Day 225: Hat Trick

Well today was certainly an emotional roller coaster, particularly for Ann and Sarah at least. After seeing how Ann reacted on the crazy boat crossing I saw where Sarah gets it from. Today saw us packing up and moving on from Lembongan and heading for Kuta. This was the nearest port of call for Ann and Simon to get to the airport, and rather than stay on the island, Sarah and I returned with them. The rest of the day was pretty straightforward after that, we checked in to our hotel, went into town, and finished the evening with a beer at the hotel. Now lets go over what else happened on this wet and stormy day…

I finally got that lie in I’d been craving. Sarah got up ahead of me and began packing her bags. The time must have been around 7:30 when she started. On and off I could hear her rustling about in the background, but was so tired that I kept drifting back off. It was 8:45am by the time I eventually woke up, and Sarah was nowhere in sight. I had only been awake for 5 minutes before she came back. I’d just started packing my bag when she told me “we” are all going for breakfast. I told her to go on ahead with her parents, and I’d be down in 5 minutes when I’d be both finished and more awake. This wasn’t good enough, so to prevent an argument I chucked on some shorts and we all sat around the table. I wasn’t feeling too chatty on accounts of being a little sleepy, but I soon perked up after the Bali coffee. Again, the four of us ate pancakes, then immediately afterwards I returned to the room to pack the last of my things.

It took longer than I’d anticipated, because we were heading to Australia next my bag was bursting at the seams with additional clothing. When I’d finished I returned to the pool to lie on a lounger beside Sarah. I read over the previous days blog and uploaded it to the server, then Sarah returned to the room to pack the last of her things. Simon and Ann were efficient enough to have packed their bags already and went out for a morning stroll. The bags were then stored beside the bar area. As we spent some more time beside the pool a slight disagreement ensued over the return boat times. Seeing as we had a return ticket all we had to do was pick one of three times: 9:30am, 11am, or 3:30pm. Sarah would have preferred the 11am one because of how bad the morning ride was last time, and she feared there would be a storm later that afternoon. How right she was. As we sat around the pool small droplets of rain began to fall. We deemed that a good enough excuse as any to leave and go for dinner. We chose a resort 50m away from ours.

It was getting on for 1pm when we sat to eat. Seeing as we still had a couple hours to burn, and the saying “you never know where your next meal will be coming from” was on my mind, I ordered two dinners. The food was ok, and the views of the crashing waves were delightful, but the constant swarms of flies annoyed us to no end. We couldn’t take a single bite of our meals without having one pitch on our arms. The whole time we sat eating Sarah wound herself up something chronic.
“Oh god, look at those waves”,
“Oh no, look in the distance. Those rain clouds are blocking out the mountains and they’re heading this way”,
“Why didn’t we just get the earlier boat”.
This went on for sometime, and no level of rationalisation helped her nerves. If it wasn’t for the bad experience on the way over she’d have been fine, but because the boat nearly tipped, she feared there would be a repeat performance. Near the end of our meals the weather worsened, causing Sarah to be completely beside herself. After dinner we still had half an hour or so before the boat was scheduled to leave, so we returned to our resort to wait with our bags.

A miracle happened when the storm passed and the sea became as still as a peaceful lake. For a moment it appeared as though Sarah’s worrying had been for nothing… that was until we were about to leave. The shuttle bus arrived 10 minutes early, and no sooner than we grabbed our bags the storm came back with a vengeance. Heavier and faster than before the rain poured down. They even brought their friend thunder along for the ride. The staff helped us throw our bags aboard and guided us out under umbrellas, but when we were seated it got a lot worse. There were no rain guards or plastic sheeting to keep us dry, the rain from the cab roof bounced back into the truck where we were. Sarah and I put the rain covers over our bags, and I held an umbrella up against the gap to prevent any more aquatic onslaught. Ultimately there was little we could do, there was just too much water. The rain was coming down so fast that it sounded like a million Michael Flatly’s dancing on the roof. When we arrived at the beach we were told to wait at a nearby restaurant while the crew prepared the boat. It was a nightmare, Sarah was becoming more and more agitated by the ever increasing bad weather. The road around the shuttle bus was completely flooded, making walking with my bag damn near impossible. There were people helping to carry them, but I didn’t like them doing it when I was perfectly capable. We had to wait all of 15 minutes while they added fuel to the engines and made space for the bags. By now Sarah was fuming, she kept looking out over the sea and felt sick with worry whenever she looked at the fast coming waves. I found the whole thing funny like I always do. There was nothing that could be done about our situation bar see it through, so in my opinion there was no point in worrying about it. I spent the time taking pictures of the bad weather and Sarah’s grumpy face. It wasn’t just Sarah who was worried, Ann was equally as nervous. She hated the first ride so much that she had managed to pass those fears on to her daughter. Simon was just as relaxed about our situation as me, if not more so because of all his years experience at sea from the times he’d gone sailing with his friends. Eventually the boat was primed and ready, and unlike last time, it was a darn sight easier to get aboard.

