Tag Archives: indonesia

The Magic Healing of Balian

I’ve fallen into the trap recently of becoming complacement.  Lazy.  I came away wanting to get my writing done, study, enjoy the things I was doing at home and online; but to do it in a much warmer setting, whilst experiencing a different culture. 

That was happening, and I was moving around at the same time, exploring, fulfilling my life in different ways with new places, new experiences and excitement.

In the last few weeks I have rented a small room for myself and my boyfriend, who is arriving this week.  However in the run up to his arrival, because neither of us were entirely sure when it would be, I have spent my time preparing for him; nesting if you will.  However, due to work commitments, his arrival date had to be pushed back, and I didn’t realise it until these past few days, but I’ve managed to put my entire life on hold for this.  I’ve not been doing any of the things I love, instead have just been going to the gym, and working on my tan, thinking of nothing more than how big my bum looks, and filling my brain with self indudlgent and trivial thoughts, rather than doing the things I set out to do.

To add to this, I ended up doing something last week to a friend I have made here, that really, really hurt her.  It was a completely drunken and foolish thing to have done, and I can make every excuse in the world, but essentially I hurt someones feelings, someone who I care about, and as a result of this, have spent the past week being rather critical of myself, and evaluating the kind of character that I am, if I could have done something so clearly hurtful to another human being.

  

❤️

 
So as you can see, even though I am in paradise, I’ve slipped from my healthy place of self love and self worth,which I was discovering, back to not really knowing who I am.

A few photos from my favourite place in Canggu; Echo Beach

     
   

Thankfully, I feel that I realised this pretty quickly.  
So having woken up yesterday morning, after an evening of drinking with friends from home, and a dark cloud of hangover and guilt looming over me, I packed some clothes in a bag, rolled up my yoga mat and caught a ride, North up the coast, to a small village called Balian.

I’ve been here now for less than 24 hours, but having got my head down last night, woken up early this morning, and completed a yoga session for the first time in ages, I already feel better.

I felt a sense of guilt; for feeling disappointed in myself; when I’m in the most beautiful place on earth, and I’m not sat behind a computer in an office in Highbury & Islington, working in a crap job for the council like I was before.  I should be just embracing it, and being happy.  But instead, I’d become lazy, waking up every day to lounge by the pool before going to my gym session down the road.

My brain works 1million miles an hour, and I know this.  I need to have more mental stimulation to challenge myself each day.  Yes, I’d be meeting people all the time, making friends, going for dinner, having drinks, but I still wasn’t filling my mind with substance.

 

Deni, lovliest guy and best waiter in Bali

   

Monggos; my local bar /restaurant / sofa spot

 

Wednesday night drinks at Old Mans

Complaining about working out, post training at Bali Fit

Teaching the most loveable, oversized pup in Bali, how to swim

 

Looked after a puppy for the day as a trial. It was great til she peed in my bed. Now revaluating want of children or puppies in life

 
I woke up this morning in Balian, and as I say, went to practice yoga.  I then came back to my hotel for a breakfast of watermelon and pineapple with yogurt, and some gritty Bali Coffee.  I then slipped into my bikini, grabbed my novel, and walked down to the beach.  Here, in between reading chapters, I’d look up at the surfers taking it in turns to catch a wave, or the men out on the fishing boats, not too far from the shore.

 

Last night’s sunset at Balian

 
I looked to my right, and saw the ocean crashing against the rocks that were jutting out into the water, and the little bungalows situated on top.  To my left there was an expanse of more beach, with palm trees lining the way.

  
   

After overheating on the black sand, I gathered my things to return to my hotel, a short 3 minute walk up the cliff.  I came to the (infinity) pool, even though where I’m staying is certainly budget accommodation, and took a swim, before stopping to look over the edge, at the waves rolling in from the Indian Ocean.

  

“Budget” Accommodation


 I’ve since been sitting in the sun, taking positive actions to get myself back on track with where I need to be.  I’ve done some writing, and looked into more online work, as well as chasing up some other things that have been sat at the back of my mind, niggling at me.

I’m glad I took the escape to Balian.  Yes, I was living my own paradise in Canggu, but even the most perfect of places have their way of grating on you.

For me, I needed the change of scenery, just so I could hit the refresh button, and remember why I was here.

If you’re reading this and you feel like you need somewhere with no distractions, and somewhere that literally will give you a reminder of the true Bali, and not the tourist version, I can whole heartedly recommend Balian.  I’ve achieved more of my “to do list” here in one morning, than I have done in one week in Canggu. 
 After spending a couple more days here, I’m going to head back to the relative hustle and bustle of the hipster town, and keep my newly rediscovered work ethic intact, finish my online studies, whilst getting some writing jobs under my belt.  And then finally get to see my beautiful boyfriend.  Perfect.

