Posts in "Indonesia"
nyepi in bali...

well here we are celebrating our second nyepi in bali. nyepi is unique to bali and is six days of spiritual rituals which essentially engulf the island in celebrations of all kinds. on nyepi eve or “new years eve” as we would call it, the island comes to life in a mass of paradises, ogha ogha’s, fires and music all in the bid to attract the bad spirits to bali and burn them off for the year to come. 

the next morning, commencing at approximately 6am the entire island falls into a state of silence for 24 hours and needs to be completely invisible to aircrafts and more importantly, any bad spirits that were enticed the evening before. so by silence, i mean no lights, no music, no cars, no motorbikes. 

nyepi is 24 hours where the island of bali comes to a complete standstill. no one is allowed to leave their houses, hotels or compounds. there is no honking of horns, no cars or motorbikes on the road. the only sounds that can be heard are faint barks of street dogs or chirping birds in the trees. 

this holiday is so unique that there has been a push for it to be adopted worldwide, although when experiencing this wondrous day, one can only think that it would be far to hard to get the modern first world to turn off the electricity for an entire 24 hour period. stay at home for a whole day and night and actually sit in in silence and think about life. about how fortunate you are and to ponder about those less fortunate than you and how they are spending their nyepi. 

the balinese take this holiday very seriously and fast for the 24 hours of silence day as they use this time to reflect, give thanks and to connect with their spiritual being. if you ever get the opportunity to spend some time in bali during march/april, i would encourage you to look at what date nyepi falls and get amongst the celebrations. its truely something that everyone should experience once in their life. 

the indo wrap up...
i had to give myself a few days to digest the month and get my head around the occurrences that happened along the way. after a short debate, i thought i would go over some of the highlights and lowlights of the journey.

i figure i will start at the beginning with the lowlights, better to get the negatives out of the way and end on a positive. so here goes...

1. after bidding farewell to lib and jenna, we headed to canngu for a few days which you are all well aware of. we, did however forget to mention the small detail of a scooter crash that happened... after hiring a scooter and giving me a 30 second lesson and test drive, kurt certified that i was scooter ready. within ten minutes however i had crashed into a local on the road and was on the way, no longer driving, to the nearest hospital. the lady we drove into needed immediate medical attention. oh roughly about three hours later, we were in a hospital in the middle of nowhere watching the lady getting eight stiches in her foot. in the end it took visits to three different families, three different consults to mechanics, repairs on both bikes and about 750,000IDR later, that we were finally able to put the two day drama behind us. we went without injury on the majority, just a few bumps and bruises. well with the behind me, i can outline of more lowlights...

2. the never-ending touts and smartarses comments; hey misses i remember you from last night, oh sexy, you a spicy girl, oh la la... and the list goes on

3. rubbish; the smells, look, flies, piles of it everywhere – sometimes getting buried in the sand, getting hosed down the street or simply lying in piles on the side of the road, never in bins

4. rip-off/ con artists who can conveniently don’t understand english, although they were talking to you in perfect english a few minutes before you started bartering the price down

5. stray dogs and cats

6. squat toilets

now onto the more positives. i think that its important to note that seeing so many unique places and cultures in one short trip instilled a real sense that there is room for everyone, their beliefs and ways of life, with this in mind some of my favourite things were...

1. watching tropical storms rolling in the green rice fields in the afternoons, in both canngu and nias

2. watching the surf at the many different breaks we visited; even more so when i could see that kurt was having a good session

3. watching the sunsets with a cold bintang, which were amazing wherever we were in indonesia and reflecting on the day

4. watching the fishing boats come in from sea at nusa lembongan and selling their catches to the locals who would wait to greet them at the shore

5. seeing the willingness of people to help when they could see you are irritated, hot and at breaking point

6. sampling the amazing tasty and fresh food on a daily basis and diversifying my pallet

7. seeing the smiles, hearing the screams and watching the joyous behaviour from local village children when you wave at them out the taxi window on the drive from the airport to lagundri bay, in nias
nias chronicles...
were not m.i.a peeps, we have just had a little difficulty getting internet connectivity...

part 1 – 25.08.2010

ahh... we have arrived at our final indonesian destination after two agonising days in transit, which saw the planes get smaller and smaller with every flight we took. needless to say, the final flight was spent with my fingers and toes crossed on a rickety old double engine propeller plane. (btw, i have to board again to get back to medan; not happy jan...) however i was quickly distracted once we left medan and headed west to the coast of Sumatra. it was memorising. the thousands of acres of wild, untamed jungle and volcanoes had us captivated enough for kurt to turn to me mid-flight and say, cant you just imagine tigers down there.

