Posts Tagged With: religion

Burmese Days – Part Four

Bagan – Sand Paintings and Sandy Feet.

Day nine.

Day nine began with a seven hour bus journey on the worst road I’ve seen in this country. I didn’t feel great before I got on the bus. I couldn’t stomach breakfast. I was sick at the first stop. I wanted to come home. I arrived here. I went to two guesthouses. Hassled by taxi  and horse cart drivers all the way. I wanted to come home. I got lucky with the third guesthouse. I slept from 3.30 to 5.30. I woke up. I felt a little better. But really, I still wanted to come home.

Day ten.

Exactly what I needed after yesterday. I’d agreed with a British guy I met on the bus, who from now on we shall call Chris for ease, to meet at 8 and if I was feeling better share a horse cart for the day – half the cost. After a solid twelve hour sleep from 5.30pm ‘til 5.30am I felt ready to take on the world! After a brilliant breakfast, I set off to meet Chris at the bus station.

There were two American girls on the bus too, who from now on we shall call Brihanna and Rebecca, and it turned out they were staying in the room next to Chris, so we decided to get two horses and spend the day as four.

After spending just three days in Thailand a week ago, I’m still pretty templed out. You get the big ones like Borobudur in Indonesia and Wat Pho in Bangkok but once you’ve seen one mediocre temple, you’ve seen them all. Think about it, you may go and see Salisbury Cathedral, or Canterbury Cathedral on a little day trip but would you really cruise Northamptonshire for a tour of it’s village churches?

The individual temples of Bagan are just mediocre temples. Like I said, seen one, seen ‘em all. But once you climb to the top and look out, the collective view is amazing. Why you would need to build so many temples in one place is still beyond me but it makes for a good view.

I am undecided as to what I saw more of today; temples, coin collectors or sand painters…. Every big temple you go to is surrounded by stalls and people who will follow you up and inside for the chance of selling you their wares. At the beginning of the day, it’s plain annoying, by lunchtime you play the game, and by sunset it’s back to plain annoying. Our horse cart driver even found us a fab place to watch the sunset, not a tour bus in sight, not even a lone bicycle. But guess what? A family waded through the puddles and up the dark stairwell to try and sell us their lacquer ware.

Then there’s a different breed of temple-hanger-around-ers; the money collectors. I’d discovered early on that my trick of answering “Where you from?” with “No English, sorry, parlo italiano” was redundant in Bagan when a woman replied with “Buongiorno, molto bello!” This discovery was reiterated later on when I saw some Burmese kids babbling away in Spanish to a Spanish tour group! So I was trying a new tactic, picking an obscure European country they definitely wouldn’t have heard of. I’d already used Andorra, now it was Liechtenstein’s turn.

“Where you come from?” asked a little boy towards the end of the day.

“Liechtenstein.”

“I know your country. Very nice.”

“You know it?!” Damn. “Where is it?”

“I don’t know. Do you have money from your country?”

“No, I’m in Myanmar. I only have Myanmar money. I leave my Liechtenstein money in Liechtenstein.”

This is one of many examples of this conversation.

Another conversation I had a lot today;

“Hello, where you come from?”

“Andorra/Liechtenstein/England (if I liked them and was prepared for another Manchester United themed conversation)”

“Very nice country. You want to look at my sand paintings?”

“I’ve already bought two, sorry!” This was true, I had, and they came in very handy to wave at the seller at this point in the conversation.

“But one more? It is different design.”

“I’m sure it is, but I already have two!”

“But three is the lucky number!”

“I know but I have no more money. Sorry!”

These people don’t give up easily.

Despite the persistent pestering and seeing more 45 Kyat notes than horse carts and more copies of George Orwell’s Burmese Days than Waterstones’ British stock, it was a very good day, one of the best so far. I met three lovely people (Chris, Brihanna and Rebecca, not the sand painters) and it really was exactly what I needed after yesterday.

Day eleven.

I’m writing this during a second evening of power outages. Thankfully my laptop was fully charged so I’m sat here before dinner with my headlamp on typing away! But without air con. Can’t have it all I guess! I’ve decided Burma is a country they should send ungrateful school kids on a trip.

