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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Day 217: The Day With No Name

By comparison to yesterday’s action packed shenanigans, today was slow and boring. We did nothing bar eat breakfast, sit by the pool, go into town, and go out for tea. That is it. Literally, that is it. I don’t even know what to name today, I can’t think of anything witty at all. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about it at all, it was quite nice to relax for once. Since Sarah’s parents arrival we’d been moving nonstop. I think they were quite happy to do nothing as well. I will do my best to elaborate on the day’s happenings, but don’t be expecting a lengthy read by all means.

Our day started at 8:55am. The alarm was set for that time because Sarah’s parents preferred to have breakfast early. Thanks to all the walking and swimming the previous day, I was out for the count. I was in such a deep sleep that when I awoke and stretched, I thought I was a balled up piece of paper unravelling itself. For once Ann was impressed when she came to our door because we were up. When Sarah and I were dressed, the 3 of us went for breakfast.

For the first time since our arrival, new guests were beginning to check in. Because of this, before having breakfast, Simon and Ann did the trick of putting towels on the loungers in the hopes of reserving some. Something they’d probably leaned from the German couple during their bike ride yesterday. Ann, Sarah, and myself all had the same meal, strawberry pancakes. To say they were small, we all struggled to clear our plates. Afterwards we went over to the pool area where we spent the majority of the afternoon. To be honest there’s not very much for me to say. I started off listening to my iPod on one of the loungers, and because of the heat I sweat buckets. I sweat so much in fact that the material of the lounger cushion left an imprint of my body on it. It resembled the chalk outline of a body at a crime scene. The funny thing about the heat, although it was hot, Sarah and I didn’t mind it. It wasn’t until her parents came out that we realised we’d acclimatised. They always chose to stay under the shelter of a parasail, and it’s too cold for us to go in their room because of how frosty 18 degrees feels to us now. At the beginning of this trip we were the ones setting the a/c that low, nowadays it’s all about the 25. I spent the afternoon lying in the sun working on my blog and going for a swim when I was too sweaty. Around 4:30pm we thought about going out for dinner. We returned to our rooms to get ready, then walked down the cobbled hill to town.

There was a slight problem at the bottom. A solemn monkey from the sanctuary was busy eating leaves. Ann was petrified of them after our visit the other day, and stayed close to the others as they passed. We followed a different street this time around and bought a few items. I bought two new pairs of shorts for the beach and pool, while both Sarah and I bought gifts for friends. Again, I can’t say what they were in case they’re reading this. By now shopping enraged me. I never enjoyed it, and every other shop sold exactly the same things, yet we still found ourselves stopping in each one. Fortunately, during this visit there weren’t that many to look at, but we were walking so slowly that it drove Simon and I crazy. After about half an hour a storm came over head and forced us into the shelter of a nearby cafe. This was where Ann was introduced to Pad Thai, but sadly it was a bad one. It had no flavour and was full of spicy evilness. Ann then said she’d never have one again, the poor thing didn’t know what she was missing. After dinner we continued up the road, only to come back on ourselves. There were no more shops to look at, so we ended up going back in the ones we’d already visited. Eventually we reached the slip road which took us back to our resort. I told Sarah this was my stop, then Simon and I left the girls to visit a spa, while we returned to Inata.

When we got back all we did was sit on the loungers beside the pool. I briefly signed into Skype to see what was happening, and as luck would have it, my nan was online. I gave her a quick ring to see how everything was going, and I showed her our resort. When my uncle showed up at her house I gave him the same treatment. He predicted the beautiful resort cost us £60 a night… sucker, it only cost us £30! The phone call lasted around 40 minutes. When I’d hung up I returned to find a sleeping Simon. Together we tried to figure out why the tablet still wouldn’t read my sd card. I gave it one last try by wiping the card clean and blowing into the sd port, Ureka, it worked. Sarah would be happy, all our tv shows were back, as well as our photos from the early parts of the trip. In that moment I felt like a technological genius. Next up, the build of an Ironman suit. Around 6pm the Mosquitos came out, so we returned to our rooms.

