Day #194 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Package from hell…

We’d been thrilled to see the intricate beauty of a red dragonfly that visited each day in Bali.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2015 while staying in Sumbersari, Bali. For more on this date, please click here.

Over the past several days, we’ve gone back and forth with FedEx India about receiving our package from the US, which was shipped here in July and had been sitting in New Delhi since then. With dozens of email messages back and forth, often waiting a week for a response, phone numbers on their website that don’t answer, don’t work, or the lines are always busy, we are at our wit’s end.

Bonfire on the river next to the beach.

The value of all of the items we insured was around US $800, INR 58658. As a result, we rounded it off and insured it for US $1000, INR 73322, as a precaution. Based on the insured amount, they value the contents, and we are being charged US $947, INR 69406 in customs taxes and fees. Oh, good grief. It’s frustrating. We will never order another package from the US again! We’ve had our fill of these frustrating and stressful situations.

Even plain leaves may be symmetrical and beautiful.

Today, we received a notice stating the package was delayed further since we haven’t paid the customs fees. There is nowhere online at their site to pay the fees! They then suggested we pay in cash!  We don’t have that kind of money on hand in rupees. We’d have to go to seven ATMs to get enough money that would expose us to the virus, seven times over. Why can’t we pay with a credit card?

The endless varieties of “growing things” Mother Nature bestows upon our earth is astounding.

This morning, when I went downstairs to pay this past month’s bill with a slip of paper, I asked the front desk for their help, including the amount, the tracking number, and phone number. The management staff emphatically stated they must take a credit card. They are working on resolving this for us.

When we first arrived for our second stay in Bali, I noticed this red dragonfly, as shown in today’s main photo, fluttering around the two koi ponds by either side of the front entryway. Much to my delight, it returns almost every day to the exact location.

When we’ve called, there is a language barrier making communication difficult. Hopefully, soon, the hotel staff will call us back with a resolution. This is so frustrating we both could scream.

Many varieties of coconut trees are found throughout the world. These are a different variety than we’d seen in other countries, with a softer flesh.

Also, in the past 24-48 hours, I’ve received zillions of email messages from our readers who haven’t received our automatic daily email messages with the latest post. I’ve tried to respond to each one when finally, as of this morning, our web developers had resolved the issue. What a relief! Thanks! If you are not receiving the emails and have signed up, please let me know by email.

The tiniest and most straightforward blooms can be breathtaking.

We’ve finished our US taxes with our accountant in Nevada, our home state, paid our tax bill, and can put that behind us until after January 30 pops up again. Also, yesterday I worked on #4 of the required five 2000 word posts for website optimization and will be done by Monday. From there, I’ll have one left, which I’ll complete next week. Only then will I sigh with relief, especially if we have received the package from FedEx by then.

This frog is not unlike the frog visitor we saw almost every day in South Africa over the years.

Today, the front desk informed me that the restaurant would be opening soon while I paid the recent bill. This isn’t necessarily of interest to us. We have felt safe dining in our room these past many months. Not wearing a mask while eating doesn’t necessarily give us peace of mind when people we know have contracted the virus from dining in restaurants, as far as they could tell. We’ll continue to dine in our room for both breakfast and dinner each day.

Plumeria is often used to make leis in Hawaii. In Bali, they’re also used for religious offerings and decorations.

Could our level of frustration be higher than usual right now due to our circumstances? Most assuredly. But, as always, we’ll pull ourselves “up by our bootstraps” and get it together. Receiving that package containing our new passports will surely let us relax while we continue to wait out our options.

We’ve found these pretty flowers throughout the world, from the bougainvillea in Kenya to Bali.

Have a peaceful day! We’re working on it!

Photo from one year ago today, October 3, 2019:

 This photo of a lamb on the farm in Witheridge, Devon, England, sent us swooning with delight. For more photos, please click here.

Day #185 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Six months in confinement…Package hell…

Sunset reddened clouds reflecting in the pool at our Bali villa.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2016, while we were living in Sumbersari, Bali, Indonesia. For more on this date, please click here.

When there was no post on this date in 2013 in Kenya, I scoured each year on this date and landed on our time spent in Bali in 2016. Seeing the above photo of the exquisite infinity pool in the villa overlooking the sea sent my mind into a tailspin. Oh, would we appreciate that now!

Many passersby carry needed supplies along the beach.

The total four months we spent at this villa were divided into two separate stays;  after the first two months we left and headed to Singapore to visit three embassies to acquire much-needed visas;  then from Singapore to Vietnam and Cambodia on a Mekong River cruise and land tour. From there, we spent 42 days in Phuket, Thailand, returning to Bali for the second two months.

