Today is our 4 year anniversary of traveling the world…We’re boarding the cruise shortly!…

Our ship is shown behind us off the top of the hotel.

The red eye wasn’t as bad as I’d anticipated, although neither of us slept for more than 20 minutes during the flight, other than nodding off from time to time for five minutes or so. It wasn’t possible to get comfortable.

Finally, we arrived in Sydney and within 45 minutes we breezed through immigration, customs and baggage and were on our way by taxi to the Old Sydney Holiday Inn the Rocks hotel, a 20 minute ride.

Seeing that the ship has arrived at the port is always exciting to us. This will be our 15th and 16th cruises since we booked the first and second leg as a back-to-back considered to be two separate cruises.

We were tired, but neither of us slept for more than 30 minutes once tucked under the covers in our darkened hotel room. At 4:00 pm, we decided to forget about trying to sleep and go down to the bar for a cocktail. The hotel has a two for one drink special during happy hour for priority club members.

As I decided to drink some white wine from time to time, I did not waste any time ordering a delicious glass of Pinot Gris. The first sip made my tongue tingle with pure pleasure. So did the second and third. By the end of the evening, I had two glasses of wine and was totally drunk since I hadn’t had a glass of wine in six months since our last cruise. Guess one needs to build up a tolerance to the stuff.

From our vantage point I couldn’t get the entire ship in the photos.  Notice the blue sky, perfect day in Sydney.

Oh well, it was time to celebrate! While sipping our drinks at the bar we met a wonderful couple from Canberra, not cruise passengers but visiting Sydney for a short holiday. Our conversation was lively and we all decided to have dinner together in the hotel’s restaurant.

By the time 9:00 pm came around, we were both fading and knew bedtime was neigh. I could hardly get undressed and under the comfy covers quickly enough, never reading a word on my phone or watching a smidgen of the repetitive news. 

The Sydney Harbour Bridge.

I awoke once during the night and found myself with a bit of a hangover. One 500 mg aspirin later and I was back to sleep in minutes, not awakening until 8 am. Tom had an equally good night’s sleep, which we hadn’t had in quite a while.

This morning was busy with the late wake up. We needed to take photos from the hotel’s rooftop to post today and with a bit of luck we met another fine Australian couple, who are passenger on the ship with whom we chatted for quite some time. They offered to take these photos of us which we were thrilled to have on this special day.

The second half of the ship, Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas.

After the enjoyable visit, it was time to head to the pharmacy, the same chemist we’d visited a few times in past visits to Sydney in order to load up on Vitamin C, probiotics and an array of toiletries we’d waited to purchase after the flight to keep the weight under control. Cruise lines don’t charge for baggage, regardless of the weight.

The pharmacist remembered us and we had a fine time chatting with him as we made our purchases. We’ll need to find a market when we go ashore during the cruise to find coconut oil and baking soda both of which we use for dental and health care.

Once back at the hotel, we packed the bags with the few items we’d used overnight. Tom ran them across the street during two trips down a steep flight of steps to check them in at the port. All we’ll carry in hand is the yellow Costco bag and the computer backpack.  

Us, with the Harbour Bridge in the background.

By 2:00 or 3:00 pm, we’ll be able to get into our cabin and unload those two bags so we can relax, maybe get a bite to eat and begin more of the festivities. Good grief, the cruise hasn’t even started and we’ve already having a great time. 

I’d like to get into more details of our anniversary but time doesn’t allow it right now. We’ve decided to celebrate tomorrow since it will be hectic on the cruise tonight. I plan to ask the dining room captain to order a cake for our celebration in the main dining room tomorrow evening.  I won’t eat cake, but Tom will certainly enjoy my share. I’ll take a photo and give it a sniff.

Tom’s finished showering. As I write this its 11:53 am. We due to check in at noon when each deck is given a designated boarding time. Here we come, 33 nights at sea, a first for us!

We’ll be back tomorrow with more photos of our ship, cabin, meals and a new equivalent of “Sightings on the Beach in Bali” which we’ll figure out in the next 24 hours when we write again.

Have a beautiful day! 

Photo from one year ago today, October 31, 2015:

Us in Hawaii, one year ago. The next day we posted a new photo of us together from Namale Resort. Here’s a link to our two year anniversary. Here’s the link to the one year ago post, our third anniversary.

From the Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali…One hour to boarding…

Bali was marvelous. We are thankful to have had this experience.

If you don’t normally travel abroad, there’s a whole series of processes for eventually getting a boarding pass. 

On this particular flight with our arrival at the airport, as soon as we exited the hotel shuttle we decided to use a skycap/porter to assist with our bags. 

Over the last several flights, we decided it made no sense trying to maneuver three bag’s weight 23 kg each plus our three carry on bags. Paying tips have become worth it to us. Besides, it’s a good way to use any leftover foreign currency we’d yet to spend.

First our two porters (the trolleys were small) escorted us through the first of two security checkpoints while police used a drug detecting device  to”sniff” our bags. We waited for no less than 30 minutes to make our way through security.

Once we made it through security our two porters found the queue for Virgin Australia as we all waited until we reached the counter.  With no boarding pass as usual we only had to show our passports to begin the check in and pay for our bags.

Searching online, the baggage fees for international flights were vague. We had no idea how much we’d have to pay. Our two checked bags sailed through with the 23 kg limit, avoiding any fees or even excess baggage fees. It was the third bag for which they charged us at IDR 1,250,000, US $95.73. 

