Island Addiction, The Real Bali & Sad Farewells

27/04

Today is my last full day on Gili Air. For the last two weeks, I have lived on an island and I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone. Living a simpler life of no roads, no cars, no shoes makes the beautiful surroundings stand out even more. And let’s not forget the beautiful people.

I wrote in my last post about how many times I’ve said “I’m not leaving this island.” Not only do I not want to leave, but it’s a strange feeling that I CAN’T leave. After speaking to a few locals, apparently this feeling is normal. It has happened to a lot of people who just came to visit and now they live here. Gili Air (Air means water) is an island with water underneath. People believe that this makes it a very spiritual island and there is some unknown force that connects you to the island, making you stay. Sound kind of creepy? Sound like a load of rubbish? If I was to be back home and I was told that, I would have thought it was a load of naff. But I genuinely feel such a strong connection to the island, and then hearing the myth, I feel it makes sense. I have been the happiest and the calmest that I have been in a long time and I’ve also had an odd feeling that I’ve been here before.

Suffering from mild anxiety, these two weeks have been bliss. We spent our last night at Bunga Bar with Eddie and Hero. After a superb Gado Gado dish, Eddie mentioned that I’m a very calm and peaceful person. I’ve never, ever been called that before! (Would usually be described as an organised stress head).

***

Stressed Liv makes a dramatic return when Eilidh still hasn’t come back to our bungalow at 2am. I start to worry.

I wake up again at 3am and she’s still not there. Again at 4.

Oh god, what’s happened!? Should I go and look for her? No, that would be dangerous to go wandering alone at this time. She’s an adult, she’ll be fine. Plus, I left her with the other girls…

What if she’s not fine? What if she’s died? I’d feel so responsible. I’d have to fly home. How would I break the news to her mum!?

She stumbles in at 5am.

“I fell asleep on the beach. I spooned Hero.”

28/04

“I’m never drinking again” over and over again from Eilidh. How predictable.

“Of course you’re not…

***

I was very sad to say goodbye to Roo, to Gili and of course my little red head – Eilidh. 100 percent friends for life now.

***

Harbour > Padang Bay > Ubud. On the shuttle bus to Ubud, I sat next to a friendly, chatty chap from the UK – Chris. A blonde guy then gets on the bus and is about to sit next to me on the other side. He stares and points at Chris, and, I quote exactly: “I played with your dick last night!”

Chris looks mortified. “What!?”

“On Gili T. The bar. In the toilets. You were out of your mind, drunk. I was stood next to you in the urinals. You asked if I wanted to touch your penis so I laughed and wiggled it up and down.” (He did a hand gesture of a floppy willy). “Good to see you again mate!”

They both burst out laughing and gave each other a brotherly handshake, stretching across me, who was sat between them both. “What the actual heck” I say, and then start laughing too. The blonde guy then looks to the back of the bus to see a family sat behind us, giving him death stares. “Oh god, I am so sorry,” he says.

He then turns to me, ready to shake my hand. “I’m Luke by the way.”

“Erm. Hi Luke…”

29/04

Safely arrived in Ubud and had a delicious Nasi Goreng last night (Indonesia’s most famous rice dish). Literally had rice every day for the past 20 days.

When visiting the coffee plantation I sampled lots of amazing, fresh Balinese coffee. I liked them all but the coconut coffee & lemongrass tea were probably my favourite two. Luwak coffee is the most expensive coffee in the world (made from animal poo). Before sampling, we saw the Luwaks (they look similar to a cat). The Luwaks eat the coffee beans, then their poo is washed, then roasted. Quite interesting, but I wonder who on earth was the first person to think, “This will be a good idea.”

I also had a traditional Balinese breakfast made up fruits, banana fritters and rice cakes wrapped in banana leaves.

