Bromo, Bali and back to Sumatra with a bit of KL chucked in for good measure....
16.07.2009 - 19.08.2009 30 °C
Hello there intripid followers....
so, where was I? Oh yes, about to climb another volcano, this time for a sunrise so started at 4am walking again down hill... it was pitch black and baltic. Aisling and I headed out with t-shirts, jumpers, socks, trainers, wooley hats, hoods up and of course my trusty lighter torch which actually did ok considering. Anyway we spot a volcano which we think must be Bromo and look for the white stones to lead the way to the base. Lots of white stones going in both directions so we pick the stones on the right and head off through the desert. A wee while later we see a woman standing by the side of the stones and asks us if we know where we're going, not sure now we consult both maps then a man on a horse appears out of the dark and says we're going the wrong way and did we need a guide. No thanks but which way is Bromo..? We'd followed the wrong stones, we should have gone left doh!! anyway, we get to the base just as the sun starts to rise and climb up about a million breath stealing steps, ok 253 but still. I of course took a few photos so had to stop once or twice but it was fab, nothing to do with being totally out of breath or anything.... The view from the top was amazing!! the crater itself a steaming ominious looking thing that could have exploded at any moment I'm sure. You could hear a rushing noise which I like to think is molten lava but might just be water. After sitting for a while Aisling and I start to walk round the edge, it takes an hour if you do the full circle (which we didn't) we stopped, took some daft photos and ate a bar of cadburys creme bruliee chocolate which I'd brought back from singapore and had melted in the heat of Yogja but soon solidified again in the freezing 4 degrees of Bromo. We then headed back to the village we started at half an hour before we had to leave so thought we'd go for a coffee before getting on the bus back to the hotel for a well deserved hot shower and free breakfast. 7:30am and we head for the bus but it had already gone!! The french people we walked a bit of the way back with were on it and never said a thing, bleedin french people, you know, sorry if you're french or sorry if you know some nice french people but they don't half think they're the dogs nads. Walking on pavements and not caring about anyone around them trying to get passed or whatever, just kind of look at you with a faint disgust in their eyes. Anyhoo, got back to the hotel eventually as a nice bloke gave us a lift then went for a shower but it wasn't working and breakfast was waiting for us on a chair outside the room. Breakfast, pah!! a boiled egg and 2 bits of 'toast' and a cup of tepid tea. I tell you, never in my puff have I ever seen so many boiled eggs. They sell them on the streets, they have bowls of them on table resturants, whatever happened to breadsticks? and as for the toast, well, are all toasters set on dog breath heat? we wouldn't want to burn it would we? a bit of colour wouldn't go a miss though, not taht I eat toast. Tired and annoyed at the french folk and the guy for leaving us up the hill we complained about the lack of hot water, which took about 20 mins for the guy to actually work out the gas had run out and we also complained about breakfast so they brought us some fried rice instead. They must have been scared of the tall one and the blonde one. Back onto the mini bus now which had as many people in it as humanly possible. I was last on so got to sit on a wee plank of wood wondering how my cow for milking was going to fit on. Then a wait for about an hour in town before getting on the big bus to Denpesar in Bali. We all got turfed out of the bus about 2 hours later with a shout from the bus drivers helper of EAT!! a lot of people only just got their food when the bus horn went and we were all told to GET BACK ON!! it was another 8 and a half hours before we eventually got to Denpensar after an hour on a ferry and another 3 hours on the bus. When we got off the bus is was like feeding time at the zoo, so many taxi and bemo drivers trying to get business from you. We had an exchange of words with the bemo guy before getting all our stuff out of his vehicle and into a taxi. By this opoint we'd picked up 3 lads to share the fare to Legion/Kuta.
OMG, Kuta is a nightmare. Its like Benalmadena on hybrid acid with louty, shouty, puking men and scantily clad mutton dressed as lamb falling out of scary pubs and clubs. At 11:30pm after being on a bus for near 2 days, I was shocked by the sheer hedonism of it all. I may be getting old by saying that but I felt old. The next morning we headed straight for Ubud where if you want to party you can but it's not in your face 24/7. We frequented a place called the Bali Budda where you can get anything from normal to vegan, raw and gluten free foods hurrah!! I especially enjoyed the butterscotch cake thing and these wee balls made of cashewnuts and sweet stuff, lush!! There are lots of temples in Ubud, one on every corner and loads more that aren't. Everyday people put offerings out to their gods on palm leaves with incense and fruit which help the stray dogs as they eat the rice laid out. The temple guards (made of stone) are covered in silk material, have umbrellas above them and some even have scarves round thier stoney necks, it's truley fabulous.