So it goes. No matter how hard we’ve tried, we simply can’t travel the world without the third bag. After all, these bags contain all of our belongings, everything we physically own in the world.

After paying the fees, obtaining our boarding passes, tipping the two porters we proceeded with our three carry on bags to immigration and the second security checkpoint. This time, no device sniffed our bags since they had stickers on them indicated the process had been completed. Again, a long queue.

Safari luck prevailed and we ended up in a newly opened line spending no more than 10 minutes waiting. We were finally on our way to sit down, grab a beverage and wait for our boarding time of 11:25 pm. I can’t believe I’m up so late and not tired yet. Over these past many months, I’ve fallen asleep by 10:00 pm most nights awakening by 5:00 am at the latest. 

Tom’s doing well today with only a tinge of travel day anxiety. My back is a bit stiff due to standing all this time but overall, I’m good, anxious to arrive in Sydney and get some rest and then, the excitement will begin.

That’s all folks! Next time we write, it will be from Sydney. Expect another post with photos within 24 hours.

Bye, bye, Bali! We enjoyed our stay!

Have a great day or night wherever you may be.

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

A friendly man in Fiji on his horse after a hard morning’s work took the time to say “Bula!”  For more photos, please click here.

We made a booking error!…Final hotel expenses…Tonight’s the night!…We’re off to Sydney on the red eye…

The hotel chef made a special spicy sauce to accompany my brochettes.

Gee, this week whizzed by considering how little we did, hanging out in our hotel room for days, content as we could be in air conditioned comfort with nary a fly in sight. 

As a matter of fact, having meals without having to bat off the flies was rather pleasant for a change. But, we know this cool comfort and fly free zone won’t last forever. 

Once the 33-night cruise ends on December 3rd, we’ll spend a total of three months in two locations in Tasmania, which is rife with wildlife and insects of all sorts, a fact that attracted us to this Australian island. 

Tom got another bowl of chips not shown in that photo.

Fortunately, we get used to the scary creatures we have encountered otherwise we would not have chosen to visit Costa Rica, South America and again Africa in the future.

As for our stay here at the Hilton Garden Inn Ngurah Rai Airport a most peculiar thing happened yesterday. We discovered we’d made an error when booking this hotel. Here how it went:

1.  First, we’d booked the hotel for Saturday, October 29th to Sunday, October 30th, although we’re checking out tonight at 9:45 pm when it will still be October 29th. With this late flight we preferred not to spend hours waiting at the airport so we booked the hotel for the one night with the very early checkout. With the low rate of US $50, IDR 652,874 it was better than the alternative.
2.  When we decided to leave the villa early due to the poor WiFi signal, we created an additional booking at the same hotel from Monday, October 24th to Friday, October 28th.

Is my booking error obvious? 

Each morning Tom had a few of the doughnuts shown on the right.

Based on how I booked this we’d be without a room between Friday and Saturday. I should have booked the added nights from Monday, October 24th through Saturday, October 29th and then, our extra night would kick in. 

Yesterday at noon, staff at the front desk called our room (we were wondering why our room hadn’t been cleaned) kindly explaining we needed to clear out of the room (duh) and return today for the 2:00 pm check in time. That would have been some predicament!

We wondered what the huge red pot contained. Was it decorative or a buffet item?

Well, safari luck kicked in, we rebooked yesterday’s one night at on our site for which rates, last minute had escalated, but the hotel was able to let us stay in the same room.  Thank goodness.

We apologized profusely for our error, had our WiFi and key cards updated and continued on with our day. We finished and packed our clean laundry and once again I worked out. Later we closed and weighed our bags to see if we’d be charged for overweight luggage. 

The gym was nicely chilled and spacious.  This guy of the left was the only person I’d seen in the gym in five days.

Virgin Australia charges per piece for economy (that’s us) and also for overweight fees. Each of our two clothing bags are within a kilo and of the 23 kg max with our third bags well under without an extra inch of space to stuff the slight overages. We’ll see how it goes. On this particular international flight paying online in advance for baggage isn’t allowed.

After a good breakfast, by dinnertime, we both felt hungry and decided to head down to the restaurant for a meal. The menu was tricky with many items that wouldn’t work for me. 

I ended up ordering a specially prepared satay dish without sugary peanut sauce, which consisted of two small skewers of chicken, one small skewer of beef and a skewered medium sized prawn. Knowing this would be ultra small, I also ordered two fried eggs and a half of avocado. It all worked for me.

It felt good to get on the cardio equipment. Over the six days I improved my endurance more than expected.

Tom, prepping for his “cruise diet,” ordered a bacon cheeseburger (with bun) with fries and extra fries.  Here he goes! He’ll be dining to his heart’s content while I’ve promised (as usual on cruises) not to say “boo” about what he eats until we’re settled in our next vacation home when I’ll start cooking again.

We’ll forego dinner tonight and grab a little something at the airport if we’re hungry or we may use our remaining IDRs to purchase nuts for the flight. After all, we’ll be awake all night, a little munching might be in order.

As for the hotel bill for these six nights including meals, tips and taxes:

Room rate for six nights:   IDR 4,989,658,  US $382
Meals not included:           IDR    806,242,  US $ 62
Total for six nights:        IDR  5,795,900, US $444
Average cost per night:      IDR    965,983   US $ 74

This flower is blooming on a tree by the pool.

Wow! This was reasonable, less than our average cost per night when living in vacation homes.  Sure, we forfeited six nights at the villa, but we’d already factored those costs into our budget and certainly received our money’s worth.

