Catch up from the past

Bali

So I know it has been absolutely ages since I last updated the blog which means I have absolutely loads to catch up on.

Last time I wrote I was in Bali and I was heading to my scuba dive course, I completed my advanced open water course on Gili air and it was amazing, especially as i was staying in a resort rather than a hostel and It was so much better than my first course because its way more relaxed and you get to do more fun dives, including a night dive if you choose to which well let’s face it why wouldn’t you?

The night dive was my favourite dive and was such a strange feeling at first but once you get used to the darkness then it’s really cool and you see different fish than you do during the day. I saw a big eel eating another fish which was disturbing and entrancing at the same time.

I also did my deep dive where I went down to 30meters and while we were down there my instructor showed me this bright red coffee packet that he had shown me on the surface only now it wasn’t red it was dark purple because as you go deeper in the water colours start to get absorbed. He also took down an egg and broke it and we were playing catch with the egg yolk because the pressure of the water forces it to stay whole. It was such an amazing experience and makes me love diving even more which I know for sure I am going to continue doing.

I didn’t get any pictures of the diving this time because I knew I was going so deep and I don’t have a dive filter for my camera so it would have ended up looking really green.

After the scuba dive course I went and stayed with blue again for a week and then flew home for Xmas.

Home

The first week

I was home for 9 weeks and k had the best time, although I did feel like at the end I was so ready to leave again.

My dad came and picked me up from the airport and drove me home to see my sister, Lucy and of course the doggies!! I was so excited to see my toby boy, although a little nervous because I wasn’t too sure if he would remember me or if he would bite me in the face! Luckily no biting of the face happened and it was a glorious reunion filled with many many kisses!! Ahhh toby!

Lou and Lucy had made me some posters of my year away and stuck them in my room along with a banner saying welcome home, we love you and also lots of balloons which would end up being in my way after a week or so and somehow never disappearing even though I popped them!

The only people who knew I was going home were my family, as I had brought my flight forward I didn’t want to tell anyone else so I could enjoy a weekend with my family without getting kidnapped by my friends. It seemed to work out well until my mom wanted to post on Facebook that I was home, which obviously caught some attention, my friends were all immediately on my case questioning me why I had not told them I was coming home! I remember looking at my mom and laughing saying I told you this would happen. Haha, anyways it was a really good night and my besties Kirsty and dale popped round to join us at my moms and I had a really good night, although I did get quite emotional crying to everyone telling them now much I loved them all, when all my family went to bed i ended up going back to Kirsty and Dales and somehow ended up wearing a chicken onsie…..as you do!

During the week I went to my sisters pet shop in Alcester, and I was little shop helper all week long which I loved. So many cute doggies come into the shop and so many of them gave me kisses! Good job Toby didn’t witness my cheating lol. I’m so proud of my sister for making such a great business and for doing something that she loves.

Once everyone was aware of my return home I started making the rounds of going to meet people, I went to wales with Kirsty and Katy for one of the many Hen Do’s Kirsty is having for herself. It was a really funny night, and another one of besties Kerry had a welcome home party for me at her house, it was a really good night, I loved seeing everyone so much, although again got very emotional!

God what has happened to me since being home??? I’ve turned into a blubbering mess!

Exeter – Christmas Market

The day after the party I had to get up early and head home ready to dive down to Exeter with the girly family to Lucy’s dad Christmas market, it was such a funny night. We did a lot of walking around the market and stopping off in the bars for bubbles, or mulled wine etc. Then when the market closed we went to a bar down the road where more drinking happened.

Everyone then was feeling the drinks and started heading back to the hotel, me and Lucy were trying to cast spells on everyone walking past because we had seen a sign on a taxi that looked like something out of harry potter. I remember casting a spell on her to die and she fell on a bench, o then ripped of my scarf and tied it around her and I lay on the floor screaming ‘avada kedavra’.

What people walking past us must have thought of us!?

Once we had stopped messing around we walked back to the hotel and when we got upstairs we saw my mom and my Nan surrounded by 3 security guards by their room, telling them that they needed to keep it down because my Nan had laughed when getting off the lift. We were all outraged with this and so one of the funniest memories I will have of being back happened.

We all walked off into our rooms to get more booze to take it downstairs to the bar, my sister and my auntie went downstairs to complain to the manager about the way the security team had spoken to my nan and me and Lucy were doing something upstairs in our room, not sure what may be getting changed or whatever…..anyways…..I hear talking outside our hotel room door and open the door to the three security guards hanging around my nans room still, even though she had gone to bed.

I said to them that they were being creepy and that they shouldn’t be stood outside the room, which I probably shouldn’t have said because they came over to us and started telling us we were being loud and that we may have to get out, meanwhile my sister and my auntie were downstairs waiting at reception patiently to speak the manager, when they get told that the manager is currently upstairs being abused, they both looked at each other thinking – ‘well we know exactly what that is’ so maybe we can’t complain now after all. Haha……what a family hey!

I also managed to get  some work while I was back as I needed to top my funds up, and luckily I managed to get an office job just around the corner to my sisters shop, so I kept on popping into her on my lunch breaks which was really nice.

What else happened while I was home?? Typing what I think at the moment trying to get myself to remember lol.

Winter Wonderland in London

Ahhh yes, so my sister and Lucy had asked me to keep the 9th December free and it was a complete surprise what we were doing, we had to get up early and jump in the car which they told me would take about 10 minutes, which did make me wonder what we would be doing that was so great just 10mintues away from where we live.

