Posts from the ‘Travel’ Category

Lovina, Bali -part 2

On the road the waterfalls.

We awoke early from the annoying sound of construction work  going on outside our room.  No wonder the rooms were cheap.  Today we had plans to visit some local waterfalls and generally see some more of the sights from the mountains around the area.  We had breakfast at the hotel, which was a simple egg and toast and a coffee, just about all that was on offer here, and set off for Munduk waterfall.   The road again turned ugly winding up the mountain and when stuck behind a truck on these steep roads made the experience all the worse.  It took us no time at all to find the place.  We parked the bike up and on the other side of the road was a narrow track leading down through jungle to the waterfall itself.   A little further along the road we found a restaurant for lunch, perched up high overlooking a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains and valleys.  During lunch the clouds began to close around us and in no time at all it was raining and hard to see the scenery.  I was worried now about the riding conditions especially with Aurelie on the back.

Once the rain had subsided we set off for our next location.  Taking a slight detour on the way we came across a troop of monkeys by the side of the road.  They were the first monkeys Aurelie had seen in Bali so we stopped for a rest and for a few photos.  Our next stop was the Gitgit waterfalls.  Unlike the previous waterfall these were much more impressive.  Starting with two large waterfalls and then several more along the river.  The whole length of the walk from top to bottom is around 2km so you could spend hours here if you wanted.   We walked so far down before giving up, I was craving the cold water to cool off and so at the top waterfall where a rope swing was placed I took the opportunity for a swim.  A moment later a group of young lads joined me, and after a little while they all got out there shampoo and bathed in the water.  Bath time certainly is fun time for these young locals. 🙂

It was already late in the day when we were leaving, and again the clouds were gathering.  A minute or so down the road the heavens opened.  The rain was heavy and relentless so much so we just had to stop for shelter in a road side warung.  Ten or twenty minutes later we tried again whilst the rain seemed to be easing off, only to find out how wrong we were just a few bends later down the road.  The rain was so heavy I had to go slowly so as to see the road ahead.  We stuck it out as we descended down the mountain until finally and quite suddenly we were back on dry road and back in sunlight, soaked through to the skin but laughing and joking.

This was to be our last night in Lovina, and after some discussion had decided to meet up in Amed.  There was not enough room on the bike for the two of us and our bags so Aurelie booked a taxi and we arranged to meet up at the Good Karma.

All Photos in this post by:  Aurelie

Lovina, Bali -part 1

Sunrise at Lovina -Photo by: Aurelie

Lovina was my next place to visit, an 8km stretch of sandy beach which includes six beaches; Pemaron, Tukad Mungga, Anturan, Kalibukbuk, Kalisem and Temukus.  It is one of the larger beach resorts on the island and caters for a varied budget range.   I set off from Amed around noon taking me around two to three hours to make it to Lovina following the coastal route east to the north-westerly quarter of the island.  It was some trek and quite uncomfortable with the thin seat of the off-road bike.  I wanted to make good time so only stopped once for a break at a warung perched at the edge of a cliff overlooking a cove, trees lining the edge for some well needed respite from the blazing sun.

Eventually I was following signs for Lovina, I was almost there.  On the edge of town I stopped one more time for a smoke.  A local Rasta

Sunrise at Lovina -Photo by Aurelie

approached on his moped.  I was expecting this, and I knew exactly what he was going to say.  As expected he knew of a cheap hotel close to the night life.  The price was good but I really don’t like feeling as though I’m being coerced to a place, I like to find place’s myself.  This in turn though can also become annoying as everyone can see you are looking for somewhere and so then everyone you pass want’s to show you to a hotel or guest house and it can sometimes become too much hassle.  I complied with his offer and followed him to what would now be the most basic hotel I have had the pleasure to stay in on this island.  It had everything I needed though and by now I was used to cold showers.  A friend of my helpful guide had inquired as to whether I wanted to go dolphin watching and snorkeling the next morning bright and early.  Normally I would just impulsively say no but I thought it time to do something touristy so agreed and after some haggling signed up for an early start before sunrise.  I payed for the first night at the hotel and as per usual bought a large bottle of Bintang beer, dumped my belongings on the bed and sat outside my room having a drink.

