Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Kuta & Nusa Lambongan

We went to the first guest house which comprised of cottages situated in a nice green garden full of palm trees and singing birds seeming to be miles away from the crazy Kuta alley traffic. In the evening went for a super nice restaurant in the most posh part of Kuta - the beachwalk, awesome food, awesome service, decor, location, price. People, start travelling and get the value for your money!
In the morning I decided to do some shopping, spent the whole day and bought nothing. Regular items are low quality, and good items are the same price as in Canada, so might as well buy them there when I'll get a job. I went to a very expensive massage, 75 mins, $30. It was recommended in lp that it got international awards, it's all male stuff and the name is translated to "dancing fingers". It was the best massage ever! So sensual, so good, I never got a massage like that before, the masseuse really understood the body, and definitely knows what women want :) Unfortunately not a lot of men do, and most rub women as though they're rubber dolls. All I know is if he was my type of man, I'd probably jump on him :) The massage was followed by the best shower, with gel, shampoo and conditioner that I wanted to eat!!! Too bad I'm on a budget and can't have that massage every day :(
After having breakfast on our veranda, we rented a scooter and went to better beaches. The beach in Kuta, the most touristic center of Bali, sucks! It's dirty, the sand and water is brown, and there are no views. We drove to a little cute beach, with crystal clear water, small cliff, but there were many people, and it rains all the time, so all the garbage is washed ashore. While driving, it seems that Bali is nothing but temples. There are temples every 50 meters, houses have temples inside, gates are built like temples, there are humongous statues everywhere, and people make offerings every morning. There are plates with flowers on motorbikes, cars, on sidewalks, on everything that's important to you, you put a plate on :) Then we drove to an important temple, the temple itself was alright, but its location is beautiful, right on a high cliff with waves pounding on it. I couldn't stop taking pictures, but I'm sure if mom was there, she wouldn't have been too happy, not that Kostya was happy either :) The temple as any other important temple is full of monkeys, these god damned adorable creatures. Since volunteering with them, they hold a high score on my list of respected animals. I tried to avoid them, while Kostya laughed why I'm so scared of them. That's until one of the alpha monkeys finally jumped on my head and stole my sunglasses. He bit them, angrily grrrr-ed at anybody who tried to take them away. Finally the monkey tamer stole my sun glassed in exchange for a banana and a few bank notes. Now my sunglasses are the most valuable item in my suitcase, with monster bites on them :)
On the way back it started raining. It always rains when we drive a scooter. Maybe if we won't drive a scooter it won't rain?
We don't like Kuta, it's too touristic, too much hussle, and we took a boat to a nearby island of Nusa Lembongan. We thought it would be a sparsely populated island, but when the boat was approaching we were welcomed by bungalow hills instead of tree hills. There isn't a dock for the boat, and they just stopped it near some stone walkway, used a wooden board between the boat and the walkway, and told people to get off in quiet times, when they didn't see the wave coming. Wow, what an exit. There were people on hills with a bunch of suitcases, I got my camera ready for the chance to be in America's funniest home videos show ... but no luck :(
Except the first disappointment, we rented a scooter, found ourselves on an isolated beach with a good restaurant and not another soul nearby. Kostya wanted to stay there, but I told him that I'll kill him out of boredom and we moved to another bungalow which I was eyeing right from our arrival. It's so beautiful, with a flowery garden, our room is on the 2nd floor with a balcony overlooking the garden and the crystal blue water. It's not a beach for swimming, but I feel in heaven. We drove around the island, it's much much bigger than we initially thought. I thought we'll be driving for 10-15 minutes, and we ended up driving for over an hour. That's it, beach time! We ended up on a dream beach. Oh man!! It is dreamy. It's a small, crescent white sand beach, with blue sea and double decker infinity pool. My heart was singing with joy! We finished with a dinner on a 2nd floor restauranat looking at a sunset. The sunsets last very long time in here, about half an hour! And on the rating list of the most beautiful sunsets, Indonesia wins hands down. On the drive back, on every intersection, without us asking, everyone who saw us, stopped and gave us directions. We fell asleep to the sound of geckos, crushing waves and the gentle breathe coming from the ocean.
We rented a kayak and went on our own to the mangrove forest. I took a peddle from Kostya and started to maneuver the kayak through it. Kostya didn't feel relaxed at all. He told me that it's the first time in his life where a woman is doing something physical while he's relaxing. I told him, that if I'll give him to do everything, how will I learn anything? And asked to leave his chauvinistic ideas back in Russia :)
We then went snorkeling to one of the best snorkeling sites on the island. We asked where it is and where pointed straight about 200 meters from the shore ... well that's kind of far. Kostya took the mask, swam about 50 meters, came back and said that there is nothing to see but grass. I took the mask and started kicking. Grass, more grass, seaweed farm, oh, a few star fishes started to pop up. I'm kinda far away from the shore :S Then white dead coral, nothing and more of nothing, suddenly a huge reef appears with colorful corals and too many fish to count even by type. Amazing! Too bad Kostya didn't make it ...