Turns out it was a 10miute journey to the train station and then from there we got to the platform and I heard the announcement that the next train arriving was going to London Paddington! Omg I am so excited, I have never really been to London before (I know how ridiculous!) so feeling like a very excited child we got on the train and a couple of hours later arrived in London where we then got on the tube to go to Hyde park. I must have been so excited to be in London that I missed all the signs telling me what was at Hyde Park that day. When we got off the train I walked straight past loads of signs and also straight past my auntie who I had no idea was joining us. When I saw her I screamed OMG….and gave her a massive hug, I was so surprised to see her.

From there we walked to Hyde park where I eventually saw the signs for winter wonderland, and got so excited because I was in such a Christmas mode that I wanted to do everything Christmassy. What did we do as soon as we got there? Bar of course! Then we had a booking in the ice kingdom which was actually really cool, it was so cold in there though. They had loads of ice sculptures of things and also an ice slide, which me and my sister decided to go down, we both push off to race down to the bottom and Lou goes flying down, me however, I get stuck basically at the top, I wasn’t moving at all.

How embarrassing that I can’t even get down a bloody ice slide!

The rest of the day we spent going from bar to bar, and it was actually really funny, because we had downloaded the map for the park and every time we looked at it we realised that we hadn’t even got a ¼ of the way down the park, because we were so busy hitting up every bar we came across which there were A LOT!!

It was such an amazing day, but it went so fast.

The next couple of weeks, I did more visiting friends and more working to save those pennies, and then before I knew it, it was Xmas day. Each year we swap between my mom and my dad to have Christmas day on and then the following day we will go to the others house to celebrate again, so 2 Christmas days baby!! Whoop.

Christmas

Christmas day this year was with my dad, so we spent the morning walking the dogs and then we went up to Birmingham to see our Nan and grandad for a few hours and have Christmas dinner number one. It was really nice spending Christmas day there, especially seeing their house as it had been a few years since I had been there and brought back lots of memories of me and Lou when we were small and used to play dress up and make my dad lie on the floor for hours while we pretended he was a mountain for all our babies etc.

After spending time there we drove over to our uncle’s house to see more family and have more food. It was nice catching up with them all and seeing our cousins, who do not look like the little kids I was always see them as but proper adults who want to out drinking. Oh how times change hey!

When we got home we stuck love actually on and sat in the living room drinking Baileys until we couldn’t keep our eyes open.

It was a really nice Christmas day.

We woke up around 9am and got ourselves ready for Xmas day no2 which was at my mom’s house, I was really looking forward to this one because I had made everyone buy Christmas outfits and said that everyone had to dress up or they were not allowed to attend the festivities.

When I got there I was so happy because everyone had gone full out and the majority of us were dressed like elves, we had Mr and Mrs Clause, and my auntie was a Mexican which was hilarious. What a bunch hey.

Christmas food was AMAZING!!! I had such a good couple of days celebrating Christmas with my family especially as I hadn’t been home for the Christmas before, so it felt extra Christmassy.

Harry potter world

My sister had gave me tickets to harry potter world on Christmas day, which I was so excited about. Me and my dad and my sister all went down on the 28th December, and I loved it.

It was so cool seeing how they made the films and seeing the sets of everything, I was in magical heaven! And got to try butter beer which I had been wanting to try for years, and I thought it was actually really nice so I don’t know why so many people have said it’s horrible, it was exactly what I imagined it to taste like.

I got my picture on the night bus and at privet drive. It was super cool, especially as we had gone around Christmas time so it was all decorated ready for Christmas, with snow everywhere and we could feel the different types of snow that they used to create different effects like footprints in the sand and falling snow etc., which they use either shredded paper, or plastic for which was pretty cool.

I think my favourite part was seeing the potions classroom set and Diagon alley, it was super cool to feel like I was there! Oh how I wish magic was real and I could be a witch!!

New years

New Year’s Eve came round so fast! It was a very funny night which started out very tame at my bestie Kirsty’s sister’s house with her family there. There was lots of drinking and lots of music and dancing but everyone was pretty well behaved because of the kids being around, saying that it quickly got to the early hours of the morning so everyone decided to go home not too long after we saw the start of 2017.

I went back to my second home of Kirsty and dales and that is where the night truly began for me, out comes the party pleasures and we stay up till around 9:30am chatting utter bollox.

One of the funniest parts of the night is when me and Kirsty were doing a balloon and were absolutely convinced that dale had been talking to us while we were doing it but obviously we couldn’t talk then so we had to wait, which he completely denied and told us were bat shit crazy, turns out he didn’t say anything to us but we said his name and decided he had been! – think it was one of those moments you had to be there for lol.

Also that night they have a glass picture of the Beatles which was lay on the coffee table in the front room, the light was shining on the picture and was showing a shadow of the Beatles on the ceiling which is one of the more trippy things to see when you’re not sure who you are or what you’re doing at that time in the morning.

After many more utterly stupid things to laugh at that night or should I say morning, we all eventually decided to call it a night and head up to bed. (Well me and Kirsty went to bed and dale was back on the sofa which is where he is all the time when I’m around, as I get dibs on the bed lol)

Then came the worst few hours of my entire life, I couldn’t sleep as always, and my mind was going absolutely insane! I kept thinking of things and then forgetting what I was thinking and then telling myself how annoying I was for thinking of things I couldn’t remember and just being so angry with myself and cringing from my behaviour for the whole night.

