Day 12…Circumventing the Australian continent….Answering a loyal reader’s questions in an email…Remembrance Day observation aboard ship

View of the bridge where navigation of the ship is conducted by the captain and his crew.

“Sighting on the Ship in Australia”



Stone sculpture/artwork in hall near Cascades dining room.

In yesterday’s post we discussed an email we’d received from a loyal reader, Elaine, who with her husband decided to travel the world influenced in part by reading our site over these past few years.

It meant so much that we may have played a small role in inspiring them to be willing to sell their home to become unencumbered with stuff to enhance the affordability and enjoyment of the experience for a two year period. 

However long one my choose to travel, with our without homes, cars and belongings in their home country, many find traveling to be a life changing and enriching experience.

Tender boats which are actually the ship’s lifeboats were taking passengers to Benoa, Bali for sightseeing.  After spending four months in Bali, we saw no point in getting off the ship today.

In her email, Elaine had a number of questions, a group of which we decided required and deserved a little more time and space than we’d provided in yesterday’s post.

Elaine wrote:

“One more question for you.  Which are your favorite booking sites?  Vacations to Go?  For cruises…VRBO for bookings (have you had any bad experiences with bookings?)  Favorite Airlines (sometimes a necessary evil)?   Any favorite ways to save money…ie Airline Miles plans etc.”

For ease in reading our responses to each of Elaine’s questions, we’ll address each one separately as indicated below:

What are our favorite booking sites?
Long ago in 2012 when we built our site, we began using our favorite booking websites, some of which are listed as advertisers on our homepage.  We selected these companies to fulfill our travel needs after considerable research as to:  quality of service, pricing, response time, reliability of website, length of experience and user reviews. 

Each company/website provides it’s own unique service which continues to serve us well with few, if any, issues over these past almost five years since the onset of our bookings which we began long before we actually left the US.  Please see our list below with details.


Some passengers had booked outdoor activities on this rainy day in Bali.


Cruises:  Vacations to Go, rep Brooklyn Earnhardt.  Exemplary service, quick response, best pricing possible on every cruise. Plus, if cruise’s price is reduced prior to final payment, all we do is notify our rep and she’ll lower the price accordingly but its our responsibility to continually check for price reductions which Tom does daily.  We’ve saved several thousand dollars on this feature.  (Price increases do not have any bearing on our pricing once initial deposit is paid at time of booking).

Hotels:  Almost in every case, we use this link on our site to Hotels.com.  With a rewards program that includes “one free night after spending 10 nights” this has worked well for us.  Their pricing is highly competitive and we’ve been very happy with results.  For our upcoming hotel stay in Minnesota for six weeks, they gave us an excellent corporate rate discount (based on long stay).

Vacation/Holiday Home Rentals:  Since our first vacation rental booking in 2012, we’ve been primarily using this link on our site to HomeAway.com.  On a few occasions we’ve used other sites such as VRBO.com but have found the most listing on HomeAway

Their easy to use site seems to have better priced listings than many other such sites.  Also, on HomeAway its possible to pay a deposit to hold the property whereas on AirBnB, which often includes shared rentals, (we’re not interested in sharing a house), they require payment in full at time of booking for the entire rental period. 


Benoa, Bail as seen from the ship.

We aren’t willing to pay three months of rent in advance, often as much as 18 months out, to a stranger.  Note:  DO NOT PAY RENTS OR DEPOSITS FOR VACATION HOMES VIA A BANK TRANFER.  THERE’S NO WAY TO RECOVER LOST FUNDS IF ANY ISSUE ARISES. USING A CREDIT CARD THROUGH A BOOKING SERVICE, SUCH AS STAYZ (IN SOUTH PACIFIC), HOMEAWAY OR OTHER BOOKING SITES OR, PAYPAL (USE CREDIT CARD PAYMENT OPTION, NOT BANK ACCOUNT WITHDRAWAL) RESULTS IN SOME FORM OF RECOURSE IN THE EVENT OF FRAUD.  CREDIT CARD COMPANIES WILL ASSIST IN RECOVERING FROM FRAUDULENT TRANSACTIONS.

How do save money using these sites?  Simple, negotiate property owners/manager, if possible.  If you have special circumstances such as only two people staying in large property or are requesting a long term stay (anything over two weeks), don’t hesitate to ask for a discount.  Best way to accomplish this?  Suggest an alternate price for the entire period.  Don’t ask the seller to suggest a price unless you’re willing to wonder if you could have booked it for even less.