Aislings boyfriend Philip joined us in Bali, Aisling could hardly contain her excitment bless her. We hired a scooter in the morning and had a drive around. I had Aisling on the back for a while dodging kids in the street and tarpulin covered in drying rice. Who keeps leaving them on the road I don't know. All the kids want to slap the palm of the passenger which was class, I had a peek in the wing mirror once and just caught a wee boy throwing his trainers at us!! little toad. I left Aisling to get ready to head to the airport to collect Philip and went off on the bike myself. Turned the opposite way to the way we'd gone earlier and found a street full of shops. It must have been about 3kms long lined with shops selling sparkly things, wooden carvings, and even christmas trees!! very odd to see santa sat outside a shop full of christmas things with the sun burning down onto my back. I bought myself a gorgeous wooden necklace and wee Lucy and Carla a fairy each which I posted, not sure when they'll get that parcel.
There are a lot of dogs in Ubud. Some are obviously happy and cared for and others are so skinny it would be better to put them out of their misery. The dog Chalky that lives where I was staying hated me on our first night, growling at me out the corner of her eye but the next mroning she was nice as pie. Aisling thought she might have an evil twin... by the time I left she was coming to my room and rolling over. Must be the snowwhite in me at work again. After my trip on the scooter I shopped unsuccessfully for a long floaty skirt, ate a crap offering from a street vendor, read lots of my book 'almost french' by sarah turnbull which I would recommend cos it's very funny, smoked lots of ciggies and watched a cat with a weird tail (like most cats over here, something to do with inter breeding) wander around the garden outside my room meiowing. Obviously having lost something. At about 8pm I contemplated bed, how rock and roll... So I went out.
We all went to a traditional fire and trance dance on the Friday night. It was amazing, I loved it. Three rows of men sitting in a circle chanting while women danced in the centre then a monster came out then an old bloke and tried to drag one of the women away. I have no idea what the story was but it was fab to watch. After all that a man came out on what I can olny discribe as a hobby horse, perhaps it was a chicken I don't really know. They built up a pile of coconut husks and set fire to them, then the man sat on the chicken ran about then kicked all the flaming husks about and ran through them all in his bare feet!! the chanting men then scraped them all back into the centre and he kicked them about again. Some husks went towards spectators narrowly missing feet and bags. It started to rain and I laughed as people ran for cover and others used the now empty chairs as hats haha. I'm melting, I'm melting... (in voice of wicked witch from the wizard of oz)
Had a couple of massages which were ace although I felt sick afterwards, very sore back, think it's from riding the scooter... The massuse I got was a tiny wee woman by my word she was strong. When she was doing my arms the pressure actually made my fingers move!! the second time was good but I had a different woman, not so strong. I could tell Philip got the wee woman this time though from the screams coming from the other room!!
Went for a walk and ended up at a market. They sell lots of wooden willys at the market, all sizes and mostly with a bottle opener on them. I was going to buy one but they were too expensive. I'm glad I didn't cos we went to Maas, the mecca for cheap wooden carvings but could only find expensive shops so while A&P were in a shop trying to bargain with the owner for carved masks I asked a taxi driver where there was a cheaper place so I hopped into the shop and stopped the purchase and we all went to a market where Philip got the same 3 masks for the price of one in Maas. This is where I bought a rather special wooden carving for LeeAnne.
Monkey forrest was a bit mad. Like being in Gib but with a different species, even the monkeys were different boom boom!! They were macacs so had tails, just as mean though and a bit creepy really. Aisling went to take a picture of a baby but got too close and it's mother bared her teeth and half chased her down the road. Saw one monkey with a fag in it's mouth which it ripped apart and tried to eat then another one stole a bottle of water from a tourist, opened it and drank the contents then a little girl gave one a sweetie wrapped in plastic, very irresponsible. Her family thought it was hilarious.
