Monday, 21 November 2011

Stayed in Bali another few days

11th - 17th November 2011

So I decided to stay a bit longer, been faffing around with immigration a lot, had two days of feeling rough and it rained a lot so wanted to stay and do some more surfing really! :P

Had planned to explore more of Bali but the beach and the good surfing sucked me in and that's pretty much all Ive done for the whole time, will explore Bali more when I come back to Indonesia next time!

Haven't surfed for a very long time and its so cheap to rent a board here, the waves are great, and the water is really warm.. easy to spend all day in the water without realising it. Board hire for a day is just a couple of quid depending where you go, so its cheap as nuts. Get up, have breakfast, walk a couple of mins to the beach, pick up surfboard on the way, good times.

PhotobucketWhen I was in India I met Tegan and Michael who are Australian, we've stayed in touch and I plan to catch up with them when I get to Australia.  Tegan told me her mum Helen is in Bali so I went to meet her on Legian beach and we went for a meal which was cool as my English friends from my hostel had all flown to Thailand that day. On my last night in Bali we went to Jimbaren bay for a meal in an amazing seafood restaurant, Helen knows the owners and we got a 40% discount! woohoo.

Here are some pics I took in Bali.


PhotobucketOne night I was walking along Poppies lane when I met this guy called Rafi who was playing a Ukulele outside his music shop. I walked past looking for somewhere to eat but stopped and turned back to chat to him. Ended up sitting there with him for about and hour and a half, he showed me how to play a song on the Ukulele :) He actually made this Ukulele himself, hand carved it and built the whole thing from scratch, I think its pretty cool. Got a vid of him playing it too.

Visa extension fun, part 5

10th November 2011

I probably shouldn't say too much about what happened next, but lets just say money talks in Indonesia.. for some reason I suddenly got an express service and I have my passport back with visa extended for 30 days. It cost a bit but was cheaper than flying back to Balikpapan again!


Monday, 14 November 2011

Visa extension fun, part 4

7th November 2011

Went back to see my friends at the immigration office at 8am, paperwork in hand.

The officer at the information desk checked over all the documents and informed me that the paperwork was all there and was ok.. except for one thing.. My sponsor needs to be a resident of Bali!! AWESOME! 2 days before visa expiry.. thanks for letting me know. Makasih (thankyou), I said, as I left the desk.

Back on the phone to Mada in Balikpapan, I explained my predicament. He said he has a friend in Bali who may be willing to help me. He called me back later and I arranged to meet his friend tomorrow.


6th November 2011

Hired a surf board and went surfing for most of the day on Kuta beach, great fun. Got a bit sunburned though! :P

Got pulled over by the police on my moped today. I was on my way to the beach and had only enough for a drink or two i my pocket, 18,000 rupiah (just over 1 pound). As I drove around a corner I saw a group of police officers pulling people over. One of them waved me over and then checked the documents for the bike which were all in order, he then asked for my international driving license and I replied with "I forgot it". He took me to one side and told me he wanted 200,000 rupiah (about 14 pounds) and I told him all I had was my keys and 18,000 rupiah in my pocket.. he searched all my pockets before finally taking the 18,000, he then tutted a few times and sent me on my way.  I know pretty much all of them are corrupt but I certainly felt my sphincter tighten when he pulled me over!

Today the letter from Mada with all the documents for my visa extension arrived, woohoo. I finished filling out the forms and made sure everything was ready for tomorrow morning.

Move to cheapsville

5th November 2011

Got a text at around 5am from Bu Indra asking if I was ok because she had seen on the news that there had been an earthquake.. Noone in the hotel mentioned anything and everything outside was carrying on as normal. Weird. Not sure where the epicentre was.

Had to check out at 10am. Had one other hostel to look at before I went back to Dua Dara because they didnt have any rooms yesterday for me to look at. When I got there the room stank and didnt look too secure so I went back down the road to Dua Dara and checked in.

I met a group of 9 other backpackers at the pool later on, they had just arrived from Australia where they had been for the last year.  Their visa's had expired so they decided to fly to Bali for a few days on their way to Thailand.

Visa extension fun, part 3

4th November 2011

I got up early, jumped on my moped and went straight to the immigration office for 8am. I waited a while and spoke to the officer on the information desk who looked at my visa and then generated a list of documents I would need to provide to get the visa extension. Due to the type of visa amongst the list was a letter from my sponsor in Balikpapan and a copy of their ID. Great, its like reapplying for the visa. I thought back to when I was in the immigration office in Balikpapan, across the road from where my sponsor works.. and wondered.. why didn't I ask more questions about the process?