The waves weren’t pushing the boat left, right, and centre this time around, and everyone got on without falling over. Also unlike last time, there weren’t as many people. There can’t have been any more than 10 of us, during the first trip there were closer to 40. The passengers had to be shifted about for weight displacement purposes before we could go anywhere, then the captain struggled to get the engines going, this didn’t help Sarah relax at all.
“Why isn’t it working?”
“We’re stuck in the middle of the sea now, come on, why isn’t it working?!?!”
First of all we weren’t in the middle of the sea, we were 20ft from the shoreline, secondly he got the engines going in under 5 minutes. Then the real fun began.
BOOM, BANG, WOLLOP!!!!
These were the sounds and feelings as we came crashing down atop the concrete like waves. At the speeds we were going it certainly felt like concrete at least. Occasionally I looked over to see Sarah and Ann, only to be amused each time. Ann had her hands firmly gripped on the seat in front, and her eyes closed and head down. Sarah had her fingers in her ears and also had her eyes closed. I couldn’t help but laugh, there was nothing to worry about. Had sarah not looked at reviews online, or read about the boat journey in the Lonely Planet, she’d be laughing too. Additional sights that made me laugh were the captain and his right hand man. All around the boat were “no smoking” signs, and there they both were puffing away, even the passenger behind me pointed and chuckled. Somewhere close to the halfway mark there was a large wave which hit us side on, this was the only time you could say there was cause for alarm. The boat tipped to one side to quite an extreme degree. This caused Ann and Sarah to both begin crying and fearing for their lives, I think Ann may have even started praying at one point. The captain did extremely well to navigate us through without anything bad happening to us. Even now as I write about it I am impressed with his skills behind the wheel. He reminded me of Denzel Washington in the movie “Flight”, keeping a cool head under pressure. When we reached the mainland it was nothing like the first time at all, there were no big waves, just small gentle ones that lapped lazily against the shore.

On the beach the porters ran back and forth unloading the passengers bags. When one man brought both mine and Sarah’s to us, he stood waiting with an open hand out repeating the word “tip”.
“Tip the porter?” He said over and over, and was quite persistent about it as well. I paid him 10,000 rupiah (80p) for unloading my bag, only for him to ask for more money when he unloaded Sarah’s. When her parent’s bags were unloaded by a different man, that man also demanded money. We pointed to the first man we’d already given 20,000 to and he turned to him to demand some of it. They were like vultures. I didn’t really understand the situation, from what I could gather it appeared as though they charged per bag not per group. Somehow in all the confusion, one of Ann and Simon’s suitcases went missing. Another porter was wheeling it off down the street, but he wasn’t stealing it, he was just helping get it up the stairs. When we caught up and thanked him, he then asked for some money. We explained how we’d already paid a fortune back at the beach, then guiltily took the suitcase from him. They’re like fish after bread, throw a piece in the water and they’ll fight it out amongst themselves. It was sad to see, as clearly this was their way of making money, but we couldn’t exactly give them all money otherwise we’d have paid a fortune to get our bags carried from the boat to the beach.

We had the same driver as before when reached the booking office. However, he didn’t recognise the name of the resort we’d pre booked, after having a word with the people inside, he was clued up and ready to go. I was a little disappointed with the driver today because he wasn’t as chatty as last time, and I wanted to hear his voice again. The way he sounded and the way he rolled his R’s, I could just imagine him being the voice of a charismatic cartoon villain. After 15 minutes driving we ended up in a traffic jam. We were out during rush hour, everyone had finished work and the traffic was gridlocked. Eventually the police came to usher vehicles around, as nobody would let anyone move, this caused junctions to be blocked and scooters to weave in and out of stationary traffic. The driver had to make a couple stops along the way to ask others where Sun Boutique Hotel was, after the third stop we were back on track. I briefly looked out the window at one point and spotted it. He did a quick u-turn at the end of the road (narrowly missing other road users) and dropped us off outside reception.

After checking in we were each given a welcome drink. It didn’t taste nice, but as to not appear rude, I drank both mine and Sarah’s. We were then shown to our large, spacious, futuristic looking rooms. In fact the whole place looked years ahead of its time, even the elevator had touch screen controls. Before heading to our rooms we asked reception if they’d mind ordering a taxi for us for 20 minutes time. Somehow Sarah thought she’d have enough time to shower and blow dry her hair – WRONG. It ended up taking her to 35 minutes to get ready. When we got downstairs there he was, our blue chariot was waiting for us outside. We explained to the driver that we wanted to go to a market, so he took us towards Poppy’s street in Kuta town. We didn’t think he was very happy when we arrived because of how little a distance he ended up driving. Seeing as he was phoned in to collect us, it meant we had to pay the minimum call out fare of 25,000 rupiah (just under £2), even though the meter read only 19,000. We then got out and began exploring.

Kuta was a place for drinking, dining, and shopping. The streets were filled with bars and restaurants, and best of all… market stalls. I didn’t mind shopping here so much as there were no longer tacky items like oils and statues. The stalls resembled those of Thailand, with such items on offer as hats, vests, and shorts. Granted every stall sold the same garments in various shades, but it still beat the markets of Ubud. During our time walking the never ending market stalls, I couldn’t keep my wallet in my pocket. I ended up buying not one, not two, but three new hats (and that’s where today’s title comes from). I couldn’t help myself. There were so many hats in so many different colours, and they were all of good quality like my original one from Malaysia. Sarah also bought some new items, a top and bottoms, and a couple pairs of sunglasses. Even Simon splashed out and bought himself a pair of knock off Ray Ban sunglasses, more commonly known as “Ray Ben” seeing as it was printed on the lenses. Simon also bought another item, but he did it on the sly. He haggled with a stall owner to buy me a new pair of headphones to replace my pair that had broken. I wasn’t expecting it at all, so once again thanks for that Simon, it was very kind of you.

