So my last few days in Australia were really good. On the thursday we drove inland to Baural, which is famous because it is where the legend, Don Bradman, first started playing cricket. If you don't know who he is, well, you probably won't be so interested! But there was a really good museum there about him and the evolution of cricket, so that was good stuff. In the evening we went to the italian place we went to the night that i arrived, i had some tasty pasta.
The next day we drove inland to the blue mountains, the reason they are blue is because of the millions of gum trees giving off eucalyptus, which makes everything look blue! So that was cool, we did a couple of smallish walks, saw a couple of waterfalls. In the evening we were back in Sydney, and went to Doyles for fish and chips (the place is famous worldwide...apparently, but i'd never heard of it!). So after we ate that we sat on the top deck with some beers and watched the sun set over Sydney, looked very beautiful!
The next day, i was flying, but not until the evening. So we drove over to bronte beach and walked across to Bondi, where i went for a quick swim, just so i could say that i had! We wandered back, i packed up my stuff and we headed off to the airport. Said my goodbye's to Gaye and Phil, i remember Gaye saying 'look after yourself.....but you've been to Cambodia so i'm sure you'll be fine!' Made me chuckle. Now, i was wearing a tshirt that had stuff written on it in Thai, and i swear i have never felt more like a terrorist than i did with that tshirt on. Everybody kept giving me shifty looks. At least my big ginger beard was gone so i didn't look quite so crazy.
Anyways, when checking in, (first i was flying with qantas from sydney to singapore, then the next day from singapore to bali with air asia, not a logical route, but apparantly it was cheaper) the woman told me that they wouldn't let me get an indonesian visa unless i have proof that im leaving the country....and i said, 'yeah, i'm flying home from singapore on the date shown on this document. But she said that wouldn't be enough. Well, she checked me in and decided to let someone else have to deal with it in Singapore. The flight was fine, landed at about midnight singapore time. Picked up my bag, out through customs.....aaaand sat down on some seats. My next flight wasn't til 10, no point going to a hotel, so i tried to get some sleep in the airport. Not the easiest thing to do in the world. The seats weren't all that comfy, so i gave the floor a go. Plus the place was brightly lit, and then there was a cluster of singaporian girls wandering around staring at me and this other guy. There were a few of us sleeping in the airport. Well, i got about 20 minutes sleep, but that's all i could manage. Not something i'd really recommend!
Once the air asia ticket office opened at 6am, i wandered across and asked about this visa problem. The guy said yeah yeah you have to book a flight. The only problem is, i didn't know when or where i would be leaving indonesia, or where i would want to go to. The indo visa would expire in 30 days, and then 7 days later i'd fly out of singapore, but i didn't want to spend the whole time in singapore. Arg. So i booked a flight from jakarta to Kuala Lumpur on the 10th of feb. Only once i got my indo visa several hours later i bali airport, it said i had to be out of the country by the 9th. Arg. And they get really fiddly about people overstaying. Arg. And once i took my flight to bali and got my visa, they didn't even ask if i had any onward plans. Arg. That's not cool.
So anyways, i landed, took a taxi to Kuta. Originally i wasn't too sure where i was going to go from the airport, and i hadn't really heard too many good things about Kuta from talking to other people that had been there, but i was mucho tired, and it was the closet place to the airport. I wandered up and down poppies gang 1 and 2 trying to find a place to stay, in the end i had a choice between a pretty groggy room for 80,000 ($8) or a much nicer place with a pool but 125,000 + 10% which is something they seem to sneak onto everything. Anyway, i ended up going to the nicer place. So worth it. But as for Kuta itself....well...i didn't think i would like it....and i didn't. It was pretty much as everyone had desctribed it to me. Lots of australians, pretty much all wearing bintang beer vests, wandering around drunkenly.