Kirsty was in the same position and kept drifting off into other dimensions when she closed her eyes, which I thought actually sounded quite nice, turns out they were not good dimensions at all. I think I lay there for about 2 hours trying to deal with the shit storm going on in my head before I just had to get up and go home! It was way too intense!

It still continued at home but I did manage to fall asleep eventually and then spent the rest of the day and night in bed in and out of sleep.

 

Brighton

My Sisters birthday is on Jan 7th and to celebrate it we all went down to Brighton on the 6th and stayed for the weekend. Me, Lou and Lucy didn’t arrive until around 10pm on the Friday night and when we did arrive we had some food and drinks and we all played poker.

On the Saturday (Lou’s birthday) everyone came over to my aunties for breakfast and we had croissants and crumpets and some fruit for breakfast before heading off into Brighton to go to an escape room, I was actually really nervous about the escape room because I can get let’s say a bit annoyed at times when I can’t do things and I am also a little bit stupid when it comes to well anything educational tbh, like maths, English blah blah blah. In the end it turned out to be amazing, I won’t spoil anything but what I will say is it was thought out really well and you had to solve a variety of puzzles some of which gave you answers to type into things or for a lock, and others gave you an item that needed to be used somewhere for different things. It really was amazing and we all had the best time.

After the escape room, we went for a couple of drinks and then went up the i360 tower (while drinking prosecco of course) it was a fantastic view of Brighton and many many pictures were taken while we were up there, with our mom getting rather emotional because me and Jim were leaving in a weeks’ time.

When the i360 was done we went to a Thai resturant for a late dinner and it was delicious, although I don’t really remember too much of it because we had been drinking all day and I was rather drunk. Haha.

After food we went to a couple more places for drinks but everyone was feeling pretty tired after the long day of drinking and being so busy we all went home relatively early.

The next day we all went for food at nandos to spend the vouchers we had been given for Christmas from our family in Ireland and then it was time for my goodbye to my auntie which was sad but not as emotional as the one the year before, so that’s good J

It was a really nice weekend for her birthday.

Time to go

Then it was the final week, which I mainly was packing my room away again and trying to get last minute meetings in with everyone.

I went for a girly dinner with all my besties to say goodbye to them once again and I also spent a few more nights at home with my dad and sister and Lucy. The one night we had a poker night and another night we went to the cinema in Evesham to watch Passengers which I thought was really good. Anything with Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence in is good with me! Both absolute delights for the eyes.

Me and Jim went to Birmingham shopping a couple of days before we left with our mom which was really nice, although as expected she did get a bit emotional at times. Rich (my mom’s husband) came to meet us in the evening and we all went for dinner to this amazing place which has a buffet of different foods but then you get served with 15 different types of meat to your table and you can have as much as you want. Omg I have never tasted anything so good in my life!! Mmmnnnnnn.

Then the day had arrived for us to leave, I spent the morning sorting out transferring my money over to my Australian bank account and did my last minute packing up and then my mom, rich, joe and of course Jim drove over to pick me up from my dad’s house and stayed for around an hour so Jim could say goodbye to the dogs and our sister.

Then the moment for the goodbyes came – can’t stand goodbyes!! Boo! But they weren’t as bad as last year I thought, as everyone kind of knows what to expect now.

A few hours later we were at the airport, time to check in our luggage and say goodbye.

And the story shall continue in the following blogs.

God….sorry that is so long peeps! I got a bit distracted being at home with everyone that I neglected the blog! Need to as always be more productive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Volunteering in Bali part 2

23rd – 25th October

The next few days were not as eventful as the past few, it was mainly doing the farm work in the morning. Digging up trenches and pulling up weeds. Absolutely sweating my ass of for a couple of hours and feeling the most disgusting I have ever felt in my life haha but it was good.

 

Then in the afternoon we went for some food and also a walk around the market in the centre of Ubud, although typical Asia and its heavy rain, the shopping got cut short due to the rain ahhh well I guess more food and beer is in order instead then hey? So I tried fried ice cream for the first time and omg what a taste sensation that was.

One of the days Manu showed us to a place he had been a few times for lunch which was actually a Sumatran restaurant and the food was delicious. It was a sort of buffet place where all the food was out on show but the people who worked there walked around with your plate and you point at the things you want. I also discovered the Bali dish Cap Cay which became my staple food for the rest of my time in Bali, it is delicious, it’s basically like a vegetable stew and then you can have it with rice or without.

On the 25th when we got back from dinner Chakra and some of his friends were sat around outside his house playing guitar and singing, practicing for a wedding the following day which he said he wanted to take us too….wait….what am I supposed to wear to a Balinese wedding? Think I may need to go shopping!!

 

26th – October

We all went to the farm in the morning as usual to continue with building the chicken house and digging up the weeds and grass, feeding the pigs etc.

Then we went back to the homestay and had a bit of a rest and then me and Ruby went into the centre as we both needed to buy something to wear for the evening and I needed to get my Christmas presents for everyone back home.

We did lots of walking around the markets and the shops and eventually we both got everything we needed, and thought we would reward ourselves by going to the coconut shop where they have homemade coconut ice cream and you can have it on top of smoothies or in fruit salads and omg it is so flipping good!! I went for the fruit salad and muesli option which was delicious.

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Once we had finished the coconut delightfulness we jumped in a cab back to the homestay to get ready for the wedding that evening, I had bought a long wrap around skirt and a white lacy top which covered my shoulders.

