Thursday, February 24, 2011

Relaxing, Sightseeing and Adventure!!!

Last Friday we joined a full moon celebration at Desa Seni, a wonderful village resort where Iris has started doing Yoga classes. We had no expectations regarding the event, so we came there with an open mind. We only knew it was a celebration with meditation. Well, it was one of the strongest spiritual experiences for us so far on Bali. It entailed dancing, special breathing techniques, unique feelings in our bodies and special kind of ‘couple meditation technique’. For both of us it was a unique experience in different ways, but we both really felt the energy from such an experience shared with so many people. We are definitely going also the next time.

Gunung Kawi, Tirta Empul & Goa Gajah
Saturday morning we packed our bags and drove to Ubud area. There are still a lot of sights in the Ubud area, which we would like to explore and besides we just love Ubud. First stop was Gunung Kawi, age-old stone carvings graved into mountainsides. There were many stairs down to the sights passing 100 stands with sarongs, woodcarving and drinks. Down in the valley it was beautiful, rice fields surrounding the area and the stone carvings, well worth the visit.
We continued to Pura Tirta Empul, which is close to Gunung Kawi. Iris had recently been at Tirta Empul with the kids from Sjaki (see blog), but Rino had to see the place too and off course take a bath in the holy water and by the holy springs. It’s such an impressive place somehow, with the springs and continuingly people coming for the holy water.
After this Rino still had the energy for a 3rd tourist site, it was a beautiful but also a very hot and sweaty day. But on the way back to Ubud we stopped at Goa Gajah, where Iris also was before with the family visits while Rino had to work. Instead of hiring a guide, this time Iris could do the guiding.

In the evening we eat at Nomad, which is one of Ubud’s most famous restaurants. They have a great organic concept and we enjoyed 12 delicious Balinese tapas (Rino’s review). The evening continued with some Arak and beers with Iris’ former colleagues from Sjaki.

Wild Adventure
In our Lonely Planet there are a few walking tracks in the surroundings of Ubud and Sunday morning we headed up to one of them. We heard about one place called Sari Organic, which we wanted to pass for lunch on our track. The beginning of the track was really easy and nice, but at a certain point we couldn’t find the path, which we should take. We asked a local who explained us we had to go through the rice paddies, follow a small road which could be a bit slippery and than we would come to a bamboo bridge…
So, there we went. The rice paddies were easy, but after that there was only an almost invisible tiny path through the jungle. We heard the river flowing around 100 meters beneath us. Our flip-flops were maybe not the best tracking shoes for this path, but we wanted to have our lunch at Sari Organic and this seemed to be the only route we could take. While climbing down we asked ourselves continuously if we should go back. Iris tried to explain the Fjellvettreglene (Norwegian mountain safety rules) to Rino (from the flat country) and reminded about rule number 8: ‘it’s no shame to turn around’…. But we continued down the crazy path.
Certain parts of the path were quite dangerous and steep and at some point we had the feeling we even would not be able to climb back up if we had wanted to.

Finally we arrived at the bamboo bridge, which was 5 pieces of bamboo over the river. We looked at each other and going back up seemed impossible, so “yes we are going to balance over!” Luckily bamboo is really strong and therefore crossing over the bridge was easier than it looked like. Climbing up the mountain was almost as dangerous as going down, but finally we saw some agriculture and it really felt like coming back to civilization :-) We had to go through some great rice paddies, high on adrenaline and proud, before we finally reached our goal: Sari Organic :-)

Sari Organic
Sari Organic (review) is an organic farm with restaurant in the middle of the rice paddies. If you would take the simple route it would only take 20 minutes to come there, but our more dangerous route took us about 2½ hours. We were exhausted and still shaking from the adrenaline, but still very impressed by the beautiful surroundings and the lovely organic farm with its restaurant. This is definitely our new number one restaurant of Bali. It serves great food directly out of their garden, with reasonable prices and great drinks as well, perfect for breakfast or lunch.

