Malaysia · 116 Days · 11 Moments · June 2017

A small selection of Indonesian Islands

25 September 2017

11. We said goodbye to our completely insane hosts that morning and set off on a long days travelling back to Bali. This was it, the last day that me and Emily would spend together for a little while and my last day of travelling Asia. The boat was rough, the bus trip long and the dinner that evening was bang average, but none of that mattered as I was enjoying every moment of my last day with Emily. We shared an emotional (well not really) goodbye and that was that, I was flying home. I've been unable to do a lot of my experiences justice with my writing and as I look to conclude on what was a truly amazing few months, I find myself struggling again. It was a trip with so many high points, from volunteering, to Everest, biking through Vietnam to exotic beaches and of course meeting so many fantastic people along the way. Overall I've been a very lucky guy and who knows, maybe I'll just have to do a little more travelling somewhere down the line.....
10. We hiked our way through the jungle in the rain to get to the spectacular falls and pulled a couple of the worst, most cliched 'couple' photos we could manage before trudging back to Jun, soaking wet. Onwards we drove, right into the middle of nowhere, in the jungle near to mount Rinjani. It was there that we found Dreamcatcher camp, the most cliched of all hostels, probably in the whole of Asia. It was a beautiful place, complete with Teepees, dream catchers, dogs and run by 3 of the happiest hippies on Lombok. The place was their home and their life, not a money making venture. They played music, cooked for the group and drank a lot of rice wine! The one night was full of incident that is just too difficult to explain in writing, but it ended up with an unconscious German girl and a broken ankle for one hippie! A bizarre night in a bizarre place! The view in waking up in our little hut the next morning was well worth the trip alone though! It was simply stunning.
9. In a way, that afternoon with Jun and his family felt like the most authentic travel experience of the lot. We were invited into his house to meet his wife and daughters and for fresh coconut of course. Then we strolled with them all through the village to his sister in laws house. She spoke basic English and offered us tea before we met her granddaughter, who happened to be accompanied by every other kid in the neighbourhood. Most of the children had never met a 'white' person before and at first were jumpy and shy, but it didn't take Emily long to make them all feel comfortable around her. After all of us going for a walk around the village, the children were super excited to play with us and hand us flower after flower they had picked. Jun insisted on taking a group picture of us all for his family to cherish before he would take us on our way. Next stop, the waterfall, which was seriously impressive, just unfortunately it wouldn't stop raining!

