Sunday, August 5, 2012


We recently went to Bali for my sister's wedding, it was a bit of a whirlwind tour, as we only had 6 days unfortunately.  We flew into Kuta around 10pm at night and stayed at a hotel called 101 Legian for a couple of nights which was a pretty nice place right in the middle of crazy town- you know the shops selling bintang tshirts and penis shaped bottle openers and clubs that specialise in $1 (10,000 rupiah) vodka redbulls...  It was really beautiful in that the majority of Balinese are Hindu, so there are offerings and incense everywhere, so the place smells a lot better than most 'industrialising' countries I have been to!

There was quite a lot of security, and you had to walk through metal detectors and have bags checked everytime you went in or out, and any cars that used the car park had the underside and boot checked for I guess a decade later and the bali bombing is still a major concern for locals and tourists...Anyway we kind of settled in pretty quickly wandering around and enjoying tropical weather... the place seemed like a mix of Hanoi, Vietnam and Playa del Carmen, Mexico to me, but you pretty much know what you're getting when you choose to stay in Kuta I guess!

Our highlight was definitely the Waterbom park, which had crazy waterslides including this giant drop that suctioned you through a tube... it kind of felt like what I imagine being flushed down the toilet would be like...but it was a really fun way to start the was relatively pricey, I think US$31 an adult, so you want to plan to spend a fair bit of time there, otherwise it wouldn't really be worth the money.

We drove up to Ubud for the wedding, which I think would be a nice place to stay for a week or even longer.

The traffic is pretty bad everywhere in Bali because all the roads are single lanes, so it is gridlock all day to every town around the south as far as I could tell.
Ubud specialises in hills and rice paddies; yoga, hiking and bike riding; as well as spas and massages.

The wedding was held at Wake di Ume which was beautiful and everything was organised by the hotel for pretty cheap from the standards of an Australian wedding.

It was a really beautiful spot, and a special day for my sister and her husband dave so Congrats kids :)

After Ubud we headed back down to the coast.  We spent one night at Bingin Beach at the Bali Surf Villa.  I booked a room with a balcony and it was definitely worth splashing out the extra money at least for one night for the incredible view of the beach.  I would love to spend a longer time at Bingin, although you definitely need to bring all your money with you as there isn't an ATM and it is a real effort to get down to the beach.  The road isn't completed so you need to walk down with your bags and surfboards, which is probably around 600metres, but it is a winding track down steep stairs cut into the cliff face.  Much worse is getting out again.  So be warned you will need to walk and carry or pay someone to carry your bags so don't go overboard- swimmers, towel and a couple of changes of clothes and maybe a book or two is all you need at a place like this.  Also if you are planning to attempt surfing at Impossibles, the reef break off Bingin beach- bring booties- the coral is SHARP!  The place we stayed was really beautiful, but I think there were cheaper places to stay if the budget is tight.  Word of warning though, showers are cold and electricity is intermittent. We did have wifi here as well as in Kuta.  There seemed to be a lot of yoga classes as well, so I think it would be pretty easy to get into a routine of surfing/yoga, sunbaking, books, eating delicious noodles and drinking Bintang all day here if you decided to spend a week or so at the spot.

We then spent a couple of nights at Balangan Beach which is more of a secret spot than the others.  Taxi drivers don't really know it and you have to be clear, both my sister and cousin got taken first to Panang Panang then to Dreamlands which are big tourist destinations you want to avoid.  We stayed at Suzy's Warang Balangan Beach which is R150,000 a night for extremely rustic accommodation- if you can't handle roughing it don't go to Balangan.  It is a beach shack with double beds, a fan, electricity most of the time and the sort of toilet I was expecting more of... you know you have to flush it with a bucket of water and bin your loo paper.  There was no shower either, you wash from a big bucket, so I think for me 2 nights was plenty.  Food is good, Suzy (and probably all the other Warangs) have a whole lot of food on the menu, both Indonesian style and western foods.  Water and beer and soft drinks can also be bought, but there are no snacks.  So you should get your taxi driver to make a stop at the supermarket so you can buy things at half the price and get money out from the ATM before you get down to the beach.  Similarly to Bingin, you have to carry all your stuff about 500 metres along the beach (or use the secret track if you are in the know...) so don't take to much unnecessary stuff with you!  Bring a book and some cards, especially if you are a WAG stuck on the beach while the boys surf those endless Indonesian left handers all day long... booties are also recommended here, especially at low tide where the reef is exposed.

A word on taxi drivers:
Airport to Kuta or Legian should be around R65,000 to R100,000, maximum $150,000 in heavy traffic and how many people are crammed into the car.  We organised a taxi to Ubud from Kuta which was quoted at R300,000, however the guy didn't turn up and the hotel's taxi driver wanted R120,000 per person... so like anywhere, ask for the meter to be turned on, agree on a price BEFORE you get into the cab...we hassled all day everywhere by people asking if we wanted transport, so if you think someone is being dodgy or there is a scam going on try someone else.  My sister has a guy they call every time they go to Bali and they pay him around R250,000 a day to be their driver, so if you are going to be doing a fair amount of driving it might be a good idea to organise a set price for a couple of weeks.

Friday, April 27, 2012

San Diego and onwards...

This is the lucky last post for our excellent adventure of the Americas... We had a blast of a holiday, and met so many incredible people along the way...hopefully friends for life and always welcome to visit us in Newcastle!! San Diego was beautiful, perfect weather, friendly locals, Seaworld, Bikes, Massive icecreams, Superbowl Sunday, the NZ bar that only served Australian wine (hahaha), cheap nail polish, Urban Outfitters and a million types of beer... We'd recommend everyone visit San Diego if you can...perfect place for a beach holiday :)

Joshua Tree National Park

So we had been recommended to visit Sedona, and a few other places in Arizona before heading over to San Diego, but the call of the coast was too strong...we're just not desert dwellers...we wanted to stop at Joshua Tree National Park on the way, so we decided to stay in Twentynine Palms over night before going through Joshua Tree... this was on the advice of our friend Phil... well... this town is hard to describe...put it this way, the motel we stayed at had plastic under the sheets... I was sure that there had been murders committed in the room before and it was easier to clean up this way... The next morning, we got breakfast at one of the town's premier establishments- yup you guessed it- Maccas... but imagine our excitement when the egg muffin/sausage muffins were served on 'biscuits' - pretty much like having a doughy scone with eggy stuff on it... needless to say we were crossing our fingers that the food situation would improve in San Diego... Anyway... Sam managed to climb to the top of this rocky outcrop and perform starjumps...then tripped over his own feet once he was back on the ground... managing to sprain his ankle so badly that he couldn't walk for the next 3 days- let alone surf!! Which all goes to show, you should never ever take Phil Maher's advice :)

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Grand Canyon

So yes it was very grand, quite cool seeing snow on the canyon, and just as impressive as we expected... unfortunately, I was still sick (still blaming the smoking inside policy THANKS NEVADA) so we didn't get to do any walks, but we managed to see a spectacular sunset and build our last snowman for a while...