Today was quite a day. I feel now I have seen the real Bali. On a cycling trip, I went through rural villages where there were no tourists whatsoever (apart from me and the 2 others biking with me). We stuck out like a sore thumb. Most of the trip I was smiling thinking, YES! Finally! This is what I wanted to see – how it really is. I couldn’t believe that every tiny village must have at least 3 temples! Alongside learning more about Hinduism, I learnt a lot about the compounds (where people live). Every compound has its own temple and the oldest member of the family will sleep nearest the temple. The architecture is beautifully intricate – like a palace. However, the levels of poverty really don’t match up to the beauty. Some people look so poor, so old, so thin. Some were blind; some had a black mouth with no teeth. Some of the elderly had more wrinkles on their face than I thought was imaginable.

Needed a wee so went in a hole in the ground. That was an experience.

Jokes aside, it was a very special day. Apart from one moment – one moment which I wish didn’t happen. Riding along through very, very poor villages, I saw a dog. The poor creature had half of his back hanging off and half of his face too. I don’t know how it was still alive, let alone how it was still walking around. It was extremely disturbing and upsetting and I wish I hadn’t seen it. I felt choked up and nauseous the rest of the day. Although maybe I should appreciate that I did see it? That’s how it is. It is very much a wake up call that back home, we quite literally live in another world.

***

Tomorrow I fly to Singapore > Bangkok. I am, as always, both nervous and excited. Stress was running high yesterday when STA had mucked up my flight and so I couldn’t check in online. I would like to thank my Mum for being a hero and helping me sort it. It is very difficult being so far away, alone, without a phone when things go wrong.

Need I say how fabulous Indonesia has been? Filled to the brim with culture shocks, amazing food, beautiful surroundings and life long friends.

P.S. Just touched down safely in Singapore.

Bali Belly, Bananas and Beautiful People

Warning: this first part of the post will be pretty grim. I could have skipped it out and continued to talk about the turquoise ocean and my daily yoga. But I want this blog to be a realistic picture of my time travelling. So if you don’t want to read about my unfortunate bowel movements, close the tab, go walk the dog, do some photocopying at work, or make a cup of tea.

23/04

I have the shits. Sounds awfully crude, I apologise. I have been seven times in the last hour and this is definitely not ok. I wanted to man it out and just get out whatever was upsetting my stomach, but by the eighth sprint to the bathroom, enough was enough. Dosed up on Imodium. Thankfully, that stopped the ordeal instantly, but I felt pretty fragile for the rest of the day. Life of a traveller, ey?

I couldn’t stomach anything to eat. But I asked Eddie (who works at the local bar) what drink he recommends for a bad stomach.

Eddie is either 19 or 24 (he told me both!) He has glowing chocolate skin, a chiseled face and a thick, Indonesian accent.

“Papaya. Papaya juice very good. Yes. Good for…stomach. Clean stomach. Makes more poo poo.”

“No!” I screeched. “No more poo poo!!!”

“No more poo poo?”

“No more poo poo.”

“Sorry. My English. I no understand.”

I paused momentarily, thinking of how I could maybe explain without sounding too gross. Then I realised I couldn’t. “I have too much poo poo. What drink makes less poo poo?”

He finally understands and recommends a certain tea which he makes for me. Later on, mummy Roo makes me some plain toast as I don’t think I can face another curry. What a babe.

25/04

Before the poops started yesterday I was with the volunteering gang, turning recycled rubbish into arts and crafts goods. These will be sold tomorrow and the money raised will go to the local school. Happy days! Wearing the volunteering t-shirts, the locals would come up to us, and give us a hug and shake our hands. “Thank you very big! Thank you very big” one little man said, grinning from ear to ear.

I have now recovered and am feeling fab. I’m not sure how good it is to eat about 10 bananas a day though. (They put banana in EVERYTHING!) I also think they put something special in the iced coffees because they’re so addictive. Eilidh has already had 3 and it’s not even midday.

***

Got my sweat on walking to my ocean-view yoga class. I arrived early but didn’t have my swim suit or towel. I was that hot, I just dived into the pool, fully clothed. I dried off pretty quick. The class was AMAZING and I felt good for the rest of the day. I’d never done Yin yoga before. Rather than holding each pose for about 5 seconds, you hold it for FIVE MINUTES. It has a similar effect to acupuncture, creating a lot of heat in the muscles you are working. Man, you can really feel the burn – but the more you relax into it, the deeper you can stretch and then it feels incredible.