Anyway, I was going to start with an apology for 13 pages worth of reading material for you. I’m sorry. And it’s not over yet!

So without further ado, here’s a brief description of my day: I relaxed, watched some Karl Pilkington clips on my iPod, and even had breakfast at NINE! Well late for Burma. I read some Stephen Fry, I set out to meet Chris and possibly the American girls for lunch. I ate a ridiculously small amount of my noodles and then we hired bikes for the afternoon. Sadly the American girls couldn’t join us because they had to get their bus to Yangon, to arrive at 4am, to fly to India at 8am!

So in a nutshell, we got bikes, saw some temples, saw some postcard sellers, saw some money collectors, had some sugar cane juice….that was pretty much it!

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Categories: Burma, South East Asia | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do Do Mulu!

Preparing to leave for Mulu, I’d prepped myself that I would be away from civilization and communication. I knew there were some caves and that that was the main reason people went there but I didn’t realize how inspiring caves can be! I realize that sentence sounds incredibly geeky, but after my time here in Mulu, I feel inspired to take on more adventurous caves, treks and the like.  I would recommend a visit here to anyone visiting Borneo/Malaysia/South East Asia. However, it is expensive in comparison with what I’ve been spending on my trip so far. It’s become like a mini holiday in Centre Parcs purely due to the sudden increase in my spending. I found pre-travel info a little weak, so here’s what I now know in case you’re up for being inspired….

Arrival by plane is the only feasible way to get to Mulu, which had helped in me thinking it would be totally isolated. Therefore, I was expecting a tiny plane with propellers and 20 seats, similar to a domestic plane I’d taken in Costa Rica a few years ago. However, this plane was much bigger! Yes, it had propellers but there were much more seats. And we got a complimentary Milo!

When you arrive at Mulu, you’re greeted by numerous signboards offering a ride to the park headquarters. It’s only about 1 km away, but for 5RM (1GBP) it’s no hassle taking one of these sign bearing folk up on their offer.

Also worth noting at this point is that before departure, from what I’d read in the Lonely Planet and online, I was led to believe that you had to book accommodation in advance, and that the options at the park were the only options. The cheapest option being 40RM per night for a dorm bed in the park hostel (as opposed to 20RM average I’ve been paying elsewhere in Malaysia). However, when you take one of these rides to the park, you will see a few “homestay” places dotted along the road to the park. Jesper, a Swedish man I met on my tours, was staying in one for 15RM a night – quite a saving on my bed in the park hostel! Info that these existed prior to arrival would have saved me a small fortune. However, you get what you pay for, and from what Jesper told me, the shower sounds rather piddley and his mosquito net a necessity.

The first things you have to do on arrival are register and pay your 10RM park entrance fee. Now is also a good time to plan your time here as trips can fill up fast, so the quicker you book the better. There’re plenty of clear leaflets and a map to help you decide what’s best for you if you have no idea. I would recommend checking the website beforehand to give you an idea of what’s on offer.  Be warned: at this point, you will spend more than you initially planned!!

If, like me, you’ve never been caving before, I would recommend the following (apart from Lagang Cave), which is also the itinerary I did;

Day 1: Deer Cave and Lang Cave at 2pm, including the “bat exodus” as they flock out between 4.30 and 6pm, just in time for you finishing the caves. Lang Cave is full or limestone formations of stalactites and stalagmites, whereas Deer Cave is full of bat poo. I was slightly worried about just how bad the smell was going to be when I saw our guide rubbing Vicks under his nostrils before entering, but in all honesty, rather unexpectedly, it smelt like Veet!!

Day 2: Cave of the Winds and Clearwater Cave at 8.45am, including a longboat trip down a very shallow river, a stop at a local village selling crafts (which you will feel pressured to buy…) and a longboat trip back. Expect to return around 12.30 – just in time for lunch before…

Canopy Walk at 2pm. After an hour or so, you reach the longest canopy walkway in the world, which is quite scary at times! The bridges wobble and shake, are attached to the trees with rope and only two people are allowed on at a time. It is good fun though!

