After the stay in Bali and our trip to Lombok, we have now reached Sulawesi so we do our update from Makassar.
The first thing you notice in Bali is the temples and statues on this island. Basically every second building is a temple (or at least looks like one) and there is hundreds of statues beside the road, guarding bridges or temples. Before we left the bus station, the driver had to get the blessings from one of the Hindu gods (so we stopped quickly for this) and it worked: we did not have any accident on the road, so we reached the tourist town of Seminyak in the south of Bali. The first people you meet there are "ripping off" taxi drivers that want you to take an overpriced taxi and after we finally reached our hotel, we were shocked about the masses of tourists there! Well, actually this place is crowded with Australians and French speakers and the locals you meet are asking: "Massage?" followed by "Transport?" or "Taxiii?" :-) so a happy place! But since the Indonesian Government only grants you a 30 day stay with the Visa on Arrival, you have to extend your Visa somewhere and Seminyak is a place with lot's of tourists and therefore with lots of agencies doing this hassle (you would have to go at least 3 times to the immigration office in Denpasar to do this or just pay somebody else to do it!) so we handed over our passports and hoped that we will receive them back :-)
But the south of Bali has more to offer than a beach (although its a looong beach down to the airport) so we rented a scooter to visit the Bukit peninsula with it's fish market in Jimbaran (very interesting) had lunch in a seafood restaurant on the beach there, drove further south to a temple (Pura Luhur Ulu Watu) with some monkeys close to a cliff and we finally experienced the funny traffic jam close to the airport around 5 in the afternoon (everyone is just pushing into the round about but it actually works pretty well)! The traffic jam is not a big surprise, given the thousands of tourists in this area, renting motor bikes and given the locals also driving their motor bikes at the same time, so you could call it quite "busy" .... :-) And finally, we headed down to the beach where we enjoyed a cool Bintang (Beer) at the beach while watching the sun set on Bali! Nice day!
|Fresh fish at the market|
|Cleaning the beach|
|Monkeys at the temple|
Besides this area, you can visit some more sites in Bali, so we went to Ubud (the cultural centre of the island) where you also have quite some tourists. In Ubud, we firstly visited the "dangerous" monkey forest, which we survived without being bitten! I think not all tourists can tell this from themselves ;-) ! The monkeys are very funny and cute and they know when someone is hiding a banana or other food, so the start jumping on those peoples and all others start to take pictures of it :-) and the statues in the park are interesting as well...
|Monkeys at monkey forest|
|Monkey with ice cream|
We stayed 3 nights in Ubud and the food there was really good, especially the "speciality" called "Bebek Betutu" which is a slowly roasted duck in banana leaves! Awesome! And since we were lucky with the scooter in Seminyak, we rented another one to drive up to the temples in the north and to the rice terraces close to Ubud. The temples are fairly nice to see: the first one (Goa Gajah) is a cave with a spectacular entrance and some more temples surrounding it; the second one we visited was Tirta Empul where the Hindus take a bath in the holy water and wash away their sins (incl. some tourists also taking the bath there) and the last one was Gunung Kawi which you reach after climbing down some hundreds of steps, passing the souvenier stalls to finally reach the rock-cut shrines at the bottom of the valley, close to the river.
We continued our little trip, passed some villages, got a bottle of fuel and finally ended up at the world famous rice terraces close to Ubud. You can hardly miss them since ALL tourist cars stop there and therefore you see the big jam of cars immediately! But nevertheless a nice view is granted once you see the terraces.
|Rice terraces close to Munduk|
|Gunung Kawi dragon|
|Other rice terraces|
After Ubud, we continued the journey into the centre of Bali, where the mountains are, so we went to Munduk. This is a small town in the hills of Bali, surrounded by rice terraces and waterfalls. There are a lot of turns to take until you reach it, and you pass one of the most famous temples of Bali as well, which is situated close to a lake. Once we arrived, we did the check in and had a look around Munduk (very small). Next day, we wanted to do some short hikes and the weather actually shortened them even more! After we reached the first waterfall, it started to rain, so we had to head back to our hostel... but the rain did not stop anymore this day. Since the weather was still not as great as expected, we rented a motor bike and went north to the coast where the sun was shining and where we spent the day driving through remote villages until we reached the sea, had a wonderful lunch before we took another road back, passing the Sanak Retreat Resort (which is very nice and meets European Standards). One of the very interesting things in this area is the growing of cloves (Nelken) which smell very intensively!
|Waterfall at Munduk|
|View from Munduk|
|Sea side lunch view|
From Munduk we wanted to go to Lombok but before we took the public ferry, we stopped with our private transport at the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, the water temple which is on the 50'000 bill and since it was early in the morning (08.00) there were literally NO other tourists! Great!
|Pura Ulu Danu Bratan|
|Pura Ulu Danu Bratan|
So we drove down to Padangbai to cross the ocean and arrive in Lombok. On the ride, we met 3 French guys which was good since we could share a taxi to Sengiggi; We also met a "tourist guide" which hopped into the car as well and started talking if we want to do a tour to Ringani and when we would like to start... he has a tourist agency which is organizing the tour and furthermore he has a hotel so we could stay there etc, etc,... this for about 2 hours until the french ones accepted his offer; we didn't! This was actually so annoying and the weather did not look very promising for great views, so we decided to not climb Ringani but rather spend some days in the south of Lombok (Kuta Lombok) at the beach. So after a day at the Sengiggi beach, we changed our location and found (luckily) a great new resort that just opened its doors, run by 2 Scottish guys setting up everything. And since it was a "soft opening" the price was reasonable as well :-)
There is not much to see in Kuta Lombok itself except for splendid beaches in the surrounding. So, you rent another motor bike and drive around until you see a nice beach where you spend your time at! And sometimes you can even see some surfers trying to ride the waves there! Great fun! And the food there was quite good as well, so we enjoyed the time there (but since it was always beaches, we did not take many pictures there...).
Last but not least, we had to go back to Seminyak to pick up our passports. So it was another day sitting in the bus or on the ferry, crossing back to Bali. The cultural shock was not as bad this time since we have been "acclimatized" now and our hotel was good as well. The only very annoying thing there is the taxi drivers which constantly try to rip you off; e.g. trying to charge a fix price which is 3 times higher than the normal price with meter! The standard answer is always: 10 USD! But sometimes you also meet nice drivers that switch on the meter immediately and explain, why they are taking a certain road :-)
|Statue in Seminyak|
|Petrol supply in Bali|
So after our flight to Sulawesi, we have 1 day in Makassar, before we fly to Poso and from there we try to reach the idyllic Togean Islands which are known for snorkelling and diving (and they are remote, so no cell phone connection, no internet, etc...). Therefore we will be off line for at least one week before we come back to the main land :-)
|Statue at temple|
|Offering at the temple|
|Rice terraces at Ubud|
|Rice terraces at Ubud with ducks|
|Pura Ulu Danu Bratan|