ibruprofen and the time flew by! I still think flip flops were a tad optimistic but the did the job and I was down in no time at all. Only problem is I now can't get them clean! By this point everyone was blistered and sore and a bit done with the day. We hopped into our transport (the back of a pick up truck) and made our way back to the port and back to Gili T. I've never been so pleased to be somewhere before.

So things I've learned, sometimes fear of missing out needn't be feared, I shouldn't be a sheep, I don't like trekking but also that you can meet really nice people in really not nice situations! The next time I go up a mountain I'll stick to a cable car.

My first sense of humour failure

Today my sense of humour and adventure deserted me for a full 6 hours. After another 6am start we got the public ferry over to Lombok. I was only slightly twitchy this time but the boat was very open so I knew I could swim away if needs be.

We were met at the port by our short, pudgy, shifty salesman who took us on a sight seeing tour of the Island. Oh goody, I thought, a nice car trip on an empty stomach. The first 15 minutes were very pretty, lots of nice costal views but it didn't take long for the hilly, windy, bumpy journey to make me feel a bit nauseous. And the hills did nothing to add to my enthusiasm for the upcoming trek. 4 hours of 'seeing Lombok' later we arrived at our hole, sorry, hotel which we are being put up in ahead of tomorrow's trek. I went into the 'bathroom' (literally a loo and a bucket of water with very little light) and a lizard the size of my forearm fell from the ceiling onto me and scuttled away over my foot. Needless to say this scared the bejesus out of me, I flapped a lot and then realised everyone had heard. Good. Still grumpy at this point we headed out with the 3 others we're doing the trek with to see some waterfalls. Who should I bump into but Issy who caught the tail end of my silent grump and then my mood improved. We hiked to the second waterfall which felt a bit Indiana Jones and involved a fair bit of scrambling up the river. It was worth it though as the waterfall was very cool. Who needs a guide?!

I'm now back in the hole-tel and able to look at the whole incident in a funnier light. Lizard and all. We had a briefing with a very funny trek guy and our group seems like a good laugh. So far it's a sath ifrican couple (the guy is very like Tom page), a quiet Italian chap and an amusing Solvenian. I'm actually semi looking forward to it now despite another 6am start.

Moan moan moan, I promise I'm enjoying myself!

Back to the Gilis

Try as we may any attempt to follow in David Attenborough's footprints are foiled at every Indonesian turn. We decided to book a flight to Flores so we could go to Komodo and see the dragons. Glitch number one, if using a credit card you need at least 48hours. We had 46. So we headed to a travel agent who was very nice and told us to come back after our cycling tour. By then lion had sneaky doubled the price so sadly we didn't book. Onto option C and back to Gili we decided to go. This time we checked out the boats a bit more and ended up on a much nicer ferry - with a sundeck - and it was a delightful journey complete with dolphin spotting. Not so much for Sophie as the breakfast was banana based (no likey bananas) so arrived with very low blood sugar. A quick sprite and lunch later things were back on track.

We rented some SUP boards, went for a bit of a paddle and the renter guy suggested we paddle over to the next island and said he'd take us the next day. The next morning (possibly after a few too many the night before) we met him and his friend and paddled on over. He'd brought some snorkeling things for us so we went for a bit of an explore where I promptly scraped the top of my foot open on some coral. When back at the shore he suggested we go to the lake, I double checked it was fine to go a) with no shoes and b) with no clothes. Yes, yes, 2 minutes. Which actually meant 15 minutes over blisteringly hot and very pointy coral. Rank as my feet are they are nowhere near as hardy as the local's super resilient soles and by this point the felt very raw. And so we journeyed back over to gili t but the wind had picked up making it quite the bumpy ride. We (finally) arrived back very tired and searched for a nap spot on the beach.

We are off to Lombok tomorrow to climb Indonesia's second highest volcano, Rinjani. Of the three things I wanted to do on this trip this was very definitely below orangutans and dragons and it is the only thing we are doing due to time. Sophie is basically dragging me away kicking and screaming. Hill walking over wildlife. Ugh. Supposedly the views are amazing and make it all worth while so I'll let you know I'd that is in fact the case. And I guess I look back on D of E with fond memories...

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Our Rice Padventure

We are now back in 'cultural hub' Ubud and have had a brilliant few days. I might sound a bit traveller in this post as we've seen a lot of the country and I was genuinely amazed at how beautiful it all is. So apologies in advance.

