Day #236 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Shubh Diwali…Happy Diwali…

Today’s photos are those I took yesterday in the hotel lobby when I went downstairs to pay our bill. The hotel manager showed me this gorgeous handcrafted sand display in the lobby that left me breathless. Such a beautiful colorful display! No captions were added. The beauty of this display speaks for itself.

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned discussing Indian customs today when Diwali had slipped my mind. In tomorrow’s post, we’ll share many of India’s customs, some of which we’ve had personal experience during our first six weeks on tour in the country. 

Today is Diwali, the annual five-day Festival of Light holiday in the Hindu faith worldwide. It is described as follows from India Times here:

“The much-awaited festival of light is here. Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is celebrated across India with great enthusiasm as it symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Dipavali,’ which means a row of lights, Diwali has been celebrated since time immemorial.

Diwali is celebrated 20 days after Lord Ram killed Ravana (Dusshera) and rescued Sita from captivity in Lanka. The celebration marks the return of Lord Ram to Ayodha after 14 years of exile. The entire city was decked up to welcome Lord Rama, Sita, and Laxman, and the people decorated the city with diyas (earthen lamps) to welcome their king.

This five-day festival starts with Dhanteras, which celebrates and welcomes good luck, wealth, and prosperity. On Dhanteras, people buy jewelry and utensils because any metal is believed to ward off bad luck and usher in wealth and prosperity. Dhanteras is followed by Chhoti Diwali, Diwali, Govardhan Puja, and finally, Bhai Dooj marks the end of this festival.

How to celebrate the festival of light
‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness,’ and none can explain this better than people who celebrate Diwali. The preparation for this grand festival starts much ahead with people cleaning their houses and offices. Then they decorate their places with flowers, lamps, lights, and rangolis.

The celebration starts with people buying jewelry and utensils on Dhanteras. This is an auspicious occasion to buy any metal as it is believed to ward off evil and bring prosperity.

The following two days—Chhoti Diwali and Diwali—are the most-awaited days when people enjoy the most. The evening starts after performing puja and offering prayers to the gods. People then light diyas and burst crackers. The entire atmosphere reverberates in a festive note. On the fourth day, Govardhan puja is performed, and the festival of lights ends with Bhai Dooj, which is very similar to Raksha Bandhan as it is a celebration of love between a brother and sister.

Although it is a tradition to burst crackers on Diwali, we should now refrain from doing it because of increased air pollution. We should aim to celebrate Diwali in an eco-friendly way and respect nature. Instead of bursting crackers, we can light diyas, decorate our house and surroundings with fairy lights, and spend a magical evening with friends and family.

Happy Diwali 2020: Messages, Quotes, Status, and SMS

On this Diwali, I wish you wealth, prosperity, glory, and happiness not only for this special occasion but for today and forever! I hope you have a very, very happy Diwali!!

Happy Diwali 2020! May your day be filled with delightful laddoos, incandescent days, a whole lot of smiles and laughter!

May millions of lamps illuminate your life with endless happiness, wealth, prosperity & glory forever! I wish you and your family, a very very happy Diwali!

On this Auspicious Festival of Diwali, May Goddess Lakshmi blesses you with Joy, Prosperity, & Happiness. Happy and safe, Deepawali!

May you achieve everything your heart desires with the blessing of Lakshmi-Ganesha. Happy and safe Diwali 2020!

Let’s celebrate the festival in the true sense by spreading joy and light up the world of others. Have a happy, safe, and blessed Diwali!!

May the beauty of the festival of lights fill your home with happiness, and may the new year bring joy, peace, and prosperity to your life. I wish you and your family a very Happy Diwali!!

Wishing you a gleam of diyas, an echo of holy chants, contentment, and happiness today, tomorrow, and forever. Have a happy and prosperous Diwali!

