Monday, January 31, 2011

Weekend Candidasa & Tenganan

Last weekend we decided to discover the east part of Bali the next following weekends, so this weekend we jumped on our scooter and headed to Candidasa. This is a small coast village that suits perfect as a basis for exploring the east of Bali. This time we chose to afford 2 nights away, this way the weekend feels longer for the hard working Rino.

The sun wanted to be nice to us this weekend compared to last, we had perfect weather for almost 48 hours, which is a record since maybe 3 months. We left Friday with the last few raindrops and arrived in Candidasa before dark hoping to find a good and cheap accommodation or were willing to pay a bit extra for a hotel with swimming pool. We couldn’t find any hotel that suited our wishes and ended up paying a bit more than we wanted, but had a beautiful hotel with a restaurant and swimming pool area complete with view over the ocean. Read here our review on TripAdvisor.

On Saturday we planned to visit the small traditional village with the Bali Aga people, descendants from the original Balinese people. The people are known for their conservatism and resistance to change.
We arrived early in the morning and were the only tourists in the village. It is clearly that the village is adjusted to tourism, but you also see that they are very traditional en conservative indeed. The funny thing is when we came we saw people taking place at their tables and spots to do different kinds of art work and handicraft. Of course this is authentic and what they do and live of, but when we are walking through the village it’s also clearly a show-off. We saw beautiful paintings on banana leaves, ikat weaving and playing -and making of gamelan instruments.

At the end of the inner village we got to talk with a local, who wanted to show his Balinese honey production garden. He introduced us to his family and explained his family work. We saw that he also guides hiking trips and asked for his rates. After a bargain we paid Rp 100.000 (± €8 or Kr 65) for a trip of longer than 2 hours. We walked through his families’ garden with pineapples and we looked at the village temple. We soon started the climbing up to the top of the hills through the jungle. Tenganan means something like “surrounded by” and it’s totally surrounded by hills (small mountains). We started the hike a little late in the morning and it became a sweaty walk, which we also enjoyed, we cannot say we are doing too much of sports and exercise here during the weeks.

On the top we were rewarded with a fantastic view over Tenganan, Candidasa and the ocean on the background. We kept on walking and came through a tiny village called Tenganan 3, besides the original village there are two more located in the area. Soon we arrived at the stunning rice terraces of the Tenganan area, we must say that we were just as impressed by these rice fields as we were in Jatiluwih (the UNESCO world heritage). It was well worth the hike and Wayan Durpa was a friendly guide to walk with. About the rice fields he could tell us that the farmers families produce and harvest the rice and that they split the rice 50/50 with the owner. The owner is Tenganan village, this sounds like a good system to us. This villages and community are really independent and helping each other. In Bali we see this in many places, but here it was really clear.

After the long hike we had a well earned Aussie burger by Ari Homestay & Hotdog (see here our review on TripAdvisor), with great view of all locals being stopped by the police, we were cleared :-)

Pantai pasir Putih (white sand beach)
After the exhausting day on Saturday we decided to take it easier on Sunday. Only a few km north of Candidasa is Pantai pasir Putih, which is better known as the white sand beach (all other beaches on East-Bali are volcano black sand). We already had read that the road would be bumpy, well parts of it were hardly ride able, but it was worth it. The beach might not have been as white as the picture, probably due to the rain season, but it was still stunning. There are several warungs in a row, which offer their sunbeds for free if you take lunch at their place :-) The snorkelling should be good at this spot as well, but our money for the week was almost finished and Iris was totally caught up in here book, finishing the second Stieg Larsson book. The water had a great cooling temperature at this beach and the view was fantastic, we could even see Lombok :-)

Around 3pm we decided to go home again and at the very last moment we caught a view drops of rain, in between the sun had been shinning the whole weekend:-)

