Part 2…Balinese food prep and arrangement…Expenses for four night resort stay…

Bruschetta was served at our table each evening.  Tom ate my portion as he often does when such items are served.

This morning, after we finished our final included breakfast we walked up the steep stone steps to the lobby to checkout and pay the balance allowing us to quickly be on our way by 1:45, hoping to be early in the queue at the immigration office.


This mixed seafood dish was my favorite over the four dinners.

The fees for the two visa extensions were IDR $710,000, US $54.63, which we paid on Wednesday’s visit.  Our hotel bill at Puri Bagus Lovina , in its entirety, including the room rate, two pairs of pants, one shirt and bottle of custom made Balinese body oil came to a grand total of IDR $10,313,030, US $793.49. 

Avocado and feta salad.

We were pleasantly surprised with the total and couldn’t have found a more enjoyable and affordable alternative to driving back and forth to Lovina three times in five days for the required process. 

Although this doesn’t appear to be sweet and sour pork, it was indeed.  Tom said it was delicious ordering it two consecutive nights.  Note what’s  beneath the green cone in the next photo.

When we return to the villa we’ll pay for the rental fee for the van which will be IDR $200,000, US $15.39, per day for five days totaling IDR $1,000,000, US $76.94, plus fuel at IDR $200,000, US $15.39, bringing our grand total for the entire experience to IDR $12,223,300, US $940.47.

The server removed the green cone to display the rice beneath.

It was a lot easier than flying out of the country as some tourists may choose to do in order to get a new visa stamp allowing an additional 30 day stay, depending on one’s passport of origin. 

I ordered these roasted vegetable skewers along with the yellow fin tuna salad shown above and in the next photo below.

We’ve had an exceptional experience at Puri Bagus Lovina  with all the thoughtful attention we received from the management staff in appreciation for our four days of stories highlighting their exquisite property.  We couldn’t be more appreciative for the many ways they reached out to us.

This rare tuna salad I ordered was exceptional.

Today, we’re posting photos of the delicious and beautifully presented meals during the four night stay.  Not only was the food in the superb category but the gracious service and attention to detail further exemplified the objectives of this Balinese resort abundant in charm, ambiance and service. 

Western style omelet bar where made to order omelets are prepared to perfection.

Not a single meal disappointed us.  Flavorful, fresh and well seasoned platters were placed in front of us, course after course, never faltering in perfect timing and graciousness.  Beverages were served exactly as we prefer with lots of ice (an American thing) and in big frosty glasses. 

Tom and I both ordered the surf and turf platter.  He gave me his prawns, squid and veggies while I passed him my fries, flatbread and onion rings, requested on a separate plate.  The steak was a tenderloin, cooked to perfection and the most tender we’d had in a long while.


Management had encouraged us to notify them of any less than ideal food or service.  Long ago we accepted the realities of “island time” as we had no need or desire to mention that which is merely cultural in Bali…no rush, easy does it. 

There are several fixed price three course options on the varied menu.  We were allowed to mix and match items we preferred.  Tom ordered this salad, unbeknownst to me, with the intent of giving me all the prawns.  What a guy!  He’s always thinking of me.

Many tourists fail to accept such cultural differences when coming from a hustle and bustle lifestyle in their home country.  They want something and they want it now.  This is not to imply service was slow at Puri Bagus Resort & Spa.  It wasn’t.  It was gracious and done in a manner that never made us or the attentive staff feel rushed or stressed.

Tom’s said his French onion soup was divine.  He hadn’t had this soup in quite some time.

The Hindu culture centers around a gentle, low key sense of peace and well being.  Puri Bagus Resort & Spa definitely exemplified this culture with ease and seamlessness in not only its good service but also in its traditional focus on nature, cleanliness incorporating the Hindu and the Balinese ways of life.

Last night I ordered this platter of three types of fish including John Dory, halibut and snapper with a few prawns and grilled squid rings.  Fabulous!

We’ve packed our belongings and will be ready to head out the door in time to make the 2 pm appointment at the immigration office.  Shortly, thereafter, we’ll change into our shorts for the long two hour harrowing return drive to the villa.  Its ironic the roads are so crazy when the people of Bali are so calm and peaceful.  There again, its purely a cultural thing.

Tom’s Western style dinner last night; steak, onion rings and twice baked potato.  Again, he passed me his veggies.

We’ve yet to share many other photos we’ve taken over these past days which, as we continue with our stories in Sumbersari, Bali, we’ll incorporate into future posts. 

Tom’s dessert…crème brule, a round profiterole cookie with a white frosting base and bits of fresh fruit.  He enjoyed every morsel.

Stay tuned, folks.  We’ll be back tomorrow with lots more photos and new “Sightings on the Beach in Bali.”

A special thanks to all of our loyal readers for traveling with us wherever we may go!  We always feel your presence at our side.  Happy day!

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

Savusavu, on the island of Vanua Levu in Fiji is a busy little village.  We loved going to town to shop at several locations for our week’s groceries.  Many locals and some tourists take buses to other parts of the island.  Our driver Rasnesh, took care of all of our transportation needs.  For more details, please click here.

Part 1…Balinese food prep and arrangement…Romantic Dinner on the cabana under the stars…

During daylight hours we stopped to see the two cabanas where the “Romantic Dinners” would transpire.  Many more decorations were yet to come as shown in today’s photos below.

During our first meal of the four night stay in Puri Bagus Lovina in Lovina, Bali, we felt confident the chef had easily determined how my meals should be prepared to maintain the integrity of my restrictive way of eating.

The elimination of all sugars, starches, grains, potatoes, rice and starchy vegetables from my menu choices is not an easy feat when many Balinese dishes includes some, if not all, of these items.

Although the sun had disappeared behind the clouds, we reveled in the beauty of the evening’s scene.

When the first dinner was presented to me I felt confident we were in luck.  The effort the chef executed over these past several days has been evidenced in each meal’s diligent and thoughtful preparation.  

I never had to remove any items from my plates of delicious food.  Although Balinese meals may havinclude rutabagas, 33 grams carbs per cup; turnips, 8 grams carbs per cup; and/or parsnips at 24 grams carbs per cup, none of these were in my meals.  These types of vegetables have insulin spiking carbs comparable to a potato at 37 grams carb per one cup serving.

Before dark, the cabanas were adorned with flowers and candles for the after dark event.

