I felt like I found the Bali I was looking for here…
Not too many hassles, no pretentiousness, no over pricing, great beaches.
I arrived on Monday morning and decided within minutes I would settle here for two nights. I had a beautiful lunch with interesting conversations at Zen Inn where I was staying, before taking a hike to the beach.
I thought I had got the directions wrong when I Looked at the steep rocky footpath that apparently led me to Bias Tugal ( White sand beach ). I persevered in the heat in my $3 flipflops and made it to the top breathless from the hike and my breath taken away by the view. A small palm fringed cove at the bottom of the cliff awaited us, with gentle surf and not many people, and out on the horizon a few boats making their way to Lombok or back.
I spent a few lazy hours there enjoying the surf and the tranquility. One lady asked me if I would like a massage, to which I politely responded no, and she left me a alone. An Ice cold Bintang made it all the better too…
Wandering around Padangbai i discovered a charming little village based on fishing, boats to Lombok and diving. It’s a pretty laid back place where ceremonies take precedence and life rolls on. I was disappointed to see where all the obsessive sweeping and countless offerings end up, and you really wouldn’t want to sit on the main beach here…
The Blue Lagoon beach which the Lonely planet recommends was not one of my favourite places. Whilst the snorkelling is very good, you are subject to hassles on a very small beach, or very desperate women wanting to sell you their sarongs and bracelets, and after paying twice what I think I should have for a broken snorkel set I was then sarcastically told I was “very nice English” when I didn’t want to engage in conversation or even look at the sarongs being thrust under my nose. Honestly, yes I KNOW everyone is just trying to make a dollar, but their tactics need to be changed, they have little understanding of how to make a sale in my opinion and thanks to that experience, I didn’t spend very long at that beach. I did a few snorkel sessions, admired the view and then hiked back to my preferreed beach of Bias Tugal. A lady approached me – the same as the previous day, and said she recognised me from the day before, would I like a massage today? I said I wanted to have a swim first and would think about it when I had rested. She waited a considerable amount of time before approaching me again, and I did say yes simply because the politeness and simpleness of her enquiry made me want to give her my business.
We chatted a little before and after and she told me I was a Strong woman for travelling to Bali alone. This was worth more than the massage itself, as the past few days I had started to question whether I was enjoying myself at all – dealing with a poorly tummy, a bad back and a constant feeling that everyone wanted to extract money from me rather than help to enjoy being here. So thank you to the nice massage lady on the beach – such a simple thing to say and such a lasting effect it had.
More of Padangbai
I should have blogged this ages ago! I am so far behind!
Waaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in June I was getting itchy feet, so a friend and I decided to hire a car and take it to Margaret River. It’s a small town about 3.5 hours south of Perth synonymous with good food, wonderful wine and great surf breaks. Travelling on a budget doesn’t always get you those things – but I never travel anywhere without making great memories, laughing hard, breathing deeply and taking it all in. So this is how I did it:
I hired a car from Europcar which was a bus ride, a train ride and another bus ride away from us. I managed to get the only manual car in the depot, as for some reason Australians tend to favour autos. Driving without using a gear stick is not driving in my opinion.
Then I got a friend to jump on board.
Then I found two backpackers who also wanted to go to Margies (how the locals call it) on Gumtree. Pick up the car, pick up the backpackers and all pile into the TINY car whose suspension and tiny engine are now being tested.
We hit the road and as we get closer to Margaret River the clouds get heavier and heavier and it starts to rain. Not before I spot Gracetown – which just HAS to be visited and photographed.
Then we try and check into your hostel but reception is closed for a few hours… Check in done, rain sets in and we race to the coast in hope of catching a sunset in a rain break. We get totally drenched, but we’re on holiday so it doesn’t matter right?
Going out involves THE only pub in town where I spend more than I want to on beer and the following day’s hangover inhibits me greatly.
Sunday afternoon arrives and it’s time to make my way back to Perth even though it feels like I have been here 5 minutes. So I take one of the backpackers who wants to go back, and we amble our way back up the coast stopping here and there to admire the view, do a cartwheel on the beach, shelter from the rain and drink a crap coffee to keep me awake on the drive back top Perth.
On arrival back in Perth I drop my backpacker off at his new hostel, then my friend and arrive home waking the dog as I park “my” car outside the house and go inside. Exhausted, happy and nostalgic from another weekend well spent in Australia.
Then nearly two months later I get round to blogging about it, having forgotten the details that make people laugh but hoping my photos make up for it!
Tues 31st July
Byron Bay is probably the most well-known spot on the northern New South Wales coast, but preserving my happy memories of the surfed-up-hippy town I didn’t go anywhere near it on this occasion. There are many places that the Lonely planet doesn’t mention, at least in its overall Australia guide, so I spent 5 days off the beaten track being chauffeured around by a local guide keen to show me her version of NSW.
First stop was Evans Head, to a beach really only enjoyable at low tide. So perfectly timed, our walked took us along the stretch of beach, out over rock pools and out to Goanna point ( Sorry if I’ve made an error with the name).
From the lookout over the bay, we spotted a pod of dolphins who were making their way out to Goanna point too. We had the privilege of seeing these graceful creatures not once but three times. This is something that as a tourist I would usually pay for, and never be guaranteed to I was bowled over and very high pitched to see them so many times; I do tend to get very high pitched on the sighting of some animals.
Over the rock pools, which were banked with Pandana palms, we dipped in and out of pools you’d expect at an aquarium, finding blue and red starfish, crabs and fish. Further round the headland a scramble up the rocks provided the perfect look out for yet more dolphins as they slid in and out of the waves amongst the surfers and paddle boarders.
Perhaps it’s because I am Cancerian that I feel such an affinity with the sea. There is nothing that grounds me, yet enlivens me more than walking along the beach, no matter the weather, the place or the company. Hopping through rock pools, climbing rocks, walking barefoot, swimming in the surf, or just sitting are all activities I could honestly do timelessly.
Sitting on the jetty watching the dolphins with their elegance and grace effortlessly slicing through the surface of the water, I realised I could have sat there until daylight ended and not a moment would have been wasted.