Welcome to Baliwood!

So I made it to ‘Bali Wood’ Hah, ok, not quite but I just couldn’t resist putting this as the title!

Wow, so it felt like it took forever to get to Bali…The Ozzies were saying it’s only a 3hr flight from Australia but mine felt more like a 12hr process but then again, I am on a budget so opted for the slow mo options ho hum!

Game of Chinese charades anyone?

So I left Australia on Thursday evening and arrived in Bali Friday afternoon. During my connecting flight from Kuala Lumpur, the air crew handed out arrival cards and I had that De Ja Vue feeling when I was faced with familiar questions such as “Are you bringing in any meat, poultry, fish, drugs, pornographic material!” I actually had a comedy moment that I WISH someone had filmed…it will be one of those ‘you had to be there’ moments but I’m sure this would have given Catherine Tate some new material haha! Ok, so basically, I was sitting in the middle seat sandwiched between 2 Chinese girls (I later discovered that Bali has a lot of Chinese visitors but I’ll cover that bit later). So, picture this…everyone is now filling out their arrivals cards apart from the 2 Chinese girls next to me. Once I’d finished mine, the girl to my right (who was called Chi), asked me to help her. Chi could hardly speak English! I soon discovered this because she was copying my answers on her arrivals card, yep, everything from my name to my DOB! “Woah, woah! That’s my name!” I chuckled. “You put your name here and your birthday here!” Phew, she finally got that bit but the next part turned into a game of charades, it was so funny! I pointed at things like ‘Are you bringing in any guns?’ It must have then looked like I was rein-acting a scene from Platoon or something, oh dear! Chi did this cute little giggle where she’d put her hand over her mouth and laugh. Great! So she understands me signing in the air looking like an idiot haha! So you can imagine that for each question, I had to act something out so she understood it all hahah! For the drugs question, I just smoked an invisible cigarette, squinted my eyes and then smiled like a Cheshire cat! I knew Chi understood me because she did that cute giggle from behind her hand once more. I found out that Chi and her friend were going to be passing through Ubud so I said I’d probably bump into her! Once we’d touched down, Chi gave me her email address so I’m guessing she wanted to meet up but I assume the poor thing won’t understand it anyways hah oh well!

Touch Down! 

WOW! The heat surrounded (and suffocated) me as soon as I’d stepped off the plane, my word it’s hot! I reached for my shades to stop the sun from completely burning my retina’s to buggery and then followed everyone into the arrivals lounge. Most of us headed to the VOA (visa on arrival) booths which were located to the left of the arrivals hall. The first thing you must do is pay $25 US dollars for the actual visa…the staff then hand you the paper visa which is lose in your passport. You then walk over to the Immigration who assess your passport and review your visas. I was told I might have needed to produce my onward flight ticket just to prove I was going to leave Bali (guess they have a problem with people wanting to stay haha!) but I got away with it and I’m glad I did because my ticket was deep in my backpack which I hadn’t yet collected!

After my visa was stamped, I then walked over to the baggage claim area. Be careful here as there are porters readily waiting for everyone’s luggage to come round the belt so they can collect it for you which is fine BUT if you want them to haul it around (which of course they are more than eager to do), they will expect silver to cross their palms! I was aware of this from previous research so was readdy for them haha! They are easy to spot…there must have been about 5 waiting by the luggage belt and they were all wearing awful grey, well, off white uniforms with small square hats! I rushed over to the belt and actually saw my invisible man just coming round…the pink scarf still miraculously hanging on for dear life even after all these months haha! So on the trolley the bag goes and I’m off. As soon as I was outside, I was surrounded by the all so familiar airport hustle and bustle…families and friends greeting their loved ones, the usual chorus of “Excuse me Miss, you want Taxi, special price for you!”, Car horns tooting away and the hoards of men and women holding up tatty cards with their customers names….oh and hang on….”HELEN READDY’ Yippee….there’s my prearranged taxi! Handy (the hotel owner) was there ready to pick me up and whisk me off to his B&B so pretty ‘Handy’ really boom boom!