Generally small amounts of starch and sugar don’t have an immediate negative effects as would gluten touching other foods, unless a person has a allergy to specific items in these categories.  But, the chef at Puri Bagus Lovina was extra careful.

Sitting on the cabana mat while dining may not have been ideal for some.  But, it certainly looked appealing.

The previous night I was concerned about some delicious chunks of what appeared to be butternut squash which contains 16 grams carbs per cup.  I took a bite, realizing it was carrot, which I can eat, and immediately felt as if I’d taken a bite of a delicious dessert with the exquisite seasonings and preparation. 

Traditional Hindu decoration were used in creating the ambiance.

In most cases in fine dining, once a chef is aware of my restrictions they make every effort to accommodate.  But, that rarely is the case in a casual restaurant/bar by the beach.  As a result, we’ve never tried any other restaurants while in Lovina.  In Sumbersari, there are only a few tiny on-the-beach type dining establishments at which we’d never considering partaking.

The flowers are easily picked from trees on the property.

In any case, we’ve had some of the best food we’ve had in our travels here in Bali both by the fabulous meals made by the two Ketuts at our villa, two hours down the road and then…here at Puri Bagus Resort & Spa in Lovina.

Carefully crafted fringe adds a final touch.

Not only has the food been delicious, but the presentation has been comparable to that which one would find in the most upscale dining establishments throughout the world.

The first course, a soup.

Last night was special when we had the opportunity to take photos of the meals served for the special menu option of a “Romantic Dinner” served under one of the oceanfront cabanas, exquisitely decorated with flowers and candles, presented course after course, while the romantic couple dines in luxury.

Surely, we’d have opted for such a special evening for ourselves but many of the food items didn’t fit into my diet and there was no way we’d expect the chef to modify each plate, bowl and platter of food to be befitting for my diet. 

Second course, crab and vegetable bruschetta.

Instead, Gede, the kindly resort general manager, arranged with the kitchen staff to ensure we’d be able to take photos of the extraordinary plates as they passed by us at our dining table on their way to the two sets of guests dining under two separate cabanas.

A starter, scallops with rice and (under the leafy cone).

Aptly named a “food voyeur,” a title Tom bestowed upon me long ago, I was totally enthralled with the smells and visuals as I took photos in the dark dining area as the foods were carried out by the enthusiastic servers, smiling all the while over the excitement of the photo taking and their part in the beautiful service.

Soon, our own platters of carefully crafted and displayed foods arrived while we found ourselves once again, pleased with our choices and the abilities of the chefs in this establishment of making each meal special in both design and taste.

The main entrée, one of these giant platters per person, included fresh seafood, a variety of meats and various vegetable and fruit dishes.

Earlier in the day and then again in the evening, we took photos of the decorations used to create the ambiance of the “Romantic Dinner” under each of the cabanas as shown in our photos.

The cost for the meal for two is a surprisingly reasonable IDR $1,350,000, US $104.33 (plus a 21% service fee for tax and gratuity) which includes a bottle of wine.  The average cost for our meals and drinks combined including the 21%service fee hasn’t exceeded IDR $776,400, US $60, each evening.  Breakfasts have been included in the room rate.

The servers were obviously proud of their unique presentation.

Tomorrow, we’ll return with our final food and scenery photos of the lovely Puri Bagus Lovina and the total expenses for our four night, five day stay at this special property.

These servers squealed with delight when we shot this photo.

As for the immigration office visits so far…we’ve completed Monday’s and Wednesday’s requirements and tomorrow, Friday at 2 pm (the resort is providing us with a late checkout), we’ll return for the third and final visit to collect our passports and visa extensions and then to begin the harrowing two hour drive back to our villa. 

The dessert plate served to each party in the Romantic Dinner setting.

We’re both thrilled to have chosen this means of conducting this otherwise cumbersome process over the required five day period.  We’ve had a fabulous experience but we’re hardly disappointed to return to our breathtaking villa and attentive staff. 

In no time at all, we’ll be back outdoors situated on the chaise lounges overlooking the infinity pool and the sea under the shade of an umbrella and enjoying our last full day in this paradise at Puri Bagus Lovina.

Have a beautiful day filled with wonders!

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Photos from one year ago today, September 29, 2015:

In Fiji one year ago, Badal, our neighbor Sewak’s dog, visited us almost every evening at dinner time.  We always made him a plate of food, whatever we happen to be having.  Badal especially enjoyed chicken night.   For more details, please click here.

Busy day at Puri Bagus Lovina Resort & Spa…What a glorious location!

 
We lounged in this (one of many) cabana overlooking the sea at Puri Bagus Lovina, iced tea in hand, with books to read on our phones.  Rather relaxing.

With an appointment to meet with a resort manager at 11 am yesterday morning, I worked on the post while we watched the US presidential debate which was on TV here in Bali starting at 9 am.  We were a little surprised it was broadcast here but with tremendous interest in US politics from many we’ve met, I suppose it was to be expected.


The luxurious oceanview suits include two separate bedroom wings, a center dining area and a private pool.

To maintain our stance of not discussing politics on our site, we will only state that we watched it and then went about our day.  I had an appointment scheduled for a tour of the Puri Bagus Lovina with Ayu, a manager and to discuss some of the features of this upscale serene property where many travelers come to unwind from the stresses of life in their home countries.


The bedroom in the suite is almost identical (although slightly larger) to our ocean view villa except we don’t have two bedrooms, an outdoor dining room, a private pool and the larger baths with added soaking tub and bidet.

As it turned out, I had an opportunity to speak with three managers as they gathered around our table in the bar sharing various points of interest in their respective departments and the resort. 

Inside the private pool area in the two bedroom suites are several chaise lounges and space for entertaining.

Gede, the general manager; Ketut, the restaurant manager; and Ayu were enthusiastic in visiting with me, knowing how appreciative we are to learn their story and details of the property. They were curious as to our perceptions of their country and our experiences to date, all of which I enthusiastically shared.

Walking through the thoughtfully designed gardens Gede pointed out many mediation and relaxation areas, all designed with the gentle  and healing Hindu philosophies in mind.

Built by the environmentally conscientious owner 17 years ago, the facility offers clean, attractive and comfortable rooms, many with ocean views such as ours and others with garden views with easy access to the beach.


The  Jaya Spa consists of several structures such as shown here each well appointed with its particular spa offerings in mind.