Day 3: Moonmilk Cave is the only cave that can be explored without a guide, you just need to let the Security Office know your plans. I did this with Jesper. It was a good workout, with over 800 steps in total. However, we ended up at Cave of the Winds, and had to turn back, adding another few hundred steps to the challenge!

Lagang Cave. This is billed as a “tourist” and “adventure” cave. I was well up for that! A nice little introduction into adventure caving for me, breaking me in gently. But no. To link tourist to the word adventure they don’t get rid of the boardwalk, they just turn off the lights. To make my first experience of “adventure” caving even more adventurous, I was asked after 10 minutes in the cave by my guide what religion I was.

I shook my head, “I have no religion.” Those words I should have learnt not to utter after meeting my crazy LOGOS HOPE! friend at the bus stop in Penang.

His eyes lit up.

“Who made the earth and the universe? Who put all these things here? Do they ever stop?”

“Well, it’s just nature isn’t it? It’s infinite. Nature did it, Mother Nature.” I considered adding a “Mother Nature is my God” but my better judgment helped me bite my lip.

The rest of the journey I was lumbered with stories of how he found God, how God saved him and his granddad can perform miracles, how he went to Singapore for two months to train to be a Pastor, and how one day, I too, will find God. Yeah that’s not gonna be today. Or tomorrow. Or even the day after that, or the day after…you get the picture.

He then proceeded to tell me how he was dating a beautiful Hindu girl (she must have been a stunner – he was always emphasizing the “beautiful”), but then his cousin introduced him to his (now) wife and he had to make a choice. He had to think of his future. So he send a letter to his now wife and signed it with his blood, saying “I’m deadly serious, if you are too, write back with your blood.” All this and he’s still dating the poor Hindu.

“Then one day, I receive the letter. I can feel my heart pumping in my chest…I open the letter….and there it is, her blood. I then had to break off with the Hindu and we soon married.” No mercy when it comes to bloody love.

I took this opportunity to ask about other religions if God was the one who made everything.

“Well, we do not offend other religions.”

“But if they believe in Allah, or Buddha, or Vishnu and not God…one of you must be wrong?”

“Well, we do not speak badly of other religions but, when I pray, I pray in my heart, and God comes to me. It is personal. When the Muslims pray, they use the megaphone. The “Barrr barrrr mmmm bahhhh”. How can this be personal? How can you talk to God?”

“Yeah, but I think that’s just the call to prayer. That tells them it’s time to pray. Then they go in and pray individually in silence, right?”

“Yes they do, yes.”

He’d seen miracles apparently, performed by God, but he wasn’t aware of the miracles of other people, of their beliefs and their rituals. That’s what’s really amazing in life – diversity, and I don’t have to believe in God or Allah or whoever you wish to pray to to be able to see that.

Be prepared to open up your wallet in Mulu. The food costs between 10RM and 16RM, and at least 3RM for a drink. If I was in the city or by a beach I would stretch out my snacks and go for one meal a day but when you’re out walking and sweating like crazy all day, you need to bite the bullet and pay for two meals a day (breakfast comes in the form of a token included in the accommodation price). There are a few restaurants along the road to the airport, but unless you walk quite a way, I think the prices are pretty much the same. As for water, I was not prepared to pay the price of a meal for a bottle of water. Luckily in the hostel, there were a couple of kettles, so I just boiled tap water up and left it to cool whenever I wanted to refill. This works fine until some [insert expletive here] Germans come along and reboil and steal all your precious water. [Insert further expletive for emphasis].

Altogether, my bill at Mulu was 270RM for accommodation and activities. Food must have come to at least 70-80RM and the return flight was 306RM…which comes to a grand total of….around 650RM (120GBP). So far the most pricey venture of my trip.

Was it worth it? Yes and no. Yes the experience was definitely worth it. I had an excellent time and as a novice to this kind of thing, I loved the “tame” adventure quality that Mulu has. No because the food and accommodation was way too expensive. I wish I’d known about the homestay options, although I would probably have eaten in the park still, because the food is very good and the price variation minimal. All things considered, do Mulu!