All was not lost, I spoke to Mada in Balikpapan, emailed him the list of things I needed and he would post them to me at the hostel which I had not moved in to yet.

I spent the rest of the day looking around dirt cheap, filthy smelly hostels looking for one that I felt I could actually sleep in! I found a place called Dua Dara, 10 mins walk from the beach, the room is clean 'enough', quite big, and has a swimming pool, and it costs under 7 pounds a night. So I thought I might move in there tomorrow.


I crashed at the hotel later, around 10pm. I was laying on the bed at around 10:25 when everything started moving, it was a strange sensation and the only thing I could think was that it must be an earthquake! The movement stopped after about 20 seconds and I just fell asleep.

Visa extension fun, part 2

3rd November 2011

As soon as I got off the plane I went to the immigration office in Bali which is conveniently located on the same road as the airport. I had arrived during their lunch break at 12:30 so I waited there until 1pm. Upon their return I enquired about a visa extension, the response to my question came in the form an officer pointing at a sign which read "Visa extensions, 8am - 12pm daily". I chose not to thank the officer for his gesture and went to my hotel.

Flew to Bali

3rd November 2011

Had to get up at 5 to get the flight at 6:40. Said sampai jumpa lagi (until we meet again) to Bu Indra and Pak Surachmad who dropped me at the airport, had said my goodbye's to the rest of the family the day before. I'm excited to continue my travels but also sad to leave, I've had such a great time with them and they have taught me some useful Indonesian language, showed me some great places and introduced me to some awesome food! Will miss the crazy Indonesian kids at the BIEC too!

Here are some pics I took as we flew over Bali at around lunchtime.


I'd booked the first 2 nights at Tune hotel in Kuta which is really cheap for a hotel, about 10 pounds a night for a very small clean room with comfy bed, a fan and a hot shower. I planned to find a cheap hostel to move into while I stayed there.

I chose to check out the beaches and try some of the local cuisine today as I was tired from an early morning. This place is full of westerners!

Also I hired a moped for a few days, which I got a good price on after the guy (Nuri) was impressed by my use of Indonesian language :) He couldn't believe I'd only been learning for about 2 months and I used it as a bargaining tool.

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Visa extension fun, part 1

2nd November 2011

My visa expires on the 9th of November, so I'd been to the immigration office in Balikpapan a few weeks ago and asked about extending it by 30 days. They said it will be extended for 30 days from when you apply for the extension so its best to do it on or near the date of expiry.

I wanted to extend my visa today so it covers me for the rest of my time in Indonesia and I can continue my travels without worrying about having to extend it. Maybe I should have a) asked more questions and b) not left it til the day before my flight to Bali but when I got to the immigration office they told me it will take at least two days for the process to complete. I explained that my flight to Bali would be in the morning and he said that I could extend my visa in Bali. So that seemed like the best thing to do.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Orangutans rock!

31st October 2011

Finally managed to go to the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation Orangutan sanctuary today. Mada and I went early in the morning and arrived there at 8:30am. The sanctuary, Samboja lodge, is deep in a forest owned by BOSF. When you turn off the main road you have to follow a road little more than a bumpy track, god knows how we managed it in the Kijang, you need a 4x4 really. If it was wet we would have got stuck at some point. Didn't help that we went straight past the sanctuary and on to the BOSF office further along the road!

They have over 250 Orangutans and over 50 sun bears there. We arrived at the eco lodge hotel where you can stay in a room overlooking the forest if you like. Its a really nice hotel too. We went up to the top and looked out over the forest for a while. After a drink we went to look for Orangutans.


PhotobucketThe Orangutans you can actually see are on two islands near the eco lodge. While we were there one of the islands had about 10 sick Orangutans on it - all of which had hepatitis B, somehow transmitted from humans who had taken them from their natural habitat for pets, they are not curable so will never be released back into the wild. The second island is a home for the Orangutans who will soon be released back into the wild. They are kind of rehabilitated at the sanctuary, and even go to school to brush up on how to live in the wild again.

PhotobucketYou cant go on the islands, you can just walk around the perimeter at the opposite side of the river, and you cannot go around the second island where the Orangutans about to be released live because they are trying to reduce their human interaction as much as possible.

One of the staff told us that the depth of the river has to be carefully monitored to ensure the Orangutans cant get off the island. The Orangutans cannot swim but they are clever and use sticks to measure the depth of the water, if its not too deep then they will cross it by walking and just keeping their head above the water. :P

PhotobucketWe saw about 8 of the 10 Orangutans on the island. One of them spent the whole time at the top of a really tall tree just chilling out, it looked so comfortable up there even though there were pretty much no branches at all.

