The rain continued on the 12th March when we arrived at Pondok Bambu in Candi Dasa. It was easy to relax at the property just watching the waves crashing over the breakwater in front of us with the island of Nusa Penida in the background and the east coastline of Bali to the right.
The only drawback in Candi Dasa was if we left the hotel which was located on the main road which also ran through the middle of town with a constant stream of trucks and vehicles thunderering up and down especially in the morning and evening.
There were very few tourists in town and instead of being asked if we wanted a taxi every few metres we were occasionally asked it we wanted “sailing in a boat”.
We found goods and services like massages and clothing quite cheap in Candi Dasa with a good hour’s massage costing the equivalent of $7.
Pondok Bambu is owned by a very personable middle aged Dutchman “Gerco Scheeper” a former marine who won 6 million euros in the lottery in 2000 and who came to Candidasa and purchased the property and who had since built himself a house in the jungle and a large restaurant across the road called the “Crazy Kangaroo” in memory of an Aussie friend who had died. They have a very professional dive outfit and specially built boat for such trips.
The property is right over the water and such a relaxing spot especially as there were only four other rooms occupied. We were joined by friends Robert and Gay from Sydney and we relaxed, swam in the sea and pool and took a 20 minute boat ride down to the “white beach” where we swam in crystal clear water and had fresh fish for lunch and lazed by the ocean. We were also lucky enough to see a pod of dolphins on the way there. Ketut who has taken us a few times before in his boat charged us approx $40 for the trip and waited for us for four hours and then took us back to our hotel.
We visited some of our favourite restaurants – Vincents and a little family run “Warung Boni” set amongst the banana trees and on the edge of the hill.

We were told about an upcoming cremation ceremony near Bug Bug village about five kilometres from Candidasa so Gay and I ventured off with a driver to see some of the ceremony. When we arrived at about 3pm there were hundered of men, women and children all dressed in traditional costumes and sitting around chatting. Some children were gambling, playing a roulette type of game and some of the women were finishing off the very decorative fruit offerings. We were told that the actual ceremony would only start at 6pm and finish about 3am the next day so we decided to leave after about an hour but just as the car got from the parking area to the road, the temple police stopped us and said that the main procession was making it’s way down from the village to the temple and we would have to wait for half an hour. There must have been about five thousand people in this procession which we watched from the side of the road with many people carrying offerings and some men carrying huge bamboo boxes also full of offerings. Others were leading calves on ropes along the road. It took nearly an hour for the procession to reach past us towards the temple and we could then leave to go back to Candidasa.
The people came from all over Bali back to their village for this important cremation ceremony. They never seemed to mind foreigners watching or even taking part as we saw a few westerners in traditional dress bearing offerings. There was also a bit of a fair atmosphere with stalls selling clothing, watches, food and live birds and bunnies.

On the 18th March the four of us caught the fast boat (an hour and a half) to Gili Trawangan, the largest of the Gili islands off the coast of Lombok. We decided after two days there that although the “Pearl Lounge” was an excellent place to lounge and eat, we would not be going back there. It is definately a backpacker’s paradise with booming music every night.

They did however have the best pizza at “Pizzeria Regina” (just like a real Italian one – not thin and crispy!). We saw Robert and Gay off and left the following morning on the public fast boat (85,000 rupiah) to Gili Air where we were welcomed back at “Chill out bungalows” by English Vinny and his Indonesian wife Suzi. The harbour is just a bit far to walk with bags so we were scalped for $10 for a 5 minute “cidomo” horse and cart ride but the rest of the two weeks we went for walks around the island which was very relaxing given that there are no motorbikes or cars allowed except for the odd electric motorbike and some of the drivers appeared to be about five years old.
We had two very relaxing weeks swimming in the crystal clear water, walking every morning and doing yoga nearly every day.
There were so many fish of every colour which could be seen very close to the shore. Some days we walked around the island and saw very few people which made a pleasant change from Bali and Gili Trawangan.
The beach was set up every night with tables and chairs so we sat listeneing to the water lapping on the shore while we ate our dinner with a pleasant breeze blowing every evening. It was hot and humid during the day but we could just take a dip if we felt hot.
We watched more TV than we had in the last three years since starting our adventure and we saw some interesting films and a particularly good English series “The Bletchley Circle”.

The “Chill Out” bungalows was such good value for money. They served a three course breakfast (if you wanted it all) with some or all of the following for breakfast – a choice of fresh fruit juice, tea or coffee, fruit and yoghurt,pancake with honey, eggs and toast all for $8. There was a choice of about eight types of fresh fish every night. I had BBQ’d barracuda one night which was very tasty but the chargrilled tuna and vegetable kebabs we ate nearly every night were just delicious.

They were on a large skewer and came with some salad, more vegetables and either chips, baked potato or rice and choice of four sauces for $5.
We reluctantly left the island to Gili Trawangan and then caught the fast ferry back to Bali for a few days to collect the rest of our luggage and do last minute essential shopping and go to some of our favourite restauants before heading to Cambodia on the 7th April.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.