Our review of Warung Astawa, were we have eaten the first evening

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pappa chapter 1

I (Iris) feel that 2010 has been one of the best years of my life so far, considering the amount of fantastic things that happened. It has been like a dream, doing my thesis and it became the best year of my study, while I thought it was going to be the worst. I got two new wonderful friends and we did a really good research together, I even started to like to do research, which was the last thing I had thought I would. I got my degree, which I am very proud of and it didn’t stop there... We were nominated to get a price from school for best research/thesis, and we won the price! And as if it was not enough we won another price, we gat money and a lot of attention, for us three it was like a dream and we were just living in it and pinching each others arms. After all this I went to Norway for 6 weeks and experienced hard but learnfull and good weeks in homecare practising as a nurse for the first time. As you all know after this Rino and I said goodbye to our friends and our life in Groningen and went to our exciting year of traveling and living on Bali.

I am more than aware of my fantastic position and opportunity here, being able to do exactly what I want for almost 1 year, no pressure and just living life in a warm climate and in a beautiful culture and country. Friends are jealous just as I would be it in their situation. It feels like 2011 also is going to be a wonderful year with more Bali and traveling and then moving and settling down in Norway together, what also is very exiting for me and for Rino.

I am a lucky and happy girl, still, in spite of being at your most happy a person can also have concerns and grief going along with it. Most people who read this, but probably not all of you, know that pappa is sick with alzheimer. Has been for some years now and since a couple of years he is in a nursing home. It was hard for me to leave for NL in 2006 because of him, knowing that I could not see him more often than maybe 3 times a year and knowing that I always was going to have the fear of maybe next time he will not recognise me anymore. In the fall of 2008 he moved to a nursing home. Luckily for Sofie, mamma and me he has recognised us all the way till around this summer (2010). Forgot everybody and everything else but us, in all the misery of this sickness this has been a real positive thing for me and for us. It was a good feeling for me when I came home and also for Sofie, and for mamma it always was a good thing when she visited him that he clearly appreciated her being there and they both could enjoy the visit. This last summer I was home for many weeks and I visited him everyday, I hated the thought that I was going away for a year...and knowing in my heart that this would really be the last time he recognised me the way he has done until now. Not with so many words anymore or my name...but just by other signs and body language, which I learned this summer to treasure and appreciate. We had a good summer because I learned to let go of much of the grief and anxiety for time being and just enjoy tiny moments and loving him just as he is now. But still the moment came closer that I was going far far away.

I had made the decision to go for sure during last year, after talking with Rino and others and to myself about it. And off course I had to go, I would have recommended the same to everybody else in the same situation, there is nothing more you can do if you had moved to Norway or stayed in NL than in Bali 1 year.... I still think so with my common sense, but I must say I doubt it with my heart sometimes. Because my misery and anxiety is so much stronger here when I feel it, the distance is so far and I cannot take a flight back just for a long weekend to see him and to bee with Sofie and mamma like I for example did in 2008 when he moved to the nursing home. There has to be more of a crisis or I have to feel a lot worse before I take a flight home from here....
So in the middle of paradise, adventure, good life and the best years of my life there is also grief and the worst feelings in my life. Feelings existing side by side.

“Pappa is going into a new face now” mamma said on the phone a week ago, he’s not recognising her the last visits and is changing in his behaviour. A few days ago he had a kind of seizure where he was unconscious for some minutes. This is making my days very hard at the moment and I am filled with chaos and anxiety which is difficult to give a place inside me and respond to. He is fine again and acting and functioning like he did before, but for me the distance is now like I’m on the moon and cannot reach him at all. I don’t know how to deal with this, I have never known how to deal with it. I was always the one in denial in the first years before he gat a diagnose and I have been dealing with it by myself and seldom talking about it with people.... as the talker I usually am, I found out that I don’t easily talk about difficult feelings. I often feel there is nothing to talk about, that people will not understand and that there is nothing they can tell me anyway. It is a situation with no sunrise, no good end and no hope.... so it feels easier for me to not start talking.

