30 October, 2009

The Great Adventure: Day 36 to 49

Sorry about the big gap in updating you all on our travels - been getting lazy & too distanced from technology. Do you realise that i haven't watched TV for weeks & weeks? I haven't even listened to my ipod much. Most of the time i read, sleep, relax & not do much at all. But isn't that what holidays are for?

Anyway, here's what we've been doing for the last 2 weeks...

Day 36 (Friday 16th October)
K went off for a morning dive (i stayed in bed) and finally saw a big shark - about 2m long. He also saw a couple of turtles. He was well chuffed with that dive!
The rest of the day was spent sitting around reading & relaxing.

Day 37 (Saturday 17th October)
K had another dive & saw even more sharks - white-tip sharks; not dangerous even if they are 2m long (apparently - don't think i would be too relaxed if a 2m shark came anywhere near me...)
In the afternoon, we decided to rent bicycles & cycle round the island (Gili Trawangan). K predicted it would take us half an hour or so, seeing as the island isn't that big. 2 hours later, we managed to make it back to our bungalow. What we didn't figure was that the road round the island is only paved in certain bits. The rest is just sand. Soft loose sand. Have you ever tried cycling on that kind of service? And on an ordinary bicycle? It definitely wasn't fun & we nearly ended up with heatstroke. But we can say we did it!!

Day 38 (Sunday 18th October)
K had two dives, while i slept then had a massage - which was very welcome after the previous day's cycling activities.
In the evening, we headed to the Irish pub in the island to their DVD shacks/gazebos (whatever you call them). Here, you can watch any DVD (the pub has about 200 to choose from) for free as long as you order some drinks and/or food. Can't remember what we watched, but do know it involved guns & war (guess who chose that movie...)

Day 39 (Monday 19th October)
While K went out on a morning dive, i was in charge of getting money. Despite what the guidebooks say, Gili Trawangan now has an ATM. But it's a fussy old thing and only takes certain cards. And it didn't like K's (German) cash card. However, our flexible friend, Visa, was accepted. But, K didn't know that number. Luckily, his mum had sent him the pin number. So, i had to check K's email, find the number, remember it & get some cash. But i only had 2000 Rupiah (14 cents), which isn't very much money at all. Now, this might not seem like a problem - but i needed to pay the Internet cafe. I got into K's email, found the right email, got the pin # in 5 minutes. And guess how much that cost? Exactly 2000 Rupiah. Miracle.
Anyway, to cut a long ramble short, i got the money.
Rest of the day was spent sipping cocktails & chatting.

Day 40 (Tuesday 20th October)
A complete non-day. Really didn't do much at all.

Day 41 (wednesday 21st October)
Had a slow start to the day, but in the afternoon we went snorkelling again. And this time i didn't use a floaty (life jacket). I got a bit nervous, and held K's hand most of the time, but i actually went in the ocean and snorkelled, all in deep water with out freaking out. And, best of all, i saw a turtle. And a big eel & a lionfish (which are really weird looking things)

Day 42 (Thursday 22nd October)
Today was laundry day, so i lugged everything off to the nearest laundry service. Everywhere we've had laundry done, they do it by weight, but on Gili T, they itemise it. I wasn't prepared for that, but it wasn't really that challenging - just meant emptying out dirty clothes all over the floor & counting everything. Not the most fun task ever, but definitely necessary...
In the afternoon, K & i went snorkelling again & i didn't hold his hand much at all. Am definitely getting more confidence in the water - yay!
In the evening, we had a DVD dinner at the Irish pub & watched 'This is England'. I really recommend it to anyone who grew up in England in the 80s. It reminded me of home, but also reminded me why i don't live there anymore.

Day 43 (Friday 23rd October)
In honour of K's sister's birthday, K & me humiliated ourselves on the beach by making a Happy Birthday video with my camera. It really is embarrassing to sing into a camera, knowing that people around you are watching... The bugger was that the video was too big to attach to an email. So, Sarah, if you're reading, i still have the video in my camera, so I'll show to it you when we get back. And Happy (belated) Birthday!

Day 44 (Saturday 24th October)
As this was going to be our last day on Gili T, we booked tickets off the island to Amed (Bali). Also got some new reading material & paid all our outstanding bills (bungalow & diving - NOT bar tabs, OK?!)
Had another DVD dinner, and then headed off to Rudy's, the best bar on Gili T. We'd spent quite a few evenings there & the staff had come to know us & were really funny & friendly. They spent half their time flirting & the other half dancing behind the bar - but still somehow managed to serve drinks. While we were there, a waiter at our regular beach cafe, Madi, came to join us. He was a really lovely man, fiercely proud of both his home (Bali) and his religion (Hindu), but in an open way - he really wanted us to enjoy & understand both. Still, i didn't fully understand his story about how the gods chose Bali to be a holiday island - something to do with stars & aeroplanes...