Good times continued with a delicious Gado Gado for din dins, then a bonfire on the beach. Eddie & Hero are the cutest. We sung songs with a guitar and ukulele – both English songs and Indonesian. I can’t get over how much I love the people here. Both me and Eilidh must say “I’m not leaving” at least 100 times a day.

Hero has a small, athletic frame. A baseball cap is glued to his thick black hair and his crooked smile is infectious – he never stops laughing.

Laughter continues as me and Eilidh go mental with all the bugs in our room. Howling and screeching with laughter, next door must have wondered what was going on. Hero, did you put something in our drinks!?

26/04

The hilarity continued into the next morning. We went for a dip in the beautiful sea but had a bit of a mare because we were in a seaweed section. Splashing around like a couple of seals, we soon came back onto the sand to sunbathe. Two gorgeous girls about 10metres to our left looked ever so graceful in the water: Peacefully floating on their backs, or diving up and down like a dolphin.

“We don’t look like that” said Eilidh. “How do they look so good?”

We squinted and stared at them for quite a bit. Then at exactly the same time:
“Let’s try be them.”

Unfortunately, we failed. Within 10 seconds of entering the water, a wave took my bikini and my boobs were out and Eilidh was flopping around like a whale.

Love, Meditation & A Giant Turtle

20/04

Been travelling 3 months now. Over that time, I have received many messages.

“Looks so amazing.”
“Wish I was with you!”
“You have it too good. Wish I was there.”
“Your pictures look incredible.”
“Stop posting so many photos, you’re making me jealous.”
“I’m so jealous, Liv. Wish I could do that!”

You can.

You literally can. What’s stopping you? Money? — work like a dog for about a year, save every penny you can. Sell your car, sell your horse, your motorbike….

Your job? — ask for a sabbatical. Or quit. You’ll get a new one when you come back. Too easy.

Your family? — they’ll also still be there when you get back.

Point is, if you want it bad enough, you’ll just do it. I can’t stress how much I recommend taking the plunge and booking those flights. You won’t regret it. NOBODY looks back on life and says, “ah, I wish I’d done more over-time at work” Whereas, EVERYONE says, “ah I wish I’d been to (insert country here) or I wish I’d (insert cool ass activity here such as bungy jumping).

I met an inspirational lady at breakfast this morning. She’s from Boston. She’s almost 40 – she sold her house to travel the world and she’s having the time of her life. Her boyfriend is anxiously awaiting her return.

***

So long Gili T, hello Gili Air! After a short boat ride, I’ve arrived at another paradise. Time to get my sweat on and find the accommodation…

I’m meeting Eilidh here later. We’ve been smart and we’re staying at a Homestay together. It’s a double room so we’ll split the cost and save some money.

I got a bit lost finding the way and came through the back entrance. Looked dodgy! However, the front of the property looked more like the photos – very cute. Speaking of cute, my new Indonesian Mum – Roo, is the sweetest lady you’ll ever meet. She invited me in, offering me a chilled banana and dragon fruit smoothie straight away.

Eilidh arrives a couple of hours after me and fills me in on the gossip since our time apart. A French man is in love with her after only meeting her for a few hours. He almost missed his flight to The Philippines so that he could be with her. Can you imagine!?

21/04

By splitting the cost of our room, it’s even cheaper than the local hostel. For £6.50 a night we have a beautiful double room and own bathroom, with breakfast included. Mummy Roo served us banana pancakes, fruit salad and a smoothie to our little private terrace. This is great! It’s just a 20 sec stroll from our room to a paradise beach. No complaints here.

I have fallen in love with Gili Air. Head first, fast falling, no questions about it, in love. It is so quiet, so peaceful, and the people are so gentle and kind. (I also get a real buzz walking barefoot everywhere! Love the no road life).

***

When you travel, your plans change. Originally, I wanted to do my little yoga retreat in Ubud. However, Ubud is busier and more touristy than I had imagined. Gili Air, however, is the perfect chill out zone. I have decided to stay longer here. Truth be told, I never really want to leave.