Rejoice on this blessed occasion by spreading joy with your friends and loved ones. Happy Diwali 2020. May this Diwali be bright for you and your family. May God fulfill all your wishes this Diwali. Happy Diwali!.”

We wish all of our Hindu friends we’ve made throughout the world a safe, fulfilling, and blessed Diwali today, over the next several days in celebration, and in years to come. Thank you for sharing your country with us!

Photo from one year ago today, November 14, 2019:

We took granddaughter Madighan to her weekly karate class. It was fun watching her and four boys in the same age group, learning the moves presented by Sensei Luiz. For more, please click here.

Colorful temples in Chennai…

The skill and years of artful work to carve these colorful figures are mind-boggling.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you

Regarding today’s photos, taken two days ago in Chennai:

From this site

There are numerous temples in this one location. Many come to pray here every day. We weren’t allowed inside the temples since we weren’t Hindu.

“Kapaleeshwarar Temple: Dedicated to one of the forms of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati that is Arulmigu Kapleeswar and Karpagambal respectively, the temple should be on the top position of your list of temples to visit.

A god with a bull.

The unique facts about this temple are that it was built in the 7th century. The spectacular architecture of the temple featuring stone carving, woodwork, well-designed pillars, and various other attractive points is a treat to watch. Devotees can be a part of 6 different Pooja held daily at different timings throughout the year.”

Peacocks are the national bird of India and are often represented in many sculptures.

From this site: “Kapaleeshwarar Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, located in Mylapore, Chennai in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Shiva’s consort Parvati worshiped at this temple, is called Karpagambal, is from Tamil (“Goddess of the Wish-Yielding Tree”). The temple is the most ancient one that was built around the 7th century CE in Dravidian architecture.

This covered outdoor area is a special place for worship and families to discuss and decide if an arranged marriage is suitable for a couple. There was one such group in this area. See the next photo.

According to the Puranas, Shakti worshipped Shiva in the form of a peacock, giving the vernacular name Mylai (Mayilāi) to the area that developed around the temple – mayil is Tamil for “peacock.”Shiva is worshiped as Kapaleeswarar and is represented by the lingam. His consort Parvati is depicted as Karpagambal. The presiding deity is revered in the 7th century Tamil Saiva canonical work, the Tevaram, written by Tamil saint poets known as the Nayanars and classified as Paadal Petra Sthalam.”

To the far right, this group was discussing possible plans for an arranged marriage with an arbitrator who helps determine if the union is a good fit. Horoscopes for the potential bride and groom are highly influential in the decision-making process. In the center, further back in the photo, the area was cleaned after a wedding.

Currently, we are in Mahabalipuram, staying at the lovely Ideal Beach Resort, a beautiful oceanfront property. Tomorrow, we’ll share photos of this location, where we’ll wait until Tuesday to head to Pondicherry via another relatively short road trip.

It is astounding these colorful 7th-century structures have survived century after century.

Also, we took photos last night of our anniversary dinner and a lovely chocolate cake the resort provided us for our celebration, which was greatly appreciated, especially by Tom. Food photos were also coming tomorrow when we both had an excellent suitable dinner.

Today’s photos were from two days ago when we toured colorful temples in Chennai on our last day before heading this way to Mahabalipuram, a two-hour drive from Chennai. 

There were many Indian people at this site, but few international tourists from what we could ascertain. We haven’t encountered many Americans while in India party due to the distance to travel and Coronavirus fears which have seriously impacted international travel.

As much as we enjoyed the colorful temples, we weren’t fond of our stark business-type hotel, and we were pleased after two nights to be on our way. After arriving here at the Ideal Resort, we were thrilled to be on the waterfront with ocean views from our room. As mentioned in yesterday’s post, this menu included some continental cuisine and a spacious and charming hotel room with a massive bathroom.

The Hindu women sat on the ground in a circle, preparing offerings for the gods in many forms.