And WOW! Bali is absolutely beautiful! These were the first words that came into my head; ‘Green, lush, jungle, hot and humid, tropical, rice fields, hippy, yoga, chilled, spa’s, massage, taxi’s’ It actually reminded me of Chaing Mai in Thailand but just had a slightly different vibe. I’ve been told that Bali and in particular Ubud has a ‘magic’ to it. A lot of people come here for the yoga and the spiritual healing side which of course was one of the things I came here to do myself! I could see women carrying huge and heavy looking bags or baskets on their heads which still to this day amazes me how on earth they do it! I could also see masses of bright and colourful shops all lined up next to each other displaying either shoals / scarves, wooden carvings, paintings etc.. oh and then there were the all too familiar mangey looking street dogs! Oh no! I really don’t like street dogs…just takes me back to the Monkey School when that dog tried to bite me in the butt remember?! Nevermind, I will avoid them like the plague (or rabies hah!). Not too many street food stalls but then again, that was fine by me as I’d been told to avoid the street food altogether as this was one common cause of the ‘Bali belly syndrome’ haha!

Pulling into Ubud was just stunning! It was different to the other towns we had passed on the way and I knew then that I had picked the best spot! It is literally surrounded by forests and jungles which is a Helen haven! Other places such as Sanur, Kuta and Jimbalin just seemed way too touristy for what I was looking for.

Once I’d arrived, Handy gave me the key to my room and I immediately jumped into the shower, told Mama and Popz I had arrived and then flopped on my traditional Indonesian looking bed and crashed!

Saturday I didn’t really do too much at all, I kept this day free to explore my surroundings and get a feel for what I was going to do etc..I soon got lost in the many alleys, side roads and cross roads! “Right, must get a map sorted out” So that’s pretty much the first thing I did actually. Great stuff! I was soon getting to know where the cafes, bars and restaurants were as well as where the ATM’s and local convenience stores were situated too.

One thing I did notice is how Indonesia smells! It is lush! They are permanently burning incense sticks which is all part of their daily ritual.  Balinese people make small offerings to their Gods each and every single day. The offering is basically a banana leaf which is carefully (and magically) made into a square shape…the inside of the square is then packed with 5 different coloured flowers, rice and anything else they wish to place in there. The offering is then placed in front of temples, statues, in front of businesses (for luck) and in front of their homes etc and it is finished off by placing a burning incense stick next to them. I did in fact accidentally step on a few in the first week oops! But then so many other tourists had done the same because I could see many a squished offering along the pavements hehe! But how beautiful Bali is! And yes, it really is true that they wear flowers in their hair and also round their necks! Even the men do it is just so wonderful to see 🙂 They really are lovely people who seem so down to earth and of course to nature.

Volcanic Climb! 

Saturday evening I had gotten a good idea of what day trips I wanted to do so got cracking with booking up my week ahead. The first thing I wanted to do was see a real life volcano…but hang on, this tour says you can climb a volcano but more to the point…an active one! Omg, what a thrill! So I got onto the tour operators and booked it. “Thank you Miss Helen. It will be a 2am start” Came the reply from my email. “2am, are you sure! That’s rather early!” I was quite shocked haha…it was already 8pm Saturday evening you see so I knew I had to get to bed pretty sharpish if I was to be up and out by 2am. “Yes this is correct. It takes a few hours to drive to the volcano and then at least 2hrs to climb to the top. We must be there in time for the sunrise”. Wow, now this I have to do!

1am my alarm went off, yep, both of them haha! I was up, washed and outside waiting for my lift. I must admit, it did feel rather dodgy waiting outside for a man to pick me up in the dark…and who was I looking for? Oh no…street dogs! I kept crossing the road and tried to avoid them incase they could smell my fear haha! Suddenly a 6 seater mini van pulls up…I instinctively knew this was for me, well, I think it was the ‘Bali Adventure Tours’ on the side of the bus that gave it away hah! Out jumps Dewa, my driver. “Hello Miss Halan! I am Dewa, we go to Volcano now” A rather plum but very jolly man jumped out and opened the door for me to hop in. “Thanks Dewa” Dewa wouldn’t stop talking all the way to the Volcano! He was lovely though, totally harmless and full of life! The Balinese people do seem so happy (well, the ones I’ve met so far). Actually, his accent did uncannily sound like that character from Fonejacker George Agdgdgwngo! (My Dad’ll know who this is lol!)