At the end of the street of market stalls was a large shopping complex containing fast food joints, established restaurants, designer shopping outlets, and a cinema. We all had a quick look around but didn’t buy anything. It made me laugh, the whole way around Sarah was complaining about being hungry, yet whenever a shiny new item of clothing appeared, she’d forget about being hungry entirely. When we eventually managed to pry her away, we stopped in a nearby restaurant to look at their menu. This place looked very fancy and was part of the even fancier looking resort it was attached to. The whole fancy factor was completely destroyed when we sat at a table. Instead of relaxing, gentle music you’d associate with such a place, there was loud hardcore rap music in the background. It was so loud that we had to shout to communicate with each other. In the end we decided against eating there and found a quieter, and cheaper place around the corner.

This was our last evening meal together. To commemorate the occasion I enjoyed a mouth watering king sized burger and had a Singapore Sling along with Ann and Sarah, although non of us enjoyed it. For once, I had a burger that stayed together until the last bite. It was perfect, and Sarah impressed me when she ordered a steak instead of a salad like usual. After eating it was straight back out into the world of shopping. We decided we were done with the markets, so instead we went back to the mall. We had to walk through metal detectors this time, Sarah informed us these were put in place because a little while ago there was a bombing in Bali which killed over 100 people. Damn terrorists, you can’t even go shopping now without those jerks spoiling the fun. During our second visit to the Beachwalk shopping mall Sarah made another purchase. She went into one of her favourite girly shops and found the dress her parents couldn’t back home. Fancy that, everywhere Ann and Simon looked it was sold out, yet halfway across the world there it was in all its black and white Aztec glory. We stopped briefly in a Dairy Queen so sarah could show her parents the franchise’s upside down ice cream trick, then after spending a further hour or so wandering around aimlessly, we hailed a taxi back to Sun Boutique.

When we got in Sarah was exhausted, but came through for her parents by helping them check in online for their flight home the next day. Afterwards both her and Ann retired to their rooms, while Simon and I transferred the last of my photos to a flash drive for him to take home. While I was halfway through the process Ann came back downstairs to tell me Sarah and I had to change rooms. The reason being the roof above our bed was leaking, and the bed sheets had become completely drenched. When I got upstairs all my bags were packed outside the room, then an employee came up to take us to our new home on the second floor. This move was much to Sarah’s distaste. When she’d booked the rooms online she requested they be far away from the busy street outside. Our first room on the third floor was, but the second room looked out directly on to it. Whenever a beeping car, or a whizzing scooter passed by, it made one hell of a racket. Luckily for Sarah she had some earplugs, and luckily for me I can sleep through anything. When the bags were dropped off I went back down to Simon to find there was only 5 seconds of the transfer left. When it finished I could relax, as I had officially backed up all our photos since Vietnam – I just hope I haven’t spoken too soon by writing that, maybe I should delete that last sentence just in case.

With the photos saved we returned the laptop and retired to our rooms. Our room was lovely, it was even more spacious than the last. I spent a long time going through the evening rituals, shaving my face, and taking a shower, before getting into bed around 12:30am. I then began typing the blog feeling only slightly tired. Now that I’ve finished at 2:36am, I am very very tired. It’s been a great day, but it’s sad to think this was Ann and Simon’s last, their three week holiday has flown by. It only feels like yesterday that they arrived in Singapore. Just where does the time go?

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Day 224: Don’t Cry Satan

Only four days remain of the Erratic Ramblings, and I couldn’t be happier. As I lie in bed with the whole day to write about ahead of me, I feel exhausted. We didn’t do much today, but that’s usually the cause for feeling so tired. The day panned out a little like this:
• The first half of the day was spent at our resort.
• Early afternoon we went out for a walk.
• Found a resort to have dinner at.
• Spent the rest of the afternoon there.
• Saw Devil’s Tear point.
• Came back to Nanuk.
• Enjoyed an evening meal with an Australian couple.
That is precisely how we spent our last day in Lembongen, I am going to do my best to stay awake now and go over the smaller details.

The day started around 8:15am. We led in bed for around another half an hour until we joined Sarah’s parents for breakfast. After eating our all inclusive pancakes, we spent the rest of the morning, and early hours of the afternoon hanging out at our resort. Sarah read, Simon messed a out on his tablet, Ann led on the sun loungers, and I played on my Nintendo. Because the battery had died on my device, I was restricted to the downstairs area of our hut, in the shade. I led beside the socket for around 3 hours, playing games until my thumbs hurt. When it was fully charged I went over to Sarah to play some more beside the pool. It was then that Sarah’s parents suggested we went out for a walk to get dinner, as that would help build up an appetite. Little did they know I was already starving.

We walked and walked, but found nothing. We ended up walking down a side street which we thought would lead to either the beach or a decent restaurant – how wrong we were. This road contained nothing but temples, countless temples, side by side from the top of the hill to the bottom, there were so many in fact they almost resembled terraced housing. Sarah was only wearing a vest on top of her bikini and felt really bad as she walked past the local people. She feared she was being disrespectful for wearing so little. Her knees were exposed and everything, the little hussy. She felt even worse when we passed a cremation ceremony, the people were preparing the coffin for later that day. When we reached the bottom of the road it turned out to be a dead end, so we came back on ourselves, where Sarah had the pleasure of walking past everyone all over again. We were miles ahead of Simon and Ann who were still climbing the hill when we’d reached he top. When they’d caught up we retraced our steps until we reached a local corner shop. There was a man sat outside who spoke good English, and recommended a restaurant down an adjacent road. He said it was a 20 minute walk from where we currently stood. We bought some water and a chocolate bar from his shop, then headed in that direction. I was miserable this whole time for a couple reasons:
1: I didn’t want to leave the resort in the first place.
2: I was extremely hungry and agitated.
Maybe it was the hunger that was powering me through but we made it in less time than predicted. It only took 10 minutes before we stumbled upon Dream Beach Cabu.

