Monday, 19 September 2011


Its a little late but here is a bit about Fiji. It was lovely, amazing beaches, nice resorts and very friendly people. The Fijian culture is very similar to the Balinese in that the whole extended family lives together and when poeple get married the woman leaves and moves to the man's village. Fiji also has a population of about 40% Indians who were brought over to work on the sugar plantations in 1875 as pretty much slaves because the British (who ruled Fiji at the time) didn't want to upset traditional Fijian life. However, the British began protesting about this and by 1910 it was banned and the Indians were given an option to stay or be sent home. Most have stayed as in Fiji there is no cast system and Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs get along well. However they do face prejudices and racism from the Fijians and are not allowed to own land, just lease it for 99 years and some are finding themselves kicked off it now. There are also many Indian boys in orphanages in Fiji, but no Fijian boys. This is because if a child is born out of wedlock, or the parents are poor or die it doesn't really matter, the whole family lives together anyway and there isn't even a word for cousin in the Fijian language, they are all brothers and sisters. The Indians on the other hand will make the child beg, or send it away or abuse it so they end up in the Methodist orphanages.

Traditional Fijian beliefs included the calling of the turtles (done by women) and the calling of the sharks (by men) to bring good luck but mostly it was  cannibalistic cultures. One chief is said to have eaten 812 people in his lifetime! When the British arrived they brought Christianity with them and Methodist is the most common, with Anglicans, Catholics and now some LDS churches.

The government in Fiji has been rotating between domocratic and military coups since it gained independence from the British Empire. The last coup was in 2007 and there is an interim government controlled by the army. They say they are working towards elections in 2014 and they have introduced free schooling, free school buses and major road improvements to get people to school. Its seems there is very little in the way of 3rd world, extream poverty, but we were only shown the tourist bits, and traditional villages which host tourists so I don't really know.

I did the Feejee Experience bus while I was out there, similar to Stray. We stayed at really nice beach resorts but we visited a couple of villages and had a traditional Kava ceremony at one of them. Kava is a root which they grind up and mix with water and it is a sort of sedative, it relaxes and calms you but its not a drug or narcotic. They say thats why the Fijians are so relaxed and friendly, they drink so much Kava. It tastes disgusting, like muddy water but its affects are good. People pay a fortune for Kava pills in America as it has no negative effects on the body but you get an amazing nights sleep. The ceremony involves the chief of the visiting tribe being welcomed with the Kava. There is a lot of clapping and it is very formal but when it is done you are considered a member of the village and part of the family. We also visited a school where they had traditional dances and songs, and they got us to get up and dance with them. We were asked by our driver to buy some stationary to donate before going as many people can't afford/ don't have a way of getting to a stationary shop.Some of the men in the village took us on a trip down the river on bamboo rafts then we played games with them, that was very fun.

One day I took the public bus to the grocery store and as I was waiting to go back I got chatting to a local woman. Its typical of the Fijians to be outgoing and friendly. She asked me about the London riots. I asked her what she did and she said she was married, and that many married women don't work, unless their husbands ask them to. It was a great holiday, not as cultural or off the beaten track as my other trips but I had plenty of time to relax by the pool, or go snorkeling, or go to the beach and met some great people.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Leaving NZ

Well my adventure is nearly over. I got back to Auckland not really looking forward to it as I'm not the biggest fan. But it has transformed into a totally different city since I have been away. With the world cup starting tomorrow the city is busy and full of energy, and the Pacific Islands conference with the guy from the UN is happening now. There are crowds of people carrying flags with their faces painted walking the streets. Each area of Auckland has been assigned a team to welcome and support after the All Blacks and the general feeling s one of energy and excitement. I was actually sad to leave Auckland, I felt like in going there before Bali I was saying good-by to NZ but Auckland still has Burgurfuel, and whitebait, jandles, singlets and all the other Kiwi things. And I would have loved to stay for the world cup but I just don't have the money.