Ah, the little things, they mean so much; a lovely room; good air-con; a comfortable bed and pillows; the food we both enjoy; and reasonably good WiFi, all are greatly appreciated by us. We seldom find a location to offer all of these amenities, but we can sit back and relax when they do, feeling grateful.

The southern part of India, where we will be going forward, is hot and humid year-round. We must remove our shoes when visiting temples, and walking on uneven ground in the heat was challenging for me at specific points. But, no whinging allowed. We continued.

We’re done touring for the next 48 hours. This two-day break is a welcome relief. We told our driver Raj we wouldn’t need him for the next few days, although he offered to stay nearby, sleeping in the luxury SUV, if we needed him to take us out anywhere to dine at other restaurants.

I tried to center this photo, but people were in the way. It was a Friday, the holy day in India.

This made no sense to us. We’re happy with the food here, and even if we weren’t, we’d hardly want him to hang around for us when he can drive two hours back to Chennai to spend these last two days with his family. Once we take off on Tuesday, he won’t see his family until March 29th, when his service to us ends. 

The only other place in the world we’d seen a temple similar to this was in Singapore in June 2016. See the link here for a similar temple.

By the way, a few days ago, I wrote that we wondered how our driver would shower, change clothes, and do his laundry. Yesterday, we asked him, and he explained that all hotels have shower and bathroom facilities for tour guides. 

Unfortunately, it was a cloudy and smoggy day impacting the quality of our photos.

It was a relief to discover, but we feel bad he has to sleep in the SUV that, with bucket-type seats, doesn’t appear to be too comfortable. Sadly, this is life in India for many workers, and we highly respect and appreciate the services we are provided with, not a complaint.

It was amazing to see these colorful temples built in the 7th century.

The tour guide we had for the temple, the first woman tour guide we had, was a little too pushy for our liking. Although very kindly and well-intentioned, she was pressing to ensure we got our money’s worth by extending the talking and the tour much longer than necessary. 

Each structure has a unique design, all of which are colorful and have survived over the centuries.

It was hot and very humid. We were both sweating profusely. I can walk long distances on flat, even surfaces, but walking up and down uneven steps and over rough surfaces is still tricky for me. I’m hoping in time this will improve. In the interim, Tom is helpful and patient with me as I soldier on as much as possible. 

A plane was flying over the temple.

It certainly hasn’t prevented us from experiencing the endless array of stunning sights in India. We’ve seen and done so much. It could take months of posts for us to become caught up.

A road on the way to the temples.

With 26 more days until the board the ship in Mumbai, we still have lots of India left to see, all of which will be in the southern part of the country where it is hot and humid this time of year, becoming more so in the days to come. We’re grateful we didn’t come to India in the heat of the summer months and highly discourage travelers from doing so. 

A sincere thanks to so many of our readers who’ve written to us wishing us a “happy anniversary!” Your kindness means the world to us!

Photo from one year ago today, March 8, 2019:

When friends Lois and Tom visited for three weeks in October, we spotted the Nyala crossing the road from a distance but never were able to get a decent photo. From there, we searched daily, hoping to spot it again, and then he magically appeared in our garden. What a treat! For more, please click here.

The morning Hindu ritual during sunrise boat ride on the Ganges River…Cremation…

Sunrise over the Ganges River.

The amount of history and information flooding our minds is astounding. We’ve learned an incredible amount about the culture and history of India than we ever dreamed possible, even on this extended tour.

There were numerous narrow alleys to navigate to arrive at the Ganges River. 

Our guides have been articulate and knowledgeable, accompanied by a passionate sense of pride about their country, its rich history, and its exceptional people.

Many open stalls are located in narrow alleys.

We feel safe here except when walking on the streets with volumes of vehicles trying to make their way around us and us around them. We don’t have a sense of impending doom as we may in some areas of the world with significant populations, but we still proceed with considerable caution.

