Manila

April 26, 2015

I made a short stop in Manila before visiting other places in The Philippines. I stayed in a nice hostel set in a gated neighbourhood close to the airport. It was a big Filipino house and had a swimming pool in the garden. My first afternoon I just spent in the hostel.

The next day I went out to explore Manila with a Canadian guy, James, from my dorm. We went to the old Spanish town and saw the cathedral.

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We also went to the old fortress, which is mostly in ruins, but set in a nice park in the same area. There was also a small museum there about their national hero José Rizal.

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After the fortess we walked through the old town for a bit and stopped for a drink. It was pretty nice around there, small streets and interesting architecture, pretty different from the rest of Manila.

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Then we walked down to Rizal Park and went to the two national museums there; one is about Filipino history and the other one art. They were pretty interesting, I was mostly interested in the history one but sadly they were renovating and half the museum was closed.

In the evening we headed to another area in Manila where we went to a night market. I had a really good Mongolian rice dish (basically a stir fry).

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In the evening we went out to a club and the next day I flew to Puerto Princesa in Palawan, another island in The Philippines.

Back in Ubud

April 19, 2015

After Gili T I went back to Ubud in Bali, mostly because I had to book a destination in Bali and I couldn’t decided where I wanted to go. I had planned to stay in Ubud for a couple of days and then continue on maybe to Lovina or somewhere else in Bali. But once I got there I had a cold and just felt generally exhausted so I decided to just stay in Ubud for a while and relax. I had my own bungalow for only 150 000 rupiah (£7.50) / night including breakfast and it was a good place to just be on my own for a bit. The house was set in a Balinese garden and run by a lovely family.

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They also had a small restaurant at the front with good, cheap food where I had many meals.

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I had a few quite days just walking around Ubud, looking in the shops and the market.

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I also spent a lot of time on my laptop in my favourite cafe, Coffe&, from the last time I was here.

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One night I decided to go buy a pirated dvd (there’re lots of those around) and watch it on my laptop. I got Eat Pray Love, which I hadn’t seen yet, because I knew it was filmed partly in Ubud. I really liked it.

After a few days it was time for Balinese new year. Their new years day is called nyepi, “Day of Silence”. This basically means everyone has to stay inside and stay quite. The power for the whole island is turned off, however most people have their own backup generators, you can’t use lights, no one should work and the only people allowed on the streets are medical staff and police patrolling to make sure no one comes out and disturbs the quite. For tourists this means you have to stay in your hotel/hostel area, though the hotel staff still tend to work and keep their restaurants open.

Before nyepi, on new years eve, I decided to move back to the hostel I stayed at last time I was in Ubud. I had started feeling better and felt ready to be around people again. On new years eve in Bali, they create demon statues, ogoh-ogoh, and parade them through town. Later in the evening they take them back to their villages and burn them. I went down to see the parade with a couple of people I met in the hostel.

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After the parade there were some performances going on, but it was so packed with people it was hard to see anything.

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I didn’t stay too long, there were just too many people and so hot.

The next day was nyepi which meant no one could leave the hostel grounds. We had known the hostel bar/restaurant would stay open, but they had limited their menu and increased all their prices, a bit mean. I mostly spent the day reading and playing a game on my iPad.

The next day I went out for lunch with an American girl to a restaurant with a really nice view over this garden and temple.

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Unfortunately the food wasn’t that great and we felt like we were paying for the view since it was quite expensive.

After lunch we walked around town for a bit looking at spas and their prices and she wanted to get a massage at some point. I found this awesome cat shop.

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The next day the Kiwi girls from Gili T had made it to Ubud. I knew they were coming to stay in the same hostel as me and it was nice to see them again. We spent the day walking around town, having lunch and a couple of drinks. In the evening the New York girl from Gilis came there too and we went out for sushi for dinner.

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After dinner we went to a fire dance show. We were a bit disappointed, I think we expected dancing with fire, but it was basically just a male choir sitting around a big candle with the occasional dressed up dancers coming in to tell some story. We couldn’t really follow the story, but I recognised it as one of the hindu stories me and Olivia were told when we visited the Prambanan temple in Java.

