A Travellerspoint blog

Ubud.....cooking and art exhibit

Awoke to the sound of cockerels and a blue sky. This is a lovely place and we have a huge room with rice terrace views with a day bed in the corner window area for an afternoon read. Breakfast is a light affair as the cooking class starts at 7:30 with a visit to the local market acompanied by
Chef Santika to purchase needed ingredients and to give us some insights into local customs:

some of the ingredients for offerings....

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Four other participants two Aussie mothers wiith their daughters joined us and on our return we had a welcome drink with the chef introducing the program and his philosophy of cooking. He has been cooking for his whole life in bali and abroad, with a view to cooking with fresh local ingredients. Today we are to learn some basic techniques as well how to make several dishes.

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The chef starts right in explaining the proper way of cooking rice which features at virtually every meal in Bali. First and foremost he implores us not to DROWN the rice but cook it with steam. Here it is prepared in atraditional manner but a rice steamer not cooker is a decent alternative.

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As well as explaining how to use the knive and the difference in slicing style between western and Balinese chefs..

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The first item is the Bambu Bali which serves as a base for many recepies. It is a multi spiced base paste which can then be used in soups, satays, sauces etc. Composed of some 15 ingredients ginger, shallots, chilis, turmeric etc....all of which must be sliced (yes with that serious looking knife) and then ground into a paste. The ulekan (grinding bowl) and mortar are made of volcanic rock > would have like to purchase one but quite heavy. This grinding business does need a serious effort...

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We the used this base for a soup .....Pulung Pulung Ayam to which were added minced chicken (more pounding/grinding)

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Then Satay Lilit Babi ...minced pork with some of the Bambu bali, lemongrass etc. >>> interesting method to for the miced pork on the stick..molding and spinning with both hands. We also made Tum Ayam spiced chicken parcels >>> the minced chicken is placed in a bannana leaf and folded into a parcel. Finally the chef made some Lak Lak >> tiny rice flour cakes cooked in a terracotta oven with fresh coconut and palm sugar for dessert >>> a very simple, light and tasty dessert.

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We consumed the meal which was in a word excellent , received our signed copy of the recepie book and well what else ....time for a siesta .

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Later that afternoon we were invited by the chef to accompany him to Ubud for the opening of an art exhibition at the Puri Lukisan Museum....

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........not quite sure what to except we signed up. Aside that it started too rain just as the speaker was introducing the artists at the ribbon breaking ceremony it was kind of a neat experience. The setting for the museum which is Bali's oldest and grounds are beautiful especially with night (and some rain) falling. the illumination and decorations as well the gamelan band playing in the background.

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Following a visit to the exhibition (traditional Balinese paintings) Chef Santika accompanied us to dinner with the other attendees

...and then home.....another great day !!

Posted by marcofisher 16:43 Comments (5)

Candidasa then Ubud revisited........Candidasa and onwards

Our last day in Candidasa was pretty relaxed, went for a bit of a walk to look at some gifts and lunch. The balance of the day was spent enjoying the pool and yours truly had a full body massage (not that full body...) ...it took 1 hour and cost 10 Cad.

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Then time for cocktails and a stroll to Vincent's > our blowout dinner spot. Very nice resto with both an interior section and a fair number of tables in a tropical garden setting. In the background there was some not bad blues, r&b and soul tunes set down by Jim Larkin and Band > originally from San Francisco and performing for over fourty years.

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The food was good, but certainly not exceptional ........I guess having a Euro menu and wine/spirits selection requires an uptick in price, still very reasonable by North American standards. In any event it was cool to see what looked like the local expat community out in force and to listen to some non balinese music.

...... and that's about it for Candidasa

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Next morning we filled up on breakfast as we had planned a run and gun type of day. Rather than making a simple transfer to Ubud we chose to make it a 1 way tour day, thus making the best use of our time.

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Wayan was right on time and we were off to the first attraction:

...the Pura Goa Loawah aka the Bat Cave Temple, was founded by a Hindu priest Mpu Kuturan, who was spreading the faith in Bali and established this temple in the 11th century. He apparently spent several nights here and found the sound of the bats to be hymn like, complementing the fragrance of the flowers of the surrounding trees adding to what was the a tranquil spot for meditation, as there is a black sand beach across from what now is a very busy coastline .

