Eventful, eye opening, amazing first week!

Time for blog post #3

It’s just a day short of a week of being in Bali and I have had an incredible time so far.

So Wednesday, I visited the salon/spa with my mum and we spent the whole day there being pampered, it was amazing. I had my hair coloured for the first time in the whole 20 years of my life (which was a massive deal as I was being a chicken about it and also liked the fact that I had “Virgin” hair) but I do love the results! Change is good and it was so nice to be pampered, definitely something that I don’t often get to indulge in back in the UK. I was so embarrassed to get my “Nurses” feet out, they are pretty battered from roaming the wards and answering patient’s bells but having them beautified was worth the shame haha. It’s crazy how the treatments were so cheap compared to prices at home. In total my bill came to 1.3 million rupiah, which is about £60ish, not bad for about £200 worth of pampering.

After dinner, I had a night out in Kuta with my brother, which was eventful and a night I really want to lock away, deep, deep down. Kuta has a busy night life that attracts many tourist, it’s nicknamed the Australians Magaluf. I’ve never visited Magaluf and it’s something that doesn’t really appeal to me but I can understand why it appeals to some. It started off well at the Hard Rock Cafe which was a nice upper end kinda place, then it just went down hill from there as I delved deeper into Kuta, I ended up in Sky Gardens. Never again. Although, I would recommend it if your idea of a good night out is to forget your own name. Anyway, I’m going to put it all down to experience and move on, swiftly. Although, I would like to add that in between Hard Rock and Sky Gardens, we stopped for a few drinks in one of the restaurants where there was a local duo playing live music, they were really talented. That’s what strikes me about this place, there is so much raw talent (plus they played all the songs I requested haha).

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The next day we headed to Kuta again, but this time to shop. Shop till we drop was the intention. I was battling a huge headache as you can imagine but managed to find the strength to get some goodies. Rule one and only rule of shopping at stalls and markets in Bali – DO NOT GET RIPPED OFF. Like me and my little sister did. Well mainly my little sister. We were greeted by two men at the entrance of a side street and we thought we’d have a look at the bits that they were selling. The place was packed with beautiful dresses, shorts, sunglasses, all of those nick naks that you find abroad for a really cheap price. I felt a bit wary as they were quite pushy and even kept asking Monkey what he wanted. Excuse me, I’m sure that’s my job. We picked out about 5 bits of clothing each and asked for a separate total. Before I had chance to work out the estimated price in British pound (so I had an idea if it was worth what they were asking), my little sister handed over her money which was 5 times more than what she should have paid. I spoke up and said that it wasn’t on and that I didn’t want the things anymore and tried to leave the market, we were followed all the way out and pestered as they still wanted my money, in the end I settled for 900k rupiah which was still over double what they should have really charged us. Completely annoyed and angry, I found my dad at the restaurant that he was “resting” and explained what had happened. Baring in mind that now my 13 year old sister has just handed over 3/4 of her entire holiday spending money to these pesky Del Boy’s I was pretty gutted for her. A woman on the table next to us suggested that we go and demand our money back with the threat of the police but dad suggested to just wait for our mum to sort things as she is Indonesian and knows what she’s doing, she’s also a fiery little lady. He also laughed at us because my sister alone has just paid him enough money to live and support his family for the month, for 5 pieces of clothing which would cost a few pounds to buy! Eventually, mother came to the restaurant and marched us back to the market. It’s quite a hilarious little scenario looking back. As soon as she got there, she demanded he refunded our money, in Indonesian, her words were “How dare you do this to my children”. The man handed over all the cash as we laid the things we bought from him on the table. We didn’t want to leave him with nothing so we paid a fair (but still “top dollar”) price for our goods because at the end of the day, tourism is a massive part of their lives and they will do anything to make money, as they have families to support and bills to pay. Which I can completely sympathise with but in the same breath, it’s unfair to rip people off. Especially as we felt pretty intimidated whist we were in his presence. If you can imagine, the market was in a side street and there must have been about 7 men in their individual little shops. Apparently, the key is to get the price down to as low as you can in Bali, start walking away and they will drop the price. Dad’s advice to us after was, always offer them 10% of what they ask for and settle for only 30%, if not leave it and move on. If only we knew before haha!

All that aside, I continued to shop in one of the shopping malls (which was legit) with my monkey for some new toys that he could play with at the Villa. He was in his element amongst all of the cars and and train sets. He spent his time playing with another little boy, they enjoyed the toys that were on display, it’s inspiring how children love to get along and learn a lot from interaction. After all of the shopping shenanigans at Kuta, we headed back for a quite evening at the Villa. Dad had some friends over and we enjoyed a chilled night.

