All good things come to an end.
After fleeing from Ubud in search of the sun, we drove down to Canngu which stands for the villa filled area north of the main resorts. We knew upfront that this would be the part of the trip where we would leave tradition behind and once I got my head around that it was actually a nice change. We stayed around the famous echo beach where we had working internet and a big clean pool right outside of our spacious room at R&R Bed and Breakfast. We had a week left so we tried to make the most of it. We tried to relax and prepared for the hard work that was to come when going back to Dubai. But because sitting by the pool every day isn’t really our cup of tea, we explored the surfing beaches by bike, Mark took on some waves in Batu Bolong (Old Mans) and found out maybe it isn’t the greatest place to learn but he looked cool anyway. We also rented a car for the day to head south. Down south we visited Kuta, I know I said we never would but we wanted to have a look if it was really that bad to stay there. It is the best place to learn how to surf but we wanted to know if we could survive staying there. To our surprise the north of Kuta really wasn’t that bad at all. So we decided that next time we would stay here a few days to take a proper surfing course. For some things especially when you have kids organised beach resorts isn’t all that bad as it turns out. After Kuta we drove down to Nusa Dua where you have you have the greger beach with its white sand and turquoise water. We drove on to Uluwatu temple on the south Cliffs ,where we said hi and goodbye to the monkeys one last time.
The Canngu area mainly caters for surfers and expats resulting in lots of great and hip places to eat. It’s one of these places everyone seems to go to these days as it was recommended by almost everyone that was ever in Bali. There is a downside to the area though and that is that is is pretty famous for break ins and it sort of shows as all the villas compete with the height of walls built around them.
Canngu had a little bit of a personal highlight for me on the agenda as well. . But I guess this needs a little bit of explanation. In 2005 I met one of my best friends ever in Thailand, we ran a small dive centre together on a idyllic beach, lived in the dessert and on a boat diving one of the most beautiful places on earth on a daily base. Most of my funniest travel stories and memories were with this person but we managed to fuck this friendship up by becoming a couple and having one of the most dramatic break ups in history. This resulted in not seeing each other since Egypt 2007. Due to some big changes in his life we managed to get in touch again at the end of 2015 and we have been the best long distance friends ever since. He lives in Australia now and I live in Dubai and Belgium so the chance to ever see each other in real life again was slim. But the gods were with us and somehow we ended up only 10 km away from each other for a day. So we had to meet up and with a little push from my loving husband we did. Almost 10 years have gone by but for a few hours at old mans it felt like I was 25 again and no time had passed! It just shows that true friendship is stronger than time, distance and even drama. We got a second chance in friendship and I will cherish it Im happy my best friend is in my life again. I also believe in world peace again btw 😉
Goodbye Lombok – Gili – Bali, thanks for the memories.
We will meet again soon! Emirates has direct flights starting from june.. jeeeeeeeej!!!!!
The drive from Pedang Bai to Ubud gave me a glimpse of what was to come. And yes everyone is right.. Bali is very beautiful. The main difference between Bali and any other lush tropical paradise is the temples and the grand entrances of the houses. There is no other place like it!!!
By the time we arrived at our hotel it was already dark but even in the dark we were very impressed. Our own specious jungle treehouse, complete with four post bed and bathtub looking over the jungle, was going to be our home for the next few days.
Waking up with a jungle view through the massive windows of a giant hut just has to make you smile. And if that didn’t then the tiny monkey you spot from your bed would. The few days we had in Ubud sadly enough were rainy but we tried to make the best of it.
First on the list was to explore Ubud itself. Mark had been there about 7 years earlier and as expected couldn’t recognise much as the place had a boom of tourism since eat-pray-love came out in 2010. Even more crowded Ubud centre still has his charm especially if you get off the main road. After getting disoriented in the Market we went to rent a motorbike to help us with the rest of the exploring. In-between the rain we explored the village around our hotel that was set just a few miles outside of Ubud. Breathtaking sceneries to say the least. The green is greener and lusher then anywhere else. The roads are windy and tiny and everything you see is pretty beyond believe. I’m not into finding yourself and all the other floaty things that happen in Ubud. But if there was a place to find yourself I understand why people would try to do it in this place.
