Day 1   Ubud, Lokha Ubud Hotel

Arrived quite late, it was stuffy and close and the airport smelt damp. My transfer picked me up as planned and was very accommodating, in so much as he stopped at an ATM so I could get some cash. It was really busy and the traffic was appalling - bikes, scooters and cars everywhere. There doesn't seem to be any road rules at all, as everyone just cuts across in front and comes from both sides - this is going to drive me bonkers.

It was going dark as we headed into the hills and for Ubud on roads that were really narrow - a little less traffic but still busy and now dealing with dogs, pigs and cows as well as the plethora of motor bikes and scooters, then the rain started. The roads were awash and at times I wondered if we'd make it to the hotel, not a great deal to see as there were no street lights as we weaved our way through tiny villages, up steep inclines and through flooded areas of road.

We eventually made it to the Hotel, Lokha Ubud, a very smart building built into the hillside, my room was on the same level as the reception and as it was dark I was quite unaware of the position of the hotel - I was to be suitably impressed in the morning.

The room was large with a bathroom which had a strange configuration - the bath is set in a frame which was difficult to get into, with one side against a full size picture window. The shower is in the centre of the bath which means when its used the water floods over the edge as there is no shower curtain on the window side. Really weird!!!

Day 2     Ubud and surrounding area.

I woke up to more rain but when I opened the curtains was very pleasantly surprised by the view, I was on the 6th floor and looked out over the rainforest canopy. Eve  though it was wet and visibility was limited by the mist I knew I was in a magical place. I headed down to the restaurant, which was on the lowest level of the hotel - not quite ground level as that was the river, for breakfast a pretty comprehensive buffet which had lots of Indonesian food on offer with some other options in the form of eggs and pancakes. I went for the Indonesian which was very good, noodles with assorted sauces and chopped eggs - really good.

For my first full day on Bali I had a tour planned and was picked up in plenty of time by a driver and a guide, who I , at first, struggled to understand. Our first stop was to see the hand weavers and how the locals make their Batik fabrics. I’ve seen batik being made in a fairly hap hazard way before but this method fascinated me. The woman had a tool that resembled a cross between a pen and a paint brush which had a well on the top of the nib. She repeatedly dipped it in a pot of red hot wax and painted, with the wax, patterns onto the cloth. The patterns were really intricate and delicate. Each piece of cloth was painstakingly drawn, dyed and cleaned (the wax removed by putting it in hot water), drawn, dyed with a different colour and cleaned until a final design was achieved. An amazingly slow process and the finished items weren’t that expensive, nothing took my fancy so I didn't purchase anything but enjoyed watching the process. I was also shown a hand weaving loom and a spinning wheel – coming from Lancashire and having worked in the mills as a student, this didn’t really hold very much fascination for me although I was quite surprised to see the old looms being used in such a productive environment.

From here we move into the gold and silver shopping area. Ubud and Bali in general seems to have districts where all the same crafts are based – reminded me of the olden days – I remember them well – when streets were named after the businesses that occupied them. The place we went had a person showing how the jewellery was made. Traditional Balinese jewellery is very ornate and made up from small blobs of silver welded together (sounds very messy but I can’t think of any other way to describe it). It's really delicate and time consuming work – each bead is placed and stuck individually. Requiring major patience, a very steady hand and extremely good eye sight. I ended up buying a ring and a bracelet from here – I'm a sucker for silver and I fell in love with a couple of pieces.   

Out the back was the business’s temple. Every home has one, they’re all over the place and beautiful to boot.  I was instructed in the whys and wherefore of all the different buildings – one at each compass point and all for different purposes depending where they were. One was for Weddings and newly weds, one for preparing and eating food, one for living in, and one for laying out the dead. All very fascinating, beautiful and decorative, that is putting it very simply – I didn’t understand some of what was being said but there were offerings at each building in various places, on the floor, on the steps on the seats - you name it they were there. In the shop my receipt was waved over all the remaining goods for good luck and I was given a discount for being the first sale of the day and for good luck. A lot of luck going around here.

Time for a coffee so off we go to a coffee plantation where they specialise in Civet poo coffee - it has a name (no it’s not shit) Kopi Luwak and its very expensive. We were here to taste a number of different coffees and teas that they produce. Before the tasting we saw a guy roasting the beans – he was sat in a loin cloth stirring a pot of beans over a fire – keep in mind it was in the mid 30s at the time we arrived and he would do this job all day even in the heat of the afternoon. I was introduced to the pet Civets - they were not tame - which were sleeping in a cage – they’re nocturnal and are allowed out at night to go eat coffee beans!  