This was the only resort that rivalled ours. They charged exactly the same amount of money per night as Nanuk bungalows. They had a pool, great food, cosy looking huts, and a fully functioning spa. After dinner Ann and Sarah made full use of that when they both enjoyed a couple pedicures, while Simon and I were left to twiddle our thumbs. It was alright for me because my thumbs were occupied with the Nintendo, until its batteries died that is. I found it very difficult to sit still, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Simon was bored either. I didn’t like sitting and waiting because there wasn’t much to do. I went in the pool for a bit and ordered a plate of chips for my second meal. Mostly out of boredom than hunger. The people at the resort were so nice to us, before we even got our food they said we were allowed to swim in their pool, and they even provided us with towels afterwards. When Sarah’s peddy was finished the pair of us went to see the nearby beach for sunset. Simon remained to wait for Ann’s treatment to be over with. The beach was so beautiful, it was a cove like area where the waves washed up gently on the shore. We took a couple pictures from afar then moved on to the next nearby sight. Devil’s Tear.

This was the corner of Lembongan where the dagger like rock faces were washed with salty sea waves. In the distance you could see the mighty wet mountains building up, and the crust of the wave riding on the top like a surfer. When they reached the rocks they caused an almighty smashing sound, and white foamy water dispersed everywhere. It was easy to see where the place got its name, if you fell in, without question, the end results would be fatal. We were there for a good 20 minutes before Sarah’s parents showed up. By the time they’d arrived it was dusk, and the Mosquitos were coming out yet again. Their presence was always accompanied by swift flying bats. It was very difficult to see on the way back because our eyes couldn’t adjust to the weird light. It wasn’t dark enough to focus on the floor, and wasn’t bright enough to see where we were going. Sarah explained to me that this was known as Mesopic vision. This was where the rods and cones in our eyes weren’t developed to cope with that level of lighting. The cones process higher light levels typical during the day. While the rods are more suited to very low light levels, corresponding to moonless nights without electric lighting. This is why dusk and dawn are considered the most dangerous times to drive. We took plenty of photos during our short visit, before returning to the resort, where the kind staff arranged a lift for us back to our resort. It was a 10 minute ride, and we’d surprised ourselves by how much walking we’d actually done earlier that day.

After popping back to the room to drop some things off, Sarah and her parents FaceTimed her sister and niece. After that we all went to the bar to grab a drink. Simon and Ann were there before us and had befriended an Australian couple. When we joined them they were deep in conversation. I was still hungry by this point, so I went ahead and ordered food for myself, which I was later shunned for when it arrived. Sarah turned around and sarcastically said “uh Ben, are you not gonna eat with us then?” I didn’t think anyone else was eating that night because they’d not long had dinner. I was the one with the fast metabolism after all, and 90% of the time it’s safe to presume I’m hungry. Eventually everyone did order food, and the staff pushed two tables together so we could eat with our new friends. Instead of having another cooked meal I chose to have a dessert. It was fried banana with chocolate and strawberry ice cream. Three hours passed by that evening as we remained at the table to converse after tea. Simon and John shared a couple bottles of beer, while the rest of us exchanged funny anecdotes. When the talk of travel was mentioned, the point was made that it’s more common to see people our age travelling nowadays compared to when the oldies were younger. And also how technology has helped to make this world that much smaller, with things like Facebook and Skype being the main culprits. Around 11pm we all went back to our rooms, but it took three attempts to say goodbye before anyone actually moved from the dinner tables. When I got into bed I was shattered, bone achingly shattered. I now have a headache from forcing myself to stay awake to write this, I am sorry if today has come across as lackadaisical at all, I am just too tired to concentrate. If I didn’t write it now, I know I’d struggle to remember everything tomorrow. I am now going to put this phone on charge and go to sleep. My eyelids weighed a ton as I wrote that last sentence…
Good night all, take care.
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Day 223: No Ray, I Can’t Believe It

Where to begin today’s post? The day was comprised of a failed snorkel trip, filling out insurance forms, a spot of swimming, some Mario kart, and an evening meal. As I lie here in bed I really can’t be bothered to write anymore than that, especially seeing as my Nintendo 3ds is staring at me begging to be played. But I have a mission to complete, there are only 5 days remaining of the “Erratic Ramblings”, and I will endeavour to complete them. Without further ado, day 223 in all its glory.

The alarm rang early this morning 8:00am, although we didn’t need it. For some unknown reason we woke up naturally by ourselves. The reason for such an early start on a lazy island like Lembongan was because we had a snorkel trip planned. We all had pancakes for breakfast, packed a few items into my dry bag, then waited at the beach for Captain Jack to come prepare his boat.

