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Smiley Nix Big Adventure Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji - Starting March 29 2008

G'day again!

AUSTRALIA | Monday, 16 June 2008 | Views [938] | Comments [1]

Okay, I've arrived in Sydney and just about accepted I'm never going to see those photos again :o( Never mind.

I probably wont be able to upload any more pics onto this site now. For one thing it is a bit pants and I get so many error messages and it takes soooo long I've come close to thumping the screen several times, which is not good for my otherwise zen like mood. It also looks like there's a 1,500 photo limit - which according to the latest error message I've exceeded! I tried to delete some of the older pics and less interesting shots but surprise, surprise I got another server error. So I've given up. I may check out a different site instead, I'll let you know if I find anything better to switch to.

Right, where was I?! Well the last proper message was written when I was in Ubud, in Bali. I'm afraid I was so busy having fun and chilling out that I didn't quite get around to further updates! After that, internet connections were quite slow and patchy too but I will update you now and point you in the direction of relevant pics!

I think I spent just over a week in Ubud altogether during which time I managed to fit in a cooking class, a silversmith course, white water rafting and a mountain bike ride. There are various pics of all of these activities for you to see.

Ubud itself was essence of Bali culture and style with a slight twist of the west. There were lots of art galleries and I really enjoyed the Balinese style paintings. I've treated myself to a couple of small pictures as souvenirs. I could have spent a fortune in the little boutiques and jewellery shops and got very fat eating all the yummy food. They had some really fab bars and restaurants but for the most part was pretty good. Thanks goodness for the bike I hired and all the walking so that I could balance it all out.

After the first few nights, I moved from the hotel/guest house on the edge of town to a 'losmen' (traditioanl Balinese style house) in the centre. I've taken a few pics. The room was simple but imacualte and I even had a four poster! The rate including a swimming pool in the beautiful garden and breakfast served on my terrace was 5 pounds a night!!! I met up with some really cool people there too, so all in all it was big success. The only thing missing for me was the fact it was inland - so no sea or beaches. But apart from that, it was darn near perfect.

I absolutely loved the white water rafting and can't wait to do it again. Money/weather permitting there should be some good opportunities here in Oz and also in New Zealand. I think the waters were a bit tame in Bali though, I suspect I could be in for a bit more of a ride if I undertake it here or in NZ!

The cooking class was ok, but not as much fun or as hands on as the one I did in Thailand. But I think I've got the basics and again hope to be able to practice on you all when I get back home.

The mountain bike tour I did was actually very tame by bikining standards - no off road I'm afraid. That said it was a fantastic day out and though it was on the road it was all downhill (apart from a short bit at the end) and took us through the most amazing scenery. We were driven to a point in the Kintamarni area, where we stopped for our breakfast of thick Balinese coffee and banana pancakes. Whilst were were eating we had views over Mt Agung and Mt Batur - both live volcanos. Sadly the weather was not the best at this point so the views were not as clear as we would have liked but it was all still very beautiful and impressive.

After breaky we visited a fruit, spice and tobacco plantation which allowed just about enough time for the weather to break before heading off on the bikes in glorious sunshine through rice fields and typical Balinese villages and countryside. Along the tour we stopped at various points so that the guides could give us a real insight into the Balinese culture and way of life.

After 25-30 kilometers of amazing countryside we arrived at the lunch spot and end point where we were treated to a feast of typical indonesian food before being driven back to Ubud. A perfect end to a perfect day.

Another highlight of my stay in Ubud was the silversmith class. I made a silver pendant with a small stone of peridot from scratch (including the mount for the stone). There are a couple of pics up for you to see the results. It was a brilliant way to put my creative skills into action! I'd love to do more and will have to investigate classes when I get home I think.

You also have to check out the photos of the monkeys! There's a forest at the end of the main street (Monkey Forest Road) called Monkey Forest (funnily enough) and you could go in and get really close to the monkeys just playing and going about there business. I got some really cute pics. It's a bit scarey how human some of them look though ... check out the photos and you'll see what I mean!

After all the activity and excitement of Ubud I headed East to a tiny coastal town called Padangbai. I only meant to stay for a couple of nights before going to the Gili islands but ended up there for nearly a week. There wasn't actually anything to do or see but I'd got my teeth into the book Anna Karenina and it was so relaxing being by the beach and so cheap and lovely at the Topi Inn one day just drifted into another! That is probably one of the biggest luxuries of travelling - being able to move at pretty much any pace you want and not have to meet anyone's demands but your own. Ah, it's the best!

From Padangbai I headed to Gili Air. There are three main 'Gili' islands Air, Meno and Trawangan. I managed to visit Air and Meno during my two weeks in that part of Indonesia. I don't think I've ever scene beaches more beautiful. The snorkelling was really good too. I did a trip around all three islands and was able to swim with the turtles! They were soooo lovely. The island way of life was very simple and laid back. The perfect place to kick back, enjoy the sun, sand and snorkelling!