A few hours later, Dewa parks up and tells me we’ve made it to the volcano. I couldn’t see a darn thing though but it was 3.30am! I met 2 other people who were also on my trip…a lovely couple from Austria oh and then our guide showed up and I kid you not, he looked about 12 hah! “Hello please. I am your guide. Please, each take a torch” I forget his name but I shall call him Mowgli because he looked like that cartoon character from the Jungle Book! Mowgli each gave us a torch and then ordered us to follow him. Ok, so it’s dark and it was absolutely freezing! The first part of the walk was fine, nice and flat! The ground at that point felt more like black sand but Mowgli said this was ‘volcanic ground’. Wow, so here goes!

We’d walked along to the base of the volcano and it was then I realised just how much of a trek this was going to be. We couldn’t even see the top because it was still so dark. Being not quite so full of beans at 3.30am, that was the moment I knew I was going to feel so drained once we’d reached the top! My inside chatter was trying to prepare me for this huge feat…’You can do it Hels! C’mon, it’ll be so worth it up top!’ Then it began.

To start with it was fine. Feeling like I had an advantage in my hiking boots, we all stormed onwards and upwards. It was a gradual incline which felt nice and easy but then suddenly the black/grey sand disappeared and gave way to huge grey rocks! The climb then got steeper and steeper until it literally was turning into a ‘climb’ Lagging at the back, I was getting short of breath but I didn’t want the others to notice hah! The Austrians were like super humans, they just didn’t stop! ‘Oh god, I can’t stop now! I’ll get left behind!’ Stupidly worrying about what they were thinking, I kept going. I had to whip my jumper off because I felt so hot and sticky from the climbing!  Then my legs were feeling heavier and even my hiking boots were starting to feel as though they were giving up on me! Each step became more challenging…you had to almost strategically place your feet in the ‘right places’ because the rocks were so lose…they would just give way from under your feet as though they were trying to escape being trodden on by my huge size 8’s! As soon as a rock would roll out from under your step, it would make your legs work even harder to try to stick to the uneven ground once more before you face planted into the nearest rock haha!  Eventually we stopped for a break! Phew! Glugging my water down and catching my breath, we were then ready to carry on. It was more of the same…lose rocks meant lose footing and even more trickier boulders blocking the ever increase incline of the volcano meant we had to help pull each other up. Looking over our shoulders, we could see a line of moving lights! “We must move quickly to beat the crowds. That is other people climbing up to the top!” A competitive sounding Mowgli urged us to keep going as quick as we could. I think he just wanted us to get the best spot up the top!

The climb just seemed relentless and the ground unforgiving! I was desperate for the ground to start feeling more ‘flat’ but of course this was never going to happen until we’d reached the top right! ‘At least let there be a clear path! These rocks are killing my legs’ I muttered! But then, there we were! An hour and a half later and we’d made it to a clear, flat part of the volcano. “Well done everyone! Now then, would you like to keep going to the crest of the crater?” Mowgli gave us the option to go right to the tip of the crater so we could actually look down into it! Well, what the hell, you can’t come all this way and not do it right! “Yeh sure, lets keep going” We all replied in unison! “Ok, it’s another 30 minutes climb!” Mowgli could see I was tired so he held my hand to the top.

