Selamat tahun baru!

First of all apologies for not writing any sooner. But I couldn’t find the time or peace of mind to sit down and write. And when time passes the mountain of stories gets higher and higher which doesn’t help either. But it is 2011, so I wish you all a healthy, loving, sharing new year with me in it hopefully!! I will take you now back in time..

In Kuta I met a Dutch guy Ivo, we share a mutual friend in Holland, and he is living here 5 months of the year, as we say in Dutch ‘overwinteren’  and what a winter it already is!
Not here though, here you sweat like a madman with every move you make, not a pretty sight but that is life. Humidity is enormously but I am not complaining because the sun is visible! I got myself a room where my new friend is staying, there are 7 rooms with terrace all facing a huge garden and strangely enough it is very quiet. As soon as you enter the road the noise begins, the motorbikes are everywhere. And the Aussies. By the time I arrived all the Aussies were celebrating the summer holidays and probably their first holiday abroad without parents. They are easy to recognise; they all wear a Bali Bintang singlets, are extremely loud and most of the time drunk. They also shout; ‘ Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!’ whenever they feel like it. Like others wouldn’t have noticed by seeing them. Entertaining sometimes. It’s like the Australian lloret da mar I presume. Anyway got myself a good room including bathroom for only 5 euro per day. My neighbours at the right is a crazy French man with a beautiful ever sweetest and caring Japanese girl I ever met and at the left there lives a German girl. My first day we spent watching the sun melt in the sea at the pantai kuta (beach), my favorite time of the day (or sunrise but you can’t see that here and mostly I am sleeping by that time, or still dancing) we had some drinks at our balconies and went out for dinner. I got introduced to the Adabar which is the place where the French gather and play some pool and there we decided to dance that night. We went to the Bounty, a giant ship, where the young Ozzy boys show their pumped torso’s and the girls wear a bit of cloth on their skin all moving on the beats of the dj. Most of them are beyond drunk, as long as they can still stand and move a bit it is all okay, but when they try to climb the stage it becomes a different story.. It is very entertaining though. And ofcourse you have the surfer dudes with beautiful tattoo’s and well shaped bodies, a true candy for my eyes! It was great to dance again after a month. The next morning I got home for the first time in Kuta. The day after I am in recovery. That week I went out each other night and met in that way new people which was nice. Then I decided to leave the party for what it was and go to Ubud. Ubud is beautiful, it is in the hills surrounded by the magical rice fields, the colour green can arise in so many ways and the reflection of the sky in the water is magnificent. My first night I spent in a typical Balinese room of a family who rents out a couple of rooms. It was high up in the sky and felt kind of lonely so I decided to move to a homestay and choosed the Ubud Inn after seen three places. I loved the pool, water is the best play to be if you are not sightseeing. So I treated myself to this beautiful place, the pool was one of the attractions, the garden was another one. So many different flowers, it was luxuriant and felt as sweet paradise. Once I arrived I immediately met my neighbours, 2 young Dutch girls. One was ill already for a couple of days so I spent that afternoon with Elke. We went to see the monkeys and the temple at the Monkey Forrest attraction. In front of the entrance you can buy banana’s (‘are you mad?’ is the only thing I can think of) but nevertheless people buy them.. so the monkeys come up to them or sit on their shoulders, I would never dare. For real, monkeys remain animals in the wild with unpredictable gestures. So I was busy avoiding the curious animals and my friend was a hell of a lot braver than me. We watched Balinese woman and men passing by, they had just been to the ceremonies at the temple, bringing their offers. They looked beautiful. That night we met another lady from Amsterdam and we decided to do the following morning a tour around Ubud. I hired a scooter and off we went. We were driving through the rice fields and the light was just breathtaking, one of those moments which you capture in your memories.. We visited the security guy from the Inn at his home, his dad climbed in a palmtree and offered us the coconut with some lime and herb, it tasted the best I have ever had! Afterwards I had a good swim and discoverd the book ‘The shadow of the wind’ by Zafon in their library. I have the Dutch copy at home and never read it. Once I started reading I couldn’t stop. Incredible story with words being used in a way it touches my heart. This library was meant to borrow the book, I stole it when I left, I just couldn’t leave it behind! The next day I did some shopping, they have really nice shops with art, leather and a lot of yoga minded stuff. Ubud is a lovely quiet place, would love to return here in January if I can.

Next story will be about Gili and Lombok.. hopefully tomorrow as I am leaving to Flores, Komodo, Rinca and Sumbawa on Wednesday!

