A Travellerspoint blog

Day 29 - on to Nusa Dua - Paradise found !

sunny 30 °C

After breakfast we said our goodbyes to the group and set off on our own for our final week in Bali.
We'd arranged for a private taxi to take us directly there.
Nusa Dua was approx. 40km south of Ubud located on the south east coast of Bali which is the main diving centre of the island.
We decided to leave early morning as we'd seen most of Ubud yesterday and the traffic gets crazy by midday,
so we left straight after breakfast and go to Nusa Dua before 11am.
As we entered the Nusa Dua region, there were security guard checkpoints and
all the vehicles were scanned underneath with bomb detectors!
Shortly after we arrived at the Meli Bali - Paradise found !
Irene got a flower in her hair and one of the Hotel staff hit a great big Balinese drum as we entered -
we thought that royalty had just arrived not us !
As we'd arrived early, the room wasn't ready so we got invited to relax in the VIP lounge while our room was being "prepared".
The hotel was a typical 5* resort with hundreds of palm trees, numerous pools, restaurants and
it's own private beach, plus the hotel complex was on a "private estate" sandwiched between the
Grand Hyatt on one side and the Bali Hilton on the other.
As promised the room was prepared in no time, we then unpacked for the final time and
went down to the beachside bar for lunch overlooking the beautiful white sandy beach,
after lunch we had a lazy afternoon strolling around the vast hotel gardens and then had a walk out of "paradise" to the local town,
which had some local street food places.
In the evening we decided to go for another walk into the old town and
have some local Indonesian food rather than over priced "western" hotel food.

Posted by Andy-Irene 05:36 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Day 28 - Ubud

sunny 30 °C

After 2 great days in Pemuteran, we made our way across the island to Ubud, the islands main centre for Balinese culture and Arts.
Made more famous recently, as it was used as a film set location in the Julia Roberts movie - "Eat, Pray, Love" ;-(
On route we stopped at Taman Ayun, a Hindu Temple decorated in wonderful Balinese architecture and
set in beautiful tranquil gardens surrounded by it's own moat.
We reached Ubud by around midday, checked into the hotel and went out straight out for a walk around the town.
First stop was Ubud's Palace and home to the current Sultan, so all the areas weren't accessible but it was nice to visit.
We then went to see the other main Balinese Temples of Ubud.
On the way back we visited the local market and then went for a Balinese Spa,
But we both opted for a for scrub and massage - Irene got her monies worth when they saw her feet :-)
Tonight was our last night with the group before we went off on our own to Nusa Dua on the Islands south coast,
So our tour leader had arranged a group meal for us all in a local traditional Indonesian restaurant,
with a very nice view as it looked out on to rice fields with the sun setting in the distant.
Most of us had the traditional Bali style curry, which uses more lemongrass and coconut than chilli like in
Malaysian and Thai food followed by a few "Bali Hai" beers to wash it down.

Posted by Andy-Irene 06:27 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Day 27 - Cave Diving and Sharks !

sunny 29 °C

We had a free day, so we decided to go diving, luckily the dive centre was next day to our hotel which made it very convenient.
The area just off the Pemuteran coast,
where we were was a popluar dive site in the Bali Sea.
We got picked up after breakfast and after getting our gear sorted out, made a short trip to the harbour and
then only a 30min boat trip across to Menjangan (Deer) Island.
There was only Irene, me and our Canadian friend Dave, plus other 2 people (which were snorkelling) on the boat.
Once we'd dropped anchor, we were straight in, back roll off the boat and off we went.
The first site was Point 1 Wall, a reef wall descent to around 20m and then we followed the coral wall around the island.
The temperature was amazing, air temp was 29c and water temp 28c ! plus the visibility was approx. 25m - super clear.
All was going fine, then we spotted a large Eagle Ray swimming quite fast past us towards the surface.......
Being chased by a Black Tipped Shark, about 5ft in length, which then turned and swam right past us, only about 3m away !
After all the excitement we continued the dive and eventually surfaced after 64min.
We then moored up on the Island, had some lunch and waited for sufficient interval time before our next dive.
Our next dive was Bat Cave, only about 10mins boat ride away. Back roll boat entry again, then down to around 18m.
Once down we followed the coral reef in the opposite direction until we came to Bat Cave, a large underwater "open" cave.
We entered the large entrance which only went in about 5m, there was no real risk as there was a roof opening.
Coming out was great - from the darkness into the clear blue water.
Our divemaster then spotted a Pygmy Seahorse and pointed it out to us, amazing,
but very very small. We surfaced again after a good long dive, this time 62mins.
As we were quite close to the mainland, we got back to our hotel by 3pm, so after a quick shower to get the salt water off,
we went with some friends for a bike ride around the local villages and Hindu Temples for around 2hrs.
It had been a great, but not stop day topped off by a Bali dance show in our hotel in the evening.
It was performed by children from a local orphanage.
They played some great traditional acoustic music in the hotel grounds as we ate our meal and
had our first glass of wine for nearly 4 weeks !
A local "Sababay" Wine - a tad thin but it was a great way to end a fantastic day.