Tomorrow, as mentioned, we’ll be in Sydney staying overnight in the hotel.

Our post may be late if we didn’t sleep on the plane. If we were able to get some sleep on the plane and feeling alert in the morning, we’ll post at our usual time.

These are interesting flowers blooming on a tree by the pool..
See you from Sydney, one of our favorite cities in the world! Bear with us once again, since we’ll be posting photos of the amazing scenery of the Sydney Harbour.

Happy day!

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

We could only imagine how beautiful our photos would have been in Fiji had it been a sunny day when we went sightseeing. That’s life in the tropics! For more details, please click here.

Time flies…Soon, we fly…Three days until we board the cruise…Regaining fitness and health…

Beautiful arrangements of fresh blossoms in the hotel lobby.

It was a quick week. Tomorrow night, we leave for the airport at 9:45 pm using the hotel’s free shuttle already booked. As the week progressed, I had less and less anxiety about the red eye and the plan to pick it up in my stride. It’s only one day of being tired and out of sorts.

This morning, we’re doing a couple of washes in the hotel laundry room. The cost to do wash and dry two loads is IDR 200,000, US 15.33, pricey for a self serve laundry, but a lot less than we’d have paid to send it out. We will come on board with clean clothes, except for the few items we will wear in the coming days. 

As it turned out, on Tuesday we only ate breakfast included at the hotel as our only meal per day. The first day we arrived, Monday, we left the villa without eating anything planning to dine in the evening in the hotel restaurant.

Hotel pool.

The dinner was mediocre with my dietary restrictions and Tom’s fish and chips were good. In both cases, we left the table still hungry after the small portions. 

Instead, we decided to load on the buffet breakfast, order omelettes, bacon and some sides, enough to get us through the next 24 hours until we eat again. If we were hungry in the evening, we’d go have dinner.

Not surprisingly, eating very low carb, neither of us has been hungry at any time during the remainder of the day and evening. We felt satisfied and comfortable never once thinking about eating or snacking. 

As we have mentioned in the past, eating a daily meal is considered an intermittent fast. If you like medical studies, there are countless studies about the benefits of fasting, at least for part of every day. 

Flowers blossom on the grounds of the hotel.

The old theory of eating every few hours will soon be discredited as a careless way to maintain health, weight and fitness. It did not work for most people with endemic type 2 diabetes and obesity prevails in virtually every part of the world.

Then again, what do I know except what seems to work for us as we continue to strive to maintain a level of health and fitness that hopefully will see us through many more years of world travel. Everybody has an opportunity to pick a health plan that works best for them.

None of this makes us exempt from illness, injuries and generally not feeling 100% every day.    Like many of you some days, we do not feel up to the challenge, energetic and ready to face the world. 

Artwork in the pool area.

After months of inactivity while recovering from the June 1 injury, I am struggling to regain my strength. Working out everyday at the hotel has been helpful, but like physical therapy, its a slow process. 

To expect outcomes overnight is not realistic. I will continue to exercise for the next two days, then every day on the upcoming cruise, adding to the time and difficulty of my routine somewhat every day. Hopefully by the end of the 33-night cruise, I’ll be back to my previous level of fitness and energy.

At that time, we will be ready to start again, to prepare meals that we have not had to make for more than three months, since we were in Phuket until September 1. In both locations in Tasmania, we will have home cleaners every two weeks, so we will not have to do more than clean, do laundry and cook. 

Balinese style abounds in the hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn Ngurah Rai Airport.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with our final post from Bali including the total expenses for our the six nights at this hotel. At 12:10 am Sunday we’ll fly overnight to Sydney, arriving in the morning. 

Later in the day we’ll post again after we’ve hopefully taken a nap after the red eye flight. As a result, the post from Sydney on the 30th (29th for those in other parts of the world) will be posted late. Please keep an eye out. We’ll be back!

Have a beautiful day filled with sunshine!

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

These Fijian women were sitting on the floor while one gave the other a massage while working at the farmers market in Savusavu, Fiji.  For more photos, please click here.

Today, Tom talks…To mustache or not to mustache?

Tom with the beard and mustache.

When I asked Tom if he’d write a post, he declined. It’s just not his thing.  Oh sure, he writes wordy quips at Cruise Critic asking and answering questions about particular cruises, having built himself quite a reputation as an active contributor on their boards.

Clean shaven for the first time since we were in Barcelona, Spain, sitting in a café across from Segrada Familia. See photo below.

Then, of course, he spews endless comments and observations on Facebook, often keeping him busy for hours. But, write a post? That’s not so much in his wheelhouse, so he says.

Tom, the last time he didn’t have a mustache in May, 2013. We were at a café across the street from Segrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, he’s an active participant in what I have to say in our daily posts by  researching, fact checking and proofreading each post immediately after it’s uploaded. Then, upon his suggestions, I edit each inconsistency he catches to reload the post once again. 

It’s a good system. Writing a post every day, at times rushing through it to get on with our plans, is a breeding ground for errors and I certainly have made my fair share. It’s a rare occasion that he doesn’t catch at least one mistake. 

We dined in a traditional Italian restaurant in the walled city of Lucca in July, 2013.  Note Tom’s Fu Manchu mustache. I still laugh over this photo when I know this look was all about the fact that he wasn’t thrilled about the pizza menu that didn’t have all of his favorite toppings.

There are numerous situations when neither of us had noticed an error and a year later one of us stumbles across it. Immediately, I take action to make the corrections. It’s an ongoing process that will never end as long as we continue with our story.