Bad experience?  Yes!  Our first vacation home rental outside the US was a beach house in Belize.  It didn’t have regularly running water, no insect screens and was unlivable for us.  We left in a week losing our first month’s rent.  The experience was awful considering it was our first international rental but we learned a lot. Luckily, we found another property (more expensive) but ultimately fabulous and enjoyed the remaining period of our stay.  See this link to begin this story which continues over a period of several posts.

Local tender awaiting passenger’s boarding for tours.

Flights:  As little as we like the necessity of flying its difficult to see the world by cruise ship, train, car or other modes of transportation.  We’ve seen many options for cruises that we could use for further transportation to and from various continents in an attempt to avoid flying, but the cruise fares are often out of reach financially over the long haul.  Instead, we bite the bullet and fly only when necessary on an average of four to six flights per year. 

Do we use one particular airline?  No, its not possible.  We check this site for an airline’s safety rating, and then choose  those with the best ratings based on best times and prices suitable for our needs.  Yes, we do sign up to become rewards members but based on our travels to date, we’ve yet to accumulate enough worthwhile points since we keep changing airlines. 

Close up of local tender boats taking passengers to the shore when the port of Benoa is too small to accommodate the ship.

As for booking airline tickets, we exclusively use this link on our site to Expedia.com.  One can accumulate rewards points but they aren’t significant but after considerable time and research we’ve been happy with the efficiency, ease of talking to a “human” if necessary, and pricing.  The site is easy to use and understand for even the most inexperienced traveler.  One can shop for days for a flight in an attempt to save a few dollars and may in fact be able to save a little in doing so.  But, if one researches carefully, you may find, as we have, that there’s always a tradeoff of one sort or another for even the smallest of discounts.

Saving money in general?  We’re always searching for ways to reduce our costs.  Whether its the cost of a rental car, a trip to a farmers market or a hotel stay we never hesitate to kindly ask for an upgrade and/or a better price when the situation calls for it.  Only you can use your best judgment.  We choose diplomacy and kindness when asking and a high degree of gratefulness whether they’ve been able to comply or not.  Coupons, discount codes, special promos are often available at the above websites and other which are readily found on a simple google search.

The contraptions are “davits” described as:  “Any of various crane-like devices used on a ship for supporting, raising and lowering boats and anchors on a ship.”

Today, with time and space running out once again, we’ve left out an vital aspect to our travels:  rental cars.  In tomorrow’s post, we’ll discuss how to book and save huge sums on rental cars throughout the world and a variety of nuances to consider when selecting a vehicle. 

This morning, aboard the ship at 6 am, a Remembrance Day Sunrise Service (same a Veterans Day in the US) was held poolside.   A few minutes ago at 11:00 am today on November 11, 2016, the entire ship observed a few moments of silence by ringing of the ship’s bell at the beginning and end.  Every person, including all staff and ourselves, stood and bowed our heads in respect for the fallen soldiers of World War I and other wars.  

Please check back tomorrow on how we’ve saved on both costs and time in renting cars over these past four years. 

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Photo from one year ago today, November 11, 2015:

The special clothing in this shop’s window is often purchased for Diwali celebrations which was celebrating one year ago on this date.  For more details, please click here.

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

Bali was wonderful.  We’re grateful for the experience.

If one doesn’t usually travel internationally, there’s a litany of processes to finally result in a boarding pass in hand. 

On this particular flight with Virgin Australia online check in and baggage fees cannot be processed until 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 bags weight 23 kg each plus our three carry on bags.  For the tips its become worth it to us.  Besides, its a good way to use any leftover foreign currency we’d yet to spend.

First our two porters (the trolleys were small) escorted us though 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 was vague.  We had no idea how much we’d have to pay.  Our two checked bags sailed through with the 23 kg limited 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 pm most nights awakening by 5 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!

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

A friendly man in Fiji on his horse after a hard morning’s work took 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 go with my skewers.

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 had another bowl of fries not shown in this photo.

Luckily, we’re become accustomed to the creepy crawlies we’ve encountered otherwise we wouldn’t 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 Wi-Fi 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 Hotels.com 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 Wi-Fi 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 skewer 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 hearts 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



Flower 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!

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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 fresh flower arrangements in the hotel lobby.

This week has flown by quickly. Tomorrow evening, we’ll leave for the airport at 9:45 pm using the already booked free hotel shuttle.  As the week as progressed, I’ve had less and less angst about the red eye and plan to take it in my stride.  Its only one day of being tired and out of sorts.

This morning we’re doing two loads of laundry in the spotless 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’ll board the cruise with clean clothing except for the few items we’ll wear in the next few days. 

As its turned out, since Tuesday we’ve only eaten the included breakfast in the hotel as our one meal a day.  The first day we arrived, Monday, we’d left the villa without anything to eat planning to have dinner 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 smallish portions. 

