Tuesday, June 26, 2012

INDONESIA - bali - legian - 2012


From Sumbawa we caught a car, a plane then another car to Legian. The trip went smoothly.

We checked into the Kumala Pantai Hotel. We were staying for one night and I stayed for two nights.

We spent our time, shopping, wandering along the beach and eating. The weather was great and there were no problems, incidences or anything except relaxing.

On the second night the family flew back to Australia and were picked up by limousine for the journey home.

The night after the family left I drove by car to Balian. Balian is on the west coast of Bali. The journey took about two hours.

I got a room at Ayu’s for 100 000 rupiah with breakfast. The room was on the second floor with a view over the surf. Inside there was a shower area and a large bed and fan. The room was simple but okay.

I spent most of my time surfing and wandering around.

I met some nice younger people from Sweden, Italy and New Zealand. We had a few beers, meals and wandered around the area.

Generally, it was quiet and easy going.

I stayed a week then drove back to Legian.


I drove back to Legian to stay for two nights before flying back to Australia.

I spent my time quietly eating, relaxing and wandering.
I went to Tanah Lot in the afternoon.  I hadn’t been in 30 years. It has changed a lot but it is still pretty. I had a blessing and wandered around. The restaurants were very touristy so I had a cocktail and drove back to Legian.

One last stop at the bintang supremarket and the action heated up. When i was leaving a guy said to me 'taxi?'  'Do you use a meter?' ' no 20 000 rupiah' ' no thanks' 'well you can get fXXXXd' why are you speaking like that?' 'there are no police around so you can't do anything about it'.  My my someone was in a bad mood or was it his true thoughts on tourists surfacing.

i cross the road and get a taxi to the hotel. he didn't have change of 50 000 rupiah. 'hold on and i'll get change in the hotel' 'give me my money you fXXkin cXXt tourist' he gets out of the cab and rants and raves and other indos in the street. i ignore him get the change and give it to him. 'thank you' he says. (not an unusual scam to try and coerce you in to giving them the whole 50 000  rupiah)

Well that was about the last drama. I had a good laugh and went on my merry way back to Australia
No dramas getting to the airport or boarding the plane. Back to the land down under.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

INDONESIA - sumbawa - lakey 2012

After Balangan, we (family) flew to Bima Sumbawa for a week at Lakey (Hu’u).
The flight was fine and there were no problems until we went to get into the car for Lakey. The car was old with no air conditioning. Not what we paid for/expected. It seemed to be a massive problem to get another car for us. The biggest problem came when they put the surfboards on top of the car. The rack was old and rusted and couldn’t hold the boards. They only had one old strap to tie the boards on with and it kept breaking as they tried to fasten it. A stalemate was reached. Eventually, they gave in and got good rope and tied the boards to the roof rather than the rack. J wasn’t happy with the car but I felt better about the boards.
We got to Aman Gati hotel in Lakey with no dramas. I complained to the manager about the car but he just stared at me through his dark glasses and made no response. I asked him if he cared and he said he did. But that was the end of it. Great manager!
On the way to our room, some guests told us that there were electrical problems and the air conditioning wasn’t working or working intermittently. It was working fine in our room though it did stop occasionally. We complained to the manager, who told us that he knew and that many people were complaining and it was very difficult for him. After his sob story I told him I cared.
Those dramas happened on day one and after that it was fine for us.

We have been to Lakey before and love the place. It has beautiful white sand beaches, nice locals, a sleepy  feel to it, a few ’restaurants’, good food, a variety of reef surfing breaks, good snorkelling and a mixture of western tourists.

I did a lot of surfing, swimming and snorkelling. Chloe joined me for some snorkels. There was a lot of fish and some nice corals. We snorkelled at Nungas and Lakey.  I even snorkelled out to the surf break and videoed guys surfing form the water. Lots of fun! At low tide, we walked over the reefs which are mainly flat.