PS. the difference of Sumatra to Bali is their culture, their religion, their architecture and the fact that Bali is rich/spoiled, the locals are well build and they have no becaks here.

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Photo’s

My story about Kuta and Ubud will be here soon, in the meantime please enjoy my pictures on facebook.. because facebook is a lot quicker with uploading than this website.

 

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Inshallah

I rented a mountain bike and was full of energy. After doing a lot of nothing this is a great way to do some sport and finally leaving the property of the cottages. The sun was burning and I was dealing with the gear trying to get both sides at the same level, which did not work in the end. A scooter was passing and I went as far to the right as I could, we passed each other closely, that was weird I was thinking. After a few seconds I realized, stupid me stupid tourist yes, riding on the bike felt as at home, but the traffic is on the left side of the road here, remember! So I continued on the right side.. the left side it is. It was a beautiful scenery, small houses, children playing, parents sitting in front of their houses, the lake, rice fields, roasters roaring, busy fishermen.. it was all so friendly. After a rest and some water I cycled for about 3 hours and then returned home. Home is where my backpack is for now. Met a lovely man from Vancouver Stuart and a guy who is living in Jakarta from Perth, Simon. That night there was some traditional music and we all had a good chat with our Spanish friends. The next day it was raining Tuesday so I spent some time on the internet using Skype. That was great to finally catch up with some friends and my mom. The next day I have rented a scooter with a French guy Simon. Always loving the French for their accent in English! We went a long way to the other side of the island, to a viewing point. Indonesian people always have a funny way of expressing themselves when it comes down to traffic or travel. The 3 kilometer they implied was in real life about an hour drive. So in the end Simon and I were driving back in rain and darkness. This time I could control the speed and actually I was pretty good at it! It is a huge island and so beautiful. I so much enjoyed my stay here. But it was time to move on. Together with Australian Simon I left the following morning at 07.30 with the ferry. From mainland we had a fast taxi to the airport of Medan. I bought a ticket with a connecting flight from Jakarta to Denpasar (one hour transit time). Simon arranged we could sit in the luxury lounge so we ate and drank some and I notified a friend of my parents that I would arrive around 20.40 at Denpasar. At that time our flight to Jakarta was late, very late. More than half an hour. I said to myself, let’s accept everything as it is and not to worry or as Simon said all day, because you could always expect the unexpected, ‘Inshallah’ , so Inshallah it was. We arrived at 17.45 and my next plane left at 18.00. I walked to the staff on the airport and they told me they would arrange a transit bus for all the transfer passengers. We all had to wait downstairs. There were about 3 guys with walkie talkies. But after 15 minutes of waiting, seeing my plane leaving, they said in a minute, in a minute. Aha, yes yes. After half an hour or so, the bus came to get us. We entered and sat down, after 5 minutes we drove exactly the same way back again, passed the point where we waited and in a few seconds we were on our destination. Speaking about efficiency and Indonesian way of working… again Inshallah. I finally got to the gate and they were surprised, yes yes no the plan left. So get me on the next plane. Then I was sent to the 24 hours service of Lyon Air, and waited for about an hour. That hour I was hungry, tired, angry, feeling alone, wondering where my backpack would be without me, again angry because I paid a lot of money and now I was stuck at Jakarta. One of those moments.. everybody seem to be busy but nobody kept me posted about my status. Finally I was booked for the next flight at 20.40 so I would arrive at Bali at 23.45. It all did not matter as long as I got to Denpasar.. I stayed my first two nights at a friend of my parents house which was beautiful. Bali is very different compared to Sumatra, in so many ways..