After having a look around the area finding out where the nightlife would be and checking the beach, I had something to eat and then returned to the hotel feeling drained from the long ride and in knowing I would have to be up early the next day.  I was not going to be partying that night and so bought a few more beers and sat again outside the room in the night air.  An hour had passed when a young french girl arrived, my next door neighbor.  She joined me outside my room and we talked all through the night to an early hour.  She too would be joining me for dolphins and snorkeling what was now only four hours away.  It was nice to have someone to share it with.

-Photo by Aurelie

The next morning I woke to the dreaded sound of my alarm at 4.30 am, I had to drag myself into the cold shower to finally wake up.  I was tired, I needed more sleep but at least I was not the only one.  Aurelie and I met our guide promptly outside and followed him on my bike to the beach and to a flock of tourists with boats all waiting to go dolphin watching.  It was a complete tourist trap with far too many boats all following each other once someone had pointed out and cried,  ‘Over there dolphins!’  By the time you had looked back to see where he was pointing you missed sight of the dolphin.  We carried on like this for about another hour chasing the poor buggers around until setting off away from the crowd for some snorkeling.  We had with us a quiet Chinese couple who weren’t up for snorkeling, so once we were in the water our guide took them back to the beach and we were left alone for a while.  The water was cooling and perfectly clear just above the reef.  There were many varieties of fish to see, or at least that’s what Aurelie was saying, I was a bit distracted.   Or guide found us and we were free to stay and snorkel for as long as we wanted before heading back.  We were both somewhat exhausted from the mornings excursion and so after pancakes for breakfast at a nearby warung both decided we needed to head back to the hotel to rest.  I put up my hammock I had been carrying with me the whole trip for the first time outside the room and both got in quite snugly and tried to sleep over the noise of the passing traffic.  We lay swinging in the hammock for ages trying to sleep but the noise was keeping us awake, so we retired to my room, I gave her a massage, it had a happy ending, we fell asleep.  An hour or so later around noon we left the hotel to find a place to have lunch.  Aurelie had a dozen or so places written down to visit around the island, I had not been this resourceful so she was to be the guide and I the driver.

Religion in Bali is predominantly Hindu unlike the majority Muslim Indonesia, but there is a small minority of Islam, Christianity and Buddhism.

Brahma Arama Vihara -Photo by Aurelie

Buddhist temples are not easy to find in Bali but since I had been following closely to Buddhism for the whole of my trip I wanted to visit a temple in Bali.  About 5 km west of Lovina is Brahma Arama Vihara the Buddhist Monastery in Banjar Tegeha village, and is the biggest Buddhist temple on the isalnd.  It was founded by Bhiku Giri Rakketo Maha Thera and built by Yayasan Giri Rakketo Maha Tera originally located at the top of the Banjar Hot Springs 2km away.  In 1970 it was relocated to its present location and has expanded since then.  The monastery is painted very colorfully and has many statues depicting the story of the Buddha.  Amongst the decorations are typical Balinese carvings which shows the solidarity of the Balinese community with the Buddhism in Bali.

Feeling more rested we headed out for the day.  First stop was the temple, and I could not wait to be disappointed.  We parked up, donned our sarong’s and walked around, just like all the other tourists.  This was not what I was wanting, there was no one selling flowers and incense to make an offering and I could see no monks in sight.  After having seen all there was to see I happened to notice one monk hanging around.  I approached and respectfully asked if he could bless some bands for my arm to replace the current ones.  Aurelie and I followed him into his living area at the back of the monastery and he returned with four bands and blessed them for us.  Something the other tourists seemed quite oblivious too, as they walked around with there camera’s strapped around their necks.  I made an offering, a decent donation and prayed for my luck to change.  You never know.

Banjar Hot Springs

The next stop was the Banjar Hot Springs, the Air Panas 2km down the road.  The sulfurous hot spring water was channeled into a public bathing area consisting of three pools in 1985 and is surrounded by jungle.  By now it was getting later in the afternoon and we only had a few hours of sunlight left, but it was the perfect place to relax for a while.  The place was busy at the time with locals bathing and playing in the pools we only noticed a few other tourists.  We stayed here until closing as the water was far too relaxing to leave beforehand.  By now night was drawing in so we headed straight back to the hotel to shower and change before heading out into the town.  We found a quiet warung by the beach for an evening meal and then headed along the front following the sounds of people cheering and shouting.   That night there was a volleyball competition on and the whole place was heaving with people watching the game just off the beach.  Taking a table at a bar adjacent to the court we could drink and watch some of the game.  It had been one hell of a long day and after only an hour the lack of sleep caught us up and it was time to call it a night there were more sites to see the next day.

