Singapore is unlike any other city…10 laws punishable by fine and jail in Singapore…

Sri Mariamman Temple, which we’ll tour in the next few days.

It’s expensive in Singapore… in restaurants, hotels and for products and services. We realized this fact, prior to booking a one week stay when we had a gap to fill in the itinerary and hoped to apply for necessary visas.

So far, we’re doing well staying within our daily dining budget of US $100, SGD 135 per day.  We’re reading online reviews on local restaurants as well as walking through the area to check out endless menus posted outside a wide array of restaurants. This is an adventure in itself!

Shoes left outside the Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple.

With the two embassies we visited yesterday and this morning, we weren’t able to have breakfast before heading out, nor did either of us have coffee or tea, fearing we’d have to make to bathroom stop. We’ve been on a mission to get as many of these three visas knocked off.

Hindu temple rooftop adorned with the revered cows in India.

By noon, we’d returned from today’s two embassy visits with the much needed completed Vietnam visas we collected first thing this morning. From there, another taxi ride to the Thai Embassy where again we applied for another visa for the upcoming  six-week stay in Phuket. 

Soon, we’ll tour the Sri Mariamman Temple in its entirety.

Efficiency and organization is of the utmost importance in Singapore, we weren’t surprised when the process at the Thai embassy would be seamless as it was at the Vietnam Embassy. 

We were well prepared with all of the required documents, including passports and extra passport photos, copies of airline tickets in and out of Thailand accompanying both completed signed applications with cash fees of SGD 100, US $74.14.

Chinatown is a very exciting area to scout.

On the return drive to our area, we stopped at a restaurant for a somewhat mediocre brunch/lunch. Currently, we’re back at our hotel preparing today’s post and documenting all the receipts we’ve accumulated over these past few days.

Each business has its own unique storefront.

Once we’re done with these tasks, we’ll make a plan for the remainder of the day, most likely heading back outside to walk more of the exciting streets surrounding us. We chose a perfect location allowing us to walk to one amazing area after another.

At dusk, the streets began to fill with hungry tourists and locals.

Based on timing, we won’t be able to apply for the Indonesian visa while in Singapore. With a morning flight on Tuesday and the fact the Thai Embassy has our passports right now which we’ll collect tomorrow between 2:00 and 300 pm, the required time slot, we won’t have time to apply for the Indonesian visa with its two to three day processing.

The number of dining options in our immediate area is astounding.  We’ll try a new spot each night.

As a result, we’ve decided to wait and apply for Indonesia once we’re in Hanoi arriving next week for a five night stay. The Indonesian Embassy in a 10 minute drive from the Hanoi hotel allowing us ample time to get it done with relative ease, we hope.. 

The evenings activities begin at dusk in Singapore with lots of cars, taxis and pedestrians. 

With peace of mind intact, we’ve begun to relax a little to fully embrace this short period in Singapore as long as we observe some of the peculiar laws in this country which may result in fines and jail time:

On our first night we wandered through Chinatown at dusk.  Diners had yet to arrive for the evening rush.
1.  The sale of or chewing gum is strictly forbidden anywhere in the country.

2. No walking naked in one’s own house.

3. No jaywalking.

4. Failure to flush the toilet in a public venue.

5. No urinating in elevators.

6. No public displays of kissing or cuddling.

7. Gay and lesbians couples are not allowed to live in the country.

8. It is illegal to come within 50 meters of a pedestrian crossing marker on any street.

9. It is considered illegal to enter the country with cigarettes.

10. Singapore is not a place for lefties. It is considered rude to eat, wave and greet with your left hand because it is associated with using the bathroom.

Interesting historic buildings are seen throughout the city as well as modern high rise hotels, business centers and residential properties.

Of course, there are serious consequences including public canning for failure to observe these and all laws.  As a result of the strict laws, there is little crime in Singapore. In addition, there are no typical slum areas. Every area is clean and maintained to perfection.

Also, there’s no “countryside” in Singapore. The entire small country is built and developed into one of the most influential business meccas in the world. So far, we’ve met and spoken to many business travelers from many countries.

The exterior our hotel, the Scarlet Singapore.  Its quite a steep walk up or down the road.

Mandarin is the primary language although many service providers speak some English. Many locals have a thick accent and with Tom’s bad hearing, I’ve been “translating” for him as needed.

More on Singapore as we continue to explore this country over these next few days.  With the high cost for tourism here, a one week visit will prove to have been ideal for our needs. In the interim, we’re enjoying every moment.

Photo from one year ago today, June 30, 2015:

After leaving the beach we drove to a high point in the Yorkey’s Knob area of Australia with this expansive view.For more details. please click here.

Arrived in Singapore…Oh my, this city is over the top!…

We’d expected the Vietnam Embassy to be guarded and much larger. As often is the case, many embassies are converted larger homes.

It’s spotlessly clean, low in crime, meticulously managed and literally filled with unusual shops, restaurants, boutiques and hotels that literally take one’s breath away. Although we’re not city people, it’s impossible for us not to be totally entranced by this magical place.

Upon entering the iron gates we walked this driveway to the Vietnam Embassy receiving fast efficient service.

Our flight was relatively uneventful from Denpasar, Bali to Singapore’s highly rated Changi Airport. We flew on one of the cheapest airlines on the planet, Jetstar, with a good safety record, but without even a glass of tap water included.

There were no pillows, no blankets, no movies, nor a nut or a cracker available for a cranky traveler. The seats are a little tight, but were leather and more comfortable with more legroom than on most US airlines

Desk area in our upgraded hotel room at the Scarlet Singapore, a boutique hotel, affordably priced. This is now cluttered with all of our extension cords and plugins. We’ll post final expenses on our last day.

In any case, our plane arrived safely without incident and once again, we were grateful for a good overall flight to another foreign land. Once off the plane, we quickly made our way through immigration, customs and baggage pickup.

The bed and bedding are extremely comfortable.

In no less than 20 minutes from touching down, we were in the taxi queue again without a wait.  Within a half hour we arrived at our hotel, The Scarlet Singapore, a Paris influenced boutique hotel, quite similar to the boutique hotel in Paris in 2014 where we spent two weeks.

We’d read that hotel rooms in general are small in Singapore. Once we checked in we asked to see the room we’d booked before having our bags moved. It was as tiny as a balcony cabin on a cruise ship. 

The French style furnishings in our upgraded room are typically in boutique hotels. 

I asked for an upgrade which we rarely do.  We can manage a tiny room on a ship, but the first hotel room we inspected was simply too small at 174 square feet, 16 square meters. For an additional US $344, SGD 435, we were upgraded to the sweetest Parisian hotel room one could imagine, roomy and with every possible amenity including free WiFi and free minibar.

The flat screen TV has multiple English speaking channels. It’s good to be able to watch world news.

