Sunday, December 12, 2010

Beautiful Bali

I was one of the few Australians who had never been to Bali, and true be told, after four days there I really haven't seen much of it. Emma had decided to take her R&R there and I was happy to pick up a cheap Air Asia flight and meet her there for a few days. She'd booked a nice place in Ubud, a world away from Kuta Beach, also known as Australian Bogan central. When I landed at the airport and joined the queue for immigration I stood behind a couple of said bogans, one of whom had "Such is Life" (the famous last words of bushranger Ned Kelly before he was hanged) tattooed on the back of his neck. I assume they were headed to Kuta and was extremely glad I wouldn't be joining them there.

Ubud is extremely beautiful. If any of you have seen the movie "Eat Pray Love" then you'll recognise Ubud from the last third of the film. It's green, it's lush, it's a perfect little hideaway for a couple of girls needing an escape from Islamabad! Our first night was spent indulging in beautiful seafood and a bottle of wine at Casa Luna restaurant, and then a couple of G&Ts on our little balcony at the Honeymoon Guesthouse (which, as the name suggests, was full of smug married couples). The next morning, instead of waking up with a bit of a hangover, I woke up with a full blown flu and fever and spent the next two days in bed. Not fun.

By the afternoon of the second day, I'd had enough of the herbal remedies the staff had been suggesting, I could drink no more ginger tea and summoned the energy to walk into town (via the long scenic route) to get some real drugs. We spotted a pharmacy sign in a little alley and headed for it. We were greeted at the door by a tiny little girl, probably 3 years old. Her brother, who must have been about 7 was standing behind the counter. "Medicine?" he asked. "Yes, medicine," I replied. He pulled out a mobile phone and called (we presumed) his father, and handed me the phone. I explained my symptoms and then handed back the phone. The little boy then pulled out some drugs, which were thankfully labelled in English and I handed over a small sum. I don't know where the pharmacist actually was, but his little helpers were extremely cute!

After two nights in the Honeymoon Guesthouse we checked out, as the room we'd been given was right on the road and the noise was a bit much. We'd wandered around and discovered Nick's Hidden Cottages.

Not entirely hidden, but far enough down the road that you would only go that far if you were staying there. It was another little slice of paradise.

A big hindu festival was approaching, so all of the statues were dressed up in preparation for the celebrations. Ganesh also looked over us.

And so we spent two more lazy days, enjoying the pool and doing a bit of wandering.

I'd planned to knock quite a few Christmas presents off my list, and thought I'd get it all done on my last day. Unfortunately, this was the day of the celebration and most of the shops were shut. It was hot and steamy as we wandered the length of Monkey Forrest road (I didn't have time to go into the actual Monkey Forrest) trying to find the things I'd spotted earlier but hadn't bought. Of course, as we were finishing up the shops started to re-open, but it was too late to worry about the compromises I'd had to make on some gifts. There was enough time for another quick swim and to repack my stuff, and then head back to the airport (only an hour away).

It wasn't quite the mini-break I'd had in mind (nor Emma I imagine!) but it was a nice little introduction to Bali and I'm sure I'll be back there one day to take better advantage of all the island has to offer.

And now I'm in Melbourne, where unsurprisingly, the weather has been oscillating between sunshine and winter, and now a downpour has started. It's been great to catch up with my oldest friend Katie and enjoy the wonderful coffee in this city. Tomorrow I head up to Sydney, or to Wollongong more specifically, to spend a few days with my new niece Audrey. I'm looking forward to some quality time with the Martin family and then finally home to the Gold Coast on Wednesday.

It's so nice to be back in Australia, and know that I don't have to leave for about six weeks!!

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