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...and of course the bats, hundreds of them .....no need to explore the cave !!!

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it is not an overly imposing temple but it is one of significant importance to the locals who frequent it as well as holidaying locals who stop here on their way to Candidasa and other towns in east Bali.

We lucked into a bit of a bonus here as there was a ceremony across the street from the temple on the beach .........a local village was present all dressed up conducting a sacred water ceremony > water used for the blessing of offerings etc. Holy water has to come from one of three sources: ocean, mountain, river there are of course somewhat complex guidelines as to which river (and part thereof) , mountain spring etc.

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Another curious aspect was the mix of old and new.......a drone circling the ceremony, recording the event for posterity:

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Next stop Klungkung or Seramapura as it is officially now known and the capital of the Klungkung Regency (Bali is divided into regencies similar to provinces).

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We are to visit the Klungkung Palace erected in the 17th century but largely destroyed by the Dutch conquest of Bali in 1908. The royalty and their followers confronted the Dutch in a suicidal attack which killed most of them including men, women and children ....a pupatan. Klungkung was considered the most important of the nine Balinese kingdoms from the 17th century until its demise....it was a well known center for its arts, painting music and dance. However tere are only a few remnants the main gate, palace of justice and a floating pavilion.....

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......another bonus event, as we came across a couple being photographed in their wedding garments.......they were quite happy for us to take a pic...

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Then about a 40 minute drive to Sukawati... site of an Art market. This did not live up to expectations, as we had hoped to buy a bunch of items of a reasonable quality. However, the market comprised a building stuffed with stalls selling almost the same tacky tourist items ...rather tedious with the ladies yelling at us to buy their wares. The asking prices were wild .......almost a factor of six times by the time one finished "bargaining" and even that number was probably high......but you have to keep it real >> at the end you are often dickering over less than a dollar. There were other stalls on the side streets and another "wholesale" type of market which opens very early in the morning.....so perhaps we didn't get to the right places...

Rather gruelling process so we left and drove on towards Ubud stopping at Sari Amerta Batik Collection...really a large shop ...with a few token working ladies demonstrating the batik process:

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This is similar to such ventures we visited in China....here the merchandise was of good quality and quite nice but not really of much use in Canada and relatively expensive. I think this geared more to Indonesians with cash in their pockets. No pics in the store...not allowed ...prevent stealing of designs??? in any event after a quick look around we moved on.

Then as we were passing the town of Mas (known for its carvers) Wayan suggested stop at a wood carving center....there were a few carvers there and a massive amount of items to buy. They carve in various wood: sandalwood and ebony being the high end with many other types matched to price points and purpose: crocodile tree, hibiscus, pine etc. It is interesting to compare our West Coast Native carvers against these fellows.....no contest > the degree of sophistication and skill puts our guys to shame, and at a fraction of the cost. In our normal way we dither and decide to defer. To be fair a nice piece of modest size would still be several hundred USD and would involve a fair bit of back and forth, even in this "store" setting. no pics left the camera in the car.

We pass on stopping at the silversmiths in the town of Celuk even though the products are of good quality and surprise, not too expensive (they will even produce to your design in a matter of a few hours). Then we arrive in Ubud and after a bit of searching find the Pesantian Villa and Warung. We are truly in the countryside, with rice fields surrounding us on all sides. We are met by the owner Chef Santika who welcomes us with a ginger/lime etc. concotion ...strage but refreshing......and after some freetime we (as the sole renters) have dinner prepared by the chef as evening falls on the countryside.....feels quite luxurious...private pool and chef...sort of!

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We both order Babi Kecap > braised pork with a sweet soy sauce, veggies and salad ..... the tastiest meal of the trip YUMMY!! More about this foody goody stuff tomorrow......tasty dreams.....

Posted by marcofisher 18:49 Comments (1)

Candidasa........some relaxing and some touristing

With three days left in Candidasa, we have decided on a quiet day with a leisurely breakfast, while enjoying the expansive views of the ocean and islets, from the hotel restaurant ......there is a reason folks pay top dollar for waterfront property......