  

 

How not to make life hard for yourself; renting in Bali

After having spent yet another week living out of my backpack in a hostel (the very lovely, but very cosey single room I rented in Serenity Eco Guesthouse, Canggu) I suddenly had the realisation that I should be thinking of getting settled.

In my mind, I was waiting for my boyfriend to fly out and join me until I rented somewhere more stable.  Perhaps because I wanted to make sure we found somewhere we liked together, but in actual fact it was more likely that I was hoping then he could do the searching so I wouldn’t have to.

However, with his arrival impending, and a gental nudge and suggestion from him to find somewhere, I agreed.  Having trapsed through the Internet half heartedly, looking for somewhere to stay on all the usual site (AirBnB, Booking.com), over the last couple of months, I was so sure that nothing was within our budget.  Our budget being as cheap as possible, without living in a total dive; a dive so dismal that would inevitably make us want to kill one other.  Not asking for much then.

So having exhausted the Internet, I was slowly giving up hope.  It was only when I took a trip to the beach in Nusa Dua with another girl I’ve met here, I was advised to just keep my eyes peeled, and that I could find really good deals just by walking down the street.

The boyfriend and I had already agreed upon the village of Canggu, on the west coast of Bali.  Here, he can surf daily, and for me, there’s loads of places to keep practicing my yoga.  Its somewhere that has enough social life to be fun, but not too busy like Seminyak or indeed the living hell that is Kuta.  It has a good mix of all the positive aspects of Bali, my only worry being the amount of showy “hipster” types, but again, maybe the more yoga I practice, the more zen I’ll get about this kind of thing (!)

So I took to the Internet once more, sitting in a bakery in Seminyak last week, ferociously Googling every phrase I could think of for finding property to rent in Canggu.  There are many real estate sites out there, however, unfortunately most are tailored towards those with a grander disposable income, and my searches kept coming up with entire villas to rent, with three bathrooms, a swimming pool, and a dreamy view of the rice fields.  That would be lovely, however, not realistic.  How could this be so hard?  All we wanted was a decent sized room with an ensuite; no kitchen or living room necessary.

I did find a couple of basic properties through random searches, however all were a good distance from the beach, and were nothing spectacular.  I arranged viewings of several properties for the next day, feeling a little disheartened, as I don’t ride a moped, and was hoping I could live somewhere I can access all necessities by foot.

That evening, I made my way back to Canggu, and asked the moped I had caught a lift with, to drop me off in the center of the village.  The main part of Canggu is pretty much three parallel roads running to the beach, which meet at the top near a few bars, restaurants and a smattering of shops.  I walked the length of one of these roads, right from the shops, all the way to the beach.  It’s funny how I hadn’t noticed before just how many signs there were saying “Rent a Room”.  I’d been in Canggu for almost a week, and hadn’t noticed a single one.  However, now that I was looking, the signs were everywhere.  I must have poked my head in ten different properties, all basic rooms with an ensuite.

 Edit   

These properties varied significantly.  I saw ones that had no windows, moth eaten beds; ones with puppies running around, (however, this unfortunately isn’t worth living somewhere with no access to clean water) ones where there was mould growing in the walls and ones where building and construction work were still ongoing, and would be for the next year, at least.

However all of these were relatively within budget, and it was looking like the best option would be sharing a twin room with fan, and using an outdoor cold shower.  Not awful, however, far from the image I’d dreamed up before, of living in papardise.

I was just about to call it a day on househunting, when I passed one last guesthouse.  It had big gates, an outdoor pool, and was walking distance to the beach and to the bars.  As I enquired further, I learned that it had hot and cold water, and air con.  All this for the same price as the other dingy rooms I’d been shown.  

I asked to be shown around, and it kept getting better.  The rooms were bright and airy, no small, cramped and depressing rooms.  There was furniture, a beautiful big white bed, the pool was small and clean, and it had 24 hour security.  The cleaning gets done and the bedding changed twice a week. And there are no bills – everything is included.

  

    

    

  

  
Across the street we have our local, Monggos, but I prefer to call it Bintang Toed Joes.  Down the street a little there is a gym called Bali Fit, which offers training programs which are pretty much Cross Fit – exercise so difficult it makes you weep, but is incredibly good for you.

     
The room is being let for £268 per month, a price I couldn’t afford on my own, but thankfully with Sam coming, it is possible.  For the solo traveler with a tighter budget, I saw plenty of rooms that were half this price and a little less luxurious, however still perfect for one person.  

