Welcome to Indonesia.
Some 19 hours later, off the plane and into paradise…I wish! But as with travelling, it’s not all jet planes and hotel transfers.
Let me paint a little picture… Arriving in Doha, sweaty, famished and slightly disgruntled, I staggered to our meeting spot where I was hoping to reenact a scene from the Notebook of two lovers reuniting, didn’t quite turn out how expected.
Instead, we fell into a restaurant to catch up before our flight transfer to Bali, Denpasar- this is where shit hit the fan.
Travel tip: For even the most experienced traveller, be well aware of your time-zone differences.
Between Lasse, Doha and I, we had 3 different times, thinking we had a “cool” 3 hours before our flight. Turns out, we were an hour late, missing our flight all together.
Put on the next flight at a hefty price (and I mean regretfully hefty), we had 4 hours to kill and at this stage we were exhausted. We found shelter by camping out in a little booth…I wasn’t a happy camper at all.
Let’s just say, it was quite the start to the two week adventure.
Things did get better arriving in Denpasar, surfboard and all in the middle of the night, welcomed by sticky 30 degree weather which would put poor old Durban to shame.
Travel tip: In Indonesia, hussle for your taxi price. Despite our weary state, I was not about to let us pay a ridiculous fee to arrive at our villa.
Our first few days were lazy and unproductive but much needed! Beach, food and cold beverages were to become our daily vices.
First stop: Seminyak- Artemis Villas & Hotel
A cool spot close to the beach, 25 mins from the airport. However, the area is little too touristic for our taste. If we had to do it again, we’d scrap Seminyak and head straight to Ubud.
The Seminyak strip has plenty of tranny karaoke bars, clothing stores and affordable restaurants which was considerably favourable to both our ZAR and EUR exchanges rates.
Missioning around was easily done by foot, even at night when the torrential rain “blessed” us and we found ourselves, trekking through the flooded streets with a surfboard overhead as our means of “coverage”…we were soaked, yet it was these moments where I was physically dying of laughter and testing my athletic ability as my arms were numbing out (dude, carrying a surfboard is no joke).
Second stop: Ubud- Indigo Villas
Nestled in the heart of the Ubud jungle, the Indigo Villa is surrounded by typical Balinese rice paddy fields.
We were welcomed by fresh watermelon cocktails and ushered into a large villa with my favourite amenity- an outdoor shower overlooking the fields.
Ubud was our Christmas spot, where we celebrated our Christmas Eve dinner and made an effort to look a bit dressy.
Travel tip: Forget make-up, I tried but it just melted off my face.
I loved Ubud, it was culturally rich, littered with scooters and beautiful temples at every turn. It was where we tasted the World’s most expensive coffee, “Kopi Luwak”, made from from the poop of the civet cat (it tasted like shit). I think despite the unimpressive taste, I was heartbroken, seeing this endangered species chained in a cage and used solely for poop harvesting on the coffee plantation.
Places to vist:
Sataria Coffee Plantation- Free tea and coffee tasting
Pura Tirtha Empul, Tampaksiring- Natural Springs, Koi Fish and experiencing a traditional holy water ceremony
Monkey Forest- Kick it in an open forest with hoards of people-friendly monkeys
Ubud Market- Trinkets, street food and the perfect place to master your hustle game
Third stop: Gili Islands- Les Villas Ottalia
My favourite part of the trip! Advised by an Italian friend, venturing to Lombok’s Gili Islands was nothing short of paradise. Bath water, snorkelling with sea turtles, nightlife, picturesque sunsets and countless arty-farty beach bars.
Travel tip: Pre-book your ferry to the Islands, or arrange with a driver as they always “know a guy”.
Gili Trawangan is the largest of the 3 islands which is only accessible by a 1 hour ferry trip from Bali. The 3km island lives up to the “island-living” notion- no cars, or motorised engines, with your only means of transport being a trusty bicycle or a bumpy horse ride.
We spent our days beaching, swimming and snorkelling, which didn’t end well for me as I became really seasick on the glass bottom boat and threw up on the beach of the neighbouring Gili Air island hahaha.
Last stop: Canguu
Canguu is surfers paradise! Stay in a beautiful villa and mission around on a nippy scooter.
This was our last stop before heading home. It was unfortunately short-lived as I had a surfing accident just after New Years which left me a little bedridden.
Travel tip: Don’t know how to surf? Learn to surf with a local beach instructor easily found all along the central beaches.
Speaking of New Years, this year was very different to my usual celebrations. In flip-flops we rocked out at the infamous, “Old Mans” to a live band and as the clock stuck 12, we headed onto the beach with hundreds of people to watch the entire island ignite with fireworks.
Indonesia was ah-maz-ing- their people are helpful, friendly, great affordable food, loads of activities to do and even though two weeks seems a long holiday, I could easily set-up shop on the island for a month and settle into the easy-going lifestyle.
Enjoy my photos and till next time Indonesia!
Next stop? I’m heading to Greece on Friday for the Athens carnival!