As for Tom’s story, in person, you’d have no trouble getting it out of him as any of his/our friends out there can attest. He’s a great conversationalist and fun to engage in conversation. He’s well read with an opinion on almost any topic that comes to light.

After unsuccessfully prodding him to tell me what he’d like to say here, I decided my only option would be to interview him and post his answers, in his words, exactly as he responded. Here we go:

Pretty carvings in the hotel in Kuta.

Are you enjoying traveling the world? 
“Yes, it’s even better than I’d anticipated”

What is your least favorite aspect of traveling?
“Airports; arriving many hours early, the long lines, the schedules with layovers, the delays and all the other BS.”

What part of traveling the world do you enjoy the most?
“The weather, being away from ice and snow.”

When you look back over the experiences of these past four years, what has been your favorite?
“The next one.”

Of your upcoming plans, which do look forward with the greatest enthusiasm?
“Of course, seeing family and friends in Minnesota.  As for our continuing journey, experiencing places we’ve never seen and, meeting the locals.”

Flower arrangement in the hotel in Kuta.

You often mention how much you love cruising? What is it about cruising that appeals to you?
“Relaxing. It’s a great means of transportation. Meeting new people, making new friends and the bread. I can eat like a normal person on a cruise!”

What do you like least about cruising?
“The muster drill on embarkation day.”

How do you feel when getting settled into a new vacation home?
“Pleasantly surprised when there’s comfortable furniture and bed. Happy if we don’t have to purchase bottled water. Looking forward to checking out the area.”

What food concerns do you have at a new location?
“Will they have the ingredients to make our pizza?  Do they have streaky pork bacon?”

Flowers in standing bowl in hotel.

What items do you find lacking in a vacation home that you wished were always available?
“Good WiFi, an electric coffee maker and a flat screen TV we can use to plug in the HDMI cord.”

How long does it take you to pack?
“It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to pack. I seldom unpack my entire suitcase. I take out underwear, shorts, tee shirts and swimming trunks. The rest stays in the bag.”

How do you feel about renting cars and driving in other countries?
“The turn signal and wipers are on the opposite side of the steering column than I’m used to.  Every time I go to use the turn signal, I turn on the wipers. We laugh every time!”

What booked plans for the future are the most exciting to you?
“The upcoming Alaskan cruise in May, 2017; a cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Chile in November, 2017 when we’ll traverse the Panama Canal, a second time (since 2013) to see the new locks; a cruise we’ve booked that sails around the southern tip of South America (Cape Horn) in December, 2017: and of course, the Antarctica cruise in January, 2018.

Precious statue near the hotel pool.

Is there anywhere you’ve lived in these past four years that you didn’t enjoy?
“Marrakech, Morocco, two weeks would have been plenty, not two and a half months. The house and staff were great, but we felt trapped living inside the souk. Didn’t like the spicy food.”

Do you ever think about stopping this year’s long journey?..
“No, it never enters my mind. In this crazy world, we’d better hurry to see everything we want to see. Who knows what the future holds?”

Why did you shave the beard and the mustache?
“The beard was just a fluke to see if I could grow one. I found out I could. At night it was irritating on the pillow.When it needed a trim it was too difficult to do so I shaved off the beard and also the mustache. Jess likes me either way.”

There it is folks, all Tom has to say for now. Perhaps we can do this more often. I know many of our readers are curious as to what he thinks about living this peculiar life. Feel free to inquire by email or via comments at the end of any post.

Have a great day!

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

Ratnesh took this photo of us, in from of the Vuadomo Waterfall. We were hot and sweaty, but the long trek was worth it!  For more photos, please click here.

News overload…Dreaded “red eye” flight upcoming…A cultural dining experience with photos and amazing prices continue…

This fish soup sounded delicious, but contained a small quantity of flour to thicken.

Finally, we have access to US and world news. Although by no means have we been out of the loop as to what’s transpiring in the US and around the globe. Voraciously, we read daily news online to stay abreast of what’s going on all over the world that could impact our lives as we continue to travel.

This fried soybean aperitif was served at our table. Tom didn’t like it and I don’t eat fried foods and soy.

Some may assume that our lifestyle may dictate an “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy. We’re definitely not living “off the grid.” We may have been living outside North America for almost four years, except for a three day stay in Boston to see family two years ago, although we’ve never been out of touch with the state of affairs in the US and many other parts of the world.

The coconut water is served in the coconut with its tender meat. Tom and I haven’t ordered any.

Settled in this comfortable hotel in Kuta, Bali, we got active online while watching English language news on television in the background. After an hour or two, we’ll flip the channel to Nat Geo Wild, or another one of National Geographic series, many depicting places we have been thus far in our travels.  Less stress inducing, by far.

As the days quickly dwindle to our departure in three nights, I must admit I’ve had a little angst about the red eye flight, which departs around midnight Saturday (actually Sunday, at 12:05 am).

Tom’s and Egon’s lunch consisted of fried rice topped with bits of chicken, a fried egg and a few bites of vegetables. 

We’ll have to leave the hotel prior to 10:00 pm Saturday (we paid for an extra night for the late check out) to ensure we’re at the airport two hours in advance as required for international flights. Sometimes immigration may lead to lengthy delays.

Francoise’s grilled fish.