Instead, we decided to load up on the buffet breakfast, ordering omelets, bacon and a few sides, enough to get us through the next 24 hours until we’d eat again.  If we felt hungry in the evenings, we’d go have dinner.

Not surprisingly, eating very low carb, neither of us have 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’ve mentioned in the past, eating one meal per day is considered intermittent fasting.  If medical studies appeal to you there are countless studies revolving around the benefits of fasting, as least for a part of each day. 

Flowers blooming on the hotel grounds.

The old theory of eating every few hours will soon be discredited as a foolhardy means of maintaining health, weight and fitness.  It hasn’t been working for most people with rampant Type 2 diabetes and obesity prevalent in almost 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  Everyone has the option to choose 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 on certain days, we don’t feel up to par, energetic and ready to tackle the world. 

Artwork in the pool area.

After months of being relatively inactive during recovery from the June 1st injury I’m struggling a little to regain my strength.  Working out everyday at the hotel has been helpful but like physical therapy, its a slow process. 

Expecting overnight results  isn’t realistic.  I’ll continue to exercise over the next two days and then daily on the upcoming cruise, adding to the time and difficulty of my routine a little each day.  Hopefully, by the end of the 33 night cruise, I’ll have returned to my former level of fitness and energy.

At that point, we’ll be ready to resume preparing meals which we haven’t had to do in over three months, since we were in Phuket ending on September 1st.  In both locations in Tasmania we’ll have bi weekly house cleaners so we won’t have to do more than tidy up, laundry and cooking. 

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!

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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. Its 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 proof reading each post immediately after its uploaded.  Then, upon his suggestions, I edit each inconsistency he catches to reload the post once again. 

Its 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 make my fair share.  Its 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 has noticed an error and a year later one of us stumbles across it.  Immediately, I take action to make the corrections.  Its 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.  Its a greats 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 in 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 Wi-Fi, 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 souks.  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!

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

Rasnesh 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.

 

Settled in to hotel…Simple pleasures…Cultural experience…



Lovely couple, our hosts and property owners, Francoise and Egon from Holland who spend almost half the year in their homes in Bali.  Thank you Francoise and Egon for an 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’d select the fish we wanted from this cooler.  Pioni and I selected boiled crab.  Tom and Egon chose the chicken fried rice and Francoise chose a grilled fish.  More photos will follow 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 in 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 entrance of the hotel, security opened massive metal gates and inspected our vehicle with a mirror scan of the underside of the vehicle.

The small crabs were weighed.

After that inspection, our bags along with us, went through a security check comparable as to those 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 meat.  The flesh is soft and mushy while I prefer the hard 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 more upcoming cruises sailing out of Sydney for which this hotel would be ideal for overnight stays 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’ve seldom seen him so tired as he was last night.  We both knew we’d need to stay awake at least until 10 pm to avoid too early of a morning awakening. 

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 been awakening around this time.  Most nights I can read for awhile and fall 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.  Its 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 up 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, its 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.  Its 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 appears to be suitable locations close to each of the two vacation 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 arrival in the US where health clubs are readily available.  From there, we’re be 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 bring you everything you need or want!

_________________________________________


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

Handmade raft for fishing which Rasnesh 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’re living 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 of 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 with 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 book 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 humidty, 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 in 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 extensions 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 for 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 at 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 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 its 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 join them for lunch today at a tiny fish restaurant further down on the beach.  We’d known about this restaurant and had walked down the beach awhile 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.

But 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 encountered on our walks spent her days making small offering baskets from these leaves.  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 never stopped giving us a thrill.  Where do you see such a thing? 

Its hard for us to believe we’re leaving the villa in less than 48 hours.  These past four months (with a two month gap in between where we visited Southeast Asia) have been an extraordinary experience leaving memories we’ll always carry with us.  Prior to our first of two visits to Bali beginning on April 30th we’d heard passengers mention they didn’t care for Bali. 

Now, after these many months, we understand their hesitancy if they’d only visited the traffic 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, its evident how settled we’ve become during these past months. Its 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.” Its 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 awhile 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 beautifully 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 at the hotel in Kuta we’ll review the contents of our luggage, weighing them on the travel scale and pay 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 its 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 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.

 

 

We made the right decision…Documents to handle…Difficult to send on slow Wi-Fi…Three days and counting…

This pretty barnacle covered coconut washed ashore.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

We found this pretty shell on the beach.

We have no doubt that we’ve made the right decision in leaving the villa on Monday.  With Tom’s driver’s license renewal application and our absentee ballots, we hadn’t be able to process any sized attachment to be sent via email.  However, as I continued working on this post, finally we were able to get online long enough to send the email and attachments.
 
