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God, I'm Glad I'm Not Dead

Walking through the suburbs though not exactly lovers, You’re a couple, 'specially when your body’s doubled, Duplicate, then you wait for the next kuwait

sunny 34 °C

Gili What?!

Ubud -Tulamben – Lovina – Ubud - Padangbai – Gili Trawangan – Ubud

So I had planned to move on from Ubud, but the place kept a firm grasp and wouldn’t let me go for another few days. While I whittled the time away reading, having possibly the best massage I’ve ever had and generally relaxing with some awesome people I had met from my bike tour, including Katie and Kelly.

I wanted to head up to Tulamben which is where a US cargo wreck is – I had read about it, but also Chaz had recommended it to me as he and Fiona had been snorkelling there just a few weeks before on their honeymoon. The one way bus up to Tulamben cost 120,000R, whereas renting a scooter for 3 days was only 130,000R – so I packed my small bag with a couple of days’ worth of clothes and set off on a moped to Tulamben.

The journey took me south from Ubud to the coast and then swang all the way round to the north east of the island. The ride was fantastic; stunning scenery – the beaches, the locals, the rice fields. I arrived up in Tulamben around lunch time and settled for lunch in a 5star resort with an infinity pool. I zipped around looking for the cheapest place to stay (with a package for diving as well) and it turned out the cheapest place was right on the beach and closest to the US Cargo wreck.

View from a Bridge on my drive

Waves crash over the black sands on the East coast

Rice Terraces (yes more of them)

There was no chance I could afford to stay here, but the food was pretty reasonable

The USAT Liberty Glo was an American armed cargo ship which was torpedoed by the Japanese during WWII (1942 to be exact) the ship was rescued and towed towards Bali by a Dutch destroyer. The ship was beached at Tulamben and sat on the coast until Gunung Agung (Bali’s active volcano) erupted in 1963 which split the ship in two and it sank just 20 metres from the beach. The currents off the north coast bring fantastic nutrients to the sea life and therefore it is one of Indonesia’s most beautiful artificial reefs.

It didn’t take me long to grab a snorkel, mask and fins and jump in with my camera to check it out. Visibility was about 12 metres so I could see part of the wreck very clearly – but what fascinated me was the huge school of Jackfish which had created an awesome tornado in their masses. I was happily snapping away with the underwater camera when suddenly the screen did this nightmarish flashing and jilted view. I swam back to the shore and pulled the battery out – turns out a tiny bit of water had leaked in, I took it all apart and left it to dry for the day before shooting off back out to sea.

Swarm of Jack fish, with divers below - possibly the last ever photo my camera took

There wasn’t too much happening in the area during the evening so I jumped on the scooter and went 10K down the road to Amed. “Amed” is made up of 4 different beach areas all with their own name, the first being Amed – however the name is slowly becoming the name for the whole area here. It was such a shame that I didn’t have my camera because there were some fantastic views, plus I had some beautiful dinner down by the shore line while watching night divers torch lights under the sea.

The next day I was up at 6am for the dive – I had requested an early start as there is more chance of seeing Mola Mola (Ocean Sun Fish) and also having the wreck to myself (I had noticed it was crowded with divers during the afternoon). It was still dark as I was kitted out with good quality Aqualung gear, and as we headed down to the beach; it had already started to get light. We got in to the water and sorted our fins and masks out (my first ever shore dive) before slowly descending down following the sand line as it sloped down to the wreck.

First thing we spotted were two Mola Mola’s – these things are so weird looking, I had to squint with my eyes to work out what they were, they looked like turtles swimming on their sides they’re so big. Next thing my buddy is tapping me and pointing upwards (we were at a depth of roughly 20 metres) and I saw 7-8 huge Bat Fish. These things are so menace looking as they swim – just gliding through the water, and as they were above us (only 2-3 metres) I couldn’t help but think I was looking up at the sky and seeing blimps flying overhead.

The dive was good and we did a number of small swim-through’s of the wreck itself. After 40 minutes or so we surfaced and swam back to the beach – we had an hours rest while I grabbed some breakfast (banana pancake) and then we kitted ourselves back up and took another dive. The second dive was slightly more crowded with other divers, but we had a long swim through of the wreck which was cool and got too see a number of blue spotted rays and Marbled Stingrays swimming on the bottom. My guide also pointed out some pigmy seahorses, but I struggled to see them without a prescription mask. We also got to see some wicked Garden Eels; I had seen them on a documentary before, but seeing them all sticking out of the sand (like a harvest) with their backs curved and mouths pointing out in front catching minerals in the water was awesome.

