A Travellerspoint blog

May 2013

Next stop Lombok

Sengiggi

We settled with the idea of leaving Gili Air mainly because we only had a few days before Rosie would be flying into Lombok. It was also a possibility that on route to Kuta in the south we could meet up with Sarah's old work colleague in Sengiggi. So we checked out the area in the usual places and found out that Sengiggi seemed to be more for resort based holidays. This made us apprehensive that we wouldn't find somewhere within our budget, but luckily on Agoda we found a deal and snapped it up. The place was called Kebun Villa Resort, the reviews were good, the price was not too beyond budget so we thought why not treat ourselves. Its those times that usually throwing caution to the wind pays off and boy did it! More on that in a bit..

To get to Sengiggi we had to buy a boat/bus ticket from one of the randomly posted shops around the island and hoped that it wasnt going to be cheaper down at the harbour. I think there wasn't much difference in the price having made our way to the harbour in the morning, the prices we heard flying around for late comers was similar but I think we were lucky in the end because we got our shuttle bus with a better company.

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Waiting in the harbour we saw the boats coming and going and they were similar to the ones that ferry people between the Gili islands.

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The round up call was made and we all made our entry onto the boat. Our boat wasn't packed as the one that we got from Trawangen to Air so we moved about when the boat set off. This proved to be the worst thing I could have done as I had my IPod on my lap and it fell off into the middle of the boat and got covered in water. This IPod has been on its last legs for a while so I was surprisingly calm about the whole situation which I am the first to admit is quite out of character as similar situations have brought the rage out of me.

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Leaving the island we got to see it in its perfect form with the sun beaming and the mountains of Lombok in the distance.

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We could see larger boats along the Lombok shore and wandered what our liveaboard boat would be like in Komodo.

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Once we hit the mainland the details we were given were that you get a bus to Senggigi from the harbour which was included in the price. What they failed to divulge was that you needed to walk a good 10 mins to where the shuttle bus station was. This is where the mis-information lends itself to chaos and also cheeky scammers looking for a payout, and typically it occurs in many places in Asia but I wouldn't be surprised if it happens to all backpackers/tourists in places around the world where people do not earn much.

The reason I say this is that these guys will say anything to get you to jump in their 'transport' (horse cart) even if like in this case you can walk to it with no real strain assuming you can carry all your bags quite easily. The guys left a bunch of us alone pretty soon when they realised none of us were having it. One did try to tell us "the bus is leaving, you will miss the bus if you don't get on", even following us for a bit in his horse cart, but we didn't fall for it.

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We took the short walk which seemed to be on the main road out of the harbour and by the entrance gate there was a car park and opposite a courtyard. A helpful guy looked at our tickets and ushered us to the courtyard to wait for our shuttle bus, which wasn't due to leave for another 20 mins, so much for missing it without the lift down the road. The guys were all friendly enough and it wasn't long before we left with a full mini bus trying to make it up and down the large hills that hug the shore line where we caught glimpses of great views. At some points we didn't think the rickety old bus would make it and that we might have to push it!

Gladly, it did and we made it to Kebun Villa Resort and felt a little like the other people in the bus who were hot and sticky and making their way to their next ferry would get a bit jealous of our hotel as we drove up a private road to the entrance. We were a bit unsure if we would be let in ourselves! Our bus left and we checked in and we were so pleased with our choice!! After living on a sort of budget it was so nice to upgrade and have these luxuries!

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A big bed! With A/C in the room

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DVDs for free hire!

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A view out across the canopies of the jungle

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Probably the longest pool we have had the pleasure of using, and we had it to ourselves! Sarah was pleased to get some lengths in.

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And a random Guinea Foul who was a free roamer around the hotel (although it did peck Sarah in the leg trying to get her to share her breakfast!)

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All this for just £15 each a night!!

After just enjoying the hotel we headed out to see what Sengiggi had to offer. The town itself didnt seem to have much to offer, despite having some restaurants which looked quite nice. We decided to head to the beach and see what it was like and again it wasn't that impressive and we thought perhaps the resorts had taken the good spots (or maybe we have been spoilt by some of the other beaches we have been on).

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There was a bar on the beach which would take in the sunset which we decided to have a drink at later but before we took a short walk around coast line and watched the surfers and local folk chilling out.

