20th February - 1st March
19.02.2009 - 01.03.2009 32 °C
We arrived in Bali quite late and had an airport pick up that drove us for an hour or so to Candi Dasa where we spent 4 nights. It was after midnight when we got to our room so we just went straight to bed and woke up to find ourselves only meters from the sea.
It is low season for tourism in Indonesia at the moment and this was particularly noticeable in Candi Dasa. The restaurants and bars on the road which our hostel was on often had more staff than customers. If, indeed, there were any customers at all. This suited us though as it gave us an opportunity to chill out and stay off the booze.
Whilst we were there we spent quite a lot of time on the sun loungers in the hostels' 'relaxation area' which overlooks the sea. It was possible to swim in the sea there, which we did, although there wasn't much in the way of decent coral or interesting fish. The relaxation area was probably at its best when the sun was setting as it was a very peaceful place.
On our final day in Candi Dasa we went on a snorkeling trip which was really enjoyable, particularly as it was just us and a couple of local guys on the small boat. They took us to a few spots where both the reef and the fish were really colorful. They also took us to the aptly if unimaginatively named 'white sand beach' where we sun bathed for a few hours before going back to the hostel.
The next day we made our way to Gili Trawangan which was an all day mission. It involved getting a bus followed by a boat then another two buses and finally another boat. There was also a lot of waiting around thrown in for good measure. We later found out about an express boat which only takes an hour, although this is much more expensive.
It was definitely worth the effort to get there though as Gili Trawangan turned out to be one of our favourite islands of the trip. It is an extremely laid back place with one main road that circles the island. There are no cars or mopeds; just horse and carts.
There is quite a good system on the island for nights out. It is one night on, one night off, with a different bar taking on the mantle every second night to throw a party. The standard of parties is variable though. The best one we went to was an all night electro party with good DJs whilst another at an Irish pub had a DJ who was so disjointed in his tune selection that he had the effect of an ipod on shuffle. Whatever the situation with the music we always managed to have good nights.
We also had a decent group of people to hang out with. Dan, James, Lucie and Bernie from England, Stefan from Holland and Barbara from Austria. When we weren't on nights out we would chill out on the beach, watch movies (we saw Slumdog Millionaire at a bar with a cinema style screen), sit around and drink milkshakes and go out for meals.
The two of us also went on a snorkeling trip where the highlight was swimming with turtles. There were also numerous other types of fish but the coral wasn't that great. As part of the trip we went to Gili Air (another of the 3 Gili islands) and spent a few hours there.
In the evenings Mike played Sepak Takraw with some of the local guys. Sepak Takraw is an Asian game which is similar to volleyball expect you you use your feet (and can't use your hands) and is played with a small bamboo ball. Some of the locals are amazing at it and smash the ball by doing martial art style spinning kicks. Mike also played his diablo quite a lot and showed a few of the local kids how to do it.
One afternoon Ellie, Barbara, Lucie and Bern got horse and carts to take them round the island, which despite being a slow ride was a good way to see parts of the island we hadn't explored. Mike didn't come as he was surfing at the time.
Unfortunately our stay on Trawangan had to come to an end and we left on Saturday so that we would be back on Bali for our flight to Malaysia on Sunday. We spent a night in Kuta which is the main holiday resort town on the island. Is quite interesting to see as it is mostly geared towards Australian holiday makers. The bars show Aussie rules and rugby league, there are signs advertising 'bottle shops' and the locals promise to 'give you a bloody good price mate'.