Monthly Archives: March 2016

Lumpy Koalas

Well hello from Kuala Lumpur.

In all honesty, KL is not somewhere I’d ever really thought about going before this trip. In fact, I just liked the name of the place. I didn’t even know it’s in Malaysia, or that the Petronas Towers call Kuala Lumpur their home. There we go, ignorance admitted! We knew we wanted to go to Bali, and then to Hong Kong, but the flight between the two was pretty long (about 8 hours) so we looked for somewhere to stop en route, and in stepped Kuala Lumpur!

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Our flight from Bali was delayed by an hour, so we arrived KL at 10pm instead of 9pm. We got some cash out of the machine in the airport (organised as ever) and wandered around until we could find the correct bus. The coach was playing loud orchestral/Asian music which is really hard to describe other than it was like something you’d expect to hear at Disneyland.

This wore thin after half an hour of trying to stay awake so we got off at the right place. We stumbled off the bus in the city centre and headed for the monorail. Up the stairs. Down the stairs. Up an escalator. Down an escalator. We finally found the ticket machines which were all out of order (helpful) and just decided to hop on the monorail. (We didn’t have to pay in the end) Sometimes I fantasise about just getting a taxi but alas, we’re on a budget. Besides, the monorail was pretty cool.

We got off in what felt like New York’s time square, but a very grotty version. We knew our hostel was next to the Macdonalds. We could see the Macdonalds but there were roadworks everywhere and the roads were so busy it took us forever to get across. When we arrived, I was in a foul mood. Hot, knees and back knackered from all the stairs with my backpack on, and I hadn’t eaten since lunchtime. It was gone midnight, and those of you who know what I’m like when I’m hungry will know we were in very dangerous territory. I could barely speak I was so over it all, but the hostel staff were so kind and funny that they actually cheered me up. We had a Macdonalds and then went to bed. (Not exactly Malaysian but I was in no state to find somewhere more local!)

After a big sleep, I was more human the next day and ready for some exploring. We walked around a few huge shopping malls which were really high end and full of shops like Gucci etc. We then went to the cheap mall by our hostel because we knew there was a post office there. I collected a box and then we went back to fill it up.

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I decided to send home my camera (God knows why I thought packing two cameras was a good idea, it’s literally just been taking up room in my backpack for six months) I also sent home the clothes I’d bought, and bits of paper and my Hawaiian solar powered hula girl. I won’t be needing her until I get home. It cost about thirty quid to post but I really don’t care haha!

Walking around I had the weird sensation that everyone was staring at me. At first I thought it was just paranoia, but they really were staring…. It took me a little while to realise that my shorts (not teeny tiny, but because I’m tall, all shorts provide a lot of leg action for me.) were actually a bit of a cultural faux pas. Like Morocco, Malaysia is quite an Islamic country and its wise to dress modestly. I put some trousers on and felt a lot hotter, but less like I was offending anyone. Phew.

We then went to a food court for lunch and after a bit of deliberation and mind boggling (raw fish porridge anyone, or perhaps a salty egg porridge, or a fried trotter?) we went for some safe ish Thai noodles. They came to about £1.20 a bowl. I’m still really enjoying cheap food. It’s insane. The hostels don’t really seem to have kitchens in Asia and eating out is actually cheaper than our New Zealand favourite of crisps for lunch.

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That evening we headed on the walkway to the park under the Petronas Towers. It was really cool to see them light up at night. I’d always thought that the towers were the biggest in the world (I remember learning about it at school) but in fact they’re just the tallest twin towers. That big spire thing in Dubai is almost twice the height. I hope to see it one day. It must be bloody massive. I hurt my neck looking at the Petronas towers!

 

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We headed back and out to the famous “food street” for dinner. Basically it’s a load of restaurants whose tables and chairs are out in the street. The waiters really scrabble to get you to come into their restaurant so it can get a bit hectic. After one trip down the road and briefly considering a frog porridge (I’m not joking) we settled for a safe Chinese restaurant and had very safe sweet and sour chicken with spring rolls. I didn’t take the chopsticks offered… I was also offered a Guiness which was considerate, but hilarious.