The pool is enchanting not only in appearance but in its pristine filtered water system using the finest local spring water as opposed to the less-safe-to-drink local water supply, which we discovered in speaking with Ketut. 

Yesterday afternoon, we had the blissful experience of swimming in the cool, partially shady pool built into a natural rock and vegetation formation overlooking the sea.

The grounds surrounding the various Jaya Spa structures are equally peaceful and serene.

(I should mention here, as we discussed during our first two month visit to Bali, there are only a few first names given to Balinese babies at birth.  Thus, this explains the similarities in names of many people we’ve met.  Please see below:

“The first born is Wayan, and if there is a fifth child, he/she is often called Wayan Balik (or Wayan “again”).Balinese children/people are given other names, including a new “name” after death. Generally, everyone uses birth order names to refer to each other, and to call each other constantly throughout the day. “Given” names may be chosen due, for example, to the influence of popular culture or politics. Like some other Indonesian cultures, Balinese do not use family names.

  • First born names : Wayan, Putu, Gede, Ni Luh(female only). Wayan is Balinese originally meant Wayah or oldest.
  • Second born names : Made, Kadek, Nengah, Made/Nengah means madya or middle. Kadek means little brother/sister
  • Third born names : Nyoman, Komang
  • Fourth born names : Ketut)”
Each guest is provided a unique experience suited to their particular needs.

After spending considerable time in the bar with Gede, the general manger, he took me on our tour to see the luxurious suites and the full service spa offering a myriad of relaxing and beneficial services.

What fascinated me the most during the almost two hour conversation and tour was the dedication of the owner and the full staff to maintaining an environmentally friendly resort with an atmosphere based on the gentle, soothing and spiritual persona in Hindu beliefs. 


The salon for hair, nails and pedicures was equally inviting.

Whether it’s an early morning yoga session in the exquisite yoga building as shown below, to lounging on one of the many comfortably padded cabanas scattered throughout the resort facing the blue sea, to a healing treatment in the spa, this peaceful resort caters to those seeking the utmost in service, ambiance, privacy and amenities.

Over the next few days we’ll continue presenting more photos of our blissful experience at Puri Bagus Lovina while we make our way through the five days of requirements at the immigration office. 

The building where yoga classes are conducted.

Busy preparing the posts, taking photos, dining at both breakfast and dinner, spending time at the pool and walking through the exquisite grounds has made our days and evening satisfying and complete. 

Add the delight of participating in many engaging conversations with staff, we’ve had a superb experience thus far and expect it will continue over our remaining two days until we return to the villa.

Tomorrow, we’ll begin to share the diverse, delicious and creative food choices at Puri Bagus Lovina and an exciting special event occurring tonight.  Please check back!

Be well.  Be peaceful.

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

These baby goats in Fiji were less than a week old.  Note the bit of greenery in the mouth on the one of the left.  For more details, please click here.

 

We made it to Lovina…Two hour harrowing drive…Dangerous experience…



Last evenings view from the beach at Puri Bagus at sunset.

When we loaded the van with our bags and began heading down the road we noticed the fuel gauge registered at empty.  Finding petrol stations is not that easy in the remote area of Bali.  As it turned out, we had to drive past our exit for Lovina to the village of Gilimanuk to find a place to purchase fuel.


Crossing over a river.

It would have been a huge inconvenience to run out of gas.  Thanks to “safari luck” we made it on fumes long after the warning light lit up.  Turning around, within 15 minutes we were back on the correct road toward our destination.

Pretty ocean view along the highway.

For some ridiculous reason I expected the two hour drive to be less stressful with Tom driving than the drive from Denpasar to the villa with a driver, the four hour harrowing drive.  I was kidding myself.

Ocean view on the drive to Lovina.

At the end of May, we made the same trip when we first had to travel to Lovina to get our first visa extension.  Now, we’re here once again for our second and final visa extension requiring three separate trips to the immigration office on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday of any given week in order to complete the cumbersome application process.

Tom is an excellent driver.  I’ve said this many times in the past.  But, even the best driver has no control over the action of other crazy and reckless drivers.  No less than on four occasions, we had “close calls” when motorbikes, trucks and cars were passing with little regard for other vehicles on the narrow two lane road.


Indoor seating area in the villa.

Finally, with a sigh of relief we entered the outskirts of the heavily trafficked town of Lovina with masses of fast moving vehicles comparable to that in wild-ride Denpasar.  It took another 35 minutes to reach our destination, the immigration office.


The queen sized bed was comfortable for a good night’s sleep.

With documents in hand, we picked a number from the automated machine.  It was 11:20 am.  At noon each day, the office closes for lunch reopening at 1:30 pm.  If we didn’t get called in time, we’d have to leave and return later.

In no time at all we were called to the counter to begin the process.  The kindly English speaking officer handed us applications to be completed and reminded us we’d have to wear long pants when we returned later in the day.


Tom showered in our outdoor shower.  I opted for the indoor shower.

Oh, good grief!  We forgot about wearing long pants to government offices in Indonesian as a requirement.  Neither of us had brought along a single pair of long pants.  When we were packing Tom suggested we bring our Africa insect repellent long pants knowing we’d be dining outdoors and I dismissed the idea.  Had I agreed we wouldn’t have had to figure this out.


There are many shady spots for guest’s use offering protection from the hot sun.

Neither of us remembered from our multiple trips in May that long pants were required.  A lot has transpired in these past four months that could easily have contributed to this fact slipping our minds. In our usual way, we don’t do any blaming, instead spending our time considering our options.


As we walked toward the beach.

Since we had to return later with the completed application, we had a little time to find a place to purchase pants.  First, we decided to find our hotel, Puri Bagus, located within a kilometer of the immigration office, where we’d complete the application, make a few more required copies and see if they had a gift shop selling clothing.


The veranda view.

Once again, we were in luck when I remembered that Gede told us to look for a very bumpy road, two left turns from the immigration office.  The tiny one lane road leading to the hotel was unmarked with no signs indicating the hotel nearby.  Luckily, we quickly found the bumpy road making our way to the end to the exquisite Puri Bagus. We were shocked we found the correct road.


Grounds near our villa.  The Hindu/Balinese influence is always present creating inviting surroundings.

The Puri Bagus Lovina, is gorgeous, more than we expected.  The service is impeccable, the ambiance over-the-top.  In no time at all, we were in our private thatched roof villa and at works on the forms.  Once completed, we quickly headed to the hotel’s gift shop hoping again, luck might be on our side.


