escaping cebu

Posted in Uncategorized by moonwire on October 3, 2009

After two days of Iloilo, I was ready to move onto Cebu. Definitely hoping for a better experience. Well, the moment I left my hotel, I already had some street kid lunging at me. And that pretty much set the tone of the day.

When I arrived in Cebu, I took a taxi to my hotel and while the car stopped, another street kid tried to open the door, which I had wisely locked. A few minutes later, I saw a guy sitting on the sidewalk, only wearing a dirty t-shirt, no pants.

My hotel was nice enough and in the afternoon I decided to go to the mall. I had thrown out the clothes I was wearing in Manila wading through the flooded streets and I needed a few new things. On the 10 minute walk to the mall, I already got grabbed twice. Then when I got out of the shopping centre, I actually had some guy trying to grab my bag. I went to my hotel room, had a good cry and booked a flight out to Bangkok for Saturday, not thinking about the typhoon that was going to hit Manila that very same day (luckily it didn’t).

By this time I was in a state of panic. I did not want to be in Cebu any longer and I did not want to get stuck at the Manila airport, either. Luckily, there was a direct flight for the next afternoon to Singapore. I booked it immediately.

When I arrived in Singapore i felt such a great sense of relief. Back in civilisation. I took the train to my hostel in the North East part of town and at night I walked around and just marveled how nice it was. Outdoor restaurants with people eating curry and noodles, cars stopping at traffic lights, people being nice and well behaved. I did not get hassled once.

Unfortunately, in Cebu I noticed that my beloved ricoh GRD camera had a jammed lens. Not that I wanted to take photos there, but now I wasn’t able to shoot digital at all. Luckily, Singapore is electronics heaven and the next morning I went into town and bought a ricoh GRD III.

Then it was time to fly to Bangkok. I have 6 days here as I need to be in Singapore again on Saturday to meet my sister. The curious part of me wants to explore the area around Bangkok but the exhausted part of me just wants to relax, have a good time and save my energy for my next adventure, which will be Vietnam. I have been in 7 cities in 9 days… the exhausted part might just win this time.

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bye bye indonesia, hello australia

Posted in Uncategorized by moonwire on June 11, 2009

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about traveling so far is try not to do many things in one day. Being on a boat or on a bus might seem relaxing, but it isn’t always like that. My trip from Bali to the Gili’s was relaxing, so I decided to do a similar thing for the way back.

So, on Thursday morning, I got up at 5 am, left my gecko bungalow at 6 am to catch the sunrise while waiting for my boat to arrive. I was a bit paranoid it wouldn’t show up as Gili Meno was so deserted, but low and behold, it showed up at 6.45. When I say ‘boat’ you must imagine a tiny little motorboat. There’s no pier, so you wade through the water to get in and out.

My first stop was Bangsal, on Lombok’s mainland. Bangsal was not nearly as bad as I had heard it would be. Yes, it was run down, yes, there were some touts, but I got out with fairly little hassle, other than wading up to my thighs through the water, carrying my backpack, but that has become standard practice.

From Bangsal  harbour, it took me about a 15 minute walk to the bus station. The idea was to take the bus to Senggigi, which is only an 18 km ride. Well, the 18 km ride took about 45 minutes. Everything just takes forever. Traffic, winding roads along the cliffs… but the view was stunning. My initial plan also included some time on Lombok’s main land, but I loved Gili Meno so much that I didn’t feel like leaving til I really had to.

In Senggigi I got onto a tiny motor boat once again, which brought me to the bigger Perama boat, which couldn’t dock in Senggigi’s harbour. Climb in, climb out. At least when it comes to Perama, they take care of your luggage so you won’t  have to haul it back and forth. Though I only carry a 32L backpack which weighs about 14 pounds, when it’s really hot and humid, it really wears you out quickly.

The ride back to Bali (4.5 hours) was nice, but the sun was very hot and strong. I think I stayed in the sun just a bit too long (wearing a bandana on my head, mind you). When I got onto the bus in Padangbai, I started to feel a bit nauseous, which only got worse when I arrived in Kuta, the Seventh Circle of Hell. I cannot understand why anybody would want to stay there. So hectic, such narrow streets full with motorbikes with surfboards attached to them . Sheer craziness. The only reason why I was there because that’s where the bus stopped, and it’s super quick and easy to get to the airport. Ngurah Rai airport is listed as ‘Denpasar’ but in fact, the airport is not in Denpasar at all; it’s in Kuta and it’s only about a 10 minute ride.

The madness in Kuta was so bad that I could not take it anymore. I was exhausted, moody and dizzy so I decided to get to the airport early in hopes of finding a bit of peace. And I did. Ngurah Rai is surprisingly comfy. I just chilled out outside with a few sports drinks, which made me feel instantly better. I took a shower and changed and just chilled out while waiting for my flight to Darwin.

Going through security was something I had never seen before, other than in Tel Aviv. My bag got x-rayed 3 times, searched twice, was tested for explosives and I got the ‘pat down’.

First I took a flight to Darwin, then I had a five hour lay-over there. Nothing to do there. Tiny terminal with 11 dollar sandwiches (got a bit of a shock there as I spent less than that on food a day in Indonesia). I was so tired. I crashed on a little couch and slept for a few hours before catching my (packed) flight to Melbourne, where after traveling for 30 hours, I arrived at 1 pm.

Sorry,  no photos. I might have some later.

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