Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Trip to Lombok, Gili and Bali plus 'a surprise proposal ;-)

Amori left on the 12th and I spent the next week confirming bookings and finalising transport for our trip to Lombok, Gili and Bali. We left for Lombok on the 19th of December.

We stayed at the Novotel in Kuta in the South which is approx 2 hours drive from the airport. It was lovely but unless you are a surfer, there isn't really much to do there. We enjoyed riding around on a motorbike taking in all the sites. We spent 3 days, lazing around by the pool, snorkeling and enjoying the stunning sun sets.

We particularly enjoyed having lunch at Ashtari, a coffee house/resto located on the hill with the most fantastic view of the south cost. They serve fantastic vegetarian lunches and are only open from 8:30 - 6:00pm as they do not have electricity. Definitely worth trying, we loved it!

A Sasak Village, Sade where things haven't changed in a 100 years.

One of the beautiful secluded beaches in Kuta, Lombok.
One of the many rice paddies in the area.

Stunning sunsets to appreciate.

On the 22nd we took a taxi to the harbour, approx 2 hours drive from Kuta. We were awaited by the skipper of a small speedboat that took us to the Beach House on Gili Trawangan.
Our "James Bond" ride, which took us about 15min from the Lombok harbour to GiliT.

It was cars, no motorbikes only horse carts which made for a truly fabulous experience. It almost felt like we were on a Greek island.

We had 3 days of sun shine, diving, amazing Seafood BBQ's, ...what more does one need!

Spectacular view from the rooftop area at the Beach House restaurant.

The biggest turtle I've ever seen under water

We found Nemo

We dived with Star Divers at the STAR HOTEL (Formally Dive Indonesia). We were happy with their service and would gladly recommend diving with them.

How funny....this kitty cat performed a balancing act, looking for some left over Christmas dinner.

Now this is the life...

Marc busy negotiating our ride to the harbour.

An Island Taxi, complete with all the bells and whistles.

On Christmas day we continued our journey to Bali. Because we were going to Ubud, we decided to go with the Lian Senggigi, fast boat to the Serangan harbour, which would have saved us about an hours travel, rather than one of the other more popular operators like Gili Cat or Blue Water Express that go to Bonao Harbour.

What should have taken about 1 and a half hours turned out to be 3 hours of absolute "HELL". We were the only two passengers on the boat, the other 5 people were crew. It started off okay until the waves started hitting the windows. Imagine the most scary amusement park ride
x 100. There were a couple of time where we thought the boat was going to flip until thankfully the skipper decided to go a bit slower. I don't know if that made it better or worse though..

Weeks ago, we heard that another boat had sunk between Gili and Bali. Today, as I was looking for the link to Lian Senggigi site to add to this post, I realised that it was in fact the Lian Senggigi that sank. YES, the exact same boat that we were on only 2 weeks before. OMG!!! So, I really had reason to be scared..."And I really was"!

There were 40 passengers on board the Lian Senggigi. The boat started taking on water and sank, 700 meters from Bali! It was really lucky that the boat was so close to Bali because many people had to swim to shore or were picked up by local fishermen. Click here to read the Jakarta Post article about the shipwreck.

Thank GOD we made it to the Serangan harbour where our transport was waiting to take us to the Biyukukung Hotel and Spa in Ubud, Bali.

We reached the hotel at about 3:30pm, seriously stressed and exhausted. We felt better after a refreshing shower though and was ready to explore Ubud. We hired a motorbike, enjoyed a latte in a fabulous cafe down the road from our hotel. By this time the stressful boat ride was almost a distant memory.

We went back to our hotel room for a cold beer, overlooking the rice paddies at sun set.

(Maybe I should back track a bit....
Since we arrived in Lombok Marc was looking for the right moment to pop the question. He apparently called my Mom to ask for my hand in marriege (I know, how sweet). He says that Lombok was too much like Sun City, the secluded beach near our hotel looked like the perfect spot and it was until the hawkers decended appon us and Gili was to growded....

Anyway, Marc says as soon as we arrived in Ubud he just had a sence of calmness and just knew that it was the place he was going to propose.

Little did I know that the stressful boat ride, "day from hell" was going to be the day that Marc asks me to be his wife.

So back to our our hotel room... (This is probably for the ladies only, as I don't imagine men are too interested in the details of the proposal)

Oblivious and non the wiser, I pulled out my tweezers and proceeded to pluck my eyebrows...

Marc asked me what my new years resolutions where and I started talking about how I need to get back to my German lessons, bhla bhla when he pulled my hand and said:

"Sweetheart, I don't know what my new years resolutions are yet but I do know what my life's resolution is and that is to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you be my wife?"

And at this stage he was on his knee and I was crying and laughing at the same time. And I of course said "YES"!

We really enjoyed our time in Ubud "what a magical place".
We visited the sacred Monkey Forest amongst the other touristy things that there is on offer.