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My mum flew to Jakarta early hours of Friday morning, she is mega mad about the newly elected president of Indonesia. She believes that he will give Indonesian’s a brighter, fairer future and we are all for that. I think there are talks about making education and health care free for all (taxes) which is what Indonesia really needs. In the UK we are incredibly blessed by our system. I think she’s attending some kind of political conference and gathering in Jakarta and is due back Monday afternoon.

I was planning on going with her on this Jakarta trip to meet some modelling agencies and have some test shoots which was arranged via one of her friends, they have been sending pictures of my previous work, back and forth, but I have decided against it and want to put that side of my life on hold whilst I continue with my nursing degree. Every one of my parent’s friends and local Indonesian’s that know us have suggested that I should try and break into the entertainment industry here, being mixed Indo and British, they think that the possibility of becoming successful in acting or modelling would be high. I, on the other hand, am a realist. Although I love modelling, performing, acting and singing, I just want a stable career that I enjoy, which will support myself and monkey for the rest of our lives. Which is nursing. I am absolutely, a million times certain that being a nurse, is what I’m destined to do. Maybe in a few years, after my degree, I could look into things here in Indonesia in regards of acting or modelling but it’s something that I’m not putting before my studies. As a little girl I did dream about one day entering the Miss World comps haha, then again, I also wanted to be an air hostess, a journalist, a mermaid and Britney Spears. I just hope the decision I’ve made to not attend these test shoots is a wise one. We’ll never know. On that note, I was contacted by a photographer and family friend from the UK who wanted to know if I was interested in a swimwear shoot whilst I’m in Bali as he has a friend who is looking for a model for their new business. We’ll see if that happens as I’m not feeling 100% in shape at this moment in time. My Bali Bikini bod diet/training went straight out the window when I reached my last placement of my nursing degree which finished the same week we flew out here. But if it made me happy, I ate it.

Friday day, we went to Uluwatu Temple! The place is breath taking and the monkeys are little rascals! My monkey really enjoyed it even though the heat was unbearable. You have to pay a small price to enter and be respectful as it is a place of worship. Sarongs were given to visitors who were wearing shorts or anything that left your legs uncovered, they were a beautiful shade of purple. My brother took the most amazing selfie with a monkey, everyone laughed as he took the risk to get up and personal to this little creature, everybody loves a selfie. You have to be really careful as these monkeys will try and steal your belongings! Sunglasses, hats, I’ve even read somewhere that a woman lost her pants to a monkey haha! Although you shouldn’t believe everything you read online. A part of me thinks that these monkeys are trained to steal bits and bobs from tourists as you can only really get them back from the people who work there but at a small price. The Balinese believe that Uluwatu is the gateway to heaven, legend says that your soul flys over Uluwatu once you pass away. It’s a humbling thought. I left feeling refreshed.

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Friday night and Saturday day was really chilled, we just spent time by the pool at the villa and ate more local delicacies that I’ve missed so much.

Saturday night I met up with my school/childhood friends who I haven’t seen in 12 years but have kept in contact via Facebook over the last few years. They are probably the coolest people I know. And I can say that after meeting up with them again for one night! I felt so nervous on the drive there. I was just chatting away to our driver (Wayan, who I will be spending a lot of my solo outing journeys with) about the differences of life in the UK and Indonesia. He drops me to places and waits until I finish and takes me home again, which annoys me a little bit because I just want him to join me on the fun! It was pretty heartbreaking listening to him actually. We take a lot of things for granted at home which people here would absolutely die for the opportunity to have. It was nice to talk to such a hard working person, like the majority of Indonesians here. If you don’t work, you have 0 income, although if you do work, mostly, you get paid very little. He told me that the average monthly wage is 1.2 Million Rupiah, which is basically what I spent at the salon on Wednesday. £60. I felt ashamed. His wife is a school teacher, and that is her wage! He was astonished when I told him that teachers in the UK are paid £2000ish a month.

I met my friends in Seminyak which is lush! Such a massive contrast between Seminyak and Kuta. It has such a chilled party vibe. Two of my friends were playing in a band at one of the restaurants, Mantra, we met up there. It was a strange but nice feeling to see them again and hear about how much life has changed for us all. It was a lot to take in. They are all also mixed Indo and European. We all went to an International school in Sanur which had a high tuition fee and mainly educated children of mixed English speaking backgrounds. A few are studying in Europe but based in Bali so they’ve lived the island life here.