We loved the villa in Bali, especially the veranda, pool, and cabana where we spent the majority of our days, lounging, talking, laughing, swimming, and watching a wide array of activities transpiring on the beach. Each new day presented unique and interesting scenes, unlike anything we’d seen on any beach in the world.

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

Whether it was buffalo walking along the shore guided by a child with rope, no more than 10 years old; white horses on a walk; locals dressed in local garb walking along the shore; people bathing in the sand and rinsing in the sea; and children playing naked in a river that meets the sea only a short distance from us;  We were amused, entertained and motivated to take photos.

Today is the six-month anniversary of the date we checked into this hotel on March 24, 2020. During the first month, we were able to have our meals in the hotel’s dining room. But, in no time at all, India’s government banned dining in restaurants and room service was our only option for our two daily meals which has continued through today.

A typical small business building found in a village.

Purchasing and serving alcohol was banned for several months. Now, alcohol may be purchased and delivered, but with taxes at 38% plus delivery fees, the cost is outrageous. The hotel cannot serve alcohol and, with their upcharges on drinks plus taxes and tips, it makes no sense for us to imbibe at all. Also, neither of us has ever enjoyed having drinks in a hotel room. We’ll wait until we get to our next location, wherever that may be.

On another note, we ordered a package of supplies from our mailing service in Nevada, which includes our new passports, contact lenses, snail-mail, and odds and ends we can’t get in India. The package, along with a second item, a replacement credit card (due to fraud) was shipped at the end of July 2020 and we’ve yet to receive either item.

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

I desperately tried to reach a human at FedEx India’s multiple phone numbers, but either the line was busy or no one answered. We each sent no less than a dozen email messages asking for assistance, always including the two tracking numbers and the urgency of receiving these two items. The replies always stated the same thing, “We’re working on it” or some variation thereof.

Finally, a few days ago, Tom received a reply from an upper management person with instructions as to how to receive the packages. It required that we send in copies of our passports, both bio pages and back pages, and our e-visas.

Not so quick. The trick was to get their website to work in order to be able to upload the documents. Once I did everything as they suggested, the photos in small-sized jpegs wouldn’t upload. Only a few would. I kept having to take the photos over and over again, to finally get them to upload.

Crossing a bridge over a river.

A few hours later, we received two emails stating we hadn’t sent incomplete files. They needed two letters, signed and sealed by the hotel manager, one for each item, stating we are staying here and can receive the items. That became quite a challenge when by human error, the tracking numbers and “case” numbers somehow got mixed up. The letters had to be redone.

After spending the entire afternoon on this, the system wouldn’t let me in when entering the “captcha.” Actually, the captcha was easy, only four clear jiggly letters but their system wouldn’t accept the login after I entered it. After five tries I was kicked out for 24 hours. Today, at 4:00 pm, I will have to start over once again. Ah, frustrating. We’ll report back on how this goes.

A Muslim holiday celebrated on the beach.

Based on the above circumstances, yesterday I never finished my walking, only accomplishing 5000 steps instead of 10000. I hope to do better today. Also, I hope to get back to work on the 2000 word post #3 sometime today. Our entire routine has been turned topsy-turvy by this package business.

OK. That’s all there is today, folks! Have a good day!

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


Photo from one year ago today, September 24, 2019:

This was our holiday rental, Pond Cottage in Devon, England at night. 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.

Exploring the area on a sunny day…Humidity…Plans for Bali…

Motorbikes parked at the beach.

It rains a lot in the tropics and there are plenty of cloudy days. Since our arrival in Phuket over two weeks ago, at least 75% of the days have been cloudy with rain no less than 40% of the days and nights.

Many years ago (around 30) BT (before Tom) I vacationed in Thailand, staying in Phuket at two different resorts, one week each and if I recall, it was cloudy and rainy many of those days as well.  When the sun is shining, its a scorcher. 

Its so hot, people often walk with umbrellas to protect themselves from the heat of the sun as opposed to using umbrellas in the rain. Yesterday, we compared weather conditions for both Phuket and Bali which overall are quite similar. 

Tourists dining under thatched roofs drinking cocktails with umbrellas and pineapple slices.

We don’t remember feeling this hot in Bali although it was hot each day with high humidity similar to Phuket.  Islands typically have high levels of humidity but after a little research we discovered many inland countries/cities have levels of humidity in excess of what may be the case on a tropical island.