Ok, so now we really were at the top! It was still fairly dark but the Mowgli promised the sunrise would soon be showering us all with its array of magical colours. So I bought a hot chocolate and waited and oh my word….the climbing, the pain, the sweating, the freezing cold air (and funny sulphury eggy stink) was worth it for there it was……..the darkness soon gave in to the rising sun and everyone watched in a stunned silence as the sky turned from a deep blue, to dark burnt orange, to reds, golden shades of orange and then pinks. There was an even bigger volcano opposite that we couldn’t see before. It was as though the sunset was a stage show curtain….it was lifting to show the Kintamani volcano in all its spectacular glory. It was just breath taking. You could even see the clouds ‘hugging’ the monstrous looking volcano as though they were the pillows for Kintamani! That’s exactly what this volcano was though – a sleeping beauty! Without moving my gaze from the beautiful sight in front of my eyes, I curiously muttered to Mowgli “Don’t the locals get scared it could erupt again?” “Oh no. They are not afraid” A short but sweet answer is all he gave but I was almost glad he didn’t give me an informative answer for that would have meant I would needed to have given him my full attention and for now all I wanted to do was stare at this magnificent backdrop!

After our National Geographic moment, we then climbed a little way down where Mowgli showed us some natural hot springs! That was amazing…hot steam was protruding from holes in the ground! It was like the steam coming out from a boiling kettle! Oh and then we saw a whole bunch of monkeys all well, monkeying around haha! I was wondering how on earth the monkeys all got up here but there were other signs of life including trees and bushes so I guess volcanic ground is still rather fertile. The climb back down didn’t take as long because we were mostly sliding down or should I say ‘sand surfing’  haha, that was quite fun!

Coffee pooed out of a cat?

Our drivers then took us to see a Luwak Coffee Farm. I’d heard about these on the TV but didn’t really know much about them. And wow, what an interesting place! We were warmly greeting by the plantation owner who then kindly showed me around.

“Welcome Helen. I’d like to show you around and then let you take a peek at how the Luwak Coffee is made. Then if you like, you are welcome to try some of this famous coffee” Juda was a nice guy and seemed more than happy for me to have a nose about. There was no messing either, we went straight to the Luwak’s ‘pen’. The Luwak is a kind of cat I think…looked a bit like a cross between a cat and large rat to me hah. They basically feed the Luwak these special red berries. Juda explained that the Luwak only eats the best of the best berries and they will leave the dodgy looking ones. The Luwak then spits out the red skin of the berry and congests the seed. This seed is then fermented inside the gut of the Luwak. Of course, the exciting bit (to the farmers) is when the Luwak goes for a poo! The seeds are excreted and then collected ready to be made into coffee. But this isn’t as gross as it might sound….the farmers actually want what is inside the seed so the outside shell is removed and the inside bean of the seed is then boiled twice over and thoroughly cleaned. The bean will then be continually tossed and turned as they are roasted for 45 minutes straight (I pity the person who has to do this job!). The roasted beans are then crushed into a powder and the powder will then be sifted into jars ready to be sold. Well, I just had to try some of this famous and rather expensive coffee. It is very dark and very strong! Phew! That seemed enough to give me an almost immediate wake up call! ‘Ping….you’re now back in the room!’ haha! It wasn’t a coffee I wanted to bring back home but they let me try all their other teas and coffees and what a range! They did chocolate coffee, vanilla coffee, ginger tea, lemon tea. I actually ended up buying some Rosella tea….a red coloured fruity tea which was so delicious! Apparently it’s good for losing weight too!? It was amazing to witness such a farm and again something else to tick off that you just wouldn’t see anywhere at home hey! I thanked Juda for showing me around and letting me try his products before rejoining Dewa to drive me back. Dewa chirpy as ever quickly showed me the rice fields on the way back and that was pretty cool. They are just stunning to see.

Turtle Island Adventure 

So I’d heard there was a Turtle Island somewhere around here and wanted to check it out. So I found a tour company who would take me and made a day of it. I was picked up at 8.30am and driven to Nusa Dua Beach where the boat leaves for Turtle Island. The plan for the day was snorkelling in the Indian Ocean, a trip to the Turtle Island itself and then a full body massage at a spa on the way home, bonus!

An hour and a half later and we’ve arrived at Nusa Dua Beach. It was packed full to the brim with tourists and surprisingly, it was mostly Chinese / Asian tourists. I was asked to fill out some paperwork for insurance purposes….apparently joking and saying ‘Is this incase I drown it covers you guys?’ wasn’t really the funniest thing to say haha….I was then kitted out with my snorkelling gear and taken to the boat and I tell you what….I was the only one on the boat = bonus!