I suppose I wouldn’t feel any angst about the red eye flight if we could sleep well on a plane. It’s just doesn’t happen easily for either of us. We can dose for brief periods of time.  With my recent injury, sitting for long periods is most challenging at this time, as I experienced on the four hour drive from Sumbersari to Kuta.  With my recent injury, sitting for long periods is more difficult at this time, as I experienced on the four-hour drive from Sumbersari to Kuta. 

Searching online I found a few tips that may be helpful from this site. Regardless of tips and suggestions, the reality is, it’s only a six hour flight. In no time, we shall arrive in Sydney. 

Pioni and I shared this platter of boiled crabs, a little tricky to get out of the shells due to their small size but the flavor was good.

We certainly have had longer and more challenging flights, including many hours of stopover. At least Sunday’s flight is going to be non-stop, which is going to be a lot easier.

Continuing to think positive thoughts and focusing on the enthusiasm for the arrival in Sydney on Sunday morning with one hotel night in the hotel which is conveniently located across the street from the pier where our ship will await boarding passengers. 

Watermelon, a hearty crop in Bali was served at our table.

Watermelon, a bountiful harvest in Bali was served at our table. As “regulars” of this hotel and members of their priority club, I am certain they will welcome us.

From there, we’ll get a good night’s sleep and be ready to board the ship for our scheduled time at noon on Monday, October 31st, the day of our four year anniversary, certainly a day to celebrate.

Thanks Francoise and Egon for hosting our lunch. I asked that we take a picture of the bill and post it here. It was shocking that the five-person lunch was only IDR 198,000, US$15.22!

We’d hope to use this hotel’s pool over these several days.  The weather has yet to cooperate. Soon, I go to the hotel gym for my third workout, increasing the intensity a little every day. 

Sure, its quiet and low key for us over these several days, but we’re doing well, feeling cool and enjoying getting caught up on a number of tasks we weren’t able to accomplish over these past many months.

Please bear with us, dear readers. The action will pick up in only a few days! Take care!

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

Typically in rainforests, we’ve observed insects and birds as more colorful than in less dense areas of vegetation. Tima, our guide to Vuodomo Falls, spotted this caterpillar we easily could have missed. For more details, please click here.

Settled in to hotel…Simple pleasures…Cultural experience…

Beautiful couple, our hosts and owners, Francoise and Egon from Holland, who spend nearly half the year in their houses in Bali. Thank you Françoise and Egon for this extraordinary experience.

Over the next several days we’ll continue to share Bali photos we’d yet to post including today and tomorrow’s photos from our last day in Sumbersari when we dined at a charming local restaurant with our hosts , Francoise and Egon and next door neighbor, Peoni, who joined us as our translator when no one at the local spot speaks any English and there are no menus.

Simple pleasure can easily be taken for granted. As much as we loved the time we spent in the Sumbersari villa, we have no trouble transitioning to air conditioned comfort and high speed Internet. 

For the first time in two months, I’m wearing street clothes instead of a swimsuit while sipping a cup of hot tea made available in our hotel room with an electric pot and supplies as needed. A midday cup of English Breakfast tea and I’m in heaven.

At the restaurant, we selected the fish we wanted in that cooler.    Pioni and I chose cooked crab.  Tom and Egon chose the chicken fried rice and Francoise chose a grilled fish.    More photos are coming tomorrow.

The four or five hour harrowing drive was actually the easiest of the four trips we made back and forth from Denpasar/Kuta in the past six months with two stays at the distant villa separated by two months visiting Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.

As it turned out Butu’s excellent driving skills and a bit of luck brought us to the door of the Hilton Garden Inn Ngurah Rai Airport in less than four hours, a record for our four trips. Upon arrival at the hotel entrance, security opened massive metallic doors and inspected our vehicle with a mirror sweep of the underside of the vehicle.

The little crabs got weighed.

After that inspection, our baggage with us went through a security screening comparable to that at the airport. We checked in with our six nights already paid in full for US $50, IDR 651,775 a night including a full breakfast. This is not a typical $50 a night hotel!

This hotel is comparable to the Holiday Inn, the Rocks Old Sydney hotel in Sydney which is as of today is going for US $335, IDR 4,365,048 a night. In April, we’d be able to get a better rate at US $188, IDR 2,449,639. Our upcoming booking on October 30th was priced at US $225, IDR 2,931,749. What’s the deal?

A bin of local coconut.    I don’t care for Balinese coconut.    The flesh is soft and mushy while I prefer the hard and crunchy meat found in Hawaiian coconuts.

When we arrive at the Sydney hotel on Sunday we’ll see if we can get a comparable price to the rate we had in April while awaiting another cruise embarking in Sydney. We have three other upcoming cruises departing from Sydney for which this hotel would be ideal for overnight stays in order to reduce the risk of flight delays.

At the end of the long ride to Kuta, we were both exhausted; Tom even more than me. I have seldom seen him as tired as he was last night. We both knew we had to stay awake at least until 10:00 to avoid an early alarm clock. 

A large group was seated in this area, at the table while sitting on the floor. We selected a regular table and chairs.

Alas, our plans were dashed when I was wide awake at 3:40 am, never able to fall back to sleep. Lately, I’ve awakened around this time. Most nights I’m able to read for a while and go back to sleep. No such luck last night and no nap today, hopefully ensuring I’ll do better tonight.

After we settled into our room, not unpacking more than toiletries and digital equipment, I decided to check out the exercise facility in the hotel. I was pleasantly surprised to find a cool, well equipped room with all the equipment I could possibly need or want.

This is the only sign on the restaurant. We’d previously walked the beach to this restaurant, but found no one around. We were thrilled for the experience on our last day in Sumbersari.