There was one moment when my inappropriate laughter got the better of me once again…A busker was walking around the restaurant singing to people down a microphone. The speaker was held by his friend who he pushed around in his wheelchair. So bad to laugh but I nearly choked because it was getting a bit Little Britain… I’m going to hell.

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The following day we went on the hunt for the “Times Square” shopping mall because we’d heard it was so huge that there’s a roller coaster inside. We saw the roller coaster. We didn’t buy anything…. Tom was delighted to discover that Krispy Kreme donuts work out at less than 50p. I had a smoothie because I felt in dire need of some nutrients. Then we had lunch…

Here in Kuala Lumpur, lots of the restaurants have plastic models of the dishes (which fascinate me!) so you can see what you’re ordering. This makes it a lot easier for foreigners. We found a nice looking model of some noodles, pointed to it and paid then sat down. Then our food was plonked in front of us and it was nothing like the example. It was basically a thick black soup with an inch of oil on top of it and a few noodles floating about. Oh, and a raw egg. Luckily it came to about a quid each so we saw the funny side and politely poked a bit of it down then left. I needed the toilet but there were no western toilets… Just the hole in the ground job popular with French service stations. No toilet roll either. Arghh. Too much info dear reader? Well I didn’t want you getting the impression that travel is all glitz and glammer!

We scurried back and used I the toilet at the hostel then headed out for our pre-booked trip up the Petronas towers. We were packed like sardines into a lift with about forty other people. Small spaces with people I don’t know really make me panic, so I did some deep breathing until we arrived on the viewing floor. It was really cool! Not much to say other than it was an ace view and a really beautiful building.

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Good to see the towers up close.
We then headed to a bar at the top of one of the hotels called the “Sky Bar” where the folk from our hostel were heading for a night out. It was probably one of the poshest bars I’ve ever been in and I felt like a total frump in my elephant trousers and saggy vest. I basically looked like I was in my pajamas.

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The bar had a pool in it? And free cocktails…. Despite it seeming like a recipe for disaster, we both managed to enjoy the night without any accidental swimming.

Our final day in KL was spent avoiding the rain and trying to sort out Japan next week. Our usual approach of winging it may get us incredibly lost and confused in Japan, so we are trying to plan more thoroughly. I’m so excited to see Japan, it’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to go. I’m especially excited to have my mind blown by Tokyo, sleep in a capsule hotel in Osaka and to stay in a temple in Koyosan.

Anyway, we’re off to Hong Kong tomorrow. Time to start researching what to do. So far on the list: see the giant Buddha and go to Disneyland!
Observations:

– it’s mainly shopping malls, food, and the Petronas towers.
– in the west we’re obsessed with having a tan. I’m guilty of this – I’m feeling so pleased with myself for being a bit brown. Here in Asia however, most of the beauty products contain ingredients that whiten the skin. In fact, the other day I needed a new deodorant stick and had to hunt for a while to find one that wasn’t “whitening.” (I didn’t really fancy glowing pits…) you also see a lot of people with arms and legs completely covered up, wearing hats, sunglasses and carrying sun umbrellas. Probably wise because the sun is so strong here, but it’s definitely also an image thing.

– we’ve struggled to find Malaysian food! We’ve eaten Macdonalds (hehee) Thai, Chinese, Portuguese (!) and middle eastern.

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Until next time…

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Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan

I interrupt this blog post for a very important news bulletin:

I, Hepzibah Clair Deane, have a tan. That is all.

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(So does Tom.)

After a really great time on Gili Air, off we toddled to explore the other two Gili Islands. Our first stop was Gili Meno where we stayed a total of four nights. We arrived in torrential downpour, which was quite fun. I always love a tropical storm. We’d decided to splash out a bit and spend a total of twenty quid for a bungalow for the evening. Our twenty quid bought us a private bungalow with ensuite, hot water, coffee and tea and air con plus breakfast the next day. Compared to the time we spent forty quid for a night in the worst hostel in Queenstown NZ complete with dirty sheets, unusable kitchen and people shagging in the bathrooms, we were really quite pleased with ourselves.

