Hello hello! Ok, so here we go, the last Bali blog and second video. Ooooosh!
After spending time in busy Seminyak we were certainly ready to move on and so all piled into a taxi to Ubud – our final stop in Bali. On the way, our driver recommended a restaurant for lunch, serving Babi Guling (roasted suckling pig), a local delicacy. When we turned up it was clear that this was also a lunch stop for all the Japanese and Chinese touring coaches too. After battling to keep our positions in the queue (the British have arrived!), we sat down on mats around a long table and all ordered the full works – seasoned rice, pulled pork, pork crackling, a chilli hot veg and coconut mix plus other porky goodness. Yum! We left there feeling absolutely stuffed and carried onto our friends accommodation in Ubud.
They had all splashed out on this last section of their holiday so were slightly apprehensive about what they’d booked and if it was going to be any good. Well, the Luwak Villas turned out to be private ensuite huts inside separate compounds with their own kitchen/lounge area, garden and swimming pool. OMG it was awesome!!! Grand Designs eat your heart out! Even though Andy and I weren’t staying there, we were given a free Kopi Luwak coffee by the manager after I told him I didn’t like the one I’d tried in Seminyak. It was pretty nice, I drank the whole thing and it gave me so much weasel shit coffee energy, I ran around swinging my arms about because I could not believe the space in our friends villa. Jemma and Jim even had a solo bath hovering above a gold fish pond in their bathroom! Amazing! Andy and I needed to go and check into our own accommodation in town and left the guys in their palace, grabbed a taxi and hoped it wouldn’t be a total disappointment compared to ‘Chez Bintang’ (as our friends had named it). Well thankfully it wasn’t. It turned out to be the nicest place we’d ever stayed on our travels (and still my favourite to date). Called Lilacita Inn, it was more like a home stay since everyday we’d be served a free breakfast on our porch by a family member, a free tea or coffee in the afternoon, we used the owners pink moped everyday to go and see our friends and got given tons of free food (since it was their Galungan and Kuningan festival time and the whole family were celebrating). We even got to wear their traditional clothing too! Such an amazing lovely place and wonderful people!
After checking in and returning to Chez Bintang for an evening meal, Kelly and Danny arrived from their Gilli island visit. They’d had a cool time on the island but were knackered since it took them 7 and a half hours to get to Ubud via boats and taxis. After eating some dinner and drinking a few Bintangs, they had soon chilled out and we started to plan our last days together in Bali.The next day we returned to Monkey Forest in the morning since Kelly, Danny, Nicola and Ian hadn’t experienced it the first time round. Yet again the monkeys didn’t fail to amuse, they were fighting and bonking, I saw a baby one steal and eat a woman’s phone, an older one was clearly masturbating in the middle of the path and another little bastard climbed up Kelly’s leg and stole her water bottle. It was funny to see but I was still so nervous around them. Never trust a monkey! We then whizzed round the royal palace which was free and slightly underwhelming. So it’s not surprising that my highlight of the place was when Jemma spotted an Asian man with ginger hair and beard taking a photo of Danny without him knowing. How rude! She took it upon herself to retaliate by blatantly holding her camera in this stranger’s face and taking a picture of him. I haven’t seen the photo yet but I bet it’s a cracker! Later that day before sunset, Andy and I along with Jemma and Jim went on a moped ride out into the rice fields, searching for a village that homed white egrets at night in their trees. After walking down a small bird poo splattered street with a guide from the village info centre, the birds turned up on cue in their flocks. It was a cool sight to see and they all looked quite cozy perched together in their trees. That wasn’t the only thing we saw, we were also lucky enough to see a local old lady get her baps out and wash her armpits in the local well. Superb!
The following day was also spent with Jemma and Jim at a cooking class. It was a big group and a half day course from 9am till 2pm. We first went market shopping to learn about the fresh ingredients used in Balinese cooking, we then watched and helped the chef Nyoman cook 8 courses back at the school, and finally ate each course along with some beer. What a wicked day! I won’t mention why Jemma and I returned covered in pen ink, but I guess we were always naughty in the classroom 🙂
The rest of the week was spent shopping in town for souvenirs, lazing around our friends massive house, eating some brilliant food or going for spa treatments – this time I had a back massage and although it did hurt, it knocked the socks off the head bashing I received in Nusa Lembongan! Unfortunately the time came when we had to say goodbye to Jemma and Jim. Jem was crying as we all left Chez Bintang, about to go out for the day with a crazy driver called Hot Chilli, who did nothing but talk about how he seduced his wife at night and sung to me and the girls about how beautiful we were. Actually he didn’t stop singing, all day long! He went straight to Jemma’s rescue and sung her a song in a weird squeaky vibrato voice – ‘oh Jemma, Jemma Jemma, please don’t cry, you are so beautiful’. He had us all rolling in awkward laughter, Jems tears turned to an awkward grin and we kissed and hugged them goodbye in front of Hot Chilli…awkwardly. It was one of the weirdest partings ever!