I tortured myself by going for another wax and also a facial, it was an experience for want of a better word. I lay on the bed and was surprised to learn that it was the man who was going to scalp me. He's was as camp as christmas but even so I was a little embarassed. Anyway he plugged in the bowl of wax into the mains and my fear began as the sugar wax began to boil and spit over the side. He tells me this is ok and to just relax while putting a page of the local newspaper under me. He switched the bowl off and began to stir as the volcanic lava hissed and spat up in the air like one of the local volcanos erupting and scaring everyone who lived below. He then started putting the hot sugary lava on me as a woman came in who I can only imagine was there to hold me down. He laddled the wax all over, put the cotton strip on me, looked me worriedly in the eyes and ripped it off with one hand as the other flew up behind him ala Ainsley Harriot seasoning some wonderful dish he's just prepared. He had the flamboyance and drama of a Matador in a Spanish bull fight. I wouldn't have been surprised if he'd have shouted 'Olay!!' as he ripped the strip away over and over again. I laughed many times but some of it just plain hurt. The woman holding me down left half way through and her replacement arrived to help, counting satu, dua, tiga... rip!! I was left brusied, battered, stinging and rather sore. Anyway, I then relaxed for my facial which was really good, obviously more his fortay than waxing"
The next couple of days we just spent chilling out and laughing, they're such a nice couple. Then we hired a scooter each and headed to the beach about an hour away. I loved it, I totally miss my bike that I used to have in Gib. Not realising till we stopped for a coffee, Aisling was hating it bless her. We made it to the deserted beach and lay down on the grassy bit and soaked up some sun. Of all the places on the beach, this local guy wearing a pair of jeans and a hooded top sat just below us and stared, then he moved a bit and stared some more. I tell you, if it had just of been myself and Aisling, we would have packed up and gone. Very odd behaviour indeed. When we got home, I parked up my bike, walked across the road and lost the key. I have no idea what happened to it. I'm sure I locked the bike and pulled the key out but maybe I didn't. I don't know, anyway it was gone, we all search high andlow but it was like it had disintigrated in my hand. dreading telling the bloke I hired it off ad hoping he had a spare we went and got him. He was soooo nice about it, and even nicer as he handed me the bill for 300,000 rupia. It's not a hge amount of money in the grand scheme of things but it would have paid for my 3 nights in my room including breakfast. Afterwards I realised that it must be cos I'd upset Budda himself. I refilled my bottle of water in the Bali Budda restuarant and walked off without paying for it. Not by mistake but on purpose cos there was no one at the till. Bad bad GiGi. That night I went back to my room and turned the light on while holding onto the post of my 4 poster bed, sounds plush but I watched the guy clean the room, he didn't change the sheets, the loo had no seat, the toilet door didn't shut even though it was opposite a window with curtains that didn't quite fit and the blanket I was suppose to lie under had dirty black stains on it. Anyway, I held onto the post like I had many times in the 2 days I'd been there and it came away in my hand and fell down my leg scraping skin away from the bone of my ankle. It hurt. I can't remember what the third bit of karma was,you know these things always happen is 3's, it must have been very traumatic though.
I said my goodbyes to Aisling and Philip and got into a mini bus to the airport to go back to Sumatra for a week. Aisling ran after the bus with her arms out shouting Noooooo it was a very touching scene. I didn't think I was going to see them again till next year in Dublin but I ended up in Kuala Lumpur and met up with them again there yay!! Anyway back to Sumatra and lake toba. After 2 planes, a night in a hostle with a surfing primary school teacher from NZ that lives in Mallorca who I met on the plane, a crap breakfast and a becak to the bus station and a 4 hour local bus to Parapet and a half hour on a ferry I arrived back in Bagus Bay - knackered. On the way to the bus station a man on a motorbike came up behind me o the becak shouting 'Dana Toba??' how these people know where you're going is beyond me. The bus was local so didn't cost much but it was really hot. 3 of us shared the 2 seats and I was squashed up agaist the window anyway, they all smoke these garam clove cigarettes on the bus which is horrible and I think the driver must have gotten a new horn for his birthday the amount of times he used it. His driving was pretty scary at times and even some of the locals gasped in fear when he overtook a lorry on a blind corner tooting his horn. I think at one point we may have hit someone on a bike as the bus stopped and the helper bloke went outside to some woman shouting and screaming at him. No one was hurt but the bus was defo too near who ever it was.