This afternoon Eilidh and I went to a meditation workshop. It covered a lot of the science behind it which was fascinating. We were also guided through various techniques to see which ones worked best for us. I could write loads about it – but all the info would be very overwhelming to read (it was a long workshop so a lot was covered!) But I’ll share with you one thing: Belly breathing. If you’re trying to relax, place your hands on your stomach. Your stomach should move in and out, up and down. Force your breathing down to your belly and exaggerate that movement as you inhale and exhale. You see, this is how we should breathe. If you look at babies / infants: you’ll see their tummies dramatically move in and out as they breathe. This is how humans should naturally breathe. However, as we get older, we get more stressed and our breath comes higher and higher up into our chest. Try to take a few minutes each day, sit somewhere quiet and focus on nothing but belly breathing. You’ll come away, feeling calmer.

The class was incredible. I now feel I know the basics of meditation. I know how frustrating it is, but have been trained with how to deal with that frustration: congratulate yourself when you realise you’re thinking, label it as “thinking” and then return back to your chosen style of meditation – whether that be sound focus, object focus, a chosen repeated phrase etc.

22/04

Yoga on the beach and then snorkelling with a giant turtle. All before 8.30am! Did I mention that I love it here?

Jade can’t really swim, so we were all fearing for her life when the water got deep. Don’t worry, she’s still alive! But, bless her, her slow swimming meant she’d put in all that effort to get to the reef and didn’t even see the turtle. He’d swam away by the time she got there.

This afternoon we joined a volunteering project and helped to clean up the beach. It was great to meet so many local people and help out. Tomorrow we will have an arts and craft session and recycle some of the waste – then sell the artsy goods at a market, raising money for the local school.

Today was ace. But if I’m to be British and pessimistic: The worst thing that happened was that I burnt my tongue on my curry.

Peace out. Next post about me getting the shits to come soon. X

Bikes, Powercuts and Happy People on Gili T

After the amazing climb up Mount Batur, our driver bought us some banana fritters to try. Sounds good, right? WRONG. I love fried banana at home, but this was something else. They were soggy and stodgy and what looked like grated white chocolate on top was not grated white chocolate. It was cheese. CHEESE ON DEEP FRIED BANANA. Why Bali, why? The food here so far has been amazing, but that right there, was just plain wrong.

17/04

Said goodbye to my little Eilidh this morning. Only known her a few days but it seems like years. People have asked, “Oh so you’re travelling together?”
“Nope. Just known each other 47 hours.”

Today I venture alone to an island just off Lombok: Gili Trawangan. There are 3 Gili Islands – Gili T (most popular), Gili Meno (smallest and most remote: perfect honeymoon destination) and Gili Air (not so busy as Gili T, not as untouched as Gili M). Even though Gili T is the largest – it’s still a very small island! It currently has a population of about 800 and is about 8km around the whole island.

I got a bus, then a boat and then asked directions to my hostel and got ever so sweaty. You sweat constantly here, you have to get used to it. All in all the journey went very smoothly and am proud of my navigation skills.

Gili T has no roads – the only way to get around is by foot / bicycle / horse and cart. There is one strip that is fairly busy with lots of bars, but apart from that, it’s ever so quiet and peaceful. I have instantly fallen in love with island life for that reason: peace. No engines, no hustle and bustle. Just seeing the odd smily pedestrian and saying hello.

I thought when booking my room on booking.com that I had my own double room. Almost, but not quite. I have my own double air bed. It’s squashed in a little hut so there is no floor space and the roof is so low, that even little me has to crouch. The shared outdoor toilets are quite dirty and the hose-like shower isn’t the best, but c’est la vie. It is backpacking after all.

18/04

Barely slept last night. Bed was awful. Also woken up at 5am to a the Islamic call to prayer on a loudspeaker (lasts about 10 minutes). It sounded like he was singing right on my shoulder. It must have woken up the whole island.

