A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: colincampbell

Losing track of time

sunny -5 °C

Our last couple of days in Bali were pretty wet so we gave back our rental car and took things pretty easy. We were still enjoying ourselves, but we had a few things to do like try and make a plan for re-entering the real world. Our flights were booked to NYC and our room was reserved at Hotel Levy Wohlers so the basics were all set.

The flight would be roughly thirty hours, stopping in Singapore and Doha, Qatar, and didn't leave Bali until 10:30pm so we had a full day. The hotel let us have a late checkout so we had a lazy breakfast and got our bags packed. Our highlights of the Sudamala Hotel, despite the ongoing construction, was the attentive, gracious staff and the unbelievable bedding. After so many months of exploring, seeing so many hotels and beds, we had to find out where they got their mattresses, pillows and duvets so we could get our hands on them. The labels said King Koil so we checked out the local store and they just didn't have the same items. Nat eventually found the hotel manager in charge of that kind of stuff and it turns out that they get all of their bedding and linens made custom for the hotel. So it would be impossible to find these anywhere else! This was a disaster as there is nothing worse than finding the perfect nights sleep and then getting it taken away...I imagine it is like flying first class and then having to go back to economy. So we had no choice, Nat kept working on her new manager friend until she found a set of brand new pillows that she was willing to sell us. It also meant getting a new duffel bag to pack them all, but it is the perfect nights sleep!

The hotel gave us a driver for our last few hours on Bali so we went to the south part of the island to check out "The Rock Bar" which was supposed to be the best place to watch the sun go down. It is on the Ayana Hotel property which is a sprawling village of a place, it is a pretty property but had a lot of families visiting...rugrats everywhere! The bar opens at four and by 4:30 there was a long lineup!? It was a grey day so there was no sunset and there are few bars in our eyes that are worth standing in line for so we didn't stay long. On our drive we had passed a Four Season's Hotel so we figured that they would probably have an equally good looking place without the lines. We had a snack and a few cocktails and it was time to go. The car dropped us off at the airport and our leg of the trip was on. Qatar Airlines stuck us right at the back of the bus and it was a long ride with bad food but at least layovers in Singapore and Doha were short and relatively painless. Landing in NYC was great, not much snow on the ground and the sun was shining. Hotel Levy Wohlers is our last stop...now time for these bums to get a job...until the next time. We are going to post one more blog each with our "highlight reels" of the trip...stay tuned.

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At home at The Four Seasons

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The last supper, Storm beer and mini burgers

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Sunrise at Doha, Qatar

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The sun coming up in chilly Williamsburg from our suite at Hotel Levy Wolhers

Posted by colincampbell 06:31 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Nat's XXX Rated Birthday

rain 26 °C

Okay so maybe it wasn't anything like that, but catchy titles are always good for readership. The truth is that we went out for another fun-filled day and realised too late that the battery on the camera was dead so we don't have any photos of the day. We had a great day, so the memories will have to do and we will add some other photos of Bali we have taken in the last week.
Nat wanted to explore Ubud for the morning and she had found a great spot for lunch as well. We are starting to notice a little drawback of this place and it is the traffic...wow is it crazy chaos. We loved having the rental car so we could explore at our own pace but we were just as happy to get through the four day rental without a scratch or a scooter lodged under my front bumper.
Ubud seems to be a highlight on everyone's tour itinerary as town was jammed with big luxury tour buses that did a number on traffic. We explored some shops and checked out this charming little town. There are plenty of little artisans with tiny shops lining the streets, the architecture is quaint and just beyond the buildings are the greenest rices fields you have every seen. The restaurant Nat chose for her birthday lunch is called Bridges and it was a brilliant choice, out of the hustle and bustle, on the edge of a deep river gorge. We ordered most of the appetiser menu and a bottle of our favourite Sancere rose wine and settled in for a great afternoon. The traffic on the way home was more of the same and the rain was starting to fall, so it was a quiet night in Sanur.

This morning we found out that the rain had continued through the night and was still coming down hard when we went for breakfast. As much as it has rained, it hasn't slowed us down or cut into our fun at all. Maybe because we know that our trip is all but over or maybe because everyone here seems to accept the rain and carry on with their usual daily activities. Either way, Bali has been great.

