A Travellerspoint blog

June 2013

WELCOME TO STRALYA!

Heading down under to Melbourne and reuniting with our mate Broomy!

12 °C

When we started planning this trip one of the first things we said was that we would head to Melbourne. Knowing that Broomy (Dan Broomfield for those of you who don't know him) would still be working there, made it even more of a dead sure destination as we had not seen him since he left the UK 18 months ago!.

Flying from Singapore to Melbourne can be a little expensive but I managed to find two flights with Jetstar and Air Asia which meant it would cost £140 each which is pretty damn good (saving us over 100 quid each!).

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However what it meant was that we needed to transit at Kuala Lumpur before taking the Air Asia flight. So in my mind it was a simple process of collecting bags and then re-checking in at the same airport. This prior thought was flawed as the flight we would need to take to Melbourne was flying from a different airport which AirAsia solely occupy meaning we needed to transfer from the International Airport to catch it. Obviously I was a little annoyed with myself for forgetting this important fact, especially when we had flown from this airport before. (Dont worry , I didn't go full HULK) but it was not all lost because we had plenty of time between flights and it was simply just a case of catching a bus or taxi.

This is where KL international airport is complete crap and didn't do me any favours because tqhe taxi's at departure level are all luxury ones so they charge way over what was recommended from the helpdesk. So we headed for the bus stop down at the lower levels but that was pretty useless as there was just guys you had to ask who ran the buses and they said when it would turn up but that wasn't a guarantee so we opted for the other taxi rank on the lower levels. We started to queue and fortunately the lady organising the taxi's offered us to go ahead of the line if we were happy to pay 55 ringgit to the taxi driver. This was only 10 more than what I was expecting so I said "hell yes" and chucked our bags in and we made it with plenty of time to spare. Lesson learnt.....I hope.

The flight to Oz was easy enough and being overnight both Sarah and I slept for most of it. As we started to descend the scenary of Victoria began to show it self and it was cool to see more colours as the autumn season working its way across the state. Looking at the centre of Melbourne from a distance it sticks up like a sore thumb above a vast flat land that harbours the suburbs, this was going to be our base for the next 6 months and we were dead excited about it!

We had arranged with Broomy to meet him at the airport as he had graciously offered to pick us up but it dawned on me I had no way of contacting him which didn't help when we were held on the plane after landing for almost an hour due to congestion at the gates. We bought some Vodka on the way out knowing that booze was expensive and queued for immigration. We had heard that the laws of Australia had made immigration a bit of a bitch especially if you have come in as a traveller because of the quarentine that is required. So we came prepared wearing our boots and made sure we had sent all wooden souvenirs home.

It turned out that the immigration and quarantine part of our arrival was the shortest part and we walked out to the halls to find Broomy waiting like a taxi driver with a sign. But this was like no other sign in that it was made from a pizza box and had the words.....

WELCOME TO STRALYA!!

We were well chuffed with the effort and after explaining and apologising for the delay we caught up on the way to the car and it was like we hadn't been on the other side of the world from each other for all those months.

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Driving into the city was great and Broomy told us about some of the things he would like to show us whilst we were here and also how central his flat was. We were very lucky to have this contact as it made the transition so much easier.

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Being a weekday Broomy had to head into the office but not before taking us to a cool cafe called St Ali for breakfast. He told us that Melbourne tends to have these little gems of cafes or bars tucked away in areas or on roads you wouldn't expect to find them and a lot of the time the business comes from word of mouth. So if you haven't got some in-the-know friends you might end up missing some of these pleasures.

The breakfast was immense! and the quirkiness of the place we really enjoyed. Outside there was some good graffiti which Melbounre is famous for.

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The cafe had these little signs which made us giggle.

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Before Broomy left us at his flat I pulled out some mail that I had kept since he left the UK which had come to our old flat that we had shared. It had travelled with me all through Asia..needless to say it went down well.

