Islands and Friends

Hello!

The last month has been a whirlwind of visitors, work and emotions (mostly mine!).  We have had an amazing time catching up with Helen Dalton, Chris Simpson, Dave Williams and Sarah McPhee and meeting Ele and Rich along the way.  It’s been great to have lots of different people around to help us break our routine and discover new things that are right under our noses, mostly in the form of food and alcohol!

Jims not here at the moment, so I am sat writing this with next doors cat on my knee.  He is very cute and cuddly and strangely only appears when Jims gone out.  I have no idea what his name is, so I call him ‘next doors cat’.  The name Jim has assigned to him is not really appropriate to write down here, but sounds a little like ‘cooking fat’.  Needless to say, he likes me best and I think he will be here for the duration of this entry, unless I get too hot and kick him off.

Anyway, I digress, back to the visitors!  We have had a chance to look around lots of accommodation this month and get a feel for how the other half live.  Helen and Chris stayed in some fabulous accommodation including La Joya Bungalows at Balangan Beach and Lullaby Bungalows just two minutes down the road from us in Padang Padang.  Obviously this meant a little bit of luxury for us two as we could pop down and crash their pool and in return they got some quality time with the Wests! Lucky them!

Unfortunately for Dave, we sorted out his accommodation, so there were no swish fancy hotels for him! However, we managed to sort him a lovely room in a home stay near our place for a reasonable £23 a night with air con, hot water a pool and pebbles in the shower!  What more could a man want?!

Dave seemed to pick up Jims style of surfing while he was here, the general rule of which seems to be the bigger the better.  Jim has encouraged this, ensuring Dave got smashed by every huge wave that came his way by giving him a little push.  I’m not sure that this was really for Dave’s benefit as it seemed to be more for Jim’s amusement, but that said Dave improved no end, so maybe it works.

In other news, we have a new roomie!  I say roomie, as Hans (who is a lovely guy from the Faroe Islands) lives in the room next door to us, which is essentially our room, split by a bit of cardboard which has been thrown up in the middle.  Fortunately for all of us, we have got along well the last few weeks and it’s been fun having him around. Hans is a bit of a cool dude, 6ft something tall, long white Scandinavian locks and super trendy style (he has a casting for a Prada modelling shoot when he gets home).  Anyway, his arrival has changed Jim somewhat.  Picking up on some of Han’s mannerisms, he has started saying things like ‘hey man’ and ‘hey dude’, and, in a particularly special moment, I saw him gesture ‘peace’ at him with his fingers.  Jim himself is a little confused as to why this is happening, as these are all things he has never done in his life.  We have decided that it must be some sort of involuntary reflex. The look on his face about 3 seconds after the words pass his lips is priceless!  That said, Hans hasn’t seemed to notice so he must be pulling off the ‘cool dude image’ with style. Maybe.

Hans has shown me an amazing vintage market, which is essentially a local clothes market, where I have been able to pick up some ridiculous cheap t shirts and tops.  I have been sworn to secrecy as to its name and whereabouts as the trendies (Haans et al. not me!) don’t want it to get busy.

 MONKEY WARNING! Unfortunately, Hans lost his favourite new shirt to a monkey last week when he left it on the beach to go surfing.  To add insult to injury, as he paddled out, he turned and saw the thieving monkey grab his shirt and drag it half way up the rock face before losing interest and leaving it hanging on the rocks.  It’s still there, but even after several attempt with large bamboo sticks, we can’t quite reach it to get it down!  Bloody Monkeys!

So, I don’t want to sound like I am moaning (I’m not, honest!) but while we have had all our visitors, I have had to finish my final assignment for my sports nutrition course.  This has been pretty tricky as there have been SO many distractions and as most of you will know I have the attention span of a small child. But it’s finally done. HORRAY!

While I was working Jim went with Dave, Helen, Chris and Dave’s friend Rich to Kuta to surf most days.  This did help remove most distractions (I have already mentioned the cat) and allowed me to get on with my work.  I have been told the journeys from Padang Padang to Kuta were mostly incident free.  However, I have to mention that on one occasion Rich managed to get his scooter wedged between the road barrier and a massive truck. I wasn’t there so I have no idea how this happened, but he obviously wasn’t paying attention to the Indonesian high way code I have discussed previously.  ‘Biggest goes first’ No exceptions!  Rich was freed by banging loudly on the side of the van to alert the driver, who got out and with the help of a team of indo guys, lifted his bike out of the gap.  Hilarious! Read your high way code people!!

Around this time my friend Sarah McPhee pitched up with her friend Ele.  Sarah has just finished competing in the Paralympics Wheelchair Basketball!  Exciting!  Full details in the video they played in the opening ceremony here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxlmGEV4AGk&feature=share (Sorry Sarah!!).

As there has been some big swell, we decided to go watch the pro’s and so for a couple of evenings we all headed up to one of Ray’s secret viewing spots on the hill with some beers and snacks for sunset, lit a fire and watched surfers at Padang Padang as the sun went down.  It was pretty fun.

Nusa Lembongan Island

After waving goodbye to Helen & Chris (SOB), we decided to head away for a little break with Dave, Rich, Sarah and Ellie to the island of Nusa Lembongan, just off the coast of Bali.  It’s a boat ride to Nusa Lembongan, the choice of transport being a private fast boat (run by reputable companies with good safety records) or the local run fast or slow boats.  Jim was keen to sample the local slow boats (journey time (2hrs ± 1.5hrs?!) as he was keen to see some chickens and perhaps cows on board to make the journey more entertaining.  However, after persuading Jim this would only be fun for about 10 minutes or so before we all got sea sick and bored, we compromised on the local fast boat which is cheap but only takes 30min to do the crossing.  Getting on the boat was a little bit of a challenge, especially with bags as we had to wade out into the sea with some unpredictable waves coming through! But we made it and to make Jims day there was even a couple of chickens making the crossing with us.  One guy was very proud to tell us that his chicken was in fact, an Olympic chicken that had become so strong because it took steroids! He wasn’t so pleased when we mentioned that this might be cheating…..
The island itself is amazing, I imagine a little like Bali was 20 years ago. There are certainly tourist developments along the coastline but the atmosphere is very, very relaxed.   We were met off the boat by an Indonesian guy touting to fill his rooms.  We agreed to go and have a look and the rooms turned out to be fantastic.  We each had a little cottage right by the sea with a wonderful view for the bargain price of £13 a night.  It was perfect!

Mega Huts @ Nusa Lembongan

‘The first day we all just lazed by the sea and did a bit of sunbathing which was great.  We had planned an action packed day of surfingand snorkelling on the second day, but we discovered that we had arrived just before Segara Nyepi, a silent day for the sea.  This occurs every fourth full moon of the Balanise calendar.  It is a way of paying homage to Dewa Baruna, ruler of the oceans and maintaining a relationship between humans and their natural surroundings.  The long and short of it meant that all water based activities were out! However, we enjoyed our lazy morning.  We had breakfast by the sea and in the afternoon I headed off with Dave and Rich to tour the island on our scooters.  I have put some pictures below…you get the idea!  We saved the snorkelling for the morning we left and just got an hour in.  It the first time I have done it and it was awesome! So good, I think I might do some diving out here at some point too.

A Temple @ Nusa Lembongan

Sarah and Ele have now left for the Gilli Isles, Dave and Rich have headed home and its back to just me and Jim for the first time in a long time.  I am looking forward to catching up on my surfing as my work has put me out for a bit and Jim is excited at the prospect of eating local and saving money, so all good!

 
I’ll write again next month!
 
H xx

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