Monday, 18 February 2013

Bali: Kuta, Bingin and Uluwatu.

We arrived in Bali on the 3rd of February and met up with Sean and Joel in Kuta. The guesthouse we were staying in had a lovely garden and swimming pool and felt quite secluded, considering outside the walls of the hotel was crazy Kuta! It seems to be where the Aussies come for a party holiday, with restaurants, pubs and clubs lining every street. We went out on the first night and it was good fun, and definitely different from our month in Sri Lanka!

We visited canggu beach, where I had intended to rent a board but unfortunately the police stopped us and took all of our money as a fine! The police are quite corrupt here and most westeners on bikes get stopped frequently and regardless of any wrongdoing there is usually something they can find to fine you for! So no money to rent a surfboard, but the boys managed to get in for a surf while I went to look around a temple at the beach. We also visited Uluwatu on the southern peninsula where the surf has been good most days. The reef is shallow here and the currents are strong... not Amy surfing conditions!! But Sean, Joel and Mike have had some good surfs. The coastline here is rugged and to get to the beach you follow the steps down through the warungs and finally down through a cave to get to the beach. At low tide you can climb through the cave to a beautiful little beach cove.

A few days in Kuta of shopping, surfing and lots of good food were fun but long enough... and it was quite a long drive to the other surfing beaches so after Joel had gone home the three of us moved down the coast to Binging. There is a long beach here, with several good breaks, impossibles, bingin and dreamlands, which is a bit more mellow and I managed to get in for a few good surfs here. We are staying in a little bamboo, thatch roofed warung at the bottom of the cliff, right on the beach. We have our own wooden balcony between us that hangs right out over the beach just a few meters from the sea. The beach is beautiful and the water is crystal clear, especially as the tide is getting lower and the reef is visible through the water.

The view from the balcony...

Our warung on the beach...

We stayed at Bingin for 6 days, chilling out, surfing and eating lots of pancakes! Best pancakes so far on the banana pancake trail... We will keep sampling them all though, just in case there is a better one out there!! Haha. We are moving onto Ubud next to do a little bit of sight seeing and to sample a bit of Balinese culture.

Love Amy and mike xx


Monday, 11 February 2013

A few of our favourite beaches: midigama, Mirissa and kabalana

Our last week in Sri Lanka was spent at our favourite beach in Midigama. We stayed at Ram's guesthouse during our first few weeks and liked it so much we made time to return at the end. The guesthouse is right on the beach so Mike loved rolling out of bed straight onto the beach for a surf before breakfast everyday. The beach curved around the cove to the right where there was another, more mellow wave, lazy left. On this beach there was another guest house that did huge, cheap breakfasts with mountains of banana pancakes and fresh fruit! The week basically revolved around swimming, surfing, sunbathing and food!!

Chilling out at Rams...

Lazy left...

Yummy breakfast, cost about £1...

The next beach if you head south down the coast was called plantations, which you could also surf, but Rams was bigger and on the doorstep so we only went there once. This was also a beautiful beach, the whole of the west coast is just miles and miles of white sand and turquoise water!

One morning we rented a scooter and drove a few miles north to a beach called Kabalana. There was a beautiful hotel here (well outside our budget) that did a huge buffet breakfast and then let you use their facilities and pool all day. It's hotel was also right on the beach and it picked up a bit more swell here so Mike had a couple of good surfs in the morning.

We also saw lots of stick fishermen on our way to Kabalana but I couldn't take photos while we we driving along on the bike and unfortunately when we got to Kabalana the sticks were empty, but it is amazing to see men perched precariously on sticks in the water whilst concentrating on fishing!

At the end of the week we took the bus down the coast to a Mirissa, a seaside town with a little bit more of a tourist vibe. It is another beautiful beach, with a long beach on one side of the cove dotted with hotels and cafes, and on the other side a tiny quiet beach filled with traditional fishing boats. There is also a little island you can walk our to, with good views of the whole beach.

Finally, considering mike managed to cram in 3 surfs a day the post wouldn't be complete without some surfing photos...

We were really sad to leave Sri Lanka, it's an amazing country with a wonderful mix of beaches, mountains, rice paddies and tea plantations, coconut trees and surf. The people have been friendly and the food has been great. We will definitely come back. But we are also looking forward to moving onto Bali and the adventures that will bring.

Love Amy and Mike xxx

Location:Sri Lanka

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Week 4: the cultural triangle.

On the 22nd we left Dolhouse after climbing Adam's peak, with aching legs and got off to a bit of a bumpy start when our first bus broke down! We followed the advice of the locals and started to walk to the next town, with our sore legs and heavy bags... And luckily another bus collected us a couple of km down the road! So we were back on our way. 3 buses later we arrived in Kandy. We were staying 10 minutes out of the centre in a lovely hotel with views out over the knuckle mountains. The weather was beautiful on the day we arrived and we went for a walk around the lake.

Unfortunately the heavens opened the next day and the monsoon rains continued without a break for the next 48 hours. The lake wasn't quite so beautiful in the rain, but I got to put my wet weather clothes to good use and there was still plenty to do and see in the rain. We went to the temple of the tooth where Budda's tooth is supposed be kept. The guards are quite strict about keeping people moving so you only get to look at the casket with the tooth inside for about 15 seconds. The temple is beautiful though, with lots of shrines and hand painting on the walls. There is also a room where paintings tell the story of Budda and how the tooth was captured and passed hands over the years. Lots of locals were also visiting the temple to give flower offerings and to have their babies blessed, which was lovely to see.

In the afternoon we visited the botanical gardens. The highlight was seeing the hundreds and hundreds of fruit bats that hang from the trees and lazily swap trees and branches every few minutes. They also had a orchid house with many beautiful varieties of orchids.

The following day we moved further north to Sigiriya, which makes up part of the cultural triangle. The land is flatter here with miles and miles of forest and rice paddies, lots of monkeys and wild elephants that sneak into the villages to eat the rice! The next morning we climbed Sigiriya rock, the iconic 200m rock sticking up out of the otherwise flat landscape (add another 200 steps to the tally!). A 5th century king created a city on and surrounding the rock. At the top there are the foundations of the ancient buildings, although there is some dispute about whether it was a castle, a fort or a temple. From the top there were good views of the walled gardens surrounding the rock and views out over the forests.

About half way up the rock you climb a spiral staircase on the outside of the rock up to a cave with 7th century paintings and a mirror wall where thousands of poems and messages written by visitors between the 7-14th century have been preserved.

Whilst in Sigiriya we also visited a local temple with a 30m high Budda statue and about 100 other statues lining the temple. We met a local couple who had each made one of the statues. The are thousands of temples across Sri Lanka, and they are incredibly elaborate, even in tiny villages.

After Sigiriya we moved back to Midigama, our favourite beach on the west coast. The sea is crystal clear with good surfing and snorkelling and beautiful beaches. This is where we spent our last week in Sri Lanka. There are so many beautiful places there that I will put them in a separate post. Love to all at home. Amy and mike xxx