Because of the early hour the tide was in, crashing violently against the brick walls and rocks. It had completely submerged the beach, making it very difficult for us to get aboard the boat. Captain Jack did his best to bring the boat in as close as possible, and one by one we climbed aboard. It was no easy task, Sarah almost slipped over on the wet rocks, fortunately for her there was a staff member from our resort nearby to catch her. We then set off for a 4 hour adventure that would see us covering the perimeter of Lembongan, hitting up all the top snorkelling hotspots along the way.

Sadly we couldn’t do the first spot because of the aggressive waves flying towards the sharp rocks. Wether or not their appearance had anything to do with the full moon the previous evening, I don’t know. Sarah and myself were really gutted by this bad news because that area was where the manta rays were situated. Neither of us had snorkelled with the majestic creatures before so this would’ve been a real treat, but ol’ Mother Nature had other plans apparently. It was really choppy the whole way, the boat had stability bars either side to prevent a side to side rocking motion. The only bumps we felt came in the form of up and down. It was enough to make us feel a little sick, all but Simon, who was well adapted to the sea after so many years of sailing. As we crashed over the top of each wave we could see lots of surfers in the distance treating each one like a playground. After a 40 minute ride we reached smoother waters, and at the same time, our first stop of the day.

Mangrove Point: This place had the best coral we’d seen in our 7 and a half months. It was the size of a football pitch, and more colourful than a parrot fish. In short it was spectacular. As far as we could see there was nothing but tropical sea life. The hardest part about the stop was the constant current which kept pulling us back, but this was something that worked to our advantage. After swimming against it for so long, Captain Jack told us to let the current take us and he’d follow behind in his boat. This made everything a lot easier, we must’ve drifted for about 100 metres at least. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time by explaining what fish we saw, as most of them were the same as every other snorkel trip we’ve done. But there were a few exceptions. We saw really big angel fish, so big that we almost mistook them for something else. Usually the ones we see are around 10 cm, but these had to have been closer to 20. I then spotted something I hadn’t seen before, a brown and yellow speckled sea snake. It was slithering its way through the coral just like its cousins on land, I barely got Sarah’s attention in time before it disappeared. We didn’t stay for long at Mangrove point, as soon as Captain Jack caught up to us we climbed back aboard the boat. It was then we spotted another first… a pod of dolphins. They briefly poked their dorsal fins above the water as they swam along, there were about 4 of them swimming side by side. Our captain drove over to see if we could get a closer look, but by the time we got there they’d already gone. The brief glimpse that we did get completely made up for the fact we couldn’t see the mantas in my opinion. It was such a rare sight, that I felt honoured to have seen it at all. After that we moved on to our second stop.

The waves were too much for me after another 10 minutes sailing. The day trip was taking a turn for the worst, so to compensate for how sick I felt I hunched up and led down on my seat. I’m not someone who has sea legs, and I’ll openly put my hands up and admit to that, the slightest bump makes me queazy. It must have been a further 20 minutes before we arrived at our second stop, immediately I jumped out, but before I did, my snorkel broke. Captain Jack gave me a replacement set, but it was no good, the waves were still coming and it was even harder to stay in one place. There was also a second problem, because of the waves it meant the seabed was churned up, making everything underwater a little hazy and unclear. While I was floating around, the others decided it was time to call it quits. All the other stops would be just as bad, and Sarah was as sick as me by this point. I had been dragged so far away that I had to swim a good 30 feet to get back. I then led down for the 30 minute boat ride back to the starting point.

The tide was still in when we got back, and the Captain wasn’t sure what to do. We drifted between the steps (where we got on) and a gap between some rocks. The Captain yelled out to a friend to help him out. His friend then waded out into the water, and with the Captain’s help, they pulled the boat in as close they could, but to no avail. In the end they pushed the boat back out and went to fetch a smaller one man row boat. This was hilarious to watch as they dragged Sarah, Ann, and Simon to the shore. Sarah’s face looked pale with sea sickness, so she was first to go. Ann’s face was full of fear, her eyes were wide open as she clambered aboard the small white boat and was towed in. I didn’t need it, when I realised the water only came up to the men’s knees I hopped out along with them. The walk in was a peace of cake. They then went back to fetch Simon, which was a sight too funny to pass up on, I had to take a picture. The four of us then went back to our resort where we attempted to pay for the day trip.

Because we hadn’t been out for the full 4 hours we were unsure what was a fair price. We spoke with Jacob who told us he’d have a word with the Captain and get back to us. He then explained it would probably be better to go out in the afternoon when the tides out. After only being at sea for a maximum of an hour and a half, we were back beside the pool. We all got in – including Simon, and discovered the temperature of the water felt closer to that of a bath, when compared to the sea at least. All of us floated about for around half an hour while the cleaners tidied our rooms. When they were done I grabbed a few things from the room, then spent some more time relaxing on a lounger. After a while we all felt peckish and moved over to the restaurant area for dinner. It was here that all the paper work came out for our travel insurance.

Because both Sarah and I had been to the hospital at one point or another this trip, we had the responsibility of informing the insurance company. It was almost as if they didn’t want to pay out, judging by all the paperwork. Names, places, dates, cost, all these questions and more had to be filled out with excruciating attention to detail. One wrong word was all it would take for them to say “forget it”. I had the most to lose out of the two of us, with that injection in my fingertip costing me over £1000 pounds. That’s a whole lot of money, even for someone who’s not backpacking on a budget. That bloody dog, he doesn’t even care, he’s probably added 20 more victims to his tally since then. By the time we’d finished dinner, we’d also completed the forms. Sarah and I then returned to the room until early evening, while Ann and Simon remained at the pool.

