The sun rose over Bali that morning, and with it, big hopes of blue skies, white beaches and turquoise waters. Instead of sunbathing though I decided to have a wander round, see if theres more to Kuta than 24 hour fast food places and clubs that seem to pump out the same mix of heavy R'n'B followed by repeated renditions of black eyed peas 'I gotta feeling'. Unfortunately Kuta has very little more than that, though thats not to say one still cant find ways to fill the day. Away from the main roads, the 2 main tourist roads are poppies 1 and poppies 2. These and most of the other roads in bali are very narrow and are filled mostly with bikes ridden by over confident (and more than likely pissed) westerners wearing ridiculous novelty helmets. However, outside many of the shops, the streets are littered with offerings that the locals have made to the gods - these normally consist of small palm leaf baskets filled with odds and ends of food, flowers and incense sticks. Its a strange touch of religion amongst the hundreds of souvenier shops selling amongst other things, big wooden penis' (that have a bottle opener on one end), and t shirts which feature either well known brand names slightly adjusted to spell the words 'pussy' or 'fuck', or else describing some chauvanistic activity which a woman must do to 'serve' the man. Either way, few things sold in these shops one would feel comfortable displaying in the UK alone, let alone on the reserved and high class streets of edgware.
Anyhoo, i diverge. I walked up the beach, and took some photos just as the storm clouds rolled in. Unknown to us at the time, Bali would be the wettest and stormiest location yet on our travels. That night we ended up drinking heavily, hunting down happy hours bars which lined the streets of kuta. After spending an amount of money i still havent quite had the nerve to work out, we headed for home. It was around 2ish, everything was obviously shut and few of the streets had street lights. Me Alec and Emily al got seperated and whilst emily found her way back, me and alec (mainly me) got hopelessly lost walking the same road 4 times trying to find the turning. To cut the story short, i found it and went to bed, end of night. Done :D.
Next day none of us really felt up to much. It was a first of many beach days. We suncreamed up, got loungers and that was us for the day. Kuta boasts some of the best surfing waves this side of the world. The waves were higher than i have ever seen, but few were decent enough to surf on (in my humble yet very valid opinion). We waded out to the sea and let the waves simply rise us and drop us. Occasionally when a big waves came it broke over and on top of us but normally we just dived under those to stop us.....well... being drowned. Time went by fairly quickly as we rode the waves and we didnt even notice when it started raining. The day after went similar, except it was raining from the word go. It rained througout the day (didnt stop people claiming sun loungers and swimming in the sea), and we spent more valuable hours in the sea.
The time to leave the hedonistic paradise that was Kuta, had arrived. We were heading up to Ubud, which was in land and was aparently 'the real Bali'. I felt slightly relieved to be leaving Kuta, as the temptation for all the western food was very quickly becoming too much - and i didnt travel for christ knows how long on a plane and spend however much it was on tickets,, just to wake up to a mcdonalds cheese burger for lunch, shopping in marks and spencers and topman (yes those are here also) to waste the time before a pizza hut dinner.
Ubud was very much like luang probang in laos. None of the buildings were over 2 floors and many had thatched roofs. Many of the hostels were simply home stays and focussed around stunning green gardens filled with fountains and statues that made each one look like a shrine of some sort. We settled into the peaceful town and once again, i went for a wander. I found a lot of K marts (balis version of the 7/11) but no mcdonalds which I was slightly relieved for. We walked around the market, past shops selling hand carved bowels, wire elephants, every sort of necklace and bracelet, and more infamous wooden penis' - these ones were on keyrings and didnt even open bottles (shock). Ubud is apparently the art centre of Bali. Every other shop was an art gallery. Although most shops sold similar paintings, there were a few i picked out for when i am a big successful planner, which would sit happily in my central london apartment :D :D.
We went to the monkey forest, which is Balis biggest monkey reserve. We wandered around just as it started to rain, and rain, and pour. It had been raining and storming most aftenoons in Bali, but normally we were either on a beach or indoors. We were now fully equipped with bags and cameras walking through something similar to a rainforest. Emily went back taking much of our valuables with her, leaving me and Alec to see some of the most stunning tropical scenery to date. Vines hung low into the narrow valleys as rivers sped by below. Paths were built into the hillside so people and momkeys alike could wander round the area, but as the rain continued sheets of water poured everywhere. With the help of our map (the remains of) we found the main temple up a flight of stairs that looked more like a water feature at this point. The thick green canopoy did nothing to shield the rain and inches of water washed down the hills over our feet. We evevn got to see a group of monkeys who took advantage of the fact the guard was taking cover, to break open one of the banana cages and steel the contents.
We are heading to Lovina next, on the north of the island. Its got black sand, doplphin watching and diving. Its meant to be quiet and relaxing, a far cry from Kuta. Lets hope we dont bring the weather with us...