My flight today was uneventful, and actually very comfortable. I have been flying with budget airlines this past year, and was not the biggest fan of the seats on Cathay Pacific but Air New Zealand is very nice, nearly BA standard. Makes me feel better about having 2 10 hour flights in 3 days, something I would have dreaded on Cathay Pacific. They safety video was almost funny, it had a few All Blacks including Richie Macaw (would pass up the opportunity to meet him!).

I had a very friendly immigration official, who asked me about my birthday and found a nice hotel/ hostel at the airport. Right now it looks like I have a 10 bed dorm all to myself though which is a little creepy, I hope some more people check in soon. Its got a pool, bar, restaurant, games room and other stuff like that so its one of the nicest places I've stayed in. I went and had a look round, and it turns out they have a massive projector screen in bar which they will be showing the world cup matches on! So thats the plan for tomorrow night. As its raining I'm going to get the bus into town and have a look round, see what the city is like.

I'm also going to make the most of every moment here, its the end of my trip and I really really don't want to go back to the real world so I'll enjoy this while it lasts!

Monday, 5 September 2011


Nusa Penida is actually paradise, I'm going back, definitely next year. It mostly the people that make it that way, the locals are awesome and Mike, who run's the place is great. We wake up fairly early with the sound of the pigs and chickens and go over to Wayan's Warung (shop) for breakfast. Mike taught her how to make banana pancakes with palm sugar and bought her a frying pan as us westerners can't really handle spicy food for breakfast (the locals have gado-gado, beansprouts, peanut sauce, rice chunks chilli and some sort of soy/ molasses mixture). If we feel like working we do, before it gets to hot we help the men in the tree nursury, the coconut plantation or the organic vege garden. Theres composting as well and other odd jobs. The vege garden is coming on well even though everyone said they were mad for attempting it. The first tomatoes are coming on and the salad looks good. When it starts to get to hot to work we go to the beach, jump on the motorbikes and explore, sit around sleeping, and go to Wayan's for lunch. She does the best Nasi Champur on the island and her Soto Ayam is very nice as well. There is a table in the front full of snacks and sweets, mostly sugar, fat and artifical stuff. She sells a drink which consists of florescent pink juice, fluorescent pink tapioca balls, sweetened condensed milk and some fruit puree. The kids start coming home from school and walk up with their 1,000Rp notes to stock up on sugar (but they are all thin) and just generally play. If they come to the centre then they ride bikes, play cards, sing and just generally get into trouble before their English lesson with Mike. They are wonderful children, so happy and enthusiastic all the time and I really miss them, especially my friend Koman. She is 7 but still insists I carry her around like a baby and is cheeky and clever and one of the coolest kids I know. After that we just hang around and chat, people come back from various excursions, wake up from naps, shower ect. Some people drift over to Wayan's for dinner, others take the bikes to the night markets in Toyapaka or Sampalan. Evenings involve sitting around talking and sometimes drinking Arak or young cocnut wine (which is horrible).

The other day Koman's dad, Nyoman, took me out snorkeling on the reef by  the beach. Just beyond the seaweed farms (this is the main economy on the island and really the only way of bringing money to it) is an amazing coral reef with all sorts of things. Its very dangerous to swim and Scuba in Nusa Penida as the currents are very strong and a few people have been lost recently. This is why you take Nyoman with you, he knows the currents, he's a strong swimmer and very experienced. He basically held my arm or my hand and did all the swimming, I just floated along and enjoyed the view. We went out again, 3 this time so he couldn't swim with me, he had to watch the whole group, and that wasn't nearly as fun. The current was so strong that day that you couldn't stop and look at anything and when we swam back in it was more like swimming furiously to stay in one place when the waves came out, then getting swept in by the incoming wave. And we didn't see as much stuff as we did the first time, like the sea serpent which he only told me after that one bite would kill me in 20 mins. He said they were shy though, and it was about 10m below us.