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We spent the rest of the night having some drinks in the hostel. The next morning I left early for my flight to Manila.

 

Gili Trawangan

April 10, 2015

I reached Gili Trawangan after 1.5 hours boat journey from Padang Bai in Bali. Gili Trawangan is the bigger of the three Gili Islands off the coast of Lombok. It’s still a very small island, you can walk around it in an hour or two, it’s got no motor traffic, only horse carriages and bikes. When I got there it had been raining (it’s rainy season in Indonesia) and I waded through muddy puddles looking for my hostel. I lost my flipflops on the way, they’d been falling apart for weeks and finally gave up in the puddles. I stayed in La Boheme, a really cool hostel. They’ve got good hang out areas, a small tv room and 24/7 make-your-own pancakes. I did have a lot of pancakes and at the end of my stay I was very sick of them.

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Once I had checked in I met some people who were going out for lunch so I joined them to Le Petit Gili restaurant where I had a sandwich. Later that night we went back for their happy hour before going to the food market for dinner. The market was great, I had tuna and beef bbq sticks with rice and veggies.

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After food we went back to the hostel to have some drinks and later on we went out to a bar. Every night is a party night in Gili T and every night a different bar stays open late so everyone will gather in the same place. It was a good night and it was nice to be out since I didn’t have a night out since I left Malaysia.

The next day I went to a cafe to use their internet connection for a bit as it was very bad in the hostel. I spent most of the day just relaxing, it was raining a bit as well so it wasn’t a good day to go do things outside. In the evening we watched a bit of The Interview, it actually wasn’t as bad as I expected, it had some funny moments but mostly it was just stupid.

The next day me and five girls I had met in the hostel walked around the island. We started with a drink and lunch at a restaurant next to the sea. After walking for a bit we stopped for a swim and then continued onto the beach on the other side of the island where we went on the “sunset swing” (though we didn’t stick around for the actual sunset).

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Later we went for dinner and happy hour and then went back to the hostel where we had some drinks before we went to bed.

The next day was sunny so we decided to go to the beach. We went to a restaurant that had beds on the beach and stayed there for a few of hours.

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In the afternoon I went on my first every yoga class. Next to our hostel was The Yoga Place, a really cool place that also served food. The class was cheap and we got a discount for staying in the hostel. I quite enjoyed it and I might try yoga gain. I went for dinner with one New York and two Kiwi girls I’d been hanging out with. We went to Regina Pizzeria which we had heard amazing things about. It lived up to our expectations, the pizza was delicious.

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In the evening we stayed in and watched Birdman and Maleficent.

The day after we had planned to make a day trip to Gili Air where but when we woke up it was raining so we decided not to go after all. Though later the sun came out anyway so we went down to the beach restaurants and tried a few of them for food and drinks. We ordered dinner to the hostel, pasta, and later that night I went out with NY and NZ girls. We ended up and a small bar on the street next to the packed club that was staying open this night.

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The next day was my last one in Gili T and I was very tired and didn’t do too much. I went to a restaurant, Scallywags, that had a good internet connection and spent a while there. I also started reading more while I was in Gili T (Tales of Dunk and Egg series) which was great and since then I’ve kept the reading up.

The next morning I was leaving to go back to Bali where I had a flight leaving for Manila in one week. I couldn’t decided where in the island I wanted to go so I just went back to Ubud. I wish I stayed a little bit longer in the Gilis cause the day I was leaving was the sunniest I had there so far.

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In total I spend one week in Gili Trawangan.

 

Ubud, Bali

April 5, 2015

From Yogyakarta I travelled on a bus for about 20 hours to Bali. I had decided to start my Bali trip in Ubud and from the bus terminal I had to take bemo, their version of buses (sort of like a van with all the seats ripped out and replaced by benches along the walls instead), to reach the city. I had booked myself into a hostel called In Da Lodge and first went there to check in. Then I went to a clinic to pick up something for insect bites because on the bus journey I, and the guy next to me, were badly bitten by some bugs in the seats. The woman in the clinic was very helpful and gave me two different sets of pills to take and a cream to use on the bites. After that I walked down to the city to a cafe called Juice Ja Cafe that I had read about. I had a healthy fruit and veg shake and a meal, I was very hungry after the long journey; we had only stopped for dinner.