Time to taste the produce - when the tray came out it reminded me of my beer tasting in Fremantle! This time it was a tray of shot glasses with assorted teas and coffees. To taste the poo coffee I had to pay 50 Indonesian Rupiha which would be refunded if I bought some of their coffees. I have to admit I really enjoyed it! The teas and coffees were all listed on a menu with their benefits most of which included longevity. I was lured into buying some of the products 3 in total so when I get home I can drink them knowing I’m going to  look younger, be healthier and live longer.

Now we go visit the really famous characters from Bali – Balanise Long Tailed Monkeys (Macaques to you and I) in The Sacred Monkey Forest. There is a  forest surrounding a very large temple – the monkeys have taken over the site and become a really important tourist attraction so the temple is secondary when visiting this site. People were buying bananas and feeding the monkeys buy holding them over their heads – well the monkeys were nicking them  by a climbing up and sitting on shoulders to eat. This made excellent photo opportunities for lots of tourists but I couldn't bring myself to take part having seen the same monkeys grooming each other and picking off fleas etc. apart from unethical reasons, the risk of being bitten and Rabies (WHY WOULD YOU?).

Our next stop was the rice terraces at Tegalalang . It was a very commercial area and full of tourists and stalls selling the usual touristy souvenirs. The terraces were really steep and I didn’t fancy heading down to the bottom to climb back up so I didn't really get the full experience – I did get a few good pictures of the terraces and people working in the fields though.

Next on the agenda was lunch – I was deposited at a restaurant and told what price range I was able to order. The food was good but the portions were very nouvelle cuisine. The view from the balcony was into the rain forest a beautiful setting for lunch but the company left a lot to be desired, the most gigantic ant joined me for dinner!  

After dinner I was returned to my hotel where I spent the afternoon exploring the hotels pool, sauna and bar area 5 floors down, while catching up on my blog. I went down to the restaurant for dinner before heading to bed.  

Day 3    Raining in the am

I'm beginning to understand why it's called a rain forest!! After having got a little wet on my way to breakfast I headed into Ubud on the hotels shuttle bus. It was here I met Katrina from Germany a young woman also travelling alone. We chatted on the bus and ended up visiting the Puri Lukisan museum together.  

There were four buildings each housing differnt types of art. Exhibits in the Museum were divided by periods of time ie. Wayang Painting collection, Pre War, Post War to modern, Museum History etc. Both of us really enjoyed the modern stuff, where some of the work was for sale. I found the older paintings very samey and in some cases difficult to appreciate. One thing was common to all the exhibitions and that was the stories the pictures and sculptures told – the majority related to the stories of the Hindu religion, very few were abstract or pastoral. Part of the admission fee entitled you to have a drink in the cafe – so we did, it would have been rude not to. Small sweet treats, cakes but not as we know them, came with the drinks, very pleasant.

It was after this I left to do my own thing, I needed a chemists and a SIM card, both of which I found after much wandering. The SIM card was easy but the chemist was proving more difficult until I headed back to the Museum for my return lift, the chemists was almost next door but the opposite way from the way I’d set off. I needed eye drops for my left eye in particular – it had started to be painful and blood shot on the flight from Perth, felt like conjunctivitis. Managed to get all supplies and boarded the bus back to the hotel, just me and Kat on the return. We arranged to attend the BBQ (very cheap all you can eat with a free cocktail to boot) at the hotel later in the day and went off to do our respective thing!

The BBQ was very good with lots of choice and plenty to eat, there was music too which was unfortunately not traditional but a quartet playing and singing European chart hits. After eating I excused myself and went to bed – my eye was sore. I applied the 2nd dose of drops and hoped they would work.

Day 4     Transfer from Ubud to Sanuar, Kamuela Villas

Up and a late breakfast,  had a leisurely morning not doing very much until my transfer down to the coast at lunch time. I arrived at Kamuela Villas and checked in.