After a good night’s sleep, we grabbed an 8:20 am taxi to the Vietnam Embassy to begin the process of acquiring the three needed visas while in Singapore including Thailand and Indonesia (for the upcoming second stay in two months).

I can’t wait to use the tub when we have a little more time in the morning. Few vacation homes have bathtubs.

Getting the timing to work is tricky when each embassy requires to keep our passports for a few days. The process is only applicable on weekdays. We’re here only until next Tuesday, not leaving us enough time to accomplish all three.

Instead we decided to apply for Vietnam (double entry) and Thailand which are most imminent.  We can apply for Indonesia while in Hanoi for five days starting next week. 

There’s also a spacious shower as well as fluffy robes.

The taxi ride was 30 minutes from our downtown location and surprisingly the traffic wasn’t as busy as we’d expected at rush hour. Arriving at the embassy a few minutes early allowed us to be first in line with our documents. 

We opted to pay the SGD 660, US $489 fees for both visas in order to be able to collect our passports and visas first thing tomorrow morning when we’ll be on our way back once again. From there, we’ll head to the Thai embassy to start the next process. If it goes as smoothly as it did this morning, we’ll be very grateful.

The room has adequate lighting and ample amenities.

Last night, we wandered the safe streets of Chinatown to scout for a restaurant. We found a cozy gourmet spot with a Michelin star rating. Tom’s full lobster tail risotto was delicious, but my 4 ounce, .11 kg slab of boney, Barramundi on a bed of greens was mediocre and certainly not enough for an entire meal. 

The complementary mini bar, restocked daily have everything we need. There’s even a bottle of Pelligrino in the fridge, my favorite bottled water. It’s safe to drink tap water in Singapore.

On the return walk to the hotel we stopped at a Seven Eleven to purchase raw nuts to fill in the blanks for me during our stay. In both Paris and London, nuts were a lifesaver for me when many of the items served in restaurants aren’t sufficient as a filling meal. 

After perusing menus of dozens of restaurants, we have a plan to try many anyway and see how they’ll accommodate my diet. Steamed or sautéed veggies, chicken, pork, fish and seafood will certainly work in any case. I’m not concerned it will work out well. More on that as time progresses.

Tom’s lobster risotto from Cato Restaurant last night.  He said it was delicious containing an entire large lobster tail draped across the top under a pile of pungent Parmesan cheese.

This city is conducive to lots of walking which we’re sure will be our primary means of checking out this amazing location. As for major sightseeing, we’re holding off until we get at least tomorrow’s embassy visit accomplished. But, we already have dozens of city photos we’re looking forward to sharing.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow, again a late posting after we return from the two embassies.  In a few hours we’ll be taking off on foot once again to explore this eclectic and fascinating city.

Photo from one year ago today, June 29, 2015:

A pretty restaurant on a corner on the Esplanade in Palm Cove, Australia.  or more photos, please click here.

Singapore, here we come!…Exceptional hotel and meal in Denpasar…Photos!

Charming Chef Suhaimi spent considerable time discussing my menu options and creating a meal I’d have loved even if my restrictive diet wasn’t necessary. Also, we shared travel stories with him when coincidentally, he’s from Singapore where we’ll be arriving later today.  He also lived in Thailand (where we’ll be in three weeks) and then in Dubai which we visited in 2013.

Our expectations for the Hilton Garden Inn in Denpasar, close to the airport, were few. At IDR  817,705, US $61 per night, we assumed it would be as basic as a hotel room could be. 

My crab and avocado salad was crispy and tart with a lemon,garlic olive oil dressing Chef Suhaimi made especially for me.
My buttery dish of salmon and vegetables with a tangy tarragon sauce Chef Suhaimi had prepared was flavorful, fresh and seasoned to perfection.

The fact we’d be at the hotel for less than 24 hours, it wasn’t necessary to stay in an upscale hotel. If it was clean, with free WiFi comfortable bedding and a few amenities, we’d be content.

Tom, 21 pounds slimmer than when we arrived in Bali two months ago, couldn’t wait to tackle this bread. 

Little did we know that we’d find ourselves in a hotel befitting a nightly IDR 2,681,000, US $200 or more price tag for the low price we’d booked at this Expedia link on our website

Tom’s mushroom soup with a Tepenade Crustini.

We left the villa at 9:45 am, stopped for fuel and for Butu to purchase a SIM card for directions on his phone, as well as one quick restroom breaks (yep, that on the floor toilet again which I figured out how to use this time!)  We didn’t arrive at the hotel until 2:45. It was a long five hours in traffic.

Tom’s lemon chicken entrée with mashed potatoes, and roasted vegetable.

What a relief it was when we finally pulled into the hotel to see it was considerably more appealing than we’d expected. With security checking both us and our bags and only a few short minutes at the check-in desk, we were on our way up to our room on the second floor.

Tom’s Oreo Raspberry Cheesecake dessert.

After we settling into our room, we explored the property taking photos and checking out the dinner menu. After the many hours on the road, we had no interest in taking a taxi to dinner and hoped we’d find good options in the hotel.

We were surprised the reasonable bill for our dinner. Tom had the fixed price meal, the “Set Western” which included a cocktail of his choice. He chose a frozen Marguerita. This total of tour dinner was IDR 744,150 was US $51.50 including 21% in taxes and gratuity. 

We’d read several excellent reviews at TripAdvisor for both the hotel and restaurant inspiring us to give it a try. We weren’t disappointed at all, especially when Chef Suhaimi couldn’t do enough to make an exceptional meal for me. 

Outdoor dining area.  It was cloudy and we opted to dine indoors.

He also spent time chatting with us as we each shared some worldwide experiences. He made the suggestion that we take a photo together as shown here today. We gave him one of our cards so he can check out today’s post.

Interesting artworks are highlighted throughout  the hotel.

The courses were well paced by a conscientious wait staff, the food fresh, seasoned well, hot and beautifully presented. We never felt rushed or, a sense of waiting too long for the next course.  Timing is such an integral aspect of a finely served meal. Without this element, even great food can seem mediocre. 

The swimming pool is much larger than most hotel pool.

This morning, we decided to try the hotel’s buffet breakfast with made to order omelets, eggs, bacon, waffles and a variety of Balinese dishes. Tom was in his glory when they had donuts, white toast and pastries along with pork bacon and fried eggs. 

View from second level to the bar.

Of course, Tom has no intention of staying with our way of eating over these next weeks until after we settle in Phuket on July 22nd when I’ll begin cooking again after a three month hiatus. I zipped it up and didn’t say a word.

The hotel hosts business events providing many ample seating areas for conversations.

For breakfast I had a delicious fresh egg omelet with veggies, chicken and cheese with a side of bacon, a few bits of gourmet cheeses and steamed broccoli. Once again, we were thrilled with an excellent meal and good service.

I reached out to touch these beautiful orchids in the lobby to ensure they were real.  They were.

