***Ok, so its been ages since we last wrote a blog or uploaded photos due to being on the road in Australia. So as a treat for you all, at the bottom of this post is our first ever YouTube video!***
It brings a big smile to my face when I think of Bali. When I look through my diary, recalling the month spent there, all I read about is sunny fun filled days with a bunch of awesome friends. Ahhhh good times 🙂
So where do I begin and how do I cover a whole month? Well Andy and I were in Singapore airport, mucking around in our usual silly moods (for some reason when we get to airports we seem to joke around, maybe it’s nerves, who knows? But it makes flying days fun!) and we were really getting into watching the Olympic women’s weightlifting finals that were on every tv screen, when our Bali flight was called. Onboard we received our inflight meal, ordered exactly a year ago when we booked the tickets. What the hell were we thinking at the time? We received noodles and rice dishes. Great. Something we’ve not eaten in a while. I would have killed for a simple chicken and chips! We landed in Denpasar airport a few hours later and were on a mission like Terminator – aim: to get to the visa desk before everyone else, pay our $25 dollars for a flimsy piece of paper and a stamp in our passports. To grab our bags before the pesky bell boys did (who are not free and charge a fortune btw). To get into a reasonably priced taxi to where our friends Jem, Jim, Clare and Pete were staying in Balangan, down south and to have a Bintang beer in our hands A.S.A.P. Mission completed, all too easy actually, probably because the others warned us of every possible problem you could encounter when arriving in Bali, because they themselves unfortunately went through it when they arrived. Cheers for the heads up guys!
Stepping out of that taxi and seeing our friend’s smiling faces was… well, the best feeling in the world! Although I didn’t cry, it felt like a dream and I kept quoting that tooth kid from YouTube saying ‘is this real life?’. After kisses and cuddles, a Bintang appeared in our hands and we sat by the pool catching up. It felt like only yesterday that we were last together – a feeling I’ve always had with my friends who are like family to me. In a matter of hours whilst the sun was setting, we were scooting down to the beach on mopeds that Pete (you absolute Bali expert legend you!) had arranged for us. We dined in a cool restaurant surrounded by surfer dudes checking out the week’s swell on their laptops. We all ate a mixture of different Balinese dishes including Mie Goreng (fried noodles), Nasi Goreng (fried rice), Gado Gado (steamed veg, satay sauce and prawn crackers – Jem’s favourite), all topped with your choice of either/both Kecap Manis (a sticky sweet soy sauce goo) and Sambal (f’ing hot chilli sauce which is absolutely addictive!). Of course a few rounds of Bintang were also ordered. What can I say? The stuff tastes great! And all of the above became our staple throughout the rest of the month, with the odd pizza and Mc Donalds thrown in too.
Even though Balangan looked like scrubland with its parched ground, bare trees and skinny cattle roaming around, the sound filling our outdoor bathroom while I showered early the next morning was nothing but jungle-like. We also had resident geckos living in the traditional style thatched roofs above our beds, which would leave you a little poo present on your pillow if you were lucky each night. Each morning we would all met up for breakfast and have a gecko poo update. Chosing breakfast from a mini set menu was a slight task everyday, we tried to get across to the staff that we wanted our scrambled eggs on some toast (or tooster bread as the menu called it), but even after asking twice, the eggs always just came out on their own. So like me, most of the group started eating noodles or jaffles (toasties) on the following days.
After our first morning’s feed, we all jumped in a taxi to Kuta, the main crazy town in Bali, heading to the big water park there called Waterbom Bali. Now, I thought that Vinpearland in Vietnam couldn’t be bettered but this was insanely good. Our first ride of the day was called Climax – a vertical drop within a shaft, with a capsule you enter first and the floor disappears from under you. I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life. A proper stomach twisting water slide that leaves even the toughest Aussie bloke screaming like a little Sheila. If you check out the pics below, you’ll see what I mean. You had to cross your arms and legs all the way down which I did religiously each time for fear that I might receive an unwanted colonic irrigation or amputation. After running round like excited kids, we’d been on all of the rides, made friends with the friendly staff there (one sounded just like Lesley Chow from The Hangover – ‘so long gay boys!’), and found ourselves back at Climax for the ultimate finale. Jemma was the last one to go down, the floor disappeared from beneath her, there was a scream, a thud but no Jemma appeared at the bottom. The lifeguard pelted across the grass to where the shaft makes an upward turn before looping round to the end. We all worryingly looked at each other with ‘where the hell is she?’ expressions on our faces and ran towards the lifeguard. A very dazed and confused Jemma appeared much to our relief, and she told us how she didn’t have enough speed to make the turn, must have started to go backwards without really knowing it and was rescued from a little hatch like being born again. Love it! 🙂
That night, feeling slightly tender from all the bumps and scrapes we’d received from the water park, we dined on the sea front at Jimbaran eating fresh fish, prawns and squid whilst the sun set. Clare and Pete had told us about a legendary cakey goo dessert they sell on the side of the road here in Bali called Terran Bulan or Talula Palula as Jem called it. So en route home that night we spotted a hawker selling it from a little stall, we got our taxi guy to pull over and we all stood there salivating whilst the man cooked it for us. First the thick pancake is made and fried, butter is spread over along with chocolate sprinkles and finally a healthy heart attack helping of condensed milk on top. It is folded and boxed for you to take away and demolish which we did inside our taxi. It was sooooo super sweet, I could only handle one slice.