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As Broomy tied up some loose ends at work, Sarah and I went to work ourselves getting prepared for working life in Melbourne by setting up a bank account, getting tax file numbers sorted and getting mobile phones. It was very productive morning and we got to see a little bit of the Southbank area by the river and the central business district or CBD. It was like walking out into the kind of autumn weather we have in September only its May! Seeing golden leaves on trees we got pretty excited and even had a play...it was a little chilly though, especially coming from 30 degrees in Asia.

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Later that day we continued catching up with Broomy and met his housemate Paul known as Pauly from NZ and we chowed down with some Kangeroo on the Bar-B... I could get use to this.

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The next 4 days in the day time Sarah and I got C.Vs in order and started applying to jobs and recruitment agencies as we felt we had to hit the ground running. It meant that in the evenings we felt fine with enjoying ourselves.

One of the nights we went to go see the third and final instalment of The Hangover and it was very funny, after the cinema we went for a walk around the Crown casino which is an adult playground that hugs the riverbank and is owned by one of Australia's millionaires. It mixes high end shopping with entertainment and food as well as a hotel and we took on one of the black jack and roulette tables, but unfortunately the house won.

Outside the Casino there are 8 towers along the riverfront that release huge fireballs every hour, with some of the fireballs going up 7ms! The sound and the heat that comes off of them is intense and its quite a spectacle to see. What even more immense is how much it must cost to put this on every day! Literally burning cash!

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Another one of our nights out was to go visit the trendy area of Brunswick street and have drinks at a bar called Naked for Satan, whichnhad interesting decor. We met up with one Sarah's friends from work in the UK who was living in Melbourne now too and coincidentally some of Broomy's mates were at the same bar and so we all chatted together over a few drinks.

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Sarah's friend Ria invited us to join her at a house party later that night which was a good laugh despite having one of Melbourne's stormiest nights in history where lighting and torrential rain made the journey to the house a little bit tricky. Turns out we had arrived during the wettest June in Melbourne in the last 150 years!

The party was in full swing and we all were chatting away when we heard the fire alarm going off due to smokers on the porch leaving the door open. It went on and on and several people tried to shut it up. There is a joke that goes something like How many people does it take to change a light bulb, and this was kind of like that but with a smoke alarm as one girl was lifted up to try and push the off switch. But maybe due to being a bit drunk her common sense was off somewhere else and she started using the brush end of the broom which did absolutely nothing except pick up the excess dust on the ceiling. Cue someone shouting 'use the other end you dumb bitch!', it was hilarious.

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After that episode it was party time...

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and some of us partied a little harder than others......guess who.....

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The next morning we found out Sarah had paid the penalty for having a good time and hugged the toilet during the night. Our plan for the day was to go to the South Melbourne Market and take a look around and we decided on route that a Sunday roast would cure any ailments from the night before.

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The market was cool with so much yummy food everywhere. We made the most of the free samples including some amazing cheeses and looked forward to coming back to get some for ourselves. It wasnt just food there and I managed to find a new men's wallet to replace my Velcro 15 year old wallet and I managed to get a pretty good bargain.

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Dan introduced us to sampling oysters for 2 bucks and Sarah bought brownie that she had been looking forward to all day only to be disappointed when it was like a stale brick! She wasn't happy but a twirl chocolate bar soon put a smile back on her face :)

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The meal that Sarah cooked later that night was sublime and definitely cured any hangovers, she even handmade the yorkshire puds!!

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One for the family album :)

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We had done so much in the first few days we took much needed rest, but we still had plenty to look forward to including tickets to auditions for Australia's got talent which Broomy had miraculously managed to get at the last minute. More on that to come.

Beautiful!

Stay tuned for more tales

Dan

Posted by doyledan 03:32 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Our last day in south east A!

History, orchids, reunions and night safari!

30 °C

Where have the last 9 months gone!!

We would need to make our last day in Singapore and South East Asia a good one.

First stop was The National Museum of Singapore which is by far one of the most impressive museums we have been to on this trip.

