Plans for upcoming mini vacation/immigration office run booked…We’re attempting to make a tedious task an enjoyable experience…

Beautiful beach scene from a stop halfway through the four to five hour harrowing drive.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”


A coconut husk becomes an interesting find on the beach.

This particular Sunday morning with the household help off, we lazily lingered in bed, reading email, checking FB and drinking Tom’s delicious French pressed coffee.  Six days a week we get up earlier, shower and dress (in swimsuits), exiting the bedroom earlier for the two Katuks to make the bed and clean.

On Sundays, alone the only morning all week, we find ourselves experiencing a day almost similar to our old lives, minus the physical copy of the Sunday paper, the possibility of family or friends visiting and the constant energy expended in cooking, laundry, household maintenance and repairs, and yard work or snow removal.

Eliminating all the above tasks and here, we’re left to our own resources; a daily walk on the beach or in the neighborhood, quietly staring out at the sea, preparing our daily post while often engaged in idle chatter.


Statue shop on the highway from Denpasar.

As I prepared today’s late post, Gede stopped by to say hello, the second morning in a row giving us an opportunity to ask him questions about things we’ve seen on the beach that are yet unfamiliar.

Yesterday morning, Gede also stopped by after a week away visiting family in Lovina during the Hindu holiday. The 10 days of reverence and celebration was quickly coming to an end.  He’d returned from almost a week in his home town of Lovina spending time with his family and friends. 

The time for us to visit Lovina was fast approaching (a two hour drive each way) where it’s necessary to begin the three day process required over a period of five days, applying for and hopefully receiving the 30 day visa extension.  For new readers, we’d completed this same process during our last stay in Bali a few months ago.


Many shops in Denpasar sell decorations for Hindu holidays.

Over these past few months Tom’s been somewhat angst ridden about this lengthy process.  While in Singapore for a week, starting at the end of June, we didn’t have ample time to apply at the Indonesian Embassy. 

At the time, we had to leave our passports for a few days at both the Vietnamese and Thai embassies.  Shortly prior to the Mekong River cruise and subsequent trip to Phuket, it was more important to get the required visas for Vietnam and Thailand.

I could tell his angst continued while we were in Phuket, occasionally mentioning the dreaded process of driving four hours a day for three of five days.  Aware of his angst, one day an idea popped into my head…Why don’t we book a hotel in the resort town of Lovina, starting on Monday, checking out on Friday while we take care of the visa extensions while staying in the resort town? 

We were surprised how well the decorations held up after it had rained.

If we had a rental car for the five days, we could drive back and forth to the immigration office from the hotel as required on Monday (drop off documents), Wednesday (photos and fingerprints) and Friday (pick up visa extensions).

Doing so could make the dreaded experience a fun adventure even though we’d have to spend a total of three to five hours at the Immigration office.  Finding a rental car and hotel proved to be a tricky proposition when the weak Wi-Fi signal easily inhibits online searching. 

We knew we needed Gede’s assistance in finding both a rental car and a hotel with his vast knowledge of the area.  We hoped to find a hotel close to the immigration office but with “maps” not working well, finding a good location nearby was cumbersome and time consuming.

Driving in Lovina is not unlike driving in Denpasar, a usual 10 minute trip could take an hour or more.  A hotel with a close proximity to the immigration office was a must.

Statue shop on the highway from Denpasar.

Gede easily solved both concerns.  First, he explained we could rent Egon’s van that sits in our garage unused most of the time for US $15.17, IDR $200,000 a day for a total of US $75.86, IDR $1,000,000 plus fuel, certainly no more costly than having a driver take us back and forth.

Secondly, Gede suggested some hotels within five minutes of the immigration office.  We opened the link on our site for Hotels.com enabling us to review the details of his suggestions and to search for pricing and availability.  The hotels he suggested didn’t appear to have availability.  Leave it to Gede to figure out a solution.

He called the top rated, closest hotel and speaking in either Indonesian or Balinese, he was able to get us a booking we’d never have been able to get on our own.  Plus, he negotiated a rate savings of US $50, IDR $691,125 per night for a total savings of US $200, IDR $2,636,500.  The nightly rate he’d arranged is US $130, IDR $1,713,725.

