We left Asia with an au revoir rather than a goodbye and vowed to return again soon. After all, what is not to love about it...amazing beaches, beautiful hospitality and it's cheap. Get yourself there.
Good morning blog, good morning everybody.
After much indecision based on stories of previous boats sinking on the route, we decided to get a boat back from the Western tip of Flores to Lombok. The thought being the kids can now swim so all should be fine.
We left the beautiful Manulalu hotel, Bajwa, feeling truly relaxed. A scooter ride the day before had provided a bit of excitement when we stopped for fuel and the whole village came out to say hello. People came running just to stroke Jess' blonde hair, pinch Otto's pink cheeks and say hello to us all. Luckily, both kids are by now (7months on the road in Asia) fairly used to the attention and coped well with what must be quite daunting when you are two and three years old - namely a crowd of people wanting to touch you.
Flores continues to astound us in both scenery and warmth of the local people.Flores continues to astound us in both scenery and warmth of the local people.
I'm penning this in Ende, Flores, whilst horrendous karaoyke eminates from below so if I'm distracted then I have my excuses.
Four days in Seminyak (Bali) was enough for us, I was starting to feel claustrophobic at the lack of sky visible. The streets are all narrow, traffic ridden and closed in and it is nigh on impossible to reach the beach for all the swanky hotels walls.
The impact of an island nation with a big population continues to be evident in Lombok and the (what should be) beautiful beaches of South West Lombok.
We stayed in Kuta, Lombok for four nights and visited the much heralded Mawun beach only to be confronted by a tide line of plastic and a sea full of floating bags, wrappers, straws and bottles. It was so bad we didn't enter the sea and just stood on what should have been the perfect beach considering what the world can do to combat the problem of packaging and waste.
Selong Blanak was better but still plastic floaters around in the sea. But still plenty of fun for all the family in the waves with a very shallow beach break and lots of rentals available. The body boarding was a huge success and Naomi and Jessica (7&3) even caught a couple of waves on the surf board, although they also wiped out in epic style with a few tears as surf boards crashed on top of heads.
We left Kuta for the little visited Gili of Gede to stay at Madak Belo with the excellent Hazzan - a really interesting guy from Gili Asahan, the neighbouring island. He has a degree in education, decided teaching wasnt for him, worked in the city in IT for a while before getting tired of money and city life so has returned to the islands to live the simple life.
Gili Gede was a remote paradise except unfortunately for more rubbish which confronted us as we disembarked our private boat. However, this time rather then just looking at it with disappointment, seeing as we were staying right on the beach we could do something about it. And so began the daily (or thrice daily) beach and sea clean up. No bag necessary as you found plenty to use on the beach. Within the first ten minutes between the three of us (Rachel, Mike and Kelly) we'd cleaned up the twenty metre stretch of sand immediately in front of the guest house and filled one and a half large bin bags of plastic rubbish and nappies. As Otto is still in nappies and a lot of the other rubbish was plastic straws and plastic bottles which we've been using in abundance, I once again felt responsible for the waste and vowed again to try to use more top ups and refuse straws. It's upsetting to think we're all contributing to the ruin of the planet but even though we would always dispose of rubbish in bins here there's a feeling of helplessness as to where the rubbish goes then. Dumped in rivers which flow out to sea I suspect.
Anyway, despite the obvious environmental impact on the beauty of the beach, Gili Gede still had some lovely coral gardens and great snorkelling straight from the beach which was amazing. Naomi (7) really got into her snorkelling here and was able to put into practice the diving down and clearing snorkels practice from the pool in Bali
We were the only ones staying at Madak Belo and it felt like the only ones on the entire island so the kids had free run to explore when they weren't being ill (tummy troubles hit the children!) The hermit crab trails at night were particularly good entertainment and whiled away many an hour or two in the evenings.
All too soon it was time to leave to head back to the tourist trail and hopefully some medicine to avert the tummy/toilet troubles!
Our travels have taken us to our fifth country, Indonesia. Over 200 million people in the biggest Island Nation in the world. Over 17,000 islands and in the last two weeks we've so far made it to four of these. Only 16,996 to go!
We began in Bali, Sanur beach. Some good points and some not so good points.
The rooms we had were fair but I was put off by the middle aged European men who entertained some overnight visitors on our second night there. The beach was a bit littered with some rubbish on both the beach and in the water - all plastics. Plastic bags, plastic cups, plastic wrappers, plastic straws. Once again we were confronted by the tricky feeling of how much rubbish there is in the world and what we ourselves are contributing to it with our many water bottles and straws consumed in the last 6 months.
On the plus side, Sanur has a stunning jogging path - 6 km long - which runs along the beach and gives beautiful views of the island's volcanoes. Just perfect for a pre-sunrise workout. Plus, next to where we were staying, we found a grassy area with a festival feel to it, surrounded by food stalls and bars where we enjoyed football, beers and good food for cheap.
After Sanur, we moved north to Ubud where we stayed in an awesome 5 bedroom jungle villa (as described on Airbnb) with the extended family, Mike's mother Shirley and brother Dave, and wife Rachel and their three children Felix (2), Olivia (5) and Naomi (7). So now we are a group of ten!
Ubud traffic was worse than I imagined even after having been warned by Rupert and Sarah, but despite the many hours sat in jams we still enjoyed four days, somersaulting in the pool, visiting waterfalls, hanging out at Bali Splash (the poshest water park I've ever visited) and generally hanging out with the much missed family.
It was great to catch up with Rupert, Sarah and Jermiah in Ubud where we had a lovely evening, the kids all got along great, the food was good, the atmosphere was super relaxed and once again we were reminded how lucky we are to be on this adventure meeting such lovely people.
The next day, water park won over day trip round the island so we hit one of the three on the island, Splash. Although expensive for Indonesia, Splash was great for our needs. Enough slides to keep the two and three year olds happy plus a slightly lax attitude toward height restrictions on the bigger slides meant that even Jesica got on Big Red (which was great for her but not so good for mum and dad who had to carry her up the eight flights of stairs to get to it!). The older kids (Dave and Mikes) were kept amused by the super bowl that deposited you into a funnel with a hole in the bottom which dropped you out in a deep pool beneath and the super slider a huge racing mat slide which picked up some serious speed. The young boys were happy going round and round the crazy creek whilst we recovered from the supersliders and the day was seen off with a few ice cold beers in the sun followed by a great dinner at Fly Cafe.
One word of advice to anyone looking for things to do in Ubud, steer clear of the Sacred Monkey Forest, We were only in there for about 20 minutes and Rachel got a little closer than she wished with one of the Macaques, after a visit to first aid and a week and a half in the sea and sun the bites have nearly disappeared. Ouch!
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Kelly and Mikey (but mostly Kelly). We sold up in the UK to travel with our two littluns for a year or so. If you want to know more click the about us!