After the training...more of Bali

..and the VOLCANO!

I slept a lot after the last few days of revising and excitement and then realized that all of a sudden for the first time in months and months, I actually could relax and have some down time. It had been chaos at home before I came out and then I hit the ground running with the yoga teacher training; now that was done all was still. I felt a bit lost and spent a few days sitting in the sun when it shone, surfing and generally eating  (makes a change ha!)! A few of us were still in town so we got together for a dinner at Shady Shack with Eoin. It was cool to hang out and chat about post yoga training plans. Elyse came to stay with me for a couple of nights before heading off to Ubud along with Geri and her friend. I sadly didn’t see either of them again as they both left Bali; Elyse to Singapore and then home, and Geri to the Philippines.

Before Elyse left I also got to join her on a photo shoot with Eoin; it was great to see her in action. She also took some shots of me also :)

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A day later we were having breakfast at Milk and Madu (another yummy café in Barawa) I had a call from Nationwide saying that there was some fraud on my card and I found out that it had been cloned and then used over and over to withdraw money! They had to cancel it immediately, which was great that they had stopped it getting worse, but it meant I was now cardless and with no way of getting cash out – nightmare! They were very helpful and returned the stolen money, but had to send a new card and frustratingly could only send it to my registered address, which was thousands of miles away at my parents house. This kind of put a halt to plans to leave and I decided I would wait it out to receive it from Mum. In the meantime though I had to hope that one of the girls could take money out for me and I could send it to them. Elyse helped me out, as did Geri, until Geri found out her card had also been cloned, and then Elyse too – whoever was doing this was rolling in it! Apparently it’s something called skimming, I had never heard of it, but they access the ATM illegally somehow without being found out (corruption?) and place a cover over the card slot and pin keyboard, which collects the data, and then they create cloned cards with identical magnetic strips and away they go. Upon looking into it, this was happening a lot, and the police were doing nothing; very frustrating!


MONEY CHANGING - BEWARE

Whilst we’re on the topic of scams, I have to mention the money changing stands in Canggu with a warning.  I had heard about the scams that were happening, but actually got chance to see it with my own eyes when a friend Gokhan from the yoga training was trying to change his dollars. The guy doing the exchange had a good rate written up on his board. Gokhan asked if it was with commission and the guy said that it included it. So Gokhan asked to change his 100 dollars and the guy showed him on a calculator how many Indonesian Rupiah he would get, Gokhan agreed and the man counted the first part out. I counted it again and placed it next to Gokhan as the guy counted out the small change. He then picked up the part I had already counted again, counted it out a second time and whilst doing so, dropped a portion of it down onto a lower shelf behind the stand, in front of my eyes. I immediately shouted out that I saw him do it and he shook his head. He then started counting it again and then collected the money from the shelf behind the stand, again in front of my eyes, as though we were stupid or blind. He knew he was caught out so handed us the money, keeping 300,000 rupiah back. I asked why we were now 300k short and he tried to make out that the 300k on the calculator was actually 30k and we were mistaken about where the decimal fell. We went over the number again and it was clear he had nowhere to go. His friend then piped up and said it was the commission charge, which they originally said was included. So because they couldn’t steal from Gokhan, they now added the charge on of the value they were stealing. I got mad and told him he was a thief. We demanded the dollars back and told him we would warn everyone he was stealing from tourists. He wasn’t bothered, probably knew there was enough of an influx of new tourist that he would keep robbing them successfully. He wasn’t even concerned about being called a thief. As we left we passed a Dutch guy and he warned us not to use that stand or the one over the road. He said he had arrived a few days before and changed a load of dollars for work and they had stolen nearly 400 dollars worth off him, he hadn’t realiSed until he got home and recounted and then when he returned they obviously denied it.

Please be careful people and use the genuine money changers in actual buildings in Seminyak if possible!


 

Mount Agung – the volcano erupts!

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Just as we finished our course and everyone had flown home, Mount Agung had it’s second eruption, and this time it was more serious; smoke and ash and lava. Luckily thousands of people had already been evacuated from the area and so no one was hurt. The airport however was closed due to the ash cloud. Elyse had been delayed in this whilst trying to get to Singapore to renew her visa but a few days later they opened the airport and she got to her destination.

I worked on figuring out a plan for my next moves. I was told that the Philippines were having monsoons; unusual for December which is normally the best time to go. So back to the drawing board. The airport was closed and opening on and off, so I decided not to risk a flight and to wait it out. I wanted to do some volunteer work at LINI in the north of Bali but they had volunteers for that week already, so I headed to Ubud to volunteer with Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA).

 

Climbing Mount Batur

I was dropped at Ubud at not a very nice hotel, which had been on the recommendation from BAWA. It was clean-ish but had no mosquito nets and my room opened over a rice paddy so the room had quite a lot of flies and mosquitos. The heavens opened when I arrived and so I couldn’t even go out and look at other hotels or explore where I was. The lady on reception suggested I order pizza, and they did vegan options – result! I had decided to go and see Mount Agung from the view off Mount Batur; an active volcano is a once in a lifetime view and it was at a safe distance. I decided on the sunrise trek and so had to be ready to be picked up at 2am – yawn!

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Another girl Angela had also signed up for the trek and the guide had put us in touch. We had met in Canggu for a cup of tea and so it was nice to have a familiar face at that time of the morning. We arrived at the base of the mountain at 3.30am and started our ascent in the dark. To be honest this was not fun, you couldn’t see anything apart from what was in the small circle of light from your torch and the ground was slippy volcanic ash. I don’t know why I didn’t expect this but we made our way up, enjoying the unusual experience. When we got nearly to the top, the guide cooked eggs for him and Angela and banana sandwiches for me. We were also offered jam pasties, which were very sweet, and tea, which was also very sweet; I guess they thought we needed the boost. We noticed that there was a lot of cloud cover, which made for dramatic photos of the lake below but not of Mount Agung that we had come to see! We summited and still the clouds rolled over – we missed sunrise. This was a shame, especially after the early start and night hike, but we went to take a look at the steam holes coming up at various points on the mountain and got some cloud clearing, which made us even more appreciative of the view. We never did see Mount Agung though!

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Next stop was the hot springs. They were a very welcome stop after a few hours hill walking and we dived right in. Our guide morphed into a professional photographer as he got us to pose in the water and captured the view too. After this we were taken to a buffet restaurant with views of the lake and the hot springs and Mount Agung that annoyingly was still hidden in cloud. The food was nice, pancakes and fruit then various stir fried vegetable dishes and rice. Whilst chatting it became more and more obvious that we had lost in common; Angela had a few years back made a documentary about the plastic problem in Bali, something I mentioned to her that I wanted to do! How amazing! You can find it here at
www.plasticparadisemovie.com
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I arrived back in Ubud and the driver took me to the new hotel I had reserved called Ubud Bungalows. This was much more my scene; still super cheap but clean, no mosquitos and a door that locked properly. It was also conveniently near the monkey forest and a lot of the restaurants and shops in Ubud, oh and it had a pool! I slept well that night and woke up the next day to head to BAWA to start volunteering.