Wednesday, 27 March 2013


After spending a few days in Ubud, mike and I caught a shuttle bus/boat to Lombok and then another bus to Kuta in the south... Very different to Kuta in Bali! This Kuta was a tiny, quiet beach town where most of the tourists were surfers. We stayed in lovely guesthouse run by a very sweet girl who called me sister and mike was "brother Max" (she couldn't master 'mike' so she stuck with calling him max!).

On the first evening we went for a walk on the beach and at the far end were mangrove trees growing straight out of the water at the sea edge. As we watched a family of monkeys ran out of the forest and sat in the mangrove trees grooming each other.

The following day we hired a scooter and went to Gerupuk, a village along the coast so that Mike could surf. The breaks here are off shore so we got in a boat and drove out to the inside break. The scenery here was absolutely stunning, green hills and blue sea. Mike surfed and I read my book on the boat surrounded by the scenery.

Unfortunately on the second day Mike was surfing when someone fell off their board and put their elbow through the rail of his brand new board, resulting in an unhappy Mike and the board being in the shop being fixed for a couple of days. To add to this I was unwell for a few days, so we had a quiet relaxing couple of days. We went to a lovely cafe/restaurant called Astari, right on top of the hill with views overlooking the whole bay. It did amazing cakes and healthy, fresh food.

We also spent some time driving around on the scooter, on the very bumpy potholed roads, and seeing the scenery. I love the scooter now and it's a great way to see country.

After a couple of days the board was fixed and I was feeling better so after one last quick surf it was time to move on to the Gili Isles.
With love from Amy and Mike xx

Monday, 4 March 2013

Bali: Ubud and Mount Batur

After 2 weeks at the beach of sun, surfing and pancakes, Mike and I move inland to the small town of Ubud. The town is incredibly green and covered in blankets of rice paddies. Apparently there was such an abundance of rice that the farmers had time to work on crafts, and as a result the town is the centre for crafts in Bali. Some of these crafts include, Batik, watercolour, wood carving and jewellery and kite making.

I had signed up to do a Batik course and when I arrived at the studio I was the only student there, when usually there are 6-8 people, which meant I got brilliant 1:1 tuition and lots of attention! The teacher talked me through the steps and the techniques and I chose a very simple flower pattern from a book on Balinese arts and used this to make my design. I had tried batik once at school about 10 years ago, so I was very much a novice! But the teacher was great and took a lot of time to help me with the various stages and try out different techniques. For the purpose of the course he only makes up bright dyes so the piece is a little bit loud to hang in our house but i was very pleased with it nonetheless and it will make a great souvenir!

After the batik course we went for a walk through the rice paddies, which are so, so green! Ubud is a busy, quite touristy town due to its craft reputation so it was amazing to find the rice paddies just behind the main road and stretching up through the hills. It is a nice opportunity to escape the hustle and to see the Balinese farmers at work in the peace of the fields.

Like many Balinese towns there were many temples and stunning buildings in Ubud, all hand painted and gold leafed. We visited one temple that stood in the grounds of a beautiful lotus garden.

The following morning (or should I say middle of the night!!) we got up at 2am to leave for our trip to Mt Batur, which is an active volcano. We arrived at about 3am and after a very early breakfast and coffee tasting session, which was great for waking us up, we set off on the trek in a small group with our local guides and our torches. The patch quickly became steep and challenging because you climb over the loose, uneven rocks created by the lava. After climbing/walking for about an hour and a half we reached the viewpoint at the top, where we wrapped up warmly and were treated to our second breakfast, including special volcano cooked boiled eggs. After breakfast we climbed another half an hour to the rim of the crater. From here, now that the sun was up, the views were incredible! The volcano is surrounded by other mountains and volcanos, with a 9km lake at the bottom. At the top you could see the steam rising from gaps in the rock, reminding us that it wasn't just a mountain, but an active volcano!!

After walking around the rim of the volcano, We climbed back down, the much easier route down the side of the volcano covered with black volcanic sand. It was another amazing trip and a great walk. The treks we have done, such as Adams peak, Hortons plain and Mt Batur seem to have been the highlights of the trip... Well worth the early start and the tough climbs! We are off to Lombok and the Gilli isles next.

Lots of love, Amy and Mike xxx