The total bill for breakfast was IDR 242,000, US $18.30 including tax and gratuity. Having prepaid the hotel for our reservation at time of booking all we had to cover was the cost for the two meals at a total of IDR 986,150, US $69.30.

The hotel’s public areas are tastefully decorated.

With plenty of Indonesian rupiah remaining, this morning after breakfast I visited the desk to pay the balance in cash and confirm our free shuttle to the airport at 11:45 am. 

The king sized bed is comfortable with fluffy pillows and quality bedding.

Although we’ll be back in a few months, there is no point in carrying rupiahs to other countries.  We have enough rupiah remaining to pay for beverages at the airport during the wait for the flight. 

The bathroom is well appointed and designed with upscale soaps and lotions.

Tomorrow’s post may not be available until approximately six hours later than usual since we’ll be leaving our hotel by 8:30 am on our way to the Vietnam Embassy to apply for the first of three visas.  However, if we find we have time tonight it will appear at our usual time. Please check back! See you soon!

Photo from one year ago today, June 28, 2015:

This was one of our favorite spots located on William Esplanade in Palm Cove Beach in Australia. The vivid colors reminded us of the village in Placencia, Belize from so long ago. For more details, please click here.

Off we go!…Final expenses for two months in West Bali in an exceptional property…Final favorite photos…

It was business as usual with Tom wearing a sarong as the required dress to enter the temple. He had a hard time managing the steps.  He just didn’t have the same experience as women who’ve worn long dresses, knowing when to hold up the hem for ease in walking.
Me, at the monkey temple wearing the required sarong.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

The flow of the river at low tide. 

This is our last post from the West Bali villa.  Soon driver Butu will arrive to drive us on the harrowing four hour trip back to Denpasar which is only 74.5 miles, 120 km, where we’ll spend tonight in a hotel prior, flying to Singapore tomorrow afternoon.

This is where we dined each night with views of the pool and the sea.

We’re excited for the upcoming two months in Southeast Asia, especially once we’ve completed the process of acquiring  the three necessary visas hanging over our heads while we’re in Singapore for a week. 

The entrance to the villa.  Water spouts from the trunks of these elephant statues.  There are Koi pools in front of each statue.

The packing went well especially since we’re able to leave the duffel bag behind in the storage room awaiting our return, saving us hauling an extra 25 pounds, 11 kg, of items we won’t need in the heat of Southeast Asia. 

These two chaise lounges provided us with shade for part of the day.  Later, we’d move to the shade of the cabana.

After completing the packing yesterday, we weighed our bags only required to pay US $19.39, IDR $260,000 for the excess online.  That was good news.

The villa from the beach side.

Yesterday, Gede stopped by to say goodbye. We presented him with a generous tip for all he’d done for us.  This morning we tipped the two Kataks and Ribud.  They were grateful, graciously acknowledging the tokens of our appreciation. Interacting with the four staff members six days a week had been delightful.

The infinity pool and Jacuzzi view from the second level.

Also, yesterday was  our last day poolside.  It rained in the morning with the sun not peeking out until around 11 am.  Once the sky cleared we couldn’t get outdoors quickly enough to sit in the comfy shaded chaise lounges on our last day at the villa.

By early afternoon, it rained again driving us back indoors while it rained into the evening and again this morning. Overall, we’ve had very few rainy days during these past two months.

Kingfisher sitting atop a palm frond.

As we prepared the final expenses, using all the data we’d previously entered on the spreadsheet we were astounded to see how affordable the two months in Bali proved to be. 

Four buffaloes passing on the beach.  Its amazing these young kids can handle these large animals which obviously know them and cooperate.

Once you peruse these numbers, you too may be surprised at the reasonable cost of living in this fabulous property with a full staff to attend to our needs.  We can’t thank the staff and owners enough for the finite attention to detail in this property and anticipate our return with happy hearts.

Dragon fruit, a popular local item. 

Here’s the numbers which are among the most reasonable we’ve seen in our 44 months of world travel:

Expenses for 59 nights:  US Dollar to IDR Indonesian Rupiah

Vacation Rent:   US $ 4,648.03  IDR $62,330,082.30
Airfare:             US      579.96   IDR     7,777,263.60
Taxi:                 US     403.00    IDR     5,404,230.00
Visa Extension:  US     122.57    IDR     1,643,663.70
Tips/Laundry:    US     435.22    IDR     5,836,300.20
Wifi (SIM card)  US       20.32    IDR        272,491.20
Groceries:         US     935.00    IDR    12,538,350.00
Restaurant:       US       60.00    IDR         804,600.00
Hotel:               US       61.00    IDR         818,010.00
Pharmacy:         US      28.00     IDR        375,480.00

Total:                             US $ 7,293.10  IDR $97,800,471.00
Average Monthly Cost:  US $ 3,759.80  IDR $50,418,918.00  

Average Daily Cost:       US $    123.61  IDR $16,576,279.17

Flower market in Lovina. 

The above referenced grocery total included the cost for all the items purchased by the cooks for our meals plus all items we purchased on our own.  The above mentioned restaurant amount is an estimate for tonight’s dinner in Denpasar.

Beach views.

We couldn’t be more pleased with this Bali experience in its depth and breadth of what we’ve learned about the Balinese way of life, the affordable cost of living, the luxury and ease of living in this beautiful villa and the wonderful people we’ve come to know and love. 

Beach views from second story at high tide.

We’ll be back tomorrow with comments after dinner in a restaurant and the night in the Hilton hotel in the capital city of Denpasar!


Photo from one year ago today, June 27, 2015:

One of many quaint outdoor/indoor restaurants along Williams Esplanade In Palm Cove beach in Australia.  Please click here for more details.

Mother Nature says goodbye for now on our last full day at the villa in Bali…Romantic notions…Villa review…

This favorite photo bespeaks the beauty of this West Bali location and the divine pleasure we experienced daily overlooking the pool and the sea.

 “Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

This morning’s sighting on the beach. Wow! Was that intended for us?

Early this morning, shortly after 7:00 am as the sky began to clear after a rainy night, we stepped outdoors to see this rainbow. There was a smaller second rainbow at its side, although faint and hard to capture in the photo.

Was it Mother Nature saying goodbye to us in those short few moments when it was visible?  It disappeared in less than a minute as the trade winds between us and Java wafted away the awe inspiring view. We could easily have missed it. Tom called that rainbow “safari luck.” It was the first we’d seen in Bali.

Although the mountains in Java obstructed the final setting of the sun, we were able to capture a portion of its beauty. 

In a romantic way we believe it was intended for us. Many of the intense pleasures of traveling continuously revolve around “signs,” coincidences and optical illusions perceived in our minds as having a special meaning.

Some vacation rentals lend to the perception of romance more than others. Today, we wanted to share a few romantic notions we experienced in the Beach House West Bali, where we’ve lived for the past almost two months. It’s truly been a lover’s Paradise and a traveler’s dream come true.