After our relaxing lunch at Sari Organic we walked the easy route back to Ubud and didn’t have any energy left to do something else than driving back home. Rino’s hotel now also manages another property, which is close to our home and we are allowed to use their pool :-) We relaxed the rest of the afternoon at the pool and took a well deserved foot massage :-)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pappa chapter 3

So he had been smiling again.... even it’s not often and he does not speak it is good for mamma and Sofie to see and it’s good for me to know. My biggest wish secretly is to be able to talk with him again like before, have a conversation and ask him all the questions I was too young to ask before he started to forget and change. I’m starting to become more like him on the spiritual level and would like to hear more about all his theories and thoughts about everything. I am so ready now to listen and understand all the things I didnt understand and was not ready to understand some years back.... I am sure some place down there inside of him he has the same spirit, which is not beeing eaten by any sickness. The problem is the tools the body gives us to express ourselfs are beeing eaten by the sickness. Eventhough he knows and understands things inside himself, it will not come out anymore... I have been sure all the way to see it in his eyes...’the eyes are the mirror to the soul...’ The nice thing is that I recognice the glimps between us that well that I know that at one moment there was understandig and recognition between us, the next thing is everytime that I lose him the next moment and I am left just wanting to bring him back.....

I wish he could talk to me!

When I was 14 we went to Mosjoen together just the 2 of us, he liked to come back there to visit friends and see the city were he had done a lot of important things saving the old part of the city, like my dear house where we lived before. I loved (and still love) to come back there and see my dear childhood surroundings. Somehow it has always stayd a place I feel comfertable and like home, eventhough I was 6 when we moved. We slept in the house of friends which is the neighbor of our old house. So our view and surroundings were almost the same as back then, on pillars in the fjord, looking out over the fjord and to the Oyfjellet. I remember us siting at the window one night until the morning hours, just talking and philosophizing about all things in life. I cannot remember all the details from the conversation, but I can remember the good feeling I had and the impression it made on me to be sitting up a whole night talking. I was at an age where I was unhappy with myself as a typical young teenager, I was arguing a lot and I wanted to save the world, like a typical idealistic young teenager ;-) I guess again pappa managed to meet me at the emotional and intelectual level I was in that periode... I guess he was the only one then who could....

I wish he could talk to me!


Monday, February 21, 2011

The Internship part II

So, it has been a long time since I have written anything about my internship. You might have been wondering if I stopped as well ;-). Well, of course I didn’t because that would be very stupid. I still go to my internship 5 times a week, but for a long time it was not that interesting, so I didn’t feel like writing about it.

Since my last post (in the beginning of October) I have had training in the Front Office and Food & Beverage departments. Actually it has not been so much training. I had the feeling that the department heads didn’t really know what to do with me and let me work most of the times on my own. I required training from them, to follow them in their job and assist them if possible, but unfortunately they didn’t want to involve me in many of their tasks or didn’t follow appointments with me. The other problem is that although we are fully booked it is never really busy in the hotel and they have enough staff to cover all the work, so there is not really something I could do either :-( The guests in this hotel only stay here, because of the location (close to the beach and outside the hassle of Kuta) and the nice pool. For a few months it has been quite boring and I started to get really lazy.

Now it is different. As I explained in my previous blog post, students from Stenden Bali (a campus site from my university here on Bali) do their practical training here in Puri Saron, like I have done in the Stenden university Hotel in Leeuwarden (NL). Last year this was done for the first time and it didn’t run that smoothly. Stenden Bali has asked me to help them to improve the program and I have designed a new program for them. Currently the students are doing the module called ‘Rooms Divisions & Facilities’, so they work in the Front Office, Housekeeping, Reservations, Security and Maintenance. In this module every other week 10 students (3 resiters who did the same module last year as well, but didn’t pass) are coming to the hotel and I guide the process. Last week the students came for the first time and the program ran quite smoothly :-). It doesn’t all have to do with my program it’s also because these students are more motivated than the students last year, but I am happy to see everything is running well. The staff here and the lecturers at Stenden Bali are very happy with the program, so I even receive some compliments ;-)

I also write my Business Improvement Plan (kind of thesis) about this project, so at the moment this project has my full attention. Here at Puri Saron they give me complete freedom to work on my project and help Stenden Bali, so the other departmental training I leave for now. It is nice to see these students doing the same as I did 4 years ago and I enjoy the interaction with them. They come from all over the world, with different backgrounds and all have different reasons why they are on Bali.