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Categories: Malaysia, South East Asia | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Thoughts on Penang (and other exciting news!)

In keeping with the rest of Malaysia, Penang is very nice. In difference to the Cameron Highlands, Penang is very hot! I haven’t really sweated yet since I’ve been away, yeah, it’s been hot, but Penang? WOAH! I’m thinking it could just have been the change from shivering at night in the Cameron Highlands to stepping off the plane into a blanket of heat but wow!

After my wonderful night at Jim’s Place, (not only was there a bratty jungle kid but my fan didn’t work!!) I awoke bright and early and was ready to leave ASAP. I showered, packed my bag, checked the map for an idea of which direction to head for cheap hotels and so I was set. I headed downstairs. Complete darkness. Brilliant. The shutters were down, no-one was around…then I saw a man on the sofa. It was Jim.

“Jim? Jim?” I whispered, “Jim?”

He stirred.

“I need to leave now”

“Ok. You can go out the back, baby.” That’s the kind of guy Jim was. He had notice boards on the wall filled to the brim with quotes from “Sir Jim”, mainly about having sexual intercourse with the Thai population.

Glad to have finally left, I ended up in Banana Guest House! Doesn’t sound much better, does it? Thankfully, it was, and I had a very pleasant last night’s rest in Penang. A much needed one after my 8km trek through Taman Negara Pulau Penang earlier that day. That’s Penang National Park to you and me. It was a fun, sweaty hour and a half before reaching a beautiful white sandy beach with a turtle conservation centre – and a tank full of baby sea turtles! It was very cute!

I met a lovely man called Izman and his two cousins who were so kind, and gave me a lift to the Toy Museum that I’d seen on my way over. However, when I got to the entrance, I noticed the ticket price – as far as I could make out, it would have cost me 100RM (20quid!) just to see some toys. I was kinda hoping for 1-10RM…so I headed to the bus stop straight away to catch a bus back into town.

“Where do you want to go?” came an angry sounding voice from the shelter.

“Err, I need bus 101? Into the city, Komtar?”

“Ahh, yes, ok, it will come. But i’ve been waiting half an hour already. Huh!” She was quite a character, “So where are you from?”

“England.”

“Ooo, long way. How do you like Malaysia?”

“I love it! I was in Indonesia before, and I hated it. So Malaysia is great in comparison!”

She nodded and smiled. We sat for a few moments and then she asked, “What do you believe?”

“I’m sorry?”

“What do you believe? Like, God, religion? Are you a Christian?”

“Oh, I’m not religious. I…don’t know what to believe.” This was an easier answer than getting into a religious debate. I turned the tables, “And you?”

“I’m a Christian. I used to be a Hindu but then I changed. What is the point of a religion when I can’t do anything, you know? But being a Christian, I can ask for forgiveness, you can’t do that in Hinduism, I mean, we all make mistakes sometimes, we need to ask for forgiveness and my old religion didn’t allow for mistakes so now being Christian LOGOS HOPE!!!” The endless monologue was interrupted when two minibuses drove past with the words “Logos Hope” on the side.

“What’s Logos Hope?” I asked.

“It’s a boat, a travelling book fair, and it’s here in Penang, first time in Malaysia and first time in Penang and it’s here!”

What a lovely idea. A book boat shop that travels the world.

She was chatting all the way on the bus too. A very nice, open woman called Mala.

The following morning I left Penang and after a few hours stop in Kuala Lumpur airport, I arrived in Kota Kinabalu in Sabah on Borneo yesterday. So far, so good! I caught the bus into town for 30p as opposed to at least a tenner for a taxi and went for some lunch in a shopping centre. I found a small cafe in a supermarket where I chowed down on a plate of fried noodles for 40p, only to be filmed by the women on the next table…I wasn’t literally chowing the noodles down, I’m not a dog. I was eating sensibly despite being ravenous. So that wasn’t the reason they were filming me. I did still have my backpack on but get a life! I even turned back as I walked away and she was still filming me!!