I was very very pleasantly surprised by the up-grade I was given. Instead of a studio I was allocated a Villa. How do I explain this? I entered through a private gate in a wall (imagine a walled garden), straight in front of me was my own swimming pool, to the right of the pool was a building which housed the bed room and bathroom, with an outdoor shower. On the far side of the pool and facing the gate was a sitting, dinning, kitchen area - all open apart from some bamboo blinds that could be dropped for shade if the sun became a problem. It was pretty luxurious. The area outside my private room wasn’t to be sniffed at either. On entering the hotel lobby you passed a bar and restaurant area which abutted the street a short walk past some tables on raised platforms saw you arrive at reception. Once leaving there a few more paces and you were at the poolside dinning area which also had a bar and the building that housed the treatment room - I had a complimentary foot massage booked for tomorrow.  

After being suitably impressed I headed out to book some tours and explore – this was a beach resort after all. The beach wasn’t far from the hotel but each area seemed to belong to the hotels that fronted onto it, or it was occupied by cafe shacks, I can’t in all honesty refer to them as anything else. They were ramshackle and often dirty - not the kind of place I would choose to eat!  There were some very interesting boats and views to be had, some kids and adults were flying kites, a number of photos here. I walked quite a way to the left of the hotel and onto the beach prom heading left again, in the hope that it would eventually bring me to a road which would take me back to the Hotel – it did just before it went dark.

At the hotel I decided to sample the cuisine on offer and ate by the commoners pool  - what a snob I am! Headed to bed after eating – I noticed there are quite a lot of Mosquitos so put some replant on before bed – there are lots of opportunities for the blighters to get into the bedroom. 

Day 5     Sunny and hot     Denpasar Tour

Woke up this morning at 2.00am having been bitten by a mozzy, my left eye was almost closed it was so swollen. Before breakfast I went to reception and asked if they could provide a net to prevent the same tonight. They said they would try.

I’ve booked a city tour today exploring Denpasar we leave about 10.00. So made sure I had breakfast, which is included, although the choice is limiting. For example there isn’t anything on offer that would mix eggs and mushrooms – bizarre! Separatist the capital city and main hub of the Indonesian PROVINCE of Bali, in the southern part of the island. My guide for the day was the guy who had checked me in, (apparently the regular driver was in hospital) he was really good and took me first to Jagatnatha temple, the biggest in Denpasar City, where I saw two couples having their wedding photos taken, and explored extensively. The temples here are very decorative and there are lots, some bigger than others some older, but all are decorative and well preserved.

We also visited Bali Museum where large displays of Balanise cultural artifacts including traditional costumes, religious items, household utensils, farming equipment etc. My guides' English was really good so I felt at ease asking questions, there were a few!

From here we headed to Pasar Badung to visit a traditional market where I bought some trousers and a T-shirt before heading back to the car and the resort.

We returned about 3.00 in the afternoon just in time for me to enjoy some swimming in my pool – it was  very nice to have the pool to myself. The guys had put up a mosquito net for me so I was well pleased. After my swim I sat in the sun for a little while before showering and dressed for dinner. Dinner by the pool again tonight I really like the ambiance of this place.  

Day 6    Sunny and hot again  Tanah Lot  

Breakfast by the pool and another relaxing day. My tour for today will take me to see sunset over Tanah Lot a temple on a rocky island which is exposed when the tide is out but which looks like its floating when the tide is in. I spent the morning wandering the opposite way on the beach – more of the same but far fewer hotels and more shacks. Wandered back past a few shops. Had lunch and went for a swim before meeting my driver for the afternoon tour.

This was a different driver and his English wasn’t as good so I found asking questions difficult. We first visited Taman Ayun Temple which is surrounded by a big moat/fish pond, with a plethora of water lillys which were not yet in flower, unfortunately. There were works going on and a museum being added. A group of cats had occupied part of the temple and were relaxing on one of the platforms. As we travelled we passed a number of rice fields where locals were working the fields – I managed to get one or two really good shots of them at work.

Next stop was another monkey forest at Alas Kedaton, Mengwi, but we didn’t have much time before we had to leave. The monkeys were the same as the ones in Ubud ie Maquaces. There was a massive statue of a monkey that was under reconstruction it was a much smaller venue that the one in Ubud and not nearly as impressive but there was a guy who had a pet fruit bat – it stunk. He reckoned he took it in the house at night – wouldn’t have liked to be in his house. After a very short 15 mins and a walk round the site we headed for Tanah Lot.  