So far in Bali and the Gilis, we have spent £20.00 a day each including food and accommodation, bits and bobs of clothes/sarong shopping, lots of beer, sun cream, the snorkel trip and the expensive boat trip from Bali to the islands (£60 quid return each.) You could easily do it cheaper by not going shopping and cutting down on the beer, and travelling on the cheap boat. I think I’m really pleased with how we planned our route on the trip (expensive countries first, then cheap) it feels like a huge relief to be in a country where the cost of living is a lot less, and to be able to treat ourselves a little bit without constantly worrying about the budget.

Gili Meno was an interesting experience… It’s renowned for being the most quiet of the a Gilis, and popular for honeymooners. As it’s currently March, it’s the end of the wet season here and one of the most quiet times of year. We found that the locals were in rest mode, not really very friendly or interested in us. We couldn’t afford to stay in the huge fancy resorts aimed at newly weds, and instead stayed in the homestays, which were absolutely fine. It only became tricky at meal times, where we chose to eat at the family run restaurants as opposed to the few expensive bars on the beach. It was fine really, just a little awkward when we had to ask if we could eat in most places, and then the person running the restaurant would literally disappear off to buy the ingredients and our drinks and then spend about an hour preparing food. Although they were friendly, I felt really awkward and like I was putting them out, even though they seemed happy for the business.

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There is very little to do on Gili Meno. One of the best things was the turtle sanctuary where turtle eggs are hatched and then the babies are looked after until they’re eight months old and big enough to survive in the sea. I’ll never forget the day old turtles we saw. Adorable.

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There was no wifi so we read a lot, wandered the whole way round the island, sunbathed and got harassed a lot by people selling jewellery, sarongs, and insect repellant. One evening we found a bar offering a free buffet if you bought drinks. That was a great evening. There were loads of power cuts the whole time we were on the island. When we were sat at a table enjoying drinks, all the lights went out leaving us to see by the candles on the table and someone shouted “welcome to Gili Meno!!” I also weirdly enjoyed the thunderstorms at night where the flashes of lightening would light up the whole room like day, and the rumbles would shake the whole bungalow. I’m sure Gili Meno is better at a busier time of year, but by the time we left we were desperate for a bit of noise and to see some people who smile.

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Well we got what we asked for at Gili Trawangan! We got off the boat, dodging horses, people on scooters, people washing the streets with hoses, stray cats, other bewildered travellers with rucksacks and wheelie bags (the latter of whom I’ve recently developed a irrational hatred of. The same goes for people with small rucksacks. Jealous much?) and we headed to our homestay.

On the way, I twisted my ankle and fell flat on my face in the middle of the road, pinned down by my rucksack and in the shock started CRYING. As if that wasn’t mortifying enough, there were loads of locals watching, and I could barely get my bag off me! I did a roll similar to a tortoise stuck on its back. Everyone came to help, and Tom picked me up and brushed me down…. The result was a grazed knee, foot and toe and a battered ego. I hate that bloody rucksack. Later in the evening, Tom was chasing a mosquito in the dark around the room, and thinking he saw it on my foot, pressed his thumb into the open wound from earlier. My eyes watered in pain and in hysterics. So funny.

Similarly to the other Gilis, our time on Gili T has sort of blurred into one because we didn’t really do very much. Here are some highlights:

 

– walking across the island through the rural villages to the other side, away from the strip where it was super quiet, and getting invited to use the swimming pool of a posh resort if we bought some drinks. Coconut in hand (£1.25 each) we floated in luxury around a pool that we had to ourselves, and lazed on the sun loungers that were more comfy than the average bed.

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– going shopping again (hehe) and being asked to take my shoes off at the threshold of the shop. I obliged and was looking around when I slipped barefoot in cat sick. The whole experience made me oddly nostalgic for Penny and Parker…

– discovering the night market on the recommendation of Meg (thanks flower!) and having a super cheap platter of different Indonesian dishes.

