The flight to Surabaya was delayed about one and a half hours and when we arrived we were held on the plane for 20 minutes because of a violent electric storm immediately overhead. Eventually we were allowed off and got drenched in-between the airplane steps and the shuttle bus to the terminal. The ride to the terminal was enlivened by more people taking photos of Mark and coming to shake his hand. Outside the airport we were met by our new guide Faisal and his driver. Continue reading Surabaya to Mount Bromo
Our flight from Bali to Yogyakarta was uneventful and we were met at the airport by our local guide Kodar and his driver Anton who whisked us of to our hotel, The Phoenix a colonial, heritage oasis in a hectic city. We were served drinks and sweet cakes and pastries while we checked in and then shown to our room overlooking the pool. That evening we ate in the hotels courtyard restaurant which proved to be very good and very cheap! I’m sure if we had gone out to a local restaurant it would have been even cheaper but how could we resist 5* luxury and food at £5 for a main course? We decided to order a Phoenix Sling, their version of the gin sling, the house cocktail (£6), to our surprise the bar tender was despatched to our table where she set up a temporary bar to mix the drinks in front of us, so we got a floor show with the cocktail – bargain! The food was excellent and we rounded of the meal with a scoop of coffee ice cream (me) and a sample selection of seven deserts (Mark). Yogya was looking good. Continue reading Yogyakarta, Central Java
Next stop on out tour of Bali was Ubud inland from the capital Denpesar. Agung picked us up from the hotel in Sanur and provided a running commentary for the journey to Ubud he told us a lot about Balinese society and tradition which was very interesting. Ubud is described as the cultural centre of Bali and, although the town itself is very much focused on the tourist and back packer trade the villages around it are fascinating. Each village seems to have a speciality. We stopped at one which is famous for weaving and batik printing, we saw women creating intricately patterned fabrics on simple wooden looms and others applying wax to fabric prior to dying to create ‘printed’ patterns. Other villages we passed through specialised in woodcarving and stone masonry, all along the roads there were open workshops where we could see men at work and great stock piles of wooden sculptures and concrete and stone statues and architectural decorations. When we arrived in Ubud we checked into the Tepi Sawah hotel just outside the town, it was another small, locally owned hotel oozing with Balinese style. The rooms were located in fairly modern two story blocks situated in lush tropical gardens with paths winding through them to the restaurant, spa and two swimming pools. Our room was on the top floor with a large balcony over-looking the garden and, hidden within it, a rice field. We dropped of our bags and went for a swim, before we knew it it was time for complimentary afternoon tea served in the small restaurant by the pool – very civilised. We also had dinner in that restaurant before heading to bed to catch up after our late night on New Year’s Eve. Continue reading Ubud
We flew from Adelaide to Alice Springs and then straight on to Ayres Rock, a bus took us to the Desert Gardens Hotel part of the Ayres Rock Resort. There is no town of any sort near the Kata Tjuta and Uluru National Park, just an airport and the resort which have been built to serve the thousands of tourists that visit every year. The resort has two hotels, apartments and a campsite and a ‘town square’ with a bank, café, supermarket and souvenir shop. There is a very efficient system of buses and mini buses which link the different parts of the resort and ferry visitors on an extensive range of excursions into the desert. As we drove from the airport we were surprised how green everywhere looked, we had expected parched red dirt, apparently after 11 years of drought there has been a very wet winter here and there was unseasonal heavy rain last week (72mm in 36 hours in some places) so the desert has burst to life, this is a very rare site so we are lucky to have timed our visit to coincide. One guide told us that when it rains hard waterfalls run from the top of Uluru, one of her colleagues had seen this happen four times in fifteen years, she has seen it eight times in six months.
The Great Ocean Road runs along the south coast from Geelong, south of Melbourne towards Adelaide, the total journey between the two cities is just over 1000km and the Great Ocean Road (GOR) extends for about half of it. The road is famous as a scenic route and in particular for a stretch of limestone coast with a series of rock formations known as the Twelve Apostles, although thanks to continuing erosion there are only nine now! Continue reading Great Ocean Road