Singapore was a quick city break before the final country. It was one of my favourite cities to stop in. It’s multicultural population, amazing buildings, fascinating landmarks and incredible food centres had me hooked instantly! A small island off the south of Malaysia that has become a global financial centre, attracting people from all over the world.
After arriving in Singapore we headed straight for the famous Hawker Centres, starting at the Indian one in Little India. The Hawker Centre was full of vendors advertising their low prices and award winning food. For five Singapore Dollars I had one of the tastiest Indian butter chicken meals I’ve ever had!! Satisifed and full it was time to do a bit of exercise so we headed to the 100 year old, World Hertiage Site of the 74 hectare Botanical Gardens. The gardens had so many different areas and were too big to conquer in just a few hours. However, they were beautiful. The perfect escape from the city life.
The first full day in the city started in the colourful streets of the Arab Centre, lined with so many different restaurants, boutique shops and a beautiful Mosque at the far end. Next stop was Chinatown which had Chinese New Year decorations still hanging high. The Chinatown market was huge and the food streets had Chinese food we’d never even heard of. We finally decided on pulled duck and hoisin Chinese burgers which were AMAZING!!
That evening we joined the scooter tour put on by the hostel. A 4 hour, 14km tour around the city of Singapore on a scooter. My legs were aching! After stopping at a few famous landmarks and scooting past places we’d been earlier in the day we stopped for a food stop at the Lau Pa Sat food court as energy levels dwindled. Here every type of food was available and it took me so long to decide on a vendor. Finally I settled for freshly made sweet and sour chicken with special rice and vegetables!
Next stop was the water and light show on the water under the Marina Bay Sands. The synchronisation of the water and lights with the dramatic music was mesmerising! After that we rushed round to the Gardens By The Bay to catch the Super Trees light show. Laying flat on my back on the tarmac gazing up at these giant structures, listening to the soundtrack and seeing these solar powered trees flash different colours.
In the day we got the chance to fully explore the Gardens by the Bay. Wandering around the two famous areas, the flower dome and the cloud dome. With over one million plants, from 19,000 different species and nine different gardens displaying landscapes from around the world, the flower dome housed some beautiful fauna. The cloud dome was a wetter climate with a 35 metre tall waterfall and a rainforest high sky walk. Our final stop was the supertrees in the day, absorbing solar energy to power the night show. Of course after walking around in the Singapore heat we couldn’t resist a trip to the top of the Marina Bay Sands to enjoy a couple of Singapore Slings!
For the final night in Singapore we ate at the famous Maxwell Hawker Centre with the street food award equivalent to a Michelin Star. The food scene here is just something else with Hawker Centres packed and stalls with lines snaking around. We then returned to the supertrees but this time we watched the show from 22 metres above, from the Skywalk. A great end to our time in Singapore!
After returning to the world famous Singapore airport it was time to fly to Indonesia!
The final country in South East Asia was Indonesia. A nation made up of thousands of volcanic islands that are home to hundreds of ethnic groups speaking many different languages. Known for its beaches, underwater world, incredible landscapes and amazing wildlife, Indonesia did not disappoint!
The first stop was Denpasar where we met our tour group for the next two weeks. Denpasar was a quick stop over and after one night we were heading towards Munduk via the famous Balinese rice terraces. With a world hertiage recognition for it’s simple yet extraordinary irrigation system the rice terraces rolled out into the distance as far as the eye could see. These particular ones were famous for their white rice but also had select areas growing red rice which we tried mixed with hot water. The end of the rainy season caught us with several down pours and water rushing down the marked footpaths. But even with the rain the landscape was incredible, a lush green at different heights, with rows of rice stretching to the horizon.
After some lunch and finally drying off we arrived in Munduk and settled into our homestay for the night after enjoying a tradition Balinese dinner, where I opted for Balinese curry with a Munduk twist followed by banana fritters with palm sugar and grated cheese (trust me the cheese made it perfect!!)