View from the second floor veranda at low tide.

This special property could easily serve well as a vacation home for a family with its four large bedrooms each with an en suite bathroom with two additional water closets on the main floor, one intended for staff located in the garage and another other in the large foyer/dining room.

We didn’t use the expansive second story at all where two of the four bedrooms are located including a living room and enormous veranda with views we captured in many photos. 

Creepy looking sea crustacean that “borrows” this shell for protection.

Common in many countries, steps and stairways are often constructed without a full railing  Also, the riser of each step is much higher and different than we’re used to, which could easily result in a fall if not paying the utmost of attention when taking each step. This may not be ideal for seniors. 

Not previously posted Praying Mantis reflection on the edge of the infinity pool.

As a result, we opted to stay on the main floor.  Besides, we prefer to hang out on the main floor where all the action is! For two or more couples or a family, this type of arrangement could be perfect.

The kitchen, which we only used for making coffee, refilling our iced tea and a bit of prep on Sundays when the staff is off, didn’t attract much of our interest with the two Ketuts on hand to prepare our delicious meals. 

Tom took this photo of an enormous grasshopper yesterday. Each day we rescue many that were drowning in the pool.

With a comprehensive three-meals-a-day menu for guests, even the pickiest of diners can find the options they’ll enjoy. The only restriction is that everyone at the table must order the same menu items (except breakfast) with a few exceptions as described below, although they may chose to swap favorites among themselves at each meal. It’s explained verbatim (rough English translation) as follows in the menu:

“All dishes are made by the staff themselves of local fresh ingredients. You need as a companion during lunch and dinner, to match the dishes with each other. It is therefore not possible to opt out of a individually dish for lunch or dinner! This applies to both the appetizer, main course and dessert. From four people, you can choose a second dish. Breakfast can be chosen individually except bubur ayam (a Balinese chicken dish).”

Here’s our link for Part 1 of the villa’s menu.
Here’s our link for Part 2 of the villa’s menu.

Workers harvesting rice.

Our special diet was easy for the cooks to accommodate especially when we only eat one meal a day. We requested our usual coleslaw salad, the stir fried veggies and a protein source. 

Each meal was prepared and seasoned to perfection.

Over the past three weeks we included an added one cup of cooked rice for Tom once we noticed he continued to lose weight even when it was added to his meal a few times a week.

Yesterday, Ribud cut the grass with a grass trimmer/weed whacker while one of the Ketuts swept the grass into piles to be cleared. 

As for the cleaning and upkeep of the house and grounds…it couldn’t have been accomplished with more grace and ease, never making us feel as if our privacy was impinged upon. Kindness, consideration and discretion was observed at every moment by the gentle and conscientious staff. 

The house itself is in excellent repair, having been built four years ago and is continuously well maintained. The recent falling crown molding we described in an earlier post is inevitable in this highly humid environment. 

Tom’s charging buffalo story of a few days ago will always be remembered.

Any deviation from perfection is addressed immediately and resolved with the least convenience to us. As a matter of fact, any concerns are promptly and meticulously addressed to satisfaction.

Our only issue during these two months has been the quality of the WiFi signal which apparently will be improved by the time we return, although over the past several days we’ve had an improved connection. Gede promptly contacts the provider when we have an issue which may or may not promptly resolve the connection issues based on the circumstances.

Flowers were placed on the sides of the track as a Hindu offering for a safe and successful race.

For us, the most romantic and ultimately enjoyable aspect to this property (and also the property next door owned by the same party) has been the outdoors where we’ve spent most of our waking hours, beginning as early as 7 am, ending shortly before dinner when we shower and change to dine.

From the impeccably maintained infinity pool, the comfortable cabana, the multiple seating and lounging areas with hut-type umbrellas, to the chaise lounges we’ve used daily which are freshly “dressed” each morning with custom made fitted covers and over-sized fluffy towels comparable to what one would find in an upscale resort.

The buffalo race was quite an event!

In fact, living in this fine property is not unlike residing in an upscale resort with every possible amenity available at our fingertips. Yes, there are some drawbacks mainly as a result of being so far from a bigger city:  no nearby restaurants (who needs restaurants with the fabulous cooks at our disposal?); less immediate sightseeing opportunities; limited supply of local grocery stores carrying few western type products; and, the often poor WiFi signal.

Even vegetarians get tarter on their teeth.  He needs a cleaning!

There are always trade offs. Over the past several days as our first round in Bali comes to a close, we decided we’ve been easily able to accept the trade offs while living in this fairly remote location. 

If this villa was closer to the airport, as most popular resorts appear to be, the price could easily be five times this daily rate. End result for us? A better “bang for the buck” and ultimately a fine property we’d never been able to fit into our budget. 

Buffaloes trying to keep their heads above water while cooling off in the river next door.

In our world travels, its imperative we decide which appeals to us more; quality of location or convenience. In many cases, we opt for the quality  of the property at times sacrificing convenience, mainly since we stay so long.

The look on this monkey’s face made us howl with laughter.

A beautiful environment, often with a certain romantic appeal and its creature comforts and amenities are important to us over the long haul. In Beach House West Bali, our expectations have been met as we anticipate our return in two months with even a greater degree of enthusiasm than prior to our first arrival.

As for tomorrow’s four hour harrowing drive to Denpasar, where we’ll spend one night? It’s all a part of the experience. Tomorrow, we’ll be back, posting prior to leaving the villa with the final expenses in Bali!  Please check back for the surprising details!

Photo from one year ago today, June 26, 2015:

Scout Island as seen from Trinity Beach, Australia doesn’t look too inviting and isn’t inhabited. For more details, please click here.

No haircut for Tom …Favorite Bali photos begin today…Two days until leaving the villa…Three days until departing Bali…

Our wonderful staff at the villa, the two Kataks and Ribud holding a treasured Blue Fin Tuna which they filleted and cooked to perfection with spicy Balinese sauce, lasting us for a few meals.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

The river is used by many locals for a wide array of reasons including washing motorbikes.

A few weeks ago Gede drove us to a local barber shop for Tom’s usual international haircut. In most cases, we find the experience quite interesting and photo-worthy based on the usual good quality of service and often surprisingly low cost.

Colorful custom made fishing boats at the harbor in Negara.

As we sat on the rustic wooden bench outside the barber shop awaiting his turn with two customers ahead of him, Tom reconsidered, nudging me, “Let’s go. I don’t want a haircut today.”

What can we say about this, other than its simply adorable?

Long ago, we made a pact. If one of us doesn’t want to do something, whatever it may be, we don’t do it. For example, when we were in Maui in 2014 and Tom changed his mind about getting our teeth cleaned after we arrived at the dentist’s office and were told we’d have to wait for over an hour beyond our scheduled time. We canceled and left. None of it felt right to him; not the hour long wait or the appearance of the facility. Here’s the link to that story.

Buffaloes on the beach?  Wow, we never stopped enjoying this daily scene!