It was a half hours walk from the bus station to Lucy’s Homestay (the cheapest in the book!) and if they were full there looked to be plenty of other options nearby. Thankfully, they had space and I’m now in a lovely hostel for the next three nights (well, two now!) with free breakfast and wi-fi AND I’ve had my laundry done! Hooray!

Even more exciting news is…

  1. I may be able to do a try dive in the Semorna Archipelago – apparently one of the best dive spots in the world!
  2. I have planned Borneo down to a T and should be able to hit the orang-utans (not literally), Semporna, Gunung Mulu National Park and Kuching within a time span allowing me to…
  3. GO TO SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX!! Yes! How amazing is that?! It falls just when I’m ready to leave Borneo, flights from Kuching are dirt cheap (I’ve already booked one!) and Shakira, Linkin Park, Shaggy AND Rick Astley are playing!! I mean come on, Rick Astley? Cherry on top of a fantastic cake or what?! It’s a night race around a track in the city centre so different to most races around the world. What a cool place to see my first Grand Prix! Of course, I’ll be rooting for Hamilton and Button….if I’m not too busy singing along to Rick Astley that is!

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Categories: Malaysia, Singapore, South East Asia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Crappy birthday to me.

It’s been a pretty rubbish birthday so far…allow me to explain…

Here’s yesterday and why I’m now in a hostel…..

Woke up, headed out to Borobudur which is a temple 2 hour bus ride away. host said her friends cs people were going – but then they didn’t have a mobile number so I went alone – again, her sister drove me to the bus station….
good day there, met Yvonne from york again who had met another guy (Matthew) and I went around the temple again with them. my host had been talking about this Ramayana ballet thing, which there was a big arrow on my map to. so between us, we decide maybe we’ll meet again there later!

we get the bus back, I get off near the centre coz I hadn’t eaten anything all day (she didn’t give me breakfast and her sis drove me straight to the bus station, so no food all day!). so I stopped for a meal….I’d just finished and I get a text “do you still wanna come? it’s a 40 min motorbike ride from my house” I’m thinking I’m closer than her house, so I text back saying I’ll walk from here…she texts back saying get the transjogja bus to “museum blah blah blah” so I go to the station, show the text to the girl, she tells me which bus…I wait, get on bus, check the bus map and think ok, so I turn round then get off…so I do that (not checking the name of the bus stop – I saw the Ramayana ballet place and thought “this must be it”…I wait for about half an hour then she starts texting me like “where are you?” “are you far?” “I can’t see you” etc….im texting back like “im here, right by the bus stop, outside the entrance to the place.”…..then I spot Matthew sat having finished his meal! so I head over towards him…and then get a text saying “I’m going home, ive been waiting like 25 minutes. im tired now.” so I text back saying “well, im here. I’ve found my friend from today so do you mind if i still go with him?”

we head over to get me a ticket, and just as I get my ticket, I get this message: “the curfew is 00:00 and make sure you come back before it. and I am absolutely disappointed, I had been waiting for you for 25 min and I broke my promise to the polish guys to see the show at prambannan. if you told me in advance that you are not interested of watching it, I can go by myself.”
what the hell?!?!?! you can’t let someone into your home and then turn schizo on them for a mistake!!!

it turns out that there were 2 Ramayana ballets last night – I’d gone to the wrong one (but the one that was signed very clearly on the map!!!). So I stayed and watched, it finished at half nine and I decide to head back. I asked a little rickshaw man how much to go the station near her house (i didn’t have her address on me, just the name of the station near her house and directions how to get to her house from there)…he didn’t seem to know where it was. so Matthew said he’d walk me home.

we got so lost! asked loads of people…from what I could remember of the street name, they didn’t seem to think it meant anything!! we came the street name, they didn’t seem to think it meant anything!! we came so close and then it was like 11.30 and she wasnt texting me back with her address so we had to get a rickshaw to the taxi terminal and then a taxi to Matthew’s hostel and I had to spend the night there.  huuuuh. so yeah, that’s how I turned 22! fun times.