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Posted by colincampbell 05:31 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Nat found her birthday present

rain 35 °C

I think we jumped the gun a little bit when we booked our tickets home, we definitely don't have enough time here, this place is amazing. Surfing, kiting, diving, eating, jewelry making courses, island exploring, furniture shopping, finding the Blueberry Guitar factory...there is so much...we don't even know everything there is to do yet...how are we going to fit it all in!?

All we can do is keep exploring and find as many amazing things as we can. Nat got back from her wake boarding session this morning and we grabbed some lunch. We had some local fish and salad and made a rough map of where we wanted to go today; guitar factory, local wood carvers, monkey forest and then the town of Ubud was the rough plan. Nat is an avid musician and after a little online research found that the guitars made here by a company called Blueberry are some of the most beautiful looking and sounding in the world. Yesterday we were driving and found the place, so it wasn't too difficult to get back to it today. When we went inside we found an older lady with a giant baby, we were a little confused to say the least. She offered us a seat and roused an older gentleman from his afternoon nap, it took him a minute to get himself together and understand we wanted to see his operation. Mr. Tuges, as it turns out, is the master craftsman behind the Blueberry guitar and he took us across the street, down the street and down a little alley into his workshop. His team was hard at work building a number of instruments in all stages of completion. Tuges offered Nat a few samples to test and an eye full of amazing creations, she and one of the staff members played for only a few minutes, but I knew she had found her birthday present. Now she is hard at work designing the intricate carvings and choosing the types of wood he will use.

After that, we continued not too far down the road to an area that is full of woodworking shops and lumber yards, the carvings in wood and stone here are absolutely amazing. We wandered for a few hours, filling a 20 foot container a few times over with ideas and photographs of furniture for the house we don't have. Back in the car, we were off to find Ubud, the roads here don't make a lot of sense and we wound around a little bit before we bumped (mostly by luck) into the monkey forest. It's a forest area, with a deep gorge and a river running through it with a bunch of temple structures and a lot of well fed little monkeys. A few ladies sold us some bananas just after we paid the admission and entered the park, it wasn't long before the little thieves had cleaned us out of fruit. The temples were gorgeous, we didn't get into the innermost area as you needed to rent a special costume and we weren't in the mood for dress-up, but even the fountains and the carvings at the riverbed were beautiful.

From there we walked into the town of Ubud, driving and parking here are a nightmare, so it was just easier. The sun was going down and the town was coming alive, all the shops were still open and the restaurants were getting going for happy hour. There is a restaurant in this town that Nat wants to go to for her birthday so we thought we would try and find it and make a reservation. I think we walked for almost two hours and didn't find it, but we found a dozen other places that will work. The ride home was a little longer than planned as everything looks different in the dark, but we got back to the hotel around 9:30, just in time to grab a bite at the restaurant here before they closed up. Who knows what we will find tomorrow...

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Posted by colincampbell 08:01 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

Last Stop: BALI

sunny 35 °C

So what do you do when you cut a month out of a six month adventure? We've decided to go flat out and make every second count. Our last week also coincides with both of our birthday so we are pulling out all the stops. We did a little research and found a nice resort just off the beach in Sanur area, the south part of the island in a moderately touristy area. It was about a half hour ride from the airport through five o'clock traffic, the roads here seem pretty new, but the questionable driving skills and crazy scooters made it a chaotic ride. On top of that, rainy season is in full effect and the skies were falling! Between the day of travel and the the rainy evening we were taking it easy on Sunday night so we found a restaurant just down the street with some fresh fish and Indonesian sambal.

We woke up Monday morning and both decided we needed to tear all of the sheets off of the bed...to find a label so we can get one delivered to wherever we end up living!! Natalie just continues to describe it as a dream, we are sleeping on a cloud. It makes for a great start every day, Nat was actually hoping it would still be raining so she could stay in bed all day. But the sun was up and we were going to explore the neighbourhood. I think we managed at least 100 photos of local architecture, the design and craftsmanship is extraordinary. Then we found the beach and their little boardwalk and wandered for almost five kilometers along the ocean. Beach cafes, hotels, shops and watersports shacks line the beaches, we grabbed a coffee found a kitesurfing place in case the wind comes up. As we wandered down the beach we happened to bump into some friends we had met in Nepal and Vietnam, it's funny how things work out. We had a good hike before the rain filled in and sent us into a restaurant for a late lunch, this isn't just any kind of rain, you are soaked almost instantly!

