Indonesia: Bali, Rinca and Gili Trawangan

Well, sadly, we’re nearing the end of our visa and therefore our adventure. We’ve enjoyed the temples of Java, the wildlife of Sulawesi, the tribes of Papua and have spent the final ten days island hopping between Bali, Flores, Rinca, Lombok and Gili Trawangan. A lot of this time has been spent relaxing on beaches and by pools but we’ve done a few other bits and bobs along the way too which I’ll share below. It’s been a very different section of the trip, with tourists being in the majority, food other than fried rice and fried noodles to indulge in, and no need for us to use any of the Bahasa Indonesian vocabulary we’d been polishing! Still, it’s all been against the backdrop of Indonesia’s beautiful scenery and underlying culture and traditions.

Ubud, Bali

Since we knew we’d be finishing our holiday at the beach, we opted for the inland town of Ubud on the island of Bali. It was so busy! We’d planned to cycle through rice paddies but the weather was unexpectedly, unseasonably bad (August’s total rainfall is usually 5mm but is so far 101mm this year: we’d had a lot of that in our first couple of hours there!). It’s an unusual place because the streets are lined with surfer brand clothes shops, hotels and hostels, souvenir stalls, modern cafes and restaurants, yet woven between, above, inside and around all that are very traditional temples, statues, doorways and buildings. All are carved from stone or wood in ornate designs and often vivid pink, orange, yellow and white flowers decorate them. Only a few photos due to the rain. The open-mouthed being is a much-used motif!

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Outside every business lies offerings to the deities and demons of Balinese Hinduism. Even outside the Quiksilver shop. Even outside our room. Folded banana leaves form the outside and then inside there’ll be flowers, rice and sometimes biscuits or sweets. When laid out, water is flicked over the offering and, on those which are more out of harm’s way, incense sticks are added.

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A few more photos from our little wander including chickens on a truck and a few rice-less paddies:

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The other main thing we did in Ubud was a visit to the monkey forest. There are 6 troops who live in and around a series of temples and bathing pools. It’s one of those situations where the macaques are very brave because they’re fed bananas continuously by tourists and invited onto heads and shoulders. I wasn’t too delighted when one jumped onto my bag as soon as we arrived! After that I was more alert and avoided further contact!

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Interesting place to have your wedding photos!

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Rinca

Technically we stayed on the island of Flores, in a little town called Labuan Bajo. This was the base for Uber Scuba, the company we had booked a day trip with.

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I dubbed it ‘the day of the giants’. First we fulfilled our ambition to dive with manta rays! They’re huge (3m across on average but can grow up to 5m)! We also saw some blue spotted stingrays, lots of turtles and a multitude of different kinds of fish. After the two dives, our boat dropped us off on Rinca island, one of the only places Komodo dragons still live. They’re pretty massive too, growing up to about 3m long at their biggest.

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Here are a few fascinating dragon facts:
☆ They are the world’s biggest lizard, weighing up to 70kg.
☆ Babies pretty much fend for themselves once born and so spend most of the first 3 years of life up trees.
☆ They eat their young. Due to this, and other predators like snakes, there’s only about a 20% survival rate.
☆ Dragons eat a big meal about once a month, mainly carrion. If it’s smaller than a goat, they’ll swallow it whole then regurgitate a pellet containing horns, bones and anything else undigestible. They eat anything, including deer, monkeys, birds, buffalo, horses, other reptiles, horse and wild boar.
☆ They can run at 20kmph.
☆ It was previously believed that hunted prey slowly died due to the bacteria in their mouths transmitted through a bite. However now it’s been suggested that they have venom glands in their mouths which cause an inability to clot blood, lowering of blood pressure, muscle paralysis and hypothermia.
☆ Females steal ground nests made by some fowl.
☆ They sometimes stand on their hind legs when fighting over food or mates.

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For obvious reasons, we had a guide with a big stick with us! We kept a safe distance (they have been known to kill humans) and quickly got out of the way if they started moving towards us!

This mother was sitting in her nest, looking protective.

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An adolescent (top) approached the nest of another female, in search of eggs for dinner, but was easily scared off when the mother left her den in the trees.

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Gili Trawangan

For our true beach bliss component of the trip, we opted for Gili T, one of the islands off the coast of Lombok where the only mode of transport is a horse cart.

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It’s considered a bit of a party island so we decided to stay in a quieter part, in a place called Gili Eco Villas. It was a good choice and gave us private beach access and a pool. It was really good to do very little aside from read, sleep, eat and snorkel for a few days! Here are a few photos from around the island starting with our little bungalow which had an outdoor bathroom!

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Now we’re in Kuta on Lombok which is a fairly nice beach town very close to the airport, ready for our departure for Jakarta on Monday. Alas, all good things must come to an end!

Thanks for reading! Who knows where our next wanderings will take us!

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