PhotobucketMost of them were walking around hunting for food in groups, occasionally stopping to swing around in the play areas which are in abundance on the island. They seem to have so much fun swinging around and climbing. Some of them look so funky, almost like they have retro 70's or 80's hair cuts. :P



PhotobucketWe had a driver take us to see the sun bears too. They have 2 areas, one for older bears and one for the adolescent ones. I think the bears are here because its unknown how many are left in the wild.

PhotobucketWe got to walk right over their living area on a really sketchy narrow metal walkway with a rail only on one side that felt like if I put all my weight on it then it would have broken! One of the bears in the adult area was isolated because it had been starting fights all day. rar.

PhotobucketAfter the sun bears we went to the BOSF office tower which overlooks the forest. We climbed a really long spiral staircase to reach the top and the view was amazing, the breeze was pleasingly cool on this uber hot day! BOSF are rejuvenating the forest and after having seen pictures of it from 7 years ago you can really see the difference between back then and now from up there. They hope to release some of the Orangutans here in future as it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to find safe places for them to be released.

I'm not any kind of activist in any way but if you go to the Orangutan sanctuary its hard not to be touched by the amazing work that BOSF are doing. They only get half the money they need to look after the Orangutans they have from sponsors. Each Orangutan costs about 3 to 4 million rupiah (about £225 to £300) per month to look after, consider that the average Indonesian's salary is only about 1.1 million Rupiah.

The Orangutans live in the rain forests which are being destroyed more and more to plant kelapa sawit (oil palm) for bio fuel.. silly that people want more of it because its 'eco friendly' but they are cutting down swathes of rain forest to supply the demand, doesn't sound eco friendly to me. Goodbye rain forest, goodbye everything that lived there.

PhotobucketThen the Orangutans that are still in the forests have less forest to roam around and thus less food, so they go into the kelapa sawit plantations and eat them - so now they are seen as pests by the farmers and shot dead. One Malaysian company is even offering 1.5 million rupiah for every dead Orangutan, so actively encouraging people to wipe them out by offering a huge bounty that is more than one months salary for some people. There are some shocking pictures in the photo albums on display at the eco lodge (as well as many really nice ones).


BOSF Website

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Monday, 7 November 2011

Mangrove forest

27th October 2011

PhotobucketMada and I went to the Mangrove forest near Balikpapan bay, we were told that you can see long nosed monkeys (or Dutch monkeys) there.  Unfortunately we did not see any, I think maybe they were hiding because there was a lot of noise from building work going on around the area.

The Mangrove forest is pretty dense, you can walk through on a raised platform that goes into it. Strangely while walking through we bumped into the lady that told us about the Mangrove forest the day before while she was helping us arrange a visit to the Orangutan sanctuary.


Tour of Balikpapan

22nd and 23rd October 2011

Pak Rachmad and Bu Indra took me for a tour of Balikpapan over these two evenings. It was good to see outside of the center of Balikpapan where there are some smaller more traditional villages.

Kampung Baru (new village) is a village built on a wooden platform.. it extends over the beach and over the water, all the houses are mostly wooden, built on stilts as well as the 'streets' which people still quite happy ride around on mopeds. We took a walk through to the pier at the far side to see the view across the water. Quite a poor area.


Here are some other pictures I took while we were cruising.


Thursday, 3 November 2011

Day trip to Samarinda

16th October 2011

PhotobucketToday we went to Samarinda. First stop was Tenggarong. We went to the Mulawarman museum which is an old Majapahit palace, with a royal cemetery just behind it. In the museum there is a lot of Javanese palace paraphernalia including the King's bed which was pretty huge, preserved in its chambers.

Next we went to the wood museum, you can see the many types of wood produced from trees in Indonesia there. They also have a huge monster crocodile that was caught in 1990 after it ate lots of people! Its at least 3 metres long, I think its degraded a bit but its still huge! The news paper cuttings they have on display show some people opening the stomach of the crocodile and removing an arm and leg! Grim


PhotobucketThere was some road works on the road leading to the wood museum. It looked pretty sketchy to cross this in the car but the workmen seemed convinced it would be ok. We stopped and they shouted "bisa" "bisa", as in you can! We made it over though.

PhotobucketAfterwards we went to Pampang to see a Kenyah Dayak ceremony in a longhouse there. These happen every sunday. We arrived a little early and after waiting til the start time (and being interviewed twice and photographed by many Indonesians!) we were informed that the ceremony would not take place because someone in the village had passed away. Even the people performing the ceremony didn't know until the last minute. Its a shame we could not see it but we still got to meet some Dayak people though so all was not lost. Dayak people were feared in the past as they are violent warriors and had a tradition of head hunting.

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