I also went to Nusa Lembogan, a more touristy neighboring island for the night with one of the local girls who is now my friend and we stayed at her boyfriends house. It was a traditional house with all the extended family in one complex, a real asian toilet and kitchen without a fridge. I survived!!! It was great to stay with a family as well, and see what a home is really like. We watched an Indonesian soap opera in the evening which was the funniest thing ever! It was full of damatic music, long pauses in dialogues and constant zooming in on faces. The actors portraed an array of emotions such as constipation, drunkeness, lip biting memory loss. It was like a cartoon, but with real actors and makes Hollyoaks look like the Royal Shakespeare company!

On Mondays and Thursdays the girls have traditional dance classes and their teacher is brutal, she pushes and pulls them into very contrived shapes. Its amazing to watch though when its done right! I've got a few photos of the girls, my one of Koman got deleted accidentally so I had her pose for a few but her brother got in the way. He's so cute though so we'll forgive him.

I also had two birthdays there! One of the girls bought me a birthday cake but was leaving on my birthday for a couple days so we had it Thursday night. We mostly sat around chatting and singing while Wayan (a different one) played the guitar. Friday night was much the same except I got a special treat! Mike has been collecting nice cheese, very rear in Bali and said we could have some if I bought the crackers. We went into Sampalan to get some and stopped at the nigh market to get my favorite, tofu stuffed with beansprouts and vermiccelli noodles that has been battered and deep fried. These things are amazing!!!! I'm going to miss the so so much! I go back and Mike had picked some salad from the garden, and basil! he bought some tomatoes and made a little salad to go with the cheese!! All us westerners were in heaven, this basil was so good! The locals had never tried it before, their idea of flavor is chili and more chili. If Nyoman and Wayan had their way the whole place would be a chili plantation. You could see on their faces though that they really enjoyed the basil, much more then they would admit. The only local girl there was my friend Kadek. She wouldn't drink at all, none of they women do. They don't smoke either but most men smoke and drink. Seems very old fashioned to me. It was a very good night, I had so much fun!

Kamon has been keeping me busy. The other day I went to the beach, had a shower and was just resting (we go to the bamboo shelter when we need to rest from chilling out) when she came over ans asked me to go swimming with her. I said I would, but just up to my knees and we went to her house where she got changed, and her little brother Kuntut who is about 4 came along with us. They live right on the beach and of course I started getting splashed. Koman grabbed my glasses and ran with them to her mother while I shouted hati-hati! (be careful). Then between her and Kuntut I got dragged in the ocean, fully clothed which is how the locals swim and we played in the water. It was very fun actually, but Koman really is a cheeky little monkey. We went back to the centre where I told Nyoman she was nakal (naughty) and he just laughed.

I'm really going to miss everyone, the westerners and the locals. It was so hard to leave because everyone there is so genuinely nice. Its not like Bali where they just want your money, they are just friendly people. ven in villages on the other side of the island they just want to talk to you. If you spend a bit of money with them, great, but its not like Bali where that is all they care about. I'm going home, getting a job and saving up to go back.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Royal weddings

I'm still on Nusa Penida and its great here. All the people are lovely and we've been having a few adventures. Some of us took a day trip to Tembeling forest, where there is a path that leads to a pool by the ocean. It took maybe half and hour or 45 mins to walk to the pool, all flat and downhill to a small temple next to a freshwater spring and natural pool. We started getting undressed to go swimming and the boys jumped in but the guides said we were not allowed to, we had to go to another pool. To get there we climbed down some rocks and boulders, gong down. When we got there it was a bit of a let down, a pool that cam just below the knees, with little shellfish in it. Still it was very hot, and the view from the pool was amazing, we saw the ocean with sharp rocks and very large waves. You couldn't go swimming, it would be to dangerous. We then had to walk back, up a very steep narrow staircase that was carved into the cliff, i couldn't look up as the climb was very difficult and I couldn't bear to see how much further I had to go. Looking down was a bit mistake to, on slip and you were over the edge, falling onto sharp rocks at the bottom. The walk back was exhausting, but very good exercise. On the way there we saw a man on the path, hoping to catch a monkey to sell as a pet. In Indonesia they have no respect for animals, they are kept in appalling conditions and not looked after very well. He would get 200,000Rp for a monkey, about $25 which is a lot of money over here. People even catch birds, tie strings to their legs and sell them to children to play with, and they are so rough with them, they have no idea that animals can feel pain.