We watched the last hour of a film we started the other day, then hours passed as we did our own things. Sarah read her kindle, while I enjoyed my birthday present some more. It was around 7pm before we were forced to stop. Simon shouted across from their hut next door, he said the pair of them were bored and wanted to go out. We told them to give us an extra 30 minutes because Sarah wasn’t hungry, but that time was cut short after only 15. We went to the same area as the previous night for tea, except we ate at a different restaurant. I don’t recall the name, but they sold the best vanilla milkshake I’d hade in a while. I also ate something other than what I like to call “safety food”. Instead of having a westernised dish, I ordered their special from the board. It was pork with mashed potato in teriyaki sauce, I enjoyed every bite. Afterwards, we stopped in the shop next door to grab some post meal snacks, then returned to Nanuk Bungalows. Instead of going straight to bed, what Sarah and her parents did was play a few card games underneath our hut. I was the unsocial one playing on the Nintendo in the corner. They played a few games before calling it quits. Goodnights were exchanged before we returned to our huts to go through the evening rituals. Sarah and I then struggled to stay awake as kindles were read and blogs were written. But would you look at that, I’ve somehow gained a second wind. I think I’ll play some more on my Nintendo, god I need help!!!
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Day 222: Nintendon’t Disturb Me

We were lazy… the end.
– Sarah Duxbury

This is what Sarah suggested I put for today’s blog, and to be honest, it wouldn’t be too far from the truth. Unlike all the other times I’ve said “today we did nothing”, this time around truer words were never said. All day we stayed at our resort, only leaving in the evening to go out for tea. That is unequivocally it! Today will be the shortest post of them all for that reason alone, but I have committed to writing about everything this far, so it would be a shame to quit now.

Sarah and I finally got the lie in we’d been craving this morning, although, the early starts up until now meant we woke up naturally at 9am. It was just a pleasant change of pace not to hear an alarm ringing beside us for once. We led in bed for a further half an hour, watching a tv show, until we joined Sarah’s parents for breakfast.

We were all tired as we sat around the table. Ann and Simon because they were up several times during the night, and Sarah and myself because we were in a deep sleep before coming too. The Bali coffee is really strong, and is the only coffee that actually perks me up. Caffeine is something that doesn’t usually effect me, but that stuff is something else. When we were done eating, Sarah and I returned to the room for a further hour to watch the end of our tv show, before putting on the beginning of a movie. While Sarah’s parents chose to sit in the shade of a parasail beside the pool.

About an hour into the movie Sarah decided she wanted to do some sunbathing. We put the tablet down, then procured a couple loungers. Somehow she was able to stick it out in the sun. I stayed in the shadows going over the previous days blog. When I was done, some two hours later, I hopped in the pool with Sarah. After I had cooled down I led in the sun to dry off, then returned to the room to grab my Nintendo 3ds. I knew there was a reason behind my trepidations about asking for the console. It wasn’t that I was afraid of what people would think of me, it wasn’t that at all, it was in fact my addictive personality. I couldn’t put the thing down. I completely ignored the “take an hourly break” rule that comes with the device. I played it so much today that I ended up having to plug it into a socket to feed my addiction some more. Bye bye social life is all I’ll say. Hours passed as I levelled up my mighty Pokemon, I moved between the sheltered downstairs area of our hut, and the sun loungers, where I simultaneously played and worked on my tan. Eventually hunger came a knocking, and the four of us had dinner at our resort. But after that it was straight back to the world of Pokemon for me. I’m 25 for god’s sake, I shouldn’t even be playing this overly addictive drivel, but I couldn’t help myself. It was 5:30pm before I tore myself away and did something more practical, I Skyped my mum.

I told her the previous evening that I’d phone her during the day so she could see our resort. That plan didn’t work out because the Internet wasn’t strong enough for a video call. Instead we talked for around 40 minutes using our devices as international telephones. As we spoke, I had the pleasure of watching Simon playing table tennis in the background. He was playing against one of the young family members who ran the resort. I don’t know who won officially, but Simon had to call it quits when he began overheating. It wasn’t long after Simon threw in the towel that I finished my Skype call with my mum. In the time I sat downstairs I became the proud owner of 4 fresh mosquito bites. I retired to the room and continued playing Pokemon some more beside my bessie on the bed.

10 minutes later there was a knock at the door from Sarah’s mother. Ann had grown restless of doing nothing all day and wanted to go out for food. It took Sarah and I a further 10 minutes to get ready, then the four of us walked to Mushroom Bay for tea. We had to walk all of 5 minutes along dark paths, using torches to guide us. When we arrived it was like a ghost town. There was nobody in sight, and all of 3 or 4 different places to eat. In the end we selected a place called Mushroom Garden Villas. It was a nice change of pace to receive our food quickly for once. All our meals were tasty and satisfying, but come the end was where it all fell apart. The bill. I handed over 100,000 to cover my 70,000 fee, after that pandemonium broke loose. Sarah always had this gift when it came to sorting out a multi person bill, but this time around she was busy playing on the phone. Ann then started throwing numbers around, followed by Simon, then I didn’t know what way was up. Eventually Sarah joined in, grabbed the tray with all the money, and took it to the waiter to explain we wanted small change. The main problem was non of us had any small notes, had we done it would’ve saved all the confusion in the first place. We got what Sarah requested, left a bill, then left ourselves. 5 minutes later we were back at Nanuk Bungalows to draw an end to our day.

