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September 15th, 2009

Having departed Gunung Bromo, Java, at 10am I was happy that I’d be in Kuta for around 8pm hopefully giving me enough time to find somewhere to stay and to settle in. Unfortunately I’d not factored in Indonesian timing and was a little hacked off to notice that it was 8pm and I had not even entered Bali. Anyway, 5 hours later I, and a German couple, arrived in to Kuta, Bali, and started making our way through the numerous full hotels that were on offer. The few places that did have rooms seemed to be strangely expensive. An hour in to the hunting, and a couple in to the morning, the German couple found a place for pretty much nothing and left me to it. Slightly hacked off at this I got on the back of a scooter, backpack n all, and was taken off to a hotel which I was assured had a room. On arrival I was given a key and told a price and off I went to bed exhausted yet again.

Bali is the one remaining Hindu island in Indonesia and, coupled with it’s diverse scenery, is a very unique island. If there’s one island that can appeal to everyone this is it. From the surf, sun and Aussies (!) in Kuta to the volcano of Gunung Batur via the highly cultural Ubud this place has it all.

For the majority of our time in Bali Emma and I were joined by two of her Uni friends, Lou and Viks. With Emma in Kuala Lumpur, having experienced the same journey from Koh Samui that I did, I met up with Lou and Viks on my own. We had some lunch and then went to try and find some accommodation for the next few days. Asking at a few places we soon realised that, while Bali is cheap compared to the west, it’s not quite as cheap as you think when it’s high season. I would, therefore, suggest that future visits to Bali should be done just outside the peak season when your money goes further and the Aussie’s haven’t gone anywhere at all!

We spent the first couple of days getting some beach time and pretty much didn’t stray from Kuta beach and Poppies lanes 1 and 2. Neither of us had surfed before and Kuta (actually Bali in general) is renowned for it’s excellent surf. There are plenty of official surf schools offering to teach you for around $35. That seemed a bit steep to us so we popped down to the beach and got one of the many Balinese, who offer teaching, to show us how it’s done. As a teaching experience it’s probably one of the worst ever but it was about $10 for a quick lesson and two hours on the board. Viks and Lou went first putting serious pressure on me and Em. We shyly buggered off for some lunch before attempting the lesson ourselves. I knew my masculinity was in question and that was only exacerbated when Em managed to get up on the board first time. I got up third time! That night we set about hitting the Kuta nightlife as hard as possible and headed out for dinner before visiting the might that is Bounty nightclub. This place is free to get in and in my opinion they should pay you for the pleasure. Actually that’s not completely true but it is a little reminiscent of some of the cheesier clubs from Uni days.

Having had a bit of beach time we headed towards the centre of Bali to the town of Ubud.Cafe Bali, Ubud Ubud is the cultural heart of Bali and a UNESCO heritage town, which ensures that it stays as true to its roots as possible. The place is stunning, with traditional Balinese arts and crafts, festivals, food and architecture in abundance. If you’ve ever been to Luang Phabang or Hoi An then it has the same kind of feel but in my opinion is even better.

We arrived in Ubud by minibus and immediately headed in to The Three Monkeys for lunch. This place is an awesome cafe for lunch, doing a full range of cuisine all done superbly. Once we’d eaten the girls went off to find somewhere for us all to stay. This took a little while, to say the least, but once done Em and I checked in to this lovely little guest house. Only four rooms in the whole place but the room was absolutely massive, with breakfast being served on our balcony in the morning. In terms of nightlife Bali is not exactly rampant but the restaurants are absolutely top notch and there are a few bars to relax in after dinner.

For our first day in Ubud we decided to go white water rafting. In all honesty it wasn’t the most exhilirating of experiences; the girls did in fact give me a bit of abuse for laughing my way down instead of screaming with them. The scenery, however, is really amazing: gorges cut in to rainforest give the whole ride a really amazing atmosphere and the 5 metre drop at the end is an absolute laugh. The amusing outfits are pretty funny as well: there should be photos of it somewhere. Oh yes………

Lovely white water rafting outfits

For our second day in Ubud we decided to climb Gunung Batur, the still active volcano in the centre of Bali. As with the volcano in Java it’s suggested that you climb the volcano in time for sunrise. Unlike Gunung Batur, however, you do actually have to climb the volcano. We set off at 3am in the morning to get to the foot of Batur for 4am in order to climb up in time for sunrise. We had a guide with us, who was invaluable as it would be impossible to find the way up in the dark without one. Sunrise view from Gunung BaturFor me this was definitely one of the highlights of Bali. It took around 2 hours to get up the volcano and at times the incline was very steep to say the least. I think it’s best, in this instance, to simply have a look at the photos of the volcano and sunrise; it’s quite amazing to have the earth steaming around.

On our third day we went to the hot springs at the foot of Gunung Batur before spending an afternoon walking round Ubud and the surrounding rice fields. The following day we left for Gili Trawangan with Lou and Viks taking the fast boat and Em and I taking the slow boat.

Author: Mark Jerzykowski Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
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