I’m glad I shopped around and compared properties, as I almost went for a room at half the cost that wasn’t even in Canggu; instead it was in some sort on no mans land between here and the next village on.
From walking around all day I managed to find something that is perfect for us.  Sam can wake up with the sunrise and walk with his board to the beach for his mornin surf.  I can attend Bali Fit for their 7.30am class of the, beating my ass into shape.  

We can later grab breakfast together in the cafe at the gym, where they offer gorgeously healthy food, smash avacado and eggs on toast, or natural protein smoothies served in coconuts filled with goodies such as acai berries and flax seeds.  

  

 

After letting it digest he can go off for another surf and I can join the yin yoga class then maybe do some writing in the sun.

In the evenings,there are the most beautiful sunsets to be seen, a few hundreds metres from the front door.  The surfers can be watched, catching the last waves of the day, as the sun sets behind them.  Looking to the left, you can see the planes coming in to land in the distance at Denpasar airport, the lights on their wings cutting through the clouds seemlessly, before touching down.

There are an array of restaurants, otherwise know as warungs, that can be eaten at, all servings a mix of Western and Indonesian food.  Many of these warungs are health orientated, as Canggu is just one of those kinds of places, and you can eat beautifully fresh fish for great prices.  

Another option is the beach at a bar called Old Mans, where street vendors gather to sell food for next to nothing; grabbing one of these whilst watching the sunset over the sea is another great way to finish the day, on the cheap.

It just goes to show, the Internet isn’t always the answer, and sometimes all it takes to find your own personal paradise, is a bit of legwork and a lack of laziness.

And with that, I’m off to “Warrior Training” before meeting friends at Old Mans for a game of Beer Pong.  Ciao.
 Edit   

My boobs got groped, and it’s not even the boys that did it who I’m most mad at.

Boobs.   Breasts.   Chesticles.   Norks.   John and Paul.  Whatever you want to call them; they’re everywhere you look, and God love ’em, they’re great.

They’re all a bit of fun; they’re soft to play with, they’re portable comforters, and fortunately, I have learnt to love mine (after spending years comparing them to traffic cones and mouses noses throughout puberty) I now feel proud to wear them on my chest, as two protruding examples of my femininity and curves.

Pride.  That’s exactly what I feel.  If I so wish, I can wear a bikini, or a low cut top, and let them be.  Yes they’re ample, but I’m by no means a page three cleavage – wielding babe.  So me and “my girls” get on with our daily lives without thinking much of it, dressing them how I wish and never really getting any unwanted attention.

Last night I went for a drink with a beautiful girl I had met here in Bali.  We were talking over some wine about our experiences here in paradise, and I was picking her brains, as she has 5 years of Indonesia under her belt already.  I was exclaiming at how remarkably safe I felt here as a solo woman, especially coming from traveling Central America, where I felt quite the opposite.  She was agreeing, and saying that generally speaking, this is a very safe place to be.  So I was quite shocked when she told me that she was once victim of a drive-by groping, on one of the busiest roads in Seminyak, in the middle of the day.

She told me she was sat on her moped in traffic, and a man drove past her, reached out and grabbed her breast hard and purposefully.  Not that it should make a difference, however she made a point in telling me she was wearing a big jacket and not showing much skin (however even if she was in a bikini, this behavior is obviously wildly inappropriate and sickening).

I was shocked, as my experiences so far here had been so pleasant.  I in no way felt threatened by sexual harassment; if anything quite the opposite.  So today, when I had a rather similar experience regarding my very own Danny DeVitos, naturally, I grew even more disgusted.

I moved into my new apartment in Canggu, right by the beach and in the center of everything earlier this afternoon.  I’d just finished unpacking and wanted to take a walk around the block, picking up new household necessities such as soap and what-not, before coming back home to nest some more.

It was late afternoon, and as I passed Deus Ex Machina, one of my many new local bars, seeing happy, smiley people walking in for their Sunday night sessions, a big smile spread across my own face, as I appreciated what a lovely part of the world was currently my home.

And as if my internal monologue were being read out in a narrative from a movie, this was about to quickly change.  I saw about four mopeds quickly zip around the corner, approaching me, filled with a mix of local teenage boys and girls, presumably on their way back from the beach.

They were laughing and shouting amongst each other loudly, when the bike spearheading the group, suddenly clocked me, and started steering to the other side of the road, the side on which I was walking.

