I got back from my trip to Bali over a week ago. However, I had to prepare almost immediately for a work trip to Germany and this combined with the effects of the 24 hour return journey from Indonesia meant that I had little time for thinking about blogging. It was an enjoyable holiday in Bali and Lombok, with Lombok getting our vote as the better destination. I survived the Mount Rinjani experience, a three day trek that counts as one of the toughest walks I have done. It is a special place, when you get to the crater rim and see the view then the effort of the climb seems more worthwhile. Recovery from the trek was helped by the discovery of the tiny island of Gili Meno, one of the most peaceful and relaxing places I have ever been.
Back on Bali we were a bit disappointed by the supposed artistic and cultural capital of Ubud, although it's a much nicer place than the awful Kuta. I can't really understand why anyone would want to spend 20+ hours of travelling to end up spending their holiday in Kuta, although I'm sure many people do just that. If you really need McDonalds, the Hard Rock Cafe and the rest of the chain store crew then why not just go to Madrid? We climbed another volcano on Bali, Mount Ugung, and this was also a fairly tough ascent - not least because the walk up was done during the night. The compensation afterwards was another relaxing stay by the sea in Amed, a string of small villages and beaches along the north coast of Bali. A lot of travellers seem to use Bali just as a landing point before setting off to explore other islands like Flores or Komodo. I suspect that the best time to visit Bali was a couple of decades ago, although it still has its attractions. Lombok is still significantly less developed for tourism.
The food was good and a special mention should be made for Bintang beer. It's very hard to have problems with people in Indonesia, everyone seems so gentle. Even though people have a keen business sense when dealing with tourists, even the act of bargaining never gets unpleasant. I don't think we had any problems with people the whole time we were there. Transport was also extremely easy. With a relatively short time to explore two islands we paid the extra for the fast boat connections between Bali and Lombok. These tickets can include onward transport to your final destination, and also the treks which we paid for included being picked up in one place and dropped off in another destination afterwards. Some of this will get some extra posts, in the meantime there are things happening closer to home to blog about.