We said our goodnights at the steps of our hut, and encouraged Ann to join us on the snorkelling trip the next day. She was a timid little mouse, and was mainly focused on all the things that could go wrong while we were at sea. I tried my best to encourage her to come along, as its not everyday you get to swim with manta rays. Time would tell if those words of wisdom helped. Sarah and I then got ready for bed, I wrote this post, chatted to a friend from home on Skype, and last but not least, concluded my evening with another helping of Pokemon.
WHAT A LOSER!!!

Day 221: All About The Benjamin

It was finally here, my birthday! And with it came the arrival of my Nintendo 3DS XL, although, I didn’t play on it as much as expected. Today was the first time I’d ever celebrated the feat of gaining another year older, abroad. And it was the first time alcohol wasn’t involved. The perks of getting older and more mature eh! To celebrate the wonderful life of Ben Norris, we did nothing, just the way I liked it. Instead we spent the day beside the pool, visiting our very own private beach, then going out for a lovely evening meal. It really was a great day, and now you lucky people get to read all about it.

Unfortunately, even though today was my birthday, I didn’t get the luxury of a lie in. Nor did in get the immediate attention of my girlfriend. The second she woke up she asked for my phone instead of wishing me a happy birthday. I didn’t mind, as I’d actually forgotten what day it was myself. It took her 10 seconds to realise her mistake, then I got a big cuddle and a kiss. Today saw us leaving Ubud to move on to greener pastures. We were scheduled to catch the first fast boat of the day to Lembongan, a stunning island where we’d all relax and chill out for the duration of our stay. First things first we needed breakfast, so at 6:30am we got up and went about getting ready. Sarah and I packed our final things away, then went to knock for her parents. SHOCKER, we were ready before Ann and Simon, but not by much. We all then went for breakfast. After that we moved our bags to the reception area and waited on our driver. To pass the time we made small talk with the hotel manager.

The driver was running half an hour behind schedule. It was around 8:15am before he showed up, the boat left at 9:30, and the port was a good one hour drive away. Ann, more so than the rest, was paranoid we weren’t going to make it in time. Even more so when Simon asked the driver to stop so he could make a withdraw. The driver spoke extremely good English, and he was asking about what sort of cars we drove back home, he then explained how his son is studying to become an accountant, he was a very friendly and chatty man. I enjoyed listening to him talk because of the way he rolled his R’s. Every so often he’d say the name of a place like Sempur, but when he said it, it came out as “Sempurrrrrrrr”. At 9:20am we had arrived, but narrowly missing the boat was the least of our worries when we saw what waited for us up ahead.

The fast boat we’d be taking across the sea to Lembogan, floated atop the passing waves in an uncontrollable manner. Each wave was around 5 foot high, and forced the boat all over the place. Ann was really worried by this. There were porters whose job it was to carry everyone’s large holdalls aboard the boat, but they expected a tip upon their return. The way people got aboard resembled the two pence machines at an arcade. The ones where the shelve moves back and forth casually pushing any hangers on off the edge. As the tide went out, it was do or die for everyone. I found it slightly amusing as I saw Ann run on behind Sarah, I don’t know why, maybe it was the swaying boat that made everyone look uncoordinated that did it. I climbed aboard after them, but because the wave was going out as I climbed on, there was no issue. The hardest part was walking down the aisle to my seat. When Simon sat down beside me I looked out the window, that’s when I saw it. There was an upturned boat, which had clearly been there a while. Not the best sight to see given the circumstances. Just when we thought we were safe, it got worse. I didn’t learn of this until later on when Sarah told me, as the last few passengers climbed aboard, the anchor rope snapped. The anchor at the back of the boat, which was holding it to the beach, now served no purpose. The only one keeping us from washing up on the shore was the front anchor. As I looked around the boat I could see these worries and scared expressions on the passenger’s faces. At first I wondered what the big deal was, until I noticed the back end of the boat tipping over on itself. Fortunately the wave passed, and the boat levelled, but there was one particular passenger who feared for her child’s safety. She asked a man if he’d mind swapping with her, but you could tell he was also scared. He shouted back at her saying “yes, just give me a minute”. Wimps, the lot of them. There was nothing to worry about, even if the Lonely Planet had printed horror stories of the crossing on its pages. After a nauseous half an hour voyage, the boat parked safely alongside the shore of Lembongan.

When all the bags had been offloaded by the friendly Balinesian staff, we were escorted to a small truck for a free lift to our accommodation. We shared the truck with a cool looking surfer dude, who had with him a really lightweight board. For all I knew he was a world famous surfer, he certainly had the build for it. God I wish I could surf… Sorry, I went a little off track there. Our new resort was just as pretty as the last (which you’ll see in the pics) but for different reasons. Inata had more of a modern meets traditional vibe, whereas Nanuk was comprised of wooden huts, giving off the more authentic island experience. Surprisingly each hut had a/c inside. Up until now, all the huts we’d stayed in were fan only. There was a small pool to cool down in, a restaurant which sold food throughout the day, and lovely grounds to explore. It was definitely worth the price we were paying. We were given a welcome drink each by the staff, and when Sarah told them it was my birthday, they said “we’ll party later” – we never did 😦

After our drinks, the guys told us our rooms were ready and walked us to them. It took a while for everyone to get sorted, but around midday I was finally given my presents. I was like a kid at Christmas. All those items I’d ordered on eBay had gone from digital images to real life tangible objects. For my birthday I received the Nintendo system from Sarah (much to her concern, she feared I’d give it more attention than her… she thought right). I got a few cards from my mum, nan, and Sarah’s parents. My mum also got me a new Starbucks card to replace the one Sarah and I had rinsed. After I’d unwrapped everything and read all my cards, I spent a while playing on my new toy as the others sat by the pool. Eventually I left the Nintendo to charge in the room, then joined Sarah and her parents. After a short time swimming around, we moved over to the restaurant for some dinner.

