Thursday, January 25, 2007


22nd January - 28th January

After our gruelling rescue diving training we headed back to Bali and decided to head for the hills, chill out amongst the rice paddies with the aim of doing nothing but eating well and reading a good book.

Ubud itself seems to be very spiritually inclined, even by Balinese standards. A Hindu temple on almost every corner and most of the old houses were indistinguishable from the temples. Here's a more ostentatious example...
...and one of the more basic doorways...(for those of you who don't know, the swastika is an ancient Hindu symbol)

The pavements are strewn with offerings that the Balinese put out every morning. Sometimes just rice but often flowers in banana leaf baskets with incense.
This lady goes through the offerings ritual for the entire street...
We did take a few trips around however, the first to the local monkey forest. More like a jungle with some frightening sculpture...
No photos of monkeys this time, they steal everything and if you fight them for it, they'll bite you. Here's a more tame variety...

Another of our jaunts was a walk around the local countryside (read rice paddies)....

We witnessed some back breaking work done by the farmers. This crafty lady however was making a killing selling coconut milk to passersby...

......and proceeded to rip us off with the old "no change" routine, what was to become a typical Indonesian encounter.Bali is beautiful but towards the end of our travels we are tiring of the bullshit, hassling and scam artists plaguing tourists. Where else can we go but back to Malaysia for some lazy and familiar comforts as Bali waves us a goodbye...

Gili Trawangan

13th January - 22nd January

For us, Indonesia began on a remote island off the coast of Lombok. In the early dawn fisherman walk out into the sea and spread their nets while their wives wait patiently underneath the shade of a palm tree. While they sit, they supportively nudge their sisters with advice and remedy while their children play in the nearby sand. Behind the main street, sits a quiet village where not much happens but everything happens. There are two mosques that seem to be competing for the loudest and longest sermon while we sit quietly and listen to the call to prayer. Horse carts and bicycles are the main mode of transportation for both tourists and locals down the 2 km main drag. There are no roads, just dust and gravel.

An elderly lady sits crouched on the asphalt with baskets and bowls at her feet, feeding our hungry bellies with fresh gado-gado and tempe curry. She takes out a triangle-rolled palm leaf and opens it up to reveal rice that’s been cooked the old-fashion way, for hours and on low heat. The flavors of her dishes are a different mixture of peanuts, spices and coconut milk that we have not had before. We visit her everyday. “Good morning” and “Thank you very much” in Indonesia Bahasa always gets a smile from her and others not expecting.

The sunsets are sealed with color and the mist on the mountainside facing us makes us awake and silent.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Kuala Lumpur

6th January - 9th January

Kuala Lumpur is a tall city, filled with skyscrapers that seem to have taken root midst historic districts and local markets. At first sight, or at least from our guesthouse window, KL feels like a familiar city, smelling of sewer and infested with all kinds of underground creature and crawlers. After we've had enough of the morning traffic noise, we boarded the monorail and headed to the Lake Garden district.

But first, we passed the old train station, an old gothic building with Islamic features and curves.
The National Mosque can house 15,000 worshippers and stands magnificent and serene.

A fountain near the mosque.

No monkeying around for Tommy-on the way to the gardens!
After many hills and stopovers, we reached the Lake Garden. The Hibiscus and Orchid Garden was a haven for the specially delicate flowers.
Finally, the Butterfly Garden was the real highlight. Thousands of butterflies scattered a jungle-covered area filled with fish and turtle ponds, tropical flowers and trees while children ran around in a flurry.
This indian-leaf butterfly resembled a dead leaf so well that it took us a minute to spot it.
Onward to Indonesia! First stop: Bali and then Lombok. See you soon.