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We headed straight for the Singapore History Gallery. Normally it would cost S$10 each but lucky for us we had turned up on an 'open house' day and it was free. We were each handed our own device with earphones, which allowed us each to select our own journey through the exhibition.

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We went through a curtain and found ourselves on a bridge in a room with floor to ceiling screens showing impressive images of Singapore, its people, lifestyles, buildings and wildlife. What an introduction!

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You could either select to go through the exhibition based on events or on personal stories. I decided to go the personal story route but soon changed my mind and joined the others on the event route as I didn't feel I knew enough about the history to get the significance of some of the stories being told.

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We made our way through Singapores history from Raffles (known as the modern founder of Singapore), secret societies and opium dens to the Japanese occupation during the Second World War. There was so much information and even after 2 hours we hadn't got through all! It was time to move on though!

Next stop was the Botanical Gardens!

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We had managed to miss the rain whilst in the museum, which was doubly good as meant it was still overcast so not too hot from the sun.

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With a variety of different gardens, including one dedicated to all things ginger :) , there was plenty to explore.

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The gardens are most famous for The Orchid Garden, it was only S$5 for this colourful treat.

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Some of them looked really weird... (this one was named after Margaret Thatcher in the VIP Garden)

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Or had smiley faces!

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It is also a very popular place for wedding photos!

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Dan was fascinated by the leaf that looked like it had a plant painted on it! And clearly was having a mad moment...

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The clouds had got darker and we could hear the distant rumble of thunder, after spying one of these signs too we thought it might be best to call it a day.

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After freshening up from our humid day in the gardens it was now time for another epic reunion! Fiona, an old friend from university now lived in Singapore with her husband Nav and I had not seen her for 7 years! We d arranged to meet them for dinner along with Manda as well who was here in her home city too. Perfect timing.

We met outside Masjid Sultan, a beautiful mosque which I believe is the largest in Singapore. It was very impressive as it came into view at the end of Bussorah street.

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We had a great catch up over kebabs, hallumi cheese and humus at a Turkish restaurant and a few quick drinks.

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It was lovely to see you all :)

Dan and I didn't have long as we had to rush off for the Night Safari!!

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This is one of the first attractions people would mention to us when talking about Singapore and we had heard good things so needed to check it out for ourselves. It is definitely a unique zoo experience. We spent a couple of hours exploring the dimly lit trails not knowing what we might find around the next corner. From squeaking otters and munching porcupines to leaning giraffes and sleeping leopards.

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And there were Tigers too!

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It was really hard to take photos of the animals in the dark as its hard to get focus without the flash, so I am very pleased with this shot :)

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It was midnight by the time we left. What a way to spend our last evening in Singapore.

A huge thanks to Hache for having us to stay, its been loadsa fun :)

Next stop Australia!!!

Sxxx

Posted by doyledan 06:41 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Exploring Singapore

sunny 32 °C

After a hearty breakfast at one of the cafes along Robertson Quay we headed out to explore more of the city.

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This is a novel way to try to deter people from doing graffiti by putting paper up on the walls of subways with art, which can then be removed and replaced with new art.

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Singapore is known for having strict laws that can result in fines or time in prison for things that police at home wouldnt bat an eyelid such as no eating or drinking on the subway, littering and chewing gum. Apparently if a bike is stolen then signs go up and the area is cordoned off like you would expect for a murder investigation. I just remembered that on the plane there was a couple sitting infront of us who were having a cheeky look at porn on their iPad! I wonder if they knew that pornography is illegal in Singapore! Could be a bit of an embarrassing call home if you ended up in jail for that.

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We may smirk at the strictness of some of these rules but Singapore is by far the cleanest city we have been in.

As we walked along the river the heat was already getting oppressive. You would think we would be used to the heat by now but Singapore seems to have its own type of heat, I guess due to the additional humidity, and it wasn't long before Dan resorted to our trusted Angry Birds umbrella for some shade.

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Think we could all have used a refreshing dip in the river too!

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Our first stop was the check out the Fullerton Hotel which had once been the General Post Office. We had already seen it lit up at night but now wanted to take a look inside.