On day 2 we set off early by motorbike to visit Gunung Kawi. We were hoping to get there before the package tourists would arrive hence leaving early morning. It turned out to be a little bit further then we and my bum had hoped, but by the time we finally got there we were still ahead of the large troops. Upon arrival you first have to descent down hundreds of stairs and Milla did a fabulous job on climbing down. On either side of the stairs you have view over the rice terraces surrounding the temple. After we had finished looking around the temples we were up for a stroll in one of the rice paddies. Inevitably we all took turns in sliding down the muddy walkways and getting stuck while pulling out the toe bit from our flip flips. Resulting in trying to balance hopping on one foot while trying to avoid sliding down a floor. Somehow I did picture it more romantic in my head. On our way back my walk through Idyllic rice paddies fields experience took a turn for the worse. I will now never look upon them se same and I’m afraid the perfect picture is ruined forever. Close to the entrance of the rice field there was a pile of runny human poo and toilet paper that we only missed by a few cm. Every person I saw from then on for me was the creator of that pile and in my mind I thanked each one for making sure my careless rice field strolls have only lived a very short history.
I still tried to tell myself that this is nature and you have to take this with it if you want purity and real travel. But at the end there is no way I could learn to like human feces.
Time to take my feces phobia out on the stairs back up. Milla made it to the top on her own while we sang the Diego tune but instead of Diego it was Milla of course. Hup Milla go Milla.. Hup Milla go Milla.. Lalalalalalalala.
Just as we got to the top of the million steps (maybe I’m over exaggerating) floodgates were opened again and we were stuck in a café for a while but that wasn’t a bad thing. The café on top of the hill has the most awesome views over the hills and the rice fields with the volcano in the background. Especially after the rained the view was stunning. The landscape was letting off steam and the colours were amazing. I could have stood there and watched this forever. Instead of standing there we got on the bike to another temple and on the way there it seemed like every new view was trying to top the one before. Breathtaking!!! So my lesson here is the rain sucks big time but it makes things even more pretty when it stops. So be patient when it rains and go out as soon as it stops you won’t regret it.
The other temple we visited was called Puri Gunung Kawi Sebato. Almost the same name but completely different thing entirely. This one was situated around the water coming from the holy springs. The water was caught in a main secret pool and from there on it divided into different pools. On each side of the temple there were public areas. One people used to come and do their dishes or fill cans with drinking water and the other side was used for bathing. The Large pool was divided into two sections. One for woman and one for men. Milla and I went into the one for woman of course and to my surprise bathing actually meant bathing and not swimming. My husband took a picture over the wall before actually realising what was there. And after everyone left I took a few pictures of Milla to remember the crystal clear water. On our way home we passed hundreds and hundreds of traditional and art shops, a container wouldn’t be big enough to fill with everything we want.
The next few days it rained and rained and sadly enough didn’t stop anymore. So with pain in our heart we decided to leave in search of sunshine. Ubud and I however are far from done. I hope to continue exploring in and around Ubud soon.
All About Bluedolph aka Sven
Our last days in Gili T.. Took a bit of a weird turn as Milla fell in love with a plastic reindeer called bluedolf. She quickly renamed him to Sven (Frozen reindeer). Sven had been travelling with a couple to over 5 different countries. They were given Sven as a present and were dragging him with them for a while now and in a very weird way had become part of the family by doing so. The time that they had left in Gili T Sven would be temporarily relocated as Sven soon ended up in our bed.
On St Georges day (first time i even heard about such a day) the English tried to be English and had beach games and English food. We missed the food and games part because I was having my first Lobster ever at Scallywags. When we came back the goodies weren’t finished yet and we joined the crowd at Chappies (the bar in front of Manta) The betting was on… how many ‘ would it take to sink Bluedolf Aka Sven? Some of us should at least have an idea because of our diving physics but anything went and there where bets between 5 and 80 kilos or so. Milla wasn’t all to keen on what was happening but she soon joined in for the fun as long as I promised I would rescue Sven if something went wrong. It took 3 people making it happen and after a bit of fighting back Sven Sank with 36 kilos. Soon after the excitement we took Sven to bed to get his well deserved rest and the others partied on. It is after all a diving/party island
Except for dealing with Sven we didn’t do so much in Gili T. We let of steam and after a few days we were relaxed and fine with doing everything at a slower pace. Letting go always is a bit of a struggle for us but Gili T forced us into Zenn mode and we thank Gili T for it. We did refresh our diving skills in the pool and Mark finally went diving while Milla and I got seasick on the boat like a proper hardcore dive instructor. Diving together did get postponed again. But at least one of us got wet so there is improvement.