Next module is also a practice module at Stenden Bali and than the second year students will have their practical module as well. To let those modules run as smooth as this module is doing until now, a lot more preparations are needed. So there are enough challenges that I can face :-) although I honestly doubt if Puri Saron is the right hotel for the longer term. It doesn’t have enough potential to provide training to larger amounts of students, but that is probably going to be one of my conclusions/recommendations :-)

From now I will try to write more about my internship, as that is the main reason why we are on Bali :-)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Wild Water Rafting :-)

Saturday we have been rafting in the Telaga Waja River. Sevti (Rino’s colleague) had arranged the trip for us. We were picked up at 8am and after an hour search (typical non planning Balinese mentality) for the resort of our two fellow rafters we headed up to the starting point in the East of Bali. Nyoman our guide gave us instructions and of we went. Main instructions:
“Bamboo” lean backwards to avoid getting hit by a bamboo bridge
“Boomboom” hold tight and don’t fall out of the raft, we will crash!!!
…and sometimes “Bamboo Boomboom” hold tight, don’t fall out and lean backwards we will crash and will hit our head :-)

It was a two hours ride 12 km down through beautiful nature and spectacular flowing passages. The complete ride ended with a 5 meter jump down a waterfall :-). We definitely had an experienced guide as we passed many other boats. Overall the ride was full of adrenaline, laughter with our nice company and perfect weather.

After the ride we were starving, but had to climb up many stairs before we came to lunch place. The lunch was included and we all enjoyed it very much. We were brought home safely by our friendly driver. For this complete package we only needed to pay Rp 180.000 (€15/Kr120) per person (thanks Sevti) :-)

The final 5 meter jump before the finish line :-)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

No more Sjaki

Since this week I don’t do volunteer work anymore at Sjaki. Already since November I was thinking about not working until the end like the original plan was. I decided to finish the things I had promised to do and what I had started and then stop. The 2 hours on the road 3 times a week to get there and back are very exhausting It’s always busy in traffic here on Bali and there is just unbelievably much pollution when you are on the road on a scooter. My skin is black when I arrive, I can only imagine what comes into the lungs, even though I wear a mask. My time on Bali is supposed to be fun and good and I am free to do what I want. To want to sit on the scooter in this traffic 2 hours on a regular basis it has to be for something that is really motivating and worth giving everything for.

I have had a good time with the other volunteers and I also have good contact with some of the Balinese employees. For the children and teenagers I could have given everything and I love to be around them. And I would love to help with more if the conditions were good and if I was asked by the Balinese for something specific. At this point I anyhow feel happy with what I have been able to do for them and I certain that my decision is right.

Besides the fact about driving a distance there has been a lot of internal problems and conflicts at Sjaki, between the board and the volunteers. For me it has been problems outside my business because of my different kind of role at the foundation. I was there for 10 months with no other conditions then that they paid me the petrol for driving and they fixed my visa. I was going to make the first aid conditions better and furthermore help where needed. The other volunteers had more specific tasks and also had other conditions. Angeline and Berry were only 4 months and did some very good and important things and left again in January, we all missed them very much! The conflicts have not become smaller during the last couple of months and for me this was also a big motivator to be sure of my decision that I wanted to stop. I finished my first aid tasks and other things and told everybody that I would stop. Meanwhile my friends, the other volunteers, also decided to stop for reasons of their own related to the conflicts the last couple of months. I hope Sjaki will stay and survive for the children and teenagers, they have such a good place with dedicated teachers. Without a place like Sjaki they have no place to go.

I am very happy I started these 10 months with doing volunteer work. It was a great opening to get to know locals and it was wonderful to get to see the children with special needs here in Bali and have a chance to do something for them. I have had some great moments with them, the teachers and other employees and volunteers. I have seen more of inside and real Bali and behind the tourism because of Sjaki.