Table and chairs on our private veranda.

Alas, no more than minutes after we entered the small shop we were in the try-on rooms hoping that we’d find long pants to get us through the three upcoming trips to the immigration.  The women’s pants were awful, definitely not anything I’d ever wear again with the length too short and the legs way too wide. 


The ocean view from our private villa’s veranda.

Finally, we both found with the exact same pair of men’s pant, a beige linen, mine sized at an XS and Tom’s, a large.  I’d never worn men’s pant before but these with a drawstring fit, although still a little short for me. 


The enticing grounds are neatly trimmed and maintained.

Tom’s fit him well for now anyway, not necessarily at the end of the upcoming 33 night cruise after eating all that food.  The cost of the two pairs of pants and a top I purchased, we spent a total of IDR $839,000, US $64.39.  We didn’t complain.  We avoided the necessity of heading further into the town with much worse traffic to go shopping which neither of us enjoys anyway.


These cabanas are available for any guest’s use.

By 1:30 pm, we were back at the immigration office wearing the long pants much to the pleasure of the immigration officer who joked and laughed with us.  By 2:30 pm, we were out the door anxious to get out of the warm clothing on a very hot day and relax a bit at our hotel before heading to the bar and dinner in the evening.


The sandy beach at the resort.

By 6 pm, we were taking sunset and other photos throughout the resort feeling refreshed, rested and excited not to have to return to immigration until Wednesday at 9 am for round two of three. 


View toward the pool from the pathway along the beach.

After a few drinks in the oceanfront bar and later a fabulous gourmet meal in the resort’s main dining room while entertained by soothing local music, we were able to unwind and revel in the luxurious surroundings.  Soon, we’ll share photos of our beautifully presented meals in this fine establishment.


Foot bridge we walked over on our way to the bar.

Today, I’m meeting the Puri Bagus Lovina manager for a comprehensive tour with many more photos and stories to share while Tom stays behind for some research we’re conducting, easier here with a better Wi-Fi connection than in Sumbersari.  We’ll be back with much more each day as we continue our stay in Lovina.

Have a beautiful day!

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Photo from one year ago, September 27, 2015:

This duck’s unusual crown caught our attention one year ago.  He seemed proud of his facial characteristics.  For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…A visit to new friend’s home in Sumbersari…A walk along the beach to more visions of paradise…Interior photos today…See yesterday’s post for exterior photos…

Private outdoor massage area  at Pia and Thomas’ home, used often when a massage therapist visits the house several times a week.
“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”
On the walk along the beach to Pia and Thomas’ home we spotted these two coconut shells.  The one with the water had mosquitos thriving in its content and the other?  Who knows what may be living therein?

Today, as you read this post you’ll notice it was posted earlier than usual since soon we’ll be on the two hour road trip to Lovina where we’ll spend four nights in a one of the most highly rated hotels in the area, the Puri Bagus Lovina.  We’ll be posting photos of our room, the hotel and highlights of Lovina over the next several days.

We couldn’t get over Pia and Thomas’ outdoor kitchen and the fact there was no indoor kitchen, a unique feature that only a climate such as found in Bali allowing this ideal scenario. Its easy to imagine the pleasure of dining at this handcrafted table.

Returning to the villa on Friday afternoon, after the five day visa extension process, hopefully we’ll have the visa extensions in hand.  We’d intended to leave early this morning. However, yesterday I hadn’t completed the two comprehensive posts (click here for exterior photos) for our new friend’s, Pia and Thomas home on the beach.  Thus, we decided to leave a little later while I finished the post as Tom watched the Minnesota Vikings football game.

Granite countertops and built-in grill.

As it turned out, we spent more time packing for this four night trip than we usually do when packing for our final departure in any location.  Picking through our limited wardrobes, packing toiletries, computers, digital equipment, power adapter, HDMI and extension cords proved to take more time than expected.

The Balinese styled cabinets are a special touch.

Yesterday, alone at the villa all day with the staff off on Sundays, we had an wonderful day although it rained off and on.  During a short period of sunshine, we swam in the pool and later chatted seated under the cabana thoroughly enjoying each other’s companionship.  Gosh, we’re lucky we never tire of hanging out together!  We never seem to run short of playfulness or topics of conversation!

Balinese statues welcome guests as they enter the side of the property from the front entrance.

We observed this same type of companionship, love and devotion between Pia and Thomas.  They, too, love spending time together reveling in the joys of their daily lives, never failing to appreciate the gifts each day brings. 

We fell in love with the open air master bathroom.

In a few years, Thomas will retire and their lives will not be too different from ours, except that they plan to stay put in Bali for part of the year, traveling from time to time. 

Décor in the master bathroom.

As much as we loved their house, easily seeing we’d enjoy such surroundings, neither of us ever thought for one moment, that we wished for a house we could call our own even as a part time “home.”  We like, no we love…life just as we’ve chosen to live it…on the move every few months or so, just as it is now.


The tastefully appointed master bedroom.

A few days ago while speaking to daughter-in-law Camille, she asked how long we may be traveling as we are.  Admittedly, we miss family very much and also bear a certain degree of guilt for being away. That’s to be expected.  As we all so well know, we can’t live our lives motivated by guilt or regret. Passion and joy must be the common denominator to attain great happiness.

The second level living room/lounge.  We sat on this comfy sofa while we chatted, enjoying ocean breezes that cooled the humid air.

But, we’re indescribably happy, incredibly happy.  How does one change what is working so well, so blissfully when life, so fleeting, so unexpected, often has other plans for us?

Inviting guest room with mosquito netting for breezy nights with windows wide open.

When that time comes, we’ll make changes to accommodate whatever fate has befallen us and move on to the next chapter, whatever that may be. How can one predict?  How can one answer when asked what our long range plans may be?  We don’t have all the answers.

Another view of the guest room.  It would be easy to be a guest in this home!

Spending these past wonderful hours with Pia and Thomas further reminded us that we are hardly alone in our quest for personal growth and discovery in this distant life we live, not intended as a means to be “away” from those we love but to continue on a path we’ve chosen which befits our desires at this time.  They too, experience similar feelings. 

Each space is decorated to perfection.

