Over the years that we have spent in Bali, a number of our guests have celebrated important and fun occasions with us.
This was the 10th wedding anniversary of a couple who live in Japan and they also enjoyed a bottle of “bubbly” whilst sitting in and around the pool.
On other occasions, we took Terry to Slippery Stone, Greek Restaurant in Batu Bolong in Seminyak and as you can see from this photo, he got quite a surprise from one of their drag queens. A fantastic night was had by all.
We celebrated Sharyn’s birthday in 2021 by staying at the amazing Belmond Puri Jimbaran Resort on the sand at Jimbaran Beach. This is an Orient Express Hotel and is indeed 5 stars.
Private pool villa with every imaginable facility and incomparable service.
We enjoyed the 8 course degustation menu next door at the famous Cuca Restaurant and we look forward to many other amazing meals at this incredible restaurant.
In October, 2017 Terry and I and the 35 year old Toyota Land Cruiser (TLC) headed off to Java at the invitation of a group of 4 wheel drive enthusiasts in Malang.
Car all packed with, of course, the coffee machine, fridge, ipads, chargers and lots of spare parts for the car AND surprise, I actually fitted some clothes in as well. Dogs happily in the kennels and the house closed to guests, we headed off at 7 am in the morning to drive from Sanur to Gili Manuk.
This is the departure port to catch the car ferry to Banyuwangi in Java.
Gili Manuk is less than 100 kilometres from Sanur but the roads are so bad and the truck and bus traffic so bad that it takes 3-4 hours to get there.
We’ve driven this road many times before and it is single lane all the way and clogged with traffic as it’s the only road to bring goods from Java to Bali.
As you arrive at Gili Manuk you enter the busy port , produce our Identity Papers and buy a ticket for 2 people and a truck — RP 165,000 (AUD $16.50). There was no waiting and we immediately load onto the car/truck ferry.
We think it’s very odd that you need I.D. papers to go from Island state to Island state within the same country. We had to get letters from our immigration agent to advise on our trip as officialdom in Indonesia is a law unto itself. As we know from our trip to West Papua where immigration held Terry captive for a whole day until we paid a huge US $ bribe to them. They could of had him but there were other people relying on us.
The Ferry trip actually only takes 20 minutes but ends up being an hour because all the ferries wait off shore for a debarking spot.
We easily departed the dock and headed off to Malang.
Malang is actually only about 200 kilometres from the coast at Banyuwangi but to drive there we needed to go around some very large and active volcanoes. Mt Merapi, Mt Ijen and Mt Ruang then as you get closer to Malang, Mt Gambir and Mt Bromo.
So off we went along roads even worse than Bali and with much more traffic. We were completely overwhelmed by the number of people everywhere. All of the towns are really great big cities with at least 1 million population in each. No quiet little country towns like we see in Australia.
Just trotting along the main highway
We couldn’t see the motorbike driver for the huge mound of grass
Seven hours later we eventually reached Malang in East Java.
This is a huge city and has at least 4 huge Universities, good shopping and wide city roads which are completely clogged, like everywhere else.
It’s cheaper than Bali and the accommodation was first class with security carparking.
The next day we were met by Terry’s new friend Nganan, in his Suzuki 4 wheel drive and we followed him to the fabled Mt Bromo. His car out performed ours at all levels.
Mt Bromo is a sight to behold. It is quite an active volcano and is often erupting so much that the volcanic sand and nearby forests are closed to tourists.
It just so happens that Nganan’s day job is –Park Ranger in the Forest. So he knows everyone and everything and all the off-road places.
The lava sand and ash was incredibly fine and got into every nook and cranny. It was also very cold.
On the way back we had overheating problems on the truck and Nganan took us to more helpful mechanics and 4 wheel drive enthusiasts. These people were amazing . They sent us back to our hotel and they worked all night on the truck and replaced the radiator cooling fan with a larger one and then delivered the truck back to us for our next day of driving.
Nganan took us to Mt Batu and Batu City. This is a satellite city of Malang and sits on top of Mt Batu. There is a huge parkland area here and people come to climb and hike and eat and drink ( but no alcohol)
We had a great lunch with the 4 wheel drive people and their families and the guys climbed all over the truck and played with the timing and carburetor.
Then there was the Amazing, Incredible best Museum we’ve ever been in.
All through Indonesia’s history people have imported big American or Russian cars here and a lot of them have ended up here.
All of these vehicles work and are roadworthy. The staff encourage you to sit on them, open the bonnets and also get in the cars.
We had intended to spend 2 days in Malang but there was so much to do and see that we stayed 5 days.
It was a lovely clean city and the people were so welcoming and happy and polite.
GOING TO BOROBUDUR
We next headed off to Yogyakarta and Borobudur–the largest Buddhist Temple in the world.
With the help of Mrs Google we set out on our 596 kilometre journey, which she said would take 14 hours and 24 minutes. REALLY???
Yep it took longer.
The traffic was terrible and we should have realised that something was amiss when we immediately set out and Mrs Google took us back over the top Mt Batu to exit Malang. Terry had programmed for shortest journey. BUT shortest journey was over the top of the mountains and not around them. We told our Indonesian friends where we had driven and they are still laughing.
We ended up over the top of Mt Merbabu climbing up to 3,260 metres at 2 am in the morning on an unmarked road undergoing unsign posted roadworks.
We were actually above the clouds and frightened out of our wits and no way to turn around. It’s the highest I’ve even been without being in a plane.
On this whole journey we broke down several times and people were amazing and extra-ordinary. They got out of bed to help us, they made us food, they cared for us like a loved member of the family. We owe them a great debt.
We finally got to Borobudur 24 hours later and were very tired and would have liked a drink BUT NO ALCOHOL in Java.
The Sanur Village Festival usually runs for 5 days and nights and has really wonderful food stalls, where all the local and upmarket restaurants come along and offer a few of their special meals and drinks. It’s a great way to try their food as well as have a free night of great entertainment.
They even have a winery and a pub set up and it’s a great spot for people watching or catching up with friends.
Professional and amateur musicians, dance groups and local schools all participate and the fashions shows featuring the beautiful Balinese men and women in high fashion traditional dress should not be missed.
The festival takes place around early August every year and is a 5 minute walk from our house. Worth planning your holiday around it and eating here most nights.
Coming back to Sydney gave me the perfect opportunity to catch up with good friends, Bob & Gwen Ivey, their son Ben and his new wife Thei.
As usual their hospitality was wonderful and deeply appreciated.
I also got to spend a couple of days with my wonderful friend Ros O’Loghlen and she took me up to The Cottage Point Inn at Broken Bay for not only a 5 star meal but an Australia Bush Lunch.
The food was wonderful and eagerly accompanied by Wedge tail Eagles overhead and Sea Eagles and a very tame Kookaburra, who was eating out of the hand of wait staff. Then as deserts arrived, so too did a large Goanna, who sauntered along the boardwalk as if he was enjoying his afternoon stroll.