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Donau Toba

I had incredible beautiful days at Pulau Weh with Gabrielle. We stayed at a beautiful place owned by Freddie, a South African man who’s the owner and managing the place with his son Brandon. The place is right up to the beach and you can start snorkeling there anytime. We relaxed, swam and did some tours around the Island. My fried fish for lunch became standard, can not help myself for that. Gabi saw a shark during our snorkel trip, I couldn’t have been more jealous, hahaha but the day we left, we talked about we hadn’t seen any dolphins. Gabi looked at the sea.. and there they were.. in the morning sunlight. It was our goodbye to Pulau Weh. Priceless. We took the ferry to the mainland, flew back to Medan and I tripped the moment we were standing on the hot asphalt at the airport Polonia, ouch. My brown skin on my knee was white and blood started dropping. The wound is a bit a pain in the *ss but hey no worries. Our last night we stayed at the very luxurious Ashton Hotel. What a contrast. The taxi is being checked while entering the property. I didn’t understand, what are they looking for? Apparently all grand hotels are secured that way to prevent terrorism attacks. Aha. Wow. We strolled around in a huge mall, got myself a new Indonesian mobile because the one I had was not working anymore. My new number here is +62 82166021685. We watched a movie and fell asleep. The breakfast the next day was a feast to remember, they were serving everything, from Indonesian food to Japanese including a Dim Sum corner. We ate like queens, what a treat! The Ashton stay was Gabi’s gift for my upcoming birthday, it was the best way to end our traveling together. The next afternoon I checked in at Angel Hostel again, a backpackers place on a busy road. It was quite busy this time. I had dinner with a French girl and a Finish girl and spent the rest of the evening with an English man, a German man and an all Australian surf dude who’s starting up a surf business at one of the islands on the west coast. I had not decided what to do yet. It was either Bali or Lake Toba. The next morning while having breakfast, a Finish guy had arranged a taxi going to Lake Toba, so from one minute to the other, I decided to jump in his taxi. And off we went. It was a nice fast taxi with airco and the tourists sat in the back (him, a guy from South Korea and me). We didn’t stop chatting during our travel. I know a lot more about Finland now, I love hearing stories about other countries and travel stories for that matter! I checked in at Samosir Cottages and that is where I am now. Donau Toba is an unbelievable big crater lake, with an island in the middle where I am staying now. Today I did nothing else than read next to the lake and chatted with some other guests. It is pure silence here, no becaks, cars, or other vehicles cruising around. Just silence, and a great view. Tomorrow I will hire a bicycle and explore the island. Elinexplores..

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Pulau Weh

Last Sunday after I had written and uploaded my pictures, Doni and I went to the same place we we had been yesterday to have a drink. By that time he really got on my nerves. As he wanted to spend all the time he had with me, and I wasn’t that enthusiastic anymore. Due to the fact he was saying to me that it would be dangerous for me to go travelling by myself and I really needed a guide to help me travelling. I was so looking forward to the arrival of Gabi the next day. So I asked him to drop me off at Ecolodge. He asked me whether I wanted to have a drink with him that evening. I told him I needed my own space for a while. Or in other words, bugger off for now. I went to bed early and woke up at six o’clock all exciting for the arrival of Gabrielle. It was unrealistic she would be here in a few hours. Unreal and thank god. Donny and I waited for her at the busstation and there she was, yeahhh my dear friend!! Absolutely fantastic to share this experience with her. We had lunch and chatted away, it was all good. We decided to do a 3 hour walk the next morning. We started to walk a bit around town, and of course it started raining. When it rains, it pours. We forgot to bring our poncho’s so we searched for shelter at a small place. Waiting for the rain to pass by, wishful thinking. When the rain got a bit less, we arranged a becak but halfway up hill he turned around. Apparently his becak was not up for our weight or better said did not have the power to get us over the hill so he returned to the place where he’d picked us up. So the owner of the place drove us with his motorbike to the nice place I wanted to show Gabi, first me and then her. There is always a solution to everything, having said that always with the help of the friendly Indonesian people! We had a nice dinner at a local place and turned in early. The next morning we woke up at six and I got very excited again to finally do some walking and trying to find the orangutans! We had breakfast and geared up for the walk, binocular, poncho’s, camera, we were ready to hit the jungle. Walking in this area means sweating like a mad man, my shirt was almost soken by the time we got to the entrance of the park Gunung Leuser. We had a beautiful walk along the river before getting there. After we paid our tax to bring our camera to the park we started walking up hill. And then all of a sudden we encountered Mina and Debby. A beautiful female orangutan with her baby girl. The fact that we saw them so soon is that they have a feeding station in the park. The park consists of wild orangutans and orangutans who first spend time at the orangutang sanctuary. Most of them had been held as pets by human beings, and when they got too old or too big or too dangerous, they were brought to the sanctuary. They keep them there until they can survive in the wild. The feeding station is a bit against my nature, but still the tourist are able to see the wild orangutans in their native habitat which is great. The orangutan have the choice themselves to either come to the feeding station or get as far away as they want. So in a way by visiting the park, seeing the orangutans, you as a tourist are supporting their journey into the wild again. Which I think is a good thing.
It was such a joy to watch them move and eat and interact, we share 96% of the same DNA. It makes you watch them with humble interest, seeing their faces, their hands, their feet. With a deep respect I enjoyed the time with this endangered species. Homo sapiens has been taking away their habitat, now it is our duty to secure their future. I felt truly blessed to have a moment with them. There were a few different monkeys there as well. Unfortunately you do not see that many birds there, or at least not in this part of the park. We had a good walk back to the lodge and spent the afternoon on our terrace watching the rain. The rainforest is all about rain and forest indeed. The next day we decided to do the 3 hour walk again, we encountered 7 orangutans in total! Three mothers with their baby’s and one single female. We did a different trail and saw brown gibbons, they were another highlight to watch them in the wild. Afterwards we had a quick stop at the internet cafe to check flights for our next destination; Pulau Weh, an island on the north side of Sumatra, near Bandu Aceh. The area which was badly ruined during the Tsunami of 2004. I checked my e-mails and received an e-mail from my mum. The subject was; Floortje. I knew right away what the e-mail was about. The dog of my parents had passed away. My sweet dear Floortje whom I loved so much. That was sad news and I couldn’t help but not feeling well that further day. It made me homesick and had aching pain in my body for the rest of the day. Floortje had died peacefully and had the age of 13 years and 4 months. She was a part of our family and I will miss her when I get back. We left the next morning, while having breakfast my mobile rang and I got a nice surprise because Paul was calling me. He had been reading my blog and noticed my Indonesian mobile so he directly checked it. Hahahaha, I love those actions! We took a mini bus to the airport of Medan, got ourselves a ticket, checked in, an hour later we were up north and took a taxi to the ferry. By mistake… because we are stupid tourist for that moment, we got ourselves a nice seat in business class and watched karaoke clips for another hour to finally get to our second destination: Pulau Weh. An island also hit by the Tsunami 2004. The Aceh area was in civil war when the Tsunami happened, afterwards they made peace to reconstruct the area. It is very Islamic and very remote. It is low season which is nice we are the only guest here now. We have got a nice cabin overlooking the sea and right on the beach. Couldn’t wish for something else right now. This Friday evening we have internet access for the first time! Yihoooo!

