A Travellerspoint blog

Lovely Lombok

sunny 35 °C

Lombok is quite a small island just to the east of Bali which is dominated by a (currently erupting!) volcano called Gunung Rinjani. Getting here involved a tortuous 32 hour journey which involved 4 different buses, a taxi, 2 ferries and a jeep, and almost a trip to the police station when there was an argument between the guy who ran the hotel we were staying at and the motorbike drivers who wanted to take us there, but it was worth it!

We are currently in the city area of Lombok, called Mataram, having just returned from 4 nights in an idyllic campsite / hotel called Rinjani Mountain Gardens, in the foothills of the volcano. The place was really amazing, in a beautiful setting with incredible views, great food, a really nice atmosphere and lovely accommodation . We stayed in a bungalow with a view of the mountain behind us and in front we had a lovely view over the terraced rice fields all the way to the ocean.

We spent our days walking through the rice fields and jungle, playing badminton, reading, playing chess, cards and Yhatze and went on a trek to some fantastic waterfalls in the heart of the Jungle; both were beautiful, huge and quite awe inspiring. I (Phil) swam in the second one and climbed into a cave behind the waterfall where you could sit and watch (and drink) the water falling, it was a great experience.

The mountain gardens are run by a likeable German couple, Toni and Roland, who really look after you and make excellent home cooked food, which made quite a nice change and our bellies certainly appreciated it as they had been feeling a bit challenged by some of the food we had been eating. The accommodation is mainly in tents but we stayed in a lovely bungalow overlooking the peasants below in their tents, it was pretty quiet with only about 9 or 10 other, mainly German, guests who were friendly but a bit too good at chess for my liking!

Tomorrow we travel to Bali and then we go to Malaysia on the 28th where we staying in the Sheraton as a treat (please note, however, that we have not won the lottery, our accommodation for tonight is costing 8 pounds!)

Posted by philnlisa 22:00 Archived in Indonesia Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

A little bit of paradise...

sunny 35 °C

Well what can I say about the last 6 days?! We’ve been living in a small piece of paradise on Seraya Island. We arrived on a small boat and then had to transfer into the oldest looking canoe ever to get onto the beach as it was a low tide. Got checked in and then spent the day chilling in the lovely surroundings. There are about 12 beach bungalows and a check in/restaurant and that’s about it! You get electric between 6pm and 10pm and a trickle of fresh water between 6 and 8pm sometimes. Our beach hut looked out onto the sea and was about 5 steps away from the beach! There are no window panes just a simple sheet to block any wind. P1000708.jpg

On our second day on Seraya we took a boat trip to Rinca Island to see the Komodo Dragons! Luckily we were not disappointed as we saw quite a few dragons. We had a few scary moments when a female was protecting the nests that she is preparing to lay her eggs in. The guide who takes you on the trek only carries a very simple stick thing which looks like it would do nothing against the dragons which would probably kill you if they were hungry and got close enough to you - they have killed 11 people in the past 20 years, mostly by virtue of the bacteria they leave from biting them. They are fascinating creatures who are very deadly and can eat and eat almost their own bodyweight in one meal, they can run at 18kph and can climb trees so they are quite daunting to encounter. It was a worthwhile experience and we were happy to leave the island unscathed. We stopped for a snorkel on the way back but most of the coral seemed pretty dead. The boat trip back was a bit rocky but not too bad. A good day out. Spent the evening playing cards with a couple of English brothers who were also on the Rinca trip then slept very well even with the noise of the ocean.P1000802.jpg

Spent the next couple of days reading in the shade (it gets very hot here very early on, we even have to put sun cream on at 8 in the morning!), snorkeling, swimming, waiting quite a long time for food and generally relaxing. It was amazing to see all the coral , fish and sea life. There were lots of beautifully coloured fish and amazing sights. It was a bit scary in places as you are very close to the sea bed at times. We also learnt to play a new game called Yhatze (new to us I mean). Phil remains the champion which didn’t please the people we were playing with too much as he is a beginner but it’s all to do with luck really!

The island is so remote, with no electricity or water most of the time, no mobile and no internet, and not a great deal going on so we felt really relaxed and disconnected. We are hoping to head to Lombok (an island near Bali) next so we are currently busy planning the next couple of weeks after a week spent doing almost nothing… bring back the desert island!

We have finally managed to upload some pictures of our trip into Flores onto our picture gallery.

Posted by philnlisa 12:52 Archived in Indonesia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

On the Road

sunny 31 °C

On the Road

Well, we have just got back from our 6 day trip around Flores, it has been one of the longest, strangest, challenging, fun, beautiful and brilliant journeys. We have travelled from Labuan Bajo on the coast all the way to a place called Moni on the south coast of the country. I think the journey is only about 180 miles, but we must have been averaging about 20 miles an hour!

