A Travellerspoint blog

January 2011


Stunning, stunning, stunning.

sunny 32 °C

What can I say? The city is gorgeous, as are the people. Everyone and everything is quirky in it’s own little way- we have had such an amazing time!

For the first time in this trip, instead of going from hotel to hotel, we stayed with a dear friend who we first met in Abu Dhabi, and we had the best time, Peter certainly has the art of entertaining foreigners down perfectly! We had BBQs every night, visited wineries that could fool you into thinking you’re in the Italian countryside- and had the unique pleasure of seeing an excellent Queen tribute band while dancing and sipping wine in the sun (who could ask for a better Sunday afternoon?), forced him to sample haggis on Burns night, celebrated Australia Day, sampled “Bundie and Coke” and a home made “snot block” (folks that know Australia will know what I mean), got a birthday tattoo (mike, not me)and saw Melbourne from a local’s perspective.


We were also lucky enough to meet with some other friends who we hadn’t seen in a while (for those who don’t know, I worked for an Aussie company when we first moved to Abu Dhabi, and most people I know from then have since moved back here) and Mike’s cousin who he hadn’t even seen since they were at school! Definitely a city for reunions!

We have had the most amazing time in Melbourne and we’re sad to leave, I think we would have spent weeks here if we didn’t have to hit the road- but it’s time to go on our adventure up north. Not sure where we’ll be going, all we know is that our flight is in 16 days from Brisbane..

Posted by lesleymw 22:54 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Gili Islands and North Bali

So much for taking it easy!

storm 29 °C

On Tuesday we decided to take a jaunt to Gili Trawangan the biggest island of three small islands off the coast of Lombok. This was the easiest one for us to get to for such a short stay, and we were a little bit concerned when we were heard that it had a reputation for a party island. Needless to say, we shouldn’t have worried! Although the main street was lined with bars, there were only a few- and the street was effectively a dirt track! There are no cars or motorised transportation on the island, the way to get around is by bike or by horse and cart- really the lazy place we had been looking for.

The_main_s..awangan.jpgRelaxing_o..awangan.jpg a.jpgSunset_ove..awangan.jpg

Mike was luckily able to do a dive from the island and said that underwater was just like a garden- it’s a shame he didn’t see any turtles, the area is well known for them.

We only stayed for one night but were able to take it easy. We were stopped by doing too much unfortunately because of the tropical storms that hit the island on a regular basis- but it was a nice excuse to stay indoors!

On our last day on Bali we visited Pura Tanah Lot which is a water temple a few hundred metres from the shore which protects the island from the sea. It was really beautiful to see- and the stormy seas made it look quite crazy! Then we went to the north of the island to some hot springs- they were pools heated to a toasty 38 degrees by sulphur, which you didn’t notice until you emerged from your bathe covered in orange- we looked like we were using some very bad fake tan! There were three pools in total, each with showers running from one to another from a main temple- and the showers had different strength so you could get a good massage while you were at it!


We then went back to Ubud for a wander around the lazy town, and to see the Sacred Monkey Forest which is full of ancient Indiana Jones style carvings (including the ones of demons devouring children!) and lots and lots of monkeys who like to steal your bag to see if you have any food hiding inside!


I can’t believe we’re leaving already, but so glad that we had the chance to come and see this amazing place!

Posted by lesleymw 13:44 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

We’re in Bali!

A mixture of relaxation and adventure

storm 26 °C

We’ve been in Bali of about half a week now, and it really is mind blowing! This part of our trip is mainly for relaxing and catching up on some rest, the past month has been quite hectic! Yeah, now would be the time to feel sorry for us.

We’re staying in Tuban which is a small beach about 5 minutes walk from Kuta beach- the main “strip” on the island which is full of beers, drunken Aussies (though, we should probably get used to that!), restaurants that open onto the street, and about a million tattoo parlours. It seems we’ve stumbled across the Australian’s answer to Costa del Sol.

But Kuta is still brilliant, you can try some local food- or go to the fantastically named Bubba Gump’s Shrimp House- for the price of a coffee in the UK, go for a fish spa (where the fish nibble off your dead skin- the tickliest, strangest thing you’ll ever feel- but the best pedicure ever), buy a Bintang vest (the local beer- literally every family we see has at least 2 wearers), or fly some kites- we are in the surfer’s paradise, so we have perfect kite flying weather for those of us who would end up on the sea bed with a mouth full of sea water.


Yesterday we decided to go a bit further afield and went towards the north of the island to Mount Batur which is an active volcano. We started climbing up an old trail of lava up the steep side of the volcano at about 4am- made even more pleasant by the fact that it was pitch black. We made it up through the rain and very steep mounds of soft black sand and sharp rocks in time to watch the sun rise over the surrounding volcanoes- gorgeous! And another recommendation for your bucket list! At the top (we’d climbed 1000m) we were able to have a nosey around the craters (each one for each eruption- there’s been about 10) which was quite daunting- especially when you feel the toasty hot steam coming up through the gaps!