Our old fashioned thinking seems to more readily relate to the readings for humidity and actual temperature (than for dew point )which this morning at 9:45 am is a paltry 85F, 29C with the humidity is 92%.  Needless to say it will be another uncomfortable day with a 70% likelihood of thunderstorms.
In Bali, we were situated directly on the ocean with nearly constant breezes to cool the moisture on our skin. Here, living in a residential neighborhood, a kilometer to the beach, we feel nary a breeze except when storms seem to come from nowhere and wild winds waft through the air.
Fruit and fruit drink stands are popular in Phuket.
As much as we find this house to fulfill our needs and certainly having the most amazing customer service from its owner and support staff, in an odd way, we’re both looking forward to returning to Bali. 
Perhaps, we miss the sea or the two Katuks cooking our meals or chatting with Gede or as mentioned over the past several days, the lack of English speaking news channels, avoiding the constant barrage of bad news unless we search for it online. 
We can’t help but look forward to dining at the big square table for eight staring out at the sea as the buffalo walk along the beach on their way to or from the neighboring river.
There are many restaurants located near the beaches.

The only apprehension we’ve had, particularly Tom, has been the prospect of the required three days of four hour round trip drives to Lovina, Bali to renew our visas toward the end of the first of our two-month stay. 

These three separate visits are a requirement of the Indonesian government and there’s no way around it when staying in the country over 30 days. The fact that we’re so far away from the immigration office in Lovina while living in Sumbersari only adds to the difficulty.
Many tourists use money exchange facilities such as this. We’ve found it’s more economical to use ATMs for local currency.
As many of our regular readers are aware we never had ample time to apply for the Indonesian visa extensions while in Singapore or Vietnam last month. We’d considered breaking our own rule and mailing in our passports to VisaHQ or CIBT in the US by overnight mail while they process it for us in Washington, DC at the Indonesian embassy. 
Conceivably, we could have the visa extensions back by overnight mail within seven to ten days.  But, with my recent injury, we decided that in the event of an emergency situation that required us leave the country in a hurry, we couldn’t take the risk. Not that we expect this to happen as I continue to improve a little each day.
Many hostels and “rooms for rent” are seen along the highway. Many young tourists come to Phuket for water activities and stay in lower cost facilities.
So, we were back to “square one,” the three days of driving to Lovina with the required one day  required by the immigration department. This results in starting on a Monday, returning on Wednesday and returning the third time on a Friday to collect the passports and visa extensions.
Yesterday, I had a thought that I ran by Tom. Why don’t we go to Lovina and stay in a hotel both Monday and Tuesday nights, going to the immigration office on both Monday and Wednesday? We’ll have Gede drop us off on Monday and pick us up on Wednesday after the second trip to immigration and then have Gede return to Lovina on Friday on our behalf to pick up our passports and visa extensions.

Last time we had to get the visa extensions, Gede made the third trip without us when we’d authorized him in writing to do this on our behalf.  his avoided us making the third four hour round trip drive. By staying in a hotel, we’ll have only two hours to get to Lovina and another two hours to return to Sumbersari on Wednesday afternoon having completed the second trip to the immigration office.  Tom liked this idea.

Taking photos through the car’s windows and windscreen in tricky with some sort of worn film is covering the glass.

In checking prices on hotels in Lovina, Bali, rated at least four star we can easily stay at a very nice location for an outrageously low price under US $75, IDR 984,225, THB  2,631 per night plus the cost of a few meals and low cost taxi. 

It’s a plan!  We’re relieved to have made this logical decision which ultimately turns what may have been a stressful situation into a fun “holiday” within the framework of our time in Bali.  The extra transportation cost by avoiding the one day’s drive will cover at least one night’s hotel bill.  Hope this all makes sense.
Yesterday, when the sun made an appearance for a few hours, we took off on another drive in the area.  We can’t go too far for two reasons; one, I can’t sit for too long in the low seats in the less-than-stellar rental car, especially on bumpy roads; and two, the less-than-stellar rental car is old and could easily break down. 
Road construction is prevalent in most countries, slowing down the flow of traffic.
The car’s windows have some type of darkening film on the windows that is severely distorted, making driving difficult in busy traffic. Tom, an excellent driver, who never complains about conditions, hesitates to do much driving for all these reasons. I concur. 
And yet, considering these obstacles we were still able to take some photos we happily share here each day while we continue to explore as we can during our remaining 26 days on the island. 

It can’t always be perfect. We don’t expect it to be. We accept the limitations we currently have in our midst while continuing to make the very best of each and every day. We laugh, we smile, we find ways to entertain ourselves and each other. What more could we ask for?  Not a thing. Not a single thing.

Enjoy your weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, August 6, 2015:

Amazing sunrise over Trinity Beach, Australia, where we lived one year ago today. For more photos, please click here.

Bad news keeps coming and coming…How do we handle the risks?

Overall, the neighborhood in which we’re living has newer single family homes.  However, the area contains a number of modest living and working environments such as this we pass on the way to our villa.