The next day we went on a moped adventure to Uluwatu to watch Pete surf on the reef there. We all filled up with petrol (easily bought from the side of the road anywhere in Bali, sold in Absolute Vodka bottles) and drove the 30 min journey along winding roads to the cliff side village. We sat drinking our weight in Bali coffee in a cafe and were astounded by the size of the waves. A Ripcurl surf competition was due any day (with a moto ‘it’s on when it’s on’, the event had no set date) and the waves were meant to be getting even bigger over the next few days. Excitement filled us when Pete said he thought it was tomorrow, I couldn’t wait to see it! We drove onto Padang Padang, the next beach along where the Ripcurl comp would be held and enjoyed sunning ourselves for a while on the warm sand and a quick paddle in the clear blue sea.
Pete was right, the next day the Ripcurl competition ‘was on’, and we drove to the sides of the cliffs at Padang Padang beach and joined the crowds of people watching in awe as competitors attempted each wave to get the best score. Bethany Hamilton (a one armed shark attack survivor from Hawaii and surf chick legend) was the only woman competing and got a great wave on her first attempt. I couldn’t believe how fast she went! When she appeared from the end of the barrel, she received a huge round of applause from the spectators. It was an awesome event to watch since myself and Andy hadn’t ever seen anything like it before.
That night on the way home we shopped in the local supermarket for some nibbles and booze. Electro music was blasting out of the speakers in there, so we shimmied our way round the aisles collecting crisps, a chocolate cake, nuts and a bottle of Arak – a local spirit made from coconuts, not to be drunk neat since it makes you go blind…apparently. Well later that night after consuming most of the bottle straight anyway whilst playing card games, we all still had our eyesight but I have absolutely no memory of throwing chocolate cake at everyone, going for a midnight swim or doing teddy bear rolls on the lawn in my bikini.
The next morning, feeling like death and a sick bag in hand, we all hired a car and driver for the day to take us round the island on a tour. I can’t really remember the first stop – a Batik shop selling beautiful pieces of art – since I was in the toilet reliving the blessed Arak consumed the night before. But I do however remember saying to the staff that I couldn’t afford to buy any Batiks that day by saying ‘singular piss, singular piss’, which means ‘no money!’ in Balinese. 🙂 There you go, that’s the language lesson for the day! Think I’ve spelt it wrong though, soz. The next stop was monkey forest in Ubud, a milder inland town full of temples, craft shops and cafes with a hippie vibe and a forest full of pesky macaques. They were everywhere, stealing phones and drink bottles off everyone. I walked round sweating and wide eyed, and at one point I jumped like Scooby Doo into the arms of a lady because one of the baby monkeys grabbed my leg. Eeeek!
Afterwards we visited a rice terrace which was absolutely beautiful and it was here after eating lunch that I started to feel more human again. Then we drove higher and higher, aiming for the Kintamani volcano at the top. Half way up we were stopped by police who had made a barricade across the road. We didn’t really understand what they were doing until our driver just handed over a couple of notes and drove on. Yep, they were just collecting money from each car because if you didn’t pay up, they would cause you a lot of trouble. Pretty corrupt eh! We arrived at the top and when we saw the view it just blew us away. The crater we stood next to was ginormous and the sprawling land beneath reached into the distance becoming green grasslands encased by solidified black volcanic lava. The last stop of the day was back down by our neck of the woods – a port called Sanur. We needed to book a boat at Sanur over to Nusa Lembongan (a small island where we’d be spending a week with more of our friends from the UK) for the following day. We were blatantly having our pants pulled down by our tour guide ‘Froggy’ (a nick name he’d given himself since all men in Bali are either known as Wayan, Made, Nyoman or Ketut, which means 1st born, 2nd born etc etc), as he was quoting us way over the price of a normal ticket. So after a lot of bartering and stern faces, we paid for our trip and paid the right amount. Job done. We just needed a quick Mc Donald’s in Kuta before heading home for an early night. We were super excited as the next leg of our Bali trip was about to get even better.
To be continued…