The 15th September marked my sixth month away from home. Today I fly to Australia.
Following the Rinjani climb, I spent a day in Kuta Lombok to relax sore muscles and replenish my body with plenty of food. The scattered Warungs definitely did the job, where plentiful food is picked from a transparent cabinet and added your dish of rice. Plastic chairs rest against wooden tables. Cars lumber by and scooters nip around with their high pitched buzz.
After one quiet night, I was heading off to my next stop, Mataram. Mataram is the largest city in Lombok, but that isn’t saying much. Buildings don’t often rise above the roofs of houses, with the exception of a prominent mosque, where tall colourful towers extend upwards and a gold and green patterned dome rises in the centre. I was only in Mataram to extend my Indonesian visa, and after 8 hours sitting in the immigration office, I was free to travel for another 30 days (although I would only be staying a further 10). The next day, I headed north to the town of Senggigi, where I enjoyed some solitude before the journey back to Bali.
There’s only one place in Bali that I really wanted to go to. The town that was as close to a home that I had found since beginning my adventure, Canggu. By the time I left, I had spent almost three weeks there (which felt like a lifetime in travelling terms). I settled back into my routine of surfing in the morning, street food for lunch and time spent in my favourite cafe reading in the afternoon. Evenings were spent meeting and eating with other backpackers, exchanging jokes and stories of travels.
One morning, in contrast to lazy-Bali mood that I normally enjoyed in Canggu, I decided to explore the west side of Bali further, and rode up the coast with a British backpacker called Joey. The well kept tarmac rolled up and down hills, through forests and past fields. Within towns and smaller settlements, intricately carved stone walls line the streets, with only a handful of small shops and fuel stops along the way. Next to the roads are Penjor, which are tall Bamboo poles arching over the traffic due to their height. Each are ornately decorated for upcoming religious festivals, and dozens queue along certain roads to form a guiding corridor besides the rice fields.
Through rain and sun we followed the coastline, before deciding to take a stop at the famous rock formation and pilgrimage site, Tanah Lot. Upon arrival, we were greeted by an entry fee of 30,000 Rupiah. Although equivalent to under £2, our backpacker mindsets were frustrated by the idea of paying for the view. So, we inspected a map of the area to see that the a nearby 5 star resort and golf course would produce a similarly impressive view of the site. So with a confident mindset, we approached the guards and told them we were here to use the Spa facilities in the hotel. Although suspicious of our clearly not so 5 star appearances, they let us through with a friendly wave and we were in the site. Suddenly, we found ourselves in a beautiful complex with swimming pools and grassy plains overlooking the crashing waves onto rocks below. We walked along the private coastline towards Tanah Lot, and even managed to find a path from the resort down to the site itself, where we could absorb the island for free. The best things in life generally are free (even when they shouldn’t be).
I enjoyed my 6 month anniversary of travel with fresh coconuts and playing American football on the beach with other travellers from my hostel. Over the next few days I reflected on my time in Asia, and then started to imagine my next few months in Oceania. I’m sure they will be a world apart in many respects, from culture and history through to the people and wildlife (not to mention the price tag). But as always, onwards and upwards (to the land down under).