I had been told over and over again by Nick (my ex boyfriend) what a great community of wonderful people Gili T had. Even though it was a weird way for us to meet them. It turned out that he was more than right. When the time came to leave we where far from ready, goodbyes where of a sad kind and we promised to return soon. The typical saying that some places use as a sales pitch came to mind several times. Come as strangers, leave as friends…… was certainly truth here!!!
The Day we left Gili T it was raining. Not the normal daily shower but the heavens had really opened their gates and it seemed like they weren’t going to close them anytime soon. By the time we got on the boat we were already soaked. The boat was a speedboat, a bus type as they call them here. I think it’s because the inside looks a bit like a bus? Now for this little girl this is a bit of a problem. No matter how many years I have spent out at sea, I still get seasick like a boss. As long as I sit outside and watch the waves I’m sort of fine. I’m sure you hear me coming.. yes outside and thunderstorms aren’t a great match, especially the roof isn’t a great plan because of the swell. So that left me a tiny bench on the back of the boat next to the 7 outboard engines. Milla fell asleep on my lap within the first half hour. The wind, waves, thunder and lightning picked up fast and before we knew it we were getting soaking wet. I wasn’t feellng very safe as when we arrived on the boat we realised that we forgot Milla’s life jacket in our bag that was now in storage. We asked for a life jacket from the boat. The answer we got was very unexpected. I wasn’t allowed a life Jacket for my 3 year old daughter because it would cause a panic with the rest of the guests. After trying to explain and even begging I still didn’t get a life jacket for Milla. They did allow Mark in to the luggage area and get our own. Not sure where the logic was in all of this but the fact that I wasn’t allowed a life jacket and the fact that he kept telling me forcefully that everything was fine made me believe the opposite. With every wave and thunder the conversation kept repeating itself in my head. I presume being worried beyond controle is sort of a mum thing, but maybe not so handy for the type of mum who wants to be adventurous and cool.
Anyway after a while Mark took Milla inside and I stayed outside together with two people who seemed off their faces and kept howling at the wind. I honestly thought they were mad until I remembered that Ania and I used to howl at the wind back in the days when we lived on Frazer. After 3 soaking hours we arrived in Pedang Bai – Bali and I met for the first time and I could officially say that I was cold for the first time since we arrived in Indonesia.
Day 5 – 7
Taking in the sun and Rain and some diving at Gili T
After Lombok, Gili T was a bit of a shock at first. We needed to get used to people again. Especially the tourist kind. It took us a day or so to settle into the Island vibe and get into the pace of doing not much at all. My internet addiction is also getting help against my will as the internet on the Island is sometimes not there and other times very slow. Hence the main reason of me not doing any updates..
The main thing I can say is that its been hot and wet. Thankfully the second is not just because of rains. Thanks to my ex boyfriend we are staying at Manta Dive. The story behind it might be a little bit weird, but we were welcomed with open arms and are happy to be here. The dive centre and rooms are located right in the middle of Gili T where the boats arrive. It’s probably the busiest patch on the island during arrivals but it’s definitely not the loudest which is great if like us you need to go to bed early. The Island itself is all about diving in the day and fun at night with beautiful water and beaches as your playground. There are no motorised vehicles on the island. The main transport is by horse or by bike. You can walk around the island in about 4 hours to give you an idea how tiny it is.
On the first day Milla jumped into the pool with her snorkel and yes tiny fins thanks to the dive centre. Ever since then she has hardly left the pool. We did try snorkelling of the beach but without success as the surface was a bit rough for her. I do hope it will be quite at some point so she can actually see some fish. After all the main reason she keeps running around with the mask on her head is to see fish.
On the second day we got up early and jumped in the pool with our dive gear on. Time flies and Mark and I had not been diving for 5 years or so. A little refresher in the pool was in order. Neither of us had ever not dived for that long so no idea what that would do. It turned out that it was like riding a bike, the instructing part as well as the diving part. While we were in the pool doing skills Milla was snorkelling above us. I showed Mask replacement and Mark repeated it.. When I looked up Milla was also trying to clear her mask the way I showed it.. Cutest thing ever but it did mean I had to be underwater and on the surface at the same time as she kept repeating everything we did and the only words spoken where: I want to be a diver. This mum couldn’t be prouder of her little mermaid.