Cafe Lotus is a very popular restaurant, where we watched young girls practicing their dancing. It was particularly fascinating watching the really young girls learning how to do the eye and hand movements, synonymous with Balinese dancing. I don't think many 4-5 year olds have that kind of discipline.

We watched a Wayang Kulit puppet show at the Oka Kartini Theatre which is one of the oldest Balinese performances. The story is about the sacrifice of Bima taken from the Mahabharata epic.

On the 27th we left Ubud around 10 O'clock. We used a very good driver named Wayan, Tel: +62 8133 862 3998, email: who we would highly recommend. He speaks English and is a very kind and sweet person.

On our way to Seminyak, he agreed to stop off at a couple of art shops, a silver factory and the Gunungh Kawi temple out side of Ubud.

Gunung Kawi, is an extraordinary 11th-century royal monument. A set of stone steps leads you down (way down....make sure you have something to drink) into a valley of sunlit waterfalls and palm-studded rice terraces. The Pakerisan River divides the towering Gunung Kawi temple complex, where rows of ancient royal tombs (called candies) are cut into stone, lining the riverbanks.

Wyan performed a blessing before we entered the temple complex.

We reached our hotel, The Pelangi in Seminyak at around 1pm. Much like my trip with Amori, we relaxed around the pool, enjoyed foot massages and all the other good things that go with a holiday in Bali.

We enjoyed one last Bali sunset at the famous Ku De Ta Bar/Resto in Seminyak, next to the Oberoi.

And our last dinner in Bali sure was a memorable one. We had a fantastic dinner at Mykonos, Greek Taverna in Seminyak which we can definitely recommend! In fact...don't go to Bali without trying this restaurant. By far the best Greek food I've eaten outside of Greece.

We returned to Jakarta on the 29th of December.

It is nice to know that Bali and Lombok are fantastic get away options, on our door step. Though Indonesia has a lot more amazing places to offer, we sure hope to plan another trip to Bali and Lombok during our stay here.

Amori's visit

Our first visitor has come and gone. Our birthdays, Christmas and New Year has come and gone and so have our fantastic holiday in Lombok, Gili and Bali (x2). Wow, where do the days go!
I have to rewind my mind a bit. It has been such a jam packed couple of months.

I'll start with Amori's visit from the 2nd to the 12th of December, which was a great birthday present. "So was the lovely gifts thanks Mori, we loved having you here".

As mentioned in the last post, I didn't have a lot of time to set-up the spare room. But, the proof is in the pudding....

The guest room, decorated and ready for Amori.
Amori and I spent a couple of days around Jakarta. Paid a visit to the Museum National with our own personal tour guide (Thanks, Tamera). Amori tried a couple of Indonesian dishes, a day trip to Bandung, a pamper session at the salon and a night on the town.
Amori and Tamera at the Museum National
Me and Amori
Ryan and Marc
We enjoyed a "very late" night on the town. We of course did not enjoy having to get up at 4am after only about an hours sleep, to catch our 6:30am flight to Bali on the 5th of December.

We reached the Kumara Sakti Hotel in Ubud at about 12am where we spent 2 nights.
We had the most heavenly 2 and a half hour Ayurveda massage later that day.
We watched a Legong show, which is very interesting and entertaining.
I don't know what was more entertaining...The Legong dancers or Amori's reaction every time she saw or heard a gecko "chik-chak", well, anything that looked like it moved! Hehehe!
While we were sitting at our breakfast table on our veranda we heart a thump, wondered what it was but dind't pay much attention. We were about to leave our room when the cleaning lady came up the steps and screeched "SNAKE". It must have fallen out of the tree, and was lying on the step. Well, you can just imagine our reactions. Just glad the cleaning lady found him first and we didn't step on it, going down the steps.
A temple next to the Lotus Cafe, Ubud
Monkey Forest Road, Ubud

The Market in Ubud

We visited a silver factory on the way to Sanur.
Amori was very happy to check into the Puri Santian Hotel in Sanur, which appeared to be a little less overgrown.
We had a very relaxing facial at the Hotel Spa, sipped a mojeto at the pool bar and just enjoyed the day in and around the pool and on the beach lounchers.
We spent the last 2 nights in Seminyak at Pelangi Hotel, doing pretty much the same as the first 3 days.
The Pelangi Hotel, restaurant and infinity pool.
We had lunch at Poppy's Restaurant in Kuta where Amori tried their Barong Pina Colada.
The memorial site in Kuta in remembrance of the October 2002 bombing.
The famous Kuta beach, lined with surf boards.
Bali is truly great and there is something for everyone. Whether you are after the nightlife in Kuta or the tranquility of Ubud.

It was my first trip to Bali and I loved it and I believe Amori loved it too. Well, what is not to love...
Especially the shopping that kept her very busy.