“Trust the gut,” Tom says and there’s so much truth in this concept. On bigger issues such as where we’ll travel, how we’ll get there and how long we’ll stay, its all up for discussion. In most cases, we readily agree. 

Many nights we wandered outdoors to the cabana to watch the sun going down and to revel in our exquisite surroundings in this exceptional villa.  Click here if you’d like to see more about the villa.

We explained to Gede that we decided against the haircut without a further explanation, preferring not to offend him. After a  quick stop at the apotek (pharmacy) and little market for a few items, once we returned to the villa Tom explained his reasoning. It was exactly what I’d suspected.

We’re always in awe when we see how resourceful Balinese people are using their motorbikes for transporting a wide variety of supplies.
While we sat on the wooden bench our eyes perused the tiny lean-to type shop, certainly which in itself had no bearing on Tom’s decision to leave. He explained it was a lack of sanitation on the combs and cutting utensils.  How easily he could have ended up with lice. I’d been thinking the same thing.
Each day, this neighbor, who lives on the road currently under construction, sits under this shelter and weave small baskets used for Hindu offerings. She always smiles and says hello although she doesn’t speak English. Many Balinese people do not speak English although many speak both Balinese and Indonesian.

In a three days we’ll be in Singapore where he’ll surely be able to get the much needed haircut in between our three embassy visits and sightseeing.

Rambut Siwi Hindu Temple (Pura Rambut Siwi) in Negara, the largest of three traditional temples located in each town in Indonesia.

Yesterday, we packed our bags. With only a few items remaining including the toiletries we’re still using, it won’t take us more than a total of 10 minutes to wrap it up. 

Also, we both got busy washing our shoes. Over these past years of travel we’ve discovered that many types of shoes can be washed by hand or in some cases, in the washing machine. 

Rambut Siwi Hindu Temple (Pura Rambut Siwi) in Negara is breathtaking in its design and long history.

With no washer available for our use and preferring not to burden the two Ketuts with such a task, we hand washed three pairs of shoes with antibacterial soap, which included a pair of my leather sandals. We left all three pairs drying in the sun with excellent results. They almost look new.

The glass-like surface of the rice paddies inspired many photos.

We each only have five pairs of shoes. Keeping them in good shape is vital over the next year until we return to the US, when we plan to restock clothing and shoes. Hopefully, they’ll last until then. 

Gee…in my old life, I’d have never considered hand washing leather sandals other than an occasional wipe with a damp rag. If they looked worn and dirty, I’d toss them out. Yesterday, when I placed them in hot soapy water, I giggled over the irony. How life has changed.

Gede and his parents whom we visited on one of a few trips to Lovina. It meant so much to us to meet them, especially as Gede has become so dear to both of us.

Here’s the rundown for the next few day’s posts:

  • Tomorrow: Villa review and more favorite photos
  • Monday (Sunday in Northern Hemisphere): Final expenses for Bali and finalizing favorite photos
  • Tuesday: We’ll share comments on the harrowing four hour drive to Denpasar. We’ll also include photos  and review of our overnight stay in Denpasar at a four star Hilton for only US $61, IDR $818,010 a night.  Later in the day, we’ll fly to Singapore.
This truly is Indonesian art.

From there, we’ll be posting daily from Singapore for one week while staying in a boutique hotel walking distance to Chinatown and the beach. It should be interesting and enriching between embassy visits.

May your day be interesting and enriching.

Photo from one year ago today, June 25, 2015:

This beautiful cove was at the end of the boulevard in Trinity Beach, Australia. For more photos, please click here.

Tom’s second biggest scare of his life?…In his own words…Three days and counting…

This buffalo was not happy to see him. Tom used no zoom to capture this photo when suddenly this monstrous agitated animal approached him.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Hauling a heavy load of vegetation on the beach.

Up until yesterday morning the most frightening experience of Tom’s life occurred while we were sitting on the veranda in Marloth Park, South Africa and he spotted a Mozambique Spitting Cobra next to his bare foot. Here’s the link with photos to that story.

His second most frightening experience since that event in South Africa occurred late yesterday morning when he decided to take a walk in the neighborhood to check out the main road currently under construction which lead to the villas. We’ve walked that road many times and he was curious to see how it was coming along.

This is the beginning of the paver road under construction at this time.

I was busy attempting to get a good enough signal to upload the post and suggested he go without me. He grabbed the camera expecting to return within an hour. I never gave it a thought.

Thirty minutes later he returned, sweaty and flushed. “You won’t believe what happened,” he said, his voice more intense than usual.

Several workers were involved in the project to pave the road.

“What?” I asked with the utmost of concern while quickly scanning his body up and down for any possible injuries. In a flash of 10 seconds, I wondered if he’d fallen, although he’s as surefooted as anyone I know.

This is the grassy path Tom took in search of photos, never realizing what lie ahead.

Here are his words as to what transpired on the walk:

“The road construction is a 20 day project using pavers/cobblestones. While the work is being done cars have to drive on a small grassy trail (as shown above) to get to the highway.  

On Monday, when I went with Gede to the ATM, he drove on this path (not really a road) which is used by motorbikes and walking the buffalo down to the beach and the river located near us.

This buffalo snorted and stomped his feet ready to charge.

After taking photos of the road construction, I decided to walk the secondary path to take photos of the cows and buffaloes I’d seen on Monday when I rode in the van with Gede.

As I walked down the path, I noticed two male buffaloes laying down on the backside of a property. I was walking on the grassy path about 10 meters, 33 feet, from the buffaloes when they first saw me.

This is the second buffalo who considered getting into the action. A cow is behind him seeming totally uninterested in what was transpiring.

One buffalo appearing agitated, immediately standing and snorting. He was only standing on  three legs since the rope he was tied to was caught and wrapped around his left rear leg. 

Being tangled and seeing me simultaneously obviously added to his agitation. I stopped dead in my tracks unsure of how secure his thin rope really was and what it was secured to. My first thought was that he was getting ready to charge me. This all transpired in a matter of seconds.

He untangled his fourth leg and aggressively began to approach me. I started walking backwards, keeping my eyes on him the entire time. Adrenalin kicked in as my heart started racing and I was sweating profusely.

Cows were contained in this roughshod enclosures.

My eyes scanned the area looking for a safe place to retreat in case he got loose. At this same time the second buffalo, about 30 meters, 98 feet away, stood and approached using all the slack he had available in his rope.

At this point, I slowly backed up out of sight from the buffaloes still checking for a safe exit strategy if either of them charged. At the same time, I was thinking to myself, “I’m glad I’m by myself and Jess isn’t here!” This way, I was only concerned for my own safety instead of worrying about her safety too.

Finally, I was out of sight of the buffaloes with vegetation blocking our view of one another. Then, I decided to carefully approach in order to take these photos. I sound like Jess who takes every precarious situation and turns it into a photo op!