Speaking of animals the preparations for the wedding have been going on this week. They've had to  kill a lot of animals for the feast. Bali Hinduism is a mixture of Hinduism, Buddhism and Animism, where they practice animal sacrifice. They way that the animals have to be killed is horrible. They hold them, or tie them up and make a very small cut in their neck so they very very slowly bleed to death. its not like Halal where the cut is big enough that the animal goes to sleep first, them bleeds to death, its conscious for most of it. It so cruel and the pigs were the worst. For about 5 mins the scream with pain and fear, its one of the worst noises I'v ever heard. They have to do it this way apparently but it seems horrible and unnecessary.

But anyway onto the wedding itself. It was very bizzare. They had an offering table set up in the courtyard of the house, then some other offerings on the floor in front with a rope around it then a basket on a stick with other offerings in it. These were food and little decorations made from palm and coconut leaves, flowers, and bamboo. There was fruit, some chickens, quail, cigarettes and other random objects. First the bride and groom cam in with their families and sat on some chairs for a while, nothing seemed to be going on. Then the priest called them over to  the offereing table, knelt in front of it with them behind him and started chanting and ringing a bell. At verious time the older woman in the family would light incense, move baskets of offering around, spray water over things and kneel and join with the chanting. This went of for about 20 mins with the bride and groom just sitting still and it seemed like they weren't part of the wedding and that it was just chaos and confusion going on around them. Then they stood up and were given things to hold and walked around themselves for a bit, the man with a sword in his and and the woman with a basket following behind him. Not many of the guests were watching, they were eating, chatting and smoking. Then the man cut one of the ropes around the offerings with his sword, walked through with the wife behind him, cut the other rope, then went to the other side of the square, cut that rope, walked through the middle and cut the final rope. Then he cut the head off a chicken. After that they went to the basket on the stick and shook it till everything fell out (to release the blessings) them the man was given a shovel with a plastic bag on one end and something on the other, put it over his shoulder and walked to the other temple with the wife and the older women behind him.

In the temple was another priest and a huge offering table with many things on it, including a whole spit roasted pig (who had to die so horribly). They knelt down with and the second priest started chanting and ringing bells whilst the women prayed. I asked why the women prayed, not the men and it turns out the men get to entertain the guests and the women in the family have to participate. Most guests seemed un-interested in the entire thing. While all this was going on there was a traditional band playing music which was very good. Those women who are pregnant, or on their periods aren't allowed in temples as they are considered unclean. It turns out this is why we weren't allowed in the swimming pool at Tembeling which I think is a bit unfair really.

Once the wedding was over people ate, chatted then the bride and groom left. The next day they arrived for the celebration, dressed in even fancier clothes then the day before. They sat on chairs greeting everyone while people just sat around, eating some more until mid afternoon, then it was over. No party or anything, just chatting. We were a bit bored so we went to the most gorgeous beach, Crystal Bay. I went on a scooter with the Australain woman here and her 3 year old son. Going back there were some steep hills and we had to walk up as the bike wouldn't take all 3 of us. I've actually had a go a t driving a scooter, just around the car park and its hard, I just get lifts from everyone else but if I wanted to hire one there really would be nothing stopping me as there are no police on the island. That evening after they left a few of the men put on a rock concert and it turns out they all the equipment somewhere. They sang a combination of western and Indonesian music and one of the highlights was the Australian girl getting up to sing welcome to the jungle by guns and roses. It was a good night, fueled by a few beers (but not to many).