Hot Chilli sung us all the way to and from a temple called Elephant Cave (around 15 mins outside Ubud, featuring amazing stone carvings), a place called Stone Temple (set amongst rice terraces and jungle), a Kopi Luwak plantation (where we got up close to a Luwak weasel and sampled different coffees and teas) and up to the same volcano Andy and I had been to with Clare and Pete in the first week. Believe it or not, we got stopped yet again by police on the same road as last time, asking people for money. Hot Chilli had nothing to sing about that! After an epic day, we were all quite pleased to be back in Ubud. We returned to our home stay after a nice meal out with our remaining friends and the manager came to our room with some leftover birthday cake from his son’s party earlier. How sweet eh!
The next day saw yet another couple leave to go home – Kelly and Danny. So after spending a morning drinking iced coffee with them in a cafe, we said our sad goodbyes and the group was now just down to 4. Nic, Ian, Andy and I actually didn’t move from that same cafe for another 3 hours (the iced coffees really were that good!) and decided that night would be great to just stay in, eat tons of crisps, popcorn and chocolate watching a dodgy Balinese DVD copy of American Pie 4 and Ted. It felt like we were back home, hanging out round our friends house on a Friday night. I loved it and felt a wave of sadness wash over me since it would be another 8 months till I would get to do this again. ‘Shut up and stop moaning’ I hear you cry. Ok ok, so I’m lucky I’m traveling and won’t be working for another 8 months whilst seeing more amazing countries, but believe me, being away from home for so long does make you miss the most simplest of things.
We got up to quite a lot with Nic and Ian on their last two days of their holiday. One day, us girls attended a Batik school hidden in the rice fields near the Luwak Villas/Chez Bintang while the boys went on a mini moped trip. After sketching out our designs on white cotton, Nic and I spent ages tracing over our pencil marks with a wax well (really tricky to use by the way). We then painted each section using inks and a colour chart. Whatever colour you wanted, you needed to check the ink chart first as everything was back to front – browns were actually blues and greens were yellows etc etc. Once we were done, literally hours later, the guy who ran the studio dipped the cloth into boiling water to remove the wax and then plonked it into cold salt water to change the colours. Both came out amazingly well, definitely something that will make it on to our wall one day. The boys loved their moped safari too, seeing locals washing and gutting a freshly slain pig in a little stream, preparing it for the big celebration in 2 days time. They also witnessed more and more Penjor’s (a curved banner-like decoration) going up along the streets outside people’s houses. The place was a buzz and coming alive with decorations and offerings. It was like their Christmas!
On Nic and Ian’s last day, we hired our ole wailing pal Hot Chilli to take us north to Tulamban, where you can swim to and snorkel round the USS Liberty shipwreck. Maybe it was because his favourite girl Kelly wasn’t with us or Hot Chilli hadn’t gotten any action from his wife the night before, but he was really quiet and hardly sang to us at all. Not a bad thing I guess when it took 3 hours to get to the north shore! We all hired boots and fins to make the walking on the volcanic stone beach nicer and getting down to the actual wreck easier. Within seconds of swimming out into the sea, the top of the wreck could be seen, it was incredible! You could make out its shape and the odd window or door covered in sea life and slightly eerie. I loved it! Yet again Nic did amazing well what with being 6 months pregnant. That baby has experienced manta rays, Bali food poisoning, countless motor boat trips and a ship wreck all before she was born! Speaking of which, when the time came to say goodbye to Nic and Ian that night, I felt pretty emotional. Having been Nic’s friend since I was 4 and her also being the first of my group of friends to have a baby, I felt sad I would miss out by being so far away and not be there for her. We wished them good luck and kissed them goodbye. I can happily announce that Scarlette Louisa White was born on 9th December this year, a happy healthy baby! 🙂
And then there were two. It felt weird being just me and Andy again, all alone. We’d had such a fantastic time with all our friends who I’d like to thank for coming out to see us – you guys rock! We spent the next two days chilling in our home stay, celebrating their festival with the owner and his family. We then headed to the other side of town for lunch with our Canadian friends Shahan and Donna-Lee, who we’d met back in China. Like us, these guys were due to continue their round the world trip in Australia and then New Zealand after Bali, but unfortunately had to cut their trip short and fly home, for their beloved cat Peanut was very ill. Realising we wouldn’t meet up now in New Zealand over Christmas, Andy and I will really miss them and hope to see them again one day. There’s always our last stop – Canada at the end of our trip… 🙂
We loved our time in Ubud, the funky little hippie town full of arts and crafts, surrounded by green lush forest and cloud. So I hear you ask ‘why spend your last two nights in Bali back in crazy tacky Seminyak?’. Well for the sun, sea and surf of course! And what a way to finish our Bali trip off!
Laters Bintang, I’m off to grab a 4X and put a shrimp on the barbie.