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Happy travel

Medan is a city with 3 million citizens, it is crowded, a lot of motorbikes, riksja’s and cars. I am already getting used by the fact that I am sweating like nobody else here.  The fridaynight was good, I had dinner with a man from Australia, he travels the world almost the year rond minus 8 weeks or so. He came from Namibia and he is going to India. Saturdaymorning he said goodbye with the words; Happy Travel. And so I went to the busstation, which is a couple of streets with a lot of mini busses and more people. I got myself a seat in a mini bus and off we went. Leaving the city behind and cruising through the palmtrees. In the bus I met Donny, he is a guide here at Bukit Lawang. And my new best friend (although I am still doubting wether he’s doing all this to be friends or to receive money afterwards, probably a bit of both I suppose). I got a ride on his bike to the Ecolodge which is beautiful situated on the banks of the river Bohorak. We agreed to meet at 4 pm. We went to a viewingpoint and watched the thunderstorm getting closer. Played some ping-pong, had a lovely corn and he played the guitar singing Bob Marley ‘no woman, no cry’ . He asked me if I wanted to eat the best sate in town. Ofcourse I answered. Off we went, it was dark and still a bit rainy. What I didn’t know is that his motorbike is one of the fastest of the village. We cruised about 90 k’s per hour for about 45 minutes or so. Without helmet, only the claxon. At that point I was seriously asking myself what the hell we were doing, but I had to trust him and went along for the ride. When we finally got there it was closed. Plan B, back to the village. There is only one road to the village so we stopped somewhere and had a nasi goreng. I was still wobbling by the speed. Donny wanted to take me to live music. In my western mind I imagined a place with a lot of people and everybody dancing. When we got there I realized this is Bukit Lawang with about 250 citizens. We got there and there was one couple and the boys of the band. They played 2 songs and quited. At that point I was tired and itchy. The mosquit’s love me like always.  So I wanted to have a good rest. Got home at ecolodge and couldn’t sleep because the neighbours across turned out to be a karaoke bar and they sang the whole night through. I wonder if the orangutans get used by the sound. Disco in the jungle. This morning we went to the market, we just played some pool and now I am ready for a siesta. Looking forward to tomorrow as Gabrielle from Syndey will be arriving tomorrow at midday! She decided last week to come and visit me for 2 weeks, yeeeeaah! After her arrival we will be heading to the orangutans!!! And make a plan for the coming two weeks. Oh and I received my first love letter today from my neighbours, hahaha, he wanted to take a picture of me and after breakfast I came back and found a note with his address, and words as I love miss you etc. Hahaha funny. Oh and my new indonesian mobile is – countrycode – 821 66 545413. I will try to upload some pictures in a new post. Oh and everybody gets confused as I tell them I am Dutch, they point at my hair and don’t believe me ;).

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