Our driver, Adi, took us to some hot springs, Bali's best waterfall (tm), a floating temple (culture tick), the twin lakes (which were very pretty volcanic lakes), lunch with the most amazing rice field view ever and then to jatiluwih. Now, about 2 weeks ago I wittered on about ubud being pretty and green. It now looks like West Byfleet park in comparison. Jatiluwih was amazing - I can see why it would be a unesco heritage site. We oohed and ahhed appropriately until I brought things back to our level by falling in an irrigation system (it had grassed over so totally wasn't my fault). We passed through lots of non tourist towns that were holding festivals and they were pretty cool, too. By the time we arrived in Ubud we felt like we had 'seen' Bali and booked ourselves on a cycling tour for the next day...

...which was an excellent plan! Another early start and we were whisked to mount Kintamani where we had breakfast overlooking mount Batur (Bali's highest volcano). We then went to a local coffee place where we saw and were told all about local spices and coffee (I don't want to brag but my coffee roasting technique was highly praised). We had a tasting tray with 7 different types of local coffee, including poo coffee, made from coffee beans which have been eaten by a luwak (ferrity cat type creature) and pooed out. Apparently its the most expensive coffee in the world. Yes, me, drinking sort of poo. It was actually really nice and I didn't add milk or sugar to any of them! Our guide kept making a 'it good sheet' joke. Poor jokes aside he was very sweet and very insightful plus an inbetweenera fan to boot. Tour friend! We were also given lots of local fruits to try which we're all lovely apart from one. Durian. Sophie had told me about these in Singapore so I didn't go in quite as open minded as I might have been but I still tried it. It smelled like rotting chicken, it tasted like rotting chicken and it had the texture of curdled milk. Luckily I hid the dislike well*

On we went on our bicycles to a typical Bali house and saw how families live. It felt a bit awkward, partly due to the fact that I had shorts and trainers on which screamed TOURIST but they carried on weaving and chopping and farming and cooking and singing and defaecating like we weren't there. Next up was a very large 500 year old tree, followed by cycling through a ceremony (where we were told lots of very interesting facts about local traditions including the fact they file your teeth at your wedding...) and then another rice paddy. But this time I shed my tourist trainers and helped with the weeding. It was really fun and worth the fact my feet may never be clean again. A bit more cycling and one last uphill slog the tour was over. The last two days have felt very travelly and touristy indeed, but I have loved them!

I'm hoping to hit an Internet cafe soon and will try to include some photos as I know picture books are far more entertaining. All I can give you now is our breakfast view!

*i did not hide the dislike well

Pemuteran. It's not a bad option B

Tuesday 9 October

Pemuteran was lovely. Quiet, but lovely. We had a lovely little bungalow with a dive school right on the beach for the princely sum of £10 a night. We were up early to breakfast and sort out kit (because apparently I can do that now) then climbed aboard our vessel for the day...with our fellow dive buddies. It was about an hour to the dive site - mejangan island - which was a very beautiful coral wall. Aside from our shiny short wearing captain our boat mates included a snorkeling German couple (there are Germans everywhere!) and a very strange Chinese family (mum, dad, son, daughter) who were capturing EVERYTHING on video. They were also wearing beautiful swim burkas (the parents in life jackets too) and clearly had no idea what they were doing. One of the local guides had to take himself away to regain composure and we all stifled the giggles. Once in the water they were no more graceful. There were limbs everywhere and her mask was completely fogged up for most of the dive.

I don't want to upset you too much, but I've had a bit of a cough for the last week and I couldn't equalise my ears on the second dive so retreated to the boats sun deck and promptly fell asleep. My snow white days will be over in no time. Still enjoyable though!

Everything up north is much cheaper and we enjoyed delicious meals right next to our bungalow for less than one main meal in Kuta. We did try exploring the town, but there really wasn't one, so settled for drinks on the beach for sunset and had a successful FaceTime home.

Tomorrow we've booked a driver for the day to take us south again...the scenic route!

Monday, 8 October 2012

There's a problem with the left phalange

I've had my first traveling glitch and failed by AirAsia. After catching our 5.30am taxi and navigating domestic departures we boarded our plane to Surabaya en route to Borneo to spot the 'rangas. An hour of the same song later (actually the same song, it didn't repeat it just kept going and going and going) we were told there was a technical problem with the plane and told to go back to the terminal to wait. Which we did, diligently. For 6 hours. At this point catching our connecting flight over to Borneo was a fading dream, so we were booked onto the next days flight for a take two and given a McDonald's for our trouble - a bit of chicken and a rice ball (I declined). I had been perfectly happy and calm for most of it, even though the 'attention, attention' tannoy lady was announcing things every 20 seconds. We managed to get our bags back, put them on a trolley and headed for freedom...until a guard announced we couldn't take the trolley outside. At that point my facade dropped and I made him rue the day.

