And the journey goes on. Next stop was Indonesia, and as a slightly inebriated Dutsch traveler reminded me –
“Bali means babes”
In my case, the babes were my home crew, Croydon’s finest convent-schooled girls, along with Aaron the honourary babe. Even though it had only been three and a half weeks since I started my travels, it felt completely alien and fabulous to meet the ol’ gang at a local warung, and we went on to do what one does in Seminyak – ‘av it large.
We swiftly headed to Ubud for a more chilled experience. Ubud is considered the cultural centre of Bali, and was a great place to spend several days eating, relaxing and checking out the town. The Monkey Sanctuary was an absolute hoot, with a troop of long-tailed macaques amusing and terrorising visitors, and is a must for all visitors. The food was delicious and varied, from the small warungs (family-run shops) serving traditional Indonesian food to the hip vegan restaurants – one of my favourite meals was Jackfruit – grown locally, full of nutrition and with a meat-like taste.
Beyond the hustle and bustle of central Ubud, you can easily experience the beautiful landscape of Bali. Kellie and I did a day of downhill bike riding, which started with mountain scenery, followed by dirt tracks through farmland, then through forests and rice paddies, past local towns and temples. The ride was fuelled by tasty Luwak coffee – the ‘best coffee in the world’ – where the coffee beans have been eaten and digested by cat-like animals before being ground (‘mmmm delicious’, I hear you say?). Not a bad way to start the day.
Next we all headed to the Gili islands – a set of three tropical islands to the north-east of Bali with no motorised vehicles, just beautiful beaches and amazing marine life to spend your days exploring. Most of our time has been spent on Gili Trawangan (‘Gili T’), the party island with a booming strip and a range of activities, however we also spent two nights on the much calmer Gili Air. My favourite activities have been the sunset snorkelling trip, where we had a private boat drop us at ideal snorkelling points (I couldn’t count how many turtles we swam with) and subwing, which basically involved a morning of flying underwater and feeling like a badass manta ray. Diving and holding your breath for long periods of time is not for the faint-hearted, but you are in control and it is a fantastic experience once you master it. I’ve also spent time diving, however I’ll dedicate my next blog to that (you can’t wait, I can tell).
The Gili islands have exploded in popularity, as it’s got something for everyone – whether you want to dive, drink, snorkel, paddle board or just relax, and is well worth nipping over from Bali.
Now this has all been proper swell, but I can’t really sign off without sharing two unfortunates. The next chapter of ‘phonegate’ struck after a mere 29 days into the trip, when a monster storm hit Gili T and I got absolutely drenched – as did my phone. Now, I bought a waterproof phone knowing my tendency to have such mishaps; however it somehow still managed to break. I’m back to being Emmi the phoneless for now. The other unfortunate was being struck down with ‘Bali belly’ for 8 days. I won’t go into too much detail, but let me assure you that I experienced a broad range of tummy mishaps, and was not in a good way when my Indonesian hostel guy said –
Lesson #4:“Eh, got the Bali belly? Just drink down some guava juice, man”.
Knowing I would probably just vomm it up anyway, I decided to give it a try – within 30mins my nausea was gone and within 24 hours I was eating normal food again. If you ever go to Bali, or Indonesia, or South East Asia – hell, if you just have a dodgy curry on Brick Lane – give guava juice a go! It might not work but it’s worth a try…
Now the girls have gone and I’m all alone again (*wipes tear*). It’s been wonderful to explore and share the adventure with friends, and makes me look forward to the next pals I’ll see out here – Ian & Suraiya in Thailand.