once we arrived, all we could see was miles and miles coconut trees lined with the occasional banana tree, teaming with fruit. this place is the most exotic location to date and probably one of the most unusual places this trip will take us. the two and a half hour drive to lagundri bay saw us pass through some breathtakingly blue rivers which met the sea. the beauty was astounding but in the same breathe we also saw the devastation that was caused in 2005 which left the island in ruins. the luscious green mountains were barren where the tsunami had hit and less than three months later, an earth quake decimated nias’s coastline and left mass trails of destruction. construction and rejuvenation of the island is still in its infancy stages and there is a long way to go.

without much prior investigation into lagundri bay on my behalf, all i can say is that it has little but surf and an amazing view. from the balcony of our losmen, looking from left to right all you can see is reef, crystal clear blue water, pounding surf, fishing boats and coconut trees. with this in mind we have spent our last few days chatting with the locals and the group of aussie surfers also residing here. to fill up the afternoons and evenings we have taken to purchasing fresh meat or seafood and having a big cook up. yesterday the guys went into the local village and bought and killed a pig. the afternoon was spent sipping bintangs and watching the locals dig a pitt and lay coconut shells to barbeque the pig. it was without a doubt the best tasting pork barbeque i have had in my life. it could be because its the first piece of meat i have eaten in the past three and a bit weeks or if it was because it was the best tasting bbq pork i have ever had (sorry dad). tonight, kurt and i bought a large mahe mahe aka. dolphin fish, off a fisherman that came ashore which should be mouth-wateringly tasty with some rice and stir fry veggies.
thus far i have been able to establish that nias is good for: fresh seafood, decent sized meals, coconut bread, surfing, tanning, sweating your ass off, friendly locals, pineapple jam and good massages.

part 2 - 28.08.2010

with the swell getting smaller and smaller each day, we have decided to leave nias early. after learning that merpati airlines decided to can their medan – nias leg, we had to rebook flights and decided that a date change was in order. the past few days have been spent with lazily because the heat seems to be getting worse, or its effecting us more, or a combination of the two. we have had some good laughs over the past few days, thanks to charlie the likeable-bogan from sydney and have bought another mahe mahe for dinner tonight.

yesterday we headed into town on a scooter and the afternoon turned out to be a little more magical than we could have imagined. in our rush to get to the internet to confirm our new flights, kurt and i got stuck in an afternoon thunder storm and got a little wet. having to drive a bit slower, given the wet, that we were on a scooter and the terrible condition of the roads, we saw some things that ended up being the highlight of our trip to sumatra.

driving past the small local communities we observed families laying out their coconut shavings and nuts to make homemade museli, local seafood markets with endless supplies of fish, crabs and shell fish, men welding side carts to their bicycles and old women pushing their old food carts carefully dodging pot holes in the road. seeing the clouds roll over the rice fields and listen to the thunder crack over the mountains was a memory that will stick with me for a long time.

some pics from our nias photobook.

into the sunset we go...
unfortunately, we are back in legain and have left the paradise that is nusa lembongian. tomorrow we hit indonesia’s airports for two days straight. our week of sipping cold bintangs, watching the sunset and working on our tans is over and we head up into the unknown, sumatra. nias is known worldwide for its legendry status as surf utopia, kurt has checked the wave forecast and is getting excited for the predicted peak in ocean swells.

this sunday will mark our first three weeks away however it feels as though we have been gone three months. we are still getting into the swing of things and still find ourselves snickering when our to-do lists are as simple as take a shower, organise tomorrow’s allowance and remember to go to the book swap store. to those of you who knew the long to-do lists we had before we left, you will be able to appreciate how mundane our new daily tasks now seem.

our budgets are still in check and we are getting by some days well under our $50.00 allocation. the past few days have seen us meet some amercian couples who are getting by on much less. ahh... there is hope after all.

pics. new friends, sunset and the happy travellers.

postcard perfection...
part 1 – 14.08.2010

i am officially in love with a place that serves as the bali people image, but never experience. let me paint you a picture. stretches of white sandy beaches, crystal clear blue water which enables you to see the coral underneath when meandering offshore in small fishing boats and small intimate restaurants on the beach serving ice cold bintangs and spicy bbq tuna. you have now arrived in nusa lembongan.

after departing from uluwatu we headed 17km east off the coast of sanur, bali to this sleepy little surfing and fishing village which is home to some 7000 locals. arriving on a public boat, aka a small local fishing boat with two huge stabilisers out the sides which counteract the rocking when crossing one of the worlds deepest parts of the ocean, we finally arrived at bungalow no 7.

there are two distinct times of day here, surfing time and seaweed time. when the tides high, its all about surfing and when its low, the locals head to their plots and cultivate their thriving seaweed industry. centuries old, the locals still happily spend their days maintaining and picking seaweed which is used all around the world to, wait for it, thicken ice-cream.