Monday, 22 August 2011

Nusa Penida

After a visit to Uluwatu Temple where I got assaulted by a monkey (so did lots of other people) and Jimbaran Bay (great food but expensive and over-rated) I had an early night and got up early to get the public boat. It took over two hours to get to the island and the boat was very uncomfortable, but I got there in the end and got picked up at the beach. We drove to the bird centre and had a tour around the place. FNPF have basically made all the villagers agree not to capture the Bali Starling, and endagered bird which can be worth US$3,000. In return for the protection the foundation has created jobs, and helps the community by providing trees for free, as well as English lessons and brings volunteers to spend our money on the island. It is beautful here, like an island paradise!

They women are preparing for a wedding on Friday and Saturday where over 1,000 people have been invited. The preparations mean making offerings and decorations out of bamboo, banana leaves and palm trees. These are called 'Canang' and there are many different types. They make little dishes and fill them with various things like rice, bananas, beans, peanuts, and fruit. They made me wear a sarong when I worked, as these have to be worn in the temple and the work they were doing was spiritual and holy work.

There are a lot of children who hang around the centre. They are very funny and have English lesson here. Today they were singing Baby by Justin Beiber, which I found hilarious. I have been trying to learn Indonesian and they are trying to speak to me in English. Today they had a dance class in the traditional style of dance which looks a lot like Indian or south east Asian dancing.

The people are much nicer then on Bali. When I went out on the bike they would all wave and want to talk, not like on Bali where they just want to get money out of you. They say Nusa Penida is like Bali 20 years ago. There are lots of small villages and the people are poor, but it is not absolute poverty. They have plenty of food and running water, as well as motorbikes and petrol. They just don't have the luxuries. It is sooooooooo cheap here. My entire daily budget for food is less then $3 and that is 3 meals and snacks at the local warung, or corner shop.

I'm having such a good time here. I feel like a traveler again, not a tourist. There is a good group of Westerners and the locals are all lovely and come chat to us all the time. Its great, a totally different way of life!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Bali Tour

I had a great day today, I saw a lot and ate a lot of new things. I hired a car for the day, not a bad price for what I got. My drivers name was Made (mad-ay) which means second son in Balinese. They have no surnames or family names, the first child always has the same name, then the second then third. If you have more then 5 children then the cycle starts again so everyone has their number then a nickname but on passports and documents they all have their number. As the first born girl my name is Wayan. Made took me north to a village where they make traditional Batik fabrics. A woman showed me around and talked about the traditional methods then took me to the shop and tried to sell me things, but not in an aggressive hard selling sort of way. After that we went to another village where they process gold and silver. Most of it comes from Borneo or maybe Sumatra, can't remember exactly but somewhere in Indonesia. It was the same thing as the last place, a woman talked to me about the process of making the jewelry as I watched the women work then took me to the shop. The silver is alloyed with about 5% copper to make it strong then made into jewelry. Its hard to say no when they follow you around giving trying to haggle with you but I did see a ring I really liked and managed to talk the girl down to a reasonable price.

After that he took me to a traditional house, where where they make and sell paintings (of course, they are all selling things. In the city people live in Western houses but in the country side they are different. Behind the wall there are many buildings, one is a sort of platform where they have family gatherings and shows. There is a temple in the corner. One building is the kitchen and another in the bathroom. The rest are bedrooms, one for each part of the extended family. The whole clan lives together and when a woman gets married she mves to her husbands house and they get their own room within the complex for their immediate family. The temple at the back has welcom statues before the gate then the gate itself has two sides, one for good and one for bad. After that we went to a larger village temple, very big and elaborate. We were given a sarong to wear before we went in the Made explained a little more about Hindu temples. They have 3 levels the first for the legs, the second for the body, and the third for the head. There are 4 kinds of temples, Public temples for everything, village temples, family temples and then a temple for a particular thing, like the god of the market, or the god of the river, or the god of the restaurant.

After the we went to another village which is the centre of the wood carving industry. Same thing as before, I was given a talk and then taken to the shop. This guy told me it was a family run business with the carving knowledge passed from generation to generation. He also told me how to spot fake ebony at the markets so i don't get conned. The carvings were all very nice, using ebony, teak, mahogany and local wood, but I couldn't help thinking off all the forests being destroyed to make the carvings.

