Archive for the 'Indonesia' Category

Published by Linda on 17 Aug 2008

Return Boat Trip & Bali

Back on the boat I went and straight off I met 3 americans, Mike, Elliot & Kristen and an english couple, James and Sarah. We hung out for most of the trip and they were good fun. This time the boat didn’t have a hole in it so things were looking up :-)

We went to Rinca the next morning to see dragons, and this time we saw loads of them. They were just plonked all over the place warming themselves up in the sun. Only one of them was doing any work – digging to lay eggs. Nuts that I didn’t have a camera but kind Nicole said she will upload some of her photos to my flickr account when she gets home in a month’s time. So watch this space….

Afterwards we sailed to Gili Laba to do a little snorkelling. The following day we hit Moyo, a lovely little island where we strolled through the village went to see a waterfall. I think pretty much everyone but me jumped in, and bearing in mind I’d no fear in Laos, I suddenly got an attack of the nerves and just couldn’t do it. Aaaarrrrrgggghhhhhhhh nothing worse than losing your nerve!!!! Boo to me!

I mentioned before that I had a chance to sail to Kalimantan with Louise and Tom and I have to say I made the right decision. It would have been a fantastic trip but I’ve discovered that I kinda get sea sick, not in the usual queasy way but just uncontrollably tired. I think the Americans and English must have thought I was on valium because I just wasn’t functioning at all.

Anyhoo we headed back to Lombok, said our goodbyes and I was reunited with my bank cards and phone – yippeeeeeee!!!! No matter how cheap things are here, it’s just nice to to know you have your credit card.

I headed to Bali the following day and had to stay in Sanur (or snore as the lonely planet calls it and rightly so) for a night before I headed off to Nusa Lembongan early the next morning.

I had expected NL to be quite like the Gilli Islands and it is in ways but a lot bigger and you have to travel to see the nice beaches. I headed off on the back of a motorbike to Mushroom Bay which is really pretty. The next day I met a german lady called Susan and we went snorkelling together and then headed off on bikes to sunbake on (aptly named) dream beach for the afternoon.

Anyone like to stay here??

Nusa Lembongan is a nice place which has two traditional villages. Seaweed is harvested here and exported to Japan for food and cosmetic products. The other main source of income is tourism and big attraction is diving as the underwater life is really something to see. Mola mola or sunfish (because of the huge fins like rays) fish hang out here in August/September and I was dying to see one as there are quite unique and almost ancient looking and to me seem like what Dan Brown was describing in his book……Artic something or point something?! A little bit scary too I think??

Unfortunately the dates were all out of whack with my plans and I didn’t get do do my open water diving course so it will be Oz now but I can’t wait.

Back to Bali and I headed for Seminyak which is a quieter version of Kuta/Legion – the real tourist hub in South Bali. I think I maybe should have hit Bali at the beginning of the month, as it was a shock to the system after the likes of the Gilli Islands and Flores. It is a shoppers (so glad I didn’t have more time there) and surfers paradise but really, really busy and has a million hawkers on the beach. *Sigh* I met up with some of the Flores “tour” group, Nicole and Malin and we headed out to celebrate Malin’s birthday. Had a great night, scored a couple of free cocktails and hit the nightclubs in Kuta.

This is the side of Bali or Indonesia that most people will see but really you could be pretty much in any big tacky holiday resort in the world so save your money and head for Santa Ponza if that floats your boat. However, even though I only had a day there I think uBud is well worth a visit, loads of art shops and just a really nice mellow feel to the place. Of course there’s lots of other places around Bali to see but I just ran out of time.

More photos as always on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157606621413848/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157606621494692/

Published by Linda on 13 Aug 2008

Flores Road Trip

We rented a car and driver for 5 days and he would bring myself, Nicole, Malin, Javier & Ramiro around Flores with our final destination Kelimutu, this amazing volcano with coloured volcanic lakes.

Our driver was a young fella who called himself Harry Potter and wouldn’t tell us his real name so we went along with it and called him Harry. (by the way his boss was called Tony Blair!!) He was shy in the beginning but the Spanish boys soon drew him out and it turned out that he had this mad manic laugh which was really funny – at least in the beginning…..

So our first stop was Ruteng and we found it really difficult to get a hotel so Harry offered us beds in his brother’s house which was really nice of him. It was one of those tin houses and his family were really welcoming. We also got our first taste of Arak – the local brew made from palm trees. It was sooooo cold though and of course I had no warm clothes with me or my light sleeping bag which would have been really handy. So it got to sleeping arrangements and the boys got one room in the house and the three girls were to share a double bed in what could loosely be described as indoors :-)

Wake up call at 5am!!!! We thought it would be around 7am but this dude came into the room, switched on the light and pulled back the mossie curtains. So we made haste and got ourselves ready, only to discover that no one else was up!!!! Eventually Harry surfaced and he thought we should let the boys lie in until 9!!! No frickin’ way man!!