I took a quick shower then got into bed to watch a newly saved tv show. After it had finished I began writing about the day. I managed to write the first paragraph before Ann and Sarah came back. 7:45pm was the time, and those pampered princesses had been out this whole time getting various treatments. My mind was elsewhere when Sarah got in, and she began asking me what I’d been up to since she’d been gone. I sort of answered them, but I’m not fully aware of where my mind was. 5 minutes previous I was in bed in my own little world typing away, then out of nowhere Sarah disturbed the peace. She then sarcastically said “yes the spa was great, thanks for asking!!” My mind was everywhere and nowhere at the same time, and I hadn’t thought to have asked her. I was thinking we’d be going out for dinner and we’d talk about it then. With a newly p***** off girlfriend we got ready to go out.

Sarah and Ann had made a plan for what we should do the next day. They had discussed it with their taxi driver on the way back from the spa earlier on. Everything they had in mind was a good 2 or 3 hour drive from the resort, so if we wanted to do the various trips they’d have to be spaced out over two days. We all discussed it with the staff of our resort to get a better feel for everything, then caught the shuttle bus into town. We were dropped off outside Starbucks, then walked down our second different street of the day to locate a lovely restaurant. It was called “Nomad” and prided itself on selling foods that contained no additives. There was a brief explanation at the front of the menu which told the story of the owner. He looked to be a successful man having founded several different businesses throughout Indonesia, and named the restaurant “Nomad” because of the many places his job takes him. Their food was great, and afterwards we walked back to Starbucks to get our shuttle back. Because we were running 5 minutes late, the driver had walked up the street to greet us, at first I almost mistook him for another taxi driver trying to get our business. I had to stop myself from shouting over “no thank you” when I recognised his face. Back at the resort we booked a taxi for another all day session tomorrow, and returned to our rooms. Sarah and I then got into bed and concluded the evening with a movie called “I give it a year”. To say its an example of a British comedy making a comeback is an insult. Neither of us found it funny, in fact, I imagine it was about as enjoyable as reading today’s post. If so, I am terribly sorry!

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Day 216: DRAAAAAGOOOOO!!!!!

Today, much like Rocky in Rocky 4, we climbed a mountain. But unlike Rocky In Rocky 4, we didn’t run to the top and scream the name of his Russian opponent. Also unlike Rocky in Rocky 4, we didn’t do it for training purposes, instead we simply climbed to the top for s**** and gigs. I was mighty impressed with myself and the others with me, because we found it surprisingly easy. None of us were out of breath when we reached the summit. The day started really early. With an alarm set for 1:40am we crawled out of bed and began getting ready.

Sarah and myself stood at the entrance to our resort a little later than 2am, I think it was closer to ten past by the time we got there. At first we thought we’d missed the pick up, as on our receipt it said to be ready between the hours of 2am and 2:15am. When the clock read 2:30am we began to worry. To find out what was going on we had to wake the sleeping receptionist. He was led on the floor behind the counter, as I got close he sprang to life, startling me slightly. He rubbed his sleepy eyes and put on his glasses, then told me I’d have to phone the number because he couldn’t read it. No sooner than I was about to pick up the receiver, a car pulled up. It was our ride.