After climbing back down we then took a bike ride down to Ubud through lots of paddy fields and temples. Here, each family-meaning extended family- lives in their own temple- it’s really breathtaking to see so many shrines and beautiful buildings lining the roads with fields and trees everywhere else. We cycled about 29km and every village we went through there were kids as young as 2 running out of their temples, shouting “hello!” and putting their hands out for high fives! This is definitely the real Bali- and I can completely understand why people love it, and why Charlie Chaplin was a regular visitor!


Of course, today we are paying for our adventure- when going out for some breakfast (and strong coffee- still catching up on some sleep) we got quite a few strange looks for groaning and having to take our time when it came to stairs and sitting down! We’d have lost any race against some oaps! We may be able to venture out tonight- maybe after a massage on the beach and a tube of deep heat!

Oh! Before I forget- I have to share this! We went to a place where they make the most expensive coffee in the world, that is only made here. But wait till you hear how they make it! They get a cat like animal called a luwak with feet like a human to eat the berries from the coffee plant, wait for it to pass them (yup) and then get the undigested fermented beans out of the droppings, clean them, and grind them for coffee! They only make 500kgs a year, which I guess that’s why it’s so expensive. My only question is- how did they decide to find beans from there?? And yes, it actually tastes quite good- beware those who come round in the future for a cup of coffee! Mwah ha ha!


Posted by lesleymw 16:04 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

I heart Singapore

Not just a stopover destination!

semi-overcast 26 °C

What can I say? Singapore has taken our breath away! We actually thought we’d only have one night in the city- but so glad it turned out to be two! We thought there wouldn’t be much to do since we don’t know many people that have actually been here for a holiday- only stopovers between flights, but we were very wrong!

First though, you can’t talk about the city without talking about the fines. You can be fined a huge amount for almost anything that could harm the appearance of Singapore: gum chewing, smoking, spitting, graffiti-i ng (although you get the cane for that), not flushing a public toilet (yup) or peeing anywhere actually, cycling under a bridge, jay walking... I could go on! But because of these laws, Singapore is probably the cleanest, most pleasant city we’ve ever visited- it really is fantastic. Another contributing factor is that the public transportation system is so fantastic (timed to the minute in the case of the metro that covers the whole city) there’s not many cars at all- I think this is the first city we’ve visited in a long time where we’ve not even used a taxi from the airport.

Singapore Island is about 20 miles long, it’s tiny- and the actual centre is much smaller, we were able to see an awful lot in the short time we were here. We spent time going through China Town where they are preparing for the Lunar New Year- there are lanterns everywhere, lots of red decorations (which signifies luck) and lots of rabbit toys , pictures and statues, which is what year it will be in a few weeks.


We were even lucky enough to see some teams from all over Asia doing a lion dance on huge stilts which were so far apart- looking like the Chinese dragons, but with only two people. Amazing!

The waterfront is also fantastic- it’s so nice to go for a stroll and see the candy coloured buildings everywhere. It’s easy to take it easy here- despite everything running like clockwork and being so efficient- they even sell ready mixed Jack Daniels and Coke in bottles (at ice cream stalls, woop woop) to save some time, and don’t get me started on the breakneck speed of the escalators here! And the fact that there are lots of gorgeous restaurants and bars right on the river that serve towers of beer- you can’t help but feel relaxed.


Now, I have to admit- we did plan to go to Raffles- to the bar that invented the Singapore Sling, and find out what one actually tastes like, but it turns out it would cost £20 each so we’re happy to stick to Tiger beer in the cafe across the road for now!

We also took a quick jaunt down to Sentosa Island to the south (still, only about 4kms from the city centre) which is basically a fun island- full of rides, attractions, beaches, 4D cinemas... I could go on and on!

I think Singapore will definitely be a place that, if we ever have a stopover between flights, we’ll make sure we extend it by a few days- really one of our most favourite cities.

Posted by lesleymw 09:44 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Our brief stop in Mumbai

semi-overcast 30 °C

The highlight of our visit to Mumbai was, of course, the lovely wedding of Melissa and Lester Fernandes! The bride was absolutely beautiful and the groom looked so happy! It was really amazing for us to be able to make it to their special day and see all of the little traditions that a modern Indian wedding involves. And the women in the most beautiful saris I have ever seen were just jaw dropping! I’m not going to give a step by step account of the day- but just to say a huge congratulations to the new Mr. and Mrs. Fernandes!


The actual island of Mumbai, separate from where we are staying is really beautiful- the buildings make you feel like you’re in Paris or London, and the skyline from the bridge is amazing, more so at sunset.


Posted by lesleymw 11:32 Archived in India Comments (0)

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