This week was probably one of the greatest weeks of my life! Honestly, what could be better than surfing for days in Batu Karas, visiting the oldest Buddhist temple in the world, killing time with friends in one of Jogjakarta’s largest malls and taking in the view at Kalibiru atop a bamboo platform suspended high in the trees.
One morning I woke up early and with no destination in mind, I jumped on my scooter, only to find myself pulling into the parking lot of Goa Gajah not long afterwards. Though it hasn’t changed much since I last visited 5 years ago, I still quite enjoyed my quick walk through the cave. For first timers, the shopkeepers out the front will attempt to persuade to buy a sarong, claiming that you need one to enter Goa Gajah. This is in fact true, however, sarongs are given freely once you pay the entrance fee (Rp 15,000). Though if you are interested in buying sarongs (if you’re a woman, for example) the shopkeepers do have some nice ones that you can pick up for around Rp 20,000. Also, once you’re inside, local guides will offer to walk around with you and give you a quick history of the site for a small fee but it is by no means compulsory to accept their assistance.
This trek must be one of Ubud’s best kept secrets! Luscious grasses spill down the slopes on either side of the gently sloping track for around 2-3 kilometres before the trail ends in place of a road that leads to the official endpoint of the trek – Karsa Kafe – where you can eat some delicious food overlooking the rice paddies or even get a massage if you find the walk sufficiently strenuous. The Campuhan Ridge Trek is best tackled early in the morning to avoid both the heat and stumbling across one of the many young local couples (as I did) who often hide just off the path.
Just 1.5 hours from Padangbai, Bali by speedboat (with average tickets costing around Rp 1,000,000 return, though mine only cost Rp 550,000), Gili Trawangan is a pretty spectacular place if you explore past the crowded harbour where (often drunk) tourists are the norm. In between circumnavigating the island on foot, swimming in the (mostly) pristine waters, riding through the local villages on the oldest bike on the entire island that broke down every 5 minutes (that’s not an exaggeration), pigging out in the night market and sipping drinks at sunset, my 3 days in Gili T were well spent. Given more time I would have loved to check out the much quieter Gili Air and Gili Meno as well.