Off to Bajawa we headed. Took us until the afternoon to get there as we stopped in a market along the way. We went to some hot springs, which would be the only hot water we’d get this week so some of us decided to have a wash there too along with all the locals. Feeling clean and refreshed, we headed back to the hotel which had been the cause of some controversy. Harry wanted us to stay in a place we knew and we didn’t like it all that much so we asked him to take us somewhere else. He got into a bit of a strop and wouldn’t talk to us for the rest of the day!!!! I should say a few words about our hotel, it was pretty grim. Check-out was at 11am but if you stayed past 8.30 you would surely die from the diesel fumes coming from the Bemo (local bus) that parked outside outside our room!!

The bathroom is also worth a mention. Bathrooms in this part of the world often come with a mandi instead of a shower. A mandi is basically a big tank of water with a scoop to pour water over yourself with. you also use the scoop to flush the toilet. So in this particular hotel the mandi was a dustbin and much to the horror of my “tour” group I went in there in my BARE feet – I just wasn’t thinking!!! We also had a visitor there, Nicole went for a shower and myself and Rum (Ramido) heard a yelp. Nicole either wasn’t bothered or is made of tougher stuff because she just said “oh there’s a big spider”. Myself and Rum went to investigate and we screamed like little girls!!! :-) One of the hotel staff came to get rid of it – I really had to know that the spider was dead. He was the big grey meaty kind – gross, gross, gross!!!!

That night after very, very cold mandis, we headed out for dinner and met another couple who were on the boat trip with us. The locals were harping on that we should go on a trip with them, really cheap, etc, etc. So my defense mechanism involved putting on a really obnoxious generic american accent….. “oh no, honey we’re on a tour”. Okay you kinda had to be there but it became somewhat of a catchphrase with us by the end of our trip. I do believe the dutch couple videoed it and it may be circulating somewhere on utube but I’m afraid to look!! After many beers and a few Araks (to warm us up!!) later we wandered to find a bar and ended up gate-crashing a local wedding, complete with ladyboys which was loads of fun. We were somewhat of celebraties there and I don’t think I’ve ever starred in as many strangers’ photographs!!

The next day, after a breakfast of banana pancakes, tea and diesel fumes, we headed for Ende where and on our way we went to a traditional village which was really nice, unfortunately our now mute guide still had the hump and wouldn’t explain anything about it.

We also went for a stroll on blue stone beach which was really amazing. The stones there are all blue with a couple of yellow ones dotted here and there. They are exported around the world and we took one or two as momentos. Hopefully my technical difficulties (camera wise) will work themselves out so I post up some pics.

That night we stayed in Moni and were due to climb Kelimutu volcano the following day. Moni is a funny place, again really cold and damp and the electricity only comes on at 6pm until 7pm the following morning. There also isn’t an indoor restaurant to be found there. Cold, cold, cold!! These places are just not built for tourists which makes a nice change.

After a foggy start we were expecting Kilimutu to be a wash-out but by the time we got up there the sun was splitting the stones. The coloured volcanic lakes around Kelimutu are amazing. In particular the turquoise one is just breath taking. The lakes change colour at different times of the year. It was definetely worth all the driving. Also should mention that Rum kindly lent me his runners as I only had flip flops with me so thank you Rum.

 

Back to Ruteng for more fun the next night and then back to warm dusty Labuanbajo the next day. We had a really fun week. Our driver’s behaviour stayed pretty much the same for the journey, manic laughing or all picture, no sound which went hand in hand with speedy driving. The five of us got on really well so we were lucky.  We did give the spanish boys a lot of stick, so phrases like “ah in (e)spain, we don’t like the (e)spiders but we love the hot (e)springs. :-) Ah it was too easy. They also inherited a couple of nicknames, Javier became Pork Star,  as whenever we saw some pigs he used to say “hey look at the porks”. Rum was christened Broody due to him getting gooey eyed everytime he saw some kids. 

I’m glad that Nicole persuaded me to stay as the surrounding scenery was really lush, loads of rice terraces and bamboo everywhere. We ate in local Padang restaurants which have all the food in the window and you just point to whatever you’d like.

