Thursday, 19 June 2008

Swimming with the fishes

We didn't sleep too well last night. Of course, the Balinese coffee
at 8pm in the evening might have had something to do with it. Or
perhaps it was the distressed sound of pigs being slaughtered at
intervals throughout the night. Suckling pig is the star meal on the
menu here. It's reserved for very special occasions - like the wedding
today and the Hindu full moon festival.

We've hired a traditional fishing boat a couple of times with our new
found friends, Rasmus and Katja. There's many different fishes to see
and it's very relaxing watching the coral and the aquatic life beneath
you. It's also a great opportunity to recreate a number of film
scenes. For example, Jaws - sneak up on each other and pull
someone's leg 'shark attack' style; Deep Water - when our boat had to
leave us for two minutes whilst the driver ran an errand (and others
haven't realised) ask - ' Where's the boat going?!!!!'; and Piranha -
stick the tasty bread which the fish eat down someone else's t-shirt.
The picture's taken from the boat - it's the flash that makes us look

There's a lot of dogs wandering around Padangbai. One was being very
territorial and quite aggressive. Seeing that it scared us, a young
five year old boy came down and kicked it! Being here also reminds us
of the early nineties - the music and the speed of the internet
connection. This blog is being written on a dial up connection so no
chance of any skype phonecalls or too many photos for a while.

This afternoon we're going to have a very long siesta as we're off to
climb a mountain tonight/ tomorrow morning. We leave here around
midnight tonight so that we can watch the sunrise from the top of the
Mt Agung volcano.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Greetings from Padangbai

Having escaped Kuta Beach (a tropical Gran Canaria) we are now in Padangbai – a small fishing village on the east coast of Bali.  We're staying at the Kembar Inn, a very comfortable place complete with fan to cool the room.  (On its maximum setting, the fan reminds us of the film 'Apocalypse Now'.

With almost three days under our belt, we're beginning to understand life here.  There's chickens running around, Bali-dogs run stray around the streets, and the sweltering midday heat is avoided by taking a lunchtime doze.  Whilst you can take the picture perfect beach shot here, if you pan back a little there is rubbish and poverty never far from sight.  Requests to buy sarongs, crafts or massages are now avoided by saying 'no' in Balinese or avoiding the middle of the beach. 

The evening is the best time in the village, as everyone stops work for the day and relaxes.  Local families wash and play in the sea, and people come to the beach to meditate.  Walking along the main street at night is very atmospheric; there's no street lights, just the light from the shops and homes.  You can catch a glimpse of families having their dinner and people enjoying themselves. 

The food is so tasty – stacks of fresh fruit and banana pancakes for breakfast, spicy fish curry for lunch then the world's best sandwiches in the evening.  All this washed down at regular intervals with fresh fruit smoothies/ juice blends or, later on, 'international standard' Bintang lager.

Beach life has led us to take up snorkelling.  There's a myriad of aquatic life to see.  However, some of the best things can be seen by watching the rock pools.  We idled away three hours today watching a baby eel, a poisonous but shy sea snake and a whole host of other 'things'.

Last night we went to our first full moon party at the Blue Lagoon Beach. Coming down the stairs I thought there was a CD playing, only to discover the local covers band -two guitarists, one on bongos and one on tambourine. They had Oasis down to a tee and their R.E.M. cover was not bad either.  James Blunt is very big here too.

Unlike the Bintang, internet connections are not yet 'international standard' here.  Expect infrequent posts for a while.  In addition, the internet cafe yesterday closed 3 hours early for a religious festival.  Visa is not accepted at the only cash machine in the village but our other cards should hopefully work.  Otherwise its a half hour trip by car  to the next cash machine - or we use some of our dollars which we got as presents – thanks work and John!

We might start planning what we're actually going to do here in Indonesia but we keep getting sidetracked -  chatting to other travellers, regular visitors full of information and locals.