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Sarah was in a happy mood as we looked out upon the sea.

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We went for the drink and watched the sun go down over Mount Agung on Bali.

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The sunset was beautiful however the local sellers took advantage of the audience staring out to sea and decided to put themselves in the middle, holding up the sarongs they were selling right in front of the view!

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Our last day we used the hotel facilities, bought a few clothes and had a proper chill out not that we really needed it after having spent over a week beaching it up on the Gilli's. Sod it ....we are on holiday! Unfortunately we didn't get to meet up with Sarah's work mate but we might be able to rectify that in Australia.

Two days was not a bad shout as we were happy to move on and get to Kuta on the south coast to prepare for Rosie's arrival. Whoop Whoop!

Stay tuned for more tales

Dan

Posted by doyledan 19:07 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Awesome Air

Sun, sand, some diving and sunsets...what more could you want!

I think the title says it all but we had a great time on Gili Air so much so that we ended up extending our stay TWICE...and here's why...

Day 1

Packed again we trundled down the road to the harbour to get our ticket for the slowboat to Gili Air.

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With the 'slowboat' only taking half an hour (the last slow boat we were on took 2 days!) we didn't understand why people would take the 10 min speedboat for nearly 5 times the cost. Also you have great views of the islands and Lombok to take in, so not a bad way to spend your time.

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We'd heard good things about Damai Homestay online so we decided to book ahead. When we arrived on Gili Air only about 5 people including us got off the boat, a huge comparison to the hoards that had got off with us and the other boats at Gili T. Hardly anyone was around apart from a few horse carts and their drivers snoozing in the shade, there was no one asking if you had somewhere to stay, no one following you with the 'good price'. As we discussed whether we would walk all the way to the other side of the island given that we had no idea where the Damai really was someone said "Are you Daniel?", the homestay had kindly organised a horse cart to pick us up and I was pleased to see that the horse seemed in good condition.

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The island is smaller than Gili T and criss crossed with small paths. Some parts of the main 'road' around the island are too narrow and sandy so the horse carts need cut through the centre to get to the other side. It was instantly a different experience as we passed people's homes, cows, chickens and coconut trees all with the jingling of the bells on the horse cart in the background.

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We were so excited as we pulled up to the homestay through a grove of coconut trees and we were not disappointed.

The view from our room...

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Sometimes its the little touches that make the difference...

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Coconut teapots

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Kittens under tables and trying to catch crickets...

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And having the sea at the end of the lane...

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It wasn't long before we couldn't resist the beach any longer, we followed the lane around the island past sleepy restaurants and beach bars and we soon found ourselves on a stretch of beach all to ourselves although still in earshot of some chill out tunes being played from the last bar we had passed.

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We whiled away the afternoon on the beach, soaking up the sun and cooling off in the sea.

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When I was a kid I used to spend part of the summer holidays with my Nan in Bournemouth and we would spend ages on the beach collecting shells (I think I still have a box with some in at home) so I was like a kid again scouring the beach for shells and soon enough in I had quite a collection... Although most of the time the hermit crabs had already nabbed the best ones.

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Check out this guy that walked in front of us in the lane to the homestay!! Easily 2.5m long and we re not even on Komodo!

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On Gili Air there is a 'party' which rotates between the main bars on the island but instead of rotating every other night, I think it is every other week so when we saw the poster saying it was happening on the other side of the island that night we decided to check it out. We had a vague idea where it was so headed along the coastal path with our trusty torches. It was a good job we had them as certain parts of the path have no lighting at all and with just the light of the moon it got a bit spooky in places, particularly when we knew there were some big lizards lurking about. Somehow despite being a small island we seemed to miss where this party was so just stopped off at a restaurant for some food whilst we watch a group of men fishing in the dark with their head torches.

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Day 2...

We decided to take advantage of the snorkelling gear and headed to the beach to see what we could find. I also wanted to see if I could wear fins yet and fortunately I could...just!