– the best cocktails of my life, made with real fruit juice (e.g they use an actual coconut and an actual pineapple for your piña colada!- )

– reading bloody loads of books and not feeling guilty because there’s nothing to do except chill out and swim in the sea. Which, by the way, is so blue and so clear. It’s just stunning!

– finding this toilet. Thank god it was out of order, I wasn’t expecting company!!

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It’s with a heavy heart that we leave Bali tomorrow evening for Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia. I don’t want to go, I love it here!

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Notes from Gili Air

Gili Air is one of the three Gili Islands, furthest from Bali and closest to Lombok. We got an early shuttle bus from our homestay in Kuta to the port, connecting with the boat that took us to Gili Air. Having read a few horror stories online, and knowing that we are both pretty bad when it comes to sea sickness, we decided to shell out a bit and book our journey with an expensive company. This meant that we were sat on the fast boat being handed cold towels and mints whilst we watched a film. This is made me feel like a prat when we saw how the locals travel: crowded boats sitting very close to the ocean… But I didn’t feel too guilty about it…

After about two hours on the boat, we arrived to Gili Air and realised that there are no cars on the island, just horses and carts. What a refresher, and contrast to the bonkers streets of Kuta!

 

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We ambled down winding tracks to find our hostel, seeing hundreds of chickens and roosters and brown cows. When we found Bengadang Backpacker’s, we were surprised by our accommodation: it was a small wooden shelter with a mattress, mosquito net, and fan.
That night I slept for about two hours. It was incredibly hot and sticky, and the mattress was much smaller than a double bed. I’d also got bored and started reading a Wallander book on Tom’s kindle, and freaked myself out a bit… When I’d finally drifted off, I was awoken by the mosque doing its 5am call to prayer, and then the same thing again about half an hour later. (The Gili Islands seem to be mostly Muslim, whereas Bali is mostly Hindu.)
Anyway. It was an interesting experience. The following evening actually, I was chatting to a local in one of the bars, and he asked where we were staying. I replied “Begadang.” I asked what the word meant in Indonesian, to which he said “Begadang means all night awake with no sleep.” Ho ho ho!

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The following day we hired snorkels from the hostel and went in search of the turtles. We found a quiet bit of beach and started walking out into the sea. It was so shallow, and we were walking through seaweed. Tom said “oh, I’ve just seen an anemone, we should probably swim.” So we started dragging ourselves out doing breast stroke in very shallow water, eager not to be stung. When we got about 200 metres out we realised that it wasn’t getting any deeper. I stood up. It was so bizarre being stood up in what felt like the middle of the sea! We weren’t getting anywhere so we belly swam back and walked about half an hour further down the beach. There we met a woman who said she’d seen the turtles, so we got really excited, went to put our snorkels on but the realised we’d lost one of the mouthpieces… Fuck. So we walked all the way back along the beach but couldn’t find it. A truly unsuccessful trip really, but we later decided to book an official snorkel trip on the advice of a girl we met at the hostel, who was taken out on a boat and saw loads of turtles. Exciting!

As we walked back to the hostel we came across an elderly Indonesian chap who was very smiley and keen to speak to us but didn’t speak much English. He was really friendly. I noticed that he had a handful of mushrooms. He explained that they were in fact magic mushrooms, and he was on his way home to make himself a nice cup of tea with them. No wonder he was happy!
That evening we met a few people at the hostel and had a nice evening drinking at one of the beach bars. I slept like a baby that night. Not so begadang after all.

The next day we checked out and headed to the H2o yoga retreat, where we were due to spend one night. I know, yoga retreat sounds ridiculous but we just fancied it haha! We signed in and enjoyed the coolest hut with the best outdoor adjoining bathroom. I’d love one of these at home if it weren’t for the weather. There’s something so nice about showering outside, looking at the sky.

