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.

Yogyakarta, Java

March 30, 2015

The final day of our tour only had one activity scheduled, a guided tour of the sultans palace. In the morning we checked out of our hotel and moved our bags to Duta Guesthouse before we drove the short distance to the palace. There Bambang got us a guide before he left for a long drive back to Carita.

We started the tour with a traditional puppet show. We only stayed for a short time as we couldn’t follow the story at all but it was cool to have seen it as we had read about the puppet shows in Yogya. Behind the puppets were a big orchestra playing music throughout the show.

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Then we walked around the temple complex. There were some areas we couldn’t go as they were the living quarters of the sultan and his family. The sultan seemed pretty important to the people there, or it could just have been our guide doing her job. She said he was a very good sultan and his praying had helped protect Yogya in Merapis last eruption.

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We spent an our or two in the palace and then we tried walking into town, but had trouble finding the way. All the time the becak (trishaw) drivers were bugging us wanting to drive us somewhere even when we kept telling them no and “jalan jalan” which kind of means “walking walking” in Indonesian. In general in Java, people can be quite annoying trying to sell you items or transport. In the end we got talking to a man who was working in the tourist office. He recommended us a few places to go in Yogya, one was this batik workshop where some students showed people how they worked with batik. It was free and sounded interesting so we finally got a becak and went there. We got there and were greeted by a guy who took us to see this girl working on a batik painting while he explained the process of batik to us.

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They had a lot of paintings for sale there, made by both professionals and students, the latter being a lot cheaper. We spent quite a long time looking through them all and in the end I bought a student painting I liked. Since it’s batik it’s made on a fabric that can easily be folded and washed so I thought it wouldn’t be too hard to carry with me on the rest of my travels.

We then walked to a mall where we visited another branch of Bread Talk and bought maybe a few too many cakes… We brought them to a nearby cafe where they gave us each a free donut with our coffee on top of all the cakes.

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After that we walked around the city center for a bit. It’s definitely the nicest city on Java I’ve been too and I wouldn’t mind visiting Yogya again. We walked back to our hotel, it turned out to be pretty far and we agreed not to do that walk again. Being a nicer city it’s still not that nice to walk longer distances through.

In the evening Olivia had a massage and I went and got a pizza at a recommended Italian place close to our hotel. I brought it back and watched some Swedish television in front of the pool. After I finished my food the lovely staff brought me a cake and a tea.

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The rest of the evening we spent in the hotel. For a while we tried streaming a movie but the internet connection just wasn’t good enough.

 

The Java Tour – day 6, Merapi and Prambanan

March 30, 2015

The 6th day of our tour was a day trip from Yogya. We started with the volcano Merapi where we had to get a jeep to reach it’s attractions.

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The first stop was a small museum set in the remains of a house from Merapis last eruption in 2010. Most of the people living on the volcano were evacuated before the eruption but whole villages were destroyed and buried. Now some of the people who used to live there makes money from the museum and shops they have set up around the main points to visit. On display in the museum were what remained of their possessions after the eruption (including two cow skeletons).

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Then we drove onto the next thing to see: The alienhead. This was a stone that was supposed to resemble the head of an alien. I think this was just another case of trying to crate a tourist attraction to get people to pay for the entry permit for the volcano.

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Then we drove up to the last stop: The bunker. This was a bunker in which two people were killed during the eruption, the door apparently didn’t hold against the power of the volcano. Overall the volcano was interesting to see as it’s active and still have a big impact on peoples life. We also enjoyed the jeep drive and the landscape.

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We left Merapi to go to Prambanan, Javas biggest hindu temple. On the way there it started raining, and this time we weren’t as lucky with the weather as we had been earlier in the week; it was still pouring down when we reached Prambanan. We put on our waterproofs and had a meal hoping the rain would soon stop, however it didn’t and we had our guided tour in the rain.

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Our guide was really good, he told us about hinduism and the different temples in the complex.

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He also told us some of the hindu stories that were carved on the walls.

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After the temple we went back to Yogya where we had dinner at ViaVia, also on the same street as we were staying on. The next day was the final day of our tour and we decided to stay in Yogya a couple of days more after that, but to change hotels. The hotel we were at were ok, our room had two big beds so we had a lot of space but the staff didn’t speak much English and weren’t too helpful, we could only communicate with them through Bambang and he was leaving the next day. So in the evening we walked down the street and checked out all the other hotels. The one that appealed the most to us was Duta Guesthouse. The staff there were really nice and the hotel had a lovely courtyard with a pool. The room was fine, only it had two very small single beds instead of the doubles at the other hotel. We got a good price, 175 000 Rp/night, and made a reservation from the next day for two nights.

The Java Tour – day 5, Dieng plateau and Borobodur

March 30, 2015

After leaving Papandayan we drove about nine hours to the Dieng Plateau where we spent one night in a very basic hotel in Dieng Village. The Dieng Plateau is 2093 meters above the sea, has an active volcano and many plantation terraces.

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We got up early in the morning and went to see an old hindu temple complex, the Arjuna complex, just outside the village. The temples are some of the oldest Hindu temples in Java and are mostly in ruins, but they were partly restored when they were rediscovered by the Dutch in the 1800’s. It was set in the midst of (mainly) potato plantations and when we got there people were just starting to work in the fields.

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After the temple we drove to the volcanic caldera, I had to use google to define what this means: “A caldera is a cauldron-like volcanic feature usually formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption. They are sometimes confused with volcanic craters”. It was a big hole with boiling goo and lots of smoke rising from it.

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Then we were off to Telaga Warna to see Cebong Lake. Telaga Warna is a small nature park with a couple of lakes. Cebong Lake is famous for it’s colour which it gets from sulphurous deposits.

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When we got there me and Olivia went on a walk around the lakes. We climbed up to a view point and got amazing views of a valley and the park’s second lake: Talaga Pengilon.

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After rounding the lakes there was this small island you could walk out to that was meant to have some attractions on it. There was the “writing stone” and some tiny caves with gates around them and small statues outside that I think had some religious value at some point in time. But to be honest it wasn’t that much to see and it felt like they only advertised it to try and justify the entrance price for the park (which of course was already included in our tour anyway).

When we were finished in the park we got back in the car and drove for another three hours to Borobudur, the biggest Buddhist temple in Java. We got a guided tour around the complex.

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We spent an hour or two around the temple before we left for Yogyakarta. We decided to stay in the Prawirotaman area, there were a couple of streets there with lots of hotels and nice bars and restaurants mostly aimed at tourists. At first we thought we’d walk down the street and check out the hotels and their prices, so Bambang drove to the hotel he was gonna stay at on the same street. The hotel seemed ok so we had a look at a room there and got a good deal for it, 200 000 rupiah/night (£10), and decided to stay there. After checking in we went out for dinner and a cocktail at Easy Going, just next to our hotel. It was nice to eat in a restaurant again and not just a warung or food stall. The prices were of course a bit higher, this being a touristy area, but the food was very nice and so worth it. We spent a couple of hours there using their wifi and then went back to the hotel to sleep.