It’s hard not to watch the news on TV when we have English speaking news here in Phuket. From terrorism to plane crashes to political hoopla, the negative keeps coming and coming.

One might think it’s easy to isolate ourselves from world affairs while living outside of our home country. But, even without TVs in many countries, we can’t get away from it when we have several news apps on our laptops that keep popping up the latest “horror of the day, week or month.”

One might also think, “shut it off” and live our lives of travel embracing our new surroundings from location to location. However, we weren’t oblivious back “then” (while living in the US) and we aren’t oblivious “now.”

Over the past few years, we’ve lived in close proximity to chickens and crowing roosters. Now, as we prepare today’s post, we can hear roosters crowing, a sound we’ve come to ignore, even while sleeping. The breed of chickens in Thailand is different than we’ve seen in the past.

In other words, one can “run but can’t hide” from the realities facing our world from one corner of the world to another. We won’t get into all the issues here and now. Most of our readers are savvy, not only reading our daily drivel, but also paying close attention to what’s happening in their homeland and throughout the world.  They know. We all know.

Over these past years we’ve raved about Emirates Airlines safety record and yet yesterday they had a frightening crash luckily handled by competent pilots saving the lives of 300 passengers but sadly with the loss of life of one firefighter. Nothing ever stays the same. Do we think twice about traveling on Emirates in the future?

Driving down the dirt road from our villa toward the highway.

Before we lock in any flights we check airline safety records at sites such as this and others.  No matter how often we check and how safe a record may be for any given airline, it only takes one disaster to end the lives of hundreds of passengers.  \There’s no guarantee.

It’s the same with terrorism. No place is exempt from an a devastating occurrence. Sure, many parts of the world aren’t safe at any time. But, those countries, cities, and small towns which may seem safe become just as vulnerable after a single incident. 

Once on the main highway, the roads are good with relatively light traffic during most times of the day.

One cannot predict where that may be although some locations are glaringly obvious at this time, those that we see on the news over and over again as more and more lives are lost. 

Can we avoid visiting those vulnerable locations? We try. Then again, we hear of natural disasters over which no one can predict the devastation often destroying hundreds of lives, families and homes. We have no means of determining where those locations may be.

Many old Thai style buildings line the highway.

Now, living on the island of Phuket, we’re remain aware of the 2004 tsunami, where hundreds of thousands of lives were lost in 14 countries as indicated below from this site:

“The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake occurred at 00:58:53 UTC on 26 December with the epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The shock had a moment magnitude of 9.1–9.3 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of IX (Violent). The undersea megathrust earthquake was caused when the Indian Plate was subducted by the Burma Plate and triggered a series of devastating tsunamis along the coasts of most landmasses bordering the Indian Ocean, killing 230,000 people in 14 countries, and inundating coastal communities with waves up to 30 metres (100 ft) high. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. Indonesia was the hardest-hit country, followed by Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand.”

Its been a full week since we grocery shopped. As soon as we upload today’s post, we’ll be heading back to this Costco-like store for the next week’s groceries. 

At the time on US and world news, we heard more about the loss of life in Phuket, Thailand which remained in our minds all these years, than we did about the other 13 countries. And yet, in four weeks from today, we head back to Indonesia to live directly on the ocean, a matter of meters from the sea to the veranda, a country that also fell prey to loss of thousands of lives. Do we worry?

We ask ourselves the question, “If we lived in a senior community in seemingly safe Arizona or Florida in the USA where many seniors move to escape cold weather, would we be any safer?” 

Buddhism is the primary religion in Thailand. Many shrines such as this are found at local businesses such as this at a gas station.

The answer is clear. No country, no state, no city and no small town or village in the world is safe. For us, the real question becomes, “Do we allow ourselves to be filled with fear and worry while living amid the most exciting and interesting times of our lives?”

Lots of exposed power lines along the highway in Phuket. We’ve been concerned we’d lose power here and have experienced a few surges but, so far so good.

We can allow the “bad news” orientated media to rule the quality of our lives or, we can chose to find fulfillment and joy within the framework of the lives we’ve chosen for ourselves. We opt for the later.

As we look to the future and the countries we plan to visit, we consider many factors.  Like Life itself, there’s no guarantee. We chose to live in the moment and for now, the moment is looking good. 

May all of your moments look good as well.

Photo from one year ago today, August 4, 2015:

St. Mary’s by the Sea in Port Douglas was originally a Catholic church, is now multi-denominational performing services for a variety religions. For more details, please click here.

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

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

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A young male buffalo neighbor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Attempting to avoid “whinging”…A tiny annoyance…

Ants carrying off a dead gecko.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Last night’s sunset.

Chere Bork, a dear friend of mine from Minnesota with whom I’ve stayed in touch by email on almost a daily basis over these past 44 months of travel, reads our daily posts reveling in our travels along with us. 