The idea to start to blog about pappa came up some days ago thinking about how to deal with all this for me when I am here and make it liveable for myself. This is, as well as all the other stories, a part of our adventures here. Pappa is a big part of it because of the everyday contrast I live in between happiness and grief. I think because of me never being open about it, people around me tend to forget about pappa and the struggle Sofie, mamma en I have in the daily life that goes on for years. Sometimes I tend to blame people for this and not asking about pappa...but I guess I can’t blame, it is an impossible situation and there is no user guide on how to anticipate. No right or wrong.

So now by writing about pappa here I open up once and for all and let my thoughts out to everybody who reads it. My intent is to write about good things, about memories of pappa, about how proud I am of him and that I actually think I have the best father I could ever have in this world. I hope it will function as a sort of therapy for myself and I want it to be a way to put him out in peoples thoughts and out in the world again as the living person he still is, he may be different, but still it is pappa and I am not hiding him away in my own head anymore!

Van hamar julen 09

Pappa & me Christmas Eve 2009

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ujung & Amed

After buying an underwater case for our camera we hade to take it a bit slow for a couple of weeks. Eating at the cheapest warungs and no beers it is easy to save money around here. We also didn’t do anything special last weekend. But this weekend we had planned a weekend in Amed on the east coast to test our underwater case. In Amed the underwater life is right of shore and supposed to be one of the most beautiful snorkelling spots of Bali. We didn’t explore anything yet of the east of Bali, so from now on we will spend some weekends on traveling the east and east coast of Bali :-)

We knew the drive to Amed was going to be around 3 hours, so on Saturday morning we left early. After one and half hour we had a stop at Goa Lawah, one of the nine directional and important temples of Bali. The temple is at a cave which is supposed to lead all the way to the mother temple of Bali, Pura Besakih 25 km away, but of course you’re not allowed to try that trip. It’s not something we would have wanted either because the cave is full of bats (see pictures in the slide show beneath).
The weather was perfect until now. But after Candidasa we had to drive through some mountain area and it was getting darker and darker. When it started raining we hoped it would stay in the mountains and still decided to take the long road to Amed, which is supposed to be especially beautiful according to our bible ‘The Lonely Planet’. Unfortunately the rain became worse and we found the very last ‘Homestay’, restaurant on this route before the long drive to Amed actually started witch is not touristic at all. We decided to take a break and lunch at this place before continuing to Amed. A lucky and really nice coincidence was that this homestay & restaurant was a very beautiful and idyllic place with friendly staff. It had a beautiful swimming pool overlooking the ocean and an almost private black sand beach.

After lunch we played cards, read and waited for the rain to stop, witch it didn’t do. We decided maybe it was smart to stay the night and we had fallen for this idyllic place. The owner explained to us that the route we wanted to take would be floating anyway because of all the rain and at some points be dangerous and the view of the underwater life in Amed would be bad as well due to all the dirt in the water coming from the mountains. We knocked down the price to Rp 250.000 (± €21 or Kr 175) a bit above our budget but what the heck. It was by far the most beautiful room we had until now and during the day we had some nice and interesting conversations with a Dutch couple travelling through Indonesia with their 10-months old baby. Due to the long rain on that day it was not that warm and after Munduk we finally slept underneath a ‘real’ blanked again, which maybe is the number 1 thing we miss the most here on Bali, having a blanket with some weight on you when you go to bed. ;-)
(see here our review on TripAdvisor)

In the morning it was al dried up and the sun was shining. We had a morning swim in the beautiful swimming pool and dive in the ocean. Our breakfast we enjoyed overlooking the ocean, a place to recommend for sure.

Around 10am we continued our journey around the east coast of Bali and followed the beautiful track from the Lonely Planet towards Amed. Well, what an experience! Not only is the road taking you through one of Bali’s most beautiful areas, we as white people were greeted like we were famous pop stars by all the children and sometimes even by the adults, or maybe like we were aliens from another planet…very funny anyway. When we arrived in Amed we went to a bar rented snorkelling gear and installed our camera in our underwater casing. The underwater life was indeed beautiful and our camera worked perfectly. The second slide show beneath shows some evidence.