We stopped for lunch and I got some sort of suckling pig dish with rice, vegtables, 3 types of pig meat and some skin. The skin was nothing like crackling, it was much much thinner then older pig skin. I could taste lots of chili and galangal (thai ginger) and it was very good! After that we headed up to the Ubud region, and went to see the monkey forest. Monkeys are sacred to the Hindus and guard the temples. I asked (just jokingly) if the monkeys had rabies and he said probably not but don't touch them, just to be safe, and don't buy the bananas to feed them with. They were wild monkeys but had no fear of humans so they were walking along and playing on the paths, hoping for food. One was sitting in front of me so I unzipped my bag to get my camera but he assumed I had food and came right up to me and grabbed my bag. I tried to pull it away and he pulled harder, it was pretty funny and I tried to get my camera again, then he stuck his had in my bag so I stood up and moved away, I didn't want him stealing my purse! It was pretty cool though, to have a monkey interacting with you!

Then to the coffee and spice plantation. In Bali they make the most expensive coffee in the world, cat poo coffee. Animals similar to possums or mongoose that look a little like a cat eat the fruit of the coffee trees. Then the poo is collected and cleaned off, with the bean in the middle surviving. After that the bean is removed from the husk, so it never actually touches the poo, and then is roasted. He showed me the difference is the  beans, with the poo one a pale green colour and the normal ones a more pale beige colour. Then I saw them roasting the beans, on a frying pan over a fire, then they are ground by hand. I got to try the different drinks, jinsing, chocolate, and vanilla coffee as well as plain, then ginger tea and lemon tea. After that the man got out a jar of the poo coffee and said it would be 50,000rp if I wanted to try that one, it is the most expensive after all. Well I'd come all this way so I couldn't really say no. I had a shot of the normal first, then the poo one. It was much smoother and stronger then the plain one. This is because as the coffee is being digested it ferments a little bit. It was very good, and I could drink it plain. Again I was taken to the shop where they tried to sell me the drinks and some spices. However I just paid for my coffee and left.

After that we stopped to see some rice terraces which looked stunning, then drove up to the volcano. I think it last went off in 1995, and there was a lake below it. People leave at 3:30 to climb it and watch the sunrise from the top over the lake but there is now way I would do that! After that I had a very long drive to another temple, Tanah Lot. We put some music on, most of it Western. God Bless the USA by Beyonce came on and I was very surprised, as Indonesia is mostly Muslim and that song was released after the Iraq war. Made said he had no idea what the lyrics were and with most western music he couldn't understand anything. It made him laugh when I explained about the song. Anyway on the way to the temple we stopped at a fruit sand on the side of the road. I tried snakeskin fruit (looks like a fig with brown snake skin and has has very hard flesh, like a dried out apple), mangosteen (purple skin with things that looked like garlic cloves in the middle) and passion fruit but much better then the ones at home. This one was large and yellow with white pulp instead of yellow. The flavor was much more sweet and mellow then the passionfruit we get at home. I even tried durian fruit. Thats the one that smells really bad and is banned from public transport. It did smell bad, but not as bad as I expected, just like a rubbish bin that needed emptying. It tasted ok, sort of like a banana and a pineapple mixed together. The after taste wasn't great, a bit like the smell but I don't see what the big deal is, it wasn't to bad.

Then we got to the temple which is very special as it is build on rock in the sea and you can only walk to it at low tide. The view of the Indian ocean was stunning, and there were tourist everywhere. We stayed till sunset and there are lots of bars on top of the cliff, overlooking the temple. However drinks were about double or triple what you would pay in a restaurant so we sat a little lower down, I refused to pay that much just for a view. While waiting for the sunset I asked what Bali is like during Diwali, the Hindu festival of light. He had never heard of it and said Indian Hinduism and Balinese Hinduism are very different. He also told me about the cast system. The highest class is the priest class, then the second is the army and third is business man. This is also part of your name, so it goes cast, number, nickname. Unless your are in the 4th and bottom cast, then you have no extra name. That one is for farmers and tradesman. You used to not be allowed to marry outside your cast, but its not as strict now and it seems to be the more money, the more upper class you are. But this is a recent thing.

