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Broken cameras, temples, cliffs, beaches, monkeys, and a fancy resort with an infinity pool!

overcast 40 °C

I woke up on Day 2 at Lake Bratan to discover my DSLR camera was BROKEN!!!!! My biggest travel nightmare had come true! I turnt it on ... nothing. I switched the battery and tried again ... still nothing. UGH! So an entire day was wasted hiring a taxi to drive 2hrs to Denpasar and search for a Canon store to buy a new one. After trying 3 stores I finally found one, and then got the same taxi to take me all the way to the southern-most tip of Bali ... Ulu Watu. This guy drove me from one end of Bali to the other, and drove all over Denpasar helping me find a camera for 500,000 Rupiah. Sounds like a fortune, but it was only $41. I settled into a nice bungalow at the Ulu Watu Cottages for the next few days.
I didnt plan on doing much other than relaxing, so I decided to splurge on my hotel. For $52 a night (which is considered expensive & high-end in Bali) this place had big rooms with vaulted ceilings, clean clean clean (thats the key word here), a terrace, a/c, hot water (also very important), free breakfast, infinity pool (my first time swimming in one!), tasty restaurant, and was located on a cliff overlooking a beach. It was well worth the money, and I think you'll agree once you see the photos.

The whole place was like one big botanical garden with beautiful tropical flowers & trees everywhere!
This was my first time staying at a hotel with an infinity pool :)
And this was the fabulous view over the ocean & cliffs!
The next morning I took a short taxi ride to Ulu Watu Temple. Admission was 20,000 Rupiah ($1.65 CAD). Everyone (even the men) had to don a purple sarong before being allowed entry.
The temple itself wasnt much to look at, but the view over the ocean & cliffs were awesome!
Beware of klepto monkeys on the path along the cliff! One jumped on my back, covering me in mud, and nearly stole my expensive prescription sunglasses right off my face!
There were a few more mischievous monkeys play fighting on a wall near a big puddle that they kept jumping into. Although monkeys can be thieves, they are so funny to watch play!
The next day I walked 10min to the Ulu Watu Cliffs ... an area of restaurants clinging to the cliffside, shops, and great views.
After taking in the view there for awhile, I headed 20min in the opposite direction to Padang Padang Beach. I arrived in the morning while the beach was still quite empty (just the way I like it). But around 11am it started getting crowded with more tourists, souvenir stands being set up on the beach, and food vendors setting up stands. Thats my que to leave. I enjoy quiet solitude, not loud obnoxious tourists. And so I headed back to my infinity pool at the resort :)
Well, thats it for the island of Bali. Next up I fly to Borneo, Malaysia for 5 days to search for wild orangutans & proboscis monkeys!

Posted by ChantelleS 23:39 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bali indonesia temple monkey blue pool cliff asia Comments (0)


African Penguins, ostriches, scenic coastline, Cape of Good Hope, lighthouse, and Table Mountain cable car! So much to do & see on the peninsula!

sunny 20 °C

I spent a few days in the Cape Peninsula (the area from Cape Town, south all the way to the Cape of Good Hope). One morning I took the train from Simonstown up to Cape Town. It took about an hour and cost $2 Canadian! Steal of a deal compared to a taxi which would've cost $46 Canadian. And very scenic as it follows the coastline for quite a ways before cutting inland. If you travel the way the locals do, you can save alot of money! From the train station in Cape Town I took a cab up to Table Mountain to take the cable car to the top.
But it was too windy so the cable car was closed :( And here I thought I had picked a good day cuz it was sunny and clear, with barely a breeze, but at the top of the mountain that breeze was wind. I stuck around for 2hrs waiting for the wind to die down (no point in heading back to Simonstown just yet, I came all this way, I wanted to see something!). This was the view from the lower cable station.
While waiting there were a few gift shops to look through, a place to grab a cheap lunch (chicken & mushroom pie for $2.25 Canadian), an ice cream booth, etc. After the 2hr wait I was in luck! The wind died down and they opened the gates. It cost $205 Rand ($26 Canadian). It only took 4min to ascend 1065m (3195ft)! It rotated 360 degrees as it rose, so no matter where u stand u get a good view, just make sure to grab a spot by a window ... unless your scared of heights, its really high!
Follow the cables ... aaaaaaall the waaaaaay down! Thats how high 1065m is! If the cables look nearly vertical to you, thats because they are! By far the steepest cable car I've ever been on!
Once at the top, it was FREEZING cold!! The sign at the lower cable station said it was +3C at the top, but with the windchill it was below freezing! Bring a jacket for sure! I had a hoodie & jacket, but could have also used a toque & gloves ... my fingers were freezing from taking photos. There were many trails to follow with signage explaining the flora, history, etc. I only stayed up there about 20min or so, cuz it was THAT cold & windy. Heres some photos I managed to get of the various views from the top.
One brave little birdie in the cold!
The next day I made the mistake of going on a Peninsula Tour. I should've just rented a car, or even a taxi for the day. The tour was a waste of time, especially if you're a photographer. They advertized a huge list of places to be visited on the tour, but what they didnt mention is that you dont actually stop at them, you just drive by at high speeds as your guide says "Oh and that was an ostrich farm", or "Oh that back there was Long Beach", etc. We made a few, very brief stops, but thats about it. So I didnt take too many photos, as there werent very many photo ops ... unless blurry pictures taken through the vehicle's window at high speeds is your kind of photography.

