Travels around an island paradise.. so far
22.09.2009 - 26.09.2009 27 °C
Having landed at Denpasar airport in Bali, we made the short trip to Kuta Beach, party capitol of Bali. However, we had not anticipated how busy it was going to be and as a result spent the next two hours hiking our rucksacks round looking for a bed. By the time we found somewhere to stop, we were tired, sweaty, insect bitten and had already missed the first half of the Manchester derby!
Luckily there is no shortage of hostelries in Kuta and a welcome meal and a couple of cold Bintang Beers later and things were feeling a lot more rosey. The night was warm and there was still time to catch the second half (shame about the result though).
Kuta does seem, however, to be filled with noisey drunk aussies crashing thier scooters into one anther and we only stayed two nights before hopping on the bone-shaking 'tourist bus' over the mountains to Lovina in northern Bali. We did have time though to take in the Memorial Wall opposite the site of the 2002 Bali bombings (the actual site is now used for parking motorbikes!), which was actually quite a moving reminder of all the lives lost, made all the more poignant amongst such brash surroundings.
Lovina was much more chilled out and relaxed and we settled down to some hot sunny weather, good food and relaxation by the beach without the noise and hassle of Kuta (we must be gettting old!). Here we stayed in a traditional Lomen homestay, which is basically a series of low bungalow type buildings within the compound of a Balinese family home. This was really good fun as you get to know and talk to all the family and thier (many) guests throughout the day while taking breakfast or catching up on some reading on the sunny verandah. The owner was a wiry, grey-haired old Indonesian called Harris, a real character and proclaimed reformed 'player' now living with his chain-smoking German wife.
Amongst the relaxation we also took a side trip to a nearby hill-top buddhist temple (this is rare in Bali as the island is predominantly Hindu) followed by Air Penas Banjar natural hot springs that pour from the hillside into a series of intricately carved stone pools. It was an amazing setting, filled with chattering and playful Balinese families relaxing under the massaging water-fountains and hot water as the sun set. Indeed the trip to the springs and back was almost as entertaining as we zipped down the hill-top country roads clinging on for dear life on the back of one of the local's scooters (We left the arrangements to Harris!).
On our last night in Lovina, Harris took us to a local Kanteen (open air bar by the side of the road), where his friend was celebrating his 50th birthday by playing guitar, drinking Arak (a potent local spirit distilled from palm Sap) and generally having a raucous time at such a grand old age. He turned out to be an incredibly good guitarist, famously know across all of Bali (and much of Indonesia) as Luppo Santana. We ended up sitting drinking with him and all the band until fairly late and generally appreciating how friendly and welcoming all the Balinese people have been in Lovina
The next day was an early start and another, albeit more confortable, bus ride to where are now Ubud. We are high up in the mountains in the cultural centre of Bali, famed for the Balinese Dancers, Picturesque Rice Paddies and Relaxing Spas.