So now by coincidence we all stop at Sjaki at the same time almost, so we decided to end it with the great valentines event, which was planned already a long time ago and the other volunteers had already done almost all preparations for it. It was a big event organized together with the CP lounge, Sjaki’s neighbor and with a local band. Lots of sponsors, food, drinks, raffle, performances of all kinds and sharing love for and together with disabled children of Bali. All money was going to Sjaki and two other foundations for disabled children. It was a great day and evening and I was personally really touched by all the performances by the children. Deaf children dancing different Balinese dances, with a wonderful woman who guides them with sign language and teach them to dance to the music. A big group with blind teenagers performing with their band and choir, which also touched me to tears, all the joy and talent they were able to show to us. One young lady with a physical handicap read two poems written by her, translated by someone after she said it. I cannot express it in words, everybody should have been there to see her perform it and hear how it is to have a handicap on Bali…

See the pictures of a great valentines day <3

One of the dance performances by deaf children and their teacher :-)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Cremation ceremony

10 February there was a big cremation in Ubud. Ubud still has a royal family and when somebody of this high cast dies, the cremation is very big and well prepared and it is also a huge event for the people and the tourists in the area.

Cremation is one of the important ceremonies in the life of a Balinese person, together with 3-month ceremony, teeth filing ceremony at age 17 and marriage. The upper priest decides when the cremation will take place, it has to be on a certain kind of day according to the Balinese calendar and it costs money for the local community, so often the cremation takes place months or years after someone’s death. The body is buried and the bones are taken up again for the cremation. The ceremony is including a procession through the streets of the village with the body/coffin inside a creation made for the occasion, woman with offerings and gamelan orchestra.

This special ceremony in Ubud was for 3 members of the royal family, they have died in the past period and when the last one died they planned a cremation for the three of them together. The procession was going from center of Ubud, about 1 km down the road to the Ubud temple were the cremation was taking place. The 3 coffins were placed inside 2 enormous towers (2 in one and 1 had a tower by himself) carried by men down to the temple, accompanied with gamelan orchestra and all the people participating in the ceremony, all the tourists and locals in the area. It sure was a spectacular sight and event! Respect to all the men carrying the towers and unbelievable that everything is going ok every time. There is a lot of security and police but everybody does what they want and walk were they want while the procession is going on with the huge creations balancing through the streets, there are not really rules or restrictions on were to walk or what to do. When the men carry the towers they make a fast move, almost running down the street, after about 100 meter they stop for a short brake and continue the run. The gamelan orchestra is playing loud music and dancing and singing.

One of the towers taking of, but first they take a dance running round and round with the tower, this is to mislead the bad spirits so they dont follow the dead bodies to the final destination.

The boys from the orchestra with their load music

Arrived at the temple the bodies are taken out of the towers and placed into 3 cows that were standing on a platform at the temple, the cows are made of wood and different material, hollow inside for these bodies. A lot of men worked on getting the bodies inside the cows and all the offerings brought by the woman. When the bodies were inside, the gamelan orchestra stopped and most people left the area. Probably the ceremony at that point is over and the burning part is not interesting to them. I’d like to stay, but had been standing there for so long already and rain was coming so I also left before they started the burning. Anyway it was a real unique experience! :-) Now we would like to witness a marriage and a 3 month ceremony :-)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Balinese Family Visit & Snorkelling

Last weekend we slept one night in Candidasa again. We had made plans with Iluh (a Sjaki colleague) to meet her. She had invited us to show her home and family in her village Klungkung. We enjoyed seeing how Balinese friends are living and meet Iluh in her private atmosphere. After the visit we drove further to Cadidasa and stayed again in Puri Oka Beach Bungalows. Sunday we arranged for snorkelling with a boat at the small islands close to the shore of Candidasa. In the underneath slide show we show the highlights of this weekend.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Pappa chapter 2

Until I was 6 we lived in Mosjøen, Sofie was born right before I turned 5. All these years I did not go to any kindergarten, parts of this period pappa was home daddy while mamma went to work. I have a lot of memories from that period and the day’s home with pappa. I think I have so many memories because he made such magic out of everything we did that it’s stuck in my memories, besides having a great imagination myself, which he also always encouraged a lot. He seldom read books for me, mamma read the books and pappa told stories from when he was a child and about all the tricks he did.
Always around the time that mamma was supposed to come home we opened the window, I stood in the window and we started shouting and singing her name out on the street. :-) I also have a whole story in my head about all our serious talks about the ‘trolls’ in de Øyfjellet. Troll are creatures living in the Norwegian woods according to the legends and fairytails. Øyfjellet is a mountain stretching right up of the Vefsna fjord on the other side of the water, our house at the time was partly standing on pillars in the fjord, so looking out of the window you looked right out on the fjord and the Øyfjellet. This was a great place to live as a child and it clearly was a great environment for the imagination and dreaming, or making up stories about what was hiding in the mountain :-)