***

Headache / hydration / humidity made me feel ever so rough in the afternoon and it’s always when I feel rough that I miss home. I sat alone on the beach, staring at the calm turquoise waters, and listening to my music, getting a bit too into my thoughts. I miss my family – but I’m in such a beautiful place in the world. I miss my friends – but I’m so proud of everything I’ve achieved by myself. I have got myself here and seen so many incredible things. Reflecting on some of those amazing moments, before I know it, my glossy eyes brighten and I smile as I see a group of Indonesian children, no older than six or seven, playing and splashing in the water by an anchored boat.

***

Yay, Ronnie and Jade have arrived!

19/04

Woken up at 5am again. Can’t be angry though, that’s how they live here. I saw a stunning sunrise at 6 this morning and thought, you know what, today is going to be a good day.

It was.

We rented bikes (Ronnie, Jade, Arne). We swam, drank coconuts and sun bathed. It was funny when I thought Ronnie was Jade (Ronnie is white and Jade is black). I had got up too quickly so I was a little dizzy.

“Wow Ron, you’ve really caught the sun today! Your tan looks great!”

Nope, it’s just a black girl.

Laughter and good times continued over lunch on the beach. I had a delicious local dish (Olah Olah – a veggie dish in a rich, tasty coconut sauce). The service on a chilled island is SO slow because nobody is in a rush. We were all so hungry and it felt like my stomach was eating itself as we waited in anticipation for our food to arrive.

Island life continues with several power cuts on a daily basis. Had my shower in the pitch black.

Island life strikes again as we meet up with Daisy and her sister to watch the sunset. The forever changing colours were breathtaking.

Thanks for such a wonderful time Gili T. Next stop, Gili Air! (I thought with my lack of husband I’d miss out Gili Meno).

Mount Batur, Seventeen Taxis and an Onion

I woke up in a bit of a panic – feeling nauseous and shaky. I think it’s mainly feeling sick with worry – earlier today I made a coffee in my room with tap water. I have been so careful with the water here – saying no to ice cubes, brushing my teeth with bottled water… However, in a moment of madness, I just didn’t think. So at 2 in the morning, I’m sat bolt upright in my luxurious Queen Sized bed, googling “is it safe to drink boiled tap water in Bali…”

Of course, as when googling any illness, there will always be a ‘MrPotatoHead79’ on some forum telling you that his sister’s friend’s cousin had the same symptoms as you do, and they died a horrible death.

***

Woke up feeling fit as a fiddle. Thank goodness! I reckon it was a momentary funny turn due to my crazy, stressful day (see previous blog post on my Insane Journey to Ubud). Now time to enjoy my luxurious bungalow. It’s only £20 a night and I’m being treated like a princess. The three course breakfast may be the best I’ve ever had – including a fluorescent fruit salad, banana pancakes and Indonesian black rice pudding. Note: not black pudding like in England, thank goodness. This is a sweet dish, made with Indonesian black rice, slowly warmed through with fresh coconut milk.

I’m in a hidden paradise. The beautiful pool is surrounded by tropical trees. There is no noise whatsoever, only the sound of cockerels in the morning or the occasional soft words from the kind Balinese: “can I get you anything, Miss Olivia?”

I can’t believe I’m backpacking right now.

I met a French couple here on their honeymoon: Classic. The wonderful staff bought them out a decorative chocolate cake, with ‘Happy Honeymoon” perfectly iced in rich cocoa. I think because I was chatting to them, they felt obliged to share it with me (winning). They were lovely people – they even invited me out to dinner with them that evening. I had to politely decline as I would have been the ultimate third wheel. IT’S YOUR HONEYMOON!!!

Balinese food continues to get more beautiful and more bizarre. This afternoon I tried an iced avocado coffee. I was sceptical, but I reckon it’s now my favourite chilled beverage. Fresh and creamy from the smooth avocado with swirls of strong coffee, spiralling through the glass: a taste sensation and also a work of art.

In the cafe, a guy from Canada started speaking to me. He was a borderline hippie and spoke about trying to “find himself.” Conversation was a tad awkward. I wanted to be an idiot, get out my compact mirror and go: “there you are!”