Having a local as our guide each time we step outside the doors of our hotel provides an added layer of peace of mind as we work our way through one heavily populated area after another.
Walking down these alleys is dangerous when motorbikes come whizzing while honking their horns. Our guide Avi and Tom, kept me safe from being run over.

Varanasi has 3,676,841 people and covers an area of 43.28 square miles which is relatively small compared to many other cities in India, thus, the density of the traffic and people on the streets.

From this site: “Varanasi, also called Benares, Banaras, or Kashi, city, southeastern Uttar Pradesh state, northern India. Varanasi is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It is located on the left bank of the Ganges (Ganga) River and is one of the seven sacred cities of Hinduism. Its early history is that of the first Aryan settlement in the middle Ganges valley. 
Cows are sacred animals in India. Hindu people do not eat any meat. The cow is revered for its milk, for making and other dairy products, and for their dung used to build fires. They are sacred and adored, well-fed, and nurtured well into old age. They often wander the streets during the day, always returning home to their owners at night.
Varanasi was the capital of the kingdom of Kashi during the time of the Buddha (6th century BCE), who gave his first sermon nearby at Sarnath. By the 2nd millennium BCE, Varanasi was a seat of Aryan religion and philosophy. It was also a commercial and industrial center famous for its muslin and silk fabrics, perfumes, ivory works, and sculpture. 
The city remained a center of religious, educational, and artistic activities as attested by the celebrated Chinese Buddhist pilgrim Xuanzang, who visited it in about 635 CE and said that the city extended for about 3 miles (5 km) along the western bank of the Ganges.”
One of several cremation sites along the Ganges in Varanasi. Women prepare the bodies while men attend the cremation for however many hours it takes. Bodies are cremated within six hours of death when possible. The cremation fee is typically INR 14306.31, US $200, and most families have enough funds to cover the cost. The ashes are pushed into the river. Note the firewood in this scene.

These stunning facts resulted in yesterday morning’s enthusiastic visit to the Ganges River. Most of us have heard about the significance of the Ganges River with preconceived notions of what it’s actually like. 

Having the opportunity to take in all the wonder of this mystical place and learn about its history and its people left us reeling with excitement. At precisely 6:00 am, our guide Avi arrived at the hotel to escort us on foot through the meandering narrow alleys and roads, already packed with citizens preparing for their day.

Local workers sift through the ashes in hopes of discovering some treasure they can resell.

That walk to the Ganges River was an experience in itself. We wandered past cows that had to move to let us pass, stray dogs awakening from the night’s sleep atop carts and tables, and goats meandering in the doorways of their places of residence.

There were countless puddles and slippery areas from the residents washing the cobblestone walkways overnight to reduce the dung produced by all the wandering animals. We never saw this much dung while in the bush in Africa.

Centuries ago, maharajas built many fine buildings and palaces along the river, most of which are currently occupied regardless of their condition.

The shopkeepers had begun to set up their various wares, hoping early morning passersby might partake of some of their offerings on the way to the river. Already the smells of incense and spices wafted through the air.

The uneven and sketchy walk transpired over no less than 20 minutes as we carefully observed every footfall along the way. It would have been easy for me to fall when I’m still not as stable as I’d like to be, while Tom hung onto me, so surefooted himself.

The evidence of architectural expertise and creativity remains today. 

We walked up and down no less than 20 total flights of steps. Although I don’t get too out of breath (no more than anyone), my legs aren’t steady especially heading down steps instead of climbing up. 

I felt like a puppet dangling my legs over each step in an attempt to avoid falling while heading down the steep stairs of the ghats. But, I continued with nary a complaint, with Tom and Ari offering a firm hand to guide me along.

The many stairways down to the river are called “ghats” as described here: Ghats in Varanasi are riverfront steps leading to the banks of the River Ganges. The city has 88 ghats. Most ghats are bathing and Puja ceremony ghats, while two ghats are used exclusively as cremation sites. Most Varanasi ghats were rebuilt after 1700 AD, when the city was part of the Maratha Empire. The patrons of current ghats are Marathas, Shindes (Scindias), Holkars, Bhonsles, and Peshwes (Peshwas). Many ghats are associated with legends or mythologies, while many ghats are privately owned. Morning boat rides on the Ganges, across the ghats is a popular visitor attraction.