We walked to the wedding as we knew we would all be drinking and thought it best not to ride the bikes even though there are no laws there about drink driving but for safety reasons we thought it best haha.

On the way there we walked down little back streets and there were so many dogs barking their heads off at us but we were with chakra so they didn’t really approach us which was good even though I was still scared and thinking they would smell my fear and try to kill me.

When we got to the wedding we walked through an archway into the house area and we were greeted by some of the women who I presume to be bridesmaids and they were offering us some snacks and drinks, we then went and sat down with chakra and started drinking Teak, the way you usually drink it is that you have a small glass and a jug and you pour a glass for the person sitting next to you, they then drink it or really down it like a shot and then pour the next person a glass. So there is usually only one glass between large groups of people.

Not long after we sat down chakra started telling us more of his stories. We were discussing religion and how he was not religious but his wife is very religious and wondered if it was ever a problem, he then told us that it was a problem in the past and that they were married before and actually separated for 7 years due to their disagreements in religion, but after 7 years had passed and chakra had been working in other countries he came back to Bali and met his wife again and the rekindled their relationship and both now agree to disagree but also accept each other’s views on the world which I think is great. Just because one person believes in something doesn’t mean everyone else in the world has to believe that too.

Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs I think and we shouldn’t judge others on what they believe in……well I say that apart from these bloody idiots who believe they need to blow people up or themselves because of religion…..those idiots can FUCK RIGHT OFF!! Blow yourself up and all the others who believe the same but leave us normal and sane people to enjoy life please you bastards!

Ok sorry about that….rant over…..back to the wedding where was i? Haha

So we were drinking the Teak and then chakra said that some erotic dancing was about to happen out the front and Manu’s eyes lit up and off he went outside and of course we followed, what was this erotic dancing going to be? I thought Balinese women were very reserved are they really going to start doing a strip tease now?

Everyone sat around on the walls and on the floor and out came a woman dressed in a sarong and a big headpiece and started dancing around to the music the men were playing on their drums behind her, she then chooses a man from the crowd and he then has to show off his dancing skills to her, and then she chooses someone else to dance with so not so erotic dancing after all but erotic for Bali I suppose. The funniest part of all this was that Manu got chosen to go up and dance with her and he was very excited about this, unfortunately I did record it all but the camera on the iPhone 6 for recording is absolutely rubbish so you can’t see a single thing. – I need a new phone!!

After the erotic dancing we went back inside and had some food and then went to watch Chakra and his band playing and singing all different types of songs, me and Manu were still drinking Teak and dancing around listening to him.

It got to around midnight and we all decided to leave as we did need to be up in the morning for the farm work, so we all left besides chakra and started walking back to the homestay but this time we did not have his protection against the big group of dogs so I was panicking as they were barking so loud at us and following us and I was thinking omg they can smell my fear they are going to kill me which made me even more scared which made me think they could smell me even more, luckily no one got attacked by the dogs and we all made it home safe and sound.

27th October

I woke up the morning after the wedding with such a headache and spent the whole day in bed watching fear the walking dead and also deciding on my plans for the next few weeks, I was quickly running out of money and knew that I would be needing it for my return to Australia in January so I decided that I wanted to go home a bit earlier than I was planning on.

My amazing dad said that he wanted to buy me a scuba dive course for Christmas as I had already done my first course the open water scuba diver I wanted to continue with my learning so I decided that I would do the next course in line which was the advanced course.

I spent ages researching places I could go and eventually settled on the Gili Islands just off Bali. I ended up booking a package with a hotel as it was so much easier than booking everything individually…I will go more into that in the next post about the scuba course.

After a busy day planning my next few weeks I took myself for a Mexican dinner at a place called taco casa and it was delicious! – I do talk about food a lot don’t I! But I love it! Haha

28th – October

The next day we went and did the usual farm work in the morning and then in the afternoon we decided that we would go and explore some places nearby that ruby had found online, so we settled on going for lunch in the rice fields.

We all jumped on the bikes and went off to find this mystery place and it was quite hard to find…thank god for google maps because the roads we had to drive up and down didn’t look like roads at all, more like little alleyways to nothing, but once we got through them we were on a thin little lane that goes through the rice fields and had lots of cafes and retreats, how on earth people actually manage to get to these retreats with all their luggage I will never know because you could just about fit a bike down the path.

We settled on the cheapest café and all went and lay on the pillows and looked out to the rice fields, got our self some food and a coconut to drink and Manu decided that he would try to jump up the wall to the café rather than climbing the 5 steps to his right, which made us all laugh….ahhh Manu such a funny chap!

29th – October

So this was the last day of farm work as we had Sundays off and I was leaving on the Monday. So we all went and did our farm work in the morning and the evening and then chakra said he wanted to take us to a party.

We all got on the bikes and followed him to a temple where there were lots of people sat on the floor singing or more so chanting to Krishna, chakra said that we should leave because it wasn’t a party if there was no food or alcohol, I like his thinking.

We walked around by the temple which is also a hotel with lots of cabins all the way down hundreds of steps to the river, it was really nice.

After we had walked down the hundreds of steps we then had to get back up the hundreds of steps and my legs and butt were killing me after that but I made it….just about.

We went back to the homestay after the disappointing party and chilled there for a bit until we were all ready to go to Bali Bohemia which is a café/bar that has live music, as soon as we were about to leave in typical Asia style started pouring it down and the little pathway around the homestay quickly became a stream.

We waited for around 30mins and it was still raining, but we all decided to put our raincoats on and go to the bar anyway as it was our last proper night together.