When coming out of the water is started raining again and we hoped that it would stop after we had taken lunch. Unfortunately this was not the case and we had to drive through the rain again. Now we took the normal route, which also brought us through beautiful rice fields and nature, but this we will explore more during another weekend :-)

Back home after a tiring 3 hour drive we ended the weekend relaxing with a half an hour shoulder, neck and head massages, just perfect.

Even though we had a lot of rain, the weekend was a success and we saw the beauty of east Bali and we will plan some more trips to this area as there is a lot more to explore.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Family visits

Since December 11th we live back in our house in Seminyak and that was also the arrival date of Els, Loek, Marion and Jort (Rino’s family). It has been a busy month, because one week later Julia, Sofie and Roger (Iris family) arrived. It were interesting and active weeks for all of us.

The first week only Rino’s family was there. Rino arranged an airport pick-up from his hotel and they were still quite fit after a 28-hour trip. Once they saw our house we went to the beach and had an early diner. At 20:00 it was quiet in the house and everybody slept already. The next day we spend the whole day on the beach and Rino tried to teach Marion and Jort some surfing. Two scooters arrived, one for each couple. It was nice for us to show were we have lived in the past 3 months. Unfortunately the next day all of them got the ‘Bali belly’, except Els was still feeling quite fine. During the next 4 weeks there was a lot of Bali belly’s going around the group.

In the next days Rino had to work like normally and Iris also went to Ubud for a few days. Els and Loek joined one day to Ubud. Els found out that she didn’t like to sit on the back of a scooter for one hour in this kind of traffic, while Loek actually loved to drive the scooter, he liked to drive every day. Marion and Jort travelled around the east coast of Bali for almost a week.

The Ubud Trip
One week later on the other part of the family arrived. Unfortunately Iris got sick on this day and was not able to join in picking up her own family. The Norwegians were a bit tougher with the whole jet lack, they stayed up until late and didn’t seem to have any problems with the time difference. Els, Loek, Sofie, Roger, Julia and Iris had an overnight stay in Ubud in the beginning of the week. We did some sightseeing in the Ubud area and Iris combined it with going to the foundation and of course showing Sjaki-Tari-Us to the family.
Rino sadly had to work and Marion and Jort were still on their trip across the island. Here a slideshow with the highlights of the Ubud trip:

For Christmas at the Gili’s see our next blog post.

Banyan Tree Bike Tours
Marion, Jort, Els and Loek stayed for a few days longer on the Gili’s and between Christmas and New Years Eve Rino had to work, as usual. Iris and Julia went on an arranged bicycle tour in central Bali, picked up in the morning and brought back in the afternoon. It was a spectacular beautiful trip with lots of breath-taking sights and good guides telling a lot about culture. In the underneath slideshow the bike tour is shown and explained and here is Iris’ review on TripAdvisor.

New Years Eve
For New Years Eve we made a reservation by our number 1 favourite warung “Warung Sobot”. We had planned to walk on the beach after dinner and arrive at the ‘place to be’ around midnight. Unfortunately it was raining and therefore we decided to take a taxi to the beach. After some hassle we arrived 2 minutes before midnight on the beach and enjoyed the great view with lots of spectacular fireworks from the expensive hotels in the area :-).
We really would like to pledge to all governments and local governments back home to don’t let private people shoot fireworks and instead invest some money in real and nice fireworks for everybody to enjoy!
Loek didn’t feel so great and had his first New Years Eve without alcohol since…… ever. Together with Els and Julia he left at around 1am. So the young generation stayed and got a bit drunk at a beach bar with some dancing and some deep and intense family conversations ;-)

The first of January was the day of departure for Julia, Sofie and Roger, Iris brought them to the airport. We were supposed to go on a trip with Els and Loek and a private driver, but Iris got her strange extreme stomach infection for the 2nd time. Els and Loek decided to go first to the national park of Bali on the west side of the island, Marion and Jort and joined them. In the afternoon they all came back and now Els was feeling sick. Rino had to work the rest of the week and Iris also promised to go to Sjaki for two days. Luckily Els got better and the two of them still went for a trip for two days to east Bali.