Once we arrived at the river, getting onto the rowboat was tricky when we had to step from one of the last steps directly onto a little wooden platform that was hardly secure. A molded plastic chair was awaiting me, and we situated ourselves for good photo ops. 

Of course, there were no life jackets on the boat, but we didn’t worry. With so many boats near the bank of the river, should a boat begin to sink, plenty of helping hands would reach out in need of a rescue?
Shiva, the Goddess, and Vishnu the God, of many, are represented in blue on these two structures.

We were on that boat no less than 75 minutes while the boat owner continually rowed. The experience was more significant being in a rowboat as opposed to a fancy motorboat. This was an authentic experience.

As shown in our photos, there was so much to see. It was fascinating to hear how the locals wander to the river each day to bathe. They disrobe enough to maintain a certain level of dignity, but not entirely as we witnessed each bather tugging at their sarongs and other clothing to avoid embarrassment.
We purchased these two offerings to light and placed them into the river with a prayer. The cost was INR 40, US 56 cents for the two. Of course, after the lengthy rowboat ride, we generously tipped the driver.

After the women bathe, there are curtained areas where they can change into dry sarongs and make their way back to their designated city areas for the day. Most street workers and vendors are men, although women are seen in some of the more upscale women’s clothing shops.

The priests were engaged in the ceremonial sunrise rituals, enacted specific decorated areas, which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post about the evening ritual at the river, again a unique and fascinating experience, one we’ll never forget.

Two dogs, most likely siblings, are checking out the scenery. Stray dogs are often fed by the locals. They don’t bark and are gentle around people.

But, there we were, sitting in a small rowboat scouring the shores of the Varanasi side of the Ganges River, where people were bathing, priests were chanting, deceased bodies were being cremated, and the sun was rising on the horizon. 

Tom looked at me as he often did with a wide grin and said, “Who would have thunk?”

Yes, and in my usual manner, I said, “Pinch me. Is this happening?”

Tom and the sunrise over the Ganges River.

We smiled at one another, knowing in our hearts that continuing on our journey to see the world was what we were meant to do. And, there’s so much more yet to come. Please stay with us as we share India with all of you through our eyes, through our hearts, and our minds.

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

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

With an appointment to meet with a resort manager at 11:00 am yesterday morning, I worked on the post while we watched the US presidential debate which was on TV here in Bali starting at 9:00 am. We were a little surprised it was broadcast here, but with tremendous interest in US politics from many we’ve met, I suppose it was to be expected.

We were a little surprised that it came out here, but with a great interest in American politics from a lot of people we met, I guess that was normal.The luxurious ocean-view suites offer two separate wings, a central dining area and a private pool.

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

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

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

Inside the private pool in the two-bedroom suites are multiple sun loungers and space for entertainment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yesterday afternoon we had the experience of swimming in the cool, partially shaded pool built in a natural rock and vegetation formation overlooking the sea.The grounds surrounding the various Jaya Spa structures are equally peaceful and serene.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The building where yoga classes are conducted.

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

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

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

Be well. Be peaceful.

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

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

Visitors dropped by to see us…A pleasant surprise…A cultural occasion…

Gede and his family walked by with their offerings on their way to the shrine a few doors from us.  On the return walk, they stopped to visit with us.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

After the rain, Tom’s sunset photo.

With a slew of ideas for future posts while in Bali, we’ve yet to begin chipping away at the list we created before our arrival. It seems that each day brings a plethora of new photos and stories we can’t help but give top priority.

What a lovely family in their colorful holiday clothing!