I was excited to go snorkelling but had that nervous feeling which took me back to my snorkelling adventure on the Similan Islands in Thailand. But I did get used to it didn’t I so surely I can do it again?

The boat noisily pulled away from its anchored parking spot and whisked me away in what felt like my very own privately chartered boat! Churning up white frothy waves, we headed full steam ahead for destination Turtle Island! The boat had a glass bottom too so I was busy peering through trying to catch a glimpse of any marine life from the depths but we were going to fast to see anything. Suddenly, my leather-faced boat driver stopped in a nice quiet spot, handed me some bread and told me to dive in! Then I had a rush of nerves, ‘Oh god, here goes! I’m sure I’ll turn into a dolphin once I’m in there right?!’ Chattering to myself didn’t help though hah! So on went my snorkel and flippers and yep, a bright luminous orange life jacket. I placed one step on the rung of the ladder and went to put my other foot down on what should have been another rung but there wasn’t another one and I flopped straight in! Once more, flapping and wailing about as though I’d never seen water before haha! Oh dear! Just not a natural at this at all! I managed to grab hold of the side of the boat and held on tight. Leather face came over to see what the commotion was. “What the matter Miss?” Staring up at his puzzled wrinkly face I just replied “Oh nothing, I’m fine hah, it’s just been a while!” Eventually I let go and just let the life jacket do the work for me. My lungs went into over drive with panic drawing in as much air as they could through what felt like a narrow straw but then I just had to tell my lungs to quieten down so took long slow deep breaths until my breathing went back to normal. Phew…right, finally back into the swing of it, yay! I think it’s the shock of trying to only breath in and out of your mouth.

Oh, I completely forgot the bread that leather face gave me! I was still clutching the small plastic bag it was contained in! Sliding the now soggy bread out, I scattered all 3 slices straight into the ocean which soon wrapped all it’s wetness around the bread and gently pulled it under. Fish of all colours suddenly came out of nowhere and began ‘pecking’ at the disintegrating slices. Wow, they are in touchable distance! Suddenly something touched my leg and that was it….I let out a gurgled “Arrgghhh” and was flapping my legs and arms about like some crazy women haha! But I turned around and just caught glimpse of a shoal of bright orange fish…’Oh you silly idiot Hels!’ haha, they were only being curious and ‘kissed’ my leg hah!

Well, as much as it was fab seeing all these fishes and corals and funny sea slugs lazing on the ocean floor, I don’t think I can match the sheer beauty of what I saw at the Similan Islands you know. But it was still absolutely awesome. My time was up so I had to get back to the boat. Well, getting back on was just as bad as getting off hah! I just couldn’t seem to pull myself in. The one and only rung just wasn’t giving me enough of a leg up. Leather face came over to help me but I ended up cutting my leg on something and blood was now trickly out from my knee…well I then wanted to get into the boat more than ever now…um sharks?? Hah! Phew, all in and towelled down, Turtle Island here we come.

We moored up at a gorgeous looking white sandy beach and headed straight for the entrance. After I exchanged 10,000 Rupiah for the entrance fee, I was off like a kid in a candy shop! There were baby turtles right through to the larger full grown adults. I was amazed that you could just ‘get in’ with them and have your photos with them. I also felt quite sorry for the turtles too though because people were just getting in with their shoes on so I was thinking the water must not be all that clean for them, poor things. Trying to pick one of the adult turtles up was just impossible! They were just too heavy however, you could easily pick up one of the ‘teenagers’ so I had my photo with this gorgeous lil turtle 🙂

There were also other animals you could have your pictures with too including a snake, eagle, iguana oh and a fruit bat! Yay, I finally found something with the same hair colour as me hah! *Note to self, must sort that out when I get back to the UK! We finally left the island after spending about an hour with all the animals and turtles and headed back to shore. Yay spa time!

