Sunday, 26 September 2010

Kuta, Legian, Seminyak - Big names, small feeling

On 24.09. we walked through all 3 of the famous areas. So far you can't see a difference between Kuta and Legian.
Probably it once started with a nice stretch of beach (indeed a great and super long beach), which attracted surfers and others. Facilities started to grow and grow.
Now-a-days it is not about the beach anymore. As you can't really enjoy any of the beach anyways. Life is now all about the facilities and the beach is just decoration.
The traffic is horrible, the streets way to small. The whole infrastructure there is a chaos. It is loud, dirty, has no charm and is full of bars, restaurants and shops.
Seminyak is pretty much the same. Just a tiny bit more quiet (but still not bearable) and much more upmarket. So simply for people who want to spend more money than those in Kuta/Legian.
The daily activities here are drinking, eating and shopping - wow :(
But at least the nightlife is the best we have seen in Indonesia... ok ok... that does not mean much. But yea, what is going on here you actually can call parties.
And with a good set of happy hours you can get drunk without spending a hilarious amount of money (as taxes on alcohol are insane in Indonesia).

Not just too many tourists in general, but especially too many Australians. So let me explain you how to spot an Australian:
-wearing a Bintang shirt/trowser from a souvenir shop and thinking it looks cool
-shouting when talking
-they either look like school boys, surfer sunny boy or british alcoholics (somehow they mostly looked mentally retarded)
-drinking over their limits (>2 beer^^) and then falling down or puking all over
-last but not least... dancing... hey guys! acting like a monkey is no dancing and slittering over the floor on your ass is neither ;) damn... even the few hot Australian chicks looked dumb when moving like a 12 year old :(

26.09. Benni flew to Jakarta before heading back home 2 days later. And I went back to Bangkok on Sunday :)

Day 3 and 4 - Tirta Gangga, Southeast coast and the far south

We continued our ride down south east. But the whole day took us for the drive.
After seeing that the far east coast looks not as promising as it was described we stayed over night in Tirta Gangga - a hill village overlooking rice fields.
The next morning we enjoyed the view over the rice fields from a fine restaurant. Then we visited the water palace in the village which had a lot of charm.
We made down our way along the southeast coast, entering 2 seaside temples (Pura Batu Klotek and Pura Masceti). Then we drove down to the far south of Bali visiting Pura Uluwatu which was located on a stunning scenery right on the cliffs over the ocean.
Finally a short visit to Balangan beach to watch some surfers before we brought back the car and went for a loooonnnnng sleep :D
Hindu ceremony on the way

morning at Tirta Gangga

rice fields and Gunung Agung in the background

good view while enjoying breakfast

stylish water palace

good taste the king had :)

statue at Pura Masceti

Pura Ulawatu - awesome view from the cliffs over the ocean

yes quite a way down there... no step further ;)

Balangan beach

Perfect day - Gitgit, Temples, Gunung Bratur and Danau Bratur

The next morning we visited the waterfall at Gitgit. Very easy to reach, but still a rewarding view. The day offered perfect weather with great views.

waterfall at Gitgit
The temples on the northern coast were our next sights to visit. Pura Beli and Pura Maduwe Karang. Bali's temple are simply gorgeous :)

with sarong at Pura Beji

Pura Beji

kids playing on the coast

Pura Maduwe Karang

simply great :D

Then we made our way towards the mountains again. On the way we stopped at a small temple to enjoy a stunning view over north Bali. But this small temple had more charm and a better view than the highest temple of Bali, Pura Puncak Penulisan, which we visited next.

unknown temple with great view

overlooking north Bali

Pura Puncak Penulisan - on the way to heaven?

Finally our route brought us to Gunung Bratur and Danau Bratur. The views from the surrounding hills were stunning. But the view from the down the lake towards the volcano Bratur was simply surreal. We drove as far as the road could lead us, to the small village Trunyan. But even there a guide tried to sell us trips to some dead body for a hilarious price.
But after explaining that we are poor students he organised us the room of his cousin to stay at :D We enjoyed the great sunset and then had some dinner together in the light of full moon :D Definetely the highlight of our trip.
Later we enjoyed some Arak together (local rice wine) before we went to play an interesting version of pool with the people of the village. You got 8 cards and kicking of the right ball made you losing the card. Who first lost all cards finishes the game and wins the pot :P
Simply a perfect day :)

Gunung Bratur

stunning view at sunset over the lake

kids on the way

nice sunset, superb atmosphere

couldn't get enough :P

Maduk - we took his room^^

We arranged to join the villagers the next day to catch a sheep up the hill for the upcoming wedding in 3 days. So the next morning we started our way up the hill. But the way was much harder than we expected and we kinda saw our lifes fading^^
They managed to find the sheep and haunted them down the hill. That was when we were not able to catch up anymore^^
Later down we just saw them carrying 3 sheep... success! :D
The families of bride and groom invited everyone for lunch, including us - even if we were more of a burden than a help.
on the haunt - spotted the sheep :)
quite steep!
good view :)

success :)