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Close to the shore we came across a school of tiny silver fish, there were literally hundreds of them and as we swam through they parted and then regrouped behind. At one point all you could see around us was shimmering fish. We had noticed that the beaches were lined with white broken pieces of coral and so it took a while to get out past the bleached coral to live ones. We would later find out that this bleaching was an after affect of El Niño which changed the water temperature, the change in temperature makes the coral release the algae that it coexists with to photosynthsise. This makes the coral more brittle and susceptible to damage.

The water is really shallow and you could be really far out and still stand up, it was worth the extra kicks to get further out as we saw a lot more fish then we had closer to the beach, colourful parrot fish, trigger fish, banner fish the works. I annoyingly had a dodgy snorkel which kept letting water in so went back in to chill on a day bed whilst Dan kept exploring.

On our way back to our room we were approached by a girl who asked us whether we were divers. It turns out she was from Gili Air Divers and as part of Earth Day they were doing a clean up dive the following day which we could take part in for free. We signed ourselves up straight away!

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One thing we loved about the Gilis was seeing the local people going about their daily lives. Although a smaller island than Gili T, Gili Air has the largest population of the islands with many local people preferring to live on this quieter island and going over to the larger island for work.

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This is the Gili equivalent of an ice cream van, which plays the most annoying music!

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Sunset on Gili Air in amazing and if you head to the north end of the island you can grab yourself a bean bag and watch the sunset in the distance over Mt Agung in Bali.

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Day 3...

Excited about the clean up dive in the afternoon we had a chilled morning...well you can't really have any other type of morning here. Dan went off to the yoga studio down the road.

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Although I could now put fins on my toe wasnt right and balancing all my weight on one foot was still impossible so I stayed back at the homestay and played with the kittens.

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We got to the dive shop at 3pm and filled all the relevant paperwork and got kitted up. It was all a bit chaotic as lots of divers and non divers had turned up to help with the clean up but there was a good vibe and soon everyone was checked in and sitting down for our briefing.

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We were given a presentation on the environmental issues around the Gilis such as the affects of El Niño I mentioned earlier. One of the biggest problems is rubbish which due to the strong currents that pass through this area result in rubbish from the rest of SE Asia coming here and at certain times of year you can even see 'islands of plastic' floating passed.

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One of the main reasons for plastic being such a problem, other than the massive increase in tourism and not having the infrastructure to dispose of rubbish properly is the 'banana leaf effect'. This refers to packaging as until relatively recently in the islands history local people used banana leaves to wrap up food and once it was finished they would just throw the leaf on the floor, this behaviour remains today only the banana leaf has now been replaced with plastic. We were told more about our responsibility as divers to pick up rubbish if we see any on our fun dives if it is safe to do so. How a lot of places on the island now offer to refil your water bottles with drinking water for a small charge which is cheaper than buying a new bottle of water and means the one you are using is not thrown away. Basically the importance of the 3 R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Wetsuits on and armed with huge bin bags and gloves we made our way to the boats. I couldn't take the weight of the tank on my back on my foot out of the water, so had to ask for help which made me feel a bit pathetic when everyone else was carrying their own! But that was soon forgotten as we speeded off to the harbour area for Operation Clean Up... Again the James Bond theme tune sprung to mind.

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With so many divers going into the water the boats spread out and each group took it in turn to do the backward entry into the water. Our dive master was a local guy called Alex and we were grouped with a French couple. The visibility was poor to begin with but got considerably worse once everyone started picking up rubbish from the bottom. There was so much sediment flying around we soon lost Aex and at times could hardly make each other out but we stayed together and soon found Alex again. We had to be careful which rubbish we picked up as some might now have coral growing on it, if that was the case we were to leave it. We picked up all sorts from plastic bottles & bags, cans & crisp packets to cement bags and a bowl.

At one point Dans weight belt unexpectedly came undone, these are cumbersome to deal with out of the water let alone underwater whilst holding a bin bag full of rubbish and with gloves on. Alex and I went to help him sort it out so all was fine. In the commotion somehow my ring came off and there was no way it was going to be found. I signalled to Dan that my ring was missing which we both found funny as this is the 7th 'engagement ring' I have lost since we've been away, good job I left the real one at home! The problem was that the other couple had seen me signal to Dan that my ring was missing and were now intently searching the seabed for it! It was hard to sign underwater for them to stop looking but somehow what I did worked. We all had a laugh about it when we got back to the surface at the end of the dive and it was very sweet of them to try to find it.