So overall we had a good time with our families. With so many people together there will always be some irritations and unfortunately we also infected each other and several people got ill, but all in all we had great time together!

We are truly happy to have the house for ourselves now and finally really make the house our own. It will take a while before the next visits come so we can explore the islands further on our own again. Underneath a slideshow with the highlights from the past weeks.

Christmas @ the Gili's

For the Christmas weekend we had arranged a trip to the Gili islands. The Gili islands are Lombok's most popular tourist destination. They are three small islands in front of Lomboks west coast and we had booked a hotel on Gili Trawangan, the biggest of the three. The Gili’s are called paradise and it truly was! The pictures underneath also show the paradise, but to explain in words: white sand beaches, turquoise waters, corals ride on the beach, beachside cafes and restaurants, relaxing atmosphere and best of all NO motorized traffic. Especially that last item was very relaxing, now we only had to watch out for horse carts :-)

To come to the Gili’s there are a number of fast boats and slower boats going from Bali. We booked the fastboat Gili Cat, which left from PadangBai. The journey in the boat took 2 hours and was a bit more rough than we thought, which not everybody liked that much, but we survived. In Bali the weather wasn’t good for the past few days, but the Gili’s have 300 sunny days a year so the beach was waiting for us when we arrived. Rino had booked the hotel Big Bubble Dive and Bungalows (see here his review on TripAdvisor). After checking in and lunch we rushed ourselves to enjoy the beach. Marion by coincidence met an old friend from Drenthe, so the world keeps on being small (especially because she saw the same friend one and half week later in Ubud again). Most of our time on the Gili’s we spend on or at the beach, relaxing, snorkeling, reading, playing games, swimming and just having the perfect vacation. We had read that people often stay longer than planned on the Gili, Marion and Jort originally thought they would explore Lombok, soon they decided to stay longer on the Gili’s and Loek and Els quickly followed their idea. The second day we all made a walk around the island, which took only 2 hours. We would also love to come back to the Gili’s one time!

Christmas eve
Of course Christmas on the Gili islands felt totally different than normally in Norway or the Netherlands, but we had planned a small Christmas Eve with a few presents. For Iris it’s just an impossible idea not have some kind of Christmas Eve celebration. Els even had arranged a small and very fake Christmas tree and we all sat together in front of one of the hotel rooms and shared our presents (see the pics in the slideshow). For dinner we made a reservation by one of the beachside restaurants, but unfortunately not everything went so smoothly at this restaurant compared to the one we eaten the day before (see Rino’s reviews on TripAdvisor).

Glass bottom boat
On first Christmas day we had booked a glass bottom boat, which is a boat with a few glass windows so you can watch the underwater life from the boat. Unfortunately Roger was sick and not able to join the trip. The boat brought us to several beautiful snorkeling spots around the 3 islands, we had a lunch on Gili Air and a walk on Gili Meno the smallest of the 3. It was a very successful day and we all enjoyed it very much. The underwater life showed us turtles, beautiful young and old corals and lots of tropical fish. We were not in the possession of a underwater camera, so unfortunately we can not show you the underwater life yet, but we have bought a underwater casing for our camera now, so next time we will show the beautiful underwater life of Bali and Lombok :-)

Except one incident in a popular reggae bar about the worst Mojito in the world (see link with Rino’s review about the Gili islands on TripAdvisor), everything was absolutely fantastic on the Gili! :-)

Review Scallywags Organic Seafood Bar & Grill the restaurant we eaten the first day