Amed, Bali

Amed is a spectacular sleepy fishing town on the east coast north of Tirtagangga with numerous coves and headlands, colourful fishing boats and a verdant mountainous backdrop.  The area is very popular for diving and snorkeling, the reef is only 10 meters from the shore with good coral and with many colourful fish to see.

I arrived here instantly happy and smiling wide at the stunning scenery around me.  The sun was brightly beaming in a perfectly blue sky broken up only by tiny scattered wisps of cloud.  I knew straight away I was going to spend more than just a couple of days here.  Upon recommendation I was looking for the Good Kama Bungalows where Nick had often stayed.  To get to them I had to drive the full length of the town which stretches for quite a way along the coastline.  Upon arriving I was amazed at the shear tranquility of the place which is hidden amongst palm trees in its own private cove.  The Bungalows are set back only 20 or so meters from the water’s edge and fishing boats line the dark sandy beach.

A member of staff showed me to a vacant bungalow and along with the price it was pretty much near perfect.  The room was basic but comfortable with a ceiling fan.  The bathroom was amazing, walled off but with just the sky above you, water flowed from a small gully at the top of the wall like no shower I had ever seen before.  In all it was the perfect place to relax and do nothing much for a few days, swim snorkel and lounge in the hammock which hung at the front of the bungalow.   By this time the light was fading and night was drawing in, so I did nothing but eat a meal and then have some beers before calling it a day.

The next day I had to get some money and having found out Amed does not have any cash machines it was to be another long bike ride to the nearest large town of Amlapura.  I followed the directions a member of staff had given me, but got it wrong.  I was meant to ride all the way back to the main road and turn left, instead I turned left in the town onto a back road that at the time I had no idea was going to put me close to tears.  The road at first was like so many others, simply breathtaking.  I was heading into the lush verdant mountains.  Along the way I was passing by farms and rice fields and to some stunned looking villagers.  They knew what the road was like as I didn’t and were probably wondering why on earth I was taking this route.

I was heading straight towards the mountains and at this point I was hoping the road was not going to become too steep.  It did!  The road twisted its way up and up, and just kept on getting steeper and more twisty as I pushed on.  At some points It got so bad if I had of stalled the bike I knew I would have been in trouble.  Practically lying down on the bike hoping to stick to the broken up road beneath me I passed a house and saw a tourist with a local walking along the drive.  I must have looked terrified and near crying as I passed then.  A little further along the road came to a flat high up the mountain and overlooking the valley below.  It was time to have a rest and with hands uncontrollably shaking, a cigarette.  Soon the tourist I had seen joined me.  ‘Nice road aye’ he said as he approached.  I could only exclaim my terror at how the road to this point had been.  He explained he had to leave his car further back as it could not make it up such an incline and would just slide back.  He was impressed with my bike though and so too  was the local who was admiring it and giving me the thumbs up.  We exchanged our stories and before I set off again we asked the local if the road ahead was going to be the same.  As I could tell I was only half way up the mountain and so imagined it would be, and of course the answer was yes, what I really didn’t want to hear.   Further on it was the same slog on the bike but only with the added fjord breaking up the road even more.

At a forked junction at the top of the mountain I came to a stop where a man carrying a large cage on the back of his 50 cc moped stopped to ask me directions.  I told him he needed to take the road I had just come up but warned him is was a really steep and rough road.  He grinned and nodded and off he went without a care in the slightest.  I would rather take the long way back than take that road again, going up was bad enough but I could only imagine how hard it would be to negotiate on the way down.  I must say I am impressed at how the local people ride along these roads on their laden down mopeds, vans and buses.