The only thing I find difficult here are the evenings. It reminds me of times when I was young and wild and free.. Or is that a song? No I can just see myself sitting here 10 years ago, because when I was on Koh Chang I lived this life once. It was a different place, but the same thing.. Diving in the day, a few beers in the evenings and lots of happy young people around all the time. I love the life I have now but I can’t say it doesn’t do anything to be thrown back into it. But enough dwelling and like a good mum I will close down the computer and go to bed so my little princess and I can have a fun day while daddy go’s diving tomorrow. (and yes just daddy is going, I can’t leave her with strangers and enjoy myself) One day though I will dive again.. And it won’t be far off.. If we stay somewhere a bit longer. Next time.. next time..
Monkey See Monkey Do – Lombok
After a night full of heavy rain and thunderstorms Milla woke up with the words “I want to see monkeys”. In my mind I said thank you to the guy at dinner who had put the idea in her head.
After breakfast there was still nothing else coming out of her mouth but Monkeys, so we asked around how we should get to the Monkey Forest. We had a motorbike but that wasn’t a great idea as the drive there wasn’t safe for Milla. So we took a normal taxi. On the way to the hills where the monkeys live, we passed the local market and some villages. I was surprised to see how poor Lombok really is. The conditions some people had to live in where shocking.
You can’t compare it to Thailand and you can’t compare it to some worst of places in the world that Mark has visited. But it is poor and everyone we have met never waited long to share with us how difficult things are.
Tourism and the money it brings can be good I guess, as long as it doesn’t spoil more than it gives. Lets hope for the people here that some more tourists will come, but without bringing the downside of tourism that we have seen in so many other places. When you read the guidebooks is says that Lombok is authentic, real and pure, That for sure is the least you can say about it. Until now everyone we have met has been so kind and welcoming and I wish already that we could stay longer to explore more and to be able to accept all the invitations we had to go to people’s homes. But for now we only have one day left before we head off to Gili and then Bali.
To get back to Milla and her monkeys. They were not hiding!! As soon as we got a bit higher up in the rainforest they would be along the side of the road everywhere. The first place our driver could stop he did. It was a viewpoint where you could see the ocean from the mountains. Some monkeys were up a tree a little bit down the road. Mark went to them with a packet of peanuts. He opened that packet and within a minute a monkey came down and instead of taking the peanut he took the packet and climbed up a road sign. He was kind enough to share with his friends so that was nice of him. Mark got another packet of peanuts and the monkeys followed him to where we were sitting. It turned out they are still pretty sweet here in Lombok and they come to eat out of your hand without stealing all the other stuff you have with you. Of course we all thought it was fantastic and me too I enjoyed the spectacle very much. And I can’t say my heart didn’t melt when a monkey held my finger for a while. But at the same time I had mixed feelings as I’m all for leave the wild animals alone. If you feed them they get less scared of humans and that it its own will bring problems with it. I’m not even sure if peanuts is good for them and if this happens more and more they will probably get aggressive like any other monkey in any other touristic place. For now it’s fine as Lombok doesn’t have so many tourists, but I couldn’t help being cross with myself for not informing myself better before we left on this adventure.
After Milla’s little monkey fix and her being used for holiday snapshots from the Indonesian tourists, we drove back to the hotel. This time from the other side, meaning we got to drive all the way down to Senggigi from the harbour on winding beach roads. There where coconut palm fields, rice fields and on the beaches itself there were no hotels in sight. Just lots of local fisherman and their families. I couldn’t help but wonder how long it would take for tourism to take over. And I’m still not entirely sure if thats a good or a bad thing.
When we got back to the hotel we got on our motorbike straight away to visit the hindu temple close to us in Batu Bulong. Before entering we were asked to wear a red ribbon and make a donation. The temple itself is named after a hole in a rock and of course it has a hole in a rock with a pretty little temple around it. Milla wasn’t to impressed and wanted to go back to the pool to swim so that’s what we did and that’s where our day ended.
The day Milla learned to snorkel.