The driver took me to a spa where I was to have a 90 minute traditional Balinese massage. Upon arrival, I was taken to a private room and handed a pair of ‘paper knickers’ ‘Oh my god!’ That is literally all you have on hah! Bit embarrassing really but the massage was lush…I couldn’t stop giggling though because it was so god dam tickly! The massage lady was laughing too! Afterwards you are told to get in the shower to wash all the oils off.

So, massaged up and coming out smelling like a joss stick, the driver then took me back although he stopped at a Gold and Silver factory to let me have a nose about (they must get commission if you buy something?) Well, it was fascinating to see all the workers cleverly crafting the most intricate of designs from rings to bracelets to earrings etc…and then unsurprisingly, I was shown around the shop. It was funny actually because I saw one of the factory workers leave the room but he had to be scanned before he could exit! I was told the silver here is 92% pure so I guess it’s no wonder all members of staff are searched!

Heading back to the car, I was relieved to be going back to my B&B, I felt shattered hah! Sitting in the car, my butt felt like it was on fire! I was wondering if I was having a reaction to some of the oils? How strange. So as soon as I was back, I checked it out and oh my goodness! I had a bad case of sunburn hahaha…I forgot to put suncream on my butt so I guess when you’re snorkelling on your front, your butt is in full view of the sun isn’t it how funny! It seriously looked like I was wearing white pants haha!

Monsoon on Horse back! 

I decided to chill out the next day and give my burnt butt a break while I plotted my next moves. I’d read that horse riding on the beach was a must here so checked it out. I found a highly recommended company on trip advisor called Bali Island Horse. Wow, this place looked amazing. You get to go horse riding on a black sandy beach at sunset…well, the photos drew me in and sold me to the idea of it so I booked it up.

It was another hour and a half drive but once I’d got to the stables it was straight to it. There was a small group of people already getting kitted out with their hard hats so I was taken to the office to do the paper work (more insurance and promises of ‘I will not sue if….’ haha). Then the staff member asked me to pop myself on the scales! They say you can’t ride their horses if you are over 90kg’s. After all the boring stuff, it was off to meet my horse and guide. It was so funny because they had a few ‘funky’ hard hats to choose from if you wanted to be a little different! I chose the punk one oh yeh! Everyone else went for the normal standard hard hats so I found it hilarious that mine was a wicked spikey one. My guide (who’s name was pronounced Kiss!) was a really sweet and rather tiny looking man who I later found out was actually a pro jockey! Once I was in the saddle, we walked on over to the beach.

“Kiss…the skies are looking rather grey and cloudy! Do you think rain is coming?” I questionably asked. “Hmm…Yes, I’m afraid it might rain Miss Helen but lets hope not” I really hoped it wasn’t going to rain because I really wanted to see this glorious sunset on horseback but hey ho, I should have checked the weather before booking, tut tut! It was such a nice walk over to the beach on horseback..we walked down quiet countrified lanes, past rice fields and small wooden shacks selling water and other drinks and also past women carrying what looked like bundles of fire wood on their heads!

Making it to the beach, I just couldn’t believe how black the sand was! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black sandy beach before but it looked stunning! Kiss scooped some up and placed it in my hand. “Look at the sand Miss, it sparkles” And actually, it did! It looked like it had glitter in it or something, wow! So you can imagine just how gorgeous this would have looked at sunset…all black but sparkly! And then suddenly, I felt a wet splodge on my hand, then another on my arm and another on the other arm until whooosh….down came the rain! “Oh no Miss! Quickly, there is a cave at the other end of the beach” Kiss then started to jog which of course made my horse start trotting. Well, I was all out of sync and my punk helmit slipped down over my eyes hah! That must have been a funny sight! Trying to lift my head to see from under it, I was bouncing all over the place. We finally made it to the cave and took shelter from the heavy rain. The cave was so noisy. ‘What is that?’ I thought to myself…woah, there were thousands of bats hanging feet first from inside the grooves of the caves ceiling! It was really smelly too with all the poop below hah. “I’m so sorry Miss, but it looks like the rain isn’t going to stop” The other group had already started heading back but even when we gave it a bit longer, we just had to resign ourselves to the fact the rain was there to stay.