then today, i make my way back to her house this morning, i arrive she’s SUPER nice to me, says we are going to a cs meet up for the Indonesian independence day (today-my bday!) at 1, but I’d already arranged to talk with my boyfriend at 1 today so i told her this, she was SUPER nice, said she’d take me to a really good cafe with wi-fi and let me borrow her laptop etc, which she did. then we meet her friends at the cafe, they eat, i go upstairs to Skype, feel like she’s telling them about last night…i come down to eat, they are ready to leave, she seems annoyed that she’s having to wait for me to eat…we head to this meet up thing, she ignores me, talking to all her friends individually, they keep looking over at me, its obvious shes telling them about last night. i felt so angry!! you can’t treat people like that!!
then Isaline who I’d met the first night we went out came over and was really nice and I broke down coz my host had been so mean and I wanted to leave. she offered to take me to my hosts house on her scooter to get my stuff and then to town to get a hotel but my host insisted on coming….we left her house, Isaline took me into town and helped me find a hotel and we’re going to go out to a really good restaurant (she’s studying here atm and knows these things!) and have a proper birthday……she couldn’t have been more helpful. but my host was like schizophrenic or something!!! so now I have a nice hotel, with a proper shower and western toilet and I can relax and not be anybody’s pet! it was like I was her cs accessory – when I arrived this morning and said I wanted to use the internet at 1, she said, “well you must be tired, rest in your room til then.” and in her house I felt like I had no option but to rest in my room!! not that i wanted to socialise with her at this point but its the principal….phew. what a day….

Everyone has been lovely except the girl i was staying with!! the most important one to be nice!! hey ho, it’s over now, tomorrow is my new birthday! 🙂

*NOTE*- I am aware of the bad grammar in this post. Frustration doesn’t allow for grammar!

Categories: Indonesia, South East Asia | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“You make like husband and wife in the bedroom?”

Everyday is a holiday in Bali. National Stare At The White Person Day. Everyday. You’d think with they amount of tourists (for reasons beyond my comprehension) that they’d have got over it by now. But apparently not.

My lasting impression of Bali is a dirty, overrated place full of stray dogs and heaps of plastic rubbish. If I was you, I wouldn’t bother.

The family I stayed with were lovely and couldn’t have been more helpful but I just didn’t get Bali. Here’s a little insight into my rather interesting itinerary…

Day One. Bali.

I had arranged a Couchsurfing place to stay in Bali. It was the first time I had tried it and if you’re not aware of it, it’s basically free hosting and staying all around the woirld maybe trading language lessons or cooking a meal. I was eager to try it and thought that a place like Bali, where I know very little about would be a great first place to try it.

I arrive at the airport, having been in text contact with who I thought was Ratna, the 19 year old daughter of the family. I knew that Papajero (the dad of the family) would be picking me up, but because I thought I’d been texting Ratna’s mobile, I thought she would be there too.During the huge visa queue, I get a text “I’m in a blue tshirt outside”. So when I eventually make it out of arrivals, I find myself confronted with many people (a lot with blue tshirts) all waving their signs with names of their victim to Bali. I don’t see my sign, instead Papajero has to ask me if I’m Lindsay, but we get there in the end.

Imagine the scene; arrive in a new country, not being able to speak the language, and then your only way out of the airport being a lone man with a long beard and an old 4 by 4. I was extra alert, any scary sign I’d be jumping out of that car. So when the conversation turned to boyfriends and the question “Do you make like husband and wife in the bedroom?” came up, I was ready to leap onto the nearest motorbike, of which I had plenty of choice.

“Err? Baa…nah, ye…but…meh…that’s a bit personal isn’t it?” was all I could manage on the spot.

“I only ask because in Bali, it is very bad. I meet my wife, we married after only one week.”

And so it went on for 2 and a half hours. Very scared, we eventually arrived at the house. I was started to doubt the family’s existence a little until his son, Udi came running to open the gate. Still not sure what to make of it, I eventually managed to fall asleep.

Day Two. Bali.