As we make our way to Lovina during the two hour drive, once again we’ll find ourselves engaged in animated conversation, never failing for a moment to express gratitude for this magical life and the unexpected treasures we continue to encounter along the way.

Another well decorated area in the living room/lounge area.

Its not always easy.  Its not always exciting.  At times, its downright frustrating. But, collectively, its a life we wouldn’t trade for anything in the world, as long as we’re healthy and committed to carrying on.

The closet is the size of a bedroom, neatly arranged with clothes they leave behind when they travel to other countries.  They only haul carry on luggage when flying to Thailand or Germany.

We’ll be back within 24 hours with all new photos of our “holiday within a holiday,” our “vacation within a vacation,” sharing morsels we find interesting and entertaining along the way.

Happy day to all!

__________________________________________________________________

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

Photo from our visit to a local “egg lady.” while living in Fiji.  As we approached this pair atop this table, they turned away from us while others curiously meandered toward us.  For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…A visit to new friend’s home in Sumbersari…A walk along the beach to more visions of paradise…Exterior photos today…Interior tomorrow…

As we approached Pia and Thomas’ fascinating villa that fully utilizes the concept of outdoor living.
One of many views from the veranda. Wow!

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

 Is a crab using this coconut as an additional form of shelter as well as the hole in the sand?

When our new friends Pia and Thomas invited us to their home, a 10 minute walk along the beach, we were anxious to get on our way after we uploaded yesterday’s post. 

Pia found this adorable piece of wood on the beach which appears to be an animal head.

We had no idea as to the beauty were we about to experience as we searched for a path toward the house which is set back a short distance from the beach.  Thomas had described the landmarks that would easily steer us in the right direction with several villas scattered along the shoreline…lots of umbrellas.

Crystal clear infinity pool with spacious veranda and fully equipped covered outdoor kitchen, the only kitchen needed in this enchanting property.  More photos of the outdoor kitchen in tomorrow’s post.

Every area of the grounds presents a natural environment and yet possesses a well planned ambiance with the Balinese culture in mind.

It was indeed easy to spot. Finding the short path with ease, we avoided maneuvering through dense vegetation. Within moments we’d entered a veritable paradise of beautiful grounds, flowers, trees adorned with traditional Balinese/Hindu décor and religious artifacts as we were warmly greeted with a kiss on each check from our lovely hostess Pia and then Thomas moments later.

A simple outdoor shower.

Driveway to the street entrance to the property.

As we made our way toward Thomas who was on the veranda finishing up a business meeting, Pia gave us the tour of the grounds including the Balinese hut they’d built for an additional authentic feel, called “lumbung.”



Pia and Thomas built this lumbung on their property which can be used for guests as needed.
Ocean view from the lumbung.

They’d designed the exquisite main house on a computer and brought it to life several years ago, fulfilling a lifelong dream.  As we wandered toward the house from the gardens, we knew we were in for a special visit, not only to engage with their delightful personalities but also with the opportunity to see their unique home. 

View of the sea from the interior of the lumbung.

Detailed roof in the lumbung done by local workers.

When they’d described their home a few short days ago when visiting us at the villa, we expected a simple Balinese style abode. How modest they’d been when sharing the a few details of their property! 

Tom walking through the Pia and Thomas’ garden. 

Plants, trees and flowers adorn the grounds.

From the outdoor-only modern granite kitchen with full stainless steel appliances and local wood handcrafted cabinets to the upper level with expansive views of the sea, nothing was spared in design, décor and accoutrements in creating a supremely comfortable, functional and eye appealing living environment.

Fresh flower arrangement on the veranda.

Flowering plant and Buddha head similar to that at our villa.

Each room as shown in our photos over the next few days has a unique persona and inviting presence, causing us to swoon with delight.  How smart they’d been in their ideas and subsequent execution. 

View from the second story.

Often people dream of such a home in a tropical paradise and never are able to bring it to fruition.  This determined couple did everything possible to make it happen even with a diligent budget in place.

Another ocean view from the veranda area.

As we slowly perused the house admiring each enticing element, we finally
settled in the upper level lounge/living room where cooling ocean breezes dried
the moisture on our skin as the result of the humid rainy day.  Pia commented
on the disappointment of the cloudy day wishing we’d been able to
take sunny day photos.

Shack in the sea used to repopulate small fish and possibly rebuild some of the coral.

To our surprise, the clouds didn’t seem to have too much of an impact in the
clarity and presentation of our photos.  Of course, we always prefer sunshine
but with Pia and Thomas returning to Thailand in a few days, yesterday was the
only opportunity for us to visit. 

Additional view from the second level.

We wished we’d met them sooner but, they were only here a few weeks this trip
when Thomas’ work in Thailand (they’re younger than us and he’s yet to retire) necessitates his return.  Both German citizens, they have a smaller home in a quaint town in Germany where they stay when they visit from time to time. 

A sunny day would have been all the more beautiful but we were happy to see their special home.

They too, left everyone they love behind to follow a dream.  This mutual connection precipitated considerable conversation that kept the four of us chatting enthusiastically for the hours we spent together.

Flowers blooming in their yard.  Grass is hard to grow in most of Bali due to the sandy ground, lack of rain at times and the heat.

Tomorrow’s post will include more photos of Pia and Thomas’ island paradise aptly name uToPia (notice that the Tom and Pia are in the name!) and more on our enjoyable visit, conversation highlights and return walk along the beach as a storm was brewing.

The name of Pia and Thomas’ retreat in Bali,” uToPia,” is carved in the stone in the front the home.

Be well.  Be happy.

Note:  Due to the poor Wi-Fi signal and the huge number of photos, we’re unable to edit line and paragraph spacing.  We apologize for the lack of continuity.

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

The views from the second vacation home we rented in Tasmania  for six weeks referred to as Anchorage Waterfront (no relation to Alaska).  For more photos please click here.


Two days until Lovina trip…Time to get crackin’ packin’…Nothing “fashion forward”about this lifestyle!

Sunset reddened clouds reflecting in our pool.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Many passersby carry needed supplies along the beach.

The idea of packing for this four night, five day trip to Lovina is a bit confusing.  Its not as if I can stroll into my closet and pull favorite warm weather clothing off the hangers.  There are no more than eight items neatly stacked in my clothes cupboard. The remainder of my limited wardrobe is still in my suitcase awaiting our departure in 35 days when we’ll leave the villa to fly to Sydney.