Now 90% recovered from the June 1st injury and after a long hiatus from working out, I’ve decided I need to begin again. It isn’t always possible to find health clubs and/or exercise facilities in many areas in which we’ve lived. 

Walking isn’t enough for me which I’d resorted to exclusively when there hasn’t been a health club within reasonable driving distance for over a year. It’s worth a 30 minute drive, but not an hour or more.

Our next door neighbor in Bali, Pioni, from Java, Indonesia, who joined us for her delightful companionship and expert translation skills. With my food restrictions, we’d never have been able to visit this restaurant on our own.

Yesterday, when I started out on the exercise bike I was shocked to realize how much strength I’d lost these almost five months of little activity other than occasional casual walks in the neighborhood. 

Sitting in a chaise lounge or cabana during the day, not cooking, cleaning and shopping, I literally became a slug.

It was only at night when dining or when we were situated on the living room sofa that my feet were flat on the floor. Sure, I did  a ton of walking on and off the grounds of the villa all day, in an attempt to increase the “steps” count on FitBit.

Seated at our table looking out to the sea on a cloudy rainy day.

Beginning yesterday, I made a plan to work out each day regaining strength and agility. Once we board the cruise, I will continue with a daily workout eventually building my strength and stamina sufficiently to be able to do HIIT (high intensity interval training) once again. 

Looking back, it’s been  almost 14 months since I worked out regularly. It certainly hasn’t been from a lack of motivation. I’ve always enjoyed the process of getting myself to the gym for a good workout. 

Before we left the US, I’d worked out most of my adult life. It’s been sketchy since we left. I can promise myself all I want but, when there’s no facility, I have a hard time making myself workout at “home” without the necessary equipment. 

During our almost four months in Bali we checked out this view daily hoping for a clear shot of these mountains.  Most days the smoke and fog from Java obstructed the view.  Ironically, on our last day, the fog cleared for this mountain view.  Thank you, Bali!

Once the cruise ends, I hope to continue working out in both locations in Tasmania. There appear to be suitable locations close to each of the two vacant homes we’ll be renting for six weeks each. I’ll join with a day or two of our arrival.  Each offers a reasonably priced weekly plan without a contract.

From there, more cruises with excellent workout facilities and then our arrival in the US where health clubs are readily available. From there, we’re off to Costa Rica. Later, we’ll research that possibility. 

We’re comfortable, content, cool and finally able to catch up on much needed research which can only be accomplished with a good Wi-Fi connection. For the moment, this is all we need or want.

Hope your day brings you everything you need or want!

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

Handmade raft for fishing, which Ratnesh explained is safer than a boat when there’s no chance of being stranded or sinking. For more photos of our Fiji visit to Vuodomo Falls, please click here.

Final post from Sumbersari with Bali expenses…Soon, we’ll be on our way on the four or five hour harrowing drive…

We attended the buffalo races.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Balinese people certainly take advantage of using their heads to carry heavy or cumbersome loads.

After nearly four months of living in Sumbersari, Bali today, we’ve uploaded our final post for this location and also for “Sightings on the Beach.” Perhaps down the road in future posts we’ll be able to have a similar feature depicting special scenes we embrace each and every day.

With an exciting future ahead of us, we certainly have no doubt there will be many of those types of scenes. We look forward to seeking them out to share with our readers each day. On the upcoming 33-night cruise embarking a week from today, we’re discussing possible feature photos we’ll include comparable to “Sightings on the Beach in Bali,” of course, related to the cruise experience.

Workers in the rice fields.

I know, you may be thinking…”How in the world will they possibly hold our interest while they live on a ship for 33 days and nights?  Won’t it be more and more of the “same old, same old?”

This presents a unique challenge to us, one we’ll adopt with the utmost enthusiasm to ensure you’ll be intrigued to see what we’ve discovered each day. As we meet other passengers, we’ll ask for their assistance as well in spotting particularly interesting photo ops.

Nature at its finest on the edge of the infinity pool. We spent hours watching this praying mantis.

Today, as we’re uploading this final post for the villa in Sumbersari including the final expenses, we’re excited to continue to share the last of the favorite photos during this extended period on the west end of this island.  

It was highly unusual for us to return to Bali after a two month hiatus for the Mekong River cruise through Vietnam and Cambodia, a one week stay in Singapore and six weeks in Phuket, Thailand. In the future, we only have one country planned for a return visit in 16 months, South Africa as we mentioned in this earlier post.

A working well at a neighboring home.

Unfortunately, from June 1st on, I was suffering with the spinal injury resulting in a considerable portion of this period spent distracted by the discomfort and an amount of concern that it might never heal. 

Alas, here we are almost five months later and once again, I’m my “old” self, pain free and again delighted for the many plans on the horizon as well as reveling in the joys of the moment, reminded to always “Love the One You’re With!”

As you read this post, we’ll already be on the four or five hour harrowing drive from the villa to Denpasar to the hotel we’ve booked through the week, departing at 10 pm on Saturday night for the red eye flight to Sydney. 

“Rustic” residence on the beach.

It will be a relatively easy few days as we lounge by the pool, walk the neighborhood and if we feel like it, grab a taxi to check out the area. But, Tom’s aversion to traffic may prevent us from venturing out when the Kuta area is so congested it takes 30 minutes to get to the airport that’s only a kilometer from the hotel.