The bathrooms there weren’t the nicest though, here’s an example……

The other four were staying on to do some diving and I was due to get the dreaded boat back the following evening. We had a nice dinner (more tuna mmmmmmmmm) and then drinks in the Paradise bar which is a bit of a hike in the pitch dark but worth it when you get there.

We had a blast and it was great to spend time with four really great people. We had some craic for the week and I’ll be lucky to meet people as relaxed and as nice as this again. I only got one photo of the five of us but technical difficulties strike again so I’ll have to procure one from someone. So gutted about my camera :-( Boo.

 

More photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157606555095376/

 

Published by Linda on 08 Aug 2008

Boat Trip to Flores

So the last boat trip I took was way back in Halong Bay, Vietnam. There were only five of us on the boat, loads of lounging space, great food, nice spacious cabins with showers, etc, etc, etc. I knew it wouldn’t be as nice this time round but I headed off on the boat to Flores.

The journey started with an intro from the cheesiest Tour Guide (just two weeks on the job and full of enthusiasm!!) who gave us the brief and then presented us with “tour” tee-shirts nice bright orange with a black komodo dragon – nice :-) (Later to become my PJ’s) Then we headed off on the bus across Lombok. We made a stop to see a village where clay products are made (de-ja-vu of Vietnam)

The company we were travelling with are called Perama, are pretty good to travel with and they are all over Indonesia – buses and boats, etc. So before we set off we had a look at their new boat which should be completed in 6 months or so. Met two very girls from London – Izzy & Harriot.

So we got on and it was pretty obvious that it was going to be pretty cramped but everyone seemed really friendly so it was all good. First stop was Perama Island (yes after the tour company), we did a little sun-baking, snorkelling, followed by a BBQ and a camp fire. It was nice but then we were “greeted” by Mr. Perama!!!!! The dude who started the whole company, somewhat of a god out here!!! So we were heading back to the boat and we were given a display of Indonesian Line Dancing (to house music). It was so cheesy but kinda funny, however, fifteen minutes later they were still dancing – I kid you not. It’s hard to look interested after that long. Now I know how my parents felt sitting through many school concerts and the like. It’s hard to keep that enthusiastic after a while.

So we bedded down for the night and the water had been quite rocky all day but now it was a whole lot worse. The crew said it was completely out of the blue and usually it’s really calm. Took a while to sleep and then I woke up to a lot of shouting at around 4am. Turns out there was a big hole in the boat and we were taking on a lot of water. So the crew were bailing out water and the captain was out in the lifeboat trying to patch things up. I just presumed it’ll be fine – you just do, right?? Everyone else was talking about grabbing passports and life jackets. It should be noted that there were too few life jackets!!!!! Panic was setting in as the waves were coming over the deck but all went okay with the repairs and we survived the night but yes I did sleep with my passport on me!

The next day we were dumped on a deserted island somewhere on Sumbawa while the boat was taken away to be repaired properly. Not a bad place to kill time really……

Lots of people were annoyed with the hassle and were talking about getting to Flores by other means but in the end we all piled back onto the boat. (as we all knew we would) We missed out on a couple of stops because of all the drama which was a pity but tomorrow would bring Komodo and the dragons so I was looking forward to that.

The day dawned and after a good 16 straight hours (to catch up on time) on the boat we headed to Komodo all excited. We were to do a 2 hour trek and hopefully see lots of dragons. (myself and Nicole doing our best dragon impression!!)

We walked for a while, saw a couple of wild boars and some deer.Komodo is dusty, red, hot and arrid.

Then we were shown a young Komodo dragon – they live in trees until they are about 3 years old. It was small and not massively impressive but it was start. Got a video of this guy so hopefully it’s watchable on Flickr.

The rest of the trek was disappointing, we saw a couple of bigger ones but only at a distance and through the trees. One of the rangers pointed one out to me and it kinda went like this…. “do you see him?” So I said “ya I think so” but to be honest it could have been a big log! So boo to Komodo :-( We were expected lots of action as we had heard that a Dutch man was killed by a dragon recently. He strayed from the group (come on man, don’t stray – you’ll definetely get killed!!!!) Also the BBC had been filming a documentary there recently where Tom (yacht Tom that looks like Pat Inglesby) was allowed to tag along and had given me lots of details. Anyhoo it was not to be.

We arrived in Labuanbajo, Flores later that day and for the whole trip Nicole, a really chick from Austria, had been persuading me to tour around Flores and get the next boat back instead. I was kinda nervous about it just because my replacement cards were been sent to Lombok and I didn’t any back up plan. Also I had packed two little bags with summery stuff and Flores gets quite mountainous, but as the water was sooooo rough and I really didn’t want to get back on that boat, I decided to stay. On the second Perama boat there was a Swedish chick and two Spanish lads who also wanted to see Flores. So the five of us said we’d rent a car and driver and go around Flores for five days.