For Tuesday, we found a rental car and a map it was time for a tour. My drivers license expired today which I was a little concerned about, but the rental company here required neither a drivers license or a credit card. Interesting. We headed north and then east, winding our way along the coast for the most of it, but sometimes ended up a little off track and found ourselves exploring some little villages. We have been here a few days now and I can honestly say that these might be the warmest, most welcoming people we have met so far. From the cabbie's and the hotel staff to the people in the little villages, well off the beaten track, everyone is all smiles and "hello's" wherever we go. It is amazing. We got to the north coast and started to realize how big this island really is, our plan of driving around the island in one day is out of the question. We found a restaurant at a little dive resort on the top of the island and had an amazing lunch before continuing the drive. About half way around, we headed south again and up into the hills and the clouds. The temperature dropped 10 degrees C as the clouds closed in and the roadsides somehow became even greener. We drove past countless temples and towns full of people and smiles and warm "hello's", it was a great day. As we came down out of the clouds we came upon a lake and a volcano by the same name, Batur. We also realized the sun was starting to come down and we we're still miles from home so we pointed the car south, drove through the rice fields of Ubud and got back to the hotel around seven. We had dinner reservations at a restaurant called Sardine, owned by my friend Camilla's parents, Camilla used to work at Topper's by the Sea for all our friends from St.Maarten. It was a great meal, an amazing setting and always good to see old friends and meet new ones.

Today we aren't driving too far. We found a kite school that Nat is managing to get a lesson in at as they have wake boarding boat that is substituting for their lack of wind. Later we will probably go for a short drive and inspect some of the wood carving workshops they have here, I've never seen anything like it. No telling what we will come home with now!!

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Posted by colincampbell 21:26 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Pictures of Malaysia

sunny 28 °C

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Posted by colincampbell 03:06 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

A minute in Malaysia

semi-overcast 27 °C

We have an announcement...it's kind of a big deal. Nothing to do with any large ring purchases and don't worry, no one is pregnant either. So maybe it's not that big a deal, but it is going to change our schedule quite a bit. We have to admit that we are tired, exhausted in fact, and don't think it is worth seeing more countries if we aren't ready to enjoy them to the fullest. The whole idea of this trip was to give us some fresh ideas and energy for new work projects and we are definitely ready to get back and get some new things started. So we are going to save New Zealand and Fiji for another trip and call an end to this adventure after a week in Bali.

But first, we have a few days in Malaysia. The island of Langkawi which has been described to us as the Hawaii of Malaysia is a tropical spot for the locals to vacation. We booked a simple hotel not to far from the ferry terminal as we were only staying two nights and we arrived and left by boat. After we arrived we found out that the local yacht club had their annual regatta so we had quite the view from our third floor balcony of the races going on. Day two was very wet so we didn't stray too far from home, we got our ferry tickets booked and arranged our plans for the rest of our trip while sipping on some coffees at a Starbucks. The ferry wasn't until 2:30pm on Saturday so we had a good few hours to enjoy the sunny day and explore the island. We had a good laugh at the guide book as it describes many beaches, but only one is worth visiting because the rest are either plagued with dangerous sharks or waves, are private and inaccessible or are too far away. We grabbed a cab to the town of Chaweng and the only accessible, public and shark-free beach. The roadside scenery along the way wasn't much to see, but off in the distance you could see a lot of rice patties and rubber farms and further some beautiful green mountains. We went for a walk, snapped some photos, grabbed lunch at a little beachside restaurant and headed to the ferry. The ferry was a 3 hour ride that was very smooth, we stopped at a tiny island in the middle of nowhere that I would have liked to scuba, maybe next time.

We arrived in the city of Pinang on mainland Malaysia around 6pm, we had a 9am flight the next day to Bali via Jakarta. The benefit of knowing you only have a week left in your trip and that you dropped a month out of your budget is that you can change your accommodation a little bit. The historic part of Pinang is in the north part of the city and is called Georgetown but the airport is in the south. If you have ever had the pleasure of waking Nat up before the sun comes up, you know that you would rather be closer to the airport than another night market. We booked a great suite in a hotel that had an amazing french restaurant, birthday week has begun!! So we didn't see much of Malaysia, but we did have a good experience none the less. Before the sun came up, we were whisked away to the airport and our time in Malaysia was over. Time for Indonesia and the island of Bali.

Posted by colincampbell 02:31 Archived in Malaysia Comments (1)

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