Tag Archives: Dive course

Bali a distant memory

4 Aug


Its about time I give you all a bit of a run down on how Bali was.  There’s a couple of posts following this, one that has a link to photos, and another about my virginal day spa experience which portrays  my more warped side with a light hearted look at my first time venturing into the world of Day Spas.

But for now, Bali?  Well the reasoning for going to Bali was to meet up with Mandy, my girlfriend who I had not seen for 10 months, due to a couple of hiccups that most of you know of, ie Being kindly put up in Atlanta City Prision by my good friends at US immigration and getting put up by my much more accommodating friends of the rescue helicopter team at Nelson Hospital.

So why Bali? My only reasoning for choosing Bali was because I heard you could get real cheap flights to there from OZ.  Well usually you do, but if your working in the middle of the outback cut off from the real world (or just don’t give a care whats going on in the world as its usually involves, soaring prices, crime, war etc), you fail to realise that its peak season with the school holidays and that surfers flock to Bali this time of year as the surf is starting to crank. So it ends up not being that cheap, but you have already told your girlfriend to buy her ticket to Bali, therefore there is no turning back. 

So my thoughts on Bali before going were, drunken Ozzie schoolies chanting “Ozzie Ozzie Ozzie, Oi Oi Oi”, overweight grey haired package holiday makers with their camera’s hanging around their necks saying “wow, Diana, I can’t believe no body speaks english here”. So I was expecting just another generic over-run holiday package tourist destination, the only difference being that its little Balinese people hassling you to plat your hair, give you a massage or buy their cheap “genuine” Balinese souvenirs (made in China) all for a “special” price.

So from the above, you can see my expectations weren’t that rosy, in-fact quite negative.  Well, Bali showed me! Bali taught me a lesson for being so dam pessimistic.  My holiday was full of amazing isolated beaches, sunshine, beaming smiles, friendly locals, culture, cheap beer, developing world traffic chaos, crazy animals, awkward communication moments, more smiles, more sunshine, dirt cheap everything, day spas, language barriers, tasty food, beautiful dive spots, sunsets, and above all, welcoming local people who always had a smile for you!

So yeah, Bali fully stuck it to me. So what did I get up to?  I arrived in Bali, met Mandy (girlfriend) at the airport, got a taxi straight to our pre-booked accommodation in Ubud, and spent the next 4 days in Ubud catching up on the last 10 months. Ubudwas perfect for this, we lived like kings in our $25/day guest house, our own balcony looking over bushy jungle and immaculate gardens, smiling Balinese ladies bringing us breakfast each morning.  For once in my travels I didn’t feel like the smelly cheap backpacker I am, it felt as though “I had made it”, haha.

After many a day spa and exfoliating scrubs in Ubud, it was off to neighbouring island Lombok, which is the size of Bali, but doesn’t have the tourist infrastructure or reputation that Bali has, although that will change with an international airport planned for next year. Our first stop was at Gilli Trawangan, an island off the North Eastern coast of Lombok. Here both Mandy and I completed our open water dive certificates. I fully fell in love with diving, even though my “extreme” gag reflectors mixed with the respirator in my mouth usually results in me throwing up beforehand (anyone that has heard me brush my teeth, or take a shot, will know about my gag reflectors). Here was probably my favourite place of the trip, a cool traveller scene, a relaxed island with no cars, just horse and carts, a lively little after dark scene with even the little convenience stores (in the most basic sense of the word) offering magic milkshakes guaranteed to send you to the moon, and above all a good bunch of travellers to hang with at night. 

After sleeping straight through our alarm, we nearly didn’t leave Trawangan, but thanks to a miracle of me dreaming we had missed the boat, I woke up, and we made the boat, and through the work of another miracle I managed to keep the contents of my stomach in my stomach.

We made it to the mainland of Lombok, and flagged all plans of hiring scooters and trying to navigate our way through the sea of recently graduated highschool kids in spray painted uniforms celebrating the end of school, and the pot holes, and the monkeys. Instead we made the most of me being on salary (therefore being paid to be on holiday – you got to love a stable job sometimes) and got a chauffeur (Balinese guy with a van), this allowing us to catch up on lost sleep from the night before. The 2 hour ride south was awesome, I felt like royalty in the front seat as we crawled along in traffic, with the local kids shouting out “heelllloooo mr”, or for me, “Rastaman”, “Bob Marley”, “Uncle Bob” with sooo much energy that you start to think they hang out beside the road all day just waiting for a “whitie” to pass by to they can scream “heelllloooo” at the top of there lungs and feel fulfilled like a devoted church goer having Jesus come from the sky. 

We finally arrived at our destination, were shown a two-storied villa, thinking it would be bloody expensive (but were so needing a flat horizontal surface we wouldn’t of cared), only to find out it was $10, hahaha, gotta love it.  So Kuta, Lombok was the place we found ourselves, a chilled out version of its party going brother in Bali.  Kuta Lombok is known for its surf and untouched beautiful beaches.  So Mandy and I hired a scooter for the 3 days we were there and explored our surroundings. Beautiful rugged golden sand beaches and once again great locals. 

One day we took the scooter on a day trip up to a mountain village to check out a waterfall. At a busy town intersections full of truck fumes and beeping horns there was a local man pointing frantically at our scooter, but I had read about the tricks of locals pulling over tourists to fix a “problem” on there scooter, only to make a new problem and then charge outragous prices to get it fixed. This situation is one of the things I hate about being a backpacker in a foreign country, as theres that constant issue “is this a genuinely nice person, or are they trying to rip me off (as you always hear those stories)”? But 100 metres down the road when the scooter started fishtailing, I realised that the good of human nature had prevailed, and the fella at the intersection was just being a stand up caring citizen. But him and his mates got their enjoyment as they laughed and cheered as Bob Marley and his girlfriend pushed their deflated scooter back into town. Just as we were dreading the ordeal of bargaining and getting the tyre replaced, a leather jacket wearing Sanchez mustached Balinese Jesus comes up and says”follow me”. He took us to a hole in the wall establishment vaguely resembling a mechanics and got our tyre all fixed up and repaired for the disgustingly, tourist inflated price of $3, yep $3, kind hearted human nature wins again. The world needs more leather jacket wearing Sanchez mustached Balinese Jesus men and less towel wearing bearded Bin Ladens (please don’t get all PC on me, just stating a point, Bin Laden was the first villian that came to mind so I described him, if it makes you feel better replace the description of Bin Laden with business suit wearing clean shaven, Mercedes driving, middle aged, tax evading businessman!) – aaahhhh the beauty of having your own blog, you can write what you want.

So after seeing the light, it was back to the island of Bali to meet Mandy’s good friend Ingrid. Once we had met all 3 of us headed to another Island off off Bali Nusa Lombongan. More diving was on the cards, more Bintang beers, sunsets, and a shit load of seaweed, as seaweed farming was the main industry of the island.

Then, my 3 weeks was up, it was time for me to head back to the land of the “real world” where things like having hot water seem to matter.  So I spent the afternoon and evening at Kuta, the touristy, party destination of Bali.  We always describe touristy as bad, and I have done as well, but these places always serve a purpose.  If you don’t travel much, or enjoy the luxuries of the developed world at dirt cheap prices, or are a bunch of people that want to party, or wanted buy some cheap goods, Kuta is great. I know that if I was with a heap of mates and wanted to party for a couple of days in Indonesia, Kuta would be on the list.

So as I left the bar at 1am, flagged down a scooter, jumped on the back of it and headed to the airport to catch my early morning flight, I thought to myself, “Bali my good friend, you’ve done bloody well, keep up the good work”.