The diving had been good fun, but I was ready to leave Tulamben – there simply isn’t anything else to do here apart from check the shipwreck out. So I jumped on the scooter and headed east on the main road which hugs the coast line – again some fantastic views and stopped at a temple. I arrived in Lovina early afternoon which is a quiet, scenic beach resort – slightly more busy than the area of Amed but with more of a community feel to it.

I relaxed on the black sand and chatted with a number of the locals who explained how the large hotel resorts were crippling local beach towns like Lovina. With all these 5 star all inclusive packages no one comes down to the public beach or eats from the locals anymore. I decided it was time to check on the camera, so I put everything back together – but got nothing but a red flashing from the battery pack. Didn’t look good, but thankfully I still had the SD card with all the photo’s on so that’s what really matters. It also helped that at the time I was still reading Bravo Two Zero and Andy McNab was being tortured – all of a sudden a broken camera seemed pretty insignificant.

Didn’t find too much to do in Lovina at night, and with the fact that I had to be up at 7am the next day I had an early night. At 6:45am I was woken up by the captain of the boat, smashed some clothes on and we headed down to the beach. The day before I had booked up to go on a dolphin spotting tour, apparently it’s “the” thing to do in Lovina. The boats are small catamarans, very narrow with a small plank of wood for a seat – I was sharing the boat with two Chinese guys who kindly lent me their camera (but using my SD memory card) so I could snap the beautiful sunrise and (hopefully) some dolphins.


Fantastic sunrise over Bali

Try and guess who is more excited about seeing Dolphins - me or the captain?

We zipped out to sea, but instead of finding dolphins we found around 50 other boats doing the exact same thing as us. What ensued was a lot of staring at water and chasing dolphins – it wasn’t the best thing in the world, but we did get to see a few! Once the tour was over I jumped back on the scooter and made my way directly south to Denpensar (the capital of Bali) to see if I could buy a new camera. The drive took me up, over and round G Lesong (Volcano 1860m), G Pohon (Volcano 2276m), they were crazy roads, but the scenery was absolutely fantastic – how happy I was that I didn’t have a camera (Gutting).

This was the view we got pretty much the whole time

But wait - there's a dolphin?! Where? Ah missed it.

I finally made my way into the busy capital and found a brilliant market type building loaded with electronics. I spent a good few hours going through the different cameras on offer – unfortunately they didn’t have a waterproof version of the camera I wanted, so I settled for another Sony which isn’t half as good as my old one.

I zipped my way back to Ubud for another massage and to see Becky and Susan again. It was the start of the Readers and Writers festival and seeing as Becky was volunteering we got to meet lots of other Writers – it was interesting to say the least. The next day I caught a bus down to Padangbai – a small beach/ferry port. My boat to Gili Trawangan was booked for the next morning so I relaxed in the sleepy town of Padangbai – not too much going on!

Dinner with Becky's writer friends - anyone want to chat? Nah didn't think so.

Padangbai - Blue Lagoon beach

Some pretty amusing smoothies; "Drink Never Again : Carrot, Apple, Watercress and a shot of Vodka - Cure your hangover and best for back your stamina"

Up early again for the boat ride, I’d heard a few horror stories about the boats to the Gili Islands so I was a little apprehensive. Thankfully the minute I put my headphones on I passed out and didn’t wake until we got to Lombok (first stop before the Gili’s). While waiting for our bags to get off the boat I met Alastair and Robin, who had just met each other on the boat – they were up for sharing a room so I got involved. Alastair was an English guy on a few weeks holiday and Robin was an 18 year old German just finishing off his travels. We got a dirt cheap pad and then had a look round the island.

The owner of our first bungalow - needless to say he was trying to sell us drugs

The Gili’s consist of three islands – Gili Trawangan (or Gili T to the uncultured), Gili Meno and Gili Air. Gili T (see what I mean?) is the largest of the three islands and is the only one of the three islands with an ATM, the other two are slightly smaller and have very basic amenities. You can walk around Gili T in about an hour and a half, and generally has a mix of 5 star resorts and cheap fan rooms. The beaches are simply stunning and the water has unbelievably good visibility – making it a snorkelers/divers paradise. There are no mopeds or cars on the island, so you ride on a bike or catch a lift from a horse and cart.

Alastair and I had decided we’d prefer to be closer to the beach and in a slightly nicer place, so we found a place opposite the turtle hatchery which was big enough for both of us and at the right price. We booked it up, ready to move in the following day and then hit the beach to relax. This place was stunning – and so were all the bikini’s; my appreciation for Louis Reard went through the roof.