The surfing was good and the crowd spread out over a number of breaks which are accessible by walking and motorbike. You can hire bikes or a bike and a driver. I chose the latter as they look after your gear and take photos/videos. On one day, we hired bikes for all of us and rode around the villages in the area. It was a lot of fun. I met and chatted with a few of the elders in one village as they were leaving the mosque. They were about the same age as me but a bit contrast in looks and dress but a commonality in friendliness.
The walks were great at dawn and sunset. The locals come alive in the morning with fishing boats setting off, people collecting seaweed and others getting ready for the day. In the evening everyone tended to relax, talk and sit around.

The social scene at the Aman Gati was the pool. There were lots of people to meet from various parts of the world. We met people from Australia, England, Brazil, France and Indonesia. It was mainly small talk but after a number of small talks you got to know some people better and even shared meals together.

We met a number of people who had interesting stories to tell:
The donut lady
One of the local ladies sells donuts and gives massages. Her English is limited and with my limited Indonesian I managed to work out that she had two children. A son and daughter who go to university in Lombok. She pays for their fees, living, etc through her two businesses. She sells donuts for 2 000 rupiah so that’s a lot of donuts to make ends meet. The university fees were relatively very high. What we do for our kids!
The yachty
I watched a young fellow disembark form a tinny on the beach. Later, I met and chatted with him at dinner. He had been sailing his yacht around the Indonesian islands for the last 5 years off and on. He doesn’t charter the boat but his wife and friends join him at various times. He was a very pleasant fellow who had set himself up very nicely for his dream. Good one!
The bike guys
Along Lakey, there a numerous guys hiring bikes to tourists. I’ve gotten to know a few of these guys better over the last three visits, especially, Harry, Jay and Mickey. These are not their real names but I haven’t as yet been able to get their true identities. Harry mainly works in the fields and comes out on his bike when I’m there. His English is very limited and I kind of liked that. We have had some good rides around the area – met his family, visited his rice fields and sat around and talked. This year he only turned up sporadically. I found out that he thought he was dying but he had only a sore throat so I visited him at home in Hu’u and gave him a pre mixed bottle of betadine gargle. In a few days he was fine. I saved Harry’s life! He owes me!

The little girl
While snorkelling with Chloe we met a small girl on the water’s edge. Chloe and her struck up a friendship and I  translated when possible. The amazing thing was her size. We thought she was about 7 but she was 11. She also was stunned to hear Chloe was 16. As it was most times we were at Nungas she would appear and sit and chat with Chloe.

The other kids in the area hung close by and seemed keen to join us. They appeared a bit shy. After a day or two, I spoke with them and their families where the land meets the sea and had a few basic conversations.


All in all a good trip - no big dramas, relaxing, good surf, good snorkelling and nice people.

Monday, June 11, 2012

indonesia - bali - balangan 2012

Balangan 2012

After Padangbai, we drove down to Balangan which is on the Bukit.

t is a very pretty area with a long white sandy beach with a reef running from one point to the other. Good waves run along this reef that section in a few places, though some waves can run right through. The beach is lined with warungs, restaurants and bungalows.
At one end of the beach, is a temple with steps leading close around the bottom of the cliffs. There are a number of bats living here as well. I had a walk up the beach and through the temple on an early walk. On another day there was a ceremony being held there.
The other end of the beach was calmer and had reasonably okay swimming and snorkelling though there wasn’t much to see.
We stayed at Balangan Seaview Bungalows. The rooms were nice and clean and the staff friendly. It had a small pool which was the focal point of social activity. There were a number of people staying here, mainly from various parts of Europe.  We had lots of small talk conversations.