Whether or not our recent posts are of interest to our readers, remains somewhat of a mystery, but we can only observe the of number hits in the stats to determine how many people around the world are stopping by. We continue to be astounded by our visitors after posting for 4 ½  years.  Thank you, people!

The offerings are placed at the shrine.

Yesterday morning, as we peered out at the sea from the cabana, we were pleasantly surprised when Gede, his wife and two adorable children walked by in exquisite colorful clothing on their way to the temple two doors from us.

It was beautiful for us to witness the family’s Hindu tradition.

The holiday they are celebrating is as follows with additional information here:
“Galungan is the most important feast for Balinese Hindus, a celebration to honor the creator of the universe (Ida Sang Hyang Widi) and the spirits of the honored ancestors.

The festival symbolizes the victory of good (Dharma) over evil (Adharma), and encourages the Balinese to show their gratitude to the creator and sainted ancestors.”

Two sweet little girls.

Gede’s lovely wife is seven months pregnant and was truly a sight to behold in her festive holiday garb.The two precious little girls were dressed in equally colorful and adorable attire. Gede looked handsome in his special sari all of which is shown in today’s photo. (We asked their permission for the photos).

This particular holiday, as in the case of most Hindu holidays, consists of colorful flower and food offerings again as shown in today’s photos. Yesterday, our own household staff placed flowers and offerings and burning incense both indoors and out.

Seated on the edge of the cabana, we chatted with Gede. His wife, Ayu suriani and two daughters, Kadek siska (younger) and Putu saskia speak no English so it was through facial expressions we were able to express our gratitude for their visit.

Whether the offerings were placed here for us or for them while they worked in the villa, we were honored to partake in the beauty and of course, the intoxicating smell. These are special people, gentle, kind, graceful and peaceful. We love and appreciate all of them.

Even as we lounge on the veranda or the cabana, passersby on the beach including children often yell “halo” while vigorously waving their arms. Where in the world have we discovered such warmth and welcoming?

Look at that adorable face on Kadek siska!

Today is Sunday. The staff is off and we’re on our own. We have a complete meal ready for the microwave and will only need to toss the salad with dressing at dinner time.

Today, its hotter and more humid than it’s been these past over two weeks since our arrival. We’re still in the bedroom in air conditioned comfort, showered and in our swimsuits, waiting for the morning humidity to lessen a little before we tackle the outdoors for the remainder of the day.

Gede’s older daughter, Putu saskia. Stunning!

With rain each day over the past week, the flies have been on a rampage anxious to nibble on human flesh influencing our desire to be outside right now. They seem to reduce in numbers as the day wears on. With a 90% chance of thunderstorms again today, its currently sunny. After each rain storm, the number of flies increases.

Some have asked if there’s a lot of insects here and there are, although most are relatively harmless except scorpions (we’ve only had one in the villa so far) and occasional visits by scary looking spiders. Otherwise, it’s mostly mozzies, flies and ants, lots of ants; huge amounts of ants; a gross amount of ants.

Gede explained that different colors are used during various part of the Hindu ceremony.

Ants in Bali are generally only bothersome around food and prep areas. At any given moment they are all over the kitchen regardless of how clean it is kept. Over these past years of living with ants, we’ve come to just flick them away, even if a few are crawling on our plates of food which is often the case. 

There are a few ants in the bedroom, but many in the bathroom especially in the shower. The two Ketuks clean the shower six days a week, but there’s still ants crawling up and down the walls.  Even under these circumstances, we’ve come to ignore them. If they’re not the biting red ants, we pay them little attention.
The Ketuks place this beautiful display of offerings in the villa containing food and flowers. Some of the flowers are edible and are consumed during the ceremonies.

Soon, we’ll head back outside for another glorious day in this outstanding villa in Malaya Beach, Sumbersari, Bali. How did we get so lucky to find this fabulous location where we’ll be spending another 38 nights plus an additional four nights at the hotel in Lovina (beginning in eight days)?  Safari luck?