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We then sally forth to check out the town....or at least part of it as Candidasa stretches for several kilometers along the coast. This is a pretty clean strip of shops, restos, dive shops and bars and the walk is enoyable:

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There is also a lagoon with several shrines and some retaurants along its side:

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.....and a temple on the other side of the road

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...the ocean is adjacent to the road, with little sandy pocket beaches from time to time....

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We have read there ia very good restaurant called Vincent's and after checking it out agree to go there for a last night "blowout"...

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The heat today has become extreme (around 38C) and we soon elect to return to the hotel and the safety of the pool.....

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Annie skips lunch and I opt for a salad and water. The rest of the day is rather lax, reading, culling pictures and staying submerged......the next big decision is dinner. We venture into town, really a rather short walk and get enticed by the ladies beckoning us to dine at the Warung Astawa.....this is now low season and competition is stiff for tourist dollars:

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Annie's chicken satay's arrive on the table complete with a mini charcoal grill....very cool indeed...

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My fish (they tell me it is marlin but I doubt it) is wonderful .....no doubt fresh "whatever", as the fishers are literally a 100 meters away.

Nice meal, nice evening and another day passes pleasantly!

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A sunny morning we fill up on breakfast and get excited about meeting our driver for the day tour we have planned. Wayan arrives on schedule and we head out for our first stop about 40 minutes away:

Pura Lempuyang close to the town of Amalapura is one of Bali's nine directional temples (responsible for the east). It is perched on a hillltop on the side of 1,058 meter Gunung (Mt.) Lempuyang. We pay our entry fee, don our sarongs and hire a guide, who brings along a stout staff to deal with any wayward monkeys along the way. There are 7 temples in all and you can visit them all, or only some.....

Temple #1....with a "non-view" of Mt.Agung

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......after the initial 150 steps to reach the 1 st temple you have a further 2 km to walk (or ojek > i.e a shared scooter ride) which is the start of the 1,700 step "staircase" that leads you to temple #2 and ultimately #7, the final temple. In retrospect we made an initial mistake and did not take the ojec ride, figuring the start of the "trail" was an easy walk......in fact, the 2 kilometers were uphill and though a pleasant walk through the "jungle", a protected forest, it is taxing in the 30C plus heat.

In any event, up we go.....electing to take the "short way" loop > which will take us to temples 3,4,5......probably it was just as well as the clouds were coming in and rain was almost a certainty at the higher elevation. We certainly sweated out last nights Bintangs and then some, but it was an interesting exercise with a fair number of locals heading to perform their ceremonies...

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Temple #3

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...and onwards to Temple #5

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On the way down we caught a glimpse of the last temple we had visited:

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...passed the guides parent's home and he told us a bit about himself and some of the local fauna and flora, including the tree and berries used for the manufacture of arak (local liquor often used for cocktails as it is clear, unsweetened, colorless > being unregulated it can also kill you.....although it is ok in normal tourist bars).

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All in all we spent almost 2 1/2hours heading up and down. A bit of an effort, but well worth it as you really gain an appreciation for the effort that went into building and maintaining these temples and the devotion of the Balinese. BTW we did not encounter any evil monkeys so the staff was not employed.

With the cloud cover we never got to have a clear of Mt. Agung catching onlya partial view when leaving the temple area:

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Next up is Amlapura, a town of some 200m souls and an interesting market, however we arrived too late for the action and as at most markets if its over there is no point in looking at the leftovers, so we carry on to the the next site....

Taman Ujung Palace, is situated to the southeast of Amlapura (almost on the oceanside). It was built in 1909 by the King of Amlapura as a relaxation and recreation palace. Largely destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Agung in 1963, and damaged in an earthquake in 1979, it has been largely restored. While not as imposing as the Tirta Gangga waterpalace (which we saw on the way to Amed), it is a beautiful place to visit and very serene.....it was a bonus that there were very few tourists to "disturb" us!