I am awoken very early to the sound of Green Day, “I hope you had the time of yoour life”. Yeah right. I attempt to have a shower, it’s quite weak. I go for breakfast and Papajero asks me if I want to go to Candidasa with him. Having no idea what else I can do, where Candidasa is or what there is to do there, I agree. We pick up two Italians from a hotel 5 minutes down the road and set off. It turns out Papajero has never been to Candidasa before and that it’s on the other side of the island. I sit in the hot car on my leather seat for about 8 hours. We had a little lunch break inbetween. By lunch I mean Nasi Campur, which is rice with whatever is lying around. That day little ants were lying around.

By now the dogs, plastic, fires by the road side and overtaking and hooting of every other veichle on the road was becoming quite draining. I was ready to come home. I chose to work damn hard for a year and save every bit of spare cash to have fun and enjoy myself not be stuck in the middle of nowhere, alone with a squat toilet and a pants shower!! The second night was very hard. I was literally planning the quickest way out. I already had a ticket from Bandung to Kuala Lumpur on the 25th of August. To get home from KL would be very easy, and relatively cheap cpared to if I carried on and flew home from somewhere else. This was a very tempting prospect. I could fly home on the 25th, be home for my boyfriends birthday and then come back out again in December – skipping the squat toilets!

It took a lot of self convincing over the time in Bali to stay. I knew, and still know, that if I go home early, I will have left my job for nothing, worked solid for nothing and endured 6 hours sat next to a Somalian pirate for nothing. It would be difficult but I knew I had to stay.

Day Three. Bali.

After the delights of the weak shower, I had to surcome to the mandi. A mandi is a deep bowl in Indonesian bathrooms that is filled with cold water to be scooped out and poured over the body. In the mornings in the mountains in Bali it gets cold, so this takes some courage. It’s not a pleasant experience, but being here in Yogyakarta where it’s a lot warmer, it’s actually quite refreshing.

On the morning of my second full day in Bali, I went to school with Coming. Coming is five and adorable. In fact her whole class were adorable.

I’d asked Papajero if I could maybe drop her off at school with him one day just to see what it was like andI was allowed to stay. For the two hours that they go to school. Towards the end, the teacher asked me if I knew any English songs or games, so I taught them the Hokey Cokey and we played Duck, Duck, Goose. I enjoyed my morning at the school, this was the kind of experience I was after. Things were looking up. Then it came time to leave.

“Oh, you must, email…” I followed the teacher into her office. She pulled out a book full of names, countries and emails. Apparently this happens a lot. I sign the book for her to then pull out another book, with the word “Donation” written on the front. Now, I don’t mind the fact that I had to donate to see the school and participate in the class. What I do mind is the fact that it’s at the end, after I’ve seen the school and participated in the class that the book comes out.

Later that day, Udi took me to the Water Temple on his uncle’s motorbike. I’d never been on a motorbike before and he told me not to hold onto the back because it makes him wobble. So I had to just sit. It was surprisingly easier than I thought! After the water temple, we headed across to the internet cafe.

“Are you going to go on the internet?” I asked Udi, just being nice.

“Yes” he replied.

In we went, and an hour later I head over to the man to pay. My hour had cost 4,500rupiah (it sounds a lot but it’s only 32p!) and I paid with a 10,000 note. The man gave me 3,000 change. I stopped for a moment and wondered whether it was worth questioning. Already hating Bali, I turned around, “Erm, 4,500? I gave you 10,000?”

“Yeah, but you pay for him too.”

I turned to Udi, “Did you use the internet? I though you were just watching that boy. I’m paying for you?”

“Oh yeah, sorry, I forget to tell you.”

“Oh right.”

The hatred for Bali was not due to disappear anytime soon. If you are white, you are rich beyond your wildest dreams don’t you know?

In the afternoon, Papajero invited me to a cock fight. It wasn’t my cup of tea but neither was sitting lonely on a porch in the middle of nowhere, so I agreed to go. Coming came too, and apart from her, I was the only female, and the only white person. Instantly asking for lots of stares. It was a pretty gruesome sight. Not the stares, the cock fight. They put the chickens in bags to make them angry. Then attach a little knife to their ankles and pluck feathers from their heads until they are very angry and then they let them loose on each other. The fight continues until one chicken dies or both are too close to death to fight. Although having said that, I only witnessed one draw.