The trolls had names and personalities, it actually grew out to be a whole community there in the Øyfjellet, doctor, teachers, grocery lady and so on. Together pappa and I talked about all the trolls and what they did and what happened every day, mainly Surat & Surit were important, the main characters in our story. They were a couple and had many children, they lived in a house inside the mountain looking a lot like our house. Surat was always sitting in a rocking chair and he was such a clumsy troll, he always rocked the chair too hard and bumped into the bookshelf and got all the books on his head. In my memory they even came to visit us a few times, of course they were a little too big to fit through the door, but still they made a visit.

Getting older, our conversations became more intellectual and very often like discussions. He triggered me to think, be critical, open minded and philosophic. He knew at every stage of our childhood to take us seriously and meet us at the emotional and intellectual level we were at the time. This is one of the most important things I will take with me when I have children, I may not have the story telling talent, but I will for sure meet my children at the level they are and grow and develop together with them to strong human beings.

Our house and the fjord

Øyfjellet and Mosjøen down by the fjord

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Hotel Fromeyn

Our Fromeyn Adventures Hotel here in our house in Bali is almost fully booked :-) In the past few weeks a lot of visits have been confirmed and now we are almost “fully booked” until the end of our time here on Bali. We are happy to know so many of our friends take the opportunity to come to Bali and explore this wonderful island together with us. In 3 weeks we will welcome Iris’ brother Anders, together with Tonje and Aina who come over from Australia for a weekend. Aina and Tonje were here in December as well and are returning together with Iris brother, he visits Aina and Tonje in Perth, they live and study in Australia since a few weeks.

Further we will welcome Mailiss and Erling from Norway for two weeks in April to be followed directly by Sarah who gave this trip to Bali as her graduation gift to herself, congrats to Sarah. After Sarah’s 3 weeks visit we will have the house alone for 10 days until Iris’ research buddies Anneloes and Marloes will come from the Netherlands for a 2 week visit. So the award winning team will be reunited one year after their victory to spend the price money they won, again and again :-)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

School trip, reports and holy water

Friday last week everybody at Sjaki-Tari-Us went together on a school trip to Pura Tirtha Empul, a Hindu temple in the Ubud area. The reason for the trip was that all the children and teenagers were getting their reports this day, and for this nice event we went to the temple. Pura Tirtha Empul is one of the important temples for the Balinese, because of the holy spring water and the public baths connected to the springs.

It was a sunny and nice day and we went with buses a 45 minutes drive to the temple. Teenagers, children, parents, teachers and volunteers, a group of almost 80 people were all dressed in their beautiful traditional clothing and we also brought an extra sarong to be able to swim/bath. We arrived happily with food, drinks and reports and headed for the entrance. But when the guard saw some of us were white people he stopped us immediately and he wanted us to pay…we had stopped at the local entrance, but he was not happy to see white people there too, in his eyes a bule (white person) is always a tourist I guess. So a big discussion later between the guard and our headmaster at Sjaki, the guard left angry and we continued and went inside.

After changing as discreet as we could in the unisex changing room we started the bathing experience. It was very refreshing in the burning sun but for sure also a special ritual, everybody goes in line to clean themselves under every spring with a certain kind of ritual. The grownups took all the children also under the springs, which was quit a challenge, many screaming kids for a moment there ;-) After a “trying to discreet change clothes session” again back to my kebaya we joined in with the prayer inside the temple.

After a welcoming meal for everybody made by our warung the day was ending with the children and teenagers getting their reports and a gift. It was such a beautiful moment, seeing them one by one proudly getting the reports from Guru Ibu Iluh.

I had a wonderful day with the children and teenagers this day!