After meeting Arthur and Erica in Seminyak we decided to head to Nusa Lembongan the following morning, which is off the coast of Sanur. We got a minivan to Sanur and they got the fast ferry across with Rocky's fast ferry for 250,000. We took the Parama slow ferry for 100,000. They got there way before us and they also got transport from the beach to the hotel included, we didn't! We negotiated a scooter price of 40,000 to take us to mushroom bay. If you rent a bike it's cheaper, but we didn't need one.
After settling in to our lovely hotel we decided to take a walk around part of the island and saw some great beaches and restaurants. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time for snorkeling but the water looked quite clear. The next day we headed back to Sanur, for Ubud.
We were able to get a minivan from from Sanur to Ubud for 100,000 which was brilliant. Ubud was really cool and we decided to stay there for three nights. After the craziness of Kuta and Seminyak, Ubud was a welcome relief. It's way more cultural and relaxed, so it was a nice break.
The first night we saw the Kecak fire dance which was a little boring at first, but definitely picked up in the second half. It was only foreigners in the audience and Erica had a run in with a Gecko, which was funny. After watching the dance, “Jak-Jak” was a phrase that was repeated many times over the next few days.
Day two we went to the monkey forest where there were a shed load of monkeys chilling out and climbing all over people, if you let them. They're literally everywhere!!
After hanging out there for a while we went to the Elephant cave, which by itself is forgettable, however, if you go down into the jungle part at the side there is a great path through the jungle. At one point you walk across a bamboo bridge which spans a fast flowing river, and it's a little scary the first time. Past this you can see a temple that's been dug into the rock and another temple that the river actually flows through. They're not temples in the traditional sense, more of a holy place, but they were still nice to see.
That night we found a bar called Mingle that sold Arak which is a local spirit made from Palm leaves. We had heard that Arak can make you a little crazy or sick, but we still wanted to try it. We had some Arak cocktails, which were nice, and no noticeable side-effects, which was great
Thursday saw us being woken VERY early (3am) so we could go climb Mount batur before sunrise. The drive was about an hour and when we got there, it started to rain, excellent! The hike itself was not very difficult, but climbing in the dark, wind, and puring rain made it more complicated. We knew that we would have to wait for sunrise at the top so we were all very happy to see there was a shelter on the summit, so we could have a respite from the rain.
After waiting an hour up there, sunrise was pretty uneventful. I'm sure it's beautiful on a clear day, but the wind, rain and clouds meant we didn't get to see a lot. It was still a great experience seeing the crater in the mist, etc. We went down into the crater and could feel steam vents rising up, and learned their was a temple in the “bat cave” but we weren't allowed in. seeing all there was to see in the rain we decided to head down again. When we reached the bottom...the sun came out, great timing!
Later that day we had booked white water rafting on the ayung river but when we arrived we were told the water level was too high because of the rain, and we couldn't do it. Rubbish! Luckily our driver suggested the other river nearby, with a different company (TCR I think), was still raft-able so we decided to head there.
On the way there we went to a coffee plantation that had a very different type of coffee! In Indonesia they have an animal they call a Luack, which looks like a Civit. This animal eats the coffee fruit and then poos out the seeds. These seeds are then collected, cleaned and then roasted to make coffee. It was this type of plantation we went to. We bought a couple of cups and it did taste VERY different to regular coffee in my opinion. It had a tangy taste, but it wasn't bad.
After the coffee we headed for the river. I had never been rafting before so I was pretty excited about it. The river had class two and three rapids so we thought it would be alright. We were wrong! In the raft there were four people altogether. The guide at the back doing the steering, Kevin and I in the middle, and Arthur up the front. The water was pretty fast the whole 12kms, there were barely any quiet parts. The water was quite shallow in parts and we kept bottoming out which was a bit annoying. The first 5km or so were fine, we were progressing well and were probably a bit too relaxed when we noticed the big rock right in our path. The guidw started shouting at us to row, which we were, but it was too late. We ran right into the rock on my side, and the other side started to fill with water immediately and we ended up flipping over. Arthur and I tried to grab the boat but couldn't get a grab, and into the water we went.
I was only under water for a few seconds, but it was crazy. I felt someone's life jacket under me so I knew I was on someone, but then I got carried off. The water was strong and fast and kept pushing me down but I finally maanged to break the surface. Even above water the water power was too strong and it was hard to get footing without being dragged further. Luckily we were all fine and just got a few bumps and scrapes, and lost some shoes. The guide looked as if nothing had happened, whereas it was obvious the three of us were a little shaken up.
The rest of the journey proceeded without a hitch so we had time to look around at the many waterfalls and jungle around us. It was beautiful. At the very end there was a dam which was 4/5m high which we got to go over, which was a great experience. After the rafting we had to ascend 400steps for our lunch. We were wrecked that evening. The whole day cost 450,000 each but was well worth it.
Friday saw us say goodbye to Ubud and hello to Tanjung Benin where we had a chill out day playing beach volleyball. Saturday was March 17th and we wanted to be back in Kuta for some St.Patrick's Day festivities. We got some alcohol in a supermarket so we could pre-drink. This seemed like a good idea until we got to “The Blarney Stone” on an empty stomach and was really drunk. Much of the night was a blur and I'm pretty sure I was the only Irish person in there.