When we arrived home, my luck had changed. A new family were stood on the restaurant platform looking quite lost. They were from France, and they were my saviours! Not only had they come at the perfect time when I really needed to vent how annoying it is to be thought of as a millionaire everywhere you go (which technically, in Indonesia, I am), but they were French! So I could vent my frustrations with no worries that the family would understand any of what was being said.

It was such a relief.

Day Four. Bali.

Now I had people to do stuff with, things became a lot easier. I had to wake up very early (5am!!) to get my ticket to Yogyakarta…Papajero had to collect a live pig for the ceremony the next day en route…I couldn’t watch the pig being put into a sack and dumped in the car live. It wasn’t a pretty sight. Neither was the chick with it’s legs tied together shoved in the glovebox. We then picked up a grandma. Then another live pig. Then another grandma. THEN we went to get my ticket, finally!  

In the afternoon, me and the parents of the French family went for a walk by the lake with Udi and later on we went to the GitGit waterfall. The waterfall was nice but the main attraction was the endless stalls of the same sarongs, batik and wooden carvings. I didn’t realise just how much you could barter down the goods until I watched the French family do it. I learnt to walk away and pretend you don’t want to pay that much and they instantly lower the price. It feels mean but the prices start ridiculously high so it’s ok. On the way back, we picked up a durian which we ate for dessert later that evening. It smells absolutely vile but tastes like creamy mango. Not bad, but nothing spectacular.

Day Five. Bali.

Day five was a biggie. It was the ceremony that I’d heard so much about. The pig, the fruit, the rice baskets, the gamelan…all was prepared and driven to the family temple. It was a very interesting experience! The gamelan went on and on. Then the dancing begun. Young girls came out one by one and picked their ‘victim’. I don’t know who was more of the victim though – the girl or the picked dancer. The first man to be picked was a leary paedo-esque man and it felt quite uncomfortable to watch.

“I don’t think I can watch this if it’s going to go on for as long as the gamelan goes on” I thought. Then she picked me. Neil’s dad from The Inbetweeners came to mind. (*If anyone sees the film, let me know how it is!!*)

It was actually quite fun and the parents of the French family had a go as well. They were pretty good!!

We were then offered lunch in a bag and I sat next to my new found friend, {insert name here}. I never did find out her name. But she was very old, and short and cute. And she lived in the little house next to the temple. She wouldn’t let go of my hand, it was quite touching. Bali grew on me a little that day.

Day Six. Bali.

On my last day in Bali, we headed to the hot springs pool near Lovina beach. Papajero assured us that we would have time to hit the hot springs, beach and eat all before my bus. And we did!

And now I’m here, in Yogyakarta. So far so good. I spent the first day getting lost and making friends with Yvonne who studies in York and is also travelling solo, so we had lunch together. In the evening, I was invited to a Couchsurfing meet up by my host here. There is a HUGE Couchsurfing community in Yogyakarta. HUGE! Everybody knows everybody.

The next day (yesterday) I took the obligatory trip to Borobudur, which is a very impressive Buddist temple. I went alone but met a couple from Luxembourg on the bus who I felt like I followed around like a lost puppy until we found the temple! After one tour of the temple, I saw Yvonne arrive with someone she had met on the bus, who turned out to be quite the saviour!

My host had been texting me all day with details of the Ramayana ballet. Turns out there’s two Ramayana ballets here! And I got off the bus at the wrong one. Luckily, Matthew (who Yvonne had met on the bus) was there, so I went in with him and not my host (who had gone to the other Ramayana ballet – it’s all very confusing!). Turns out the Transjogja stops at 9. Which isn’t helpful when the performance finishes at 9.30. Matthew offered to walk me home, as the rickshaw driver didn’t seem to know where the bus stop near her house was. If I could have got to there, I could have worked my way back to her house. But no-one apparently knows where they live around here!! Thankfully, Matthew let me sleep at his hostel for the night as the curfew at my hosts house was 12am. This morning has been a restful few hours reading after breakfast on a bench and internet in KFC. Fun times!

Categories: Indonesia, South East Asia | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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