Wearing swimsuits all day, we hardly ever wear street clothes.  When we do go out, its shorts and in-good-condition tee shirts.  We wear the same outfits over and over again.  After showering in the late afternoon, we still don’t dress into street clothes.  Once again, we don a dry swimsuit, with a sarong for me, while Tom wears swim trunks and tee shirt for dining.

Gede explained that these plastic coverings are to protect watermelon from the hot sun.

As a result of this limited use of clothing, we only end up with one load of laundry each week which the two Ketut handle for us for a nominal charge.  It usually takes two days to dry outdoors (there’s no clothes dryer) due to the high rate of humidity and frequent rain.  They hang everything on a clothes rack bringing it indoors at night and then, haul the rack outside again in the morning.

We’ve exercised this same process over most of these past years since we’ve only had a clothes dryer while in Hawaii (eight months, four islands, all had dryers) and in Trinity Beach, Australia.  We’ve discovered that most countries (except the US) hang their clothing on racks, indoors or outdoors depending on the weather and situation.

Typical small business building found in a village.

Even while spending two weeks in an upscale high rise building in Dubai in 2013, there was no clothes dryer or large enough veranda to hang clothing outdoors.  The clothes took no less than two full days to dry.

In my old life, I’d have packed for days for a four night tropical trip.  Now, with limited options from which to choose, most likely I’ll be able to pack in 10 minutes.  I no longer own a single dress, a handbag or a dressier type top to go with shorts. 

Rice is a huge staple in the Balinese people’s diet and is exported to many parts of the world.

I own a few pairs of long pants which I wear in the evenings in air conditioned comfort on a ship.  But, the majority of dining establishments in Bali will be outdoors, much too warm for long pants or jeans.  I guess it will be  tee shirts and shorts when we dine.  There aren’t any other options in our limited wardrobes.

Taking special care in selecting outfits in our old life, I had many options from which to choose; matchy-matchy tops, pants, shoes, handbags and jewelry.  Those options are now a thing of the past. 

Crossing a bridge over a river.

Over time, I have said “goodbye” to my previous vanity to be put-together in general, observing a certain degree of fashion and decorum.  Those days are long gone. Although I still care that my hair, nails, toes and makeup looks presentable (that’s always been my thing), I lost all the vanity that centered around clothing and accessories.

As Tom would say, “Its a good thing,” when we have so little “fluff” in our luggage.  Only the basics deserve a spot in those now worn bags which must be replaced when we arrive in the US.  Hope they last that long.

A Muslim holiday celebrated at the beach.

Do I miss that “stuff”?  Surprisingly not.  But, getting to this point was a work in progress which didn’t fully manifest until the past three years when I finally got over it.  Traveling light became more important to me than variety in my wardrobe. 

Tom, on the other hand, never had much interest in clothes, although he does take special care each day to be fresh, clean and wearing equally decent looking attire in reasonably good condition. 

Minutes before the sun descended from view. Before dark, the security guy visits our villa turning on outdoor lights, returning at sunrise to turn them off.

We don’t wear worn and holey clothing, even around the house when we’re staying in.  If I can’t sew a hole in an item of clothing it goes into the trash.  We have sewing needles and a tiny sewing kit with ample colors of thread to suits our needs.

Today, we plan to walk on the beach to visit our new friends, Pia and Thomas at their home.  Once we’ve uploaded today’s post, we’ll be on our way.

We hope you have a pleasant day as well.
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Photo from one year ago today, September 24, 2015:

One year ago we posted photos of the upcoming booking for a vacation home in Penguin Beach, Tasmania, beginning on December 3, 2016 (in a little over two months).  We’ll spend Christmas in this property, leaving the middle of January on a four hour drive to another vacation home in Anchorage (40 minutes from Hobart).  For more photos of this lovely property, please click here.

Socializing under the cabana…Paradise with new friends…Friendship…

Our new friends, Pia and Thomas who live walking distance down the beach.  They too have had considerable world travel experiences and adventures.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Sunset from the veranda.

Firstly, yesterday’s water situation is resolved.  The villa was cleaned, dried with furnishings and decorator items back in their usual spots.  The only remaining challenge is repairs for the TV  and sound system having been soaked from the water flow pouring down to the lower level from the broken pipe in the hot water heater located on the roof.

Then, last night when we were settling in for the night, turning on the AC in our bedroom, water started pouring out of the air con in front of the bathroom door.  Quickly, we shut it off and again, called Gede. 

In minutes, he arrived on his motorbike, suggesting we sleep in the second main floor bedroom in air conditioned comfort.  Having been awake since 4 am, that seemed like a logical solution since we were pooped and anxious for a good night’s sleep. 

The recycle guy stopping at our villa.  Note the motorbike hauling the trailer.

Gede thought the unit had jammed with ice during the awful high humidity when we’d stayed indoors for a few hours early in the day while the work was being completed.  The high humidity of all the water in the villa from the broken pipe could easily have contributed to the unit working overtime.

Gede asked us to leave it on all day today to determine if the problem is resolved.  Poor Gede.  We had him up early with us and then back over in the early evening.  Hopefully, tonight we’ll be able to sleep in the more familiar master bedroom.

Yesterday the workers were here most of the day.  By 4 pm, the water heater was fully repaired and once again we had running water.  We couldn’t wait to get into the shower.

We’ve seen these flowers in most tropical climates.

Our new friends Pia and Thomas, originally from Germany, arrived promptly at 2 pm as planned. They’re currently residing in Thailand, with two houses in Bali, one down the beach from us and the other located in a planned community on the way to Lovina which soon we’ll pass on our upcoming road trip on Monday. 

We were so excited to spend time with Pia and Thomas.  It had been since July, on the Mekong River cruise, where we socialized with other travelers, all possessing the commonality of interests in seeing amazing parts of the world. 

We didn’t have any cocktail fixings or wine to offer, instead pouring them each a frosty glass of iced tea, refilled often on the hot humid day.  We all lounged under the shade of the cabana enjoying the cooling ocean breezes, engaged in delightful chatter sharing mutual stories of world travel and the wide variety of adventures we’d all experienced over the years.

Shrine in the neighborhood.

Spending time with Pia and Thomas reminded us of how much we enjoy socializing.  In a little over a month, we’ll be back on a ship for 33 nights which most likely will entail non-stop socialization and making new friends.