Cows often look to see who’s passing by but seldom show signs of aggression. 

Originally, my plan was to walk the entire length of the grassy path and return the same way. So far, I was only one quarter of my way down the path but decided I didn’t want to take the risk of passing the agitated buffaloes again, especially when at one point, I’d end up between them on the path, not a good place to be.

I cut the walk short, retracing my steps back down the path constantly looking over my shoulder to make sure the buffaloes weren’t following me, all the while thinking how grateful I was to escape and that Jess wasn’t with me.

Finally, Tom had returned to the entrance to the villas and the beginning point of the road under construction. He’s was relieved and grateful to have avoided injury.

As I breathlessly told Jess the story, she asked, “Which situation scared you the most, the cobra in South Africa or the two buffaloes in Bali?” I had to think about it. In both cases we were in remote areas far from emergency medical care. These thoughts entered my mind. 

Both situations were equally frightening. But, with the buffaloes I was only fearful for my own safety and didn’t have to worry about Jess. So, for that reason, the cobra was scarier and the buffaloes are a close second.” 

As Tom told me the story, my own heart was racing over the thoughts tumbling through my mind over what could have happened.  Once again, “safari luck” kicked in and much to my surprise…he still got the photos!

Photo from one year ago today, June 24, 2015:

In Trinity Beach, Australia I stepped out of the car to take this shot. Tom reminded me that passengers on the ship had told him that the ocean is murky at most beaches in Australia, as opposed to the clear crisp blue waters of Hawaii and other islands. Here’s an article about the murky waters surrounding the Great Barrier Reef.  For more details, please click here.

Four days and counting until the four hour harrowing drive…Tools for staying organized…

We printed all the paperwork and documents we could possibly need for multiple upcoming flights and visa applications which will be required on paper at the embassies. Placing each in its own unique envelope seemed to be the easiest way to find what we’ll need. Also, included are the necessary documents for us both of us to apply online for the renewal of our Nevada driver’s licenses, Tom in six months, mine in eight months. The blue envelope contains extra passport-type photos we purchased here for use in applying for the three visas in Singapore.
“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”
Kids on the beach, making sand castles. This is universal worldwide.

Originally, when we booked two separate two month stays in Bali at the same property, we were hesitant, asking ourselves, “What if we didn’t like it? What if for some reason we were miserable?”

At the time, with the commitment to finalize the booking imminent, we decided to take our chances. If we didn’t like it, we’d find a way to make it tolerable. In most cases, if a location isn’t a favorite, we end up spending a good chunk of our time making plans for the future while we stay busy enjoying the location as much as possible.

Fluffy flowers.

That concept is predicated by a good wifi signal, allowing us to do research while the time whittles away. Although we totally loved the house and the staff in Marrakech, Morocco in 2014, we stayed a little too long for the venue, a total of two and a half months. 

But, here in Bali, in this lovely villa, we feel comfortable and at ease. Certainly, the WiFi signal could be better. Gede hopes there will be a resolution by our return. If not, we’ll live with it. We haven’t been unable to post something each and every day during these past almost two months. 

This flower design is commonly used at the ends of posts in Balinese construction.

Sure, there’s always nuances we’d prefer to be different; no flies while we’re dining is probably the biggest one. But then, it’s a reality of life in many parts of the world. 

While living in Australia, we quickly realized that the flies bite so we had to leave the screen-less doors closed in the heat of the day. Here in Bali, only on a rare occasion do we feel a nip from a fly, perhaps from a different variety. I’ve been able to use only a tiny amount of repellent to keep the mozzies at bay, especially early in the morning and late in the day during dinner.

A wide array of tropical flowers bloom in each location we visit.

No English speaking TV?  No big deal. Four hour harrowing drive from Denpasar to the villa (each way)?  Annoying. Visa extension requiring three round trips at a total of four hours of driving time along with hours of waiting time on each of the three days in order to complete the process?  Bothersome. Poor WiFi signal? Frustrating. No opportunity in this remote area to dine in a restaurant from time to time?  Unusual.

On the flip side, we’ve loved so much about this location; the fabulous staff and their attentive care; the outrageous food; the exquisite accommodations; the infinity pool; the ocean views including daily wonders on the beach; the local people and interesting culture; and the unusual experiences we had almost daily in one way or another.

Birds and beasts are symbolic in Indonesia designs.

A few nights ago, there was a crab in our bedroom. That made us laugh. When does one find a crab in their bedroom? With a handful of paper towels I picked it up, depositing it back to the beach.  Buffalo on the beach every evening? Where does one see this? We’ve never lost interest in watching them meander along the shore. It goes on and on which we’ve shared in post after post.

So now as we wind down the remaining four days at the villa we smile with the knowledge and the acceptance of the few obstacles, while for the first time in our travels, we know what to expect upon our return…another two months in Paradise. 

Neighboring villas also have neatly trimmed landscaping.

Will are readers be bored when we’re back here with “same old, same old?” We hope not and, we have a plan. During the upcoming two whirlwind months of activity after traveling to Southeast Asia we’ll be thrilled for a little downtime while back in Bali to begin sharing stories we’ll have saved for our readers. 

We’re planning to save many of our Southeast Asia cultural stories especially from the Mekong River cruise (to eventually be posted when we return to Bali), writing the stories as they occur while the information is  still fresh in our minds. 

Bus stop in the neighborhood.

Of course, we’ll prepare a shorter daily post in “real time” while on the Mekong River cruise as we experience Vietnam and Cambodia both by land and water since we’ll be out on tours most days during the cruise itinerary.

As for Singapore, starting in five days (we’re spending one night at a hotel in Denpasar, Bali before the flight), where we’ll be for one week, we’ll prepare our usual posts with photos as we visit three embassies for the required three visas we need, incorporating sightseeing along the way. This should be quite an experience it itself.

The Hindu temple often has scary statues to drive away evil spirits.

Today, we’ll both pack and weigh our bags, pay the online excess baggage fees and be done. Once again, this will give us peace of mind allowing us to thoroughly enjoy our remaining few days at the villa. 

May your day bring you peace of mind!

Photo from one year ago today, June 23, 2015:

Shopping in Trinity Beach, Australia was as unique as it has been in most new locations.The AUD 227.57 for Woolie’s Grocery Store, (aka Woolworth’s) translated to US $175.86. This total didn’t include the veggies at US $32.77, AUD 42.41 and Italian sausage at US $13.45, AUD  17.40. For more details, please click here.

Losing 32 pounds, 14.5 kg, between us while in Bali for less than two months…What? How’d that happen?

This was a woman on a motorbike transporting vegetation to feed animals.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

This wild or stray dog was digging in the sand looking for food.

Tom gained quite a bit on the past few cruises which he never seemed to lose after even with my diligent efforts in cooking a LCHF (low carb high fat) diet which is grain, sugar, and starch free. Over time, he noticed he was gaining weight when he had trouble buttoning his pants.  I noticed it in the protrusion of his belly.