In our old lives we’d never have imagined it would be possible or affordable to be spending 42 nights in Bali under these blissful circumstances.  Yet, here we are, lapping it up, in awe and with tremendous gratitude for every single moment.

May your day be blissful!

Photo from one year ago today, September 18, 2015:

In Fiji, one year ago, Badal, the neighbor Sewak’s dog, bounded up the steep hill with ease as we rode in Sewak’s truck.   It was the steepest road either of us had ever experienced in a vehicle. Badal came to visit every evening around dinner time hoping for a few scraps which we always provided. We’d asked Sewak if we could give Badal meat, since his beliefs surrounded vegetarianism.  But, Sewak didn’t mind if Badal ate meat.   For more photos, please click here.

The Hindu holiday continues…Friendly locals greetings us on a walk…A cultural experience…Safety…

This family was busy finishing this morning. The air was hazy from incense burning.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Fisherman returning from fishing all night and kid on a bike.

The sweet smell of incense permeates the air. The colorfully dressed locals greet us as we walk by. The elaborate decorations in the front yards, the music, the chanting and the non-stop sounds of roosters crowing made for an especially interesting walk this morning.

A lot of effort had gone into decorating homes, not unlike decorating for Christmas in other parts of the world.

There were twice as many festive lanterns and decorated shrines than we’d seen on yesterday’s walk and we could readily sense the celebration of this special holiday was in full bloom.

This religious service area was ready for the evening gathering.

As described in yesterday’s post, this is the holiday the Balinese Hindus, the majority of the population of Bali, are celebrating:

“Ganesh Chaturthi is a ten-day Hindu festival celebrated to honor the elephant-headed God Ganesha’s birthday. He is the younger son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Ganesha is known by 108 different names and is the Lord of arts and sciences and the deva of wisdom.”

These were newly placed last night or this morning.

How fortunate we feel to be here during these festivities. These gentle, kindly, peaceful people remind us of how the world could be, would be, with more citizens like them, with a commitment to honor their faith, their traditions, one another and their families, ensconced in a constant sense of harmony with the world.

When we asked Gede how the Hindu people relate to those of other faiths, he expressed enthusiastic assurance that peace and respect were forefront in their hearts and minds.

As we neared the end of the newly paved road, we saw this new decoration.

This is clearly illustrated to us as we tread upon their turf, strangers in their land, unfamiliar with their ways. Now, during our second two-month stay in Bali, we’re beginning to understand and embrace who these people are and the deep rooted principles that shape their often simple existence.

They are not violent people. It’s sad that in many countries there are those who defy the principles of centuries old philosophies of maintaining a stance of love, beauty and simplicity.

More decorations had been added over the past 24 hours.

We feel safe here. At times, at sunset, we may occasionally spot a shady looking character, meandering on the beach on foot or on a motorbike. We keep our doors locked and also find comfort in the fact that this small grouping of vacation homes has an all-night security guard on the premises who’s number we have readily available.

In Phuket, we noticed military police and security everywhere, even at the grocery store. Here in this remote area one seldom sees a police vehicle or any military presence. Of course, that doesn’t make this location exempt from crime. No place in the world can claim that unlikely status.

The umbrellas, the fabric cloths and hanging decoration create a beautiful scene.

In Denpasar, the capital city, there’s been a history of bombings along with a variety of terrorist attacks, not unlike in most large cities anywhere in the world. 

We’re often asked why we choose to live in remote areas, away from tourist venues, popular restaurants and sightseeing. The answer is simple for us since the beginning of our travels, next month coming up on four years. 

Offerings are placed in this cubicles as will be shown in more photos over the next few days.

We treasure our safety and well being. We prefer the quiet, easy existence of a life far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life. It bring us joy and happiness to live in close proximity to the locals, to learn their ways, wander through their neighborhoods somehow feeling we are a part of it all.