Before we ordered we spoke with Jacob, he was one of the staff members who spoke excellent English. Jacob told us of the many day trips to do on Lembogan, and reinforced my decision to snorkel with the others rather than do a dive. He told me it worked out cheaper to do it as a group, and because I was the only one with a diving license it meant I’d have to pay double the price for the privilege of going under. When we learned all there was to do we had dinner, followed by a walk. It was a hot day, but a nice kind of hot, either that or Sarah and I had well and truly acclimatised. Poor Ann and Simon hated it, the pair of them nearly melted into blobs on the floor every few feet. The first beach we located at the end of our resort was kind of dirty. This was because all the boats were docked there, the fuel and oils stained the water. Instead of going there, we located a hidden gem off the beaten track. It was stunning. The beach was guarded by two colossal mountains at either end, the sand was white, and the sea was crystal. The best thing was, because it was hidden, we had the whole thing to ourselves for the length of time we were there. After a while Ann found the heat too much, and had to sit it out in the shade. Sarah and I took a final stroll up and down the shore, then we all left together. On the way back I spotted the most adorable calf I’d ever seen, its eyes were so big and shiny that I just wanted to give it a cuddle, but I didn’t think mummy cow would have been too pleased with that, so I settled for a picture instead. Back at the resort, Sarah and I got back in the pool to spend some time floating about, before getting out to dry off in the sun. Every year on the 24th of May it’s always sunny, and today was no exception. Until around 4pm that was. Out of nowhere the skies filled with grey clouds, making Sarah and I come to the conclusion that staying on the sun loungers was probably a redundant idea. That’s when Sarah came up with a brilliant idea, to get some beers and return to the room.

Just as we were about to climb the steps of our hut, we saw Sarah’s parents in the chill out area below, so we did the same. The huts were divided between an upstairs and a downstairs. Upstairs housed the bedrooms, downstairs had two chill out beds to relax on during the day. This is when I began playing on my new toy. The 3d effects were great, if not a little disorientating. It came with warnings to take breaks every 15 minutes when using the 3d, but what do they know… Just kidding, eye care is a very serious matter. After an hour or so, Sarah and I returned to our outdoor bathroom, tucked away behind our hut, to shower. We had plans that evening, which had been arranged in advance during dinner. Sarah really wanted it to be perfect for me, so she went online to reserve us a table at a fancy restaurant which had 5 star reviews. When I was dried and dressed, I told sarah she’d have to hurry up if she wanted to see the sunset. In the end she told me to go on ahead and she’d catch up – she didn’t. Instead I went with Ann and Simon. There was nothing to see though, the sun was now masked behind the large dark clouds, and one ginormous thunderhead. That made for spectacular photos whenever I caught a lightning bolt tearing through its dark colour. After that we returned to the resort, where only 15 minutes later our reserved restaurant’s shuttle had arrived to pick us up.

The restaurant was amazing, everything was top notch, from the look of the place to the quality of the food. The only downside was the time we had to wait for it to arrive. Although there were storm clouds overhead, it still wasn’t raining, instead there was a nice cool breeze. Our drinks arrived in reasonably good time, but when you get through a milkshake and a jug of water before your food arrives, you get a little irritated. After a while the rain just couldn’t hold off any longer and began falling all around us. It wasn’t fast, or heavy enough to warrant moving tables like we did, but after seeing others beginning to evacuate the outdoor area, we did the same. It took over an hour for our meals to arrive, and all I ordered were the ribs. It was a good job the salad was an all you can eat sort of deal, otherwise we’d have started eating the decorative table arrangements. The food was lovely when it finally arrived, but because of how long it took, it made Sarah feel bad. She kept apologising on the restaurants behalf, but there was no need, I wasn’t bothered at all. I was just frustrated by how long they took to serve us. At just gone 9pm we were able to get the free shuttle back to our resort, where I then spent the next hour and a half skyping my mum and nan. Because it was so dark out, it was difficult for them to see me. Disturbingly, the only place they got a good view of the birthday boy was in our bathroom. The lighting was slightly better beside the toilet, so at least I got to sit while we spoke. Whilst I was there, I figured I’d introduce them to the greatest bathroom gadget of all time.. the bum hose. This device cracked them up to no end, mostly because of how powerful it was. If you weren’t careful you could do yourself some real damage, I’m pretty sure it was capable of cracking the porcelain, it was that powerful. I thanked my mum and nan for my birthday gifts, then said my goodbyes. I was so tired by the end, yet I still managed to write the days blog. Even on my birthday I didn’t give myself a day off. To conclude my evening, I went on Facebook to see if anyone had wished me a happy birthday – they had. Even as I checked it, the wishes kept coming. At last count I had over 35. I truly am loved, for all those who sent your kind words, I love and miss you all.
Happy Birthday to me.
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