Reflecting – Australia, New Zealand and Bali 

Since getting back home to the UK after our travels we’ve found it to be a strange mix of emotions.

To see family and friends again has been amazing, but one of the hardest things about being away for such a long time has been the adjustment back to ‘normal’ life, reverse culture shock if you will.

The time back home has given us time to reflect on what we learnt and who we’ve become. Overall we are full of such gratitude that we were able to have such an incredible time together. It truly was the best experience of our lives.


We thank our friends, family, those that we met and gave us somewhere to stay, the locals for such amazing insight into where they live and everyone that made us laugh along the way. Our outlook and values have changed in ways we didn’t think possible before we left.


Life is full of simple pleasures and people from all different cultures and places make it amazing. As one legendary hippy we met put it we’re all citizens of planet earth’.


While travelling we found life was unfiltered and experiences raw, the freedom and simply beauty was quite astonishing. We approach life now in an altered state, the lessons we learnt while away resonate with us on a daily basis.

If there’s one bit of advise we could give to anyone thinking of going away, it would be to just go. You will discover things about yourself that will surprise you in ways you never imagined.

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The last JUMP of our incredible adventure

Bali50We felt free in Bali, some of the most free and easy days of our lives. Time seemed to have almost no meaning now, we were just governed by the rising and setting sun. It had been an incredible place to experience. We left Nusa Lembongan to travel to the Bukit Peninsula, this would mark the last part of our time in Bali, and the last part of our whole adventure. Something neither of us wanted to think about.

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The journey back to mainland Bali was much the same, with a crazy boat ride and chaotic car journey through the busy streets. After a month this had become almost normal now, but compared to the ordered systems back home it was just as exhilarating as the first time!

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We were staying in an air bnb, run by the coolest Spanish guys. Edd thinks they have the dream job welcoming guests in the morning and then surfing all day. He’s not far wrong!

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Shortly after our arrival we were told about a mandatory night out! I could see the fear in Edd’s eyes now that he’s turned 30. After a few Bintangs (the local beer) we headed to an outside bar which was really chilled out. We both absorbed the good vibes, drinking and dancing the night away.

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For the rest of our days we drove around on our trusty scooter and headed to the some of the most beautiful beaches we have seen. We were lucky enough to catch Uluwatu with some good swell and see the iconic reef break working its magic for those surfers brave enough to be out there.

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For our final night we went to Uluwatu Temple. We explored the sacred grounds, with its imposing position on the edge of huge cliffs. The last treat was watching the famous Fire Dance. This was just amazing, with 70 guys chanting in a meditative state whilst the sun set and a story was acted out. The traditional Balinese dress, makeup and dancing was mesmerising, we watched in complete awe.

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We are not quite sure how we have arrived here at the closing of this chapter. Packing our loyal backpacks for one last time felt crazy. We’re not ready for this adventure to end.

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Both of us have been able to grow so much together. Edd is so comfortable with who he is, which is just fantastic to see and I feel the same. I couldn’t be prouder of him and who he is. A passionate, kind hearted, talented, surfer hippy. Who stands up for what he believes in.

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Peace & Love, Ally & Edd x

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Nusa Lembongan and another hairy boat ride!

After such a relaxing stay on the island of Gili Air we were sad to leave, but also super excited for Nusa Lembongan.  All it took to get there was another two and a half hour boat ride.  After our previous ride of terror (previous post), we were quite nervous and rightly so, as the swell was huge!   


Somehow this boat ride was even more terrifying than the first!  At one point we actually leapt so far out of the water that people started screaming, one lady shouting ‘we’re going to die’! Then another poor passenger sat next to us was violently sick.


I was so pleased when we finally saw land, and Edd was super happy to see the reef breaks around the island pumping. The waves were beastly waves. After this life affirming boat ride we decided we’d walk to our next air bnb, it didn’t look far on the map, but oh how we were wrong.  


45 minutes later dripping in sweat, getting lost several times, clambering over rocks and through bushland we finally made it. We were welcomed with a cold flannel and a glass of fresh watermelon juice. I had managed all of this with a bout of the dreaded bali belly!  To say we slept well that night would be an understatement.

Once feeling rested and back to 100% we spent the next few days on a scooter and explored the island and its neighbour Nusa Cennigan, crossing the famous yellow bridge.  


All of our scooters we have hired seem to be getting progressively worse.  This time our chosen chariot’s speedometer didn’t work and neither did the fuel gauge.  We only found this out when part way up a hill and the scooter cut out,  with a 10 minute push to the nearest petrol.


It was here on Nusa Lembongan that we decided to try yoga for the first time and wow, what an experience, probably one of my most favourite experiences ever. In a bamboo shack surrounded by palm trees and bush we gathered twice with our teacher and fellow yogis, trying Hatha Flow and Yin Yoga.  

It was during these classes that I was actually able to understand what its like to think of nothing and just be in the moment, I had managed mindfulness, something I have been striving to do for so long.  


The rest of our time was spent lying on the beach, playing cards and drinking coconuts, pure bliss and relaxation.


We can’t quite believe our 6 and a half months of travelling are nearing the end, with only one more stop left on our Bali adventure. The only problem was another dreaded boat ride to get there….


 

 

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!!

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.

NZ Week 9 – 10: A family adventure and leaving NZ

Our final two weeks in New Zealand were spent with my family. It was quite surreal for us all to meet up after not seeing one another for six months, especially down under. 


The stories shared from each other’s adventures were amazing, and we spent many a late night talking. Some of the mishaps Mike and Beth had encountered were hilarious, particularly their experiences with massages in India. 


My Mum and Dad had also had a fantastic time exploring the South Island in NZ, it is certainly something they will never forget. 


I was super grateful to be with everyone for my birthday – it was the big 30 – one I will always remember, thank you to all of them.


We spent the two weeks in two locations – Hihi in Northland and Pukehina in the Bay of Plenty. 


For all of us it was the first time we had stopped and settled in the same location for a while. Days were spent walking, fishing and kayaking, as my dad said ‘it was magic’. 


This chapter of our travels also marked the end of New Zealand for us. The time here has been unforgettable. The landscape has offered the true impact, the vast scale of what has been before our eyes providing a real perspective on life. 


Much of our time was spent in amazement at the sometimes surreal and often breathtaking sights. We leave with a changed state of mind.