Category Archives: Travel

This time next week…..

The first thought that entered my head when I woke up this morning was
‘Oh, my God, why am I putting myself through this?’

I like to start every day with a talk with God, but today my mind flew straight to where I would be and what I would be doing next week, hence the question.

I will be waking up in a stranger’s house.
I will be in a country millions of miles away from home.
I will have to get ready for SCHOOL!
I will not be waking up to anything familiar.

….and the scariest of all, I will have caught three planes and a bus to get there!

Again I ask
‘Oh, my God, why am I putting myself through this?’

Peter says I can blame him, which I do anyway.
(Thanks for now giving me permission to do that, Honey)

So, I’m being pathetic today.

There are lots of reasons for ‘putting myself though this’
and every single one of them is good.

This is just the beginning of the adventure and whatever comes my way and however things turn out, I can handle it and I will be brave and I will not turn into that little eight year old, paralysed with fear at starting at a new school in a new town.

C’mon!
That was 38 years ago.

JAPAN
Here I come!

Let the Countdown Begin!

I mentioned some time ago that we would be heading off to Japan again, for a trip with a ‘twist’.
Well since then, things have changed around a little.
A trip is still coming up.
But the difference now, is different from the original difference.

The big difference now is that Peter,
my travelling companion, husband and interpreter will not be accompanying me – not at all.
Not even later, as I had hoped would be the case.
Peter, who introduced me to Japan and who loves Japan almost as much as he loves me is going to miss out!

I don’t even know whether it is worth going into what our original plans were, because they are not going to come to fruition.
Suffice it to say, I was upset and more than a little furious that his work wouldn’t allow him nine days of annual leave, so that he could meet me over there and we could do a couple of important things before coming home.

So, what was to be a month long trip for me and a two week long trip for Peter, which included volunteer work and visiting friends is now a two week trip for me and Peter stays home.
Enough said!

So, onto the itinerary (the new itinerary).

Why am I going to Japan alone for two weeks?
Good question.
I ask myself the very same thing several times a day!

Well, at my husband’s suggestion, I applied through the Australia Japan Society to attend a two week language and culture course, being held at the Ishikawa Foundation for International Exchange.

My application was accepted and in just over two weeks I will be off, alone, without my interpreter/travel guide/friend/advisor to a Japanese language school, where an attempt will be made to learn how to speak for myself in Japanese.

OK, OK, I know that two weeks will not see me fluently chatting away with girls in shops/people on trains/at the bank/in the post office/on the streets/in cafes or restaurants/hairdressers,
as I regularly do here, in English.

I may, after two weeks, be able to have a gramatically correct conversation with a two or three year old (and create Kanji-like scribble like a three year old).
I’ll give it my best shot, that’s all I can do.

It’s been a long time since I have been formally taught anything, but Peter says I have a ‘gift’ for languages.
(My mum says that too, because I can imitate accents pretty impressively)
So we’ll see how far this ‘gift’ can get me.
I might be updating the blog in Kanji next time you see me!

I will be staying with a Japanese family.
My ‘family’ actually consists of a mother aged 38 and
her daughter, aged 11.
I guess she is more of my host ‘sister’, rather than my host ‘mother’, since she is younger than me (just ever so slightly).
I can’t wait to meet them.
This is going to be so interesting!

For the time being, I picture myself walking down the street to catch the bus to school.

That’s about as far as my imagination is allowed to stretch at this point.
Because if I let it run loose I picture myself all alone, scared and confused, missing planes and buses (and I’m such a wimp, I’m not even going to attempt train travel without my interpreter) and meetings and being late for school and getting lost on the way to the bus stop and and and………..

So I picture myself walking down the street (we’ve checked it out on Google Earth) to catch the bus to school.

And just occassionally I picture myself in a depāto, on my favourite floor, the basement, buying groceries and delightful tidbits to take home to my host ‘sister’ and her daughter.
Peter says I should offer to cook them a meal.
I can do that..