That night Alastair and I went out to check the nightlife and met Victor a Dutch guy traveling on his own and a number of other people some of us had previously met. The night turned very mess, to say the least. I blame Victor for introducing us to “Vodka Joss” basically a shot of Vodka with a sachet of red bull powder – you’re supposed to pour the sachet in your mouth and then take the shot, give it a shake in the mouth and down it goes.

Victor with a couple of Vodka Joss's

Alastair and I moved in to our new spot the next day and had a gander at the Turtle hatchery – tiny baby turtles held in 3 tanks until they’re six months old and then released into the sea. “Cute” is an understatement. We then relaxed on the beach and followed the same pattern as before; relax on the beach and then go out in the evening, meeting more and more people and doing more and more Vodka Joss.

My little mates - every night on my way home I'd go and have a little chat "Hey Bob, where's Sally tonight?"

Chilling on the beach with my Pussy (oh yes I did)

This guy pushes his bike around the whole island with the most annoying ice cream tune blaring out. He loved stopping infront of me

One of the days we bumped into Helena who Victor had met while on Nusa Lembongan – an absolutely cracking English lady. We also managed to pick up Louisa a French girl who while on the beach confessed to Alastair and I (taking into account we had only just met her) that “my brother chucked my pet tortoise out the window and then he strangled our dog”. We knew we’d get on well. Also the French guys along with Mark the Italian from Barcelona got involved and soon we were becoming a big group of people, always meeting at Sama Sama (Reggie bar) at 7:30pm each night.

Victor, Alastair and I on Alastair's last night; great lads

My whole Gili T experience is a bit of a dream to be honest. When you’re on a paradise island surrounded by wonderful, beautiful friends all other thoughts go out the window. However, we watched the England France Rugby game which was a huge disappointment; not only because we lost but because I was sat next to Louisa shouting “YOU ARE RUBBISH!” One day I walked round the island (on my own – needed some “Alan Time”) – which is absolutely beautiful, did some snorkelling around and then passed out at a 5 star resort on the beach for two hours.

Horse and Cart pave the way along the coast line

Straight from the holiday brochure

Where I passed out for a couple of hours - in the background you can see the tree house I chilled at with the other guys a few days later

Sunset - what a stunner

Louisa, Chaby, Mark, Daniel, Remy, Helena and I - smiles all round

"Where's Louisa gone?", then we turn round and there she is dancing on the bar - Scandalous!

We also went on a snorkelling trip; Louisa, the French and Italian and I got on a glass bottom boat ride which needless to say was absolutely hilarious. We met James (South African) and Jason (Canadian), and the infamous “Canadian Girls”. These girls were absolutely stunning girls in their bikinis (fake boobs – apparently – I wasn’t looking ;) ), turning up for a snorkelling trip wearing waterproof makeup, but more on them later.

We had a couple of stops to jump off the boat and do some snorkelling, the first of which just off Gili T. The visibility was cracking and there were a number of different smaller fish I hadn’t seen before, once we were all back on board we were taken to Turtle Point which is just off Gili Meno. We were quite far off Gili Meno, and the depth went down to about 20 metres or so. Our guide had joined us in the water and directed us to stay by him as he’d point out the turtles. At one point we all stopped and he asked if we had all seen the turtle at the bottom, of which some of us hadn’t. So he says “Watch, I’ll point at him” and then he descends, free diving, down to 20 metres and sits at the bottom, looks up, waves and then points at the huge turtle. He then casually resurfaces and we swim on; I’d heard about free diving, but to see it like that was absolutely staggering. We then got closer to Gili Meno and the depth had raised to about 12 metres when we spotted another turtle. This one was fantastic, we could free dive right down to him and watch in awe as he chomped away at the coral.

Oh My God - Louisa driving the boat, look at the fear in everyone elses faces

The boat had followed us and we were all ready to get back on board; the others jumped on and I, gentlemanly like, allowed the Canadian girls to climb the ladder before me. It was then that one of the girls turned to her friend and in her annoying Canadian accent stated excitedly “OH MY GOD! DID YOU SEE ME?! I WAS SWIMMING WITH THE TURTLE! DID YOU SEE ME AND THE TURTLE?! OH MY GOD!” To which I burst in to tears of laughter. It was such a self-centred statement to make, not “Wow I can’t believe we got to see a turtle”, so my reaction was just to laugh my head off. We got back to the front of the boat where the others were – I don’t think the Canadian girls knew what I was laughing about – but Mark looked up at me confused, and I couldn’t help but explain to everyone what I had just heard – in front of this girl. Thankfully she was slightly ditsy, so I didn’t get a slap.