Then again, I’d gained about 12 pounds, 5.4 kg, over these past few years, especially after I discovered a few baked goods recipes that are sugar, grain, and starch free including cinnamon swirled buttery almond flour coffee cake recipe which totally appropriate for my way of eating but eventually packed on a few pounds. 

Also, prior to coming to Bali, we’d regularly been having a homemade almond flour, lemon poppy seed muffin with dinner (again befitting our dietary restrictions) that was irresistible with gobs of butter. The butter wasn’t the issue. It was the muffin.

Tom’s tuna, rice, and veggie dinner last night.  He lost weight, eating these plentiful and flavorful meals.

I noticed I was gaining weight, 1.73 meters, when I felt I noticed I was getting the much-maligned “muffin top” appropriately named from eating those muffin type foods while wearing low slung pants. I didn’t like putting on nice clothes to go out to dinner when nothing fit me. I felt like a stuffed sausage. 

I’m tall for a woman at 5’8″ (shrinking daily) although I have a somewhat smaller frame, making 12 pounds, 5.4 kg quite evident. As for Tom, he’s not naturally a “burly” type guy and at barely 6 feet tall, 1.83 meters, weight losses are also obvious both to the fitting of his clothes and good health. When he’s been on the heavier side, he’ll huff and puff hauling our heavy luggage. That can’t be good.

Had we continued on that path, none of our clothing would have fit. We both had to lay on the edge of the bed to zip our jeans. I hate that!  It’s not as if we have a closet in a guest room with larger-sized clothes for those less than lean periods.

The last month in New Zealand I tried losing weight, especially after I stepped on the travel scale to discover I was 12 pounds 5.4 kg, heavier than I’d been when we began our travels. It’s not as if I’ve been eating bread and pastries. 

Small buffalo neighbor.

As hard as I tried, I couldn’t seem to lose an ounce, while living most recently in New Zealand. Slim most of my adult life, I was worried when I’d always been able to lose a few pounds easily. I’d begun to wonder if it was time to accept advancing age as a reality that was continually going to make the scale and my waistline rise. 

Was the same true for Tom? Was the rotund belly a simple fact of advancing age? Was this our fate until we were old enough when many seniors naturally lose weight when cooking and eating become less appealing? We didn’t want that to be us if we could avoid it.

Then we arrived in Bali. No more low-carb muffins, coffee cake, and mushroom soufflé with dinner.No more low carb desserts for Tom. No more piles of sour cream which I’d been putting atop almost everything I ate as a “special treat. They don’t have sour cream, almond flour, coconut flour or the ingredients required to make any low carb desserts anywhere within a four hours drive of here. 

Fortunately, even when I incorporated these muffin-type foods into my diet I remained in control of my pain-free existence. Otherwise, I’d have immediately changed what I was eating.  No food is worth feeling pain.

My tuna and veggies dinner last night.

Continuing to feel well hardly triggered any motivation for us to change. We all like the taste and feel of “bread-like” substances in our mouths from time to time. However diligent we were in maintaining the list of acceptable foods, we simply ate too much food. 

Not unlike many others who adopt a “way of eating” over time, it’s human nature that we try to adapt it more to our liking and we start gaining back all the weight and then some. Statistically, as many as 90% of dieters regain all the weight they’d lost within three years, although stats on this are all over the place. Only we know our own reality.

For us, gaining weight is a serious issue both in health in our continuing travels and in our clothing continuing to fit. What, am I going to pop into the GAP to buy the next size up in my required extra long blue jeans? I can’t remember the last time I was in a GAP store…duh, maybe four years ago. 

Freighter passing by.

Bottom line, literally and figuratively is this…we both need to be able to continue to fit into the clothing we have on hand and for health reasons, stay within that range which is ideal for our body types. We each know where that is.

Then, we came to Bali where we were unable to purchase the above-mentioned ingredients nor was I cooking a single meal. Even on Sunday’s, the two Ketut’s day off, we ate a meal leftover for us to reheat that they’d prepared for two nights on Saturdays.

Beaches are seldom populated by bathers and sun worshipers.

Suddenly, we both started losing weight. We didn’t notice it at first. It just fell off, me more slowly than Tom but a little each week. We started stepping on the travel scale (suitable for both humans and luggage) squealing with delight over each pound lost.

In less than two months, Tom lost a full 20, 9 kg, pounds, down to his lowest weight since Belize in 2013 and I’m back to my weight of many years prior to traveling. Our clothing fits perfectly. We both tried on pants and shorts thrilled at how comfortable they’ve become once again. 

Tom’s big belly is gone, gone, gone.  My muffin top has all but disappeared when wearing those goofy low slung pants (I despise those low hip hugger type pants. What’s the deal there? Is it the ’60s again? When will women’s waist high jeans, pants, and shorts become available again which are so much more comfortable?).

Entrance to temple in the neighborhood.

How did we lose weight so easily is a result of our eating the following over the past almost two months in addition to our morning two cups of coffee with the whole cream:

1.  Huge plate of coconut oil stir-fried vegetables with Balinese spices.
2.  Protein sources cooked with butter or coconut oil, including fresh fish (usually blue tuna), grass-fed ground beef, prawn stir fry atop the above veggies, and chicken made in a variety of ways.  , we may have boiled eggs with dinner or bacon with bun-less burgers (tonight’s dinner).
3.  Coleslaw with homemade dressing.
4.  Rice for Tom on occasion. (He gave up the occasional treat of French fries/chips when they caused acid reflux which kept us both awake all night). He’s continued to lose weight while eating the rice a few times a week. 
5.  Natural cheeses for our nightly “cheese plate” as a dessert/treat after dinner.

That’s it. We eat nothing else. If we’re hungry during the day or feel a need for something, we have a bite of cheese or a hard-boiled egg. No more homemade low-carb baked goods, no more gobs of sour cream, no more nightly dessert for Tom other than his little plate of cheese.

Gone…32 pounds between us. We’re shocked and pleased to have learned an important lesson. As we age, regardless of how much exercise we get (we walk a lot and work out in the pool daily), it’s what we put in our mouths both in quality of food (we already had that under control) and in the amount of food we consume.  There’s no magic here.

Temples and Marlboro signs are everywhere.  Cigarettes are cheap in Bali at IDR $20,000, US $1.51 per pack.

It’s not about calorie counting which we don’t do and don’t believe is important or necessary. It’s not about eating low fat which decades-old myth is now being disproved by massive scientific studies worldwide.  

As for carb counting, even that’s not required when we eat only what’s on the above list. Nor, is it about eating tiny portions. We eat until we’re comfortably full and satisfied. The only reason we eat once a day, plus our cheese plate after dinner, is that we simply aren’t hungry. 