We then headed on back to Seminyak to surprise Ben and Dave with the good news we were there for another night (they were suitably pleased) and had a lovely day on the beach surfing, not buying tat and generally being merry. Lots of email toing and froing later and it became apparent that our orangutan adventure was just not going to happen - booking flights on a deadline in Indonesia is not an easy thing to do!

However when you're on a tropical island option B really isn't too bad. We had a fun last day take 2 with Dave and Ben and decided that we would take scooters to Kuta in the morning. Thinking I was sensible I shot gunned Ben as my driver which in hindsight was an error. We rented our shiny scooters, donned our fetching helmets and the boys did a practice lap. So far, so good. Soph and I then mounted our respective bikes and prepared for our journey. Mine was less than 1 metre before Ben and I were both on the floor. I'm sure Dave and Sophie were hiding their concern behind the tears of laughter. Unharmed (apart from ben's pride) we attempted to take off again, Sophie and Dave happily rolling down the road. But Ben didn't turn and we headed straight towards a shop. At this point the worried scooter man put his food down said we should get a taxi. We promptly abandoned plan scooter to Kuta and got a suggested taxi with Ben muttering 'I was fine on my own' all the while. I think the fully loaded 3+ person scooters who passed us on the journey didn't help him and his man pride. And on the plus side I will never get on a scooter again!

They flew back this afternoon and soph and I are now in a lovely beachside bungalow on the North of Bali which is a far cry from the busy shores of Kuta. Our drive over was very pretty, very hilly and very green and I only slept for a bit of the daylight portion waking up in time to see a very pretty sunset over the volcanic lake (it was windy so I was sleeping to avoid car sickness,yeah?). We are off diving all day tomorrow and keeping our fingers crossed we'll see mantas.

Very sad not to get to see the orangutans, but I think the dragons will make up for it in a couple of weeks

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Miss Pelly, You Skin So White!

7 October

After two days of mooching, shopping, sunbathing and surfing we are leaving the holiday strip of Kuta-Seminyak and of to Borneo on our jungle adventure!

Yesterday was almost exclusively spent outside and experiencing almost every hour of daylight meant we were a tad singed by the end of the day. Still, I hear it makes for a cracking base tan. Plus today will mostly be spent in airports which is probably just as well. I'm also hoping it will stop the locals coming up to me to tell me that my skin is 'white like snow'. Someone needs to tell them it is definitely not the way to my heart. 'Felicity' proves a difficult name for the Indonesians so I'm mostly called 'pelly' which I'm hoping won't stick.

The hawkers on the beach begin to grate after a while - I left Soph on the beach for a quick surf and when I came back in she was surrounded my children waving bracelets at her, and one had actually poked her with a sharp stick! We had indulged in some fruit so we clearly looked amenable to spending. Still, the pineapple and coconut were delicious. Tempting as it might be, I would not like sarongs, tat, silver tat, fake watches, sunglasses, dvds, beads or a massage, thank you very much. I'm attempting to learn an Indonesian phrase a day - yesterday's was 'tidak bapak'... no sir!

I don't like to 'travel'

4 October

I had to bid farewell to Gili Trawangan this morning and head back to Bali as SOPHIE IS COMING TODAY! The journey has taken nearly all day and I've been too many different types of transport including a very unseaworthy vessel which nearly turned over (mildly terrifying), mini bus and then hijacked by man on back of a motorbike (sorry mum) who proceeded to take me all around town. With my backpack (backpack) still on. I finally found somewhere to stay tonight and am Currently en route to the airport to meet Sophie. Sitting, standing around and trudging being 'that' person with the front and back backpack (backpack) whilst being almost constantly being sweaty isn't the funnest way to spend a day solo so I'm looking forward to Sophie and food and more than 4 hours sleep and surfing tomorrow! And Su's cottages are just lovely.

Having spoken to sister Sophie who described the gili boat trip as one of her favourite bits, I think I might splash out on a more reputable company for my next crossing!

Diving, Weddings, First Aid and a Runaway Cow. Another Standard Day in the Gilis

2 October

So Dave and Ben left to go and climb 'Rinjo' and I embarked on an underwater adventure making lots of fun new friends along the way (it seemed like longer than 2days!)

Diving has proved to be an awful lot of fun and I'm now officially allowed to go without supervision...which I will probably NEVER do. And it has nothing to do with the fact that diving instructors are a beautiful breed. Seen lots of turtles, rays, octopi and colourful fish galore. If I could show you the corresponding hand signs then I would.

It's been another typical island day - wedding procession, two lots of first aid and a runaway cow that came running in off the 'street' right into the dive center. It also rained. A lot. Which made walking the length of the island to find a stretcher all the more entertaining. Our bovine guest was eventually lasooed and taken out again which was very entertaining.

I am officially in love with it here and could happily stay for a very long time.