We made a 5min stop at Camps Bay Beach. Once we were back in the van and on the road again our guide decided to mention that the mountains in the background were the 12 Apostles. Would've been nice to know that while looking at them.
Next up was Hout Bay. We actually stopped here for an hour ... for an optional boat cruise out to Seal Island. This was an extra cost. I chose not to, since Seal Island is where my shark boat anchored offshore from a few days prior. So I wasted an hour looking at the many souvenir stands, and had some toast & coffee at a nearby restaurant.
Another 5min stop at a lookout point overlooking Hout Bay.
Then we drove along the very scenic Chapman's Peak Drive. It was absolutely gorgeous ... but we didnt stop even once to take photos anywhere of it! Ugh! So this is a 'drive by shooting' of the twisty turny road that clung to the mountainside.
We started to see some wildlife the closer we got to the tip of the peninsula. We actually stopped for 2 bontebok (a type of antelope I never knew existed), 7 ostriches, 5 eland, and an itty bitty tortoise on the road.

Bontebok ... crappy photo I know, but they were far away. I only bothered to take a photo cuz I've never heard of, nor seen them before.
Ostrich on the road!
Eland, the largest of all antelope.
Then we stopped at the Cape of Good Hope ... The south-western most point of the African continent. There was really nothing there but a sign ... and at least 50 ppl lined up to take a photo with it. I tried uploading the photo, but it wont post :(

We then had lunch at the very expensive Two Oceans restaurant at the lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula. The menu was mostly seafood & meat, so I got a milkshake and headed to the snack shop next door for cheap pizza, lol! Thats a backpacker's budget for ya! I'm glad I did though, cuz while everyone else was wasting their time waiting for their expensive meals, I took the funicular (like a cable car on a train track) up to the lighthouse at Cape Point. Only $6 Canadian, or you can walk the whole way up for free. If I'd had more time I would've. By the time they were all done eating, they only had about 10min to look around, whereas I had a whole hour. This is the view from the restaurant.
The funicular only takes you this far ... then you have no choice but to climb those steps to get to the very top.
The sign at Cape Point, right before you start climbing the stairs. There were also 'Beware of Baboon' signs, but I didnt see any baboons.
The lighthouse at the top
View of the cliffs. This is where the Indian & Atlantic Oceans meet! Very turbulent waters!

The last stop on the tour was my fave ... Boulders Beach, home of the African Penguin!! Again, we only had about 10min here, which is most definitely not enough, so the following day, the last day of my whole trip, I walked 20min from my hotel in Simonstown to this beach, and spent the WHOLE day with the penguins :)
It cost 45 Rand ($5.60 Canadian) to access Boulders Beach. They give you a ticket which also gets you into Foxy Beach, so be sure to hold onto it. Boulders Beach is where 99% of the penguins are. They can be founding nesting, swimming, sleeping, suntanning, etc. The African Penguin is a protected species so you have to stick to the boardwalks. Theres penguins all along the walk, but if you just walk straight to the very end of the boardwalk, thats where the majority of them will be!
Beautiful Boulders Beach!
Two penguins in love :)
Braying penguins ... the sound they make sounds like a honking donkey, lol!
Nesting area on the beach
I absolutely loved watching them waddle around! Its seriously the cutest thing in the world!!!!
Waddle, waddle, waddle :)
Mama and baby penguins
Babies huddled together for warmth.
A young penguin shaking himself off after a swim in the chilly water.
Young penguin losing his fluff.
Suntanning penguins!
Weeeeeeee! Bodysurfing right onto shore!
Kissy kissy!
There were also a few Rock Hyraxes, aka Dassies, to be found.
Black Crakes at the beach
Well thats it, that all! I'm finally done my Africa blog, yay me :) Only took 8mths, lol!