The boat carried on round to Gili Air, where we had our last stop - a fantastic coastal snorkel spot which we swam the length of staring away at the fish. We then got off at Gili Air and had lunch next to the beach – I had huge food-envy of James’s BBQ’d fish (he was the winner that day). We got back to Gili T around mid-afternoon and I collapsed until the standard 7:30 Sama Sama meet up; where we all explained to the others about “OH MY GOD, DID YOU SEE ME?!” which soon became the groups catch phrase.

Walking on Gili Air, looking at the view of Lombok

James BBQ'd fish

Diver Crossing

Fun on the beach - Louisa's new food friend

Trying my best not to let Daniel put all us men to shame

Nikki reads out recommended sex positions from a magazine while I act them out - there is a video of this somewhere...?

Absolutely love this stupid nutter

Full Moon party - crazy bunch

"Everyone pull your ugly face" - I found this easier than I first thought.

A few days later the guys went for a walk around the island, I didn’t join as I had already done the walk and also because I wanted to write my blog. So I arranged the night before to meet them at the 5 star resort I had been to – as it had fantastic tree houses looking out to sea. I grabbed my netbook and headed down to a café which has free wifi; it was here that I spotted Katie chilling on a bean bag and Kelly sunny herself down on the beach – the two girls from my bike tour in Ubud. Therefore all of a sudden it was Bintang (local beer) o’clock, we caught up and Katie used my netbook to Facebook rape me (which I didn’t find out about until 3-4 days later).

3pm came so the girls joined me down to the 5 star resort to meet the others; the tree house was awesome but incredibly windy. We chilled up there while the guys had some food and we got through a couple of buckets of Bintang. People slowly started to filter off, leaving James, Louisa and I and a few Bintangs chilling and laughing away. It was then that we heard a couple of girls down below, so we called them up and they turned out to be a couple of mental Welsh girls; Kim and Becks. A few Bintang buckets later and a boozy cycle back home to grab a shower and we’re all meeting up at Sama Sama at 7:30, again.

The guys with their lunch in the tree house

Remy kindly covering Katie from the wind so she can light a fag

The market - this lady is a legend!

Louisa and Katie on the table yet again

Oh no you didn't! Katie passes the Vodka Joss around

The weekend was soon upon us, so it was rugby time, and seeing as we had the Welsh girls shouting at the French for the past two days “You’re going home boyos!” it was set up to be a good day. I’ve never been a huge rugby fan, but my mate Steve did take me to my first rugby game back in November last year; Wales vs New Zealand at the Millennium stadium (Cardiff) on the condition that from that day on I was a Welsh fan. So I was well into it giving all the gip to the French; we were all set up in the Irish bar and it was a fantastic game – although not quite sure how you can elbow a player in the face during a tackle, getting sent off, and then you can punch someone in the face and not even get a yellow. Anyway, Wales was robbed (The French were sweating) but can hold their heads up as Wales played incredibly well. I was off the booze, so the complete opposite to Kim and Becks – that night was more than likely the best night out as it was the French and Marks last evening so we hit it pretty hard. Thanks to some smashing people I had a huge smile on my face all night.

Intensely watching the rugby

All the gang meeting yet more new people

James and Nikki, getting rather friendly

Seriously awesome people

Kim and I celebrating just how great Wales were

Next day was a bit of a blur in my hungover state, but more rugby watching (absolutely brutal game NZ vs Aus – Kim and Becks shouting “You’re going home in 4th Australia!”) and chilling on the beach before passing out in the cinema watching Hangover 2 (again). We were all parting ways, and although it’s always a sad thing, it’s the amazing memories, laughs and smiles I’ll take away with me.

Yesterday, myself and James got the boat back to Padangbai and then caught a bus up to Ubud where we caught up with Nikki (another one of the gang). We had a nice chilled out evening in the Shisha Lounge listening to some wicked live music and then had an early night. Today Helana arrives in Ubud so hopefully we’ll get to catch up, before I have my flight to Sydney at 10pm this evening.

Dara cooks up my last banana pancake in Gili

And me with the finished article

It’s been pretty emotional, and Australia seems incredibly daunting at the moment but can’t wait to catch up with Daren and Jen (old housemates who now have a baby) and of course Leigh and Sharnee in Melbourne. I’m ready, are you?

Posted by Atregidgo 22:35 Archived in Indonesia

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Another gem, Alan - not sure when you get time to put them together given your Bintang commitments.

Can't wait to read what you make of Oz.

by swetrat

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