When we got there the band were not playing, but setting up still and they didn’t end up starting for another couple of hours due to the rain one of their band mates had not arrived yet. While we waited we ordered food and some drinks.

I discovered the poor man’s mojito which was made with Arak and it was delicious, the band eventually came on and they were really good, they were an African band and I loved the music. I do love this about travelling, that you get introduced to lots of different types of music from different cultures that you would not normally listen too.

30th October

It was my last day with everyone and when I woke up and went over to the homestay Jess had realised that her visa was going to run out and that she needed to get it extended immediately so we were helping her get all her things together for it.

We went for lunch and then into the centre of Ubud to get some of her printing done and once all of that was done we all decided that we would go to some waterfalls, so we got on the bikes and started riding to where we thought the waterfalls were, turns out we went the wrong way but im pretty happy we did because we ended up at Tegalalang rice fields which were really beautiful, so we decided to stop and have a coffee at one of the cafes there.

We then went back to the homestay and I had to go and pack up all my stuff ready to move on in the morning, god my backpack is so full now I seriously need to ditch some stuff!!

Then it was Cap Cay time and then a pretty early night ready for tomorrow.

I had such a good time staying at Chakras and especially with the other volunteers. It was my first work away experience and I have to say it was a great one. I am really going to miss everyone I met, such is the way of a traveller! Always meeting amazing people and then having to go separate ways but I always know I will meet more of these amazing people along my journey which is a nice thing to know.

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Volunteering in Bali

19th October

I arrived up to Ubud around midday and found my way to Chakra’s house but he was not there, I met the other people who were volunteering and they told me that I would be staying somewhere else as the beds had now all been filled at Chakras. I stayed with them for the day and then I got picked up at 7pm to take me to where I would be staying. It was about a 30min drive to get there and it was really nice but I had absolutely no signal and they didn’t have WiFi or anything either. The family were lovely but also didn’t speak a word of English so I thought it would be best for me to go back to where all the other volunteers were and check into the hostel over the road the next morning.

20th October

When I woke up in the morning I went down stairs to see the family and I ended up helping them prepare all their fruit and vegetables for them to sell to restaurants and hotels.

Chakra called and I said to him that I think I would prefer to move back closer to them and check into the hostel so he spoke with the man I was staying with and asked him to drop me off back to his house on the way to their sales drop offs.

When I arrived the other guys were on the way to the farm and told me that we were leaving at 10am to go to Denpasar, so I went and checked into my hostel and then walked back over to chakras at 10am ready to go and got chatting to everyone.

There were 5 of us volunteering for him.

Jess – from America

Ruby – from Singapore

Babette – from Germany

Manu – from France

And then me! So a nice mix of nationalities I thought.

Chakra turned up with a truck which could fit 3 people in the front and he put a blanket on the back for the rest of us to sit on. All of us girls decided that we would sit on the back and Manu got in front, it was fun for the first 30mins until we got to our first stop off to pick up a load of Meringa plants which look like wood. The plant grows and they chop it down to use and replant it to grow again, the plant itself is a superfood and great for the earth as well.

After we picked those up there was less room in the back so things got a little more squashed but it was still fun sat in the back especially as we were on busy roads and when we drove past everyone they were quite surprised to see a bunch of westerners (or Bule as they like to call us) on the back of a pickup truck with loads of wood.

We then arrived at the next place which was a house for disabled children which chakra helps them with trying to raise awareness and funds and also helps with planting trees and plants for them. They were so lovely there and we all sat on the floor and the brought us lots of food which had Meringa in. it was delicious. After the food they showed us what they do with all the Meringa that they grow here, they dehydrate it and then blend it up into a powder which they then put into little pots and sell that to stores. The Meringa powder as I mentioned earlier is a superfood and has so many beneficial qualities, and you use just a teaspoon of the powder in cooking, or you can add it to your water to give you more energy throughout the day.

Just before we were about to leave they told us they have some baby Meringa plants that we need to take with us also, so the truck now was getting pretty full, so I jumped in the front seat with Chakra and Manu.

I had a good talk with chakra, he is a very interesting man, he is not religious at all which is surprising in this country as everywhere you go here you are surrounded by Hindu religion with all the temples and offerings on the streets.

He says to me that he believes in the power of nature and not a god as such. He believes that nature will respond to human actions, like many of the tsunamis in the world are in countries where people dump stuff in the oceans and its nature’s way of wiping them out and giving the land back all the rubbish, and he thinks it will happen to Bali one day too as most of the people here are uneducated with what dumping rubbish into the rivers and the ocean will do so they do it.

It was a very interesting and deep conversation for the journey but I enjoyed speaking to him a lot.

The next stop was to a silent retreat surrounded by rice fields and it was beautiful. We were dropping off the Meringa plants and cuttings to them, and we had a look around while they were all sorting that out, and I saw a pineapple growing which I had never seen before. I always thought they grew either straight out the ground like vegetables or that the top of the pineapple was connected to the plant and the pineapple its self was hanging down….learn something new every day hey!

We then got back to the homestay around 4pm and we all went and had a shower then headed out for food to a cheap Indonesian restaurant called café bla bla. After food we walked back to the homestay and we were all ready for bed after the busy day but chakra was waiting for us and said he wanted to take us to a Tuak place (Tuak is a natural alcohol made from palm trees, where they drain the tree and the liquid that comes out is already alcoholic. Only around 2% but alcoholic none the less) so we all jumped on the bikes and followed him to this place which just looked like an empty shop but with lots of people just sat on the floor.