It was an afternoon well spent...

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And we couldn't help ourselves and decided to book some dives

Day 4 & 5

When Dan was still sleeping I would slip off down to the beach to see the sun come up, how could you miss this! (Just for the record I did try to wake Dan but it didn't go down too well lol!)

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And I got to say hi to the dustbin man...

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For the next two days we did morning dives and then chilled out in the afternoon, mainly at our favourite haunt called Scallywags which had amazing chairs that Dan could do more sleeping in :)

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It was fantastic being out on the dive boat in the morning. The crystal clear water and the views of the islands and the mountains on Lombok and Bali were amazing.

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We even got to see flying fish and somehow managed to get a pic of them! I ve never seen them before and it was stunning when loads of them came out of the water at the same time.

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Our first dive was at Jack point and was the first time we tried a 'negative entry' into the water. This is where you do a backward roll off the boat with no air in the BCD and keep descending straight away rather than bobbing back to the surface and descending the normal way. I was not massively comfortable with this method as like to double check mask and regulator again once in the water but we gave it ago...and this one definitely needs more practice as I ended up on the surface anyway lol! The fiasco of negative entry over we continued our descent and were soon in the company of a big turtle having a good back scratch on some coral.

The highlight of the dive was when we were surround by a huge school of Jack fish. They were everywhere and all around us, it was really impressive and we could tell that our dive master Souk was really excited about it. Turns out that even though he has dived 100s of times that this was the largest school of Jack Fish he had ever seen, so it was quite special. Unfortunately there were no underwater cameras available so have no pics of it though.

I don't think there is better way to start the day than diving and a nice cuppa tea.

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The second dive spot the next morning was at Shark Point and within minutes of descending we saw our first white tip shark but unfortunately we didn't get a good look as it was swimming away from us. Having seen one so soon we hoped to see more but they illuded us. We did get to see some other cool stuff though like two huge lobsters, cuttlefish and a big grouper.

It was during this time that I found out that someone I had known at uni had passed away. Even though we werent close it was very sad news and hard to comprehend that someone who had been part of loads of fun times at uni was no longer with us. Dan and I were already feeling after being away for so long that we appreciate our friends and family so much more and want to make a huge effort to see everyone when we are back. Its odd how when someone is just down the road you may not see them because you might be tired or you think I can pop by tomorrow..but when your 100s of miles away and cant just pop round or tomorrow doesn't come then thats such an opportunity missed! Make the most of today!

Day 6...

It was our last day on the island and as we were pondering whether we should stay for just one more day or make a move on to Lombok we had a message from a dear friend from home who had managed to book some last minute flights and would be joining us in Lombok in a couple of days time! You can imagine how excited we both were and decided we definitely should head to Lombok to scout out the area and figure out where we wanted to base ourselves for the fun that was to come.

This definitely made it easier for us to leave but not without taking in one last sunset.

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It was beautiful and made better by the local families that had come down to the beach to fish in the low tide, it was lovely to watch them all together

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And these two didn't have a care in the world :)

Sxx

Posted by doyledan 17:09 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Bye Bali, Hello Gilli T!

We woke up to a gorgeous morning, and popped down to the beach to wave goodbye to Mount Agung before heading to catch the morning boat to Gili Trewangan.

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We'd heard mixed reports on the boats leaving from Amed to the islands but we decided to throw caution to the wind as it would save us time and money to take the boat from there rather than going back down to the main port on the east coast. Literally half the price, which we always like. With stories of dangerous overcrowding, bags getting soaked and generally an uncomfortable ride we braced ourselves for a bit of a dodgy start...but we needn't have worried and this was another example of how you should take what you read on the Internet with a pinch of salt, but maybe we were just lucky that day. The company we went with was Kudah Hitam Express and we would definitely look them up again if we head back that way.

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A group of women were waiting on the beach to take our bags onto the boats and it was amazing how much weight they could balance their head. This porter service was included in our ticket price and turned out to be a godsend for me as I had somehow managed to badly stump my toe which was gradually swelling up making it painful to walk on.

By taking the speedboat we would be in Gili T in an hour, and these speedboats have had a massive affect on the development on the Gilis making them more easily accessible from Bali, which we would find out more about during our time on the islands.