The restaurant was spread out and served good food. There were also a number of other places nearby to eat and down on the beach but we never got that far.
The hotel was above Balangan beach with a large field in between the hotel and the cliffs. There were often cows grazing in this area. The walk down the beach was via a grassy path until it reached some steps

We picked up my other daughter from the airport on the first night.
Not much happened while we stayed here. We walked, swam, snorkel, ate. The steep cliffs aggravated my foot so it got very sore. I tried a surf but it was a disaster. My foot was swollen so my balance was out.  I tended to lean too far forward when I stood up and added to this the big surf and I spent a lot of time paddling, falling, rolling down the wave face, picked up by the wave, dumped down again and dragged along in the white wash. It took me two hours before I finally had had enough punishment.

As it was, my daughter who is a studying physio gave me the opposite advice to the insurance company medical team and the doctor from Flores and after a few days it was getting noticeably better.

Balangan was a nice place.  It was a good choice for a family get together though a bit punishing for a surfer who couldn’t surf and had to watch.
Next stop Sumbawa… !

indonesia - bali - padangbai 2012

Padangbai 2012

I spent two nights in Legian then picked up my wife and daughter at the airport and we drove up to Padangbai.

I did have a few adventures in Legian.
Padangbai is a pretty port town with a mixed atmosphere of local and western tourists plus the locals living their daily lives. There are people arriving, waiting and leaving on the ferries to Lombok, fast boats to the Gilis and the slower boats to a variety of destinations. There are boats for fishing and diving leaving at various times of the day.
The beach is white sand and clean and there is a reasonable snorkel in the harbour. In the afternoons, the locals gather down the beach for a swim and in the mornings they are sitting around chatting.

The village spreads out from the seaside and up the hills. Close to the water most buildings are for tourism, either being hotels, restaurants, warungs, shops, travel agencies and dive centres. Further away the buildings are more for locals.
The big attractions at padangbai are ‘Bias Tugal’ (which is a pretty one sand beach to the south for swimming), BlueLagoon (for swimming and snorkelling), the temples (a series of which are on the north headland) the waterfront, the local market, the hotels and the transport facilities to Lombok, Gilis, etc.
We stayed at the Puri Rai Hotel in a family fan room. The hotel is nice with three pools.

Generally, it was a pretty quiet stay but fun.
So what happened…..?

Legian robbery

I usually go for an early morning walk, starting just before sunrise. I find the atmosphere quiet and the locals are just starting their movements for the day. I was walking down the gang (laneway) next to the Kumala Pantai Hotel like I have done heaps before. I was near the end of the gang where it meets the road that follows the beach when I heard a motorbike coming down the lane behind me. I moved to one side and waited for it to past but it stopped so I kept walking. The next thing I knew, a hand comes around and grabs me on the testicles. I turn around and this girl with massive breasts leans her hand round my back. I stepped back quickly and raised my hands up and wide to protect myself. She grabs my arm and wrenches at me to knock me over. I didn’t move so she tried again and this time she backed off when I didn’t fall.
I walked to the beach road and there was a Balinese guy who had watched the whole thing. He said ‘that girl likes you’
‘That was no girl mate.’
I checked my daypack and the zip had been opened. Nothing was missing.
Amazingly, the girl/boy was still in the gang looking at me. This whole scene took about a minute. I was dramatised! This wasn’t the first time, the ladyboys have approached me. My guess is grey hair, older guys with a daypack or wallet in the early mornings is a potential good victim. Maybe one day it will be a real girl.
Since then I have avoided quiet laneways.

Legian stories

Sitting around the beach, I was told a number of stories by Indonesian girls. I believe them all in part but my friend Nyoman keeps telling me I need to see through the bullshit. So this time, after listening, I added my conversation killer
1 I am all alone in Bali and my mother lives in Jakarta and is very sick and I need to send her money – what is your bank account details and your ID card – no bank account and have lost my ID card just give me cash – how will you get the money to her? – thinking...thinking…my brother will take it.
2 my mobile is broken and I need a new one to call my mother – sure, what phone do you want? – an I-phone!
3 my mother is sick I need to fly to Borneo – when did she get sick? – Today – what is wrong with her – needs medicine – what is wrong with her? – She is in hospital – but what is wrong with her? – Never did get a straight answer
4 I like older men – SURE! I didn’t need Nyoman’s advice on that one!
5 I am hungry – sure where would you like to eat -  take me to the ‘Cocoon’.
6 why don’t you have a women with you? – I have a wife and she is in Australia coming tomorrow – so why don’t you have a woman with you?

