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Uluwatu, Bali

After lapping up the ‘culture’ in Ubud for a couple of days, we headed south to Uluwatu for some surfing and sunshine before we left for Australia.  Some Americans we’d met in Singapore had told us about this amazing little hotel in Jimbaran that was nice and cheap – they weren’t wrong! For $15 each a night we got an air-conditioned room, an ensuite bathroom with hot water (don’t underestimate the luxury of a bathroom with hot water in South East Asia), huge fridge, free mineral water, flat screen TV with cable, a swimming pool, breakfast, AND a motorbike. In short, we lived like kings.

In the pool!

In the pool!

Living like kings!

Living like kings!

We dumped our stuff as soon as we arrived and drove to Uluwatu to watch the sunset over the famous surf break. It was the first time we’d ridden a motorbike in Bali… it was pretty intimidating. There are NO road rules here!

Sunset at Uluwatu

Sunset at Uluwatu

 The following morning we met this really cool half Timorese, half Indonesian guy called Angel Berto and his French girlfriend, Morgane.  Berto was a very interesting guy and had been a sports commentator for a Malaysian sports channel. Morgane had met Berto on holiday last year in Bali and had returned to be with him. Although she was on a tourist visa, she’d found a job in marketing for a 5* hotel down the road. She worked 6 days a week and only earned $500 a month, which is a LOT of money for Indonesian standards. She didn’t seem to like her job and resented the fact her wages were so low compared to France.

 

Kyle and Berto!

Kyle and Berto!

Berto and Morgane invited us to go out with them and their friends later that evening in Seminyak. We all met in front of the hotel, jumped on the motorbikes and drove in a convoy to Seminyak. What Kyle and I didn’t realise was just how far Seminyak was, and that we’d have to drive on the motorway to get there…  Everything was going fine on the bike, when suddenly the bike started to slide from side to side and we had to pull off quickly onto the side of the road. We had a flat tyre!! We couldn’t see any garages nearby and were lucky that Berto knew exactly where we could get the tyre fixed. We drove very slowly up the road to a petrol station where there was a mobile tyre fixer. It was this Indonesian guy who had a small trailer on the back of his bike and drove around looking for people with flat tyres. He replaced the inner wheel of the tyre for $5 in 5 minutes, and away we we went! We went to this really cool bar in Seminyak called La Favela and they were playing 90s hits all night long. I was having a ball of a time.

Mobile tyre fixer!

Mobile tyre fixer!

The next morning we met Berto and Morgane and hung out together on Balagan beach. Kyle and Berto decided to go surfing, but returned within 10 minutes because the water was full of sea lice and jelly fish. Berto had a particularly bad reaction to the sea lice and his torso was covered in big red bumps. It looked very painful. 

Balagan beach

Balagan beach

We decided to head back to Uluwatu for one last time to see the temple on the cliff top. The temple itself wasn’t particularly special and was home to even more monkeys (!!!!), but the view was breathtaking. 

Uluwatu temple

Uluwatu temple

Pano of Uluwatu

Pano of Uluwatu

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We then went to have dinner at our favourite restaurant in Bali, Warung Makun. It’s essentially a huge buffet: you choose a rice, meat, vegetables and a drink, and then the waitress gives you a little ticket. I’d been a bit disappointed with food in Indonesia until now, but the food here is absolutely divine. And cheap too! My meals at Warung Makun were never more than 2 quid. Nom nom nom.

My meal at Warung Makun!

My meal at Warung Makun!

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Sleeper train to Chumphon

Tired of Bangkok and wanting some sea and sand, we booked a ticket for the second class sleeper train to Chumphon and a catamaran to Koh Tao. The train was scheduled to leave at 9pm and arrive in Chumphon at 5 am! 9pm came and went and the train was still on the platform – we soon learned that nothing in Thailand runs on time. An hour or so later, the train left the station and we prepared for the long night ahead of us.

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An hour into the journey, one of the train attendants came round to set up the beds with fresh linen, pillows, blankets and a curtain. The two bottom seats joined together to make a bunk. Whether you had the top or bottom bunk would depend on your seat number.

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As soon as they set up the beds, I got into my bunk as the lady below me wanted to go to sleep. The carriage was freezing (A/C) and they didn’t turn the main light off! However I’d come prepared with long trousers, a fleece and an extra blanket so I was fine, but Marc and Kyle didn’t sleep a wink. I fell asleep and woke at 5am when the train attendant told me it was 10 minutes to Chumphon, which I thought was pretty efficient!

I actually really enjoyed the sleeper train experience – I’d do it again!

x

Arrived in Bangkok

Finally arrived in Bangkok! This place is absolutely crazy, already we’re weary of scams and the like. We arrived on Sunday at 7am and made our way to the hotel we’d booked using public transport. We couldn’t check in until 2pm so we dropped out stuff and changed into some cooler clothes. (It was already 30 degrees at about 10am).

The hotel advised us to go to the weekend market called Chutuchak and so off we went in search of a bus to take us there. We wondering the street map in tow (aka spot the farangs) when a seemingly lovely Thai woman offers to help us. She explained that it would take too long by bus and that we should take a tuk tuk… It would be cheap apparently. She negotiated with the tuk tuk driver who said he’d take us to various temples and wait for us all for 20 baht each. We jumped in thinking it was all good and how lucky we were that a Thai lady helped us….

We made our first stop at the ‘Lucky Buddha’ temple, I couldn’t believe we were the only ones there. It was EMPTY. It was a strange ‘temple’ and a ‘government official’ working there explained it was a Thai holiday and that’s why nobody was there. I found it all very strange, especially when the so-called government official told us of a shop nearby where we could get some tailor made suits. Anyway, we go back and our tuk tuk driver is waiting and he says next stop is ‘Thai Factory’… Definitely not a temple.

Good for suits. You need suit

We say to the tuk tuk driver that we don’t need suits and have no interest in going to look at suits, at which point he became very aggressive and said

look suits no KILL you. Just look

We’re thinking we should get out the tuk tuk asap but he takes us to the ‘Thai factory’, where they tried to sell us suits rather unsuccessfully. We stayed for all of 3 mins (the tuk tuk driver would have got a cut if we’d decided we wanted a suit. We left the shop and sure enough the tuk tuk driver was waiting. He wanted to take us somewhere else (probs another ‘lucky’ Buddha) but we asked him if he could take us somewhere to eat (we hadn’t eaten since the plane) and he was so pissed off. He dropped us at this horrible tourist restaurant and told us he’d wait. We didn’t want to eat in this horrible place so we continued down the road.. Hoping we might lose the tuk tuk driver too.

We came to this place that had loads of Thais sitting outside and ordered this gorgeous noodle dish. It was absolutely divine and set us back all of 65p.. Cheap as chips, or cheaper even.

After our lunch we decided the best way to lose the tuk tuk driver and help cure our jet lag was a Thai massage for an hour. It was so relaxing and my body felt like jelly afterwards. I could get used to these massages, especially at less than £4 a pop!!

Gorgeous food, tuk tuks and Thai massages…. Ain’t nowhere like Bangkok.

Manu x