Arriving at Gili T we quickly made the decision that Dan would go and walk the strip to find us somewhere to stay whilst I sat with the bags. It looked like my toe was probably broken so traipsing up and down wasn't a good idea. If you were looking down on the island you would see the following cross section... beach, beach bars & restaurants, road and then the accommodation, so beachside bungalow really means across the road from the beach bungalow. Our plan was to head right from the harbour where the beach was meant to be a bit better and a bit quieter.

Dan was finding it hard to find somewhere for our budget that was what we wanted so we decided to just book one night at Easy bungalows so we could drop off our bags and continue the search together. This was quite a slow process, one because I was walking really slowly and two because a lot of places were charging more than we wanted to spend. The island was quite busy so I think they could hold out for someone who didn't want to haggle, some places were charging 400,000 to 700,000 a night, others wanted 300,000 for rooms that weren't as good as cheaper ones we had stayed in before (maybe we were a bit spoiled by the amazing room we'd just left). Eventually back closer to the centre of the strip we met the friendly 'Randy Andy' (that's how he introduced himself!) from Sunrise Bungalows and got a nice fan bungalow for 200,000 a night with wifi in the room too. Result!

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We would move there the next day, and finally we could relax and take in where we were...

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And make friends with the locals...

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There are no cars or motorbikes on the Gili Islands which makes a nice change. Everyone either walks, cycles or takes a horse cart to get around.

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It was nice to have a slower pace but we soon realised that a lot of the horses didn't look in too great condition and seemed to be attached to the carts all day and night. Even though my toe was bad I preferred to slowly hobble with my backpack rather than take one of these horse carts. We would see a big difference in the condition of the horses on Gili Air compared to Gili T. Here the horse carts run all day and night but on Air you won't find any from about 10pm, this seems to be directly related with the huge increase in the number of people coming to Gili T which has more of a 'party' reputation with bars and restaurants open all night. We saw several tourists flagging up concerns to the locals about horses foaming at the mouth, no water, sores from the harnesses etc...

Most of our time on Gili T was spent lazing on the beach in the morning and then chilling out at our bungalow when the rains came in the afternoon. This was fine with me as we d started chatting more about what we might like for our wedding and whilst Dan would take advantage of the cooler temperature and run in the rain or go to yoga class, I would be browsing wedding blogs for ideas. Exciting :)

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Its always a bonus to wake up and find a kitten asleep outside your door!

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Unfortunately as my toe was busted it meant that I couldn't put fins on so going on the snorkelling and diving trips was a no go. The currents can be quite strong and even just trying to swim off the beach you would just end up going nowhere or backwards! I also couldn't do yoga either, who knew you needed your little toe so much to balance!

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We weren't massively up for getting on the booze so the all night bars weren't really for us. Being in the last leg of our travels we had to be mindful of our budget. It would have been very different if we were just here for a holiday but it meant that filling our evenings fell a bit flat as you felt you were maybe missing out on something (particularly karaoke bingo night!) but at the same time we didn't want to force a night out for the sake of it, so when we found a bar that played movies including popcorn for just 30,000 per film we couldn't say no.

Its become a bit of an on running joke that Dan will always get served his food before me and I ll have to watch him eat as mine will no doubt take another 40 minutes or have been completely forgotten about! But on Gili T it stopped being funny as about 3 meals in a row mine was mucked up...one was given to someone else, another when it finally arrive was a tuna sandwich with no tuna in it despite them having an hour to put the tuna in it, and another was some chips that were so hard and trying to get over the concept that even though they were hot that didn't mean they were cooked was futile! You have to laugh about it really but after this happening on and off for months I was 'at my wits end' until Dan found me a decent chocolate cookie to make it better :) we did also have some amazing barracuda and tuna kebabs yum yum!

One day we walked round to the other side of the island to watch the sunset. It was an almost deserted beach with a small beach bar, completely different from the other side of the island. It was great to chill out and watch the sun go down with a Bintang and I think there was no more than 20 people sharing it with us!

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One thing to remember though is that when your camera battery is low dont waste it taking loads of photos of a hermit crab so the battery is dead for sunset! Such a cool little dude though!