As a busy and much sought-after full-time registered dietician, national speaker, life coach, consultant, and blogger, Chere has all-encompassing experience and knowledge in the field of health and well-being. 

Our online conversations are lively and animated not only centered around our mutual beliefs in living a healthy life to the fullest, each with quality of life and husbands/family we love and adore. And, also we share in the challenges we all face regardless of any degree of joy we experience in everyday living.

Dragonfly on our chaise lounge.  These eat mosquitoes. 

Regardless of the gorgeous beaches, exquisite scenery, the interesting worldwide environment we explore and embrace, some days are better than others, some experiences not worth repeating, and others that grip our hearts and minds longing for more.

From time to time, my friend Chere suggests a subject for a story that we take seriously following suit within a few days on her suggestion. Other readers have suggested content through an email or a comment at the end of a post. 

We welcome such suggestions and if befitting our site we look forward to the next opportunity to incorporate their ideas into a post. Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and suggestions with us at any time.

Snake run over by a car or motorbike.

A few days ago, after a comment I made to Chere in an email, she suggested I be more explicit on this topic in a story for our readers. “Hogwash,” I said. Our readers don’t want to hear us whine (“whinge” in Aussie or British speak) anymore on this topic.

Chere went on to explain, that our readers may prefer to “Hear it like it is, the good, the bad and the ugly.” And, folks, at times, I’ll admit to avoiding mentioning a lot of the ugly because, a) I’m “overly bubbly” attempting to look on the bright side and, b) We’d prefer our site not to become a deterrent for future renters for our thoughtful landlords and property managers who make every effort to create as perfect an environment as possible during our often lengthy stays.

Chere‘s preferred topic for today? Ants. Yep, ants. Those measly annoying, crawling relentless worldwide buggers…ants. They’re everywhere, especially here in Bali. (We’ve included no photos of ants today. Everyone knows what they look like).

Some type of cocoon we spotted in the ceiling of the cabana. 

Perhaps you aren’t interested in hearing about ants. We had enough ants in Fiji to last a lifetime when on the first night of our arrival, zillions were living in the mattress and bedding.  Yikes! What a night that was!  Read here for details. There have been no ants in the bed in Bali, just everywhere else.

Its not as if we didn’t write about ants earlier.  However, we’ve been avoiding too much discussion on ants since our arrival in Bali, feeling as if our loyal readers may have had their “fill” during our four months in Fiji.

OK, Chere. Here’s our Bali ant story and then we’re done with ants until the next ant-infested society in which we’ll live. For easy reading of Bali ant experiences, I’m listing a few here in bullet points for your perusal, or not, whichever you prefer.  Here goes:

  • Although we don’t cook, nightly I toss our coleslaw salad with dressing I’ve made. When tossing the salad using the cut-up veggies the two Ketuts have prepared, I have to hurry to avoid ants crawling into the bowl. They don’t like cabbage and carrots but they love dressing. While I’m tossing the salad hundreds of ants are running all over the granite countertops. They crawl up my arms.   don’t scream.
  • When showering in the very clean en suite master bath, there are hundreds of ants running up and down the shower walls. Tom can’t see them when he’s showering while not wearing his glasses. I can and I do.   don’t scream.
  • Last night, when I opened my contact lens case there was a red ant inside. I didn’t scream although a little moan escaped my lips. I must have left the lid slightly ajar during the day. That won’t happen again.
  • On numerous occasions, while lounging in the chaises by the pool, it’s not uncommon for either of us to jump up and start brushing hundreds of ants off our legs. They crawl up the legs of the chaises and for some reason love nibbling on dead skin on our legs. Yuck. We don’t scream.
  • Ants on our keyboards and monitors which we clean daily.  They still come to call.
  • Ants crawling up the side of our plates while we’re eating (lots of flies too). Ants on our food. Flies on our food. If there’s more than one ant in on my food, I don’t eat that bite. We no longer comment during these incidences.
  • Red ants crawling around the cabana and the cushions.  Each day, we ask Ribud to spray the area but, by the time we use it in the afternoon after time in the pool, they’re back. 
  • Ribud cleans the pool six days a week. It’s impeccable. By the time we go swimming each day, there are lots of ants gathered along the edges and in the corners. We rescue the drowning grasshoppers but not the ants.

You get the drift, right?  Chere, here’s your ant story. Oh, there’s probably more we can tell but I need to get the disgusting scowl off my face and get back to staring at today’s high surf, blue sky, warm weather, pristine infinity pool, and the cool guy at my side, who for the moment is enjoying an ant-free zone.

We save several grasshoppers from drowning in the pool each day.

May your day not include ants and other such annoyances!