In our old lives, we both reveled in our active social lives, both individually and as a couple.  We’ve been able to stay in touch with many of our friends through Facebook and email.  With many, its almost a daily interaction in one form or another.

Having always been a part of a social group of “girls” I’ve certainly missed the face to face aspect of these special relationships; the long lunches; the shopping trips and the often lengthy phone conversations when we shared a personal joy or tribulation, analyzing every possible resolution. 

A boy and a buffalo.

Now, when faced with a challenge, I can easily “chat” via email with a friend but its never the same as sitting across a table in a restaurant sipping an iced tea while dining on cooked-rare, sliced on the diagonal, yellow fin tuna atop a bed of fresh greens, drizzled with a lemon vinaigrette. Of course, I miss the conversation, the ambiance and the food.

Tom is now my “girlfriend” along with being my husband, lover and travel companion.  He’s actually a good close second when over these past four years, we’ve grown so much, its easy to share any topic with one another, including topics I’d previously reserved for “girl time.”


We do see a large number of birds in Bali, although we hear them singing all day.  This white bird was sitting atop a satellite dish.

And he behaves similarly with me discussing “guy stuff” including railroad stories, gross “guys only” kinds of jokes and stories he’d have shared with his friends on a fishing trip, with a beer in hand at the bar, or at work.  We’ve certainly made use of the reality that we each truly need to be each other’s best friend.

We often hear those in relationships refer to their significant other as their best friend.  And yet, when they have an issue with one another they may discuss solutions with their “other” friends. 

For us, being together 24/7 with no opportunity to socialize in person with our old friends, we only have one another with whom to discuss any worries, concerns or issues, especially those related to one another. 


Mosque along the highway.  There are more Muslims in Indonesia than any other country in the world, with only approximately 5% on the island of Bali, a fact we only recently discovered:  “Indonesia has a larger Muslim population than any other country in the world, with approximately 202.9 million identifying themselves as Muslim (87.2% of Indonesia’s total population in 2011).”

Subsequently, we “talk it out” with each other.  The end result?  We problem solve handling all issues quickly face to face.  Perhaps, in the long run this has contributed to our getting along as well as we do.

Sure, on occasion, Mr. Overall Grumpy rears his ugly head, and I, Miss Overly Bubbly, maintain a stance of low stress, peace and harmony.  Last night, “water, water, everywhere,” he appeared for only a moment to magically disappear after a few choice words were spewed, by no means directed at me.  I don’t take it personally.  Only minutes later, we were laughing and teasing in our usual playful manner.


Colorful dome on the above mosque.

Friendship, whether short term or long, people we’ve met on the beach or on a cruise ship, or in daily interactions with one another, all add an element to life that provides a richness and depth to which nothing else can compare. 

May your day bring new friends into your life!

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

In Fiji, our dish towels had been hanging outside for days unable to dry with the constant rain.  We couldn’t throw them into the dirty laundry (done weekly by staff) when they’d be covered in ants by morning.  When necessary, I placed them into a bag in the freezer until laundry day in order to avoid the ants.  For more details, please click here.

OMG! Eventful start to the day…Wait until you hear this!

Distant shot of oil tanker out to sea.  Good zoom photo, Tom Lyman!

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”


The river next door is often used for washing motorbikes.

The morning started weird.  Awake at 4 am I was unable to return to sleep no matter how hard I tried.  With today, September 21st in the US (the 22nd here), it is our eldest grandson Nik’s 16th birthday and our youngest granddaughter Madighan’s 7th birthday. 

Why not get up early and call to wish them both happy birthday?  It was late afternoon in the US and a good time to call.  We couldn’t reach Nik but had a chance to speak to daughter-in-law Camille, son Greg and the three kids, including wishing Madighan a happy birthday. 

We always send US gifts for the six grandchildren for birthdays, special occasions and Christmas, none of which are ever purchased from countries we’re visiting. Why suffer the inconvenience of an impossible international return?

Gede and one Ketut putting everything in the villa back in order.

After almost two hours on Skype using our Nevada phone number which allows us to call other phones that aren’t on Skype, mission accomplished.  As always, it’s wonderful talking to family.  Hopefully, soon we’ll reach Nik but, then again most 16 year old boys don’t necessarily care to spend a lot of phone time with the old grandparents.

To start making the phone calls, I quietly wandered out the bedroom door, laptop in hand and almost, and I mean almost, slipped on the floor somehow righting myself just in time to avoid hitting the floor.  That was all I needed, falling again and reinjuring the part that only recently has begun to heal a little.

In Phuket last month, the water dispenser leaked overnight, spilling all the contents of a new 5 liter bottle and I did fall smack on the marble floors, reversing my progress by many weeks. 

Some of the digital equipment that became wet during the water leakage.  The yellow its are decorative pieces.  Luckily, our HDMI cord survived.

Marble floors are extremely hazardous when covered with water.  We don’t recommend them where the risk of injury is high regardless of one’s age or propensity for falling.  Its not that I’m particularly clumsy though stuff happens.
Tom is always reminding me to watch where I’m going instead of looking for photo ops.  I’m working on it.

The entire main floor and second level were covered in water.  I knew I needed to awaken Tom to see how bad the situation really was.  At 5 am, we were calling Gede to let him know we had an emergency.  Tom had gone upstairs to the second story which we don’t use at all, to discover what was going on.  Water covered the floors upstairs and was running down the steps in a relatively rapid flow.

Gede arrived within 10 minutes of our call.  As it turned out, the hot water tank’s pipe broke (the hot water heater is on the roof) and the only way to stop the flow was to shut off the water to the entire villa.  It’s now close to 11 am and it appears we won’t have water for most of the day while every effort is being made to get the repairs made as quickly as “island time” allows.

This space is where the flat screen TV was located.  Its now been removed after getting soaked as the water ran down the wall from the above stairs.  Gede explained that homeowner’s insurance in Bali doesn’t cover such occurrences.

Unfortunately, the water ran down the wall over the entire flat screen TV and sound system in the living room which we use nightly, connecting our laptops with an HDMI cord in order to watch our favorite shows and Minnesota Vikings games.  Gede assured us all of the equipment will be working again by the time we return from Lovina next Friday, after our four day stay upcoming on Monday.

Luckily, no one was injured in the water fiasco.  At the moment, all the staff is busy cleaning up the water and putting as much of the villa back in order.  They had to move all of the furnishings onto the veranda to dry the floors and the bottom portions of various items.