Back on Tuk Tuk and it's nice and calm and lovely to have people recognise you. I had a lovely room with a hot shower and went to sit by the lake for a while in the sun. I met a guy called Jan from Holland. After chatting for a bit I mentioned Gibraltar and he says he met 2 people from Gibraltar while travelling through Vietnam. It's a small world, I actually know them!! Steve and Caroline, crazy. Anyway, I spent a week chilling out and eating at the Batak village and generally not doing a great deal so when Jan and an american couple said they were going to Medan on the bus, I booked a flight to Kuala Lumpur and joined them on the bus. We all stayed in the same hotel I stayed in the first time I was in Medan and swapped addresses and stuff before saying cheerio at breakfast time. Did I tell yu about the dog eating in Tuk Tuk? I can't remember... Tony's dog Jackson got eaten by Tony's dad, how mean is that?? Tony didn't even know till he was tucking into what he thought was suckling pig only to be told his was his pet pooch!!
Anyway being back in KL was actually pretty good and the fact that I was going to see Aisling andf Philip again made things even better. 7 days is a bit long to be there but it's been nice to stock up on deoderant, sunblock and other western things not knowing Thailand has boots... ah well. The hostl I stayed in was fab, I didn't like it at first, bit like a hippy commune and I was put in a dorm but when woke up the next day I realised its the best hostel I've stayed in!! Have met some great people including Fernando from Mexico who I'm sharing th dorm with and Dominique then Mark and last of all a very lively lady from Slovenia called Sonya. I didn't do much in KL apart from relax and read a good book then when Aisling and Philip got there we went to the Batu Caves which were quite good, lots of steps, a big golden budda statue and lots of moneys in the caves. I enjoyed it but it lacked the 'wow' factor for me and the monkeys were creepy... I got my book for a shop that also sold a range for hypocondriachs (that can't be how you spell it but you know what I mean) they had titles like 'Non stick pans can cause sickness' 'new but defective cars and tyres' '50 reasons why eating meat is wrong' 'low level radiation - the invisable killer' and 'how toxic is your coffee' which I bought for Aisling. I wnt out one night to a gay bar with fernando called the Blue Boy which was a bit dissapointing really. It was really dark and although the music was good it wasn't all that. I had to queue with the men for the only toilet and after spotting the only other woman in there, on closer inspection I noticed she wasn't a lady at all!!
The market in China town is mental. I bought a small rucksack and haggled the bloke down from 45 to 30, I say haggle, he said 45 I said Hmm so he said 35, I said 30 and he went ok then. I should have gon for 20. I stayed in a wee hotl my first 2 nights as it wqas dark when I arrived and I walked the wrong way down the street my hostel was on. Went out for food and it was raining so hard the street flooded in about 5 mins so I stood at the door of the hotel and watched people falling over ehehe flip flops and rain and slippery pavements don't mix. An indian bloke started chatting to me and asking all the ordinary questions like where you from, where you been etc then after I said I'd been travelling with Aisling he said 'so what have you been doing for sex or are you a lesbian' hello like?? when we were waiting for a bus outside the batu caves a guy came up to us all, again indian, and asked questions then said I looked like diana... princess or someone he knew I wasn't sure then kissed the girls on the cheek and tried to snog the face of an american girl!! they seem to think if you're white you have loads of money and are easy, it's very weird and notvery nice. went out for veggie food that night at an indian resturant which was amazing!! They might not have many manners but they sure know how to cook. Went to the cinema to see District 9 with Aisling, Philip and Fernando which was great, bit odd like and I won't spoil it for yuo by telling you all about it.
Next day I headed off to get my plane to Krabi in Thailand which I will leave for next time.
I wrote that last bit a bit quick as I'm in bangkok now and yu have to put 10 baht coins in the computer to make it work and I've run out now LOL!!
so, until next time......xx