On occasion, we’ve noticed vacant land for sale.

With four nights in the hotel, we’ll spend US $520, IDR $6,854,900, plus the rental vehicle and fuel at around US $100, IDR $1,318,250 plus meals estimated at US $50, IDR $691,125 for four nights at US $200, IDR   $2,636,500.  Breakfast and free Wi-Fi is included in the hotel’s rate.

For the grand total (minus the cost of the visa extensions), our four night mini holiday will cost an extra (over and above what we would have paid for transportation) an approximate US $720, IDR $9,491,400. 

Is it worth the extra expense to reduce angst?  Absolutely! Besides Tom will be more at ease doing the driving himself.  I get this.  Also, it becomes a part of our time in Bali we’re anticipating with enthusiasm instead of dread.

Balinese design on business.

First thing in the morning, two weeks from tomorrow, we’ll be on our way. While there, we’ll take and share photos of our accommodations, dining, the beautiful beaches in Lovina and sightseeing between trips to the immigration office.

Thanks, Gede.  No words can express how much we appreciate your help in booking the five star hotel in Lovina at such an affordable price and spending time to help us figure this out!

Have a fabulous day filled with sunshine.

___________________________________________


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


These are the sizes of the aubergine we purchased at a farmers market in Savusavu, Fiji. on the day of our arrival.  We had a big hiccup that night which may be read here.
 

Part 1…The surf, the sand, walking the beach along of the Indian Ocean…

 

The sea, the clouds and the mystery of ominous clouds rolling in, left us in awe with our mouths agape.

Wherever we may travel, visiting the ocean has an appeal that leaves us breathless.  However, we’ve hesitated to take the mile long walk from our house to the ocean after we’d discovered upon arrival, that it’s much further than we’d anticipated.

As we approached the exit gate from our neighborhood, Nancy, the daytime guard greeted us both with a warm hug. At night the security is beefed up when more security risks are prevalent.

With numerous warnings about dangers for tourists walking the beaches in Kenya we’ve hesitated to explore these past three weeks.  Approximately, one third of a mile from the entrance gate to our community, is a beach access sign leading to a long rough walking path.  Off we went this morning.

Carrying only a camera, bottled water and a small amount of money, we began the long never-seeming-to-end walk toward the sea.

On the walk to the beach access, these two women were carrying what appeared to be heavy loads atop their heads, a common site in Kenya.

After no less than 15 minutes of carefully maneuvering over rocks, pots holes, tall grass and uneven ground, we suddenly felt a cooler breeze wash over us in the scorching heat while hearing the roaring sound of the sea.  It was 5 1/2 months ago that we walked the beach in Belize.

Reaching the beginning of the beach access, it was impossible to see how far we’d have to walk to reach the sea. This lonely stretch would be dangerous to travel at night, which of course, we won’t do, always taking a cab to dine at any of the restaurants along the coast.

My breath caught in my throat as my eyes beheld the beauty, pristine, uncluttered with debris, a vast landscape of pure beauty.  Thankfully, the tide was low. We’d forgotten to check online having heard that walking on the beach was impossible at high tide as the water rose to the walls protecting the various hotels, resorts and private properties.

In places, the path to the beach was filled with flowers.

Unfortunately, clouds rolled in minutes after our feet hit the sand. Neither of us concerned about being rained on, we trekked on, determined to take advantage of the time and effort it took to arrive.  We weren’t disappointed.

 Bougainvillea flourish with little water and no care.  They are everywhere including the narrow path to the beach.

Sensitive to the risks along the beach, we engaged in the friendly Swahili greeting, “jambo” with the local peddlers who approached us on several occasions. We politely declined their vigorous enticements to get us to purchase their locally crafted wares.  We have neither use nor inclination toward trinkets being added to our already heavy bags.

At points, the path felt like any walkway in any neighborhood in the US where flowers grow in abundance.

