Monday, 24 May 2010

We got our own private cab from ubud to lovina. He took us into the mountains where we could see the rice paddies and also views across the island to the volcano. My camera was still being slightly temperamental from the rain in Ubud. You can take photos on it, but cant turn the flash on or zoom in. Visiblity on was limited all day anyway due to the rain. It was drizzling much of the day. The cab pulled into the drive of the Billibo Beach Cottages. Unsurprisingly (as the rain began again) it was low season so we were the only people staying in the place - also meaning the cafe wasnt open so we had to walk half an hour into town. On the plus side, the cottages were only about 10 metres from the black sands of the beach. On the negetive side, because of the rains, the many rivers that ran into the sea had filled it with debris that had now washed up on shore - light bulbs and underwear to name a few of the items. As we settled in, the storm continued into the evening and pelted the resort. Thunder lightening, the whole shebang. It calmed down around 8ish enough for us to find a cheap restaraunt that did dinner.

In Lovina for 4 days, and the last 2 it didnt rain as much as in ubud and kuta. One of the staff said it was now turning into the dry season so the rains were easing off. Just in tiem for us to go dolphin watching. The tiny longboat picked us up from the beach at 6am, and together with what seem like much of Bali, made our way out a mile from the shore to see the hundreds of dolphins do their daily swim around the island. The boats of sunburtn westerners sat in large clusters, until movement was spotted on the surface of the water. All the boats charged into life and stalked the group of dolphins until they disappeared again. It went on like this for about half an hour and saw a few dolphin jumps, before the boat went back in.

I also tried my hand at Balinese cooking. I signed up for a cooking course, learnt all about the healing effects of various plants and herbs (more stuff for my mum to add to the shopping listr when i try my hand at cooking back at home), and also learnt how the make chicken satay sticks, snapper satay sticks, banana and palm sugar desert, and a coconut, chilli and water spinach concotion which all went down surprisingly well.

As our time in Lovina came to an end, we decided to try our hand as swimming in the, previously ominously opaque sea. A few days of little rain meant the waters were now crystal. This and with no waves whatsoever, it was like swimming in glass - with a perfect reflection of the sky above. First thing in the morning we left Lovina and headed back into Kuta where we would catch our plane, bright an early at 3am for Kuala Lumpur.

We arrived in Kuala Lumpur and tracked down a bus that took us into china town. After settling in, armed with my ipod and a map i began my usual wander around this new place. Walked to little india, through china town again (taking note of the locations all the 24 hour fast food eateries) before making my way over to the petronas towers where I would meet Terence, a friend from Nottingham. Leaving the KLCC LRT station, the towers loomed directly above me - some of the finest piece of architecture I have ever seen. I wandered through the parks and round the lakes at the foot of the towers, before meeting terence at the entrance to the tube station. He took me to one of the hawker stalls a short monorail ride away -then we moved across the street and ate in another hawker stall. Monorail back the KL, he showed me his flat then we ate in another hawker stall before taking the obligatory arty photos in front of the illuminated Petronas Towers. As it got late, We said our goodbyes and I made my way back to china town.

Next day, we visited colonial square. A random but much appreictaed square of grass in the middle of the city, surrounded by low, fake tudor houses. There were speakers and flags advertsigin 'colours of 1 malaysia 2010' everywhere and the view from groundlevel of KL skyline, looked as artificial as Las Vegas with its replicas of the pyramids, new york and the eiffel tower side by side. In the forgeround stood an ornate almost indian style, arched colonade that spanned the length of the square. A clock tower stood in the middle of this. Behind the clock tower, tudor houses and further back stood the business district with the telecoms tower, and the large neon signs of all the banks. I planned on coming back at night to take some photos of the illuminated skyline.

As it started getting dark I made my way back to the square to see what wasa going on. There was a band on the stage playing some 'local' music and throwing peace signs everywhere, tented stalls surrounded the square, and a whole load of seating had been set up opposite the large clock tower. As people started to slowly file into these seats, i thought i too would take my chance. After all the worst they could say was 'you have no ticket now leave'. So with that i filed in and claimed a front row seat to what ever was going on that night. As it turned out, 'colours of 1 Malaysia' was a celebration of the ethnic diversites of Malaysia. It was consist of a 2 hour parade made up of over 5,500 people dnacing in costumes representing different aspects of Malaysia - well worth leaving the hostel for. The ministry of tourism arrived at the beginning and worked her way down the front row shaking the hands of obviously foreign looking visitors. Obviously I looked foreign enough as she approached me and asked where i was from - remarking that next week she is visiting the chelsea flower shower - as you do. Marth stewart showed up soon after that (obviously) followed by the Malaysian king and queen. After 20 mins of tedious speeches, spoken in a series of languages none of which i understood, the dancves ran in and took their places. The event was began with fireowrks shooting from the colonades oand the top of the clocktowers. The dancers were all amateur from local schools and universities - all wearing costumes local to different parts of malaysia. It was a rush of colour and fantastic music - which sods law, my camera decided it no longer like to take videos that night so the random Mumbai woman next to me said she would email me whatever photos and videos she took. Dance were dedicated to the Chinese population, India, natives, to the homestay schemes, to the beachs of malaysia - complete with dancing fish, and also food - complete with kids dressed as bananas. Tribal dances celebrated the rainforest regions of Borneo. It was a mass of peacock feathers, waving fabric, bells, fur, make up, and tassles. The entire evening the audience was leant as far over as they can, understandbaly to get photos of the event. All the dancers were smiling and obviously happy, and the atmoshphere was electric - one of the best nights I have had so far during the last few months. As the parade came to an end, all 5,500 dancers gathered in front of the audience and broke the guniess world record for the largest synchornised dance routine. After further fireworks, sped up dance routines, more flashes of colour ans strobes, confetti and streamers raining down on the audience and dancers alike, and fireworks sprinting away from every building around the square, the parade came to an end. The audience were then given a go. The dancers went amongst the seating and dragged westerners down onto the parade ground and taught them to dance the native dance. With 5 12 year old grabbing my t shirt, who was I to disappoint - I danced the Malaysia can-can with the best of em. They danced around the westerners, involved them in line dances, and refused to let me leave te bundle. I just stayed and danced with the dragons and lions a bit more, before FINALLY managing to escape. Its easy to see why the Malaysians are said to be one of the most friendly nations in the world. I had a smile on my face the rest of the night, and much of the following day - that was until we really got stuck into the shopping buying shorts i dont need, t shirts i dont need, and a wallet which i dont need (but equally is a very nice wallet). After a day or so more in KL we left. Despite the fact our hotel was also a brothel (with small groups of foreign woman outside, asking passers by for massages - and then seeing those same passers by being accompanied by those foriegn woman into the hotel - normally the room next door to us...... and then us being made fully aware just how thin the walls in this hotel were) we were saw to leave KL. Our next destination was Penang. We would stay in Georgetown for 3 days before heading to the Perhentian islands on the east coast. Unfortunately we couldnt go to langkawi which other travellers have been raving about because of the recently starting monsoons. But hopefully the perhentian islands will be just as good.

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