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We chilled out all day, wandering outside for lunch and then headed to the 5pm yoga class. Those of you who know me will know that I’m always the person laughing at the most inappropriate moments (dentist anyone?) I managed to make it through the entire class only laughing once (whilst I was attempting a handstand against the wall with no luck whatsoever) and then the teacher got us to close our eyes whilst she started banging on some Tibetan prayer bowls. Everyone else seemed to find this relaxing, but to me it sounded like the X Files, and I started imagining aliens teleporting into the yoga class and completely lost it. We’re talking silent laughter that leaves you unable to even breathe. I shuffled out of the class red faced.

We’d heard that Indonesia was due a solar eclipse the following morning so we set an alarm and headed to the beach at 5.45am. The island has a huge population of chickens and cockerels, and I’ll never forget that there were so many cocks crowing at that point in the day that there wasn’t a second where we couldnt hear “cockadoodledooooo!” We waited around for a few hours watching the sunrise, which was beautiful, but alas, no eclipse.

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We had breakfast and checked out, then headed to our next accommodation. As I mentioned, there are lots of very knackered looking horses who carry cargo, locals and tourists around the island. I feel really sorry for them as they don’t look too happy so we’ve taken to walking everywhere instead. I realise this is just how it works on the gilis, but I’d rather walk. Cue entire body sweats with the backpack on and twisted ankles walking in sand.

Once we arrived, we settled in and had a lazy day on the beach. I managed to burn my legs and looked like a total British wally. I truly believe that you can always spot the Brits abroad because we’re usually the ones who are a bit overweight, sunburnt, drunk, and looking for free stuff.
Committing to the stereotype, I was now burnt, overweight (thanks Australia) and in need of a drink. We found a bar offering buy one get one free cocktails and, thus having got something for free, I ticked all the check boxes. I fell asleep once we’d got back and was awoken by a cat fight underneath our hut. One of the cats legged it off and returned later literally shouting “ow! Ow! Ow!” Which made me laugh. I met the cat the following day, she’s very chatty, would give Mishka a run for her money. Hard to be annoyed at being woken up when she’s so cute! I asked her what her name was and she said “maw!” So that’s what we call her.

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Then it was time for snorkelling.
We picked up our gear and then headed out in a boat with a glass window in the floor. We stopped after a few minutes and before I even had time to panic I was in the water, following a huge sea turtle. I’ll never forget how chilled the turtle was. He barely moved in the water, just drifted with the current, and calmly looking at us when we swam past. We also saw loads of beautiful fish, and a stunning coral garden that was absolutely fascinating. I think the New Zealand dolphin experience has truly destroyed what little sea legs I have…. The engine smells took me straight back to nausea land, despite the sea being fairly calm. Idiot. Needless to say, I got over it when we saw another group of turtles. I loved watching them slowly blinking and ducking their heads under their flippers to have a little scratch. Gorgeous. Since we missed out on the turtles in Hawaii, swimming with them has been firmly on my bucket list, and I felt so SO happy and privileged to see them.
Things I want to remember:
– sitting in a cafe and hearing an enormous crash, bang and something rolling across the roof then “doof!” on the floor and realising we’d been hit by a falling coconut.
– the welcoming smiles of the locals.
– seeing something cross my path and crouching down to discover it was a tiny frog the size of my thumbnail.
– watching a local wash his horse in the ocean.
– feeding the stray cats, thinking I was being very discreet until I was surrounded by a choir of singing cats in the restaurant.
– a baby cockerel, who was a perfect miniature of the full sized.
– the most incredible sunset I’ve ever seen.
– discovering johnsons baby wash for sale on the island. Sensitive skin sufferers rejoice!
– chickens with their chicks.
– staring at a really cool house and then seeing something skulking across the garden.. Doing a double take when I realised it was a lizard that was easily 6 foot long. I’m 80% sure it was a Komodo dragon.
– the food the food the food.
– the turtles, the turtles, the turtles.