The next day I did a walk called Campuhan ridge walk. Campuhan is a village a few kilometres from Ubud and the walk there was very nice.

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Once i reached the village I stopped for a juice at a really nice cafe.

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It was surrounded by rice fields and I passed many more on the way back to Ubud.

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The next day I walked to another village: Penestanan. It started with these stairs up to a nice small road.

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I stopped for a meal at Mades Warung that was recommended in my guide book. The food was great and the setting was nice too.

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I reached Penestanan and then walked back to Ubud.

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This walk was shorter than the one to Campuhan and I spent the afternoon on my laptop in a cafe called “Coffee &” where they had great coffee and wifi. The rest of my time in Ubud I just walked around the town, looked at the market and shops and visited nice cafes. I really liked Ubud, it felt a lot nicer and very different to Java. It’s very touristy in comparison and of course there are always people trying to sell you stuff, and every 10 meters on the street there are men trying to get you to buy their taxi services.

After three days in Ubud I decided to leave to Gili Trawangan, a small island off the coast of Lombok, the island east of Bali. While I loved Ubud I had been inland for too long and wanted to see the sea and relax on a beach. I found a good price and one of the tour agents in Ubud with a transfer to Padang Bai and from there a speedboat to Gili T.

 

Batik in Yogya

April 4, 2015

After the palace tour me and Olivia had one day left in Yogya before we would part ways and we had decided to spend it doing a course in batik painting. A couple of days earlier one of the guys working at Easy Going, the restaurant we frequented, had asked us to check his English in a document he was writing. We were happy to help and while reading it we realised it was information on a batik course he was holding. It sounded really interesting so we talked to him about it and it turned out him and his friend were just about to start the business and this was his final project in uni. We agreed to be their first customers and to meet outside Easy Going in two days where we would be able to get a becak and follow him on his bike out to their studio.

The studio was in a nice neighbourhood on the outskirts of Yogyakarta and we got to ride through beautiful country scenery on the way there. When we got there we were greeted by the friend and his Japanese wife. They lived just next to the studio and so did his parents whom we also met. We started with a coffee and a chat about the day and his mother brought us delicious Indonesian fried snacks.

The aim of the day was for us to create our own batik t-shirts. We started with sketching up a motive. We looked through lots of books with batik and other designs from Asia for inspiration.

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After drawing our motive on paper it was time to transfer it to a t-shirt. We got the guys to help us with this as we weren’t used to drawing on fabric and didn’t want to mess the t-shirts up.

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It took us pretty long to come up with motives and draw them, so when we were finished we went for lunch. The guys drove us on their scooters to a warung nearby where we had a tasty soto ayam, chicken soup.

When we got back we started with the actual batik technique. The first part is drawing lines with wax onto the fabric. The wax is melted in a pan and then drawn onto the fabric with this “funnel pen”. We filled in the drawings on our t-shirts with wax best we could, it was pretty hard to get the right amount of wax and do straight lines.

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Then we moved onto colouring. We were told there were different colouring methods and what we were gonna do was paint our t-shirts with brushes. You fill in the areas between the wax and the wax keeps the colours from spreading. Everything was taking us pretty long so we had some help with the colouring to speed up the process.

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When we were done the t-shirts were dipped in a liquid to set the colours and then left to dry for a bit. After that they were washed again to remove the wax and then again hung to dry. We were both pretty happy with the final results considering how hard they had been for us to create.

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When the t-shirts were dry it was pretty late and we were ready to go back. We got a lift back to Easy Going on their scooters. It was a great day and I would really recommend doing a class with these guys, hopefully they’ll have their company setup soon with more info online.

Later in the evening we went out for a couple of drinks at a bar near our hotel where a band was playing. It was a nice last night in Yogya and with Olivia. The next day I left for Bali and Olivia started her trip back to the UK.