Out of nowhere, a dramatic thunderstorm hit Ubud. The rain was hard and warm and everything still looked glorious. I admired it on my balcony, and did some yoga. The chilled vibes continued when I went out for dinner alone and I sat crossed legged on decorative cushions, surrounded by candles. Loving life.

14/04

Time to stop the princess life and find myself a hostel. I can’t complain though – the hostel is ace! It’s in the middle of a rice paddy, it had a gorgeous pool and it’s super chilled and friendly. Speaking of friendly, became instant pals with a Scottish girl, Eilidh (pronounced Ay-ley, like Hayley without the H).

When we walked back after dinner together, on one street alone we were offered 17 taxis and an onion. Oh Bali.

15/04

This morning I went on a gorgeous / humid walk through the rice paddies then came back for brekki with Eilidh. Oh my god I’ve had the best day. Ronnie and Jade are now in Ubud too so we met up with them for a girly day full of smoothie bowls and putting our bargaining skills to the test at the crazy markets. A woman tried to sell me a top for 130,000. I eventually paid 40,000 (£2).

We had some laughs when ordering food. Like in Starbucks, they asked for our names. For giggles, I told them my name was Steve.

***

Time for an evening yoga class. It was all very stereotypical (in a good way). It was in a room that looked like a palace and the class was taken by a very spiritual, very bendy man. The class was 2 hours and I was definitely the worst, least flexible one there. Curse you, ‘running’ for giving me tight hamstrings! I LOVED the meditation bit at the end. The Master adjusted my posture by pulling my head and neck and I felt my spine grow about 6 inches.

Rushing into the class and then leaving in such a chilled, ‘spaced out’ state, I can’t believe it but I realised when back at the hostel that I didn’t pay. I ACCIDENTALLY STOLE YOGA. I hope I don’t get bad karma. I will have to go back for another class and pay double. I feel so bad.

16/04

Alarm went off at 2.30am. Today is the day I climb Mount Batur Volcano to watch the sunrise. I went with Ronnie, Jade and our new friend Arne. We had a lovely driver and a very sweet guide.

You get a bit warm walking up but you really feel the chill at the top. This, however, was the first time in my life I have been the one to deal with the cold the best – this was due to the fact that I didn’t really sweat – everyone else was dripping. In all honesty, I found the climb quite easy. Jade and Ronnie, however, had a bit of a sense of humour failure going up: “I’m never hiking again!!!” But like all hikers, once seeing the sunrise and the views at the top, they were proud and said it was well worth it. I was probably really irritating to them, being too upbeat on the way up at 4 in the morning.

It was a strange experience hiking up in the dark. Seeing nothing but your feet with your torch light. Then looking up and seeing a stream of torches leading up to the summit – they looked like a trail of stars – quite magical.

As the orange sun rose, I tried to capture its beauty with a photo. Then I took a few moments just to stare and admire it.

Our guide prepared breakfast for us at the top: banana sandwiches and a boiled egg. Not quite the exotic luxury I’ve been having the last few days, but who can complain when you’ve got a view of the Indonesian tangerine sun, creeping over volcanoes.

The Insane Journey to Ubud

12/04

There’s a note in the room about how to protect yourself from crime (thieves, rape etc). Pretty serious stuff. It’s a long list of suggestions about how to stay safe, and then at the end, in capitals it says: ‘HAVE A NICE STAY.’ Quite amusing.

I’m trying to be more positive today. My headache has cleared up. On my hunt for breakfast I tried to absorb the crazy culture. The noise, the hustle and bustle and strong smell of incense. The banana milkshake with my fruit, yogurt and cereals went down a treat. One fruit was the brightest purple that my eyes have ever seen – literally glowing. It was a pitaya fruit – something I have never tried before.

If you read my last blog post, you’ll be up to date with my sketchy transport booking to Ubud. My bus is supposed to arrive at 1pm (I think it’s a bus?). At 12.45 I was waiting at the lobby entrance.

1pm: I start pacing around a bit.

