A Travellerspoint blog

Gili Trawangan

Snorkelling, mushrooms and turtles

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When we arrived in Bali we saw that it was really built up and touristy so we only stayed one night and decided to go on to Lombok. That journey was a bit of a nightmare, so I will write about that seperately.
We stayed two nights in Sengigi, weren't impressed, so we headed on to the Gilis. We had read in the Lonely Planet that you could get a bemo to Bangsal harbour for cheap....not true! When we quoted 20,000rp to them, they drove off. In the end we paid 40,000rp in a minivan with a man called Eddy Rangaa. A nice man who offered to get us all the way from the Gilis back to Kuta on Bali for 300,000rp together, so we took it. We went to Gili T with a great Lithuanian couple we met in Sengigi: Sandra and Sigakas (which I kepy mispronouncing as Circus, sorry Sigakas). On Gili T we got two rooms in Atong bungalows for 70,000rp which was quite good. That evening we had a walk around the town and found tonnes of restaurants and accomodation, but thankfully not as many tourists as we had expected. The vast majority of them were unfriendly Swedes who looked angry all the time. This was disappointing because other Swedish people we'd met were always really nice. There was also an Irish bar called Tir na nOg. None of the staff was Irish though, surprise surprise.
The next day we decided to go snorkelling and got mask, snorkel and fins for 20,000rp each, which was a good deal. Our goal was to see a turtle as there are a lot around the Gilis. The first two times only we didn't see one but I was determined to keep going until I saw one. The third time in the water was a success. I spotted a turtle on the seafloor chomping away on something. I stayed watching for a good ten minutes hoping that it would come up to the surface, but it never did. Thinking the others would be looking for me I swam off and left the little guy to his meal. It was a cool experience though.
We saw many different kinds of fish but I thought the snorkelling was only ok. In my opinion the Philippinnes was better. The water around the Gili T was a little dirty. On one occasion Kevin was swimming and we both thought we saw a jellyfish in the distance, but it just turned out to be a plastic bag.
After snorkelling we decided to walk around the rest of the island. It's the largest of the islands and can be walked in about two hours or so. It was interesting to see the differences between the Indonesian houses of the interior of the island compared to all the restaurants and bungalows that ring the outisde of the island designed for the tourists. One nice thing about the islands is they have no motorised vehicles allowed. They only use horses or bicycles, so it was quite quiet.
After our walk, we three boys decided to try magic mushrooms, for which the island is famous for.
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They told us they made our drinks above average strength, but we didn't feel any effect. Kevin even had a second batch. Sigakas said his fingers went numb and he couldn't look at Kevin without laughing, which was funny. He obviously got the good batch. The owner told us it was because Kevin and I were too big....how rude haha.
After that Kevin and I went out to a bar, got quite drunk, met a french girl who would later become our host in Yogyakarta, and made fun of Swedish people.
The next day the Lithuanian couple left, I slept ALL day and poor Kevin was bored all alone.
All in all Gili T was good fun, but not as amazing as people had described it. They are worth visiting though.
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Posted by blarfengar 01:44 Archived in Indonesia Tagged gili Comments (0)

Jakarta

Colonial drunken times

We arrived in Jakarta around 11pm and got to our motel quite easily which was nice. The hotel however, wasn't nice. We dropped everything and went for a walk around the neighborhood, which was pumping because it was a Saturday night. The area was Jalan Jaksa, and full of foreigners. We got some food and set out looking for some alcohol, which wasn't that cheap. We were accompanied by a guy from Boston who attached himself to us for a while.
Sitting outside a supermarket having a beer, we were approached by a couple from England. They were going to a club called Stadium and asked if we wanted to join which we did. Stadium was a pretty big club and it was absolutely jammed with Indonesians. It was crazy!! In the club they also had prostitutes which approached us instantaneously because we're white and “rich”, according to them, oh and ridiculously handsome, haha. We politely refused of course, and they left us alone but gave us “come hither” looks every time we saw them through out the night. In the club you were given one free drink, which was tiny and gone quickly. So we went to buy another round which was extortionate to say the least. We then found out that people didn't really drink in the club, they took...other substances instead, which we obviously didn't do. Don't worry mum.
They played house / drum 'n' bass music and we noticed that the dj was actually a guy in his 60s or 70s, it was hilarious. We didn't stay too long and headed home at a reasonable time.
The next day we decided to go to Kota which was the old colonial Dutch part. It was actually quite a poor area, but the buildings were nice to look at, even though they were falling apart.
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We then went to the famous cafe Batavia which has a big square outside it which was packed with people. It was a mini-market with people selling knick-knacks, sunglasses and such, and tonnes of tourists walking around. Lots of girls and some guys too came up and asked us for photos which we thought was funny. We didn't put our arms around them because we were afraid of pick-pockets, but also because we smelled quite bad that day.