Ribut (since corrected the spelling of his name) washing the stairs after the water flow.

Gede was very concerned over the inconvenience for us.  We weren’t worried at all.  If the water can’t be restored by the end of the day, we’ll shower next door at the empty owner’s villa.  If necessary, the two Ketuts can cook our dinner next door and we’ll dine there.  “No worries,” we assured all of them.

With the reality that none of this is really our responsibility as it would have been in our own home, nor did we have to incur any costs for repairs, its easy for us to sit back and patiently wait for everything to be back to normal.

Mr. Frog’s nighttime visit.

Today, newly made friends are arriving at 2 pm for a visit. We met them a few days ago while walking the beach. When Thomas (yep, another Tom) stopped by last night to ask when would be a good time for he and wife Pia to stop by we suggested this afternoon as opposed to morning allowing us time to complete today’s post.  Thank goodness we hadn’t suggested a morning visit!  Its been kind of busy around here.

For the first time in ages, I have yet to shower and I’m still wearing my long nightshirt while sitting outdoors on a chaise lounge.  Today, will be a different day from our usual routine but we have no apprehension or concerns.  It will all work out fine.

Mr. Frog contemplates taking the steps.  He managed rather well.

This morning, during the water fiasco Gede helped us with some required paperwork for sponsoring us for the visa extension for  Monday’s trip to Lovina where we’ll stay in a hotel for four nights to complete the five day process. 

Also, Gede is having a new tire put on the van to prevent us from getting a flat tire on the long road trip when recently it had been repaired but doesn’t seem quite right.

Otherwise, its a partially sunny day with outrageously high humidity but we’re as content as we can be especially with our anticipated upcoming social event.

May your day be one of contentment and peace of mind.

___________________________________________


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

We never used this pool in Fiji during our three months stay. It wasn’t as clean as we’d like and there were no chaise lounges or places to sit while drying off.  For more details, please click here.

This is why we left Minnesota…Please watch today’s included video to see why…

Wow!  This bloom in the yard is multifaceted!

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

While walking on the beach we encountered this run down house that apparently is occupied.

Frequently, we’re asked why we left Minnesota and also why we left the US when there’s so much we’ve yet to see in our home country. As mentioned in yesterday’s post there are many reasons.

Many Minnesotan retire to live in a second home in a much warmer climate.  Minnesota’s weather is not friendly to senior citizens when falls on ice and snow are common in the wintertime as well as auto accidents, spinning out on ice and snow as shown in this video Tom stumbled upon yesterday.


Carts are commonly used in Bali since most are able to be attached to motorbikes.

Its easy to laugh over people falling down as shown in the video but often these falls result in a broken hip, back or leg or even worse, a serious head injury.  These types of injuries can be permanently debilitating for seniors, if not life threatening.  We seen it happen over and over again over the years.

Sure, there were times we fell and laughed hysterically.  But, it wasn’t so funny when I fell down a flight of icy steps at the neighbor’s house when I was babysitting their dog while the husband was in hospital having a heart transplant.  I tore my right shoulder which was problematic for years which eventually healed without surgery.

When we drove down this road it proved to be a dead end with an outdoor market. 

This fact alone is enough for most seniors to look for a warmer climate where they can spend their time living back and forth between two homes.  This idea didn’t appeal to us; the upkeep and maintenance of two homes in two distant cities, worrying about a power outage while away for the winter and of course, the cost of having two homes, cars and lots of “stuff.”  We have no stuff now other than what is contained in three suitcases and two carry on bags. 

We spent hours researching options for having two homes and it just didn’t work for our budget, not if we wanted to live comfortably with an water/ocean view or oceanfront properties (when possible).  Nor could we wrap our brains around living in a condo, not at this time in our lives.

There wasn’t any possibility of parking at the outdoor market.  There was only space for motorbikes.

Freedom…that’s what we desired.  Freedom to see the world, freedom to explore, freedom to expand our personal knowledge and appreciation for the world around us.  It all made sense to us but not always to others.

Let’s face it, most of us work almost for a lifetime trying to achieve our goals, grow our families and live a life commensurate with what is “expected” of seniors when they retire. 

This guy on a motorbike had a attached basket carrying live chickens.

Tom spent over 42 years working outdoors in cold and snow while working on the railroad.  I spent 45 years working hard often driving, getting in and out of the car subject to awful weather conditions both hazardous and annoying.  Tom didn’t enjoy having to snow blow and shovel for two or three hours after each snow storm.  Nor would he have enjoyed this at 65 or 70 years old.

We both felt a need and passionate desire to step outside that box of expectations and to live life on our terms.  We didn’t make the decision without careful consideration and planning.  Of course, we cried when we left leaving all of our loved ones behind.

Most Balinese people use propane for fuel for cooking.  We’ve seen these green tanks on backs of motorbikes as well as on trucks.

Was it selfish?  Undoubtedly.  But, don’t each of us have the privilege and the right to find our own happiness?  Long ago, we decided if we weren’t happy after a year or two, we’d move back to the US to a warm climate and begin again to live a more structured life. 

To our surprise as these four years have flown by, we’ve became more and more enthralled with the quality of our lives and the experiences we’ve blissfully embarked upon as we continue to explore this vast planet.


Finally, we were able to turn around to head back down the narrow street.

If, for some unforeseen reason, we had to stop now, we’d be heartbroken to end this quest.  We know the time will eventually come when we physically find this life to be too challenging based on age related conditions that tend to befall most elderly people regardless of how hard they’ve work to maintain good health.

For now, even with my recent injury, we have every intention along with our  passionate desire to continue on, especially evident as we continue to book locations well into the future.  Our next new bookings for which we’re currently engaged in research, will easily stretch all the way into 2019 and 2020 and health providing, well beyond.  Lofty ideas?  Sure.

Back on the highway again, we mentioned that it would be great if we knew the language enough that we could decipher they types of businesses.

Once we pin down the future bookings, we’ll excitedly share them here. In the interim, we’re happily engaged in our lives here in Bali…the sun is shining, the sky is a clear blue and we’re as happy and content as we can be.

We hope you’ll find contentment in this day and always.

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

I talked Tom into posing in front of this beautiful palm frond in Fiji, one year ago.  We hadn’t seen this type of frond since we’d been in Belize in early 2013, taking a similar photo of me at that time.  For more photos, please click here.