A Scary Boat Ride and The Gili Islands

It’s a lovely morning in central Bali and we’re waiting on a busy street near a market for a lift. It’s only 7am and already it’s hot and humid. After a painstaking long wait and almost giving up hope of anything coming, suddenly we’re sat in a cramped van on our way to the east coast of Bali. The reason for the early start is to reach our next destination, the Gili Islands.


An hour later and once peeled from our sweaty seats we found ourselves in the chaotic port of Padang Bai. People and luggage were everywhere, and coming at us from all angles. Our passports were hurriedly checked and our rucksacks chucked onto a sorrowful looking trolley. We said to ourselves that no matter what we should follow those bags – the majority of our worldly possessions were in there after all.


We watched the bags be taken out onto a rickety old pier and tossed into the front of a boat. One of the guys apparently in charge signalled that we could jump on too and we were soon balanced on some suspect planks making our way on.


The next 2 hours we had a boat ride to remember. We had been told the route from Bali to the Gili Islands is well known to be rough and that was certainly correct. The ‘captain’ looked far too casual throughout, while monster waves battered the boat, rocking it uncontrollably at times. However the journey was worthwhile when we arrived into our home for the next week, Gili Air.


The island has a completely different feel to Bali itself. There are no motorised vehicles allowed, so pushbikes and horse are the main modes of transport, this simple fact really shapes the place. There are no roads, just sandy gravel tracks and it’s super quiet without the constant noise of scooter engines and horns. Pure bliss in our eyes. 


Our time on the island was completely loose, most days consisted of relaxing down the beach, taking a swim and then going for lunch. Drinking a coconut or searching for sea shells were regular activities. Catching a boat to the neighbouring island of Gili Meno was about as taxing as it got. 


Our accommodation was a small bamboo hut, which we fell in love with and found completely relaxing. It was like climbing into a treehouse each night. On top of this the locals were all so welcoming and we felt humbled to be in their presence. 


We really were lucky to experience the Gili Islands, a tropical paradise, not only in the way they look but also in the way they make you feel. Well worth the journey for sure.


 

Awesome Ubud

After our introduction to Bali via Canggu it was great to move inland and experience something completely different.

Ubud was our next stop, and what a next stop it was.


We were living within a family community during our time there. This gave a real insight into the lives of the Balinese, which was amazing. They are such happy and welcoming people. They are very resourceful and are able to fashion something useful out of what looks like nothing.


The rest of our time in this area was spent exploring temples, rice fields and the surrounding landscape.


A highlight was a visit to the Monkey Forest. Certainly an appropriate name, with more monkeys than people at times. It was amazing to watch these monkeys up close, their human like mannerisms were uncanny.  We were amazed by how twitchy the monkeys were and the speed with which they could move.  Thankfully we escaped without any monkeys jumping on us or biting us unlike some people.


Edd did exceptionally well driving on a scooter through the crazy lanes of Ubud, thankfully I just had to cling on the back and direct.  This was where I decided to try a scooter for the first time and we found an abandoned building site.  After Edd’s thorough explanation of how to use the scooter it was my turn.  All seemed to be going well until I tried to turn round the corner, the more I turned the faster the bike seemed to go.  I decided it was time to abort and jumped off the bike, thankfully just bruising my leg a little. 


Ubud Market was a chaotic plethora of stalls and people. Everything imaginable was being sold here and it was great fun bartering with the locals in order to buy things.  Looking back I wish we had bought a few more cheap goods here.


It was here that when driving along the lanes we first saw rice being dried on massive tarpaulins on the side of the road in the sunshine, quite a memory.


We thoroughly enjoyed our crazy time in Ubud, feeling like we had gained a real insight into the traditional Balinese way of life.  Next stop Gili Air, the only thing between us and there is a two hour boat ride!!

6 Months on the Road

Exactly 6 months ago today we began our travels. It’s been an unbeliable journey of self discovery and getting to know each other more than ever before.

We celebrated by hiring a scooter and exploring the islands of Nusa Lembongan and the neighbouring Cennigan. 

It’s been an unbelievable experience so far and hard to put into words. But put it this way it’s been one of the best decisions ever. 

The Beautifully Chaotic Canggu 

For both of us it is our first time visiting South East Asia. Many of our friends have been and you hear a lot of stories and opinions, but like anything else, the only way to truly know is to experience it yourself. 


We arrived into Denpasar, Bali and immediately felt the humid air hit us as we stepped out the plane. Before we knew what had happened we were through customs and spat out into the most crazy of places.


Luckily we had booked a driver in advance, although finding our names took some time, refer to photo above, this showing only about a quarter of the names being held up.  


The guy driving us didn’t hang around once we jumped in, wildly overtaking, cutting corners and generally thinking he was driving a scooter rather than a car. His regular method when a situation got too tricky was to flash the hazard lights and put his foot down.

After a tense and crazy ride eventually we arrived into our first stop – Canggu. 

Neither of us had any preconceptions about this place – which we have found is often the best way while travelling – you are then not worrying about reaching your expectations. While there we described Canggu in one phrase as ‘beautifully chaotic’. 


The road, was full of scooters, people and animals, all trying to find their place. The east meets west influence was so clear, with hipster coffee shops next to traditional rice fields and cows. 

At times it is very overwhelming and completely surreal. There was also a real chilled out surfer vibe in the air, which both of us appreciated. Although I managed to cut my foot several times while out surfing at one of the reefs, a lesson learnt to land flat in the water. 


Our favourite day here came when we took a scooter ride North of Canggu, out into the countryside. Soon the western influence dried up and we were amongst the locals. 


We got lost in one village and children stared at us in amazement, shouting ‘hello’ with huge smiles. We often stopped and watched around us, most the time with our jaws on the ground, we were blown away. 


The time in and around Canggu was amazing. Being in a completely different culture and county was not only refreshing but brought complete mindfulness of the situation, as everything was new to us. Bali had certainly welcomed us in a spectacular way and we were very much enjoying every single moment.