The driver apologised for being late, and told us he’d made the mistake of going to a different Inata resort first. There was already one other tourist in the car, his name was Tony, and came from Finland. If you want to know what he sounded like, just say this sentence in your best Count Dracula impression:
“My name is Tony, and I come from Finland, mwoa ah ah!”
Ok, he didn’t say “mwoa ah ah”, but you get my point. There were four of us doing the day trip in total after we stopped to grab Matilda from her hotel. Matilda came from Cambridge, and as soon as she got in the car she began chatting. Whereas Tony kept to himself all day, and only spoke when spoken to. It was now close to 3am, and the first thing on the agenda was breakfast. Our driver took us to a coffee plantation on the way to Mount Batur. There we were each served a banana pancake, and had to endure the awkward moment when the plantation owner brought out samples of the many coffees he sold. They never reveal their true intentions until you start sampling their products. There were 5 different coffees in small cups placed in front of us. At first we feared one of them was the Luwak poo coffee, after seeing a poster advertising it behind us. It turned out none of them were, as it was too expensive to give away as samples. As soon as we started drinking, the owner came over and began putting his packaged coffees on the table and said, “if you like, you can buy? I have many different sorts”. None of us wanted to buy any, yet we felt obliged to because of how awkward we felt. Sarah was quick to respond saying we had no money. Then the owner walked away leaving the products on the table staring at us. Eventually our driver came to the rescue and took us away.

The drive to the bottom of the mountain was only 15 minutes from the plantation. When we got there our guide introduced herself to us (although I forgot her name instantly I’m ashamed to say). We each took a quick bathroom break, and were given torches afterwards to light the way. It was pitch black all the way to the top, and because there were no buildings to cause any light pollution it meant the night sky was painted with billions of little white dots. The stars shone so brightly above our heads, but our cameras couldn’t pick them up, and it was a shame we didn’t stop frequently enough to appreciate them. I liked the pace our guide set for us, it was very quick. There were many other groups attempting the same feat as us, but we passed them every time they’d stop. I think we stopped all of two times on the way up. Once to have a drink of water, where we met a cute little girl selling water, named Kirsty, and a second time for our guide to make an offering at a shrine. She thanked us for waiting for her, then marched us up the rest of the way. It was tricky in sections because of the loose rocks. I was surprised, because of how fast we were ascending, that none of us were out of breath. To say the only exercise we get these days involves lugging a holdall between accommodations, we did very well to feel as good as we did. Perhaps all that walking in Singapore had prepared us for this. The higher we climbed the more clear the air was to breath in. I’d forgotten what brisk air felt like, because of our altitude, and the time of day, the air was thinner and less humid. For a second it felt like home, and almost as if someone switched on a giant air conditioning unit in the sky. Just before we reached the halfway point our guide slipped on a wet rock, and cut one of her arms and legs. It wasn’t bad, but she made one hell of a thudding sound as she hit against the rocks. Afterwards she told us she walks to the top of the volcano everyday, and that was the first time she’d slipped. At 5:30am we’d reached the halfway point and the world around us was flat and smooth, no more jagged rocks to watch out for. It was here our tour guide gave us some bad news.

She told us that our trip ended there, something we hadn’t been told at the time of booking. The people we’d booked with also said water would be provided, which it wasn’t, hence why the young girl, Kirsty, was flogging the stuff. Our guide then explained that if we wanted to go to the peak we could, and it was up to us how much we wanted to pay her to take us there. After a team huddle, and brief discussion, the decision was unanimous. Of course we wanted to go all the way to the top, what would be the point in climbing all that way only to stop at the halfway point. Seeing as it was only another 20 minute walk we agreed that 50,000 each would be sufficient enough for her. It’s always difficult when they say “it’s up to you”, as you never know what’s considered fair. The last thing we wanted was to come across as offensive. Even at the halfway point we didn’t stop for a rest, our guide knew that if we wanted to make it in time for sunrise, we’d need to leave ASAP. The sun was already changing the colour of the sky in the distance. So off we marched up the steepest slope yet, overtaking more groups as we went. This section was slightly more dangerous than the last. Instead of loose rocks to worry about, we had to go careful not to slip on the black pumice. If we did, the only thing to grab ahold of was the sharp volcanic rocks. Fortunately we all made it without any injuries, all except for Sarah, who got a slight boo boo on the palm of her hand.

