Saturday: Flew Jetstar from Cairbs to Denpasar via Darwin arriving around 5.30pm. In Indonesia you need to buy a visa on arrival which is US25 dollars that lets you stay for 30 days.
We had a car waiting to take us to Hotel Sorga. The room was old but it was big and had TV and A/C and was only $34/room/night. We walked around and explored the shops and bars of Kuta then had cocktails and fancy dinner for Chris’s birthday – splurging out at $25 each for a massive and delicious feast!
Sunday: Woke up and walked up the beach to Seminyak. Then we got a taxi to Tanah Lot which is a temple built on a rock outcrop on the coast. Tanah Lot is in so many iconic photos of Bali. When we were walking down the street there were some guys with a snake. They took us out the back and showed us this HUGE python. There were for of us holding it and it was still heavy. We stayed for lunch. It took around an hour to get there and taxi costs less us than $10. We spend the evening drinking, shopping and eating around Poppies lane. Every 5 minutes someone is trying to sell you mushrooms, emphatimies, happy endings etc. Shop owners and hawkers and much nicer and gentler than other places we’ve been to. The Balinese are super nice and happy people.
Monday: In the morning we went for a surf at Kuta beach. We hired a car and driver for the rest of the day and went parasailing at Nusa Dua. Afterwards he took us to Ululatu for sunset and watched the Kekac dance performance. Kecak is a unique Balinese dance which is not accompanied by any orchestra by a choir of 70 men. The story goes that Rama was the legal heir to the throne of Ayodya and was exiled by his father. Accompanied by his wife Sita and his younger broker Laksamana they went to a forrest called Dandaka. The demon king Rahwana found them and wanted Sita. So his prime minister turned himself into a golden deer and distracted them Rahwana kidnapped Sita and took her to his palace. Rama and Laksamana stormed the palace with an army of monkey and took her back.
We finished off our night a Jimbaren bay for a seafood dinner on the beach. The beach is lined with restaurants who have set up tables in the sand and gradually bring the tables back as the tide comes in. It’s a beautiful place and the smell of BBQ food wafts through the air.
Tuesday: Taxi to Sanur walk the beach and went jet skiing which was really fun. We sat on Kuta beach and watched the sunset with everyone…it’s such a magical time of the day. Matt got his ear lobes tattooed. Last night in Kuta so out clubbing nearly made it til dawn. Jugs of bullfrogs!! Crazy times, not sure what happened…Woohoooo!!!!!!
Wednesday: We woke up with a hangover and checked out of hotel and took a car to Tulumban about 3 hours drive away from Kuta across to the north east coast of Bali. Staying at Matahari Tulamben Resort $32/night. 2 x day dives and full dive set was rp1,152,000 ($120) for Chris and I including village tax. The rooms were gorgeous with 4 poster bed and fresh flowers! There is nothing in the village except a few dive places, and the USAT Liberty shipwreck. Which is awesome! The USAT Liberty was a United States army cargo ship torpedoed by Japanese submarine 1942. It beached and sunk on the beach so part of it is at beach level and the other end is 30m below sea level. The ocean was literally lapping at the stairs of the restaurant then 2 steps into the crystal clear water and you are surrounded by amazing reef! There is so much life down there. The wreck is right on the shore too. We spent the afternoon snorkeling and playing with Chris’s new underwater camera!
Thursday: We did 2 dives in the morning. One on the wreck and the other to the drop off. These little ladies there carry 2 tanks and BCDs on their heads then walk up the rocky beach…they are so strong and balanced! They are definitely not very strict with rules in Bali. Our open water licence says we can dive to 18m, but the wreck is 30m and we swam around the props, so it would have been pretty deep. We swam around the whole ship wreck and also up through the middle inside it. It was so interesting…you could see the rooms, ladders, windows and everything. The coral is so colourful and there is so many fish. Highly recommend this dive!
We had to head back to meet Matt/Pete in Ubud. On the way we stopped at a beautiful Water Palace, called Taman Tirtagangga (rp10,000) which apparently was a former royal palace in eastern Bali. There are a maze of pools that have stepping stones across them and lots of weird and wonderful statues and beautiful fountains, surrounded by lush green gardens.
A little further on was Goa Lawah, the Bat Cave (rp9000). Apparently this cave goes 50km into the mountain! There a zillions of fruit bats living in this natural cave and all these huge pythons that eat them and there is a temple at the entrance. The bats are protected by law! We found Matt and Pete already checked in a Puri Bayou, our lovely Ubud Guesthouse. 4 poster beds with mosquito nets, fresh flowers and gorgeous outdoor bathroom! That night we ate a restaurant right next to a dance theater so we could watch the show.
Friday: I woke up to Ketut (the guesthouse manager) sneaking up to our balcony to set the table for breakfast. It was so lovely…we had fruit and green banana pancakes! We hired a car to go up to the Volcano and visiting a few places on the way. The road to the volcano was long and windy and it was quite cold up there. You can see the blackened ground running down the mountain from the last eruption. The view of the lake below was beautiful.
We first stopped at Gunung Kawi (rp15,000) which is an 11th century temple complex with 10 rock-cut shrines that are carved into some 7-metre-high sheltered niches of the sheer cliff face. They are funeral monuments for a king and his favourite queens. It reminded me of like a little Asian Petra.
Next stop was Goa Gajah (rp15,000) the 9th century Elephant Cave which has an amazing stone carved cave entrance. We ‘acquired’ a guide here and couldn’t understand a word he was saying! The entry of the cave is all carved out with faces of creatures and devils.
We then went to the Tirta Empul, Hindu Balinese water temple (Rp 15,000) which includes the traditional Balinese split gate along with shrines to Shiva, Vishnu, Braham, Mt. Batur, and Indra. There a pool with fountains that people bath in to purify their souls.There were load of people lined up in the pool to have their turn at bathing under the fountains.
We ended the trip with a visit to the Bali zoo, where we played with a baby tiger! Which was super cute, but scary too because it kept swiping at it’s play toy which was like a mini drum and you could see how strong he was already and his claws. The zoo, like many in Asia, are heaps more open and the cages are right next to the paths, than in Australia. We were right next to lions, tigers and bears…oh my!
Saturday: Went to the Monkey Forest which is fully of macaques both real and carved out of rocks. They are actually quite frightening and were fighting in groups along the paths and trees. We even saw a big monkey fall from about 7m up in a tree, straight down on its head! But there are loads of babies and they are super cute. We did a bit more shopping at the Ubud market which is touristy but also has really interesting stuff that is super cheap here but people import them back home and sell them for a big profit. Then we went for a fancy 1hr couples massage which cost us a grand total of $15!
After a bite to eat we looked through the Museum Puri Lukisan, the heritage of Balinese art. Their art is gorgeous and soooo intricate, there are no empty spaces at all in their traditional paintings/drawings. Car back to Denpasar for 10.50pm flight and you have to pay an exit tax, so make sure you take money to the airport!