https://picasaweb.google.com/100036016632387453128/Kuta
https://picasaweb.google.com/100036016632387453128/NusaLambongan

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Bromo & Ijen

We booked a 3 day tour to 2 volcanoes. It's much cheaper than going on our own, and much less headache, no need to change 5 buses and taking twice as long to get there. We got picked up by a big minivan with 12 spaces, and there were only the 2 of us. We put the seats down to sleeping position, we slept, watched pictures, listened to music, I even managed to exercise in there. 11 hours went unnoticeably. When we arrived at an agency, we met 4 more people who came also by a big minivan from the same place as us. Why couldn't they unite? It seems like such a waste of effort, money and gas. Up on the mountain it's so cold, in the evening it was +15, in the morning it would be +5. Went to sleep at 12:30, wake up at 2:50. Too bad, cause it was the most comfortable bed ever with a very high quality of sheets.
Arrived at a lower view point at 4:30, it's dark, it's freezing, and I was dancing to warm up. Our driver suggested the lower view point, and we were only about 20 people, where as on top there were about 1000. The view was beautiful, Bromo volcano is located inside a much larger crater, it's shape and clouds floating around it gives it a magical feeling. We then went to the cater itself, but there were too many tourists, and I wasn't that impressed.
7 more hours in a jeep till the next volcano. In these 7 hours we passed through volcanic landscape, sea, rain forest, jungle, pine forest, views, I can sit in this jeep forever. Arrived at a sweet little village in the middle of a coffee plantation, went to a waterfall and hot springs in the evening. People are so friendly everywhere, in fact I think Indonesia is one of the most interesting countries with the friendliest people, everyone's smiling, laughing, talking to us, and I feel like my soul is flying.
We relaxed in a jacuzzi under a heavy rain. There was another couple in it with a child who kept on playing, mainly diving in and out of water, while they constantly telling him to stop otherwise he'll go sit in the room. Despite many attempts from our side to convince them that he doesn't bother us, he ended up in the room. I don't get it. What's the point of being a child then? I've noticed many parents give unreasonable reasons for their children to behave in public, and I'm not talking when they're lying on the floor, kicking their legs and screaming their lungs out. A child is only a child once, let them be.
Today we actually get to sleep in, the wake up knock on the door came at 3:40! We had breakfast, and drove to the volcano. 1.5 hours up the hill is a good dawn exercise. The views were beautiful again, nearby are 2 active volcanoes blowing smoke into the sky, and to the left is a vast valley ending in an ocean. The crater was very beautiful as well, with a green lake at the bottom, some sort of smoke coming out and hundreds of miners picking yellow sulfur stones, the place looks like an ant farm. They take about 60+ kilos of stones up the crater and down the whole path, making 5 cents/kilo. (60kgs = $3). They work through the night, young and old, breaking their backs, indeed their backs and necks are in weird positions, with probing bones. But they're all smiling and saying hello, I wish I brought cookies to give them. We went down to the lake, and walked around the sulfur fumes. The "all correct" German couple stayed at the top because they've decided that they don't have enough time. ???! Going to the lake and walking along the fumes with all the workers was the best part of all!! Down there, thank god the wind blew in the right direction. The fumes would blow up, and you could literary stand right beside it and breath fresh air in. Half way up, the wind has changed and all the smoke started blowing everywhere. It's an almost vertical 40 minute ascend and we were running up. 3/4 way up, the smoke was all around us, my lungs started to burn and my eyes started to tear up. Lets say it wasn't pleasant. Somebody gave me his hat so that I could breath through it. I have no idea how they work in these conditions. On the way down the path, it got cloudy and all the views have disappeared. Good thing that I took pictures on my way up!
Long way to Bali. Sat at a local bus with no leg space and smashed to the person next to you, people are smoking, there are no windows and I feel like I'm doing a hot yoga class with no benefits. we crossed the waters to Bali on a ferry, and on the other side half of the tourists got off the bus to take a taxi, whole 100kms! That's how hot it was! But when it started moving, it was actually bearable. We got a surprise... the bus stopped 30 kms from the town, although it said the town name on the front! And then it left with my luggage in it cause we didn't know what's going on. It was funny as both of us were looking at the leaving bus and none of us got stressed out. Well ... what can we do now? We found security who contacted the security at the exit gate who stopped the bus. My luggage is safe, and I'm happy that Kostya is not a stressed out maniac. In fact we never, not even once got stressed due to any circumstances. Always thought things through, reacted appropriately and reached a solution calmly.

https://picasaweb.google.com/100036016632387453128/BromoIjen