I need to stop for now.
My imagination runs riot and I begin to get excited and we can’t have that, can we?
Not yet, anyway.
Departure date is two weeks from Friday.
There’s plenty of time for all the excitement and the accompanying emotion about returning to our beloved Japan.

If only my beloved was coming with me…

Shadow Shot Sunday

It’s the times when I am home when I wouldn’t  usually be home that I am surprised and delighted by the shadows that dance around my house, when no one is looking.

Shadow Shot Sunday celebrates shadows from all over the world.
If you would like to participate, please visit Hey Harriet’s blog.

***********

This week has been a funny week.

I have been alone since last Saturday, when I dropped my Peter man at the airport.

We have not spoken since then (only texted).
I worry that he can’t survive without my guidance screeching in his ear about everything!

He has written, if you can call poking a finger onto letters on the front of an iPhone writing, pages and pages and I have responded.
We have kept up a steady stream of communication, but if I don’t hear something the minute I know he wakes up (six hours after I have woken up) I panic.
He is in South Africa.
Because I know very little about South Africa, I believe he must be in constant danger, so my ‘thoughts’ take over and I imagine all sorts of calamities have occurred.

However, the problem is, in Peter’s words,
“They are really not anywhere near as techno-resourced as we are”
So, if I don’t hear anything it is not because he has been kidnapped, robbed of all his belongings (including his iPhone), eaten by a pack of marauding lions, or become lost on the savannah.

Will I ever be a relaxed, laid back, middle aged woman?
Or will I always be a timid, emotional little child with an overactive imagination?
No need to answer that, thanks.

Suffice to say, I have been alone.
Some things about being alone are good and others not so good, but overall, ‘doable’ as long as I don’t have food in the house – (see binging on anything and everything to relieve the boredom or whatever that dumb emotion is).

I have had time to blog.
I have had time to start a new blog.
What am I thinking?
I don’t even have time for this blog.

I have had time to clean.
I mean, really clean.
Not just a quick wipe over of everything with the nearest tissue or washing the floor with a piece of absorbent paper.
Well, that’s the plan, anyway.

So, I will get on with it.

I wanted to leave you with some words from today’s sermon.
The sermons at our church are usually very short – today’s was a bit longer (about 15 minutes).
I don’t think I need to go into detail and I don’t think you need to be a church-goer or even a believer in God for these words to resonate in your spirit like they did mine.

“We need beauty and we need magnificence to stimulate the soul”

Amen!

Japan…. with a twist

Our next Japan trip is coming up!

But this is a trip with a bit of a twist.
I will tell you more in the coming months.

In the meantime, I would like to share links to updates on the situation in Japan.

I feel like it is important not to forget.
The links I post will be more for my own records than anything else, as we continue to watch and now, consider where we might be of help.

It is my hope that visitors to our blog might find the websites I mention worthy of attention, if nothing more.
We’re about to embark on a new chapter in our lives, which are inexplicably and inextricably linked to Japan.
And if you get sick of me going on and on about it, I’m sorry.
Feel free to tune out.
I’ll understand.

What is the internet, if it is not a tool?
How can I look and refuse to see?
How can I see and refuse to ‘do’?

Please don’t ever let me be a hypocrite..

Today’s link is to not just a website.
It is a link to courage, faith, inspiration and action. 
Kozmoz International

Just Back Report

Finally!

I have been waiting to be able to say ‘this is our Just Back Report’!

We flew into Perth at around 5.15am this morning.
The flight was hell for a whole new set of reasons.
Previous ‘hell’ flights have involved many screaming children, many smelly nappies/feet, feeling like a sardine in a can, but last night’s hell was all new and totally, stupidly self inflicted.
We really messed up with the return flight, completely overlooking the fact that we were going to be leaving in the earliest of early hours of the last ‘day’ of our trip.