1.10: I ask reception if they know what the deal is. Lovely man gives the phone number a call. “This is not valid number” he says. Oh dear…

1.20: He tries to call again. No answer. Ah man, I’ve been scammed! Knew I shouldn’t have paid yesterday. What a tit.

The nice man at reception suggests that I walk down the dodgy street to where I made the booking and ask them what the deal is. He said he would look after my luggage and ask the bus to wait if it arrives.

I found the little lady that sold me the ticket yesterday. She becomes angry when I ask her where the bus is, aggressively shooing me away. “Back to hotel! Back to hotel!” She shouts.

I’m frustrated at my vulnerability. I know it’s not the end of the world – I’ll just book an overpriced taxi. But it felt a bit upsetting that I had been scammed. The kind man at reception sees that I look upset and worried. He takes the ticket from me and vanishes around the corner. Aw, my little hero, I think to myself. Then, out of nowhere, another man comes up to me and says “Ubud? One person?” YES! My bus! But shit! Where did the receptionist go with that darn ticket!?

What a nightmare. We eventually find him. All good. I follow transport man around the corner, expecting to see a bus for my 1hour 30 ride to Ubud.

It is not a bus.

It is a sketchy little scooter.

Oh hell no.

He throws my backpack over the handlebars, and taps the seat behind him. “Quick, quick. We go now.”

It all happened so fast. I should not be doing this. This is not ok. Mum would be fuming. Does my travel insurance even cover this if I fall!? A thousand thoughts whizz through my mind…

Oops. I’m on. No helmet and I’m wearing flip flops. This is not ok. I cling on for dear life as we go through the chaotic dodgy street, where people drive like they are playing a video game.

“I thought it was a bus!” I call over his shoulder.

“We go find bus now. Bus on main road.”

“Did it forget me?” I ask.

He laughs. “Yes, yes. Bus forget you! We try find it now.”

Me, my luggage and my little scooter man weave in and out of the traffic, on the race to catch my bus. Eventually, we find it. I’m alive!

There is one seat left. It’s jam-packed and people have to get out and move around luggage so that me and my bags can fit too. Squeezed in tightly, we’re off to Ubud! Hurrah!

***

When we got to Ubud, the smart thing would have been to get a taxi to my hotel. Easy peasy. No dramas. Instead, foolish, cocky Liv decides to walk. I’m confident I know the way and that it won’t take that long.

Rooky error. It was so far. But you know when you start something, you think: oh well I might as well finish it… I’ve got this far. I was also thinking, I’m already dripping with sweat, might as well continue. I know I’ve said in my past blog posts “this is the sweatiest I’ve ever been.” WRONG. I was young and naive. THIS, without a doubt is the sweatiest I’ve ever been. My back was like a waterfall and my face – it was like someone was constantly pouring a bottle of water above my head. I was soaked. I’d walked for ages and my back and calves were killing. I must have gone the wrong way. I asked a security guard and he pointed me in the other direction. For goodness sake. Another 20 mins or so, I couldn’t take anymore. The road I was on was very quiet and it was an extremely poor neighbourhood – many stray dogs and chickens running free. Looking very out of place, a nice looking gym appeared on the corner. I went in to get help.

The man at the gym was CONFIDENT I had gone the wrong way and I needed to be back where that security guard told me the wrong information. Feeling truly defeated, I was about to ask the desk to get me a taxi. Then, in my dizzy state, I did something pretty risky. A young-ish British looking guy was exiting the gym, getting on his scooter.

“Excuse me!” I called. “Could you please give me a lift!?” (What am I doing!?)

He was lovely and all was well. Felt like a scooter pro. He kindly dropped me at the hotel.

Oh my god it’s the wrong hotel.

“Don’t worry, I drive you” said the man at reception. Exhausted, I clamber onto the back of my THIRD scooter of the day. Hilarious.

Finally, I arrive at the correct destination. It’s paradise here. The exhausting / scary / stressful commute was worth it. Looking back on it now, I’ve already forgotten the sweat and pain. It’s just a funny memory. And now I’m chilling in my spa robe and being treated like a princess. LIFE IS GOOD.