It all happened so quickly, and in a moment of panic as they started getting closer and leaning in, I could only presume they were after my handbag, which was strapped across my body.  With that thought I took both my hands and grabbed my bag, anticipating it being ripped from my body any second now.  However, instead of feeling the strong jerk of someone pulling at my bag, what I felt instead, was much more upsetting, and much more invasive.  I felt the hands of two teenage boys lean in and squeeze my breasts really hard and forcefully, whilst laughing, literally right into my face, before speeding up again and driving on.  Not only is this act itself absolutely hideous from a sexual point of view, but on top of that, it really, really, f*cking hurt.  My breasts were grabbed in such a rough and aggressive manor, from two boys on a moving bike; it’s hardly going to tickle.

To make matters worse, shrieks of laughter instantly ensued.  Stunned, I looked behind me, as the four mopeds of teenagers were looking at me, hysterically laughing as though they’d just spent an evening at an Eddie Murphy show.  All mopeds were carrying young girls on the backs, who then proceeded to make the classic “wanker” hand signal at me, inbetween a few middle fingers, which I happily reciprocated whilst my face was, hopefully, portraying the vile sickening feeling I was currently experiencing.

That’s the worst part about all of this.  Yes, those boys are loathsome and gross for their actions, and they should be ashamed, and I only wished I had a moped myself at that point on which to follow them and really make a point about how they would feel if someone did that to their mothers or their sisters.  But the thing that really, truly left me with a bad taste in my mouth and a heavy heart, was the fact that these girls were so involved, and so entertained by the sexual harassment of another female.

I just wanted to scream at them everything that the Spice Girls ever taught me in my youth about Girl Power, and on a more serious note, that making fun of, and degrading another woman, only allows men and boys to think it’s even more ok to act in such a lewd way.  These silly little girls actually made my eyes water with sheer frustration at their stupidity.  Everything their sisters from around the world have fought for, and indeed still are, becomes more jovial and trivialised by their behavior of such ignorance and idiocy.

Frustratingly, as they were on mopeds, none of my feelings will ever be known by them, so obviously the only way to vent is to take to my computer and to write down how I feel about what, for them, was such a little joke and a mindless act, but for me, put a total dampener on what was a really beautiful day.

Of course, my immediate feelings towards them were of violence and rage, however I can only hope instead, that the next unfortunate woman they do this to, has the means to turn around and really explain to them why this isn’t funny.  Why it’s not laughable to make a woman feel self conscious walking down the street, having taken an innocent walk to the shop, or in any other situation for that matter.

Yes, I am the first to exclaim my love for boobies.  I think they are great fun, and should be embraced, loved and appreciated, in whatever shape and size they come in.  But that joyous feeling I have about boobs, takes a somewhat dark turn when it comes to sexual harassment.  And it sickens me even more to think the next generation of girls are being taken on drive-by gropings by their pubescent boyfriends as some kind of a sick sport.    I can only hope that these boys and girls do some growing up, and fast.

Two Old Sillies on the Gili’s

Abbey and I boarded the little boat, sat on the roof, and kicked back with a Bintang Beer each, as we quipped through the waves, music blaring out from the boat and massive smiles on our faces.

We got off the boat, after about two hours of beers and sun, and walked straight to our hostel on Gili Trawangan.  There are three islands altogether making up the Gilis’; Gili Meno, Gili Air and Gili Trawangan.
We were staying in the simply named “Gili Hostel”; and plonked our bags down and headed for a wander down to the local reggae bar; Sama Sama.

Here we sat and enjoyed a cocktail and some food with two other people that were in our room; before heading back again to wash up for our first night on the island.


The next day we woke up and went for breakfast. It was the morning of my 26th birthday. For years now I’d dreamt of swimming with a sea turtle; and having lived in Fiji I would have thought I’d have achieved this by now. However, unfortunately, due to the Chinese and their black market, sea turtles, amongst other creatures, are becoming increasingly rare.

So after eating, Marco said he’d come snorkelling with me in the persuit of one.

On the first snorkel we didn’t see much; just some fish and some dead coral; however over the next few days we persisted and my dream came true.


We paid a guy we had met in a bar to take us snorkelling on his boat with a few other holiday makers. He guaranteed me 100% he would show me a sea turtle. And he did not dispoint.

We did a few jumps into the ocean that day, and already by the first we had spotted the turtle. The only thing being; it was about 20 metres below us on the ocean floor and unless you had some serious free diving skill, it wasn’t that easy to get to.