Kuta is not necessarily known as an area suitable for sightseeing of any major consequence. In a way, we don’t mind laying low in air conditioned comfort for a few days after six months of scorching heat and humidity, day after day. The only time we’ve been cool has been at night when we finally headed to bed to turn on the AC.  It may prove to be a welcomed relief.

Frangipani flowers blooming in the yard, aka Plumeria in Hawaii.

As for the expenses for Bali, we’ve decided to keep these last two months from September 2, 2016 to October 24, 2016 separate from the first two months we spent in Bali from April 30, 2016 to June 28, 2016.  

We’ve made the calculations based the 59-night stay, although we’re leaving a few days earlier since we’d already paid for 59 nights in full. (We’re not receiving any compensation for leaving earlier nor do we expect it.  It was entirely our decision).

We considered each of the two stays in Bali as individual stays when the expenses varied for the time we spent at the resort in Lovina. If you’d like to review our expenses from the earlier stay, please click here.

This appropriately muddy pig posed for our photo. 

Expenses for 59 nights:  US Dollar to IDR Indonesian Rupiah
Vacation Rent:   US $ 4,648.03  IDR   62,330,082.30
Transportation:  US       759.13  IDR    9,909,557.43
Visa Extension:  US         54.63  IDR       713,130.98
Tips/Laundry:    US       389.00  IDR     5,077,941.65
Clothing & Misc. US     1,144.88 IDR    14,945,074.12*

Groceries:         US       947.00  IDR    12,361,981.33
Hotel & Meals:   US       739.49  IDR      9,653,180.12**

Total:                              US $ 8,409.16   IDR 109,771,783.48
Average Monthly Cost:  US $  4,335.23   IDR   56,587,713.48 

Average Daily Cost:       US $    142.53    IDR     1,860,442.65

*The above total includes the pants we purchased at Lovina when long pants were required at the immigration office.
**The above total includes the entire bill for hotel ad meals for four nights in Lovina during the visa extension process.

Recent photo repeated, nonetheless a favorite with Tom dressed in traditional Balinese/Hindu attire.

Although our previous stay in Bali was less costly, the addition of the shipment we received with many supplies including Tom’s new phone, iced tea, clothing and shoes and, the hotel in Lovina, the average daily/monthly costs increased exponentially. Another traveler may spend comparable amounts shopping while on such an extended trip.

We’ll post the upcoming hotel stay expenses when that period ends as well. With the low cost for the hotel room, the included breakfast, with dinner as the only add-on, most likely the total will be reasonable.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back as usual with more photos and updates. Thanks to all of our loyal readers for hanging in there with us during this relatively quiet time spent in Bali. We appreciate each and every one of YOU.

Be well!

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

It was a cultural day in Fiji one year ago when we visited this modest village. This structure is used in ceremonial rites and kava drinking. For more details and photos, please click here.

Busy day…Tomorrow, we’re on the road…An unexpected last minute social event…

A beautiful scene in a roadside rest area about halfway through the four or five hour harrowing drive. Hopefully, tomorrow we’ll stop there once again. 

“Sightings in the Beach in Bali”

A colorful sunset photo taken while under the cabana.

After the considerable packing experience, we won’t become flustered or concerned about getting out the door on time tomorrow at 9 am, fully packed and ready to go.Five days later we’ll be doing the same after the necessity of wearing some of the clothing in our suitcases while staying at the hotel in Kuta.

Vegetables on display for a cooking class at Puri Bagus Lovina where we spent four nights during the five day visa extension process.

At the villa we’ve only worn swimsuits, all day and into the evening and have had very little laundry while here. We each alternated between two swimsuits, one always drying while the other was being worn. 

With a self service laundry at the hotel, we’ll be able to wash what we’ve worn to repack clean clothing for the 33 night cruise. Then, on the cruise, with our limited supply of clothing, we’ll be using a portion of our “cabin credit” of US $700, IDR 9,137,093, for the ship’s pricey laundry service.

Exquisite hand painted fishing boats at the pier in Negara.

While cruising it’s possible to change clothing four times a day depending on the events we’re planning to attend. From workout clothes in the morning, to swimsuits and cover ups, to shorts and tees for afternoon activities, to casual/ dressy attire for dinner. 

Each fishing boat has a unique design commensurate with the ethnicity of its owners.

With my clothing suitcase completely packed and only the third bag of supplies awaiting the final toiletries and miscellaneous items, we’ll have no problem getting out the door on time. Tom need only about 10 minutes to complete his packing.

Rambut Siwi Hindu Temple (Pura Rambut Siwi) in Negara.

Two days ago the property owners, Egon and his lovely wife Francoise, stopped by to say hello.  After a lengthy, interesting conversation among the four of us, we’d hugged upon departing with a plan to say goodbye in person before we leave.

Last night, we heard a knock at the door. It was after dark and quite surprising. During the day we leave all the doors wide open (no screens), only locking them at night. An evening visitor was quite unlikely.

We were honored to meet Gede’s parent at their home in Lovina during our first visit to Bali.

Egon had stopped by to invite us to a restaurant we’d known about and had seen when we had walked down the beach a while ago, but found no one in attendance and no posted menu. 

With the fabulous meals the cooks have prepared, we had little interest in investigating it further. Also, eating only one meal a day, the idea of walking back on the beach at night in the dark wasn’t appealing.

The skill required to create this work of art is typical among Balinese people.

Today, the enjoyment of the companionship will supersede any dietary or dining concerns and we’re off to lunch with Egon and Francoise at 12:30 pm. The next door neighbor, Peony, is joining us as additional guest at the party and to translate when none of us speak Balinese or Indonesian. It should be fun.