We had originally planned to bus it across Flores but as we had to change our travel plans we instead had a driver and jeep, and looking back it was a probably a good thing, not only did we travel an awful lot quicker and more comfortably but the driver (Anton) was really nice and helpful with everything. The road we took was the Trans Flores highway, which is basically the only road in the country. It is actually in a reasonably good state of repair, especially for a road that is basically in the middle of nowhere. I wouldn’t like to guess at the number of mountains, corners, bridges and hairpins we have been over and around, but I am sure it is plenty, if you are interested I would suggest having a look on Google Earth it is seriously mad. The drivers are also slighlty mad, the most commonly used part of the car is probably the horn (our driver has to get a new horn every year or so) which is used to mean either get out of my way, hello, thank you or I am coming around the corner.
The road winds its way through the jungle and doesn’t have any cars whatsoever (I don’t think there are any on the island), just 4x4’s, Mitsubishi trucks and thousands of mopeds. Just a few of the memories of the road are the thousands of banana and coconut trees, us having our first ever cup of coffee (we stopped in with a family who made us coffee and we thought it would be offensive to refuse, even though we don’t like it – it actually wasn’t bad – Mocha from Flores), running over a dog (ouch!), the horn, millions of rice fields, volcanos, bufallos, cashew nut fruit (beautiful), fresh coconut, too many others to remember…

Anyway, what did we do when not driving? Went to visit some local hill tribes who practice a mix of catholic and animist traditions, which basically involve slaughtering buffalos, pigs and chickens as offerings to the gods for various things, they also weave Ikat rugs which are nice. We walked up a volcano to see an area which had recently erupted leaving a red lake and barren, tree-burnt landscape. We watched the sunrise from the top of a volcano which has three (supposedly) different coloured lakes (they all look a bit similar), and bathed in a lovely waterfall on the way down. We got to go inside the chiefs house in another village and went swimming in the sea with the locals looking on thinking we were probably mad. We have eaten some good food which has been so cheap (about a fiver for both of us, inlcuding drinks!) plus some not so good food and stayed in accomodation ranging from quite nice (in terms of Indonesia) to pretty poor, but everything is relative and we are now pretty happy with what we previously thought to be squalor!
Today we trecked to a waterfall which you have to walk an hour to get to and then you can only get to the actual waterfall by swimming, it was really nice and luckily not too hot a day as there was quite a bit of walking involved. The guide took me up to a point to take a picture of the waterfall, it was a seriously scary path along the edge of a gorge and by the time I got there I didn’t care about pictures I just wanted to get back, I think I probably should have stayed at the bottom with Lisa. The best bit was on the way back when the guide scaled a coconut tree and chopped us about 3 coconuts each which were beautiful.
We are now back in Labuan bajo and ready for a trip to a desert island, we are there for 5 nights and I don’t think they have any internet or mobile coverage so we will pretty much be out of reach. By the way my (phil) phone is playing up so if anyone needs me please e-mail or text Lisa.
p.s. We would have loved to put some photos on but this internet connection is painfully slow… we will update when we can.

Posted by philnlisa 03:18 Archived in Indonesia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Beautiful Flores

sunny 35 °C

The last few days have certainly been interesting and the comforts of Singapore and the UK seem a long way away now!

We arrived in Bali after a decent enough flight with Air Asia and arrived at our accomodation which cost us 90,000 Indonesia Ruppiah, approximately 6 pounds, per night! It was certainly worth the price but it had few home comforts, although we are currently looking back on such accomodation with some degree of envy!P1000353.jpg

On our first day in Bali we went for a walk to suss out the area and we were a bit overawed by the general congestion, the abundance of mopeds and the complete lack of organisation or rules on the road. We didn't see any accidents and although very slow everyone keeps a lookout for anyone they are about to drive into. Needless to say we tried to avoid the roads as much as possible!

We stayed in the more upmarket section of the Kuta area, which appears to be the Indonesian version of Blackpool, it has loads of English pubs, surf dudes and salespeople trying to hassle you to buy stuff. But the upside of this is that it did have plenty of people speaking English and some good vegetarian and seafood restaurants where you get a large excellent portion plus drinks for less than a fiver a head.

Our accomodation is in quite a nice chilled out area, if it weren't for the cockerills, other loud birds and dogs who gradually get loud from about 4am. While in Bali Phil went surfing and actually managed to stand up on the board so he was pretty pleased with this, although he is a bit gutted that he has burnt his feet (just about recovering now!). We had a reasonably relaxing time in Bali and visited the local cultural centre which had a big market, but really this was just a stopover for our trip to Flores.

The trip to Flores itself was a bit of a disaster as when we arrived at the airport on Tuesday we were told that our seats had been cancelled (I won't go into detail about the frustration and anger caused because I still can't reflect on this period calmly yet). We almost paid a tout to get us on the plane but it was a bit expensive so we decided to book a flight to a different airport and change all our travel plans (the only possible good point was that this was the day after a Merpati flight got lost in Indonesia somewhere so we were slighlty glad not to fly with them). So we had to back to Kuta and fly the next day, which was OK and we finally got here and managed to get a room in a nice placeP1000398.jpgP1000394.jpg, unfortunately they only had one night so tonight we stay in a real hole down the road. Tomorrow we are going on a 6 day trip to explore Flores so our next update may not be for a wee while.

By the way, it is worth going to Singapore just to go to the airport, it is so relaxing and getting a flight is actually a pleasant experience, it even has a swimming pool!

Posted by philnlisa 22:16 Archived in Indonesia Comments (2)

Backpacking around Asia - Robson style!

sunny 30 °C

Well, we finally arrived in Singapore after a very long flight with little sleep, but Lisa has done an excellent job in finding us a luxury hotel to start off our travels P1000325.jpg, however unfortunately it is all downhill from here (unlike marriage - hopefully!).

Singapore very hot and the hotel is fantastic, it is quite international so we haven't really experienced much of Singapore life yet, but that is our next job!

Posted by philnlisa 01:03 Archived in Singapore Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

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