Most of the peddlers were members of the Maasi tribe, a friendly group of people, dressed in elaborate colorful garb that is appealing to the eye.  Of course, I’d have liked to take a photo of their tribal dress. But we knew that doing so would require payment, make us appear as more potential prey and give off a signal of “Hey, we’re tourists.”

The variations in color always catch our attention.

After walking on the beach for 15 minutes, we reached the area where the hotels and resorts are located with each of their own groups of guards, appropriately dressed in military-type uniforms, diligently guarding the beachfront access, protecting both inside and potential outside guests.

At long last, we reached the end of the path.  We were thrilled to have the sea in front of us once again.  We didn’t take time to take photos of each other.  Pouring sweat in the outrageous humidity and heat, neither of us were “photo ready.”

Recently, we’d read online about a restaurant and resort, Madafoo’s that has free wifi to anyone that makes a purchase at their outdoor restaurant and bar. Checking it out for future reference proved to be ideal. Welcomed heartily as we entered the guarded gates, we felt determined to make a weekly visit a part of our plans.

As we exited the path to the beach this was our first view to the right of us. Continuing on we chose to go to the left where we knew we’d find the numerous resorts and hotels.
Miles of sandy beach stretched in front of us.  The white sand was the softest sand we’d ever walked, our feet sinking in several inches with each step.  As a result, walking was laborious, especially in the heat and humidity.  This didn’t deter us.  We forged ahead.

We enthusiastically talked that starting next Wednesday and every Wednesday going forward, we could arrange for a taxi ride to Madafoo’s, carrying our laptops and plug ins in a bag in order to spend several hours dining for either breakfast or lunch, using the free Internet and partaking of their comfortable padded chaise lounges, positioned to face the sea. 

Numerous fisherman were attempting the “catch of the day” to later be sold to the resorts  and restaurants along the Diani Beach coastline.

 

It appeared that a few of the small boats were unattended with traps set.

 

Bigger than the largest dog’s footprint, we were baffled as to the origin of this massive print. Any ideas out there?

Upon inquiring, the staff explained that we are welcomed to use the chaise lounges, the plug ins and their free wifi should we dine in their restaurant at any time. For Kenya Shillings $3100, US $35.47, we can dine on any item on the menu, pay for cab fare both ways, including tax and tips. 

A young Maasi member walked in front of us on the beach, surely weighing  no more than 80-90 pounds left this huge indentations in the sand.

Increasing our outings away from our house adds greatly to the enjoyment of our remaining time in Kenya.  Thus, with dining out on Saturday nights experiencing a new restaurant each week, grocery shopping on Tuesdays mornings and now a trip to Madafoo’s each Wednesday (either morning or afternoon), we find ourselves with more planned activities to anticipate. This is good.

The first private residence we encountered on the walk along the beach.

With ample dollars factored into our budget for dining out, its unnecessary to make any changes to the overall budget. Plus, we’d budgeted US $1000 for cab rides during our three month stay which would translate into taking a cab six out of seven days a week, highly unnecessary and unlikely. 

The savings at three times a week more than pays for the cost of the food, tax and tips at Madafoo’s on all Wednesdays going forward.

As we sat at a comfortable table drinking a beverage, engaged in the pleasing views while perusing their various menus items, we were content that this place is ideal for us. Hopefully, while visiting Madafoo’s  in the future, we’ll be able to download a few of our data hogging shows, further reducing the cost of the scratch off SIM cards. 

This hut was located at The Sails Restaurant, part of the Almanara Resort where we dined almost four weeks ago, still #1 on our favorites list.

Walking back a few hours later, we stopped at the local produce stand purchasing four eggplants and a bag of carrots at a total cost of US $1.14. Sweaty but invigorated from our walk, we were both happy to return to remove our sand filled shoes, to make a fresh glass of something cold and to continue our daily power lounging in our outdoor living room.

The waves were generally this size but occasionally, we saw a surfing worthy wave.

Bathers tentatively wading out into the sea, appearing mindful of the undertow and possible jellyfish and stingrays, less common here than on the beaches of Belize.

That’s it for today folks. With more photos than we can post in one day, we’ll return tomorrow with Part 2.