When we returned from our ‘non’ holiday in Queensland in January which saw us, most of the time, trying to outrun flood waters and when we weren’t doing that, being marooned due to flood waters or stuck inside watching the deluge which would later become flood waters, we decided our meager six days in Bali just weren’t going to cut it.

We brazenly logged on to Air Asia as soon as we returned from Queensland, found a cheap flight returning four days further along than our originally planned return and hit the ‘confirm’ button.
Seconds later we realised the reason the flight was the only cheap one remaining was because it departed our beloved  Ngurah Rai at 12.30am on that extra fourth day we were so excited about!
Yep, we lost a whole day, because we were over-excited and desperate.
Anyway, the departure time was later altered to 1.30am, just one and half hours into our longed for fourth extra day.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Oh well, we learned the hard way (and I hope I have prevented anyone else from being so hasty!)

Now, back to our second last day (which really was our last day).

We checked out of Desamuda and they dropped us down at Hotel Pearl in Jl Double Six.
We had already booked for the whole three (four) extra days when we extended our trip, but loved Desamuda so much we decided not to leave until they kicked us out (they had no rooms available for the 16th, even though we were going to be leaving at around 10.30pm on the 15th!).
Anyway, bless them, they did their best and were genuinely sorry they couldn’t help.
So it was off to Pearl, where we spent the afternoon, relaxing and had our longed for and much anticipated final dinner at Restaurant Pearl.

Every little bit of the Pearl experience was wonderful. The room (deluxe) was perfectly lovely for less than $100 per night and the dinner, superb!
I won’t go into details, because, believe it or not, I find food writing tedious and I don’t seem to have the ability to describe the delights we experienced in a way that sounds in the slightest bit enticing!

Needless to say, we were treated to a wonderful night.
We sat outside, dined on absolutely delicious French cuisine, had the honour of the (cute, but young enough to be my son) chef, Jeremy’s presence for about 5 minutes and our Hatten’s sparkling white actually performed more than adequately when supped from the very same glasses we drank Veuve from in August last year (at $200 a bottle)!

Yes, I will again, for the last time (I promise), recommend the Hatten’s white sparkling, as spoken of many times previously!
Make sure it is icy cold and now I’m thinking it would be a good idea, if you wish to drink it and experience optimum pleasure, take your own champagne glasses to Bali!
They seem few and far between and I’m sure all you connoisseurs know how important good crystal is to your drinking pleasure! Just sayin’.

Now, where was I?
Yes, Pearl!
All good. I think good value.
If you are staying at the hotel, there is free WiFi, but you pay for bottled water. There are also no complimentary mossie coils or spray, so pop straight up the road to Bintang and stock up on them (and water) as soon as you arrive.

The grounds are beautiful and peaceful.
The pool is small but adequate for the number of rooms/patrons.
We’re not talking five star here, but for the price, adequate and if you haven’t been spoiled by a huge private villa with it’s own pool for twice the price, then you will love Hotel Pearl (sorry, am I doing a review here?).
I know some of you wanted to know.

We arrived at the airport in plenty of time.
We had a lovely chat with out taxi driver.
They always say the same thing – ‘You are my first customer. It is very quiet’.
But, you know what? That’s exactly what our taxi driver here in Perth said too! Anyway, Peter and I decided early on our trip that we would always give IDR20,000 to our taxi drivers (sometimes the fare is only IDR7000 and that is outrageous, less than $1.00?!).
If it was more than IDR20,000 (which was rare for us. We never seemed to go far) we would add at least IDR10,000 (just over $1.00).
When we went to the airport, we paid double, so it cost us about $5.00 more than the meter was reading!
Honestly, I think it is so easy to forget that we are rich compared with most people in Bali and if we can bless them with $5.00 then that is a blessing to us, really. Again, just sayin’.
By the way, our taxi fare from the airport to our house in Perth was $54, so let’s keep it real!