Photo from one year ago today, June 13, 2015:

As we settled into our new home in Trinity Beach, Australia, we were thrilled to see the pool.  For more photos of our first home in Australia, please click here.

Part 3…Visas…Not a good day for Tom!…Visited Proyek Penyu Turtle Hatchery!…Check back tomorrow for my embarrassing cultural experience!

For more information and details on the Proyek Penyu Turtle Hatchery, please click here. The cost to visit the site was a donation of IDR $50,000, US $3.68 for both of us.
Stats were a little outdated, but the efforts of the staff appeared dedicated to the project from what we could observe.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”
It wasn’t Tom’s favorite day.  As a matter of fact, it was his third less than a stellar day since we arrived in Bali almost one month ago. The first was the four-hour harrowing drive from the airport in Denpasar to the villa, with the remaining two to Lovina this week (four-hour round trips ) for our visa extensions.

We arrived at the Reef Seen Resort, the location for the Proyek Penyu Turtle Hatchery in Pemuteran Village, Gerokgak, Singaraja, North Bali.

As an aggressive driver, albeit a good driver, not being at the wheel for long road trips leaves him with a degree of angst only he and others like him can understand. Surely, many of our readers can relate to this.

This is the sandbox where the recovered turtle eggs are placed while they mature.  There were 126 eggs maturing in this enclosed area.  Once hatched, they’ll be moved to the pools and later released to the sea. Turtle meat is a delicacy in Bali.  Fishermen are paid to bring the eggs and baby turtles to the hatchery, more than they’d be paid as “food.”  This hatchery isn’t as natural an environment as we’d like to have seen, the intentions are good and the concept suitable for saving the lives and further preservation of many sea turtles.

With him in the back seat, upon his insistence, allowing me to take photos from the front, I can feel his discomfort especially when the cautious drivers we’ve had drive too slowly or someone darts in front of us, a common occurrence here in Bali. He doesn’t need to say much when the faintest of sounds escape his lips, perhaps only audible to me.

Looking closely at the sand, there was no indication or sign that turtle eggs are incubated here. Often, dogs, other predators, and humans dig up the eggs on the beaches for food. This is a good alternative for the turtle’s eventual survival. The optimum temperature as would be in a natural environment is between 30 and 32 degrees. If the temperature is predominantly 30 degrees, it’s like the eggs would all be male. At 32 degrees they’d be female. 

Oddly, his angst doesn’t make me anxious although I do feel bad that he can’t relax and enjoy the drive, regardless of where we’re going. Of course, the purpose of yesterday’s second trip to Lovina in three days only added to his discomfort of visiting the immigration office for trip two in the three, five-day process. 

There were over 100 baby turtles maturing for future release attracting tourists to the venue.

No doubt, it’s not a pleasant concept…spending an entire week, out of eight weeks, messing with this process.  Then again, as we sat there with others who’d also chosen to abide by the country’s immigration laws, we both wondered why such a process isn’t observed and respected (by many) throughout the world, let alone in our own USA. Following the “law of the land” isn’t all that difficult.

Baby turtles that had hatched in the hatchery, not quite old enough for release. We’d hope to release a few but they weren’t quite ready.

For tomorrow’s third and final trip, we’re waiting to hear from Gede that a driver will go to Lovina to pick up the final documents with a letter from us in hand authorizing him to do so.  The immigration officer explained this is acceptable for this third trip only.

There were three mature turtles on display (not the parents of the baby turtles) which we’d preferred were instead out to sea but were used as mascots to inspire donations for the baby turtle release program.

Luckily, we were photographed, fingerprinted, and out the door within about an hour before lunchtime began, after paying the required IDR 710,000, US $52.14 in fees for the two visas. 

The other two confined turtles used as mascots to promote the hatchery.

We’d planned to visit two points of interest on the return drive but I was willing to forgo that idea if Tom would have preferred we immediately begin the drive back to the villa (considering another two hours on the road).  He insisted we continue with our original plans to visit the Monkey Temple (shown in tomorrow’s post) and the Proyek Penyu Turtle Hatchery, both on the return drive to the villa.

The hatchery is located on the beautiful grounds of the Reef Seen resort, known for its scuba diving and snorkeling.

It was an hour’s drive from Lovina to both venues within minutes of each other. Over the next several days, we’ll continue to post the many photos we’ve taken this week, still leaving us with dozens more we’ve yet to share. There’s certainly been no shortage of photo ops in Bali.

Religious statues on display at the resort.

Today, we’re blissfully staying put. The weather isn’t as humid as usual, the sky is clear and the crystal clear pool awaits us. We have a bit of “work” to accomplish for future planning that we’ll tackle in the afternoon while sitting in the cabana after our exercise and fun in the pool. 