Back to Padangbai

Blue lagoon

We walked over the hill and spent the day at Blue lagoon sitting in the sun and shade, short walks, swims and snorkels. The snorkelling was very clear and as usual there were lots of fish and nice corals. While snorkelling with my daughter, I dived down and was touching a large fish sitting passively on the flat coral. Chloe said that was cool and so she dived down to do the same. The fish had other ideas and actually chased her a short distance when she tried to touch it.

Padangbai markets

Chloe and I had an early morning walk through town and over to the markets. It was very traditional and cool. The locals were either friendly or indifferent but no one seemed to mind my videoing.

Padangbai temples

On the northern headland are a number of temples. They attract a lot of Balinese making offerings and ceremonies. We went for an early walk to watch the sun rise from one of the cliff side temples. We walked down the steep steps to the temple which is perched on a flattened area above the water. The view over the coastline is excellent but the sunrise is electric. The sun rises over the offshore islands near Candidasa and as the sun rises it burns its way into the break of day. Very, very cool.

Padangbai is one of my favourite places to stay in Bali. It is close to other relaxing places – Candidasa, Tirtagangga. It is vibrant in a sleepy way which makes every trip here like it was the first time.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

indonesia - lombok - gili trawangan 2012

Gili Trawangan 2012

The plane was delayed 5 hours in Maumere Flores to Denpasar, Bali. They did not charge me for my surfboard as compensation. My foot was sore. Five hours was a test of my endurance so I stayed in a VIP lounge. Beige walls, beige lounges and chairs, beige curtains…one person’s heaven is another person’s hell.
I finally arrived at Denpasar and Nyoman was there to pick me up and take me to the Grand Kumala hotel. I spent the rest of the day wandering around in small doses as I couldn’t walk for too long. By the evening, I thought I needed to be somewhere easy, pretty, flat, bike hire, good food… Gili Trawangan! I booked a ticket and pick up for the following morning. I then rang around and eventually found accommodation at Quiet Water Park Hotel in Gili Trawangan.  I spent the rest of the evening, sitting on the beach, drinking cocktails and eating. It was then back for some pain killers and sleep. Too easy!
In the morning all was going to plan…picked up on time, comfortable drive, boarded the Gili cat for Gili Trawangan, smooth ride, no problems on arrival and someone from the hotel met me halfway and carried my gear. Too easy!

I settled into the room. It had fan, aircon, comfortable bed, frig and tv. I arranged a bike for the week at 30 000 rupiah per day. I was the only person in the hotel, though a couple stayed there for a night a few days later. Too easy!
 he owner was a pleasant lady in her fifties came from Lombok mainland. She spoke no English but I managed to find out that her husband had passed away, she had two children (both at university), she lived in a small hut at the back of the village while on GT, she liked to go dancing and went to the all night parties. Generally, it was a nice place to stay.
I spent a lot of time on the bike and walked only short distances. My foot liked that! Snorkelling was an okay activity as well as I wasn’t putting any weight on my foot. So I spent a lot of time swimming and snorkelling. Most days I’d snorkelled for a while north of the pier and just off the beach and drift along with the current. The coral was okay and there were fish.  While snorkelling, one had to keep regular vigilance for boats motoring to shore. They seemed to be unaware that people were snorkelling.
The bike was the best part of the stay. I cycled around and through the island a few times, sometimes leisurely and once to see how fast I could do it.
I met lots of people, which is a big part of the fun.
Lots of big and small adventures happened so I’ll relive a few that stick in my mind the most.
I went on a snorkelling trip around the islands for the day. It was pretty good and enjoyable. There were nice people on the boat and everyone was in a good mood. While we were snorkelling at Gili Air. A lady on our boat noticed that a guy from another boat was in trouble. I noticed that he seemed very exhausted and was being dragged along and over the reef by the swift current. There were two people helping but they were making no headway. No one form the other boat was doing anything. The crew were watching but doing nothing.