Tom’s license renewal is due to arrive no more than 60 days prior to the expiration date according to Nevada’s laws for those out of the state when the renewal is due. Tom’s birthday is December 23rd.

This out of state renewal is only allowed every other time one must renew.  Next time we’ll have to appear in person.  I’ll go through this same process in two months when mine renews on my birthday, February 20, 2017. 

The view changes dramatically as the tide rolls in.

We’d be in one awful predicament if for any reason the renewal didn’t go through.  We’d be unable to rent cars and be subject to returning to Nevada in person sooner than planned in order to be able to do so. 

This would be quite a predicament when we’re renting a car in Tasmania in December and then again when we return to the US in May for over two months.  One can only apply to the state in which they’re a resident, as we are for Nevada.

After we finally got online we emailed the completed documents to son Richard in Nevada who will in turn snail mail them to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles. Hopefully, in doing so within 60 days, we’ll receive the license on time.

This cute little dog is always with the buffaloes when they’re walked along the shore to the river.

Another requirement of the Nevada DMV is that they will not snail mail the actual license to an address in Nevada since we’re stating we can’t come to their office in person right now.

Thus, we’re having it mailed to daughter Tammy in Minnesota who will then mail it to our mailing service in NV, who in turn will overnight express mail it to us in Tasmania. Once again, its the nature of our lives that makes processing required documents cumbersome. 

We’re unable to avoid asking our kids for help from time to time.  They’re usually not tasks that require more than a fax, a copy or placing an item into an envelope and mailing it.  We certainly appreciate the assistance.  How else would we do these things?  We wonder how other long term travelers or expats handle such tasks.  Any comments would be welcome.


Another interesting crab pattern in the sand.  How artistic!

Tonight, we’ll complete our absentee ballots and have that task out of the way as well.  Recently, we used the villa’s old printer to print a few copies of my food list for the upcoming cruise (in 10 days!).  The ink is running out and copies aren’t as clear as we’d prefer but for now it will have to do.

We could wait the 10 days until we board the ship or even print them at the hotel in three or four days.  However, our nature and intent is to have everything done upfront in plenty of time to avoid thinking about it more than necessary. By the time we arrive in the hotel in Kuta on Monday, we’ll have nothing specific to process.

As we’ve indicated as our slogan, “Wafting Through Our Worldwide Travels with Ease, Joy and Simplicity” we make every effort to keep our lives as uncomplicated as possible; no drama, low stress and no surprises we could have avoided had we been more diligent. 


The government in Bali stocks this contraption with fish to provide sources of income for the locals.

This isn’t always an easy task and at times, avoiding stress requires spending more money such as in our leaving the villa five days earlier, losing the rent we paid for the remaining days.  Had the cost for the hotel been higher than it was, we may have decided otherwise. 

Also, recently booking the hotel in Lovina for the visa extensions was another example of reducing stress again costing additional unplanned expenses.  We often stay in hotels for one night (or more, if necessary) to reduce the exhaustion and stress between long and uncomfortable flights and, to avoid missing a cruise departure when a flight may be delayed for one reason or another.

These types of decisions are usually factored into the budget when we establish new line items in the Excel spreadsheet for estimated expenses for a new location.   As for the unexpected items as indicated above, we always maintain a “miscellaneous” category which covers most unanticipated expenses.  Without doing so, we could end up with many surprises at the end of our stay.


These young boys arrived by motorbike to play with their boat in the river.  It always surprises us how 7 and 8 year olds drive motorbikes and hang out alone at the beach, often for hours at a time.

There’s no doubt that avoiding stress is costly but in doing so we’re more able to maintain our sense of control over those situations we can control as opposed to those beyond our control such as cancelled flights, delays, unexpected layovers, etc. 

Isn’t it ironic that most of our potentially stressful inducing events revolve around flights?  If it were possible and if we could afford it, we’d cruise from location to location when generally the only major potentially stressful events include embarkation and debarkation, each of which may require hours of waiting. 

The boy’s boat brought them hours of entertainment.

After 14 cruises and traveling to 54 countries we’ve become experienced enough to avoid being stressed when having to wait in long queues for cruises and the often lengthy waiting periods at airports for customs and immigration processes.

Today, slightly cooler and less humid (less flies too), we’ll continue to enjoy every last minute at the villa, write the online reviews for the villa (depending on the signal) as we continue to revel in the loving and kind people surrounding us, along with the exquisite scenery.

May your day find you appreciating loving and kind people surrounding you.

________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, October 21, 2016:

View of the coral reef in Fiji.  For more photos, please click here.