There’s a variety of flowers blooming at the Reef Seen Resort.

We started our day as usual in the chaise lounges at 6:45 am savoring Tom’s perfectly brewed French press coffee, watching the activity on the beach and the sea including dogs howling and playing, passing boats and barges and who knows what else may come our way today?

The road we drove to the Reef Seen Turtle Hatchery,

Tomorrow, I’m sharing an embarrassing culturally motivated event that occurred to me yesterday, one I hesitate to mention but, let’s face it, life’s not always a “walk in the park.” Sharing such experiences are all a part of the reality of traveling the world which isn’t always pleasant.

May your day be pleasant wherever you may be in the world!

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

One year ago today, we boarded Royal Caribbean Legend of the Seas in Honolulu on its way to Sydney, Australia with 1400 Australians on board for one of the most fun cruises we’d experienced. Here’s our balcony cabin before we messed it up with our stuff!  For more photos, please click here.

Final photos of Taranaki Pioneer Village including a peek inside an historical hospital…A new way of life upcoming soon…

This could come in handy on “overly grumpy” days!

We’re still awaiting final documents for upcoming bookings which we’ll share as soon as we have them in hand which should be later today.

Here’s the library and general store at Taranaki Pioneer Village.

Yesterday, we breezed through town making the multiple stops we’d planned. At the pharmacy, several staff members who’d assisted me over these past three months gathered around to wish me goodbye. That’s amazing! 

Each room in the settlement houses contained authentic antiques with some funny plaster characters.

Tom usually waits in the car while I shop except at the meat market and at the farmer’s market, which we’ll visit for a final time this Sunday to return eight empty egg cartons and to purchase our last batch of eggs, enough at that point to last only four more days.

A hat and garments shop.

As of today, we’re leaving in eight days. It’s at this point we begin calculating how we’ll use the remaining food in the freezer, fridge, and cupboards. We’re in great shape for using up most of our supplies as we plan the menu for the upcoming week.

It was enjoyable to see the clothing from the era in various shops.

Today, we’re laundering the remaining few loads of cruise clothing, especially when it’s a sunny breezy day when they’ll dry quickly. The house cleaners will arrive soon. We’ve decided to have them clean one more time, next Thursday, leaving us to focus on packing instead of cleaning the house before we go. At a weekly price of NZ $60, US $41, it’s worth it. 

These bottles in the Chemist shop may have contained a variety of ingredients for making potions.

Today, it dawned on us that we won’t be cooking for ourselves until moving into the house in Phuket, Thailand on July 22, 2016, over three months away. I enjoy preparing our meals but in Bali with a household cook on staff, I’ll only assist in the menu and choosing appropriate ingredients.

Authentic grocer.

The owners of the Bali house explained we could have the cook do all the prep and cleanup while we season the meal putting it all together at the end for cooking. As for the shopping, at this point, we’re assuming we’ll do the shopping to ensure we’ll have the correct ingredients. We’ll know more once we arrive after the cruise.

An old telephone switchboard.

We have no doubt that the local grocery stores will be small with limited availability of products, not unlike in Kenya and Fiji, both of which had sparse options at the local markets.

The bedpan department in the old hospital on the grounds of the Taranaki Pioneer Village.

For our way of eating, if we can purchase free-range chicken and eggs, grass-fed meat, wild-caught fish (caught away from the shore), dairy, and vegetables, we’ll have everything we need. 

The operating theatre.  Scary.

There are no villages in which we’ve lived to date that don’t sell meat/protein sources, veggies, and full-fat dairy which are universal food choices in most parts of the world. 

The maternity theatre. 

However limited the food supply we can always figure it out. In reality, our way of eating is easier than trying to find specific packaged and processed food items many people use in their daily lives. 

The blacksmith shop.
The interior of the blacksmith shop.

In my old life before 2011 when I adopted this diet, I’d have been frustrated if unable to purchase “whole grain” bagels, low sugar jelly, and unsweetened low-fat yogurt. Now, with those foods on my prohibited list, shopping is much easier. Plus, eating only one meal a day makes meal options relatively simple.

The check-out desk at the library.

Today, we’re wrapping up the photos from our recent tour of the Taranaki Pioneer Village and hopefully, tomorrow, we’ll be back with exciting news we’re looking forward to posting.

Printing equipment from a long-ago era.

May your day bring good news, good health, and contentment.
                                                Photo from one year ago today, April 7, 2015:

This was the local health food store where we often shopped for specialty items while in Kauai. Most likely, such a store won’t be available in Bali. We’ll manage without it. For more details, please click here.