Next day it was time for a bit of self care with a morning at the local sulphur hot springs. Natural heated water in giant and small pools with water fountains all around. The perfect stopped after months on the go! After a rinse off we headed to the Brahmavihara Arama Temple where we were dressed in sarongs before entering. This temple was beautiful with several different sections and a gorgeous view. In one building was a traditional fortune read where each person picked a stick out a pot with a number one before matching this to the book for the set year and month.
Our stop for that evening was Kintamani. A hotel at the foot of Mount Batur giving you the perfect view of the volcano. But the view wasn’t close enough so the next morning we decided to climb the volcano for sunrise, battling wind and rain. After stopping for a bit to let a thunder storm pass we made it to a sheltered hut at the top, appreciating a hot drink! The hike was good however, the stormy sky prevented us catching a glimpse of the sunrise.
After warming up and nursing aching legs we stopped for a community lunch at one of the G Adventure’s foundation. A foundation supporting those with a physical disability as their religion deemed a disability as karma from evil in a previous life. The food was incredible and walking area their school, gardens and kitchen was eye opening, seeing just how much these people adapt every day and manage with very little.
That evening we arrived in Ubud. This was probably one of my favourite stops in Bali. The area was so chilled out and there was so much to do and see. This was the first evening I had tradition Nasi Campur. A mix of different Balinese food served on one plate! The following day was more self care and TLC after wandering the unique streets and shops before stopping for a two hour spa session. Probably the best and cheapest spa treatment I’ve had! £10 got me a 60minute full body Balinese massage, a 30minute foot massage and a 30minute facial. Oh I’ve never felt so relaxed!!
Our final stop on the Bali island was Candidasa where the thunder echoed and the lightning struck on the horizon for the first afternoon we arrived. The next day was time to get back in the water and dive. This time a shipwreck dive. USS Liberty Wreck just off the west coast. The wreck positioned just 20 metres off the shore after an earthquake and depths up to 25 metres, the coral and marine life were amazing. Bright corals had grown all over the decaying ship and a large variety of fish darted in and out of holes. A perfect day of diving!
Finally, it was time to leave Bali and catch the long public ferry towards Lombok. This seemed to be an island with no rules, especially in terms of the road. Areas of this island were still recovering from the recent earthquake but the area was still as breathtaking.
Our first Lombok stop was the Sesak Village of farmers and weavers. A village that married their cousins, after the girl was kidnapped by the boy to confirm weather or not they would marry. The villagers didn’t know their birthdays and instead based their age off the rice harvest as this only happened once a year, our guide was 44 rice years old.
Exploring this village was such an experience, seeing where they lived, worked and played off very little.
Lombok was beautiful to drive through with arces of beautiful rice fields had locals in water up to their knees working the crop they rely so heavily on. We stopped at the village and rice fields at Tetebatu trekking for a couple of hours in the humid heat of the fields. We watched locals harvest the rice in a traditional way and helped when asked. We balanced on the grass verges surrounding the rice crop and jumped across the irrigation system several times before trekking through the forest and spotting the black bears.
After a tiring, hot trek and a nap on the bus we arrived in Senggigi, our last stop on the Lombok island. The next morning we arrived on Gili Trawangan by boat. An island where you can walk, cycle or catch a horse drawn carriage. We jumped straight off one boat and onto the next to snorkel the clear crystal warm waters. The turtles, underwater statues and bright tropical fish were beautiful snorkel spots for explore before stopping for lunch at Gili Air.
The final day on Gili Trawangan was the perfect weather to cycle around the island, stopping at beach front bars and sandy beaches to cool off in the water. The day was finished with pool volley ball, beach bbq dinner and finally a movie at the outdoor cinema on the beach.
Indonesia has been breathtaking and I have adored the Balinese food! There is definitely plenty more islands to explore on the next trip!
So long Indonesia, hello Australia!🇦🇺