To be at the top of the volcano gave me a great sense of elation. They say “nothing in life is worth having if it comes easy”, and I’d just like to say that the view we got to witness definitely didn’t. It was unlike any other I’d seen on earth. As we sat at the edge of the mountain, overlooking all that lay before us, our guide told us we were very lucky that it was so clear. All this week it had been cloudy and raining. I didn’t envy previous climbers in that moment, it was very cold already, had it been raining as well it would have been close to freezing. We could see for miles around. In the distance was the tallest mountain, Mount Agung. Off to the side of that, a little farther away, we could see Lombok, one of the Gili islands. At first it was fairly dark, the sun was still low in the sky at this point, and all that shone from behind the clouds was a red and orange wave of colour. We could just about make out the silhouette of Agung, and see the sheet of clouds praying at its feet. More and more became illuminated with the suns appearance. At first it took its time to rise, but when it started moving you could practically see it climbing higher and higher. The sky looked as though it was warming up. Colours of red, orange, yellow, pink, green, blue, purple burst through the clouds as if someone had spilled paint pots everywhere. Even with all the photos we took, we couldn’t capture what we saw. It was like heaven’s doors had opened, and out walked an angel. In the very moment the sun peered over the clouds, it was almost as if Mother Nature herself was being revealed. It was a moment that will stay with me forever. Much like the Perhentian islands of Malaysia, it’s something I’ll never truly be able to put into words. I felt something that morning, and suddenly I was more grateful than ever for everything I’d seen and done these past 7 and a half months. This truly was what travelling was all about, and to think that if I hadn’t taken the redundancy at work I’d still be there now, missing all of this.

With the sun above the clouds we could finally see everything transparently clear. The clouds floated gently above the lake below like an inviting bed from the gods. They were so close that we were tempted to see if we could run across the tops of them. All around us was nothing but greenery, the hills, the fields below, the rice paddies. It looked like Eden. Now, years of drawing cartoon volcanos as a child gave me extensive knowledge as to how a volcano should look, and what we were sitting on certainly didn’t coincide with my pictures. Instead of the grey quadrilateral looking shape with a wavy line of red lava, and a cloud of smoke bellowing from the top, the real thing was grassy, grey, and no sign of lava anywhere. There wasn’t even a giant pit with lava at the bottom. This was probably a good thing, because had it looked like my drawings, we’d all be singed to a crisp, and in years to come we’d be a tourist attraction like the poor people of Pompeii. While we were sat admiring the view our guide brought over our second breakfast of the day. It was an unorthodox meal to say the least, banana sandwiches and one hard boiled egg. I ate mine, and ended up eating Sarah’s when she couldn’t stomach it any longer. It wasn’t long after that, that our guide suggested moving on.

It wasn’t that much farther to the highest peak of the volcano, and when we got there we were surprised with what we saw. Monkeys. There were actually monkeys at the top of a volcano, I’ve seen it all now. I think it was probably because food was being cooked there that they stayed, but where they’d come from in the first place was the biggest mystery. Mind you, there were a coupe dogs walking around when we were eating our sandwiches. The people who prepared the food used the heat from the volcano to cook it. There was a cavern which they used as a large oven. The top made for very nice photos, not only because we could see down the volcano (which was a grassy hill with steam coming out) but because from the other side we could see all the open green land. It resembled what I’d like to imagine Canada looks like. After another short stop to take more photos, we continued along the rim of the volcano.