On arrival I was dropped me at the entrance to a road which led down to the waters edge and the temple buildings some of which were on the shore line and the main temple was on a rock island. There were hundreds of people around – school groups and tours, all waiting for the sunset. I hung around and clambered over the rocks taking a lot of photos and waiting for the sun to set. It turned out to be a bit disappointing, there was no cloud about and it was very hazy so the sun wasn’t really visible. Once the Sun had gone down I headed back up the street past retail outlets which varied from street vendors selling roasted sweet corn, to designer outlets, some were open and some weren't - I didn’t need anything so I just sat and had a coffee before finding my driver who was chatting to a security guy who turned out to be his brother.

The journey back was in the dark so I couldn’t see very much and went straight for dinner after which I returned to my room and bed.  

Day 7   Denpasar to Labuan Bajo and the Bintang Flores hotel  

I packed and checked out and waited for my transfer to the airport. Looking forward to the next stop – Komodo Dragons are the next highlight. Transfer came on time and we headed to the airport. Farewell Bali – managed to complete my stay without Agung  blowing it’s top.  

Arrived in Flores, Labuan Bajo airport, mid to late afternoon I was a little worried on arrival as my transfer wasn't at the airport, (the first one not to turn up) after quite a lot of faffing around I managed to get one of the security guys to ring the hotel who eventually turned up to collect me. By the time they arrived almost everyone had left the airport - it apparently closes at 5.00pm. The route back to the hotel left a lot to be desired, the road (road is over egging it) was a  rough dirt track with lots of work being done on it. I was wondering where I'd come after the luxury of my last stop!

Arrived at my hotel, Bintang Flores Hotel, and checked in - it wasn't quite as bad as I expected, although there were signs everywhere apologising for the work being done and the noise that might occur. My room was on the 2nd floor with a great view over the bay. Indonesia is made up of lots of rocky Islands and Flores has lots surrounding it. Which made the view all the more spectacular. Once I’d checked in I went down and booked a trip to Komodo – this was the main reason for being here.  

It was getting late and the sun  wasn't  going to be long before it set so I went for a walk down to the pool area to suss out what it was like – pretty darn good I’d say! The sun set while i was there so I returned to the restaurant  and had dinner before retiring to my room and packing for tomorrows early start – 5.30 pick up from reception. Once that was done, bed and some kip.

Day 8  Flores - Komodo Nature Reserve

Up at 4.30 showered and dressed and in the lobby by 5.20 to pick up my boxed breakfast. Omelette, bacon, toast, butter and fruit. Couldn't turn this down as my rate includes breakfast. My ride to the port arrived more or less spot on time and we set out to pick up six others – Labuan Bajo isn’t big so it didn’t take long and we were up and down the same roads a couple of times.

Once we had everyone we headed for the port. Imagine my surprise when I spotted the boat we were to get on. The top of it was about 4ft below the harbour wall and there were no steps! Big dos and little dos I managed to climb down into the boat with a lot of help from the rest of the passengers and the crew. The boat was tiny but made from stronger material than some of the wooden boats in the harbour. It was a speed boat which seated 12 – there were 10 of us. A couple from Uzbekistan, 4 Italians, 2 Chinese, and me and a guy from the UK.  

We set off, and as we travelled we all tucked into our boxed breakfasts – I think I had the best! About an hour later we arrived at Padar Island where we made a wet landing - I wasn’t prepared for this in fact I’m not sure I’m prepared for any of this tour as once ashore we were to climb to the top of a very steep hill and only had a limited time to do it. It was still early morning, there was no shade and it was boiling. I let the others set of and I got as far as I dared before heading back to find some shade and watch a load of lizards scrambling over the rocks.  The others joined me one by one until we were all there and the boat came back for us.

We clambered aboard and re-entered the cabin which by now was roasting. Our next stop was the island of Komodo – another difficult disembarkation, the jetty had three other boats tied to it, so besides negotiating the low roof and the other difficulties of our boat, I had to negotiate a passage from it across the 3 others to get to the jetty, which was again quite a height from the boats. Job done we headed onto the Island. We met our guide who explained some safety rules, which we were all very keen to adhere to.

Our first sighting of these monster Lizards was near the buildings of the settlement where two were relaxing in the shade. Even though they were sleeping they were pretty scary, I certainly didn't want to get too near to these monsters. From here we headed into the forest – it was getting hot again - even though we were heading into the forest there was very little shade! After walking for a while a Komodo nest was pointed out to us with an explanation of how the Komodos bury their eggs and then wait for the young to hatch and eat them as they surface - very dutiful parents!