We were the only westerner there’s so everyone was having a good look at us and laughing when we were drinking the Tuak. It tasted really nice and not alcoholic at all which is the dangerous thing about it. It sort of tasted like a sweet but also bitter almost vinegary taste. They served the drinks in old water bottles and we had a few to drink there while chakra was talking to us about many things to do with the history of the world and how places came to be what they are today. I don’t understand how this man can fit so much information in his head.

After a few bottles of Tuak and many many stories we head back to the homestay but not before we got some Tuak takeout’s in plastic bags. We then sit around on the front and chakra brings out his guitar and starts playing music which we had to guess who sang it and what it was called. We did this for an hour or so before looking at the time and realising it was 1am and knowing we all had to be up at 6am we then decided to call it a night.

21st October

We woke up at 6am feeling rather tired but not hungover which was a nice feeling and headed to the farm for a few hours of work.

We were all quite unsure about what exactly needed to be done so we decided that we needed to sit down with chakra and get a proper idea of what he wants to happen there, otherwise we are just digging up grass and weeds all over the place when we may not need to in that area and I tell you what it is hard bloody work in that heat.

When we got back from the farm Chakra said he would like to take us to the rice milling and show us how it happens. So we jumped on the bikes and went to meet the people who deliver the rice to the clients, their main client is a company called Bali Buda which are a chain of restaurants in Bali. Chakra needed to look at the rice and make sure that it had been milled correctly and was up to standard of selling which it was.

After that we went back to the place where I stayed the first night and went to the back of the house where the milling machine was, we were going to mill some red rice but the people who had been there before us had left lots of rice that needed to be milled so we did it for them.

You pour the big bags of rice onto the bottom of the machine which then uses an elevator system to take it to the top and drop it into the machine, which has rubber bands running around inside that takes off the husk of the rice and shoots the husks out the back of the machine and the milled rice comes out the bottom. That is how you make brown rice and if you then want to make white rice you use the same system and the same rice but shut off the first compartment where it comes out and redirect it to a polishing area which then polishes the rice after the husk has been removed to take off an extra layer and then you have white rice.

I never knew that brown and white rice are the same thing and that white rice just needed an extra process in the machines, I just had always presumed they were different plants.

After all the rice milling we took chakra for food to discuss what he actually wants done on the farm, and we all felt like it went really well and that we had a plan of what needed to be done…..a lot of hard work was what needed to be done! Digging up trenches so we could get water running all the way through the farm, digging up very thick and long grass and weeds, planting trees, building chicken houses! Yep lots of hard work to come! Haha

After all of that we went back to the homestay and then had a bit of a nap, when I went back over to meet the guys for food jess told me that her phone was missing, and they thought that it was one of the men working on the house for chakra. After they had all left I told her to sign into my phone and use find my iPhone, it then showed up at the place that all the workers lived. We told chakra about it and he started calling the manager saying he knows the phone was there and he wanted it back.

While he was getting all that sorted out we decided to go for food to a vegetarian restaurant which was delicious, I ended up having a taco salad with poached eggs and red rice….yummy!!

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When we got back we were expecting Jess’ phone to be there but it wasn’t, the manager said that he had asked all his workers to give the phone back but they all denied having the phone, so chakra and jess took my phone and hopped on the bikes to go over there, they were gone for a while but when they came back they still didn’t have the phone, so obviously the person who took it decided to hide it.

Chakra told them all that none of them were getting paid or coming back to work until the phone was returned……it never was!

 

22nd October

This was Babette’s last day with us and Chakra wanted to take us all to see the world heritage rice fields which would take around 2 hours on the bikes. I was not looking forward to this as I was on the back of Manu’s bike and I felt like such a fatso compared to everyone else and that I was weighing his bike down.

Since my dodgy hip incident on the farm in Australia my hips are a lot less flexible than they used to be and get really tight (I swear I am not 70 years old yet am I?) so sitting on the back on Manu’s small bike and having to try and remain still my hips start to hurt and eventually feel like they are locked in place. My back is killing me and even my right knee starts hurting again after around 10 years of it being healed. (long story but old boyfriend who was an absolute asshole chucked plates at me dragged me through them and basically cut my leg open and I needed around 18 stitches – I sure do know how to pick them don’t I haha) anyways…..all of this pain comes after only 20mins on the back of the bike! KILL ME NOW!

Luckily….well I thought it was lucky anyway the heavens opened up and started absolutely hammering it down, we were all wearing shorts and small tops so we got cold and very wet very fast, luckily we saw somewhere with cover to wait out the rain. It was some kind of bike shop but there was one of the cart men there selling Bakso which was only 5000ringit, which works out to be around 30p for a bowl of this lovely soup, so we all ended up waiting around there eating soup and chain-smoking for around an hour before the rain stopped enough for us to continue on the way.

And onwards to the rice fields which were absolutely amazing. We sat at the top to have a Bali coffee looking out to the rice fields which was really nice and such a beautiful view, chakra pointed out to us which one of these plantations was his. After we had finished our coffees we jumped back on the bikes and rode down through the fields to chakras plantation and we all got out and went and had a look, I nearly ended up falling in one of the streams of water that they make to keep the rice nice and moist…luckily I managed to stabilise myself.