This part of the trek was the most precarious. We had to walk along a thin stony ridge. One wrong move would see us falling to our deaths. Had we been in England this sort of behaviour wouldn’t have been allowed. Health and Safety wouldn’t be able to cope. Although it was dangerous, it didn’t stop Sarah and myself stopping to take photos every 5 minutes. Poor Tony had to stop every time because he was behind us the whole way. Once again the trolls made their appearance. By now they’d travelled farther than my uncle, who in his 40 something years has never left England. I was slightly embarrassed as I tried to take a picture of them, because people who passed me were staring. They only laughed, but when you’re almost 25 and you’re playing with trolls, people tend to judge. The sights only got better as the walk went on, which you’ll be able to see at the bottom of this blog. After we’d circled the entire rim we made the descent back to the bottom. It was even harder to go down, Sarah had to hold on to the tour guide’s hand because she found it so difficult. The black pumice gave out underneath our feet at every step. It was a similar experience to walking down a sand dune, there was nothing we could do about it but move slowly. To compensate for the loose terrain I found it easier if I walked with my legs slightly bent, meaning they were tensed the whole way – something that caused them to feel like jelly later on. Eventually we were back on the path we followed up, and the ground below us was rocks again. This wouldn’t have been so bad had sarah and I been wearing a different pair of shoes, but the dap like material our trainers were made of meant we felt every stone. By the end I was used to it, and treated it like a reflexology treatment, but because Sarah’s shoes were knock offs, it was nothing but agony for her. There was an annoying moment when we were close to the bottom. A group of hikers decked out in full hiking gear (I’m talking sticks, boots, brightly coloured waterproofs. They looked like skiers minutes the skis) were rude enough to push passed us. Well I say a group, the majority were polite enough to say excuse me and thank you where it was due, but there was one smaller older woman who wasn’t. In that moment we all wanted to grab her sticks and smash them with a rock. As we walked a little farther we were greeted by Kirsty again.

On the way up she’d asked us if we wanted some water, at the time we said no, but Sarah said we’d buy one on the way back down. However, she’d changed her mind because Matilda gave us a spare bottle. Not wanting to let the little kid down, I paid the extortionate price of 25,000 rupiah (almost £2) for a bottle of coke. It was her cute husky voice that won me over, and the fact she’d been lugging a backpack filled with glass bottles up and down the hill. She put us to shame, because she made it look easy, even jumping down rocks in places like a mountain goat. When our guide was ready she took us the final 20 minutes to the bottom. It all looked so much different in the light of day, although we’d walked it earlier on, we could only see our surroundings via torchlight. Everything was so colourful, and the lake below was reflecting the mighty Mount Agung perfectly on its mirror like still surface. Along the way she informed us that the volcano erupted back in the early sixties, killing 2000 people in the village below. After that, many of the villagers left to find a safer location, but even to this day there are families still living there who refused to move. When we reached the car park it was hard to believe we’d climbed all the way to the top, as we looked back to see what we’d accomplished. I was thankful it was dark when we’d arrived, as its gargantuan stature was intimidating. The four of us then paid our guide the 200,000 rupiah for taking us to the peak, then she walked us to our driver. We shook her hand and thanked her sincerely, then climbed in the minivan to sit on the soft leather seats, and enjoy some a/c.

We made one stop on the way back on a bridge overlooking both volcanos and the lake below. Mount Batur stood around 5600 and something feet, and we’d scaled it all the way to the top. After taking some more photos we got back in the minivan. Tony was dropped off at his hotel first, followed by Matilda. We got her details for Facebook and said our goodbyes, we were then taken around the corner to Inata Resort. The staff at our resort were so nice to us, even though the time was 11am they still served us breakfast. Their usual hours were between 7 and 10am. I guess it was extenuating circumstances for us, we had just climbed a volcano after all. We sat by the pool while they prepared it, then moved over to the restaurant area when it was ready. I uploaded one of the photos to Facebook during the meal, which annoyed Sarah slightly. She claimed it meant she had to eat alone, “hypocrite” is all I’ll say. After breakfast we spent the majority of the afternoon by the pool.