How we’re spending the two month gap between two visits to Bali…Partial Itinerary…Moo…baa…neigh…

This is our favorite cow to visit when we’re on a walk.  She always sticks out her tongue and does a little dance when she see us.

When preparing yesterday’s post, we realized it may sound a bit confusing regarding our back and forth for two trips to Bali. The bulk of the decision to go back and forth revolved around the fact that Indonesia has strict visa regulations with stays only allowing for 30 days (with 60 days possible). We’ll figure that out soon.

Recently, these fillies/colts were born.

As a result, we thought it might clarify the plans we made for the almost two-month gap in between the two separate bookings for the same property. In part, the owners gave us an excellent price on the villa with a full staff but preferred to get more for the high season. 

The walk in the area is always lovely.

If we’d leave and return, they could get higher rates than we’re paying during the peak season, resulting in excellent pricing for us during the two separate visits on either end of the peak season.

Also, during this two-month gap, we found a two for one special on a Viking Mekong River cruise, providing we paid the cruise fare in full at the time of the booking which we were happy to do for the savings.

Cattle seem interested in humans as we’ve found on walks and drives through the countryside.

In these two transactions, we saved several thousand dollars for venues we may not have found affordable at the full rates and fares. The more countries we can visit at the best possible prices and terms the greater our worldwide experience. 

There are numerous varieties of long-horned cattle in New Zealand.

It’s not that we’re on a mission to visit every country in the world. It’s not practical in today’s world of war and terror.But, we are on a mission of visiting the countries we find interesting and enriching as we continue on our world journey.

The gap between the two Bali stays made sense when by coincidence and admittedly diligent planning and research, we’re not only excited about the time we’ll spend in Bali but also the two months in between and shortly thereafter, as shown below:
                                                                                         # days                        Dates

 Sydney Hotel 1  4/15/2016 – 4/16/2016 
Cruise –  Sydney to Singapore  14  RC Voyager of Seas   4/16/2016 – 4/30/2016 
 Bali House  59  4/30/2016 – 6/28/2016 
 Hotel Singapore 7  6/28/2016 – 7/5/2016 
 Hanoi Hotel 3  7/5/2016 – 7/8/2016 
 Cruise –  Hanoi to Ho Chi Min City  15  Viking Mekong    7/8/2016 –
 Phuket House  41  7/22/2016 –
 Bali House  59  9/1/2016 –
 Sydney Hotel  1  10/30/2016 –
 Cruise – Sydney to Perth  16  RC Radiance of the Seas   10/31/2016 – 11/16/2016 
 Cruise – Perth to Sydney  17  RC Radiance of the Seas   11/16/2016 – 12/3/2016 

Luckily, the time in Bali will be low-key and relaxing while the interim period will be a whirlwind of flights, hotels, cruises, and comings and goings. Having this hectic schedule is good for us when at times, we can easily fall into the “homebody” mode staying put in one spot for a while. 

Discovering these horned cattle was a first for us in New Zealand.

The above itinerary over a period of seven months requires seven flights, four of which we’ve yet to book. We have plenty of time to book the remaining flights.

Don’t get me wrong…we love quiet times in the country. Without a lazy bone in our bodies, we keep our days full of activities we love to do, ultimately highly fulfilling. 

Many cattle are dehorned.   But, we don’t believe that process is done on this breed.

Although it may appear we’re occasionally “couch potatoes” which on occasion we are, we’re actually quite active most days of the week, not unlike many of our readers, who say they’re busier in retirement than when they were working.

Young bulls down the road from our house.

Of course, living on this farm in itself provides enough daily stimulation, activity, and entertainment as we spend considerable time outdoors enjoying every single moment. 

They often approach to check us out.

With the diligent use of repellent I’m able to spend all the time I’d like outdoors, as was the case when we lived in South Africa, Kenya, and other parts of the world where mosquitoes, biting flies, and sandflies are an issue.

On our usual walk, Mount Taranaki with our favorite cow on the right and a few sheep who often baa at us.

Today, it’s raining with heavy winds with more rain in the forecast. As summer winds down in New Zealand, apparently the much-needed rains have arrived. Knowing this is good for all the grazing animals in the countryside, we’re happy to see the rain, greening their pastures.

Tomorrow, on the day of my birthday we have a planned evening out and a special story with new photos we hope our readers will find entertaining. Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, February 19, 2015:

It was one year ago today, we made the treacherous trek to the Queen’s Bath in Kauai, a known dangerous place to visit. Making our way down this area was challenging. Had we known how dangerous it was, we’d probably wouldn’t have done it. At times I grabbed any sturdy branch I could hold onto and when possible hung onto Tom to keep from falling. When we were done, I was glad to have challenged myself but also realized the practicality of such risky treks makes no sense at this age.  For more photos of Part 1 of this story, please click here.