Posted by ChantelleS 19:50 Archived in South Africa Tagged penguin wildlife car bird south coastline africa cable scenic cliff lighthouse ostrich peninsula Comments (0)


Krabi Feb 19 - 24, 2010

sunny 42 °C

On Day 11 we hopped on a ferry to Krabi. The ferry was prepaid in Phuket, and took 1.5hrs. It arrived in Krabi Town, and from there we took a longtail boat to the Railay Peninsula. The peninsula is only accessible by boat ... there is no motorized transportation or roads. Only walking. We splurged and spent $67 per night at the Sand & Sea Resort. We wanted to stay at at least one beachfront hotel on this trip. The hotel was not only beachfront, but had a pool, internet cafe, gym, beachfront restaurant with free continental breakfast, massage parlor & store. The only thing it lacked was air conditioning! It had a fan, but in +40C a fan is like someone blowing hot air in your face!

The peninsula has 3 beaches. East Railay Beach, West Railay Beach (which are back to back like the beaches on Koh Phi Phi Don), and South Railay Beach, aka Phranang Beach. East Railay has all the budget hotels, and an ugly beach. Phranang Beach only has 1 hotel thats $700 per night. We stayed on West Railay Beach ... nicer hotels & restaurants, gorgeous beach & cliffs, and it faced the setting sun! The photo below is of West Railay Beach looking south.
Same beach, but looking north. You can see a bunch of tourists arriving via longtail boats with their luggage. This was the only way on or off the island.
This is the pool at our resort

One afternoon we walked to Phranang Beach. To do so you get to go thru some cool caves!
It was a 20min hot & sweaty walk, but well worth it! This beach is perfect! This is exactly what I envisioned when I pictured Thailand :)
Happy Island in the background ...
One of many beautiful sunsets as seen from our resort!

The next day we went on an elephant trek! This was my first up close encounter with these huge animals! You dont realize how incredibly massive they are until you're standing next to one!!
We got to feed them pineapple. Their trunks are like fingers ... they can pick things up with it! When I ran out of pineapple, the elephant kept grabbing for more and ended up grabbing my boob, hahaha! It was funny except for the elephant snot on my shirt!
I'll be honest about the trek though ... we felt ripped off! All it was was a 1hr ride in a giant circle, crossing the same river twice. But the majority of the time was spent sitting atop the elephant waiting for it to eat, poop and fart! There wasnt actually a whole lot of 'trekking'. We stopped once for a photo op, but that was it.
Then we got to watch the elephants bathe themselves in the river!!!

Yet another beautiful sunset from our resort!

One thing I have learnt through my travels, is that its always cheaper to do things on your own than to go on an excursion. But if you must, never book it thru your hotel ... they always overcharge! By doing it on your own (either renting a car, hiring a taxi & driver, or just taking the public bus) you can set your own itinerary. You can go to only the places that interest you, and stay at each place for as little / long as you want. The only time we ever book excursions is if a boat is required. So that is what we did to go visit the Hong Islands in Phang Nga Bay. Our first stop was the tiny island of Koh Pakbia.
Then we zipped over to Koh Lading. Apparently 'lading' means paradise in Thai. This island was far from paradise! I didnt even take any photos, thats how un-awesome it was. A buffet lunch was served here before our final stop at Koh Hong.
The fish sure were hungry here! I hate snorkeling cuz I hate water on my face, especially salt water, so this shallow water with hungry fishies was perfect for a non-snorkeler like me :) large_IMG_1333-1.jpg

On our last day in Krabi we decided to rent a longtail boat for 3hrs for $45. That seemed to be the going rate everywhere, and no one would negotiate either. Our first stop was Sea Beach and Tub Island ... 2 small islands connected by a sandy isthmus.
After walking across the isthmus, we got back on the boat and headed over to Chicken Island. Its named this for the rocky outcrop shaped like a chicken's head.
Kevin jumped into the water to do some snorkeling. I stayed onboard and threw pieces of bread into the water to make the fish come his way. SO MANY fish came that you couldnt see the water (below)! They even started nipping at Kevin's stomach!
He didnt snorkel for long ... there were just too many fish! So then we headed over to the beach on Koh Poda. Loved it here! So scenic! I just love photographing longtail boats with the limestone islands in the background! I must say, Thailand is the most photogenic country I've traveled to!
Even more longtail boats :)
We spelt out 'Koh Poda' with broken coral pieces. The view from Koh Poda was looking back at the beautiful limestone cliffs of Krabi.

Posted by ChantelleS 18:08 Archived in Thailand Tagged boat beach thailand krabi cliff railay Comments (0)

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