Things I’d like to forget:
– having an unhappy tummy 95% of the time
– the scorpion in the bathroom
– pockets filled with serviettes because the Indonesians don’t really do toilet roll, instead offering what we call “the bum gun” (a special tap for….. Well.)
– feeling really sorry for the horses that have to run full pelt with a carriage full of cement/bricks etc, and just look really knackered and unhappy.
– fucking idiots swimming right up to the turtles and touching them and crowding them. It makes me SO cross.
– the mosquitos

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A love letter to Kuta and Ubud

Dear Kuta,

When I first stepped off the plane I was a bit overwhelmed. It was 2am, I was dehydrated and I’d just woken up having gone through all the sleeping positions possible on a budget airline seat. When we’d found our bags, we went in search of a taxi driver. We didn’t have to go far. They were lined up in matching Hawaiian shirts waiting for us. Our first one gave us an insane quote. The second one was slightly better… But not much. But we were tired. We followed him even as he offered rides to other bewildered westerners, and boasted to his friends how much he had got out of us.

The taxi was alarming. There was little in the way of street lights and it felt like another world. There was no sense of give way, just everyone everywhere. The dark alleyway where we found our hostel scared me. We waded through puddles with our huge backpacks on and tried not to look at the snarling dogs. But then we saw the security man waving to us…
Our room was great. Elsewhere we’d paid on average £40-60 a night for a double room. We hadn’t had an ensuite for the entire trip. Kuta, you were £9 a night. You had air con! You had a double bed and an ensuite!! We passed out. We woke to the sounds of dogs barking and cockerels going crazy.

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We tried the hostels breakfast, and looked at the huge Hindu shrine in the centre of the courtyard. Incredible. Breakfast was £1.30 each for a toasty, fresh fruit and orange juice, an omelette and coffee.. Kuta I started to like you. Everyone had told us “get out of Kuta straight away” but we decided to explore you instead.

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We walked your winding streets, leaping out of the way of the millions of scooters, saying “no thank you” to the offer of “taxi!” Or “massage!” and headed to the markets. We haggled and came out with a new top for Tom and an embroidered handbag for me.

We wandered the streets, jumping over the Hindu offerings full of flowers, food and burning incense. On the beach, bananas had been left out. We tried our first Indonesian meal for lunch – chicken satay with rice and Bali fried rice, fresh juice and cold water, for about £6.00. The novelty will never wear off! I fed the stray cats, even though I wasn’t supposed to.

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I’ll never forget my piña colada made with fresh pineapple juice. It tasted like alcoholic smoothie heaven. I’d like to forget the huge cockroach that joined me in the bathroom and keep the memory of Tom coming to save me in his boxers and walking boots.

Dear Ubud,

The shuttle bus we took to you scared me. It drove down alleyways that I’m certain aren’t made for minibuses. When people on scooters squeezed in between the bus and the alley walls, I had to close my eyes and dig my nails into my palms. My eyes stayed firmly closed whilst we reversed around blind corners into the path of oncoming motorbikes. But once we were out of Kuta I couldn’t keep my eyes off the world outside.

Artists lined the streets, stone maker after stone maker creating huge Hindu statues. Rice paddies. Crazy smells. Scaffolding made out of bamboo. Entire families on scooters where only the adults are wearing helmets. Two hours later, I was relived to reach you.

We found our homestay, walking through an alleyway full of scooters and then through a tiny door, past families sat on the floor and naked toddlers dancing around eating rice from a Tupperware. Another child was crouched on the floor, chopping up a tree branch using a huge machete. Then we found it! Another diamond in the rough, this time with a balcony. What luxury. We had coffee with the owner, who had an amazing smile but not much English.

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Once hydrated we went to visit the monkey forest. I loved those guys. I now understand where the expression “cheeky monkey” comes from.

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They are so playful. And agile. I loved walking around a corner and coming across a monkey sat in a huge pile of sweet potatoes, holding one with his feet and feeding himself another from his hands. I loved the mummies with babies hanging from their bellies.