To be continued………

More photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157606558056613/

Published by Linda on 05 Aug 2008

Indonesia – Sengiggi & Gilli Islands

Okay so I should probably mention that on my last night in Singapore my wallet with ATM & Visa was stolen in the hostel. Sooooooo annoying but at least some of the tour group were around and I wasn’t alone. Liam and Alis very kindly lent me some money to keep me going until I got sorted with replacements. I know you’re probably thinking I should keep my cards in a safe place and I really was in the habit of taking just a money purse when we headed out. In this case though, we were staying in which means it was taken by another traveller. Boo to them – scum :-) (Oh wait, I’m one of them, right?? ……Really???)

Anyway I headed off for my flight to Lombok. Had a short layover in Jakarta which was kinda funny. I was flying from the domestic terminal and think I was the only non-indonesian speaking person there!! It’s the most relaxed airport I’ve ever been in. I brought a big bottle of water in plain view (simply forgot about it) through security and then had a look around to see everyone smoking right under the no-smoking signs!!! They are pretty relaxed about schedules there too. We used to have an expression called “Lao Time” when we were travelling through Laos – and basically it meant everything happened at a snail’s pace. WELL Laos isn’t a patch on Indonesian time – it’s nuts, as my flight was meant to be taking off, I’d said I’d ask what time it would leave and she just said “soon I think”. So another hour or so later we finally boarded the plane and I made the rest of my journey to Sengiggi, Lombok without any hassles.

Sengiggi is nice but nothing exceptional, it’s really more of a jumping off spot for island hopping and diving, so it was a pity to spend so much time there but it was where I needed to wait for my cards and western union (and also my phone which was stolen in Sengiggi – come on, give me a break!!!) which Mr. Steve so kindly arranged for me with a lotta effort I might add :-) So thank you so much for that. The Indonesians are really friendly and while some of them are trying to sell you nick-nacks or tours, the majority are genuinely interested in finding out about you and trying out their english skills. I had a funny incident on the beach where a young fella came over to me while I was sunbathing and asked could he practice his english so I said no problem. Then his friend came over and then another. So it was still all good and they were firing the usual sorts of questions. Where are you from? How long have you been here? Etc, etc, etc. So then their teacher came over and sat down on the other side of me and thanked me for spending the time talking with them. Feeling a little bit underdressed in bikini at this stage but tried to keep it cool. We chatted for a little while and then you know when you get a sense that something is behind you…… well it was, about 15 school kids!!!!!! Just wanted to sink into the sand!!

I also met a girl who works with a school friend and childhood neighbour of mine and we hit it off really well. As soon as I was sorted, I packed two small bags and headed off to the Gilli Islands where Louise had high-tailed it to and we spent a couple of fun nights there. The Gilli Islands are really beautiful, tiny little islands with no cars just horse and carts to bring you around but you really don’t need them. There are also very few street lights which makes it somewhat of a challenge to walk home at night when you’ve had a couple of drinks and forgot your torch! Still though the moon and loads of stars lent their assistance. Ah nice!

I also met a guy called Tom, an ex-army American who’s been sailing around the world for the last 10 years – tough life, huh? He reminds me of Pat Inginlesby (probably spelt incorrectly I know) remember that kids tv show…..Pat’s Hat – well what do you think?????? (Tom, that’s not an insult if you reading this – okay Pat was a bit mad in the head but you’re far more balanced believe me :-) )

 

Anyway Louise decided to join him on the boat and they were planned to sail to Borneo. I was toying with it for a while but for a few reasons I decided not to go and I hope I don’t end up regretting that decision.

There are three islands to choose from and I picked Gilli Air which lies somewhere between “is there anyone out there……..” and Santa Ponsa :-) When you get off the boat you wade in to shore and almost all of the bungalows are on the beach. I stayed in one that had a deck with hammock and day bed.

Upstairs was a bedroom and a balcony with a view of the ocean. Bliss :-) This was my little house for the few days…….

All of the restaurants are right on the sand and there is such a chilled out vibe there and look a little like this.

We did some snorkelling there and spotted a few turtles along the way. I spent three nights there and wish I had one more but I was heading on a boat trip to go to a little island hopping (including hunting for Komodo dragons!!) ending up in Flores and then back again to Lombok.

P.S. More photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157606481135838/