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After a litle over an hour we are back to the car and onwards to Virgin "white sand" Beach......we pay our fee and walk down a very rough dirt track to the beach. a truly lovely spot > a sandy beach wedged in between two headlands.....no garbage in or out of the water so it looked quite inviting. There were several warungs to ward of thirst and hunger plus souvenir stands, snorkel rental and of course loungers....

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Enjoyed our cokes and as we had no bathers/towels reluctanctly returned to the vehicle......there was another planned stop at a traditional village but we were starting to drag our tails and decided to call it a day......having left at 8:30 and returning at 15:30, we didn't want to overdo it, especially as we had seen another traditional village previously.

Missed pooltime as a stormfront came through (staff brought around umbrellas for all the guests...nice touch) and then we made our 2nd mistake of the day..... Note to selves: when tired stay and eat at the hotel.....instead we went out passed on a resto but for whatever reason, came back and of course had a totally mediocore meal arrgh!!!........anyways all in all a very good day.

Posted by marcofisher 05:39 Comments (4)

From Gili Air to Candidasa ....crossing the Lombok Strait

Another day, another island.... actually we are leaving the Gillis and returning to Bali. We have changed the plan a bit and rather than returning to Amed (from where we departed) are taking a longer water route to the port of Padang Bai and thence to Candidasa. Both towns are on the eastern coast of Bali.

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Having scouted out the various companies which provide ferry service we settle on Eka Jaya which claims to have the biggest, fastest, meanest fastboat in operation on this run....We met the rep who sold us our tickets and he accompanied us to the harbor ensuring we got properly checked in and safely aboard. Interestingly enough his boss checked twice to make sure all was ok...some of these dides run a tight ship. The harbor is an organized bedlam...as there aare 3 or 4 companies coming and going at the same time......so you have tourists, locals, hawkers, bicycles and horse carts all milling about.....all went according to plan with name, age, nationality, passport numbers entered into a manifest which the police require.....WHEW!!! Then we hung around and waited.....watching the goings on:

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......and chatting with our young escort.....desperately practising his English.......as a bye the bye, this really is a country where you need not have any linguistic ability.....everybody speaks English (although when they find out you are Canadian theys sometimes try their French) ,,,

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.....soon our boat arrives:

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Boarding is pretty straight forward, we opt for topside seating. This boat has a/c, flat screen tv's , 1500hp motors, with room for almost 300 passengers....oh yes, they are happy to peddle Bintangs in addition to soft drinks and water (BC Ferries take note !!).....last but not least you too can enjoy several hours of Indonesian techno. The writer has a rather poor taste in music but I must say I had enough after the 1st hour.

First stop is at Gili Meno > no dock, no beaching therefore launch from the shore and a "water" transfer:

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Next stop as announced by the 1st mate as Gili Party (Travagnan), this time we beach the boat.....and luggage is off/on loaded...you can really see why buying designer luggage is a waste of money:

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....some pics of the materials being offloaded and the mosque on this island:

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.......with thunder booming, we head off, luckily in the opposite direction to the incoming storm....flat seas, nice conditions for the run of about 1 hour to Padang Bai. We soon reach the Bali shoreline (some dolphins danced for us at one point) and the Captain slows for pictures of the shoreline and tiny cove beaches enroute to our destination......

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As luck would have it we managed to photo our hotel (orange roof right hand side of pic) from the boat...

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There is a pier at Padang Bai and the boat gently arrives as hordes of taxi drivers descend on us, the boat crew heaves the bags to the dock and everyone mills around. We get our bags, ward of the taxi drivers (they insist our shuttle ticket is no good, will take very long.....blal blah blah). As the only people off this boat going to Candidasa... we need to go to the Eka Jaya office, but the wait is only about 10 minutes and we are on our way. Half an hour later we arrive (boat trip + transfer all for the princely sum of 700m Rp = 70 Cad for us both) at the Gennegong Hotel....check in (btw passports are photgraphed via I-phone for dispatch to the local gendarmes) and our welcome drink awaits.....

Beautiful setting by the ocean and a 1 st class room....a friendly Ganesh welcomes us in the room....

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Annie can't help herself and gives him (it) a happy hug...