If all of us made one tiny change in our diet…never put a morsel of food in our mouths when we’re not hungry, rampant diabetes, obesity, and other diseases could be dramatically reduced making all of us more healthy.

The area near the beach where we stopped for photos.

For us, it was going back to that which we already knew and failed to do consistently over these past few years:

  • Eat food in its natural state; as healthfully grown and raised as possible.
  • Stop eating when full.  Eat only when hungry.
  • There’s no need for baked goods, treats, and sweets, even when they’re gluten-free, sugar free, grain-free, starch-free, and low carb.

There’s no guaranty Tom won’t indulge on the next round of cruises. Most likely he will. That’s his choice and there’s nothing I can or will say to change that. We each have to choose our own path. But, I’ve learned these valuable lessons after having the lovely two Ketuuts doing all the cooking.

And, if Tom gains back some of the weight, at least we’ll be back here in a few months for him to start over again. As for me, I’m not interested in going through this “clothes not fitting” scenario again. I’m staying firm on this path going forward.

May you chose a path to healthfulness that works well for you.

Photo from one year ago today, June 22, 2015:

In Trinity Beach, Australia, we noticed these White Ibis on the front lawn of a house near the fitness center. For more photos, please click here.

Unusual photos….Six days and counting…A full moon and Summer Solstice coincide after many decades in the Northern Hemisphere only…

These photos could have been used for “Sightings on the Beach in Bali” but we preferred to show the progression when we spotted this unusual display.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

After watching this local citizen for awhile with his plastic bags on the beach we couldn’t quite determine what he was doing.

Time to depart Bali has seemingly cropped up suddenly. Usually, we comment one week before departure which is a week from today when we’ll fly to Singapore. 

However, in six days we’ll leave the villa at 10 am for the four-hour harrowing drive to Denpasar where we’ll spend the night in a hotel. Unable to book a flight to coincide with the long drive with a reasonable flight time, again we chose the hotel option, to keep stress and rushing at a minimum.

Zooming in, this contraption appeared to be holding some sort of vegetation.

We’re hoping the drive won’t be quite as harrowing as when we arrived almost two months ago now that we’re more familiar with the roads and drivers in Bali and also that we’ll be more rested than we were upon arrival.

Yesterday, when Gede stopped by, we asked if we could leave the duffle bag at the villa in order to lighten our load during the two months until we return on September 1st. 

“No problem!” Gede enthusiastically stated, “We have a storage room to hold it for you.” 

One of our cooks went outside to greet the vendor and made a purchase.

We’re thrilled to lighten our load by at least 20 pounds, 9 kg, for all the flights we’ve booked over the next two months resulting in fewer excess baggage fees. We’ve already filled the duffle bag with heavy clothing, jackets, jeans, cruisewear, and slightly warmer clothing that we won’t need in Southeast Asia. 

It’s only casual attire on the upcoming Mekong River cruise with no formal nights. We’re each bringing one pair of jeans and a couple of pairs of long pants just in case it’s extra cool in the dining room for dinners on the ship. 

Up close the peculiar display looked smaller than it appeared from afar.

Based on the nature of this river cruise, we’ll only spend seven nights on the boat with the remainder in hotels as we continue on the cruise/tour to Vietnam and Cambodia, many evenings dining in restaurants off the ship. 

With lots of mosquitoes in these countries and many restaurants outdoors, we’ll be happy to have brought along our BugsAway clothing with long pants and long-sleeved shirts. We already have plenty of repellent with us.

As our travel and subsequent packing experience has escalated over these past years, I’ve now come to realize if I had to I could pack in 20 minutes. This results in my spending less time thinking about packing, although we still prefer to be packed a few days ahead of departure to weigh our bags and pay the fees in advance online resulting in a discount from most airlines. 

Ketut purchased these raw peanuts which would have to be roasted prior to consumption.

Our handy under .5 kg travel scale continues to serve us well for weighing our luggage and ourselves from time to time. It’s especially been useful recently when we both lost considerable weight while living in Bali. More on that in tomorrow’s post.

As for the full moon and the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, an odd pairing over the past many decades, here’s a bit of info we discovered at this website explaining it more succinctly than I could have:

“Watch for a full-looking moon on the eve of the June solstice (June 19, 2016) and a full moon on the solstice itself (June 20). From what we’ve been able to gather, this is the first full moon to fall on the June solstice since the year 1967, which some recall as the year of the Summer of Love, a social phenomenon centered on San Francisco, London, and other places around the globe.

There was nothing in his display that was befitting our way of eating. He took off for other opportunities seeming content with his peanut sale.

There’ve been a number of near-misses of full moons on June solstices, however. And we are indeed talking about the June solstice, not solstices in general. In fact, there was a full moon eclipse on the December solstice in 2010.
Reliably, the phases of the moon recur on or near the same calendar dates every 19 years.

It’s the “or near” that causes the full moon to miss the solstice on that 19th year, sometimes. Nineteen years from this year’s solstice – on June 20, 2035 – the full moon will not fall on the same date as the June solstice. It’ll be another near miss, with the full moon falling on June 20, 2035, and the solstice arriving one day later.

It appears as if the full moon and June solstice won’t fall on the same calendar date again until June 21, 2062.”

A young male buffalo neighbor.

Although we won’t have been able to observe this occurrence here in Bali (besides, its already a day later here), it’s interesting to read about this phenomenon in the Northern Hemisphere. 

If you’re able to take any good photos of the supposed “strawberry moon,” please send them our way via the email link on our homepage and we’ll be happy to share them with our readers with your permission and your name if you’d like. (Please specify if you’d prefer anonymity).

Shortly, Tom is off with Gede to the ATM. With generous tips we’ll be leaving for the wonderful staff, we’ll need millions of IDRs. I’ll stay behind to complete today’s post and to work on a few necessary pre-departure tasks.

Each evening during dinner, a pair of geckos appear which we hadn’t seen all day.  Once we uncover our food, zillions of flies bombard our plates.  We’ve actually watched the two geckos catch some of the flies.  Conclusion:  geckos smell our food and come “out of the woodwork” hoping to catch some of the flies attracted to our meal.  Nature…amazing!

It’s funny, how different this stay in Bali has been as opposed to many others knowing we’ll be returning in two months. Based on our itinerary it was a logical decision while we needed a place to park ourselves in-between cruises especially when we’re already in this part of the world. 

As always, we’ll be back tomorrow with our weight loss story, one we never expected or intended while in Bali. 

We hope all the dads out there in those countries observing Father’s Day had a very special day with their loved ones.

Photo from one year ago today, June 21, 2015:

Tom’s homemade dinner while in Trinity Beach included one pork chop, three gluten-free cheese sausages, one gluten-free knockwurst on a bed of sautéed onions and mushrooms, a side salad, and a muffin with New Zealand grass-fed organic butter. Was there something I was doing wrong in my cooking that prevented him from losing weight which has changed here in Bali? More on that tomorrow.  Click here for this past post.