We woke up and had a relaxing breakfast after which we chose to get ripped off by some beach punters. I needed a sarong and was feeling soft-hearted. My old backpacking self was nagging in the back again but I felt like pretending I didn’t care for once. So we paid way to much for a sarong and some bracelets. Lets just hope they are doing something good with the money, like give their kids something extra. After getting ripped off we took a Taksi to Senggigi town to reload at the ATM.
We quickly returned to the pool because we had promised Milla to go swimming. We got the masks and snorkels out and placed ourselves on the sunbeds with a view. Milla was eager to get in the water and after a while she asked for her mask (until now she liked the idea of snorkelling but as soon as she got the mask on her head she bailed) this time however she seemed really keen. She has been obsessed by fish and maybe she now understands that without the mask she won’t be able to see any when we get to Gili T. Whatever it was that went through her brain it worked. For sure it wasn’t us pushing her. As much as I secretly wanted her to snorkel this trip I didn’t keep high hopes for success. (She only is three after all)
We were in the water with her and there was minor success but definitely a lot of improvement so I was already happy. Mark and I got out of the water, and this is when the magic happened. She asked for her mask and snorkel and jumped in. I wasn’t keen on giving it to her at the start, resulting in me being ready at the edge of my seat to jump in if I needed to. But something went click and she put her face in the water and kicked her little feet to the stairs of the pool. She got out, jumped in halfway the pool en repeated what she had done before, and again, and again, and again. I don’t think I have ever been so proud in my life. I actually cried! My little girl is a mermaid just like her mummy. She is even a better one!
The rest of the day we hung around and then rented a motorbike to go for food and a look around into town. Milla in the middle just like the locals, with the main difference that I brought a helmet from back home for her. She loves it!
My mermaid, expat and travelling girl. Im so proud!
Travelling to Jakarta
We set of for the airport in Dubai early morning after dropping off the last bits and pieces to the new house. As always DBX was smooth travelling. A lot of here you go’s , please mam and thank you’s while being escorted to cut in everywhere and anywhere because you are travelling with a child. Even the people waiting to board open up the row on their own account (like when Moses split the red sea) to let you go first.
The only obstacle we came across is Milla losing her dummy. You know this dummy that she needs for sleeping, the one they don’t make anymore and on top they don’t make the blanky anymore that holds the dummy and of course its the only one she wants. As always I brought spare but just the idea of one day not having that spare anymore freaks me out completely.
After settling in on the plane we started our 7 to 8 hour travel. The plane was only half full so if we wanted we could slap anywhere. We were traveling during daylight hours so that wouldn’t really be necessary.
In front of us were to young arab boys. I think they were Egyptian from the sound of their dialect but I wasn’t entirely sure. About half an hour into the travel they caused a bit of a commotion as they had a bottle of whiskey and their intention was to down it in one. From living in Egypt there were thousands of stories going though my head. However after the crew took the bottle from them without a fight they fell asleep and slept all journey.
Another painless journey had passed. Emirates always manage to spoil our little princess which only helps with the travel. We landed in Jakarta around 22.30 local time, got our luggage and went to emigration only to realise that we forgot about the visa application on arrival. After they did the custom visa office trick (trying to let you pay four times as much because we didn’t have local currency) we went to the ATM machine and waited inline again to pay only what we needed to pay this time with Indonesian rupiah. The next thing we needed to do is to pass passport control and then we would be able to sleep. A few people in front of us needed to do the same and they took a really long time bribing the officer as we waited and waited and waited, while money was taken and put back and taken again and finally they went through.
I believe this is where Milla stopped showing patience with anything. She was really tired and after walking into a chair leaving the plane she now got stuck with her bum and legs up in between the desk and the foot railing. Time to get the slingshot baby carrier out!! Even that didn’t really help. After the ‘Taksi’ took us to the IBIS airport hotel and we dropped ourselves on the bed I was a happy mum again. Happy to have a sleeping exhausted child and happy to have felt the tropical heat and to smell that typical smell of Asia.
More Travel – Arriving on Lombok
After a good nights rest on a comfortable bed and jet lag not spoiling to much we had breakfast and took the shuttle bus to the airport. Ready for our last stint from Jakarta to Lombok we tried to check in at the normal Garuda desk. The girl behind the counter giggled and someone came to translate that giggle for us. ‘WE HAD BOOKED BUSINESS CLASS’.. What????
