Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Back to Sanur

Those 10 days at Gili Trawangan were over and it was time to travel back towards the airport again. The voyage back to Bali was much better than on the way to Gili. The boat sailed quietly, no one got seasick. We were even accompanied by a group of dolphins. What a great moment it was!
In Padangbai buses were waiting. On the Gili we have arranged transport to Sanur. Unfortunately, there were more people than places. So a few people had still to call a taxi.
This ride went quickly and smoothly. We were dropped off basically in front of the reception of our new hotel. Hotel was great, at the beach, with private pool and relatively central to the shops.
The come back to Sanur was a conscious decision. Right at the beginning we found it here very relaxed and the sea was nice too. The second time was as fine. We took some time for ourselves. We shopped a bit, had dinner together, took a massage, did a mani pedi treatment and relaxed at the hotel pool and beach. But we also had time for our local friends. On our last evening we were picked up and taken to another super restaurant. Going out with locals is fantastic. They always take you to particular places you would never encounter. We enjoyed dinner together and took a quick look at the nightlife of Denpasar.
And then we had to say goodbye not only to Bali, but also to friends. Who knows when we will meet again and wether we will come back to Bali soon.
Normally I do not like to travel back. But this time it felt good. I felt satisfied. I only don't know if that was because of the long time abroad. Or because we had a few hours in Singapore before we really had to travel back home. One thing was certain, I was totally ready for some new impressions.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Gili Trawangan

Along the west coast of Lombok are three exceptional small islands, the Gilis. They are quite popular among the tourists, but it is still a bit of a hidden paradise. From Padangbai it's only an hour and a half sailing. Tickets for the boat are available everywhere in the village, hotels however offer a better price. The island that we have chosen, Gili Trawangan, is the most visited, popular and 'developed'. But all three offer exotic beaches and rich underwater world.
The trip to Gili Trawangan was pretty adventurous. When Bali disappeared behind the horizon, the boat rocked back and forth hugely. Some passengers were seasick and one in particular (he kept going and going...). Boat's motion and sounds of vomiting made this trip heavily. The sight of Lombok mountains and the coast of Trawangan was a huge relief. I was extremely happy to get off that boat.
Islands first sight is the white beach, clear water and loads of cement bags on shore. As you enter, the island is less exotic than expected. The only transport here is the horse carriage. We also took one to our hotel. The less attractive is than replaced by the many cafes, diving centers and a very relaxed atmosphere. There's only one road that goes around the island. Near the so-called port it's crowded and lively. Approximately at the location of our hotel the quiet part began. The choice of the hotel is therefore quite easy to make. The location of the hotel says a lot about the activity on the island. Although the most peaceful locations are not always the best. The roads are impassable, the water is full of coral and inaccessible en hotels are still in construction.
We were lucky with hotel, it was within walking distance of all restaurants, but without street noise. First day we discovered the neighborhood by walking. Later we rented a bike and went to the best snorkel spot. This place was also the only place where I could swim properly. Almost the entire island is surrounded by coral or pricky dead coral pieces.
We also cycled a circle around the island once. That was pretty heavy. The most part of the road is sand. Cycling was impossible. This side is also the least civilized part, without hotels and cafes. The first fruit shop we encountered seemed almost like an oasis.
Snorkeling was definitely the best thing Gili Trawangan has to offer. The area is teeming with turtles! Sometimes they are difficult to spot, but usually they swim up and down. It is amazing, I've never seen so much turtles, not even during scuba diving elsewhere. Once I also saw a lobster, squid and a small ray. While enjoying all that beauty in the water the mosque on land provides the 'Allahu Akbar' singing in the background. Not very soothing. But it’s a Muslim island. Except for the sounds of the mosque you will notice little of it.
The only thing annoyed me here is ignorance of people. No one seems to know how sensitive the coral is. They touch it, break it off, stand or walk on it. Simply killing it little by little. Nobody cares how precious it is. I can only imagine what is going to happen to this wealth.
Bali gave us a pretty frantic trip. Gili Trawangan gave us peace and tan. Time stood still for ten days. It was almost time to travel back home. But first back to Bali, a more pleasant thought. 