still alive... they need to be really fresh for the wedding :P

Starting the road trip Bali - Ubud, Danau Bratan, Singeraja

After leaving Gili Air 8am in the morning (19.09.) we arrived in Kuta, Bali at 7pm. Especially the ferry ride from Lombok to Bali was quite a trip. The ferry was much smaller than the first time and did not offer much protection against the burning sun. Huge waves and a 40min wait for the other ferry to finally leave the harbour made that ride quite exhausting.
In Kuta the bus dropped us somewhere. After having some dinner (no food for 12h) we hopped on a taxi. But in the narrow streets the taxi driver had no idea how to find the hotel we wanted to go to and so simply dropped us somewhere on the street.
Running around with the big luggage we asked the guesthouses and most were full. So we took the first with a free room.
Next we started to explore the nightlife in Kuta. And surprised we were - the first real parties in Indonesia :)
The next morning we did rent a car to see Bali on our own. A 6 year old Toyata Avanza, covered with scratches and bumps, broken window and using the alternative wheel :)
Still the car was ok somehow and it was quite cheap.
Our first destination was Ubud, the cultural capital of Bali. But driving the car through Kutas narrow streets was the first intense challenge. The traffic of Denpasar the second^^ After getting used to the car we continued driving in heavy rain.
After arriving in Ubud the rain luckily stopped and we payed the touristic city a short visit.
A small lunch, which was delicious but pricy, was followed by a visit to the palace. The city had a very enjoyable flair, but all the tourists and tourist facilities made it losing most of its charm.
But Ubud gave us a nice introduction in how rich Bali's culture is. Which was refreshing after seeing the cultural "highlights" of Java. After Ubud we drove through tiny villages to go towards the north.
Driving through Bali shows you temples everywhere. Nearly every house has a little shrine which looks like a tiny temple. Next we visited the lakeside temple Pura Ulun Danu Bratan at Danau Bratan. A stunning atmosphere in the rainy mist showed us the shady sillouettes of statues on the lake.
Down to the north coast to Singaraja, enjoying a Bakso soup at some tiny warung before finding a parking slot at the seafront.
super green Ubud

statue at the palace

lotus garden

Pura Ulun Dana Bratan - covered in mist and tiny rain

quite a nice atmosphere

felt more like rainy UK than Bali^^

our car and parking slot in Singaraja

Saturday, 25 September 2010

The Gili islands - Tarawangan, Meno and Air

On 12.09. we went to the Gilis. A short 1h minibus ride to Bangsal and from there a 30min ride to Gili Tarawangan.
The way to the islands looked great, but arriving at Tarawangan was a shock. The place was overcrowded by tourists.
Later we found out that the paradise here probably ended 3 years ago when the speedboat connections from Bali started. That resulted in more lazy upmarket tourists who never would take the route through Lombok to reach the Gilis. Some told us it was their quiet alternative to Kuta, Bali.
Well, we simply didn't expect that. After finding a hostel, which ofcourse was more expensive than expected, we made our way around the island. There are still some good places around there. But if you want to enjoy some island feeling you go and visit Gili Meno.
But we wanted to do diving and that for Tarawangan was the best place. I have no idea what all the non-divers are doing on that strip of the Gilis. Well, Tarawangan is also supposed to be the party place of Lombok. But we saw the biggest party of the year - the first after Ramadan. And it was some slow house dance bar, no party. Whoever calls that party has never seen a real party ;)
On 13.09. Benni started his 3-day-PADI-open-water course... and as I didn't know what else to do here than diving, I chose to do my advanced for 2 days in the meantime.
Until the 16.09. (when we left Tarawangan for Meno) we somehow got used to the island and were able to enjoy some parts of it. But still, if you are not a diver, don't come here! If you like it crowded, you find more for cheaper money elsewhere. And if you like it quiet you surely are at the wrong place here.
Tarawangan - what else :)

our dive centre

Gili Meno was promoted as a Robinso Cruso island. Well, we shouldn't push it that far, but it is a great island indeed. Just a few caf├Ęs and bungalows set around the island. Sometimes 200m between them. We placed ourselves in a bungalow next to the salt lake on the island, 100m to the shore. The first day we surrounded the island during the midday heat^^
But even that quiet place is disturbed by a Muezzin :P
After simply enjoying the quiet time at the beach we left for Gili Air on 18.September.

tourist information at Meno

sunrise over the salt lake

our guesthouse

just chilling^^
leaving Meno towards Air

Gili Air is actually the place to go. It has the best beach we saw on the Gilis and is really enjoyable unlike Trawangan.
It is not as quiet as Meno. There are more locals than tourists, that made the place appear so nice to us :)
But anyways after 1 day we left Gili Air to go back to Bali.
sunset over Meno from Air

sunrise over Lombok from Gili Air

amazing :) but unluckily Gunung Rinjani hidden in clouds

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Surabaya - another city^^

First we wanted to skip Surabaya, but after reading over it for a little longer we decided to give it a chance. So after Bromo we visited the city at the last day of Ramadan (09.09.).
As we arrived pretty late only dinner was to be eaten before we went for a sleep. The next day (10.09.) we did a small sightseeing tour to experience the city while Idulfitry (the holidays after Ramadan). But unluckily we didn't think of that most shops and attractions are closed during that time :(
First we crossed a bridge which was a big fighting place for Indonesias independence before seeing the government office which offered a nice mix of European and Javanese architecture.
Reaching the Sempoerna cigarette fabric we recognized the unluckiness about Idulfitri - it was closed.
So we made our way to through the china town, which market was closed as well. But the arab quarter just next to it was full of life.
Some great neighborhood with fine houses and all visiting each other to celebrate the end of Ramadan.
The sightseeing was finished with a small chinese buddhist temple before making our way to Mataram, Lombok.
governor house


chinatown #1

arab quarter #1

chinatown #2

arab quarter #2