Today, as yesterday, the walk brought us a revered sense of appreciation for the people of Bali, in this quiet beach town, as they celebrate a special holiday.

We pray for the safety and well being of all our reader/friends all over the world.

May peace be with you.

Photo from one year ago today, September 7, 2015:

Pond view at the Cattana Wetlands near Cairns, Australia. Final expenses for our three months in Australia were posted one year ago today, here.

A Hindu holiday season in Bali has begun…Indonesian facts…Holiday photos…

The homes and shrines of most locals are adorned with a variety of decorations during the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi, a 10 day Hindu festival.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Tom shot this scene this morning before the sun arose.  Good job, Honey!

When we first arrived Gede explained he’d be leaving Sumbersari for Lovina, a two hour drive, for several days to celebrate a religious holiday with his family. With everything under control here at the villa, we wished him well for a meaningful holiday with his loved ones.

He suggested we call or email if we needed anything but with the staff of three still hovering over our potential needs, we hoped there would be no reason to interrupt him during his holiday. So far so good.

This elderly local woman was clearing sticks in front of her home.

Isolated on this strip of beach, it’s unlikely we can determine what’s transpiring all around us. The only curious indication of a holiday in progress is the fact we haven’t heard or seen the hundreds of fishing boats visible most nights close to the shore of Java, the most populated island on the earth with over 141 million people crowded together, part of the Indonesian chain of islands. As to the location of Java:

“Java lies between Sumatra to the west and Bali to the east. Borneo lies to the north and Christmas Island is to the south. It is the world’s 13th largest island.”

Many holiday decorations are hung on long bamboo poles.

Regarding  the country of Indonesia:
“Indonesia comprises 17,508 – 18,306 islands and 8,844 that have been named according to estimates made by the Government of Indonesia, with 922 of those permanently inhabited.”

A few readers wrote and suggested we visit Java, which is across the Bali Strait, where Jakarta is located. However, traveling in a boat across the rough waters  is out of the question for me at this time.

Some shrines were decorated elaborately.

Instead, we stay comfortably situated in the villa, with little required of us other than our twice daily walks, posting each day, taking photos, and continue to work on future travels, financials while improving my strength and stability.

This morning, once the two Katuks and Ribud arrived, we commenced the walk in the area.  Unexpectedly, we found many locals busy decorating homes for the 10 day Hindu holiday, as described below the photo:

Umbrellas or parasols are a symbol of royalty and protection of the Hindu faith. Many statues are adorned with umbrellas with added decorations for this month’s holiday.

“Ganesh Chaturthi is a ten-day Hindu festival celebrated to honor the elephant-headed God Ganesha’s birthday. He is the younger son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Ganesha is known by 108 different names and is the Lord of arts and sciences and the Deva of wisdom.”

Once we stepped onto the newly paved road where the locals live, we realized we were in for a wonderful experience with dozens of homeowners, busy preparing their homes, yards, and driveways with traditional decorations as they commence the celebration of one of many holidays they observe throughout the year.

Almost every home was displaying a decoration.
We were warmly greeted as we passed each home. No one seemed to mind our photo taking  which we’d done with the utmost of respect, taking photos of the decorations, animals and not people’s faces.

Today, we walked beyond the end of the road, testing how far I could actually go. Each day, we’ve added a little more distance as I strive to achieve my goal of 10,000 steps a day, which is still short, hovering at 7,500 steps, including the walking around the house and grounds every 30 minutes. To date, it hasn’t improved my condition, but, over these past five days it certainly hasn’t made it any worse.

More decorations will follow in tomorrow’s post.

We hope everyone in the US is enjoying today’s holiday, Labor Day, as the long weekend winds down, school has started and back to work tomorrow for many.
Be safe.

Photo from one year ago today, September 5, 2015:

Preparing to leave Trinity Beach, Australia, we posted a few favorite photos including this mom and her joey. For more photos, please click here.