Got back to the hotel at about 7 am very tired. It was a very long way and I have done a lot!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Elephant Ride

After meeting with the travel agent yesterday and getting everything sorted I got a taxi into town to go shopping. You get taxis everywhere, the roads are long and winding and my hotel is a long way from anywhere. I asked the lady at reception where the best place to go is and she said Seminyak square, about 15 minutes away. There was a market and a row of shops which were actually quite expensive as the had a DC and a Quicksilver. I found a new incredible designer, Lillie Lane but I couldn't afford any of her stuff. I had a look round the market then went into the small supermarket. There were fruit in there that I have never heard of and I bought something that looks like a green peach and something the guy called a giant orange. It was green, and the size of a coconut and he cut the skin away, about 3 inches of soft spongy material with insides that look like a giant grapefruit. They taste a bit like a grapefruit to. I'm going to go back and try some of the other things. Then I walked down the road,  figured it wouldn't be to dangerous in broad daylight, and found another much larger market and a row of outlet shops. I bought some fake Ray Bans and a green silk dress that I haggled for. Lillie Lane also has an outlet there and I will see how much money I have at the end as there were some very nice shoes that I want, which were more reasonably priced. After that I had lunch, something called chicken porridge which I decided looked interesting and I had to try. I had prawn crackers, crispy noodles, chicken and nuts sitting on a bed of what seemed like overcooked rice cooked in chicken stock. It was nice, very flavorful, but very filling. I came back after that and spent the rest of the day relaxing in the hotel. To be honest its pretty boring being on my own, and not wanting to go anyway in the evenings for safety reasons.

Today I got up and went on my elephant ride. I was picked up then we wen t another hotel to get an Australian family. I'd signed up for the full treck, over an hour, and they the half treck so we were to go sepaately, me first then them so that we had our lunch at the same time. I went to wait for my elephant and they pointd t another traveller on her own and asked if we wanted to share an elephant and we said yes. It was so nice to have another person to talk to , this isn't like New Zealand where there are travellers everywhere. I never thought I would miss dorms and hostels but its so much more sociable. She was telling me how she was on hoilday for 3 weeks, Dubai, Kenya, Perth then Bali. She said she had signed up for all these tours and she was doing them on her own, like a bus turned up to collect her at Masai Mara in Kenya and she was the only one on it, they didn't think to put her with another group. We rode on a sort of bench attached to the elephants back with the guide sitting on top of its head. We went first through the rain forest then around a local village, on off the main roads. There were rice paddies everywhere and a few cattle and chickens. Buildings which weren't houses were temples and they were everywhere. Being a polythiestic religion Hindus have gods for everything, the god of the river, the road, the crops. And every god has to have a temple. Half way through we were given coconuts with straws in them to drink out of, then we gave it the the elephant to eat. We got back and had our lunch together, it was included in the price. The portions here seem small to me, as I'm used to eating out and having the plates filled with food. But actually if you looks its probably the size that they should be, and after a 3 course lunch I didn't feel full, or uncomfortable, just satisfied.

It was a long drive there and back so although I left at 9 i didn't get back till 2:30. Outside all the shops, sitting on a rack placed next to the road sit vodka and gin bottles, full of a clear brown liquid. Turns out its petrol, there are few petrol stations so those with bikes buy it on the side of the road, and its only about 5,000 Rp per litre, about 40p. I sat by the pool again, and will probably get room service tonight. Most people seem surprised that I came to Bali alone so I'm not leaving the hotel after dark. Like I said I'm pretty bored on my own, It's nice here but it would be better if I had company.

I have hired a car for the day tomorrow (it comes with a driver/guide) which is actually fairly cheap so I get to make my own itinerary and go and stop where I want. I want to try Durian fruit tomorrow. It smells so bad its banned from public transport and they don't have it in supermarkets but its in season now and they sell it on the side of the road, so that's one of the things I want tomorrow.