Remounted and heading back to the stables, we both got thoroughly soaked through! Oh and of course not having a change of clothes meant I had to sit in the car soaked to the bone and shivering! Oh and guess what? The car’s here don’t have heaters? Just air con or cold hah! So yup, the journey back felt like the longest ever. As soon as I got back though I jumped straight into my boiling hot shower which was lush ahhhh!

Even though the weather felt like a monsoon, I still had a fab time! Just loved the horse riding on the beach. At least I can add that to my experiences hey, horse riding on a black sandy beach in torrential rain haha! 😉 And anyways, I didn’t mention that we did see a mini sunset, but it was just too cloudy to see it in all it’s glory but a teenie weenie one made all the drenching worthwhile!

Enter Fleur and Gaynor! 

Before I left the stables, you are invited to chill with some peanuts and a drink before going back to your hotels and that is where I met the lovely Fleur and Gaynor! 2 lovely ladies who I clicked with straight away. I was sitting scoffing my face full of peanuts when I heard Fleur say “Shame about the rain hey” “Ah yeh, it was a dam shame but hey, horse riding in a monsoon’s something we may not do again haha!” I replied and we then both laughed it off. Then Gaynor (the other lady)  lit up a cigarette and asked “So where abouts in the UK are you from?” “Oh I’m from the South” After a pause, Fleur then asked “Ok…so where in the South?” “Surrey” I replied….again, another pause until Fleur inquisitively probed further “So…..where in Surrey?” Once I’d told her where I used to live, she gasped…I’ve been there before and actually did business in the neighboring town! Gaynor had been there before too! Wow, such a little big planet hey! They were also coming to Ubud the very next day, I couldn’t believe it! We exchanged emails and vowed to meet up once they were in town. Fleur is a New Zealander and Gaynor a Londoner. Both ladies live and work in London. Oh and did I mention that Gaynor is like a travelling pro! She’s been everywhere so was amazing to hear her stories and gain some tips too 😉 It was so lovely to meet such wonderful people and locals at that!

Shaky Reiki session! 

The day after the horse riding, I decided to book myself in for a facial and massage to ease my John Wayne cowboy legs hah! Bali Botanical is a place I’d recommend actually, very professional in there. There was another thing I wanted to tick off and that was a fire dance and a reiki session! The Kecak fire dance was brill! Every sound and noise is made by just the mouths of the men, no instruments are used so it sounded awesome! The way they are all able to keep in time too is just incredible! After listening to much ‘Bops, screeches, chanting and wailing’ and watching men walking over hot burning coconut shells, I resided back to my room to research ‘reiki’ and coincidentally found a lady 3 minutes from where I was staying!

I booked an hours ‘Intuitive Healing’ session and couldn’t wait to experience it. As I’ve mentioned before, Bali is meant to be a sacred and magical place so I was keen to see what this session was going to be like, I arrived at the reiki lady’s house late Friday morning…it looked like Jemima was staying in a B&B but I assumed it was her ‘office’ that she hires for her clients? I was greeted by a lady who must have been in her 40’s and my did she look a character! She had straggly blond hair and I can still distinctively remember what she was wearing…..she had on, a lime green tight sleeveless top, and rainbow crystal necklace, black leggings oh and an orange tutu around her waist hehe. “Nice to meet you Helen, I’m Jemima. Take a seat and I will explain what we will be doing in todays session” Jemima offered me a bottle of water and then we were talking about why I was there etc…

So finally, we came to the session…I laid down and Jemima placed all sorts of crystals on and over me. It felt amazing! I could actually feel all the energy rushing around and doing its work hah! All seemed to be going really well until Jemima started playing on her guitar and singing to me! She called this sound healing which may well work for others but at the time I felt really silly….there I was laying down with an assortment of crystals on my body and a lady in an orange tutu serenading me with her guitar hehe….”You are worthy, you are special, just be you” were words to that effect. I was trying hard not to chuckle over this ordeal and was relieved when it finally came to an end.