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Until the 1970's Candidasa was a sleepy fishing village then beachside losmen and warungs sprung up and it bacame the go to beach sensation. With growth came the need for building supplies and coral from the offshore reef was harvested to produce lime........by the late 1980's Candidasa became a beach resort with no beach. The mining was stopped in 1991, breakwaters built and slowly sand is coming back. It now appeals to a more mature crowd i.e. seniors .

Some pooltime, dinner at the Hotel ....too sunned out ( travelling for several hours topside in the searing sun does that to you) to go out for dinner and it is time to checkout the election news....actually CNN is on the screen. Good nite all.

Posted by marcofisher 03:36 Comments (2)

Gili Air .......four days of islanding in Lombok

Out for a quick peak at Mt. Agung:

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It has been a short stay in Amed, a few more days would have been fun as it has a good vibe.....another copious breakfast, settle up and after a little bit of a wait our shuttle to the harbor arrives. Lots of seeming confusion as today three boats or roughly 120 passengers are going to the Gilis, but in the end everyone is sorted out, porters grab the bags and hump them to the boats and we embark on our fastboat ....The Pacha Express.
This time we get a welcome speech and safety lesson by our "suave" dreadlocked 1st mate who is quick to charm the more attractive ladies, suggesting they join him in the honeymoon suite topside......only one taker an attractive Poilsh woman....

The 4 engines rev up as does the music and we settle into our captains chairs which even have cups of fresh water in cupholders, you would think we were flying.....

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......well we sort of are. As we enter open water the boat surges, and the water flies over the windows...now it is clear why they told us to close the windows when the water starts coming in, haha. Good ride, a little thumpy but not too rough and our first port of call is reached after about 45 minutes: Gili Travingnan known as the party island, where about 80% of the passengers are offloaded:

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.......we gain some who are returning to the mainland or joining us to go to Gili Air. Another 10-15 minutes and we land smoothly on a white sand beach and offload, this mens walking gingerly on the side of the boat while clinging to the handrail and then descending a swim ladder. Grabbing our bags we opt to drag our wheelies along the shore for about 10 minutes before finding the laneway to Senang Villa (Senang in Sasak means happy) where we will stay for 4 nights.

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Our poolside room is ready, sign-in and pay (first time this has happened) and get a cold, freshly prepared welcome fruit drink ....... cold and delicious!!

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The island has a neat feel about it > 3rd world meets flashpacker meets funky resort feeling....a road parrallels the beach, some concrete but mostly packed, or not so packed, sand with traffic limited to bicycles, pedestrians, the odd scooter and horse carts (everything imaginable is offloaded by hand from boats and then humped in by porters or horsecarts) .......

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Dive centers, beachside bars and restos are everywhere and the building boom is going strong on this island as well..........

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....back to the Senang Villa and some pooltime, before dressing for the requisite sunset viewing:

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....and dinner at Mowie's.....pretty indolent if we may say so!! Beanbags seem to have returned in all their glory !!

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Pretty decent first day !!!
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The villa is nice ...it is inland (about 150 meters) ....no view but quite pleasant ....super clean, good bed, medium wifi , pool and nice staff > incidentally all the staff are from the island of Lombok (technically the Gillis are part of Lombok > which is predominantly Muslim and are all young men.....the owner told us it is tough to find girls on Lombok Island (where most of the staff originate) who are outgoing and relatively well educated.

Breakfast is served on our patio...fresh juice, Balinese coffee, fruit plate with sweet yoghurt (enough for 2 people) and choice of eggs, pancakes or jaffers > then they come around and ask if you want more......even yours truly said thanks but no thanks.

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Suitably nourished we embark on a circumnavigation of the island......less impressive than it sounds, as it only takes about 1.5 hours ......some pics but battery died and the back up camera was of course safe and sound at the Villa:

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Annie with a large chunk of coral....wish we could bring back some specimens for an aquarium.....anyways I'm not sure if all this coral being around is ok or simply a function of the coral reefs being abused ????