Essentially it's a place for aussie holiday makers, so you'd get families, couples, groups of guys or girls. But i really didn't see what the place had going for it. If you didn't surf, the beach was out of the question, go for a swim and you'll probably get sucked out by the rip.....plus i was there one morning and high tide had washed up a whole load of dead fish, as well as lots of other crap......you get hassled like you're back walking down kao san road, except you don't really expect that when you are walking down a beach. The streets are all narrow and really overcrowded. Well, as you can see, i wasn't such a fan! But i wasn't expecting to be, so it was ok. I stayed for 2 nights before i got a bus to Lovina. I say bus, it was a minibus.....which seemed to double as a mobile swimming pool. It was raining hard when we left and the water came flying in from everywhere, through the ceiling fan, through the sides, but luckily i found it all rather entertaining.
So we picked up and dropped off people on the way, until about 4 hours later we made it to Lovina. The journey itself was cool because i had the chance to see what Bali really looked like, away from Kuta, and it looked amazing. It was mountainous, dense greenery, which reminded me a lot of the road to Pai in Thailand. After the usual attempts by the driver to get us to stay where he wanted us to, i found the place i wanted to stay, called the angsoka. The only problem i'd been having is that the prices lonely planet would say something is would be sometimes nearly 50% less than they are now. So i got to Angsoka, they showed me the list of accommodation, everything was 110,000 or more....except.....except....for a 'rice barn'. Sign me up!!!
Well, i was shown it, and for 60,000 i really wasn't expecting much. But it was awesome! It was this perched little barn, which only really had space for the bed in it, and a little balcony bit attached with a chair and table. It was like a watch tower, and for some reason, i was really rather happy with it. So i dumped my stuff, and went for a swim in the pool. The pool was great, big, and had one of those sunken bars attached to it. Anyways, just after jumping in i got talking to a dutch girl who'se name i'm not even going to attempt to spell, but it's quite dutch, and then shortly after met her friend Fiona who was from Bristol. They'd pretty much done most of SE asia, and were both pretty close to the end of their journeys. Anyway, i asked them about Lovina, and they said it was pretty much a ghost town, even though they only arrived yesterday, they went out to eat and there didn't seem to be anybody else around! So i travelled in a mobile swimming pool for a ghost town? Yes.
Either way, we had some food then agreed to meet up later to go out for dinner. Which we did. We went back to a place where they ate at last night. Had some good food. Then we got chatting with an older aussie guy called Cameron who works with the coastguard over there, stoping drug trafficking and illegal immigrants coming across the ocean. And we were also talking with these two local guys, one of which owned the place we were eating in, and had a friend who ran the dolphin tours that the girls had signed up to do the next morning, so i signed up too.
So we had some more beers with these guys, and ended up wandering up the road to a bar/live music place that was pretty lively. The girls seemed really suprised by how many people were about! Anyway, plenty more beers, then not remembering too much and waking up in my watch tower. At 6 o'clock. From a knock on my door. Oh yeah, dolphin tour. Oops. I'm sure i had set my alarm but luckily jannaka (ok i gave spelling it a go) came and knocked on my door. So i ran down to reception where we were supposed to be getting picked up, at 6am. And waited. And waited. But no one came. Arg. A guy that worked at the hotel said it might be because it was too choppy. Who knows. So back to bed. But then up again, for 9.30, to go and meet the grandson of the last raja of Bali.
I think it was while we were in the restaurant last night that Cameron had told us that he used to be married to someone who used to be married to some kind of supreme being, someone who had been chosen as an enlightened one, and had been related to the last raja of Bali, but then he died, but somehow he ended up meeting this other guy who is the grandson of the last raja of bali, and goes to visit him in his palace every year or so. And he told us that he was going along the next day, and we were welcome to come. So we did.
Cameron picked us us in his rental car at 9.30 and we drove about 25 minutes down the road to singaraja, and eventually found the place/palace. We wandered in, and met the guy, and his wife. And then we sat down and had coffee and some sweet balinese snacks. Such as sticky rice that we had to unpeel from a banana leaf, and then top with coconut and a sweet sauce. And also some crazy fruits, one called a mangostin, i think. It was all a bit odd really, but pretty cool. The guy gave us a tour around, and then eventually it was time to go. We drove back to Lovina, the girls checked out and got some food, then they and Cameron left for Sanur! Shortly after this point i ended up booking a snorkelling day for the next day, then just didn't do a whole lot for the rest of the day!