Ann and Simon were out on a day trip all day, riding push bikes around Ubud. So pretty much all day it was just Sarah and I. I think I may have an addictive personality. I’ve said before that I’m not one to do things by halves. Even though my legs felt like jelly from the volcano trek, I pushed myself to spend the afternoon swimming. I did breast stroke, front crawl, back crawl, butterfly, every type of movement possible. Although the pool wasn’t very big, it was enough to make my body ache afterwards. The whole time I was doing that, Sarah was working in her tan. The sun wasn’t out for long, and for the most part, the weather was overcast with a chance of rain. Yet Sarah still managed to get some colour, perhaps it was the new tanning oils her parents had brought out. When we grew tired of the pool we returned to our room to watch a tv show. By now it was around 3pm, and Sarah’s parents STILL weren’t back. We went back to the pool for a further half hour, to an hour, then called it a day and waited on their return in our room. Somewhere around half past four they showed up.

They appeared to have enjoyed their trip. Ann seemed ecstatic about the whole day. She said it was very educational, as they learned fun facts from their guides. They shared the trip with a German couple. Although, they said they didn’t do all the uphill sections like they did. For which they were glad, because by the end they said the Germans clothes were ringing with sweat. They also happened to enjoy the dance show the previous evening while Sarah and I slept. I think they liked the show more than the bikes though, as Ann isn’t the most confident on the two wheeled vehicles. We all spent some time telling each other about our trips, and Ann and Simon couldn’t rave about the dance show enough. Although Sarah had already seen one on her last visit to Bali, it sounded like something we’d have to do again. We were all tired from our excursions, plus Sarah and I had been up since 1:40am. Instead of going out immediately, instead we stayed in our rooms for a couple hours. I used that time to rest while writing my blog.

At about 6pm Sarah, Simon, and I went out for tea. Ann wasn’t feeling too good after picking up a bug from somewhere. All evidence pointed towards the tap water. They’d been using it to fill their kettle for cups of tea. So Ann stayed in bed, while the three of us went back to Cafe Des Artistes. Now that my cold had gone I’d be able to eat, taste, and enjoy one of their many dishes. Rather than have the steak again, I chose the marinated BBQ chicken for the same price. It was amazing. At the end, when we asked for the bill, we also got them to phone our resort for a pick up in an hour and a halves time (9:15pm). This would give us enough time to look around the shops. This time I didn’t mind shopping as much because we were looking for presents for our friends. We managed to find a couple little things, but nothing worth writing down here (besides, it needs to be a surprise for our friends). One thing I did notice as we walked the streets were the amount of beggars. The most popular being the mother carrying a baby, if it wasn’t her it was young children sat with their hands out. As heartbreaking as it is, and was, to see, we kept walking, ignoring their pleas. I always feel so bad though, if I could afford to I’d give them the world. Plain and simple. We briefly stopped in a convenient store for some water, then walked back to Cafe Des Artistes for our pick up.

Fortunately the drivers arrive ahead of time to get you, as when we got back there were still 15 minutes to spare. I don’t think we were waiting any longer than 5 minutes before he showed up. We had to pick up one more guest from our resort before heading back, the driver apologised for this, then we drove no more than 500 metres to find her waiting on the pavement. With a car full of passengers we returned to Inata. Ann was still sick and looked very uncomfortable in bed. We discussed how she felt, then Sarah remembered we might have some tablets from the time I was sick at the beginning of this trip. We both returned to the room, and she began searching the various medicine bags. She found some form of pill or another, before rushing back to her mother’s aid. I remained in the room getting ready for bed. When Sarah got back we watched some tv shows, and around 11pm she fell asleep. When “Family Guy” ended, I began typing up the rest of the day’s activities. It was 12am by the time I’d finished, meaning I’d nearly stayed up for 24 hours straight. Funnily enough I’m not that tired, although, my eyes do sting, and I am now able to transcend both time and space, but that’s normal right?