Friday, February 8, 2013


When we had car trouble on the way to Kuta, we called the taxi to take us to the hotel. This ride was fast, comfortable and cheap. It seemed logical to use it again. Our hotel was located along a busy road with heavy traffic. It did not take long until my husband found us a ride. And off we went to Padangbai. Although our taxi driver found that driving all the way to the East coast was not such a clever idea. He kept repeating that we had to rent a bus, because it would be cheaper. Eventually he drove us to our destination very quickly, the price for the ride and the amount of time was just as we have expected.
Immediately when we arrived, we were approached by a few hotel promoters. We chose one, he showed us the hotel and we decided to take it.
After Kuta is Padangbai an oasis of rest. It is just a small and rather limited village, which is often visited by people who take the ferry to Lombok or the Gili islands. But it's not just the harbor which makes it worth visiting. The blue lagoon bay next to the village is the true wealth because of it's tropical beach and splendid marine life. The sea is not entirely user-friendly though. The strong current together with dead coral is a pretty dangerous combination and it's quite a challenge to walk into the sea or especially out of it. But once you see what happens under water you forget the effort. Despite the current the visibility is perfect. Occasionally a group of tourists with safety jackets would come to watch the fish, but generally it is very peaceful here. With a little luck you can spot some turtles and barracudas. If not, there's plenty of other animals and all of them are big, colorful and mesmerizing. This place also happens to be one of the best diving spots. We stayed here two days and most of the time under water. Hereafter we took the ferry to Gili Trawangan, a small island that is part of Lombok.  

Monday, February 4, 2013

Back to the South - to Kuta - Bali

Kuta was our final destination with friends. Before we went there, we first made ​​a stop at the most famous sight of Bali: Pura Tanah Lot. As the previous temple visit worked on my nerves I didn't expect much of it now. When we arrived it was already hustle and bustle. Our timing was not ideal. The best times to come here are around sunrise or sunset. It would be even busier, but with the better light and view. Since we have not really had a choice and wanted to see the temple anyway, we were still pleased with our trip schedule.
With low expectations I had arrived at the temple and still I was surprised by the beauty of it's location. Despite the notoriety and tourism the spiritual atmosphere still reigns here. And again, I can't find my peace. When I was watching the sea and the waves, a man wants to take a picture of me. I did not understand why, and before I could react, a group of his fellow travelers also wanted to be on their pictures with me. First I found it funny and made small talk with them until I got enough of it and began to wonder where my husband was. When my husband finally came to rescue me, they were even more excited and wanted even more photo's. I found out those people were tourists from Java, but why did they found me more interesting then Tanah Lot wasn't clear to me at all. Eventually we managed to leave the Javanese group and continued our journey to Kuta.
Unfortunately, not far from our final destination, we got a flat tire. When the driver did his best to replace the tire, ultimately failed and we had to take the taxi to Kuta, we have tasted durian for the very first time. I did not think I would ever dare doing it. But it was meant to be. We could not move and the durian shop was the only shelter from the hot sun. I must say that the smell was very fresh and fruity, not bad at all. The texture was pappy, but then again very juicy and fruity. Totally not nasty. Until now, that was really the first experience that opened my eyes during this trip.

First impressions in Kuta were not quite positive. We forgot Bali is a paradise. There is an abundance of shops, bars and nightclubs. All are filled with drunken, sunburned and loud Westerners mainly Australians. In the evening the locals trying to sell you drugs. No shortage of action, that's for sure.
I wasn't that crazy about the beach either. It's a paradise for surfers. I love swimming, it's one of my favorite activities. But it's no fun when the wind is strong and the waves are high. After an hour or two of trying to enjoy the beach I gave up and went to the hotel pool.
But it was not all miserable.
We were reunited with our Balinese friend and his family. One evening he took us to a concert where we also met his friends. The last night all of us went to the beach of Jimboran. Those were good times with good and warm company.
Ultimately, our friends left Bali. Me and my husband had two more weeks together. We stayed another night in Kuta, where we took the time to relax and to plan the rest of the trip. We didn't have many plans though. Our goal was to find a nice and quite beach and do nothing.  

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