We went through the usual rigmarole at Ngurah Rai airport.
The only thing that upset me was that they took our two cans of Lavender Scented Raid!
Yep, apparently Raid isn’t allowed to fly.
Neither was our can of Rid which we took there last time, brought home last time and took again this time (the world’s most travelled can of Rid).
But yesterday, Rid was taken away from us, along with Raid, never to be seen again.
I will keep trying though.
Last time Rid and Raid were allowed to fly, so I don’t know what they have done wrong in the last eight months, but I hope by next time they will be back in favour with the powers that be (maybe I’ll just try one can though).

We bought last minute (overpriced) souvenirs and had one last divine reflexology massage for our feet.
We then made our way, momentarily blissed out, to the departure lounge, out to the bus, sat there being gassed, while the bus idled (warming up?) and eventually were driven to the plane and allowed to board.
I’ve already mentioned the flight.
OK. I hate flying in the first place but by that point I was hallucinatory due to lack of sleep (no magic mushrooms involved) yet unable to sleep in the public domain of a half filled plane where everyone was asleep (apart from the hosties).

Actually, I am now too tired to continue with this story; the story of the things that were taken away at customs to be fumigated, the story of the taxi driver who was a misery (when he said it could be worse, I confirmed that thought for him by saying he could be a taxi driver in Bali!), the story of MacDonalds for breakfast, the story of a couple of hours broken sleep and the story of not wanting to go out into the dry heat, the relentless sunshine, everything about being back, the story of not wanting to go to Coles, so my brave man Peter went out for supplies, the story of still feeling Bali but no longer being able to see her. The all too familiar story of reverse culture shock.
The phrase that keeps repeating over and over in my head ‘I don’t want this’.
The story of plans beginning for the next trip.
The story of planning our retirement in Bali.

So here we are back in Perth.
I’m sitting at our little breakfast bar.
I look at the clock and it is 10.52pm.
This time last night we were on our way to the airport, hearing the stories of the taxi driver’s family; his two sons in high school and his wife, who works in a shop, and how he came from West Timor 20 years ago (why didn’t I move to Bali 20 years ago?).
It all feels like minutes ago.

Tomorrow is a full day of adjusting back to the people we were 11 days ago.
On Monday, the transition will be complete.
Too bad if it isn’t.
We have work to do and we have a holiday to save for.
Guess where we’re going?

Thank you, everyone who came along for Bali Escapade 2011.
Will there be another 2011 adventure (dare I hope?) or will we all have to wait until 2012?
Time will tell!

Wishing you all wonderful Bali (or Japan) escapades.
May the joy of experiencing another culture, another time and another place fill you right up and sustain you in your everyday endeavours, wherever you come from and whatever you do!

All the love in the world,
Meanie & Peter!

xx

 

We are here!!

Yes, just quickly, we are now at Hotel Pearl.
We are dining here tonight and will then pack up and head off to the airport.
I would just like to show you our day – our last day.
We will be enveloped in the beauty of Bali for a few more glorious hours – the warmth, the sounds, the aromas, the grey skies and this evening, from our balcony, a sunset of sorts.

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Today is not our last day!

So I tell myself to cheer up.

Tomorrow we are leaving Desamuda and moving to Hotel Pearl.
We were supposed to check out of here on Tuesday, but managed to extend the stay for three nights.
They have nothing available for tomorrow night, or we would have stayed the whole time.

We had a booking at Hotel Pearl anyway and they were OK for us to just come for the one ‘night’ if you can call it that.
Our flight is at 1.30am Saturday morning, so we will only be at Pearl for a matter hours.
And we will be right there with one of our favourite restaurants at our doorstep?
Looks like we have a ‘programme’!

So we’ll be making our way down to Jalan 66 at around 2pm, saying goodbye to the beautiful staff of Desamuda and our 143 square metre chunk of paradise, being villa 26.