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Day 215: Trucking Banker

Even when our intrepid hero thought he could finally rest, the opportunity was stolen from him. His day was ruined by the banking crisis. Not to the extremes of countries like Greece, but enough to require two to three hours of his time. Even after he solved the issue, with the help of the sage banker beside him, there were still other tasks which would plague him. After slaying the heart of the problem, he and his fellow men… and ladies, explored a palace to see its many treasures. When they’d seen all there was to be seen, the foursome dined like gods upon a mighty banquet. The day was relatively short for our hero and his woman, because in the early hours of the following morning, they had a behemoth quest of conquering a volcano. After their feast, the bravest and toughest hero of them all left his warriors to scour merchant’s stalls for goods. As he strolled back toward their homeland he had to cross the gauntlet of temptation. This place was home to many sirens who beckoned any man that passed with the cry “massage sir?” Our hero was too strong willed, and respectfully turned down the invites, as ultimately he knew where he needed to be. Thanks to his long legs the journey back took no time at all. He was then given a key by the fabled receptionist which granted him access to his home. The mighty warrior, with great hair, then led on the bed and began writing what he’d experienced that day as a memoir for all the people of the land. When he was done he attempted to rest, as tomorrow he’d be facing his mightiest enemy yet, the omnipotent and fiery Mount Batur.

Apologies if that didn’t make sense to anyone. I was just trying to see how good my creative writing skills were. Allow me to rephrase the whole thing in modern talk… By the way, I was the brave and mighty hero for all those sill in the dark. It has been a very short day today. In fact, I’d say its been the shortest one this trip. Sarah and I needed to go to bed earlier than usual because we had to get up by 2am to climb Mount Batur. So in total today was only around 9 hours long. Now lets get to it.

• We were woken up at 9:45 this morning by Ann banging on the door. This time however, she’d played knock out ginger by running away. Sarah and I had overslept and would’ve been late for breakfast otherwise. So today we were happy for her presence. Quickly we got dressed, then enjoyed breakfast like we did the day before, with the staff still being utterly attentive.

• After brekkie we spent the morning, and a couple hours of the afternoon, beside the pool. I read over the previous days blog and was so happy when I’d finished it. It meant I could spend the rest of the time in the pool. That was until I remembered I had to do some online banking to see if everything was ok. I felt really bad about dragging Sarah’s mum into it though. Back home Ann works for the bank I’m with, and right now she was supposed to be on holiday. Little did I know at the beginning we’d end up spending 2 – 3 hours trying to figure it all out. I am really really sorry for that Ann. I didn’t fully understand my credit card anytime I checked it online, and always found myself throwing money at it to cover our travels. Ann took the time to explain everything to me, but noticed something was off. There was a direct debit coming from somewhere, and was paying the bills for me. After looking at the other accounts I had with the bank, we still couldn’t figure it out. Not a single one had a direct debit set up. It was then we remembered I was a member of a different bank. Before leaving England, Sarah and I set up an account with a different branch because they offered cheap rates abroad. It wasn’t until we started using it that we realised it actually cost us more money to use their card. So after several weeks at the start of the trip we stopped using it. I had forgotten it was with that bank account I’d set up the direct debits. With our fingers on the pulse we sorted it out and finally got back on track. We happily logged off, forgot about the money issues, and got on with our day. All I had left to do was phone my mum to see if she could sort out the rest back home.

• We all returned to our rooms to get ready for the day, however short it may have been. 10 minutes later we had an idea of where we wanted to go. In town there was a water palace which looked very interesting, so we got the resort’s shuttle bus to take us there. However we ended up having a different driver than usual, as the usual driver had already taken some other guests out. This driver was very friendly, and spoke rather loudly. He made it a bit awkward when he found out where we were from. He told us we were lucky because we could travel to Bali, but he couldn’t afford to go anywhere else. It would be too expensive for him, because in Bali it’s very difficult to save money, he explained.
“There are too many festivals and activities to spend your money on. No sooner than you earn it, you end up spending it” were his exact words. Simon did his best to redirect the conversation, and thankfully our stop wasn’t very far away.