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Although Gili T is beautiful it wasn't quite what we were looking for from an island experience.

We decided we would move on to Gili Air the next day and see what that had to offer

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Sxxx

Posted by doyledan 06:01 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Liberty Wreck

The next day after Uluwatu we left Jimbaran to make our way to Amed on the East of Bali so we could try out the wreck dive which we heard about during our stay on Mabul island. USAT Liberty was a United States Army transport ship torpedoed by Japanese submarine in 1942 and beached near to the shores. In order for us to get there we negotiated with Awan, our driver from the trip to Uluwatu, to take us. It cost us 450,000 RP which is about £30 and the ride would take about 4 hours. The idea would be to get to Amed at 11am so we could dive the wreck and stay over one night before getting the speed boat to Gili Islands.

So we left Jimbaran quite early to make sure we could reach Amed in good time. The trip started off not so well because Awan turned up in a different car to the day before which didn't have any seat belts which we instantly were not happy with especially with the type of the driving that you witness but there was nothing we could do about it. Basically in Bali its the norm to drive down the centre of the road only swerving back into your lane when on coming traffic gets close, sometimes not paying any attention to whether anyone has come up on the inside, so at times it was a bit of a white knuckle ride!

As we left the south of Bali we began to see that a lot of the island is countryside with small Banjar's dotted along the coastal road, it was a nice scenic route. The ride didn't seem that long and we made it to Amed with time to spare. We checked in with Adventure Divers and fortunately they provided lunch in the cost of our dives so we tucked into some Nasi Goreng and waited to meet up with our dive master.

The guy who turned up was a local who liked to be called 'brother', and he was really friendly and we later found out that he had been freelancing for a while but had at least 20 years experience diving. We signed the waivers and in no time we were jumping in the mini-van to make our way to Tulemben, which is the bay that the Liberty Wreck is located.

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We couldn't stay at the dive centre as their accommodation was full but luckily one of the ladies who works there had a Homestay and a spare room for us and we would drop off our bags on route. I left Sarah to go look at the room and she came back with a big smile so I knew it was good but didn't know how good... More on that later.

Moving on from where we would be staying we drove for about 20 minutes and came to a car park just a short distance from the bay. The entry to the dive was going to be a new experience for us as we had always gone from a boat but in this case you just walk off the beach into the sea with your dive gear on. The locals helped with taking all the gear from the car to the beach area for us so it was a really easy setup as a customer. Once we were geared up we did the standard buddy checks and then we were off walking into the sea!

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At first the visability was not that great and it took while for things to appear but as we went deeper approaching the wreck from the stern we came upon some regulars that we have seen and some not so regular. The marine life was very diverse.

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It took a while for the wreck to appear, I had expected there to be a ship like shape in the water to follow but seeing as this had been torpedoed it was split up and there was large parts of the ship pertruding from all angles. What was cool to look at was the way the coral life had adapted around it and almost made it unrecognisable.

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You could only see bubbles come out of small holes in the wreck and you knew that someone was diving inside the wreck.

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We saw these garden eels for the first time.

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Spot the fish...

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On the way up for our 3 minute stop we were shown this Mantis Shrimp who didn't take to kindly to having a rock put down his front door, and quickly pushed it back out again... Well lets be honest you wouldn't either!

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Brother used our first dive to see how our diving was before taking us further into the wreck, so it wasn't until our second dive that we got a chance to go into the wreck itself and see its actual size inside the hull.

On the way we found a wheel!

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This fella came out of the wreck to the surpise of Sarah.

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We found a big gun!

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Going theough the wreck was a great experience and also helped us improve our diving skills in terms of buoyancy and control through smaller areas.

After travelling back from Tulemben to the dive shop we chatted about what we saw and filled in our logbooks and were fortunate that we could upload the photos from the dive instantly as a girl who was staying a the dive center had the apple connector to allow us to take it straight from the camera. We chatted with David who was one of the main guys for Adventure Divers and afterwards we walked back to our homestay and I got to see why Sarah was so happy with what we got.

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It was a room that had just been built behind their house to great standards, with a view out over the sea and only about 10 paces from the black beach and stunning views of Mt Agung! Very impressive :) and amazing value for money.

