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

We’d been thrilled to see the detailed 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 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, which 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 are valuing the contents and we are being charged US $947, INR 69406 in customs taxes and fees. Oh, good grief. This is 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 is delayed 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 cash which 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 asking the front desk for their help which included the amount, the tracking number, and their 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 same 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 been receiving 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! If you are not receiving the emails and have signed up to do so, please let me know by email. Thanks!

The tiniest and simplest of 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 30th pops up again. Also, yesterday I worked on #4 of the required five 2000 word posts for website optimization and will definitely 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 by then, we have received the package from FedEx.

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 while I paid the recent bill, that the restaurant will be opening soon. 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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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 its 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 a emergency situation that required we 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 in between required by the immigration department.  This results in starting on a Monday, returning on Wednesday and returning the third time of 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.  This 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. 

 
Its 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!
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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.

Its hard not to watch 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 its 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 guaranty.

Its 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.  But, like Life itself, there’s no guaranty.  We chose to live in the moment and for now, the moment is looking good. 

May all of your moments look good as well.
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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.