The music played was really chilled, it had a soft reggae element to it. We planned a few days out and a bigger night out too. We are going to attend a “tropical music festival” at The Potato Head Beach Club, there are a few big UK names that are headlining so I’m very exited for that! We checked out the beach club briefly so that I could have a feel of what the place was like. It is amazing! Such a beautiful venue. I really enjoyed my first night reunited with my old friends and looking forward to more dates that we have planned. It’s funny as I never realised how British my accent was until last night. They all have an American twang to their English language, which is probably going to rub off on me after a few more friend dates haha. My Indonesian is coming back to me too! Which I’m very pleased about.

Today was spent at the beach with my family. We had an amazing time! I’m really quite black now! The water is so warm and the surroundings are beautiful. Food was amazing as per! I think my monkey needs a new nickname, maybe fish? He’s never out of the pool or sea!

Tomorrow is a big day for me and I don’t think I will get much sleep tonight. Not like I’ve had much sleep any night in the last 3-4 years haha!

If you’ve got this far into my post, thank you for your time! Hope you’ve enjoyed it. I’m so happy with the positive feedback I’ve received and my blog has had over 1000 views now!

Spreading the Bali love x x x

P.s. I really would love homemade a roast beef dinner with Yorkshire puddings and mint sauce right now!

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I am home!

I think it’s time for the second post for my Bali blog. Where do I even start?!

I’m not going to bore you too much with the details of the airport nightmares and mammoth flight but there’s a few things I would like to share so I’m going to bore you with them anyway!

1. If you’re travelling with your child and he/she has a different surname to you and you’re not travelling with both parents then please ensure you take their birth certificate! As I spent the first few hours at Heathrow airport panicking and having a complete BF (bitch fit) because I didn’t bring monkey’s. They were saying that immigration at Bali would send us on a flight back home if we arrived there and questioned us! No body has ever mentioned that I would need to take along supporting documents so I was clueless. However as annoyed as I felt because the probability of Monkey and I joining our family on holiday was touch and go, I understood that these things need to be done because there are so many concerns regarding travelling with children and a big one in this part of the world is child sex trafficking, it actually happens in the real world, as much as we do not like to think about it in our day to day bubbles. Cutting the long story short, I made a few phone calls and one of my lovely friends, drove to my place to fish out Alfie’s birth certificate from my REALLY tidy and organised cabinet (slight sarcasm there) and fax it to the airline. Along with that, I pestered Monkey’s dad to scan through a “letter of consent” to be on the even safer side. With 5 minutes before check in was due to close (we were originally the first people to check in) we managed to receive what we needed. Monkey and I were escorted to the gate. I told my family to go ahead, luckily we were reunited! And off we went woooooooo! *Big sigh of relief*

2. Cathy Pacific are brilliant! What a lovely airline. The flight attendants were absolutely beautiful! The plane food wasn’t too bad either and the G&T’s went down nicely while monkey was asleep.

3. Monkey’s behaviour was very impressive! He was completely thrilled to be on the plane and he had the window seat which added to his excitement!

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4. It is a long ass journey to Indonesia! We arrived in Hong Kong after 12 hours, we waited for about 4 hours to get onto our flight to Bali which was another 5 hours! It is soul destroying.

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While we flew over Indonesia, I was speechless, bluest skies I have ever seen and the majority of the land was covered by mystical rainforest. Flying to the other side of the world really put things into perspective. Gave me a sense of insignificance and reminder me that there is so much more out there than just what goes on in our own little bubble. Especially as I thought about the terrible things that are happening on this planet and the fact that we can happily sit on a plane, in our houses, in our cars and ignore all this, which isn’t human? However, the least we can do is count our blessings. We can’t take things for granted and when we can make small differences, we should.

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The closer and closer we came to Bali, the more butterflies I felt in my stomach. This is really it. As we landed, my eyes welled up, my smile broadened and I looked over to my dad. Touchdown, I am home!

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Absolutely exhausted and a little stressed, we arrive to be faced with humongous queues to pay for our Visa’s, go through immigration and security. Anybody who has travelled to the airport in Bali would know the pain of the slow system they have in place. Whoever is in charge of the logistics needs to really rethink the whole thing! So if you are travelling to Bali or thinking about it, BEWARE. My sister and mum basically walked straight out as they are citizens of Indonesia and have an Indonesia passport. Dad, Alfie & I had to brace the pain. No questions were asked about my parental rights to my monkey at immigration by the way!

We were greeted on the other side by my mums family! It was lovely to see them and they were absolutely thrilled to see us. It has been over a decade since they have seen me and my siblings!

The heat and humidity hit me like a ton of bricks. The traffic in Bali is mental! I will elaborate in my next blog entry as I have so much to say and I feel this one is already really long winded and I apologise for that.

