Gili Air and Ubud

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July 31st 2018
Published: August 3rd 2018
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We left the hotel and drove to the coast to catch a boat to Gili Air, the journey took a couple of hours and the roads were really winding. We grabbed our belongings and boarded the boat. The sea was quite calm so it made for a nice crossing and it didn’t take long. We were advised that if the tide was low, the boat would have to drop us a fair distance away so we’d get a horse and cart for the last bit of our journey to the hotel. Luckily, the tide was high enough for the boat to take us directly to the hotel. we were a little early, so the rooms weren’t ready for us to check in so we sat in the bar and ordered early lunch.

The rest of the day was at leisure so I went to relax on the beach and read my book for a couple of hours. As sunset approached, I walked down the beach to find a nice view to watch the sun go down. I had heard the sunsets on Gili Air are awesome and I wasn’t disappointed, the colours were incredible and a couple of the hotels on the beach have installed swings for a good photo opportunity with the sun setting in the background... obviously, I had a go!

The next day, I booked on to a public boat to go snorkelling. It worked out at roughly £12 for the full day with snorkelling at 3 sites and seeing green sea turtles was advertised as being highly likely so with fingers crossed I might see one, I boarded the boat and we set off. The first site we would snorkel was a bit further out to sea and I jumped off the boat to see a huge coral beneath me and again so fortunate there were so many fish there and the coral was huge, it dropped away further into the ocean and the sea was so beautiful and clear. We were called back to the boat to move on to the next site which was around 15 minutes away. I jumped off the boat to find my snorkel was leaking so I went back to the boat, I had it swapped for another one and set off, I was so glad this happened, because I was at the back and everyone had already gone to follow the guide the guys on the boat shouted to tell me there was a turtle in the opposite direction so I set off swimming in the direction they were pointing when I put my face in the water, I was SO excited to see a green sea turtle a few metres away, I swam a little closer and it headed up to the surface right next to me, I was so close, I could’ve touched it, but I didn’t. I continued to watch the turtle eating from the sea bed and swimming around and then realised I was actually watching this all on my own, it was incredible. They way they move through the water is amazing given how much they struggle on land. I looked around and there was another one swimming underneath me. I was absolutely blown away! Swimming with turtles is something I have wanted to do for years and I’m so lucky to have been so close and without other people around. Just incredible.

We got back on to the boat and went to an island for lunch and stayed there for a little while before we went to our 3rd and final site. The boat took us to Gili Meno where there is an underwater sculpture depicting a circle of 48 life size figures standing together and curled up on the ground, over time it is expected to become covered in coral. The island is known for its turtle population and its ecosystem, the sculpture is made from a pH neutral, environmental-grade concrete and based on casts of real people. It was really busy but, I was amazed by the number of fish swimming around the sculpture, it was beautiful and also very peaceful in some ways. Whilst I was swimming there, a large tour group left leaving the area much quieter and great to swim around and some incredible photos.

After a fantastic day snorkelling, I returned to my hotel and got ready for dinner, I had barbequed baracuda with rice, sambal and salad sat by the sea. A great end to a great day on Gili Air.

The following day, it was time to leave Gili Air and head to Ubud for a few days to chill out in a hotel I’d booked and had been looking forward to going to since I left the UK in April. There are no vehicles allowed on Gili Air so transport is either pedal bike or horse and cart, I took a horse and cart to the harbour to catch the fast boat back to Sanur and pick up a transfer by road to Ubud, which is further north. Looking out to sea before I boarded the fast boat, I was quite happy as the sea looked really calm. I boarded the boat and we went on a short journey of around 20 minutes to another island before the 90 minute crossing to Sanur. Very quickly my assessment of the calm see was proven completely wrong! At some points I swear that boat was horizontal, it was lifting everyone out of their seats and there were plenty of people feeling sea sick. I have to say, I have never been so glad to get off a boat in my whole life! Off the boat, I headed to the office where I’d booked my road transfer to Ubud and met up with my driver. The drive was around 90 minutes as the traffic in to Ubud was really heavy, but, I eventually arrived at the Putana Boutique Hotel to check in for the next 3 nights. The arrival I received was lovely with welcome drink and a tour around the site, all of the staff were surprised I was staying on my own and kept asking me if my friend was coming to join or my husband! I didn’t understand why until they took me to my room, which turned out to be a huge villa! I stayed in the Shira Villa, which translated means Princess Villa. I walked through the gate and down the pathway to my garden and private pool, a decked area with a dining table and chairs and went through double doors into my room where there was a 4 poster bed and day bed, huge bath room with a free standing bath and an outdoor shower, a fruit bowl full of snake fruit, green oranges and bananas. I literally could not believe how beautiful this place was.

The following morning, I was woken up when the bed started shaking and the doors rattling... a small earthquake, just for a few seconds but enough to wake me up and wonder what on earth was going on! I had a floating breakfast which is served in the pool on a floating tray, it was so much fun even if the water was really quite cold and it’s not entirely practical trying to cut food which is floating in water!

After breakfast, I set off into Ubud for a walk round the shopping streets where there are branded stores alongside local craft shops, bars and restaurants. A word of warning for anyone thinking of visiting Ubud, there is currently a lot of construction taking place on the pavements and as a result you can be walking along happily and then there will be a HUGE hole in the ground - just be careful you don’t fall in!

After having lunch in an organic, eco friendlay cafe which was a curry packed with the most incredible flavours, I went to meet one of the women who had been on the Lombok tour with me and we visited Ubud Monkey Forest. I was a little unsure what to expect from the nominal entrance fee, I figured we’d be in there for 30 minutes and there would be nothing more to see, I was very wrong!

The village's residents view the Monkey Forest as an important spiritual, economic, educational, and conservation centre. Other than around 700 monkeys, you also can see 186 species of trees in 12.5 hectares of forest and many bridges, temples and statues around the site. You have to be careful of the monkeys roaming around as they do like to steal things, theyre particularly interested in plastic bags and what might be in them and also backpacks. We spent around an hour and a half walking around watching the monkeys and taking in the sights of the statues covered in moss and I generally found it a peaceful place to walk around. After we left, we popped in the bar across the road for a quick drink, walked around a few of the many silver jewellery stores and then said our goodbyes.

I spent another day chilling out in my villa and then moved on to Sanur for a couple of days before heading to the airport for my flight to Tokyo, via Kuala Lumpur.


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