Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The road to Lovina

I must add first that the first days in Bali we were traveling with friends who only had a limited period of time on the island. During those days we wanted to get the best impression by planning as much as possible. So next day we took a long bus ride to the north. Even though our stay in Ubud was very relaxed and we even could stay here a couple of days longer. But we had a hotel in Lovina, our next destination.
I don't think Lovina is a place you necessarily must visit. It is more about the journey through mountains and authentic villages. Also couple of popular destinations lie along this route. We chose to visit the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan. At first sight it is a beautiful temple completely surrounded by a huge lake. In the background you can see the mountains, partly hidden by clouds. Ceremonies take place everywhere and the Hindu worshipers are beautifully dressed. It is an incredibly photogenic location. But. You have to be fast and creative to not snap a tourist in your shot. If they do not get in the way, they will come to you to ask if you please can make a photo of them. I get no moment of peace to enjoy the surroundings. I am rather annoyed and want to leave this place as quickly as possible. It is a pity, because it is certainly a nice place but all the atmosphere and aura has disappeared here. I do not want to know what this place look like during the high season.
Fortunately the road to Lovina was fantastic. We drove past mountains and had a great view of lakes. In one of the villages we couldn’t pass because of a ceremony. That was okay, because we loved watching this special event.
After a long trip to Lovina we relaxed at the beach with fresh fruit juices. Most people come here for dolphins. We did not like the idea of chasing after wild animals. Spontaneous encounters with animals are the most memorable, I think.
We enjoyed the tranquility of the beach, the pool and conversations and went to bed on time.
Way too early I was awakened by the shouts of the dolphin spotters. We had a good hotel, but too close to the dolphin departure point. The beach here I found unattractive. It did not look fresh and it smelled weird. That was a good thing, because otherwise I would have regret to leave this location.
After breakfast we set off towards the south, but via a different route.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ubud and around

The road from Australia to Bali was heavy. We had a very early flight, so little rest the night before.
At the airport we were picked up by the friend from Denpasar, who brought us directly to Ubud. We were a little early at the hotel, so we had to wait a bit until our rooms were cleaned. The garden of the hotel was very relaxed, so waiting was not a problem. And when we finally could get in the rooms, shower and sleep was the only thing we were able to do. The first day in Ubud was almost over. Once it got dark and we started to feel hungry we went into town for dinner and some drinks. It was immediately atmospheric, Bali style. A large group of local people dressed in traditional attire were walking down the main street to celebrate a ceremony. We enjoyed this view and totally satisfied we returned to the hotel.
The next day, we were picked up again by our friend and went to 'Pura Besakih' together. It's Bali’s most important temple and probably one of the most visited sites on the island.
The road itself is an experience! We drove past many durian trees until we were surrounded by hilly and bright green rice fields. This is exactly how Bali looks like on the pictures. The temple complex looked wonderful. Unfortunately it was a bit foggy and we did not really see the background with mountains.
This trip was not quite easy because of the hills and stairs we walked up and down. But we still had plenty of energy to continue. Our next visit was to the "Gunung Kawi ', the ancient royal tombs. There are several ideas of who exactly was buried here, which makes the place even more mysterious. The walk over here and especially back is challenging. Because the area is very hilly, there are many steps. The humid climate makes it a little more complicated. And again everything is surrounded by these magnificent green rice fields.
The two important items for today were lots of water and sarong. If you do not have sarong, there are shop stalls everywhere.
The area around Ubud is rich of sights, but we called it a day. We took some rest in the hotel pool until dinner time. Thereafter we went by taxi to a special restaurant: Sawah Indah.
If we had more time, we would stay longer in Ubud. But according to our plan we had to head to the north of the island next day.
So far the return to Bali was very good. Everything was absolutely enjoyable.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Perth - Australia and around

My last trip of the previous year was terrific! We went to Perth to visit friends and combined the long flight with a stopover in Bali. We flew to Bali via Singapore and stayed two days in SanurA good idea on one hand, because we rested from the jet lag before we flew to Perth. But on the other hand two days Bali had no sense, while we had to pay to come in the country and again to come out. And because we went to Bali one more time on our way back, we had to buy visa for the second time which is only a waste of money. Sanur was a lovely stay, it's close to the airport and is located along the beach with beautifully clear and calm water. Many people prefer Sanur above the popular Kuta. It's much quieter and has also a wide range of shops and restaurants. Our friends from Perth also stayed in Sanur. They were already at the end of their holiday. So, before we went to Australia all together we've spend some time in Bali first. For us it was a very relaxing start with some restaurants visits and cocktails at the beach. Nothing cultural yet, just a simple and social times with Australian and Balinese friends. It was a very short stay, but my impression about Bali was positive and I was looking forward to be here again on our way back.

To Perth we flew with a budget airline. It was only 4 hours and no time difference with Bali. In Australia it was spring, but much colder compared to Bali. Especially at night the temperature cooled down. Perth is not a very big city, we understood that soon after our arrival. We've seen the centre in one day. But the city is very beautifully situated. Nature and urban alternate with each other which is very special. This kind of integration is clearly seen at the Kings Park, where families come together at the weekend for walks among exotic plants or just a barbeque. From the side of the park you can look out at the business center of Perth and the harbor at the Swan river.
About 200 kilometers (which is not very far in Australian terms) north of Perth is a special nature wonder the Pinnacles. In Australia is was often hard to believe that we were on the other side of the world. But a natural monument as Pinnacles makes you realize again where you are and how many hours you have flown to be here. It was a very special place with interesting natural limestone structures which were formed approximately 25,000 to 30,000 years ago. Yellow pinnacles, blue sky and white sand beyond are a prefect combinations for some photogenic moments. 
Our friends lived next to Yelagonga park, an ideal place for pleasant walks. We have seen some exotic species in the wild which are very common here: Kangaroos, cockatoos and parrots. And even though the kangaroos are just a plague here in Australia, they still remain great for a foreigner.
Other short trips we made were AQWA, Swan Valley and ofcource Fremantle.
AQWA is a large aquarium with marine life of the Western Australian coastline. It was less interesting for a scuba diver like me, nevertheless quite educational.
Swan Valley is a breathtakingly beautiful nature area with vineyards. Here you can taste local wine at many spots. The roads are hilly and winding and provide a stunning view of the area. Occasionally a kangaroo crosses the road and makes the trip funny.
Fremantle is a cute and historical town with colonial buildings. First we have visited Bon Scott's grave and later we walked through the streets of Fremantle.
Australia was great, even though our stay was relatively short and we did not see much of the country. But I will wait till next opportunity to visit this continent and it's unique places.

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