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.......a rehydration break, you can buy a drink and sit/lie there for as long as you want:

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...then came across some ladies cleaning sea urchins....the tools of the trade are: a sharp knife to split the urchin, a practised thumb to extricate the critter and an empty water bottle to store them for subsequent sale......my smile had no effect on them ...the grumpiest persons we have seen to date:

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This is a young persons preserve and single guys should make a beeline here, lots of opportunity:

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.......yes the tan lines look ok:

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The water is remarkably clear with a beautifull cerulean color......saw small fish by the shoreline and a sea snake (species unkown) :

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Lunch was on the beach but rather mediocre and as the thunderheads were approaching:

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......we felt a siesta was in order so retreated to the Happy Villa....good move as shortly thereafter all hell broke loose, knocking out power, but within an hour all was good again, the sun out......btw no need to test the water at the pool here it is a natural hot tub !!

Doing laundry is pretty simple....and inexpensive > 2.50 Cad per kilo

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Dinner at a local warung ......Annie is on a lumpia kick > spring rolls, these were good but nothing to get excited about, and another day is done with time for seniors to be in bed. By the way, as per the various waiters, hawkers etc. we have new knicknames ....."papa" + "mama"...obviously elder tourists deserve a special name .... haha !

There is an exhibition of yoga at a nearby bar which we glance at before calling it a night........

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We wake up feeling good (although Annie still has a cold) ...... a beautiful sunny morning as we get ready for a snorkelling trip, With fins and goggles our party of 9 (in high season the boat would have 30 onboard) is escorted to the boat about a 7 minute walk and the crew of 3 sort out the boat and we are on our way,

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As usual there is a minimum of instruction about the boat, the equipment or for that matter anything other than, " stay together, follow me" once we are in the water. We haven't snorkelled for a long time so the intro was simple put gear on, jump in the water, good luck......we ended up at four sites, I did three and Annie two...at the last one the water was a bit creepy so we decided to give it a pass. Lots of fish, very colourfull, nothing large and some very nice coral in the Coral Garden and about five turtles of various sizes, two quite large (no pics as we don't have a Go Pro, although several people had them) as well as a large turtle on the surface, with beautiful coloration (apparently a turtle restoration program has given some good resuts).....

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.........we also stopped at a nearby island Gili Meno for lunch. The guide told us we could see some baby turtles > Judy take note:

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.........but it was also a come-on to go to this particular warung....... with a decided Jamaican theme:

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.......the nicer part of the island being in the opposite direction. Oh well, the food was ok, the turtles cute and the trip a success >200m Rp = Cad 20 for 5 hours + equipment + 2 botles of water:

After the trip it was high time for a siesta.....although we did muster some enegry to head down to the harbor towards nightfall...

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..... to sup on chicken burgers at Shark Bites...

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....not much left in the gas tank so time for some sweet dreams!!

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Our last day dawns sunny and hot !!! Today there is no major plan ...we want to check out the eastern side of the island which seems to have the nicest beaches, in the event we elect to return here in future years. We follow the main track which passes through some less developed parts of the island where there also some nice "resorts":

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......a local crepe salesman:

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.........and then divert to the beach....this is where the problem resides. In principle these islands possess charm and beauty.....the infrastructure is largely in place and the price is right. The hooker is the garbage, too often, the beaches are littered with refuse....in front of the bars/restos etc. it is cleaned up but if you want to walk along the beach, where it is less developed there is a lot of crap. Therein lies the dilemna and we remain undecided as to whether we would return..... at least to the beach areas,

Some of the sights enroute:

.........Local fishers on the northern point of the island....this guy has a seriously long pole ...
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..........some Muslim tourists from Lombok were having a good laugh after posing for a group selfie photo:

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......others were busy grilling some satays..

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The day is beautifull with a wonderfull onshore breeze....on the spur of the moment we decide to make this a very relaxing Bintang type of day, letting the sights come to us ........

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...a mini Komodo dragon:
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By mid-afternoon, we are back for some pooltime before venturing out for our final sunset.......our ticket for tomorrow's voyage is purchased, this time we are to travel on a larger vessel to the port of Padang Bai from where transport is allegedly in place to take us to Candidasa. Having had a very late lunch we pass on supper but take in the sunset:

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Posted by marcofisher 04:47 Comments (4)

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