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We opted to have dinner next door where there was a band playing and it was good food and ok music, but after our long day we went back to our room and got some rest knowing we would be on our way to Gili Islands.

Its all go!

Stay tuned for more tales

Dan

Posted by doyledan 03:38 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Fire dancing at Ulawatu

Somehow we had managed not to see any of the traditional dances whilst in Ubud, despite several shows being on throughout the week! So when we heard that it was possible to see Kecak fire dancing at Uluwatu temple, located on a cliff, with an amplitheatre overlooking the Indian Ocean providing some of the best sunset views in Bali we knew we had to go!

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It would take us about an hour to get the tip of the south coast from Jimbaran and we organised a driver to take us there and wait to bring us back after the show had finished. We d been advised to get there an hour or so before the show and that it would be difficult to find an available taxi if we had not prearranged one as the show was so popular. Our driver was a guy called Awan, who also helped us organise our tickets when we got there and walked with us around the temple. Unfortunately he didn't really give us any insights into the temple as all he wanted to talk about was how we would get to our next destination the following day, how easy it would be to cancel our taxi we d already booked and he could take us for less money etc... This was fine, the first time, but he kept going on about it despite us saying we would sort it out later.

The traditional sarong and sash are provided when you arrive so you can be dressed appropriately as you walk around. Knowing we were going to a temple I had chosen to wear long trousers anyway so did not need a sarong and it was just a bonus that they co ordinated with the waist sash you need to wear.

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I think its fair to say that the reason this place is so popular with visitors is due to the cliff top setting rather than the temple itself. The temple is quite small and you are only allowed to walk around the outer grounds, catching glimpses of the inner grounds which are reserved for people who are coming to use the temple to practice their religion.

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There is a walled path that runs along the cliff with great views and from a distance looks a bit like a mini Great Wall of China.

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We had been warned several times by our driver to be careful of the monkeys that live at the temple. They are attracted to shiny objects, have no fear of humans and no qualms about stealing your camera, glasses, water bottles etc... Now given that I can't see anything without my glasses and hadn't thought to wear contacts this would be a bit of an issue if I was targeted, although I didn't really believe that they would be bold enough to take them off your face! However I heeded the warning when a troup of monkeys came around the corner and quickly took my glasses off...and it was lucky I did as in a flash one monkey had jumped on my head and another had jumped onto my back. After a lot of hair pulling and realising my glasses were no longer on my face they got bored and jumped off but that was a close one. I then had to run the monkey gauntlet back up the path being led by Dan as there was no way I was putting the glasses back on when they were close by. It was quite funny and I was gutted that I had been guarding the camera at the time so we weren't able to get any pics of the potential thieves in action.

We timed getting our ticket before the hoards and were given a sheet telling us the Ramayana story that would be told through the dance.

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We still had about an hour to kill before the show began so just enjoyed the view as the sun began to set...

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And watched as more and more people were squeezed on to the benches...

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You would think this is full capacity but no, they kept ramming people in even after the show had started, given there would be a lot of fire later and the benches are mainly wooden, not sure overcrowding is a good thing to add to the mix!

Jazz hands! Well it is a theatre after all.
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From our vantage point at the back of the stands we had the interesting view behind us of the performers getting ready. It was great to see how they were putting on their makeup and costumes and also how they were each blessed before the performance began.

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The Kecak dance uses no musical instruments and the rhythms are all created by the chanting of a group of men. The main chant was "Chak, Chak, Chak" and on watching and listening more closely we began to relise that not everyone was chanting the same and as the momentum built and the chanting became more complex it was clear why this is known as the trance dance.

As the male chorus created the ambiance the dancers moved amongst them to depict the story.

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One of the favourite characters was the white monkey who would from time to time appear amongst the crowd and generally getting up to monkey business, stealing sunglasses and grooming people's hair.

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The climax of the show was when the monkey character was surrounded by a ring of fire and had to jump and dance over the flames, kicking at them with bare feet to put them out. I'm sure there were a few concerned people in the front rows! Video upload is not working again so can't show this at the moment.

Can definitely see why people say if you only go to once traditional dance in Bali then go to the one at Ulawatu. The setting really adds to this unique trance/fire dance.

Sxx

Posted by doyledan 21:15 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

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