kurt was able to head out for a quick surf yesterday afternoon before the tide got to low and came back grinning and boasting that he had just had the best surf of his whole life. after one night in this tiny piece of postcard perfection, i know we are going to find it hard to leave in six days time. with bali’s largest volcano in the misty distance and the waves crashing at the foot of my sun bed, i am wishing i could share it with you all.

part 2 - 16.08.2010

yesterday i went for a wonder and found myself a little lost and the day ended with me being chased by a cow with a bell around its neck and getting nipped by a “cute little” puppy. lessoned learned; stay away from animals in indo. we also did a spot of snorkelling which ranked as the third best spot we have ever explored, after beach-comber in fiji and blue haven beach, whitsundays. jenna girl you would have loved it. today saw us hire a scooter and make our way around the island, which took approximately one hour.

if there is one thing i will take away from our bali experience, it is that the balinese are extremely resourceful. there is literally a market for everything here, from selling fruit and cutting it up on the beach, to selling coconuts to tired snorkellers or selling flags in a deserted hut on the side of the road. everyone is selling something or can sell you something for the right price.

pics. a few happy snaps from nusa lembongan

so fresh and so clean...
after roughing it for a few days we have finally arrived somewhere with hot showers, clean sheets and a pool. pheewww. the weather the past few days has been stifling and up until yesterday afternoon the beach wasn’t swimmer, nor jamee, friendly (waves too big). after residing in a beach bungalow at canngu for a few nights we decided to brave the crowds and head into kuta for a night. big mistake. with all recommended accommodation from the lonely planet guide fully booked, we decided to wing it and see what we could find. having had a few rather expensive days we needed to tighten our belts to stick within budget and ended up sleeping in a half construction site and half concrete three storey block. this place was not jamee or kurt friendly - needless to say half the night was sleepless and the remaining half was done with one eye open. we are now at the gecko inn at uluwatu which is an awesome and a nice change from last night.

pics from canngu.

the adventure begins...
today marks our first official week in bali and a week away from normality. its strange how quickly we have adapted to life on the road with work and daily duties, distant figures in our imaginations. last night we bid farewell to sarah, emma and vanessa and this morning jenna and libby are en route back to the gold coast; the bali 9 will soon become the bali 2.

for our last night together, we headed to the famous ku de ta for sunset cocktails, which were amazing. we then sat in the rooftop garden for a bbq at our hostel and chatted to some of the other backpackers staying at, the island. bon voyage to our first home away from home today, kurt and i have decided to head north for a few days to echo beach in canggu... our adventure into the unknown begins today.

pics. jamee and kurt in jimbarren bay, sunset at ku de ta and the final 6 sipping cocktails at ku de ta.

day 3 – bali...
sights smells and sounds. without an expectation of what it would be like; bali has not exceeded nor disappointed me. last night was my first real taste of bali and i had an experience that i absolutely recommend for a first timer to the area. heading into kuta for dinner and drinks our decided mode of transport was: the back of a locals scooter. winding our way through back allies in the darkness, weaving through night bazaars and narrowly pushing through crowed laneways, my hair went from wet to dry in 10 seconds. with my heart beating a million miles a second after disembarking from our honda’s, i felt like a local, getting from a to b.

today was another experience in itself, when an extremely hung-over kurt decided to dink me on his scooter to uluwatu. our forty minute drive, came to take well over an hour. patiently getting from legian kuta in peak hour morning traffic, we arrived at bali’s busiest round about only to get pulled over from the polis (police). motioning us to the side of the round about, kurt engaged in a 20 minute bribe session which saw our ‘alleged’ fine go from 250,000IDR to 50,000IDR by the time we were allowed to motor on.

leaving kurt to navigate the roads, i observed rice paddies on the city fringes, cows chickens goats and dogs roaming free on the highway and deserted buildings filled with rubbish to the brink with skinny old men ploughing their way through the heaps to find plastic bottles and cans in which to trade in for money.

arriving at our destination, finally, it was well worth the wait and then some. with the surf cranking, kurt headed into the water while i took up my position on the some-what deserted beach monkeys climb the hugh limestone cliffs that line the sea. to shortly summarise, its a place of the gods.

suffice to say, i will definitely be back.
today is the big day - en route to bali...
its all happening. its 5am and im madly rushing to make sure the last minute i's are dotted and t's are crossed, which includes not only updating my blog but using my beloved hair straigthner for the very last time.

my university graduation was yesterday and while fun, a bit of a non-event given the hype of our six month trip.

known as the bali 9, kurt and i, libby and jenna, sarah and emma along with some stragglers from over the ditch are all making the journey to have a week or so in indo and have a little fun under the sun, of their own.