Eventually I was back onto the main road and heading towards Amlapura.  Another stretch of perfect riding, winding through the mountains and passing rice fields in valleys stretching right out in the furthest distance.  On all the whole journey there and back took me around an hour and half, no doubt much quicker if you don’t take ridiculous roads over a mountain.  On my return to Good Kama I had something to eat and rested with a cold beer staring out across the calm blue Bali sea.

Later that night was time to see what Amed had to offer as a night life.  I headed out to find a pool table and bar.  I was eagerly wanting to drink and play pool and meet some people.  I found there were not many pool tables on offer and all of them were occupied by the locals playing a betting game using playing cards.  All I wanted was to shoot some pool over a few beers.  In the end I decided upon a hotel with a table in the back and played this Bali betting game with 4 other young local lads.  It turned out I was actually pretty shit at this game and so lost more money than I had won.  Well in fact I didn’t actually win at all, but it was a good laugh, I along with my money felt very welcome and they had reggae tunes blasting out in the background.  One of the lads ironically called Reggae, mentioned that night there was a reggae party on the beach and that they only have this once or twice a month.  Apart from that everything else was closed around nine.  Since it was almost nine by then I agreed to follow him there and I was glad I did.  There must have been just about every tourist in the town there mixed in with many of the young locals.  It was a buzzing atmosphere and I even bumped into the German couple I had met in Ubud.  It was a perfect end to the night and just to top it all off the ride back was somewhat exciting and worrying as my front light decided to become dim at some point along the narrow winding road all the way back to my bungalow.

The Little Piggy Got it!

‘Fuck fuck fuuuuuuuuuck! which one? which one?  …the little one’

I took a long and twisty squiggly up and down road through the mountains on my way to Amed from Batur.  Sometimes the road would ridiculously wind and twist up and down at such extreme angles it pushed my nerves and concentration to the limit.  I was wondering how on earth they could actually build these roads never mind drive large vans or busses along them.  Eventually I made it to the main road hugging the north-eastern coast line of Bali.  The going was good from now on.  The road was mainly a straight line all the way and the traffic was easy to negotiate.

Very Suddenly on an open stretch of straight road with virtually no other traffic, a whole drove of pigs were crossing.  I hammered on the brakes but realised I would not be able to safely stop in time, I tried my best to aim between them but they were too close together.  So at the very last-minute I had to choose which one to hit.  I’m sorry to say but the safest choice for me was the little one.  However it did make one hell of a ramp and I finally got some airtime on the bike which landed safely back on the tarmac.  I stopped a little further along and looking back saw a little twitching pink pig by the side of the road.  It was horrible but it was either me or the pig.

Gunung Batur, Kintamani

So it was time to leave Ubud and press on with my next recommended stop on the way to Amed, Kintamani which overlooks the enormous volcano Gunung Batur.  This is still an active volcano and the first historical eruption was recorded in 1804.  Mount Batur (otherwise known) is 5,600 feet high and is centered between two concentric calderas the one containing lake batur is around 10 by 13 km, the other is 7.5 km wide.  The Batur area was formed by this volcano over 30,000 years ago.  It has erupted more than 20 times since 1800, the worst was recorded in 1917 killing thousands of people and destroyed more than 60,000 homes and 2,000 temples.  The last eruption was in 2000 which killed two tourists who had hiked up without a guide.  It is impossible now to hike Mt Batur without a guide.

Upon first sight of Mt Batur when arriving at Kintamani was just amazing.  I could not possibly see the far reaches of this impressive volcano but the mountain itself was jaw dropping.  Standing high into the low hanging clouds and surrounded by a vista of unspoilt beauty.

The typical Bike shot 😉

I headed down towards lake Batur where I would spend the next two nights relaxing at a hotel overlooking the lake and the mountain.  I did not take a hike as it was a bit out of my budget which was fine anyway as the other tourists who had hiked it had told me the cloud cover spoilt the view and from their photos I could see this.

The next morning I took the bike along a bendy back road around the lake to a nearby hotel and Spa I had been told about.  The spa has two outside pools of natural hot spring water.  It was a good place to relax the afternoon away, although it was pretty much deserted by the time I had arrived.