The patience of the buffaloes being “dressed” for the races surprised us as we gingerly walked by.

Today, we’ll be dining twice with scrumptious leftovers awaiting us for the evening meal. I guess we’d better get used to dining twice in a day when we’ll be doing so at the hotel over these next several days (complimentary full breakfast included) and then on the cruise, where we usually dine for breakfast and dinner.

Wearing sarongs at the Monkey Temple, which are required attire to enter any Hindu temple.

We’ll be back tomorrow with our post for the final expenses for the villa and the remainder of our favorite Sumbersari photos. Please check back as we wind down the remaining hours in this exceptional property.

Here’s the link to this wonderful holiday/vacation villa. We’re sure Egon and Francoise would love to see YOU here.

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

In order to visit the Vuodomo Waterfalls, its expected that visitors bring the chief, (the owner of the land where the waterfall is located), a bag of kava, an intoxicating local drink made from kava leaves. Here’s the Fish Shop where we purchased the kava before we headed to the falls. For more details, please click here.

Winding down…Two days and counting…Favorite photos begin today!

This local woman we met during our walks spent her days making small offering baskets out of these sheets. Note the basket in her hands. She always said hello as we walked by.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Watching the buffaloes walk along the beach has never ceased to give us a shiver. Where do you see that kind of thing? 

We can hardly believe we’re leaving the villa in less than 48 hours. The past four months (with a two month gap between where we visited Southeast Asia) have been an extraordinary experience leaving memories we will always keep with us. Prior to our first of two visits to Bali beginning on April 30th, we had heard passengers mention that they did not care about Bali. 

Now, after those many months, we understand their hesitation if they had just visited the congested Denpasar. Having spent this extended period far from the crowds, traffic, crime and commotion we have an entirely different perspective.

On both occasions of our arrival at the villa the staff presented us with chilled washcloths and sweet tea. Tom drank both glasses.

As we finalize the collection all of our belongings scattered around the house, it’s evident how settled, we’ve become during these past months. It’s been easy to meld into this peaceful and relaxing environment.

As always, we’re using any remaining groceries, we’ve accumulated, including the last of the mince (ground beef) we’d purchased in Denpasar upon our arrival. Last night, the two Ketuts made one of our favorite grain, sugar and starch free, low carb recipes, Mushroom Burger Scramble, which we found years ago at this favorite site. Thanks, Linda!

Mom and baby on the side of the road.

The leftover meat made enough for three nights, which we’ll have again tonight and tomorrow evenings, our last meals at the villa. The amazing two cooks have added considerable pleasure to this experience in many ways as well as their careful preparation of meals suitable for my way of eating.

Gede and the two Ketuts have asked when we’ll return. As we often say, “We have lots of world left to see.” It’s unlikely we’ll return to this location, although the 33-night upcoming cruise will dock for a day in Benoa, Bali, on November 11th, an area we’ve yet to see. Most likely, we’ll take the tender (small boat) to shore to check it out.

Evening view of the gorgeous cabana.  We spent many days under this cabana watching for sightings on the beach.

This upcoming cruise returns to several ports of call we’ve already visited. We’ll decide later as to which we’ll see again, perhaps some of those in the larger cities we’d previously visited in Australia and New Zealand. 

I suppose after a while there will be less and less ports of call throughout the world we haven’t visited at least once, but now, we’re a long way away from that eventuality, even after 14 cruises.

The beautiful hand painted fishing boats in the harbor in Negara.

This upcoming back-to-back cruise counts as two booked cruises. On November 16th we’ll arrive in Perth/Fremantle where we’ll meet up with friends Michelle and Carlo for the day. 

At that point many of the 2500 passengers will disembark entirely, while new passengers come aboard. Many of the booked passengers, we’ve encountered at the Cruise Critic message boards have booked the two cruises combined, as a back-to-back cruise, like us. What a fabulous opportunity to make more new friends!

The two Ketuts and Ribut were proud of the big tuna the girls had found at the early morning market. It was delicious!

At this point, we’re not concerned about our luggage weight and airline fees. Once we arrive and settle in at the hotel in Kuta we’ll review the contents of our luggage, weighing them on the travel scale and paying the appropriate baggage fees online. For now, we’re just packing neatly.

Mine is more stuffed than usual with the recent purchases of a number of Balinese items. I’ve decided to wait to determine which old items need to be tossed once we’re in air con at the hotel. Right now it’s so hot and humid, I have little motivation to tackle that task.

A Blue Kingfisher atop a palm tree on the villa’s grounds.

Today, we’re beginning to post our “favorite photos” which we’ll continue through Monday, the day we’ll post the final expenses for this second round in Bali. We’ll provide the link to the expenses for the first two months in Bali if you’d like to make the expense comparison. 

So far, as I prepare these numbers for both the final post in two days and to update our expense spreadsheet, it appears the totals will be similar, except for the recent four night stay in Lovina at the Puri Bagus resort and the recent clothing purchases both online and locally.

The worried look on his face made us laugh.

Heavy rain clouds are rolling in as we speak. Yesterday, we missed the pool time when it rained all afternoon.  Hopefully, today and tomorrow, we’ll be able to enjoy a little more time in the glorious infinity pool before we must be on our way.

Have a glorious day of your own!

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

The entrance to the hospital in Savusavu, Fiji. Medical care is free to both citizens of Fiji and visitors. See here for more details.