Hello Bali, Hello Culture Shock, Hello Caitlin

10/04

My flight out of Cairns was at 11pm. I was a little worried to be arriving in Bali at 2 in the morning, but I had informed my hotel and had researched the legit taxi company (Bluebird – blue cars with bird logo). Apparently many blue cars pretend to be taxis, so you must be sure they have the logo and polo shirts too.

The experience was less stressful because a couple of friends that I had made from the East Coast (Ronnie & Jade) were on my flight too. I also met a gem of a girl on the bus to the airport – Monica from New York.

The flight was bloody freezing! I asked one of the air stewards if my air con was playing up because I was so cold. He furrowed his eyebrows and looked at me like I was insane. “Mam, it’s 24 degrees.”

He lies.

Touched down safely. Wooooo Bali!

The baggage claim from Cairns was shoulder to shoulder jam-packed by a massive group of Asians. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a man shouted something and then about 300+ Asians scuttled to a different belt. Too funny. How had all 300 misread ‘Cairns?’

Declaration and security was so relaxed. I had declared drugs (prescriptions) and the man didn’t even look at it.

Found an ATM and drew out 600,000. That sounds mad doesn’t it? But that’s only 60 Australian dollars therefore that’s only 30 British pounds. My taxi was 100,000 to Legian, so $10, so £5. It’s hilarious to check your bank balance and see you’re a multi-millionaire.

I’m staying the first two nights in Legian (just north of Kuta). I’d been advised by loads of people not to stay in Kuta. It has very little culture and is basically full of Australian holiday-makers or people wanting a boozy holiday on the cheap (basically the Indonesian version of Magaluf).

Arrived safely in Legian at 3am.

11/04

Lovely to wake up in my own room. The bed is HUGE and so comfy. Unfortunately the street I’m on is a little dodgy. I’m also in an area that’s much busier than I’d like. It’s a one lane street but with traffic coming both ways. SO MUCH traffic! SO many scooters. When two cars come head to head, the continuous stream of motorbikes and scooters continue to weave in and out. Beep beep!

Everywhere you go in Bali you can find women sitting around chatting while mechanically putting together quite artistic small baskets/ trays made from palm leaves then filling them with either rice, flowers or fruits. I’ve even seen some with an Oreo biscuit in! You’ll find these small offerings laying around- on pavements, roads, in front of shops, restaurants and houses. It’s sometimes actually rather difficult just to walk without accidentally stepping on them! But these little baskets of flowers and incense sticks are also what make Bali so wonderfully unique and fragrant. I asked one woman if she could explain to me herself what they are for. “It is for the spirits. It is to keep shop safe, peaceful and happy.”

I’m walking through the busy, smoky market streets, trying to get my bearings, looking for somewhere for breakfast. I guess I’m not as tanned as I thought I was… I’m constantly being pestered – many asking for photos with me and my white skin. No babe, not today.

One man grabbed my hand and wouldn’t let go. That was not ideal.

You walk two steps and then someone will jump in front of you.

“Transport?”

“Sunglasses for pretty lady?”

“Very nice clothes.”

“Transport? Transport? I give transport for you. Special price.”

Ah, get me to Ubud. I just wanna do yoga & chill & eat good food.

The buzz of it all and the lack of sleep and food gave me a killer headache. Dizzy, and ignoring the pesting, I walk into a girl.

IT’S CAITLIN (a friend I met in New Zealand whilst doing Kiwi Experience). This is too weird. What makes it more bizarre is that we have already bumped into each other at Melbourne train station. Did somebody say small world?

Had a gorgeous breakfast with Caitlin, and later on we walked along Legian beach, before my headache couldn’t take much more and I had to have a lie down.

Chilled in my Queen-sized bed with a take out Indonesian rice dish.

I can’t wait to venture to Ubud tomorrow! Wifi was touch and go but I managed to book a couple of nights there. I also booked my transport from a pretty sketchy stall on my dodgy street. The woman barely spoke English. Looking back on it, I probably shouldn’t have paid there and then. But I have some make-shift receipt that doesn’t quite make sense so let’s hope that works…