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It was just as impressive inside with a grand staircase leading down over a huge coi carp pond. Not too shabby!

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Now every cool kid knows that your hat should be as bling as the city that you're in!

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This is the Esplanade Theatre on Marina Bay which is also known as 'The Durians' due to the aluminium sunshades that cover it that make it look like the famously smelly fruit.

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Who said trees don't have hearts?

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The Merlion is the national symbol of Singapore. An animal from legend it has the head of a lion and body of a fish, representing Singapores history. The fish represents the time when the area was called Temesek which means 'sea' and the lion head represents when the city was renamed Singapura which means 'Lion city'.

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We were wilting in the heat and got a bit of shade walking along the Helix bridge (the longest pedestrian walkway in Singapore at280m) to find relief in the airconned shopping mall at the Medina centre.

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Which had an ice rink!

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And a river where you can go on a boat ride!

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We'd admired the Marina Bay Sands hotel and decided we should go to the observation deck to see what views it offered over the city.

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With our ticket we weren't able to go into the roof top gardens or pool area. That was just for guests of the hotel, unless you came early and joined one of the morning tours, but if you craned your neck around a corner you could check out how the other half lives!

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Still needing get a few more bits for Australia we decided to join the hoards of shoppers on Orchard Road, which is famous for its plethora of shopping malls.

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After successfully finding some jeans it was definitely time for a few beers...

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and a visit to Little India for a curry!!

Sxx

Posted by doyledan 03:54 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Hello Singapore!

Reunions, cable cars and the wow factor!

Our final stop in SE Asia would be Singapore!

Some people might question why we didn't go there before Indonesia but it was with good reason. By putting it at the end we could coincide our visit with when a friend from home was moving to Singapore. Another epic reunion awaited us!

Having stocked up on duty free gifts we went to get our bags,

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only to be left waiting at the carousel with Dans bag nowhere insight. As that drama was resolved and his bag arrived I noticed someone waving frantically in our direction. It was Hache who had come to surprise us at the airport :) what was to follow was a fun night of catching up on news from home, her time moving to Sinapore and our adventures.

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We had some great local food...

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And having been without decent wine for months, we may have got a bit carried away...

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Which resulted in a lot of kangaroo onesie fun

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Have you ever had crisps made from purple potatoes?

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The next day a bit worse for wear we set out to explore some of the city, stocking up on some local grub at one of the many food courts.

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Check out these gardens! So cool!

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Our first stop would be China town and as we walked through from sky scrapers to old style shop houses it was like being in a giant film set with changing scenes that didn't quite seem real. Kind of like in the Truman show as everything feels like it has its exact place. It definitely didn't have such a built up, bustling feel to it that was so impressive about Hong Kong.

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As none of us were in the mood (or in any state) to be looking through all the different things at the stalls or haggle we decided to opt for the cable car ride instead where we could just sit back and take in the city without the hecticness. To be fair as we had been to China and several other China towns on our trip we didn't really need to get anything anyway.

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The cable car takes you to the top of Mount Faber (which really should be described as a hill), over the harbour and across to Sentosa Island. As it was an overcast day and drizzling the views weren't as spectacular as maybe they could have been on a clearer day.

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But it was quite cool to get a birds eye view over Sentosa island

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And of this gigantic cruise ship! Complete with mini golf, a driving range, swimming pools with slides that come out off the ship and a helicopter pad!

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We jumped off at Sentosa Island to take a look around, I had not realised that it was one big playground, with casino, theme parks, water parks and aquarium. It was also where they have Singapores Universal studios. I really should have read up on it more, not exactly the best place to be hungover and with not a large budget! But it was fun to see and if we were back in Singapore on a different trip I might check it out properly.

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After all that excitement and walking around in the humidity it was time for a nap before we took on Singapore at night.

We were glad we had some new clothes as we knew that flip flops and shorts were not the dress code required to get in the roof bars.

Singapore is known for its great food and we headed to Satay Street for some...can you guess...that's right satay!