Day 45 (Sunday 25th October)
Left Gili T on a speed boat (still not my favourite means of transport...) and on the way we stopped briefly at Gili Air. We got off the boat & wandered on the beach so we could say that we had visited another of the Gilis...
The crossing wasn't too bad, but it still scared the pants off me. I really don't like how speed boats thump across the water; i find it very nerve-wracking. However, about three-quarters into our journey, the boat crew started cheering & smiling & the captain slowed down - a shoal/troop/school/whatever of dolphins was playing around the boat. There were about 10 of them swimming around & splashing in & out of the water. It was wonderful to see. I don't know who was more excited the passengers or the crew!!
Once we arrived in Amed, one of the boat crew recommended a place to stay in Tulamben (our desired destination). And so we arrived at the Mata Hari resort in Tulamben, East Bali.
In the evening, we found a local bar with a pool table & played until there was a power cut all over Tulamben...

Day 46 (Monday 26th October)
Was a bit of a non-day as both of us were feeling crappy (Bali Belly), so just hung, slept & read a lot.

Day 47 (Tuesday 27th October)
Both of us were feeling pretty much back to normal, so K headed out to the USAT Liberty wreck (the main reason for coming to Tulamben).
In the afternoon, K went out on another dive, while i (once again) went out on a money mission. In Tulamben, there are no ATMs. Also, due to the unreliable electric & telephone connections, no where takes credit cards. Lonely Planet, however, omits this important information. So, for 100,000 Rupiah, the hotel provided a driver, Agus, to take me to the nearest town with an ATM, Amlapura, about 30 minutes away. We get there, and i try all the ATMs in town (all 3 of them) and NONE of them work - cash card OR Visa. Arghh!! I had visions of us washing dishes forever at the hotel...
But Agus knew another bigger town, Semarapura, with more ATMs. And finally we got one that worked. Then we had the long drive home - in all, it took 4 hours. Despite all that, it was a nice afternoon. Agus pointed out lots of things on the way (monkeys, pigs, weddings, chili plants, durian stands, amongst other stuff) and i saw beautiful rice paddies, a really odd huge statue of a bull which had a bucket under it's boy parts. Not really sure what that was about. Actually, i don't think i want to know what that was about!
Also saw some villagers cock fighting. Oh dear, that really came out wrong.
They had fighting cockerels & the cockerels were fighting. Only saw it quickly in passing, but was a bit shocked - but i guess it's part of the culture here.
The biggest thing though was seeing the difference in environment. In 1963, the area was devastated by the eruption of Mount Agung the highest mountain/volcano on Bali. This means that the area around Tulamben resembles a moonscape with a few random palm trees on it. But then you go over a mountain pass, enter the next valley & it's back to green lushness again. Really interesting to see the massive changes.

Day 48 (Wednesday 28th October)
In the afternoon, we went snorkelling together. The USAT Liberty wreck is kind of rare in that snorkellers can also see it as it's only 50m of the shore and, at it's shallowest, is only 5m below the surface. It was really cool to see and especially to see how the marine life have taken it & made it their own. On the minus side, it was hard getting in & out of the water as the beach was really rocky - doable, but a tad painful.

Day 49 (Thursday 29th October)
Booked a driver (turned out to be Agus again) to take us back to Kuta. Enjoyed the 3-hour drive there, through winding mountain roads & rice paddies (half of the journey I'd already done on my ATM mission...) Also 'enjoyed' the Pussy Cat Dolls album THREE TIMES! Agus only had one CD & he just played it over & over. I don't even know that people actually bought PCD CDs. Well, they do in Bali. Surprisingly though, it wasn't quite as bad as we had anticipated, still 3 times was enough.
In the afternoon, i booked flights out of Bali for 31st. AirAsia is GREAT! Their website is easy to use & everything is really hassle free. So, on Saturday we are heading to Singapore for 4 days. Yay!

And that brings us to today, Friday, which I'll update later. We have just over 3 weeks left on our travels & i am really NOT looking forward to heading back to Europe (no offence to anyone, i love being warm & hate European winters). And especially as all my winter clothes are in boxes in France & I'm going to be in Germany...

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