Saying goodby to the swanky boutiques of Jl Basangkasa where a little retail therapy today assisted in boosting my flagging spirits of yesterday.
Saying adieu for now to Cafe Moka, Bali Deli, Chill, the friendly men working on the boutique on Jl Kunti (‘Come back next month’, they say, ‘It will be open!’), the people peeling garlic, the dogs, the cats, the hilarious bird that is singing his little song right now (can we please take him home with us?), our cheeping mouse and our walking frog and all the other elements that became a part of Bali Escapade 2011.

And then?
We don’t quite leave!!! 🙂

I’m feeling one last flutter of joy (those tears this morning were nothing) because we won’t be going straight to the airport.
How fortuitous!
The interlude at Hotel Pearl, as short as it will be, will be welcome reprieve.
It will trick us into some kind of happiness, until we have to make that sobering drive to the airport.
I refuse to think about that at all right now!
My mind is already tricked! See?

That doesn’t alter the fact that there is quite a lot of stuff that needs to be stuffed into our suitcases tonight.
We’ve already been online upping our luggage allowance – 25 kg each – just to be on the safe side.

And I will not stop checking my emails every hour to see whether our flight has been cancelled.
I remember all the times in the past when I wondered what would happen if you just never turned up at the airport.
Someone must have done this before me.
Surely I wouldn’t be the first.

But I have my strong (responsible) man with me.
He will make sure I transition from Bali to ‘that other place across the ocean’ with minimum trauma.
He will do whatever it takes.
He actually sees it as his mission (strange man, he is)!

I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here, though.
All this talk of leaving and we still have well over 24 hours left.

Today saw us holding on tight to our routine.
Late, late breakfast, coffee and reading at Bali Deli, change money (rate is 9050/$1 today), jalan jalan wherever our feet took us through the puddles, photography, no lunch, back to villa, relaxation, wonder where to for dinner.

And that’s where you find us now.
We’re going to be disappointing and once again not go to Sarong.
(I bet the day we do go there, we will kick ourselves for not going sooner).
We’ve decided to return to Cafe Degan.
I’m excited. Yum, can’t wait!

Peter has trotted off to book the complementary transport and can you believe it? Run off to Bali Deli again, for some wine.

Exciting stuff hey??

The time has come…
One last lighting of the lavender scented mossie coil.
Our signature fragrance fills the air and I wait for my strong man to return with the wine…

*******

Couple of hours later (sorry I didn’t post the last bit earlier!)

We have returned!

For our SECOND LAST dinner we returned to Cafe Degan!
This place is beautiful.
So peaceful and calm.
The staff are gorgeous – true Bali friendliness.
I want to work there!
Our waiters, Kadek and Apri remembered us from the other night –
Mr Peter and Miss Megan –
They melt my heart – I don’t know if it’s intentional.
It could be.
Neither of them was even born when I first came to Bali.
Most people weren’t!
But they are ‘old Bali’ friendly, flirtatious and beautiful!

Tonight we ordered the obligatory chicken in pandan leaf (if you come here and don’t have it, you’re missing out, big time!)
We had chicken fried rice and the true piece de resistance from the Thai side of the menu; beef curry.
We will talk about this one for a long time.
It was very much like what we call Massaman Beef.
Oh my, it was sooooo delicious!

We will remember the desserts too, for a very long time.
Peter’s, a chocolate type of cake with a passionfruit brulee topping!
Impossibly delicious!
I don’t think I can describe mine and do it justice (remember I’m not a food writer) but here is the picture and I can tell you it was deluxe.

How we have loved this restaurant!
The things that make a place special for us (as discussed over dinner tonight)?
The food, the service and the value.
Add to that the ambience and the convenience and the ‘welcome’.
We found all this at Cafe Degan.
This is the Bali I love!
(unlike last night)

So here we are, back again at our villa.
I’m just noticing how tanned my hands are.
Oh, obviously that is a ridiculous thing to throw in for no reason.
But I want you to know how much better I feel tonight and how wonderful today has been.

I am not ready to go home, don’t think that for a minute, but today was one of those Bali days when nothing much happens outwardly, but inside the heart feels restored!

‘Om Bali’ -I think I called it last time.