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Outside on the street was stall after stall of satay sellers, all advertising the 'best satay'. There was also an impressive building where inside was a selection of other food and drink you could get too but we opted for chicken, beef and prawn satay, which was delicious!

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Suitably stuffed we made our way to Level 33. Daniel and Hache were amazed that there was no queue. We think as it was a bank holiday weekend that a lot of people had actually left Singapore for a long weekend which worked out well for us. Within seconds we were in the lift and sitting at a table outside with this amazing view of the city, just in time for the light show! WOW!!

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From our vantage point we could look down on the famous Fullerton hotels, and decided we would move on to Fullerton Bay hotel for a cocktail.

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We could get used to this!

Sxx

Posted by doyledan 21:44 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Sanur, Bali

Our last days in Indonesia

Knowing that Dan was going to be shattered from his volcano trek I took on my own challenge of trying to find some accommodation we could afford in Sanur. What I hadn't appreciated was that this area was predominantly resorts and at this time of year was very busy. This resulted in a couple of frustrating afternoons trying to search for something that wasn't too expensive. Finally I stumbled on Sunhouse Guesthouse and decided just to go for it and hope for the best.

I arrived in Sanur before Dan and got a bit concerned he might not be able to find the guesthouse as Wena (who had given me a lift) had to stop about 5 times to ask directions. It was located in the Jalan Matasari area which is the southern part of Sanur, a bit further away from the main area. We pulled up outside a walled compound with a big gate on the corner of one of the back roads.

This is what greeted me on the other side...

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I couldn't believe my luck, it was perfect and only 10 mins from the beach.

Its safe to say Dan was equally impressed when he arrived!

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On our first night I took Dan to a place I had found down the road called the Art cafe. There was an old couple from Austria sitting on the table next to us and towards the end of the evening the old man shouted over to us "have you seen the flying dog?" Not really sure how to respond to this random questioning, we gave him a smile and said we hadn't. "Its been up in that tree for the last 15 years!" was the next exclamation. He clearly had lost his marbles and Dan discreetly signalled for the bill as I obliged looking over at the tree for a flying dog.

As I looked at the tree I suddenly saw a movement on one of the branches and a wing unfolded in the darkenss, it was a huge bat! Turns out he had meant to say a flying fox and he hadnt lost his marbles after all!

I went back to next day to take a pic...

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Sanur is known for its 4km beach path so we decided to check it out. It is literally resort, after resort, after resort, with private beach areas and sun loungers. I now understood why I had so much trouble trying to find a cheap place here!

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We were a bit concerned at seeing this sign...

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But then relaxed when we saw this one...

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Being at the tail end of our budget and still needing to have funds to visit Singapore and get to Australia we didn't do much in Sanur other than walk along the beach and chill out at the guesthouse.

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Fish face!

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We didn't really go out much for dinner as the restaurants along the beach were a bit pricey as they tailored for all the people on holiday in the big resorts so instead we opted to get take out from one of the local warungs or pot noodles for cheap, and made use of the DVDs our gueshouse hired out for free.

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It was on one of these chilled days that we saw huge storm clouds coming over in the afternoon and soon enough it was raining. This turned into a huge storm in the night where the rain made so much noise you couldn't hear the TV even at full volume. Never experienced anything like it, and the thunder and lightning was epic! Lighting up our whole room as if it had struck right outside and with the sound of thunder vibrating right through you!

Another reason we were watching the pennies was that we needed to buy some warm clothes before getting to Australia as we would be arriving in Melbourne for their winter. As Australia is expensive we would make the most of the malls in Bali which hopefully would be cheaper.

Lets just say we got a bit carried away with the credit card! All essential items though!

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We nicknamed this dude Charlie. He lives with the laundry lady called Wayan down the road from us.

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It was time for us to leave Indonesia, the last two months have flown by!!

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We ll definitely be coming back! So much more to explore, we only scratched the surface!

Sxxx

Posted by doyledan 17:03 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

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