We went to the business class check in that was in a different building and tried to figure out what happened and how much it has set us back. Turns out that when we checked the total price while booking it was the one person price. The fact that we booked in Rupiah a currency we don’t understands but that has a lot of zeros at the end didn’t really help. Anyway damage was done so we should better enjoy what was coming. And we did..Only little Milla didn’t really realise how special the big chair was that she was sitting on.
A short flight later, were we got to see what was coming from the air, we landed in Lombok. My luggage came straight away, but Marks didn’t. So we waited and waited until there was nothing to wait for anymore. When we didn’t have another choice anymore we accepted the thought that it was gone and Mark went to baggage claim. Few minutes later he came back with his bag. Apparently they load first class on a cart for you and they forgot mine. Nice gesture but not really failsafe as we noticed. We walked out of the airport and there were about 10 Taksi desks right in front of us shouting and another 30 people to the left of us shouting. My first thought was: why didn’t I read up on Taksi prices on the plane and what was the name of that good Taksi company again. That of course didn’t stop them from shouting so whatever they said I said 200.000 less and we went with whoever still stuck around in the end. The one still had to pay off another one and since having a child I’ve become to soft. Instantly I regretted haggling on the price and maybe I even regretted not going with the official Taksi. Anyway those things are the love/hate things about travelling. There is no decent travelling without taxi haggling I guess.
Driving about 10 minutes the sky broke open and rain started to pour down in ways that it can only do in tropical countries. It however didn’t really make our driver go slower, maybe it even did the opposite, but thank god the rain stopped after a good 10 minutes. During our drive we overtook every other car, bike and truck that was on the road in Lombok that day. I saw my own funeral several times as on numerous occasions we avoided a head on crash only by millimeters. I managed to keep my screams from coming out in noise and put a polite (I’m not scared smile) on my face. While I was putting on my show, Milla was sleeping for the whole drive.
After an hour of racing against chickens, dogs and people we arrived in the Chandi boutique resort near Senggigi. It sounds fancy and it is fancy. Every time we make it to a place like this, my inner 25-year-old bag packing self, is looking at me disapprovingly. For years I believed that you can only call it travelling if the place you are staying has no AC, no pool and is built out of bamboo. And then I became a mum and things changed. Even though we still don’t use the AC it’s just nice to know when it’s there for when Milla is too hot during nap time in the day. A pool is safer to let her swim on her own and well yes those kinds of places are sadly enough built from concrete. Now this place was even a step higher than when we usually just try to get the previous things for the least amount of money possible. This place is only possible cause my husband saves up free hotel nights through hotel.com. For every 10 nights he gets one free. Because its business hotels he stays in during the year we can afford descent places here and there. This was definitely one of those descent places. It had an open bathroom that I love so much, it had lots of glass and was sett on a grass patch full of coconut palm trees with a beautiful naturally looking pool all facing the sea. The resort was on the main road but still in the middle of nowhere. Locals living on each side, and around sunset there would be a never-ending line of them Knee deep in the sea trying to catch whatever they would eat that evening.
Just as Milla and er dad came back from exploring I saw a bird on its back on the floor in front of Milla. It wasn’t moving much but it was alive, I screamed (I’ve got a thing for half dead animals it upsets me more than any other person). Mark picked it up and Milla was loudly impressed, but not really understanding that the bird was in pain. We found a basket and put the bird in a basket and secured it on top of an orchid that was growing on one of the palms. This way it would be safe from whatever was crawling around and also from Milla. It just laid there, hardly moving and hardly breathing. Every half hour Mark would pick up Milla and let her have a look. I didn’t have high hopes for the bird and thought we would have to make a bird funeral, but by midnight it was gone. Leaving only a little bit of birdshot behind in the basket. We looked around to see if it was somewhere on the ground but noting. All of us couldn’t be happier that the little bird was flying again, and every bird that comes near is now the bird that we rescued coming to say hi and thank you. At least in Milla’s world that is the only truth.
At night before closing my eyes I couldn’t help but think about bay lan bay back in Thailand. How that place had no AC, no pool, no lock on the door, no glass in the windows, no luxury, but it was so perfect. If only I could find a place like that again someday.