2 June 2017

8. Therefore that night as everyone was discussing where to go next and which activities they wanted to do, I found it hard to get too excited. I had realised that I wasn't too bothered about what I did next and was starting to take things for granted. To be honest, I really only wanted to spend more time with Emily! So that night I told her I'd be going home at the end of the week and we'd only have a couple more nights together, but what an awesome couple of days they were! Somehow I'd let her take charge of our next two days, which first of all involved phoning Jun (the taxi man who had picked up from the harbour). He agreed to be our personal driver for that day and while we knew we wanted to see a waterfall near to our accommodation in the forest up north that night, the rest of the day we let him plan. That's how we ended up going to a traditional village where all the women make sarongs all day, every day and then ended up at Jun's house, meeting his entire family!!
7. The next day mainly consisted of Emily talking about the bat cave and then bursting into laughter again, but when she'd finished, we hoped onto the bike and I drove us to the nicest beach I'd been to in Indonesia, perhaps the nicest beach I'd been to full stop. It was perfect for surfing and while Emily tried her best to get me onto a beginners class, after watching the other victims fall into the waves time and time again, I decided it wasn't for me. Instead another day relaxing on the beach was in store. We had gone to the beach with a couple other girls, one of which, Emma, happened to live in Winchester and went to Symonds! The closest I'd met to home so far. That was another near perfect day, enjoying my time on the beach with Emily, however it also made me realise that my travelling had kind of come to an end. For the last 10 or so days I had done nothing but holiday and there's only so long you can justify doing that after being away for 5 months!
6. As far south as we could go on Lombok in fact, all the way down to Kuta (the chilled Lombok version, not the party hard Bali one). Originally we had headed to Lombok with the intention of climbing the volcano, mount Rinjani, however a mixture of me not being fussed about doing more trekking, Harriet being concerned about the predicted thunderstorms and Emily starting to suffer from Bali belly, had meant that this plan was put on the back burner. Instead we did what we were all doing best, took it easy, chilled by the pool and generally failed to plan further than an hour ahead. One day, accompanied by a group of friends from the Hostel, we rented bikes and ventured off to the 'bat cave'. Basically, worst experience of travelling so far. The cave was pitch black, it had a million bats in and trillions of insects. It was like doing a bush tucker trail in my flip flops. The floor was literally crawling and Emily couldn't hide her glee at seeing me borderline terrified!!
5. I think the sunsets on Gili Air were even more impressive than the incredible sunsets on Gili T. Another three nights were spent taking it easy, watching the sun disappear for the day and generally not stressing about anything. The week on the Gili Islands really was like a proper holiday and all talks of planning where to travel next had gone out of the window. Sadly though Sukhi had to depart to meet a friend in Jakarta, but first she joined us for one night in Lombok. Again, another short boat ride delivered us to the far bigger island where we spent the night at Abdul's place. He was one of the strangest men I'd ever met. Stupidly over the top friendly and completely eccentric, however a good laugh, Abdul decided to take us over the road that afternoon, so that he could gather coconuts for us to all enjoy. He made climbing the trees look all too easy as Emily perhaps made it about 2ft off the ground. We said goodbye to Sukhi the following morning and continued on our way south.
4. It was time to move on from Gili T, to the even more chilled Gili Air. All four of us took the short boat ride across to the new island and walked the 15 minutes it took to cross the entire island to the Hostel that Emily had picked. While I was dubious at first (as the beds were just mattresses outside with mosquito nets as covers), the Hostel was actually one of the best I'd stayed in. It had a brilliant mushroom shaped pool and loads of bean bags and sun beds, all perfect for lounging more days away in the sun. While it was a very social place, there wasn't much nightlife on the island and as Ramadan was approaching, places were becoming even quieter. We had heard about a party on the beach which all the locals would be at as it was the night before Ramadan, however it was a very different party to what I'm used to! Me and Emily sat back and watched the locals (all of which were on mushrooms) sway to the heavy trance music, weed in hand and before long decided it wasn't for us!!
3. For the next 4 nights we stayed in a very nice Hostel, complete with pool and the best shower I'd had in my entire time travelling. We found Harriet and Sukhi and after a good night out with some of the others from their Hostel, they decided to come join us in ours. Of the 3 major Gili Islands, Gili T is the biggest and liveliest. While it's nothing like Koh Phi Phi or the other Thai party Islands, there was ample opportunity to stay out late and have a good time. Our days were spent chilling by the pool or on the beach, the evenings were for enjoying a cocktail and watching the incredible sunsets and night was for eating the huge array of freshly caught seafood followed by beer pong and dancing. Basically we were all in complete holiday mode! On our last night in Gili T, myself and Emily opted to watch the sunset 'alone' (alongside the other hundreds of tourists), complete with cliche swing photos, before splashing out on the nicest BBQ I've ever eaten, right on the beach. Perfect.
2. Kuta is the Aussie equivalent of our Magaluf, so it was no surprise to find lots of cheap looking bars, over the top nightclubs and knock off beachwear on every road. Despite not having a great rep, myself and Emily revelled in the fact that there was an actual shopping mall, proper restaurants, a beautiful beach and smooth roads (who'd have known they'd be such a blessing!). We only spent the one day walking around taking it all in though before taking the short boat ride across to Gili T the next morning. The small world of travelling had thrown up another opportunity to meet up with some friends, Harriet and Sukhi from All Hands. It just so happened that while I hadn't yet met Sukhi, she had trekked the Annapurna circuit with Emily. Like I said, small world! As the boat pulled up to the tiny island dock, it immediately looked like the closest thing to a paradise island that I had seen. The island even had no cars, just horse and carts to get around!
1. Before starting this particular section, it's probably worth explaining that while I was enjoying my time off in Kathmandu with my fellow All Hands Volunteers, I also re-met up with Emily (who made a brief appearance sometime back in my writing!). We had kept in touch over the course of the last month and while I had finished volunteering, she had just escaped a prison camp (one of those crazy, 10 day, silent meditation centres). We were both planning where to go next and had both decided we needed some beach time, so we spontaneously booked flights for a couple days time to Bali. After a few days of being very sick in Kathmandu, complete with a middle of the night fainting from Emily, we were ready to leave Nepal and head for less monsoony climates. After very nearly missing our connecting flight in KL (partly due to a need for McDonald's before boarding!) we eventually landed in Bali and made it to a Hostel in Kuta by 4am.