• It appeared as though the taxi driver had misunderstood. We were dropped off at a resort instead. At least that’s what we thought. He explained the palace was around the back, we just had to walk through the resort first. When we reached the gates there was a man who dressed us in sarongs to grant us access. He wrapped it around our waists and tied a double knot. In our new outfits we began exploring the rather small grounds. There were signs around the buildings encouraging people not to climb on the steps. By far Hindu temples were the best. The amount of gargoyles they had were remarkable. Each one was highly decorated and resembled a scary monster of some sort. The reason for their presence was to scare off evil spirits. I couldn’t help but think that might send off mixed messages. If an evil spirit is coming, why would it be scared of something that looks like a monster? Surely they’d be used to that, because they themselves are evil. Maybe I’d just watched one too many movies. All the buildings were red and gold, and the statues between each one were of colossal proportion. I couldn’t get over the amount of detail they had, even down to something as small as a jewel on their belts. At one point my feet began to hurt. As I looked down I saw they were covered in red ants, they were all biting me in unison. Sarah also had the same unpleasant experience happen to her. We didn’t know if we’d stood on a nest, or if they were already on the sarong when we put it on. It was most likely to be the latter, as Ann also noticed she had a few on her legs too. Either way we brushed them off quickly before leaving.

• We didn’t need the sarongs for the next bit. As we left the sacred grounds we found ourselves in a courtyard, where two large ponds were separated by a concrete path. It was also the spot where traditional Hindu dances were put on to entertain and educate. There were two small boys with a fishing rod trying to catch the many aquatic animals below them. The small area made for very nice photos indeed. On the way out, Ann and Simon purchased tickets to watch one of the dances later on that day. Sarah and I didn’t as we’d be sleeping. We then made our way down the street to find something to eat. Although, that plan didn’t happen right away, no thanks to Sarah.

• Before finding the lovely restaurant we ended up at, Sarah spotted a market place. It wasn’t any good in my opinion, each small shop was stocked with items like sarongs, bags, trinkets, and for some odd reason, penis shaped bottle openers. The odd reason had something to do with the religion. Certain people believed the objects held the power to help couples conceive, they’d use it as fertility statue. Sarah could see we were all bored and gave up in the end, saying she’d come back on her own to have a look around. Besides, Ann didn’t like the constant gaze from the shop owners as they followed her around. Not much farther down the street was the restaurant we ate dinner. It was called Ibu Rai, and featured in the Lonely planet for its multicultural dishes. I had a hot chocolate along with my meal, in an attempt to help send me off to sleep in a few hours time. When we’d sorted out who owed what, I left the others to look around the shops. By now I had had enough of walking around the shops aimlessly, and instead chose to go back to the resort. There was nothing I wanted to buy for myself, and I’d seen it all before. Somehow Sarah always managed to find something she liked, even if it served her no purpose, such as a fancy plate or dish. During my walk back I was constantly asked if I wanted a massage from one of the many ladies sat outside each massage parlour. I said “no thank you” to each one, although I did want to shout “NO THANK YOU!” After the 20th person asked me. It didn’t take me long to get back to our resort, and just before I got there I could see the volcano in the distance clear as day. The light was shining from behind the triangular mountain in such a way that it practically forced it into the foreground. I took a photo and returned to the room.

• Inside I went about closing the curtains and switched off any light that was on, in an attempt to recreate the environment I’m used to as I typed. Seeing as I never get to bed until gone 3am these days… no thanks to this blog, I figured if I wrote in the dark, my brain would think it was nighttime and make me tired. That plan went out the window as soon as Sarah got back from the shops. Just as I was coming to an end with the day’s post, she turned on the lights and showed me what she’d bought. It was an item of clothing. In her defence it was a lovely dress, and it complimented her figure nicely… maybe I’m more tired than I thought writing sentences like that. Ann then came in and showed off her newly purchased trousers, before leaving Sarah with a sleeping pill. Seeing as I was up now, I Skyped my mum. After that, I got ready for bed at the early hour of 7pm. I’d not gone to bed that early since I was around 6 or 7 years old.

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