After the session, we got chatting and actually ended up having lunch together. Jemima put together a training package for me to study with her however, at the steep price of 2 grand, I had to decline! I have actually found a Professional Spiritual Healers course nearby that I am looking at enrolling on. This will give me exposure to all sorts of elements of healing that I will be able to bring back to the UK with me but how cool will that be to say I’ve studied and trained in magical Bali!

Healers are funny here. I think you can meet genuinely fantastic healers or the ones I call the ‘tourist trappers’. I’ve heard of a legendary healer who lives in Ubud called Cocarda Rai who is an 82yr old traditional healer. Apparently he diagnoses by stabbing your feet with a long stick which sounds rather painful! Then (I’m guessing if you need it), he’ll mix up a concoction of herbs and plants and proceed to grind them to a pulp in his MOUTH….he’ll then squirt this herby mulch between the gap in his teeth and onto your face lol…hmm! Don’t fancy that much!

In the evening I met up with the girls and I took them to the Jazz Cafe up the road. I’d heard of this place and wanted to check it out and oh boy are we glad we did! It was such a top night! So there you go, any Ubud travellers, check out the Jazz Cafe for some fantastic live music from talented artists!

Temples and Elephants!

Fleur, Gaynor and I spent a fab few days together and it was just wonderful to have the company 🙂 We visited Gunung Kawi which is the water temple and also Goa Gajah which is the Elephant temple. Well, all temples start looking the same once you’ve seen a few I tell thee hah! One of them (Gunung Kawi) was rather impressive actually. 300 steps down and you’re suddenly transported onto the set of an Indiana Jones / Tomb Raider / Aztec movie, it was fantastic! There were mini waterfalls, trees with snake-like roots growing above the ground, local villagers making offerings, stalls selling wooden carvings, giant stones that had patterned carvings etched into them and Balinese men making structures out of wood and giant banana leaves. I was just waiting for Indiana Jones to come running from somewhere followed in hot pursuit by half naked men in masks and grass skirts hehe.

We also visited a lovely lil place called Petulu which is where the Heron Invasion is! Apparently after once of the volcano’s erupted, all these herons starting arriving and nesting in the nearby trees. There are now so many of them that it’s turning into more of a plague hah! But it really was spectacular to see all these thousands of stunning white and orangey looking herons all fighting to get onto the teeniest and what looked like the only few patches left on the heron ‘crammed’ trees! The trees almost looked saddened and burdened by these birds haha (but then again, that’s just my imagination lol!)

Then there was the elephant sanctuary! And oh my word that was just so gorgeous! The sanctuary rehabilitates elephants who have been mistreated and or abandoned in life. It was such a pleasure to see these elephants, they seemed genuinely really happy too. What we also loved about this place is that each and every elephant has their own personal keeper so they end up forming a wonderful bond together! I really did feel that all the elephants were happy to be here.

Fleur and I also managed to get our photos cuddling all the elephants too it was so so cute! One little baby elephant wrapped his trunk right around my waist, it was just so adorable awww. Oh and we were also lucky enough to spot a wedding! An asian looking couple were getting married ON the biggest elephant I’d ever seen! They’d decorated the elephant with red and gold cloth and he looked just as splendid as the bride and groom, how fantastic to see!

After much elephanting around, we all went off for a final goodbye drink in the evening for Fleur and Gaynor were off to the Gili T islands for a few days before heading back to London.

Sitting in the bar, I couldn’t help feel a little sad that my 2 fab new friends were now going to be leaving me. Travel friends are like revolving doors here…they come and they go but I know I will always keep in touch AND meet up with the close friends I’ve made. Before I waved Fleur and Gaynor off, we promised to meet up in London once I’m back in the UK yippee!

Ahh I am just loving Bali so much though ya know! I feel completely safe, now know where to go and not to go, as well as where the nicest dinners are to be had hehe! In fact, I’ve booked my remaining 3wks here! And god knows how I did it but I managed to knock my B&B right down from $25 per night to a steal at $10 per night woo hoo!

So……here’s to another 3wks of beautiful Bali if you care to join me. I feel this next part of the journey will be very much a spiritual one 😉 xxx

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