Bali. Our official Start to Indonesia.
Our start to Bali was, at best, experiential… The day after my birthday was just a horrid day. In amongst throwing up anything we ate and all the beer we had the night before we also had to make our way to the Police Station to write up a report. Once that was all done we avoided the burger place and the bars from the previous night, and we settled with a single pizza from next door and we slept the rest of the day and night away.
The following day we decided that despite a rocky start, we needed to put it behind us and go explore a little. We made it to the beach and had a beach day… 😉 In our defense we were still feeling quite weak but we were not entirely sick. The day was beautiful with plenty of sunshine, so a beach day was not a terrible idea.
The following morning we said Fuck it and packed our bags and headed to a different area of Bali called Uluwatu. We ordered an Uber, because fuck the taxis (they had continuously ripped us off at any stage that we used them and that is the same as in our home city.) We liked Uber and when our driver arrived we ended up liking him even more. Eko was the name of this fantastic gentleman and by any means if you EVER go to Bali please ask me for his contact details, it will make your life so much better when you get there. He was a youngster with a wife and one child. He told us all about his life and took an interest in ours. He explained how he had made friends with another South African guy who was using his services at the moment, although that guy was always a few steps ahead of us so we never met him. Eko told us about the Island and where to go and what to see, as well as what to eat, which is super important in my books. We ended up using Eko to take us all around the Island, wherever we wanted to go. He was pretty knowledgeable about the island and Indonesia in general but would not bullshit you if he didn’t know, and his English was perfect. He is really friendly and always had a smile on his face.
Uluwatu was a much more chilled out place with lots of surfers running around with their boards attached to their scooters. Our accommodation was very neat but it did not have Aircon, just a fan, so this was going to be a first. It turned out fine and we did not have any problems sleeping. We hired a scooter, with no surfboard carrying rack, and made our way around the area by ourselves…. because fuck the Taxis…
The first objective was to hunt down the strange airplanes that were randomly sitting in a dug out plot next to the road. The small Boeing was fully intact and looked like you could jump in and fly it away, the problem was that it was, in essence, in a hole. It is said that the plane was put there to be turned into a tourist attraction, actually a restaurant, but the owner ran out of money. I am not sure but the fact that something that big was transported through residential areas is quite mind boggling.
There are 2 different planes in different locations and we just visited the one.
We then scooted along to the coast and walked down a bunch of steps to a beach that we had heard of with a cave on it. We paid our usual parking and entry fee, which turned out to be the standard practice throughout Indonesia, and went down to the beach. It turned out that the beach is only existent when the tide is low, otherwise you have to make a mad dash between waves to where the cave is and then take shelter in the cave. From the looks of it you would get stuck in the cave when the tide was at its highest. We arrived as the tide was on its way up. The view was spectacular and the ocean was beautiful, but we could not stay long because we would have been trapped in the cave for a few hours until the tide went down again. It almost seemed like a bit of a waste having to pay to enter, and we thought it would have been nice to have been told at the entrance. I know that some people would say we should have done our research and that people have to make a living but I will argue that we would have come back anyway at a better time and the same people would have got the same money so that argument is quite mute in my book!
The next part of the day made up for anything that may have made me negative by this stage. We drove along a road which ended at a point which just said Coast With a View on my maps-me app. To be fair it was the coast and there was a view, but what a view it was. I do possibly think that there are more spectacular coastlines, but the contrast of the cliffs that had been cut away to accommodate a road that zigzagged its way down to the ocean, then you had a wooden boat lying next to the road and a water break looking protrusion that had a couple of wooden buildings on it that were operating as a restaurant. On top of that there was a temple-like entrance wall with arches and a door that were randomly on the beach area. Also the beach itself was part natural and part sand that had been deposited between the cut-out cliffs. The colour of the water and the reef that showed in dark patches was just fantastic… For me it was just both naturally and unnaturally beautiful.
We then decided to go to the beach where the bits and pieces of a ships hull were. It was quite a steep and long hike down a cliff-like hillside to get down to the beach, but the views were amazing along the way. We hiked through forest which still felt like 100 degrees Celsius and it took us a good 30min to get there, which is not a long hike but in that heat and when you can see your destination the whole way it seems like forever. The fact that there were ladies at the bottom who had carried a massive box filled with snacks and drinks, including ice, to sell to the beach-goers makes it very unfair for me to complain though. The beach was Long… crap long, and there were only a handful of people on it. It was a beautiful white beach and the water was crystal turquoise, however because of the bedrock and broken up coral pieces, it was a terrible swimming beach. We had to tip-toe into a tiny and shallow pool and just sit down to get a bit wet, because at this stage we were baking. We ended up taking shelter under the hull of the broken up ship. The pieces of wooden hull made for spectacular photos and we took full advantage of that.
The swim was pointless after walking back up the trail for 2 minutes, I was dripping in sweat again and our water reserves were about to dry up. It was a very tough walk up, but we seemed to always keep in mind that we had done over 1100 steps up to the Buddha statue in Thailand, and that seemed to give us a bit of encouragement to not complain too much.
Our final excursion for the day was to visit the Balinese-Hindu temple, which was located on the top of some magnificent cliffs. It was the perfect place to sit and watch the sunset, and there were hundreds and hundreds of people who thought the same. There were stages being broken down in a central outdoor auditorium so I think they had some sort of show on during the day, or it could have been a wedding because we saw a couple having their photos taken on the edge of the cliffs. There was a theater area where they did traditional dancing shows every evening and when we walked past it looked packed already. Apparently it is something you have to go see but we were, later in our trip, spoilt with a little demonstration show so we don’t feel too bad about missing this one.
To finish off the evening we had a decent dinner of fried rice and fried noodle, locally known as Nasi Goreng and Mie Goreng, down at a local restaurant around the corner from our guesthouse.
I think I should reiterate, at this point, to anyone reading this that this Blog is for our memoirs of our travels and possibly some entertaining reading in the future, we do not intend this to be a guide whatsoever in how to travel around South-East Asia. There are times we were downright disappointed in the locals behaviour or certain ways of doing things, other times we were disappointed in our own, this Blog simply captures those feelings we were having and the opinion we had about certain things. If you had different experiences and feel we misjudged a situation then write about it in your own blog, or keep it to yourself.
We decided that the following day was going to be entirely dedicated to the beach, as life had been tough the last couple of days, as you can imagine… 🙂 We went to a well known and well reviewed beach called Padang Padang Beach. It was a decently long beach and we found a nice spot under a large tree. Again the ocean was beautiful but whilst the tide was low you had to find a small pool in amongst the rocks and coral to actually get reasonably wet. It was crazy hot so there was no way that we were not going to swim, which is why we would crawl over the rocks for quite a distance before we found a good spot to cool down in, then we stayed there for a long time. Everyone looked very uncomfortable whilst getting into the water. We then finished the day off with a reasonable dinner of fried noodle and rice, again, before getting hammered on our balcony with a bottle of Gin and a whole lot of Tonics… It was an entertaining evening.
The next day we scooted ourselves over to the other Padang Padang beach, or as some call it – Labuan Sait beach… Jo had woken up feeling a bit under the weather, but not in a hung-over way. We started to suspect it was what they call Bali Belly. We thought a swim in the ocean would cool her down and make her feel a bit better. We had to walk through a very narrow crack in the rocks and down a few stairs before being greeted by an amazing view. This beach was nestled in amongst some cliffs on one side and boulders on the other. The ocean was again a pretty blue/turquoise colour and it was deep and sandy, so perfect for swimming.
That day at around lunch time we had arranged for Eko to pick us up and take us through to our next destination, which was the town of Ubud.