We set off to our Villa where we claimed our rooms and jumped into our swimming attire. After all of that travelling, swimming underneath the stars was the most amazing way to unwind! The swimming pool and garden is gorgeous and the Villa is a perfect size for the 6 of us. We are staying in Jimbaran which is south of the island. We had some beautiful street food, caught up with our Indonesian relatives and headed for an early-ish night.

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This morning we set off to change our British Pound for Indonesian Rupiah. The currency is mind boggling. It’s best to shop around when it comes to changing money here as it really differs from place to place. Things are in thousands which just completely throws me. For example, buying shampoo was 23,000 rupiah.

We had lunch in Kuta. Kuta is a busy tourist area and the streets are filled with restaurants and stalls. It’s every Del Boy’s dream, you are bombarded by “sales men” trying to flog their bits and bobs. Some of the things are actually pretty cool and we shall be heading back there for goodies this week. It’s crazy because as long as it has been, I can remember a lot of these places and as we drive around, the people really fascinate me. The Balinese are so friendly and everyone always seems to be smiling (unless you are driving or the man in my next set of pictures, I promise he was smiling before the photo was taken, he was one of the Del Boy’s!)

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This evening, we dined at Jimbaran Bay, the seafood here is out of this world, it’s something that has never left my memory. We had plates of fresh lobster, red snapper and king prawns whilst sitting on the beach lit with candles and lanterns. The whole strip was jammed packed with holiday makers who are attracted by the cheap prices. £60ish fed 7 of us! My brother’s dad joined us for dinner, it was really nice to see them reunited! The language barrier didn’t stop them catching up on what they have missed, I was so pleased for them both! Monkey LOVES lobster! “More lobster mummy!”. Hope he’s not expecting me to feed him lobster in the UK haha!

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It feels like I have been here forever already. I don’t wanna say it already but I don’t want to leave, ever

I’m really looking forward to a pamper morning with mum tomorrow at the spa and salon! Now for some rest, jet lag still has the better of me so this entry has kept me entertained whist Monkey has been sleeping, he seems to have adjusted to it really well. Again, I apologise for this super long winded entry! If you’ve made it to here, thank you, I appreciate your time! I’m having an incredible time!!!

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Wide awake

Terribly excited!
Terribly excited!

So this is it.

I cannot sleep. In exactly 12 hours I should be in the air, on route to Bali. The excitement is unexplainable. I am finally heading back to my birthplace for the first time, after my family left for the UK in 2002. Now, 12 years later, I can finally say that I’m going home!

I’m looking forward to the 23 days we have ahead of us in paradise as a family! Dad, mum, my brother, my little sister, my monkey and I – like many families, what a rarity it is to all be together at the same time, for such a long time. I absolutely treasure my dad and I am really thankful that he is treating us to this trip. 60 years old and still putting 60 hours of work in a week!

My brother arrived in Bali yesterday morning, he left a few days earlier as he would like to be home earlier, in time for Reading Festival. I can’t imagine how nervous he would have been feeling to be travelling solo. Then again, it’s not all bad, he uploaded a picture of himself by the poolside this morning, which naturally added to our excitement!

We started our journey from Plymouth at 12 yesterday afternoon. After about 20 minutes into driving to Reading (our first stop), dad realised that there was something not quite right with the exhaust of his car. So an unscheduled trip to the garage was in order! Not all doom and gloom as we just basked in the British sunshine playing catch with my 3 year old son’s toy octopus “Mr Harry Skinny Legs” haha. After the new part was fitted, it was take two.

We arrived at our hotel and settled in, I say settled in, what I really mean is, I spent most of the evening re-packing my suit case as I most definitely over indulged in buying holiday clothes for me and the monkey. I had to make some sacrifices.

Now, I am wide awake. So this is the reason why, I’ve decided to create a blog. Also, I’ve always liked the idea, an electronic diary that you can share with like minded individuals! This first post is pretty rusty and I hope that my blogging “skills” improve over the next 3+ weeks. 6:30am start tomorrow as the plane leaves at midday, I feel like a flight virgin again as I haven’t left the UK in so long! I have faith that my monkey will be well behaved on our mammoth travel (18+ hours in the air overall). He has such a good grasp about this trip, he plans to “play with cars in the sand and see the monkeys”.

This holiday is much more than just relaxing, enjoying the sun and the beautiful views. I have the opportunity to visit the places I grew up, my first school, meet with old friends, relive the culture and most importantly, I hope to have some big questions answered.

Bring on the adventures.

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After 12 years living in the UK, I head back to my birthplace.