I'd got it into my head that I wanted to climb a live volcano whilst I was in Indonesia - since there are so many and there are tours being advertised all over the place. I decided to do Mt Rinjani on Lombok and took a tour in the middle of my stay in the Gilis which was supposed to be 3 days 2 nights. The photos look fab but believe me what I went through to get them really wasn't!! I thought I was fitter than I am but this was bloody tough. Even the uber fit people were coming down (as we were going up) wishing us good luck and saying how tough it was. We only walked 7.5km the first day but it was all up hill and I'm talking a steep hill. imagine walking upstairs for 6 hours with a ten minute break every hour, now double the stair eights, add tree roots and heat. That was just day 1! I had been promised that we would go at a pace to suit my ability. Yeah right! We ha no time to stop and admire the views or the nature (one of the main reasons I wanted to do the trek). I twas all about getting to the top. I had also been promised proper equipment by the guy i booked the trip through, which was also being recommended to me by a couple of girls who had just come back. Luckily I had my trail shoes and basic gear. But when we got to camp 1 the tent was soaking, they provided the thinnest sleeping bag and there were no coats and I only had a t-shirt, thin base layer and fleece. I can't have slept for more than an hour total all night. It was awful. Knowing I had struggled on day 1, knowing that I'd have to camp out again without adequate equipment and knowing I was not fit enough to keep up the pace set the previous day and doubting my ability to do the summit climb which I had learnt was technicqaluite difficult, I made the decision that I wanted to go back. Having had a chat to the guide I did agree to go the crater rim, which was only another half an hour up from the camp. I'm glad I did that and the photos are at least proof of how high I got - I think we walked from 900m to 2,700. Then it was time to go back down. Well I fell coming back from the crater rim. Luckily I was on a wider bit but there were steep drops either side and I could so easily have been over the edge it wasn't funny. I'm not quite sure how I made it back down. I know we took about 4 hours and that included a stop for lunch! But by the end every step was agony and I was just glad for it to be over! But at least I am here to tell the tale and I will certainly do a bit more research than just rely on eager money grabbing tour tout and the Lonely Planet guide before I undertake such a feat with so little prep in future! 

It was great to come back to Gili Air after Mt Rinjani and just as well it was such a small island (you can walk round it in under one hour) because I was hobbling around like an old women for several days afterwards!

So that almost brings us up to date. I headed back to Lombok, to the capital Mataram for a couple of days then caught a flight to Jakarta where I picked up my round the world flight to Singapore then Brisbane.

I spent an afternoon and evening in Singapore and had sooo much fun. I want to go back for a holiday some day because its such a fab city and there's so much to do. but you'd want a fair bit of dosh to do it justice. The shopping to be had there is awesome! I had a near perfect day though. Stayed in a nice hotel in the centre. Checked in then headed straight out to Singapore Art Gallery, then to Raffles Hotel for tea. The photos were so good. I had tea in the 'Tiffin Room' complete with silver teapot, proper china, 3 tier cake stand with sandwiches (no crusts), cakes and scones. Oh and there was a harp playing in the background and lots of friendly waiters making sure I was ok - but not in a creepy way!

After tea I went to Raffles shopping mall. I was very good and mostly resisted the shopping urge (only to fail miserably in the Fat Face shop at the airport in the duty free) but had a good old look around and picked up a few essentials.  

Then I went back to Raffles to the famous Long Bar for a Singapore Sling. (There were photos of that too). Actually that was a bit of a disappointment. The bar was not nearly so good as the 'Tiffin Room' and I didn;t really rate the drink either. But I went there and I did it and though you can;t actually them, there were pictures!

I had the most embarassing but amusing trip back to the hotel. I decided to get this cyclo, nothing too strange about that except the city was deadly quiet and this cyclo go (who i think was slightly insane or drunk or both) switches on this stereo from somewhere under the cyclo and this random music starts blaring out. There were two guys in the cyclo behind me (their's didn;t have music) absolutely wetting themselves. It was the height of tourist tackiness but it was soo awful it was funny. Anyway he delivered me safely back to the hotel and somehow convinced me I'd got a bargain even though the 5 minute cycle had cost more than 20 minute taxi ride from the airport! Anyway, I had just got snuggled into my lovely hotel bed, watching a good movie when there was a big downpour  and thunderstorm!. so i'd just made it back in time.

The following morning - last Wednesday 11/6 I headed for the airport for my flight to Brisbane. & that's where I shall leave the story for now. Will fill you in on my week in Brisbane next time and let you know howw I'm getting on in Sydney.

TTFN

Nx 

Comments

1

Hey hon....i love reading your updates, glad you enjoyed Singapore too! The shopping there is amazing isnt it, hence i need lots of money to go there.

Wow, lucky you being in summer bay. Whats the weather like now in Oz? As it should be winter?

Take care, all your adventures sound amazing! xx

  Louisa Smith Jun 23, 2008 4:07 AM

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