We saw a couple of these and most of the people on the boat trip appeared to get a little bored after a few of hours of seeing turtles on the floor.  As everyone was making their way back to the boat, I saw the turtle moving a bit more, and noticed it was swimming up towards me.  I thrust my GoPro camera into the hands of the local guy, and I swam towards the turtle. I swam along side it, and held its shell for about one minute, before it delved back down again to the depths.  It was the most amazing one minute of my life, and I think I will go as bold as saying that that resulted in the best day of my life. It was so magnificent and beautiful, and I feel so lucky that I managed to get so close to such an amazing creature in its own habitat.



The rest of the time of the island mainly revolved around eating, drinking and more snorekeling, however after the sea turtle experience the rest of the swimming seemed so tame.




I had a great time here and met some awesome people; who all contributed to me having the most relaxed and care free, fun packed birthday to date. 




I received no cards nor presents, yet got hoards of love sent to me from friends and family all over the world; so what more could I really want?

Next stop; R&R at the Yoga Shack, Nusa Lambongan.  Leaving the party behind in exchange for some good healing vibes. For now at least.


The most romantic night of my life

So after writing the previous post, my plan was to have an early night and wake up at 3am for my flight to Denpasar, Bali. However, instead I laid awake, thinking of all the exciting times I had ahead with my best buddy. So I left the hotel and travelled to DMK airport, Bangkok, where I boarded my flight. IMG_1101 IMG_1105 When I arrived at Denpasar airport, I took a taxi to my accommodation which I had booked previously online at Bookings.com. I just wanted to go somewhere that was cheap, and had a swimming pool that I could use, whilst I waited for my friend to arrive. So I found this cute place online called Alam Puri Art Museum and Villa. It was only £10 a night each so we thought “perfect”, and booked it.

I arrived at the hotel and was immediately blown away. The place was like a dream. It was a collection of little private villas, all situated so that you wouldn’t even know anyone else was staying there.

IMG_1117

IMG_1119

IMG_1118

The architecture was incredible, massively playing on the Hindu roots of the country. I felt as though I’d been transported to Hampi, India, with the stone statues of Ganesh, covered in a wet moss and offerings to the various Hindu Gods laid around the gardens. I was led into my villa, which had its own private splash pool and seating area. I then took the stairs up to my SUITE. Suite. Not room.

IMG_1113

IMG_1114

IMG_1138

There was a massive four-poster bed with white linen, and white drapes surrounding it. A huge television in a beautifully carved wooden cabinet. The bathroom was a neutrally tiled room, with an enormous stone bathtub that could easily fit four people in it. After squealing in total delight and running round opening all the cupboards, I thanked the guys that had helped me with my bags and changed into my bikini. I went to the large communal pool, where I sunbathed, ate a salad and had a cocktail.

IMG_1129

When the sun had disappeared behind a building and I was in the shade, I returned to my room, where I treated myself to a bubble bath, and basically swam around in sheer delight and joy; blasting out my favourite songs from my laptop and just feeling so incredibly joyful. I spent the entire day alone and being thoroughly lazy and indulgent but I didn’t care. I was in paradise and it was amazing.

IMG_1213

IMG_1219

At about 10pm I hear a knock on my door, and in walks one of my best friends in the world; Abbey. She goes through the same range of emotions as I; squealing with awe and shock of such an amazing place.

The place was totally designed for and catered towards couples, so I do wonder if the staff thought Abbey and I were gay, but oh well; its 2015.

IMG_1222

We ordered a bottle of wine from room service, ran ourselves another massive bubble bath, donned our bikinis, and sat there feeling totally in our element, whilst watching Fifty Shades of Grey on my laptop. We then spent the rest of the evening rolling around on the humongous bed and laughing at what a treat this was – £10 each. That was it. God I love Asia.

IMG_1231

I woke up in the middle of the night, rolled over and couldn’t even see Abbey. The bed was that big. I almost had to shout out to ask where she was. “Top left hand corner!”

In the morning I woke up lazily with the sun creeping through the double doors and onto the white linen.  Abbey had got up first so I woke alone, and stretched out all to myself. I do love Abbey but I definitely had the thoughts of how lovely it would have been to wake up with someone special there. Unfortunately I am not in love with anyone right now, so Abbey will have to do.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

Abbey’s romantic yet creepy photography

We went to the restaurant where we had a great breakfast (all included in the price) before a car met us and took us to the port so we could catch a boat to the Gili Islands.

IMG_1403

We were sad to leave our little spot of luxury; however it was time to get back to it and be the grubby little backpackers that we are at heart. So typical Kate and Abbey style, we boarded that boat with a bag full of Bintang beers, sat on the top deck, and toasted the next two weeks of stupidity and laughs.

IMG_1399

Let’s get Bintang-ed.