Posted by blarfengar 08:33 Archived in Indonesia Tagged jakarta Comments (1)

Climbing Mt Kinabalu

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We started up the mountain at 7:30. it was just the two of us and our guide: Genius. We had to make it to Laban Rata by 10am, which was 6 Indonesian kilometers away, (they feel twice as long as a normal kilometer) so we set off straight away. Genius didn't speak much English so he generally left us alone by walking ahead of us, or behind us.
We had heard from people that the climb would be tough but I think both of us were surprised with how tough it actually was. Those 6km felt like 10-15kms, no lying. Every 500m was marked with a distance sign, and by the end of the hike I hated them because they seemed too far apart, and I loved them because they meant I had less to go. Stupid signs!
By the time we reached Laban Rata it was 10:02 and I was wrecked. The 6km had basically been straight up with hardly any level places to rest the legs. It was step up after step up after step up.
I was walking faster than Kevin solely so I could rest for a minute or two until he caught up with me.
On the way up it was quite cloudy too, so we didn't really get good view of the mountain until we got near Laban Rata.
When we reached there on time we were given the go ahead to try for the top.
(I should mention at this point that it was the day after we had been caught in the rain storm, so the guides were a little wary about the weather.)
So, after a quick bite to eat and a rest for the legs we set off for the top. When we reached the gate we were told that we would have to make it to the top before the last group came down (something never mentioned to us before) which would be in 10 minutes or so (an impossible feat).
Originally we were told to reach the top by 12:30, so we thought we had two hours but now we only had ten minutes or so, ridiculous! We set off anyway and sure enough, ten minutes later we met the last group and were told by the ranger that we could only go to the base of the wall (the last big part) which we did in five minutes. We asked Genius if we could continue but he said “no”. So, we didn't actually make it to the top, but we would've had we been allowed. We were only 300m from the summit though which sucks even more.
However, the worst part was that it never rained at all that day, so we easily could've got up and down. Sickener!

Posted by blarfengar 04:56 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Around Kinabalu

Rain showers and Leeches

So, after Brunei we decided to head straight to Kinabalu instead of spending the night in KK. We got some good views of the mountain before dark, so we were a little excited about it.
The next day we decided to wait on the mountain and have a day doing some trails to get used to the altitude. The whole valley was constantly being swallowed up by clouds that came rolling in across the sky. It was beautiful. It seemed like a nice enough day, so after we sorted out the day hike, we set off. We walked some nice trails up to the gate, none of them were difficult, and then started down. The weather still seemed ok so we decided to take a different trail on the way down.
We were probably about one third to half way on the trail when it started to rain. It wasn't heavy so we continued on. This carried on for about ten minutes and then the heavens opened up. It started pouring down on us, so caught unawares we tried to hide under some foliage but this didn't work. We were getting soaked so we ran on find better coverage. We found it...kind of! A large tree had fallen over and the base was sticking out of the ground so we hid under it. This didn't really solve anything as there was holes in between the roots and we were crouched over, like on a squatter. After 15 minutes of this our legs were killing us and being no drier, we ran. We were already as wet as we could get and the path had literally turned into a river, so it was hard to see roots and holes. We ran, splashed and tripped our way off the path. It felt like it took forever, we never realised the trail would be that long, it didn't look that long on the map.
Eventually we we found the road and there was a restaurant with an overhang, which we promptly ran under. I should mention that we were only in t-shirts and shorts with no ponchos or raincoats.
Huddling under the overhang a group of Asians (we think Singapore) came out to catch their minivan. They stared and laughed, but they were nice and gave us two ponchos to wear. A bit late, but we took them gladly as we still had some walking to do to get down the mountain.
It was at this point I realised I had acquired a little companion...a leech. It was quite small and on my ankle. It was firmly attached and getting larger. I could feel it sucking at my ankle if I focused on it. It was a little strange, and so with the Singaporeans gone, and elderly group emerged from the restaurant. They were very interested in the leech. One old man suggested salt and then walked back into the restaurant to retrieve some. His wife wanted to take a picture so I lifted me foot to oblige. While she was preparing the shot her other friend walked over and stuck her fingernail under the leeches mouth...and flicked. I was shocked by the action, especially as the leech only came half off so she had to flick it again. Rank! This time she succeeded and it went flying, the wife was unimpressed. Then the husband came back with the salt so I had to tell him we didn't need it anymore. I felt bad watching him walk back into the restaurant...slowly.
With all that excitement over, and my ankle bleeding a little we decided to continue down the mountain. The rest of the day was uneventful as it rained until nightfall. We also spent the other days in the mountain relaxing after we did the hike.

Posted by blarfengar 04:17 Archived in Malaysia Tagged kinbalu Comments (0)

Philippines


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We stayed in the Grand Opera Hotel which was an alright hotel. It was located in a kinda dodgy part of the city but it had a swimming pool, casino, and karaoke room, so we thought we'd be sorted for a day. We used none of those amenities and just relaxed in the room all day and watched tv. First day of vacation was spent doing absolutely nothing...good times! It was only a very short stay in the Philippines (1day, 2nights) so nothing really happened. I will mention though that a lot of Tanduay was consumed during the day and night, need I say more?

Posted by blarfengar 06.04.2012 20:11 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

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