 I put on my snorkel gear and swam over to the guy. His helpers were looking tired too. I told them to swim back to their boat as soon it would be three people needing rescue. The guy was incoherent, big and exhausted. It took awhile but I managed to get him close enough to his boat so they could throw him a rope and pull him in the rest of the way. Good deed for the day done!
The guesthouse was quiet but straight opposite was another guesthouse. There was one lady staying there from Lombok. I met her one morning while about to go on a bike ride. She wasn’t a tourist and didn’t live on the island but she was here working on the island. ‘Oh, are you working in one of the restaurants?’
‘Not really’
 ‘One of the shops?’
‘Not really’
 ‘What do you do?’
‘You know… with a coy smile.  
To be honest I was baffled. Why would I know?’ No. I don’t know’. She did a few hand gestures and I said, ‘ah. I know. Sorry, I’m going for a bike ride.’
She must have had good hearing or I’m very noisy as every morning she was there to meet me the moment I stepped out the hotel. She was persistent to say the least. I just kept ‘acting’ thick. Anyway, on my last morning she dressed up quite nicely and joined me to share a pot of tea. She told me her story.
 She lived on Lombok mainland, her husband had left her (she was glad as he use to hit her), she had a young daughter who was being looked after by her mother , she missed her daughter a great deal, she worked the bars and parties for work and when she had enough money she returns home. She was an interesting and nice person. I didn’t envy her work but one must do what one must do.
Still being persistent her final words centred on cleaning my house in Australia and ‘you know’.

While cycling around, I noticed the signs for ‘magic mushrooms’. I felt that it would be good for my foot so I tried it for medicinal purposes. I went back to my room slightly paranoid of the upcoming effects! About 20 minutes later, I started to feel that adrenalin was pumping through my body. I needed to do something. A minute later, I was on the bike and cycling at a breakneck pace around the island. Previously, I took care going through the sandy parts but this time I had a record to make. The bike was writhing unpredictably through the soft sand but I managed to stay on. I passed a number of people who called out to me ‘hati-hati’ but I was relentless. Eventually, I was on the strip leading through the ‘urbanised area’. I passed a window front and the reflection was a shirtless guy, dripping with sweat and splattered with sand. Not a pretty sight! 

Back at the room, I showered and eventually returned to the land of the normal. I rang my wife to tell her the story in retrospect. I thought she would be proud of my bike time but she said I was an idiot. Where’s the support???

One morning, I met and chatted to a guy. He was one of those noble human beings of this planet. He was scruffy looking but his story was one of kindness. He travelled a lot going from place to place helping people. He presently was looking after a friend hotel, fixing things and sorting out all sorts of problems for free. He was on his way to Bali to babysit, while another friend was in hospital. He spends two months of the year teaching English for free in poor areas. The list went on and on. He spoke fondly of his wife, eventual he told me she passed away a few years ago. His final words ‘live life being good to others and enjoying them as they may be there for only a short time!

I haven’t written too much on this guy but I have been greatly impressed by his exploits and inspired to lead a similar life but I’m just a tad too selfish to be that good.

A tradition on GT is to go the south of the island and watch the glorious sunset. I cycled down ordered a beer and sat at a table enjoying the view and activities. The closer to sunset the more the crowd grew (but not too much) and people seemed to let go a little and were running, jumping and skipping along the beach. It was heaps of fun to watch. The sunset was magnificent!

A guy on the table next to me read a book the whole time. Must have been a good book!

After a week, it was time to move on back to Legian, meet my wife and daughter at the airport and wander off to Padangbai.


A relatively very cold winter in Australia. We had been waiting a long time for our next overseas trip and it always seems so far away but t...