Once chakra had walked us around his plantation we got back on the bikes and rode down the road a little way and stopped on a big bridge, we all got off and looked over the side and saw a river and next to the river was a dirty looking pond that none of us would ever have gave a second look at. We walked down the steps to this dirty looking pool and stuck our hands in there…..it was so warm. It was a natural hot spring that was full of sulphur and other minerals which gave the pool its murky colour. Off came the clothes and in we went, it was so nice especially as it had got quite a bit cooler as it had been raining so much, none of us wanted to get out.

Not long after we got in the hot spring we were joined by 3 Balinese kids who stripped off everything and jumped in with us, I think they found it funny that us westerners were in there pool with them. Unfortunately it was time to get out and head back so that Babette could make her bus down to the south of the island in time to meet her friends.

Back on the bikes for an hour and half and back to the pain and the suffering of my quickly ageing body! But I made it back in one piece thank god! I think the hot spring had a lot to do with that as I felt like it had made all my muscles relax while I was in there.

As soon as we got back I said my goodbyes to Babette and I went and got myself showered and changed ready to go and meet Lisa and Nathan who I know from home. They were on their honeymoon. I walked out of the homestay and up the road for a bit until I found one of the bike taxis to take me all the way to the centre.

When I arrived at the bar they were in Lisa was on the phone to the banks in England as her card had apparently stopped working, she was on the phone for a while and I was just chatting away to Nathan. She then realised at the end of the call that the ATM she had tried to get money out of did not actually have a visa sticker on the front which means it doesn’t accept her card and that would be why they can’t get any money out. She quickly hung up on them.

We went to a few bars and had some cocktails and then I joined them for dinner at a place they had visited a few years before, it was lovely! Although our table wasn’t ready when we arrived and we did have to wait about 10 mins for it but ahhh well that’s Bali time for you.

After food we decided to go for another drink somewhere so we started walking around unsure of where to go and then we heard bob Marley playing down a little road so we obviously decided to follow the voice of bob…I mean come on who can resist him?

We ended up in a bar with a reggae band about to come on and also a monkey running around the place, I obviously went over and wanted to say hello to this tiny monkey. When I went over the man who was holding it just put it straight on my back and luckily I had my phone in my hand so quickly passed it to him and asked him to take a photo. I then went and sat back down and some guy decided to come and sit next to us who told me that the monkey was drunk. It had been doing shots of tequila which I just feel sorry for the monkey that the owner was feeding it booze when it was so tiny. Poor little guy.

Me and Lisa got up and had a bit of a boogie and left Nath with the guy who had taken a shining to me, and we stayed there for a few drinks and then it was time to go home. The guy who had come over and sat next to me tried to offer me a lift home but I said no, god knows where he would have actually taken me!

It was so nice to see them in Bali.

So far a good first week….to continue reading about my time with Chakra click HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bali, Blue and Bruises

1st October

I arrived in Bali on the evening of 1st October feeling absolutely terrified to walk through customs after filling out the landing card on the plane, and knowing that I had not managed to find the luggage wrapping service in Kuala Lumpur airport.

I have heard one to many horror stories about airport security putting drugs in the bags of passengers, and while my bag had locks all over it I also knew that security could break into the locks and put whatever they wanted in there.

So no I was not trying to smuggle drugs into the country but I was terrified that someone will have put something in my bag and customs would find it think it was mine and then sentence me to death. It was a very tense moment for me. Haha

But I got to passport check and paid the fee for the 30 day visa so I could get it extended for another 30 days, and then walked through security without getting checked but with my heart pounding.

Thankfully I am not going to die today!

When I got out of customs I walked into the arrivals hall and was surrounded by so many drivers holding signs, I have never seen anything like it! I had to walk up and down the rows of men twice before finding my driver holding a piece of paper saying ‘SAMI BEE’. I ran over to him and smiled and told him that it was me, so he pointed around the corner where I was to meet him.

I met him and we walked to his car in the parking lot and began driving to the hostel I was staying at called Funky Monkey in Kuta. On the way to the hostel he kept asking me if I was married and if I had a boyfriend, I kept telling him no and that I didn’t want one, but he didn’t understand why.

I tried to explain to him that I am very happy on my own at the moment and it gives me the freedom to do what I want when I want and I have to answer to no one, he still didn’t understand this and tried asking me to marry him to which I politely declined.

we arrived in Kuta and drove down many little streets that could only fit one car just about and he told me it was a two way street, how on earth do people drive two ways down this road?

But we got there in the end and I checked into my hostel which I was pleasantly surprised I was on the bottom floor and had a pool right outside my door.

When I walked into the room there was another girl in there called Melanie who had also just checked in, so we decided to sit out by the pool and have a chat, everyone else seemed to return from the bars just a few minutes later and started swimming, which I thought was good as it was around 1am and I thought most hostels had a closing time for swimming, obviously not this one. After an hour or so chatting we both went to bed around 2am.

2nd October

Me and Melanie woke up and decided to spend the day together, so we got ourselves ready and went out for a walk and then ended up in a little café for breakfast where I had a smoothie bowl which was delicious, it was just a smoothie in a bowl but they added chopped up fruit and muesli to the top of it, it really was nice.

We walked through the little streets of poppies 1 and 2 and then headed to the beach, which was so overcrowded with people sunbathing and surfing but also will lots of people trying to sell you things. We decided to sit down at one of the places selling drinks and ordered a couple of coconuts to drink. While we were sat there we had a constant flow of people coming over to us asking if we wanted to either have a massage, have our nails done, have our hair done, or buy bracelets. It was quite annoying to be honest. We did decide to buy some bracelets and the very pushy woman kept on at us until we did, but she tried charging us around 100k just for one. But I eventually got her down to 30k for 2. – Everyone just wants to rip you off here.