Monkeys

Okay so after breakfast I payed a visit to the Monkey Forest in Ubud.  It’s quite a nice place to walk around and of course there are lots of monkeys running about.  I took the bike around to the back entrance so I could drive through a part of the forest.  There was an entrance fee and also a fee for a bunch of small bananas to feed to the

He's after my banana!

monkeys, but I payed and bought some anyway and tried to get the guy there to take some photos.  The monkeys once seeing I had a bunch of bananas in my hand spent no time at all jumping all over me and devouring the bananas before the guy could get a decent shot.  Still ya know.

Walking through the forest I found a bit where a lot of the little buggers where hanging out.  I parked my arse down on the wall beside them and just sat there waiting for them to get sed to my being there.  My plan worked and within a few minuets they got closer to me and then began to climb about on me. I got some passing tourists to take some photos.  It was really nice to be so close to them.  Of course they can still be a bit unpredictable.  After some time they got more and more curious of me.  One tried to see what was in my man bag, I had images of a monkey running off with my cards or passport  -the luck I have been having I wouldn’t be so surprised.  Another monkey somehow noticed I had a nipple piercing and started to pull at it, I can’t say it was exciting in any way, but well …it was a little ….no no it was a bit strange is what I mean. 😀  Anyway the little bugger thought it needed to take a nibble and then the next thing I was trying to protect myself  whilst standing up and trying to get about three monkeys off me, and all while a load of tourists looked on somewhat worried and amazed at this spectacle.

Having a little chat with the monkeys

By the time I had left the forest the day was getting on and I thought it time to move on from Ubud.  The next stop was Kintamani a Volcano where I would stop for the night on my way to the coast and to Amed.

Ubud, Bali

My first point of call from leaving Nick’s was Ubud.  I had no idea what to expect but was pleasantly surprised with this quaint little town inland.  As soon as I arrived I got the usual greeting from a local asking me if I needed a place to stay, I was on guard straight away but on asking the price he quoted me 70,00 RP for a room.  I could hardly say no to such an offer.  I followed him a short way to his house and took a look at the room.  It was basic with only a cold water shower, something I have become accustomed to anyway.  It was ideal and the price was right for me so I promptly accepted and settled in.  His wife made me a lunch which was not at all what I would have wanted but I was hungry and ate most of it leaving the crushed up whole shrimp to oneside.  I tried not to even look at it.

Jazz Cafe, Ubud

As night fell and after a well deserved beer I got ready for a night on the town to see what Ubud had to offer.  First stop was to a Jazz Cafe where they had a local Jazz band playing to almost a full house.  The music was excellent and the cafe itself was a beautiful place to relax.

From here I wandered around the streets looking for the main bar area, which was located on Monkey Road.  I happened across it by accident actually and the only place recommended to me was the reggae Bar, so I headed there.  Found it just in time, after ordering a beer the band got ready to play.  What a night it was, the band where excellent and the whole place erupted as everyone got up to dance.  I met a couple of guys by the bar, one an Australian here on a short holiday and the other an English guy who was out here for work as a scuba diving instructor.  I spent the rest of the night with them drinking and chatting.  When the var closes we walked a little further down the street to what happened to be the actual reggae bar that was open much later.

The next day was supposed to be a day of sight-seeing and doing the usual tourist things that tourists do.  However my cough was becoming worse and I thought by now it was time to get a doctor to take a look.  I made my way to the Ubud Clinic where straight away I was seen and examined by a doctor.  It was what I had expected, a throat infection and my glands had become swollen.  So first a stomach infection now a throat infection. – What next?  I was given a weeks course of antibiotics and was sent on my way.   So My next stop was to have a look at the monkey forest but no sooner had I left the clinic the bike stopped working.  What is it with e and bikes?  I had to push it quite a way along a busy road to a mechanic to take a look at.   I left the bike with the mechanic and went off to find some lunch.  Upon my return the bike was fit and healthy again and for a hefty price of 300,000 Rp for a new CDI Unit.  Fuck me!  I really need some luck when it comes to bikes.  Maybe I shouldn’t have sold my beloved bike back home.  Maybe this is why?

The new CDI unit made all the difference and I have had no problems since. 

It was too late by now to visit any of the tourist sites so, after dinner and a few beers later I resided for an early night and ended up spending most of the rest of the night chatting and drinking with my two german neighbouors in the room next to mine.   I was determined to see some monkeys the next day. 🙂