The beginning of our Asian adventure…
Not only did we fly into a new country, but a new continent too. Seriously, I don’t think we’ve been as excited in a very long time!
Day 241 – Wednesday 18th January 2017
This morning we woke up to breakfast on our China Airlines flight to Taipei, for which we chose scrambled egg over beef with fried rice. I’m all about embracing culture but as we’ve been told many times, Asia is one of the only places where they’ll serve you the same food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so we thought we’d hang onto our eggs while we had the chance.
We landed in Taipei at around 04:30 and then had to wait for five hours before our next flight, which sounds like a long time but didn’t feel like it at all. To our surprise Taipei airport is one of the biggest we’ve ever been to – probably the second biggest after Heathrow in fact.
Let’s put it this way, if there’s enough space for three different Hello Kitty shops and a Hello Kitty playground, there’s got to be a lot more hasn’t there? We weren’t particularly hungry but had a bite to eat anyway because we knew that our next in-flight meal wouldn’t be for another six hours at least. Then at precisely 06:00 we made our way to the departure gate and spent nearly four hours listening to BBC Radio One just to catch an earful of our good friends Glass Peaks having their new track ‘Speak and Spell’ premiered on the show (incredible)!
The flight to Denpasar Bali took nearly five hours, which again seemed like nothing. After you’ve been travelling for fifteen hours the next five just sort of merge in with the rest. Upon arrival we took an airport transfer to Ubud where we’re staying for the next few days. It cost less than £4.35 per person per night for a private room at Pondok Rama Asri Homestay, with a private balcony and en-suite bathroom, check this out:
By 18:00 we were both ready for bed but had to eat so took a stroll to the first Balinese restaurant we could find and walked in without even checking the menu.
It cost us just £9 in total for Spicy Ginger Chicken and Balinese Green Curry with a drink each, so we left a £1 tip and quite literally made the shop owners day. He came out from behind the bar, shock both of our hands, thanked us endlessly, wished us a beautiful evening and waved us goodbye. I couldn’t quite comprehend how can £1 can mean so much, but then checked the currency conversion rate and realised that I’d left a tip of 15,000 Indonesian Ruphiah. It left Abbie and I feeling pretty shocked but quite proud of ourselves too, that we’d made somebody so happy just by parting ways with what we’d consider spare change.
We needed an early night but couldn’t go to sleep without calling home, not only to let them know that we’d landed safely, but to wish my mum a Happy Birthday too. How about this for bad luck – not only does she have to celebrate this year without us, but next year when we’re home she’ll only end up hearing about this year again and how her special day marked our first day in Bali! Ha.
Day 242 – Thursday 19th January 2017
Did I mention yesterday that our super cheap accommodation comes with free breakfast? Because it does, in a cute little garden which you can look down on from the balcony outside our room:
After a slow and relaxing morning we turned down the opportunity to hire a moped (which would’ve cost just £3 for the day) and decided to walk right into the heart of Ubud where we found Mandala Suci Wenara Wana – the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. We wandered around for a long time, met thousands of monkeys of all shapes and sizes, admired the incredible sculptures and architecture, and even had a chance to have a go on the monkey swing while they were busy eating lunch:
It started to get seriously hot and humid early in the afternoon, everybody was sweating profoundly and we needed to make a break for somewhere with air-conditioning. Luckily enough we found a local restaurant called Nomad where the staff, service and especially the food were all brilliant! We both chose the Mie Goreng (fried egg noodles with pok choy, chopped cabbage, carrots, shrimp, leeks and chicken, served with shrimp crackers and Balinese sambas ulek) and we’re more than impressed:
Left completely stuffed after eating we took a slow walk back to the comfort of our room where we stayed for a few hours to get loads of planning done, which wasn’t the most fun but has proven to be quite essential to the success of our trip (so far at least)!
For dinner we walked to a restaurant called Menari where we both had Nasi Goreng (fried rice with chicken, egg and vegetables served with prawn crackers and sambal) which was very similar to lunch but just as tasty.
Our first impressions of Indonesia were amazing, regardless of the fact that it’s actually monsoon season here. Hey, a little rain (or tropical thunderstorm) never hurt anybody, right?