We saw a number of other animals, deer and wild boar then a sleeping Komodo was pointed out. It was lying under some undergrowth - I’d probably have walked past it if I’d been on my own. It was a male, apparently, and had just eaten, its belly was quite swollen. As we watched it, it began to move we were all keen to keep out of his way, but wanted pictures so were jostling for the best positions – the Italians were particularly pushy. He wandered off into the bush out of our way – I  kept well clear!

Our next sighting was of two near another property, one underneath it and the other just relaxing on the path. Photo opportunities abounded, everyone had a picture with the one on the path. We walked a little further and came across Goliath, apparently the biggest on the Island. He was massive and had just had a soak in a puddle near by before heading towards us – oops! We all took several steps back to keep out of hus way - he was in fact heading for the shade in which we stood – he got it. A second was lying behind him already asleep. While we were watching these two a third approached from behind us – the guides had spotted him and warned us to keep out of his way. He too was heading for the pool and a cool down. It was great to see so many and that they were so active, they are not always seen moving and it’s not every time you see so many. A fruitful part of the adventure.  

Headed back to the boat which was now sandwiched between others and 4 boats from the jetty – a veritable obstacle course which I managed, with help – I’m getting used to asking for and accepting help. Our next stop was for lunch at Taka Makassar, a beautiful sand bank where we could swim – have I said I have no swim wear with me! The cabin was getting even hotter and I was developing a headache. We had chicken rice and a few veg for lunch and hung around for a while until we’d all eaten and the swimmers had returned.

The next stop was Manta Point where swimming with Manta Rays was possible. The whole area around Komodo is a marine reserve and a UNESCO world heritage site, so there are lots of sea and land creatures here that do not get destroyed by man’s need to fish and hunt. The Rays were massive and the group were jumping in to swim with them, the water was so clear they could be seen from the boat as they swam past or under it, one was really, really big.

We spent a little while here before heading to Kanawa Island which has a resort on it. We were here to swim and sunbathe but I had the, what was becoming usual, challenge of getting of the boat. The jetty was high, I ended up sitting on it and then struggling, clumsily to my feet before heading up the steps onto the main part of the jetty. All good fun and a challenge for me. The island was a beautiful one and you could see exactly why there was a resort here. The sea was so clear you could see the sea urchins and other creatures from the jetty, the view from the beach was spectacular and there was a lovely walk along the beach. It was very hot by now and have I said I’d no swimwear with me? I found a seat in the shade and wrote some of this blog – probably one of the prettiest sites I’ve written in. After a plate of chips, I needed some salt, and a cucumber and carrot juice, I needed rehydration. I headed back to the boat to make the easiest boarding so far – the tide had come in and the boat was at a reasonable height in relation to the jetty.  

We headed back to Flores, about an hour away, so another long spell in the hot cabin – my headache wasn’t going away. When we eventually arrived in the harbour we moored up between 2 very large ships, one of which had a rescue boat attached to its stern which was about the same size as ours! Disembarkation wasn’t much easier than boarding in fact probably harder as gravity was against me. After an ungainly clamber, and using my old climbing skills, I managed to make it onto the jetty where out transport waited.

Back at the hotel I showered and went down for dinner still not feeling great, which is a shame as its been a great day. I had an early night in an attempt to sort my head. Nothing planned for tomorrow other than a day by the pool so I should be able to sort my head out if it's still bad - hopefully it'll be ok after a good night's sleep. 

Day 9   Biltang Flores

Spent the day at the hotel by the pool and generally having a day off – travelling is hard work sometimes. Chatted to a few people but didn’t do much other than read and swim. This place is a great place to chillax!

Day 10   Flores to Jakarta

Travelling today to Jakarta – not looking forward to it I’ve heard so many bad things about it. But I didn't have to leave until this afternoon and I didn’t need to check out until about an hour before my ride to the airport. So I had another lazy day, up late, breakfast and down to the pool more reading but no swimming - don't want wet stuff in my bag. Fortunately my ride to the airport arrived and dropped me in plenty of time to check in, plus they gave me a refund.  

Bye Bye Indonesia – well the nice bits, Jakarta here I come.