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The big ones had gigantic teeth which made me keep my distance… then I felt a little hand pulling on my shorts and the next thing I knew, I had a visitor. He felt warm and cuddly like a baby and refused to be put down, whilst I calmly walked him around and prayed he didn’t need the toilet anytime soon. I was left covered in muddy hand prints but no poo thank goodness. The same one jumped on Toms lap… He was a bit scared!

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I’ll never forget watching a monkey walk up to a woman in a maxi dress and pick up the hem so he could peer under her skirt. Cheeky monkeys.

We wandered and ate and ate and wandered. At one point I forgot to look up. A man who was chopping down a tree dropped a huge branch that missed my head by inches. There’s no sense of the pedestrian getting priority here. It got dark. Getting back to the homestay required the light of our phones because the pavements are littered with huge holes, hills and stacks of bricks. If you look ahead for a moment you’ll break an ankle.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that insect repellant doesn’t work on me. Neither does sting cream to relieve the bite. I’m pretty sure years and years of living with eczema has been leading up to this point. Oh well. At least I’ve got a bag full of malaria tablets, so it won’t kill me.

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Back at the homestay we could hear loud loud gamelan music. The owner rushed out and apologised profusely for the noise. We just smiled and said “no problem” and went to look for the source of the sound. Down the adjacent alleyway we stumbled across about 100 people rehearsing for the Bali new year celebrations. The men were sat in a horseshoe playing gamelan and huge drums and cymbals, chain smoking and laughing and the women danced. It was hypnotic.
We couldn’t sleep for a few hours. But what better thing to keep you awake? It certainly beats the snorer in the dorm room.

The following day was a fun menagerie of all the cashpoints in the town before realising the credit card had gone overdrawn. Australia, I love you, but you have made me poor. And FAT!!!!!! We are back on the straight and narrow, eating lots of fresh food and cutting down on the beer. And the credit card is all sorted. When I was stood on the balcony on the phone to Halifax, a cock fight broke out in the courtyard and one cockerel started noisily charging at a stray dog… I think this helped the operator to believe that I was in fact in Bali and not pulling his leg.
We headed to the market. I’ve been perfecting my haggling skills on this trip. I was one woman’s first sale of the day. She was delighted, and told me that I’d brought her and her business luck and then proceeded to use the cash is I’d given her to smack me and Tom around the face shouting “LUCK” and then used the money to hit all of her goods for sale.
We then went for a yoga class.

I have never sweated so much in my life. At one point I nearly passed out and looked down and saw that my ankles were sweating. We did very well in that we only got the giggles a few times. One instance of which was when I was holding a pose so difficult that my entire body was shaking with the effort and then I felt toms foot slowly going up my bum. We both felt amazing afterwards. We went for a cocktail looking out at the rice fields whilst we sat on cushions on the floor and I got bitten to death again.

The following day was a big wander. We sweated. It’s so humid that your entire body is drenched in minutes. We walked out of town, until the roads got too small and I got scared of the cars and scooters. Back in town, I had a green juice! Despite being the only customers in the shop it was a thirty minute wait. The Balinese have no sense of hurry. I like that. That’s something I want to bring home with me.
In the evening we watched traditional Indonesian kecak dancing. A group of dancers in stunning costumes told the tale of Rama, Sita, and the golden deer whilst accompanied by a choir of forty men, who sat on the floor using their voices in so many ways and their bodies to dance.
The finale was a fire dance- a barefoot man dressed as a horse jumped over a huge fire, and kicked the burning ashes at the audience. On the front row this kept us on our toes, literally. One huge ember rested next to my flip flop and as I kicked it back it was so hot. This went on until the soles of the dancers’ feet were black.

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We applauded, and stood to leave. Then the local children came and started kicking all the burning embers around. You can tell they had been itching to have a go. One thing that I’ve been fascinated by on this trip is the children. There’s no sense of them being wrapped in cotton wool here. In Fiji, the toddlers play on the beach unaccompanied whilst their parents get on with their day. Here in Bali you’ll see kids who can’t be older than three crouched in the building site outside their parent’s shop, playing with the rubble and a toilet plunger.

It’s just a different way of life I guess.

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