After that we decided to go back to the hostel and have a swim in the pool, then I got ready to meet Blue after she finished work. Melanie couldn’t come with me as she was waiting on her suitcase to turn up at the hostel (the airline she was with left it in Singapore!) but the two other girls in my room came with me to meet blue up in Seminyak at a cool beach bar with beanbags.

We got there and ordered a drink and then blue came to meet us, it was so nice to see her after a whole year, but as soon as we saw each other it just felt completely normal and like we hadn’t been apart.

We ordered some food and some cocktails and sat there reminiscing for a while, before ordering a grab back to the hostel, although that took forever. I can’t believe how bad ordering taxis are here.

You either get a normal taxi and get completely ripped off or you use an app to order a driver, either go jek, grab or uber and then they cancel on you or just takes forever to find one, so it ended up taking us around 2 hours just to get back to the hostel.

Me and blue then decided that we would go out for drinks, so we went walking trying to find some bars that were still open with some good music, eventually we found a bar and went and ordered some drinks. We ended up meeting 2 Australian guys who seemed really nice, we went with them to a bar over the road which had live music on and had some more drinks in there and the one guy joined the band playing his Harmonica which was quite funny.

After the bar we decided that we wanted to carry on drinking and the guys suggested going to the beach…..I was a little worried about doing that as I have heard so many bad things happening on that beach but of course we decided to go. We went and got some beer and jumped on the back of their scooters and headed to the beach, Blue and one of the guys went swimming in the sea while I stayed on the beach with the other guy…..then things just got weird!! Firstly the guy I was with decided to start getting creepy towards me and I told him that I wasn’t interested but he clearly didn’t understand that so kept trying it on with me. Then people kept coming over and talking in Indonesian so I didn’t understand what was happening…..anyway long story short Blues phone got taken out of her bag from one of these people and I felt awful because I was supposed to be looking after the stuff but I was a little distracted at the time as I felt pretty nervous about all these people coming over including the police and trying to deal with this bloody idiot trying to touch me up and not understanding the word NO!

Blue finally came out of the water and then she realised her phone had been taken which she was pretty pissed off about obviously, the creepy guy that was trying to touch me up decided to leave which was good, and the guy that had gone in the sea with blue gave us a lift back to her apartment and had a few drinks with us before going home.

Drama drama drama on the first night of seeing each other in a year hey!! Lordy!!

3rd – 18th October

After all the drama with the phone being stolen we had a pretty chilled day the next day as blue had a day off work, we grabbed some food and headed down to the beach for some drinks while watching the sunset which was nice.

The next few weeks I stayed with blue in her apartment and I was getting my visa extended at the immigration office which takes about 10 days, I did a lot of catching up on game of thrones and then when blue had days off we would go to a beach club to chill.

We went to one called potato head which was really nice, it was expensive but was a really nice day although we had never felt as fat and pale in our whole lives being there with all the beautiful women around. Haha. but we drank cocktails, had some nice food and lazed in the infinity pool with a bar in the middle, until we got a day bed a decided to laze around on there drinking prosseco and watching the sunset.

And sometimes in the evening we would go and sit by the Nirmala supermarket with some of the people Blue works with for a couple of cheap drinks.

I had decided that I was going to go up to Ubud to spend some time there and do a work away program on a farm, so I did some research on that and found someone called Chakra to go and stay with which sounded really good.

Two nights before I left Blue had a work party  to go to which she invited me to go along with her, it was really good to begin with as there was free food and drink and lots of it. They had some good music on and everyone was having a really nice time until around midnight, when blues old manager Richard decided to start acting like a dickhead towards blue, telling her that she would never make any money as she is a woman and that she’s useless etc.

I obviously wasn’t going to let someone talk to my friend like that so I asked him who he thought he was and he then proceeded to start insulting me too. He was just being such a pathetic twat, I laughed at him and ended up saying he looked like a fat pedo! (low blow yes I know but he totally does) he then says to me that he gets lots of women and I then said that highly doubted that and that he probably bought his wife….well as soon as I said that he jumped at me and grabbed me by the face, I just laughed at him because I had obviously touched a nerve there guess he must have bought his wife after all hey! And then he started to hit me, and I got head-butted.

Lots of people jumped up to try and get him off me, blue had come over to help too but he ended up punching her too! What a lovely man! After all the drama we left the party and went back home ready to go out but it was so late that nowhere was open – thank god! So we ended up passing out instead.

When we woke up the next day we couldn’t believe what had actually happened the night before with all the craziness and blue was really upset about it all. Thankfully she got a message from the manager of her department asking her if she was alright and to tell him what happened, which she did.

We then decided to go out for breakfast at Grocer and Grind and then head over to Cookie’s apartment to chill with him for the day and steal his pool which was great.

We then got very hungry so we went to a really nice restaurant and ordered pizza and omg they did roast potatoes…..oh how I have missed roast potatoes haha. The food was amazing but I started feeling really bad when we got there, my head was pounding and I felt really dizzy and sick, think the blows to the head from the night before were starting to catch up to me now.

We went back to blues and she then got told that Richard had lost his job which was great news! Thank god for that, which should mean blue will enjoy herself a lot more now.

In the morning blue went off to work and I packed up all my stuff and got a grab up to Ubud to start my volunteering with Chakra as my Visa had come through.

And that was the first couple of weeks….drama filled hey haha.

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