Posted by Andy-Irene 14:39 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Day 26 - Boat to Bali

sunny 32 °C

We awoke to sound of the call to prayer, quiet nice given we were in this remote plush hotel and
there was only our group staying in the hotel.
Leaving our little bungalow for breakfast we were greeted by another resident, a large fruit bat (flying fox) hanging in the tree outside our room ! Apparently it lived in the grounds and was quite friendly as we fed it some fruit as we held it !
Today was our last day in Java and after breakfast we left the hotel to visit some local industries which included
a Coffee, Cacao and Rubber plantation, before heading towards the ferry port.
The plantation was called Glenmore after its founder a Scotsman back in 1916.
First stop was the Cacao plantation, walking around the Cacao trees we sampled some raw chocolate,
plus other fruits and herbs on the estate including Lemongrass, Cloves, Black Pepper, Mint and Turmeric.
Passing the Coffee plantation we moved on to watch some rubber tree tapping and Latex collection,
then on to the factory were they produced the rubber, mainly for export for Aircraft tyres.
We then went back to the estate house to have a cup of the estate coffee and some fruits picked from the estate including
mini bananas, dragon fruit, star fruit, guava and papaya.
After our mid morning refreshments we drove on to the ferry port to catch the ferry across to Bali.
Bali was only about 15km away by sea but the crossing took an hour due to the heavy sea traffic.
Once we docked we moved to another time zone (+1hr) making us now +8 hours ahead of GMT.
A short bus drive later and we arrived at Pemuteran, our base for the next couple of days, a small village on Bali's southern coastline.
We checked in to a lovely Eco Lodge resort just 10 mins walk to the Beach,
We had a welcome drink and got a nice surprise when we entered our room, a "swan towel" and
petals scattered on the bed with more petals spelling our names.
Weather here was nice and dry but a lot more humid and hotter,
so after a cold shower we went out to check out the village and find a local restaurant.

Posted by Andy-Irene 01:43 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Day 25 - Mount Bromo Sunrise

semi-overcast 29 °C

A late night or very early morning ?
Anyhow we got up at 3am and left in 4WD Jeeps, driving up the slopes of Gunung (Mountain) Pananjakan at 2,770m (9,000ft) and
on-route crossing the Laotian Pasir plateau (know as the Sea of Sand), a volcanic sand plateau.
We engaged 4WD and the low differential drive in order to get across the dunes and up the slope out of the sand and
back on to another track up the mountain.
Eventually we reached the summit, parked up the jeep and went to watch the sunrise over Mount Bromo and
the surrounding volcano massifs now slightly lower than us.
Shadowing Mt. Bromo is Java's highest peak and one of it's most active volcanos; Gunung Semeru at 3,676m (12,000ft).
The cloud started to lift, as the sun starred to rise to reveal a grand vista of volcanos dotting the horizon.
(There are still around 127 active volcanoes in Indonesia).
We then retraced our tracks down the mountain, back to the Sea of Sand and then set off to walk up the slope of Mount Bromo to it's crater rim.
The trek was relatively easy as the volcanic sand soon became solid as we started to gain height.
Just before the base of the crater rim was a Hindu Temple high up on the plateau, built by the local Hindu people,
as they believe Mt. Bromo is place of special religious significance and still give offerings to the mountain which include flowers and animals !
Passing by the temple we climbed a staircase made by the Hindu's to the crater rim at 2,392m (7,800ft) to be greeted by
large plumes of sulphur and the sound of the active lava core below.
We walked around the crater ring for as long was we could wearing scarfs to protect us from the sulphur,
which at times became very toxic, after about 20 mins, we'd taken enough photos and couldn't stand the fumes any more so we hastily descended to our jeeps and returned to the hotel for breakfast before leaving to travel to our last stop in Java, Kalibaru.
Kalibaru is located in the Eastern Province some 200Km from Mt. Bromo.
We arrived at the station to be greeted by another serve downpour, luckily our guide called the hotel and
they came and picked us up in 2 army jeeps.
The hotel was plush, set in the grounds of a old Coffee & Cocoa plantation, which still continues today,
but part of it has now been turned into this lovely hotel retreat with manicured gardens, plus it also boasted a 20m pool and a Java Spa.
When we arrived our bags hadn't as they were coming by bus later and given that it was still hammering it down with rain,
we decided to have a relaxing afternoon in the hotel with a traditional Javanese Massage, complete full body by 2 strong ladies !
It was still raining by evening time, so we stayed at the hotel for a nice meal and a couple of beers -
Well it was our last night in Java :-)

Posted by Andy-Irene 04:21 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

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