Posts Tagged ‘Indonesia’

Are you still on this island?

‘The Gili Islands, NO cars ! NO motorbikes ! NO worries. . . . !

Arcing away from the northwest corner of Lombok, are three idyllic atolls, where the sand is still powdery white, the water a clear sparkling turquoise, and the sunsets over Bali’s volcano Mt. Agung in the west simply spectacular.’

We loved the feel of Gili Air the moment we arrived. It was so nice to be somewhere peaceful without touts and car horns. The views were pretty spectacular as well.

With no motorised transport, horse drawn carriages called cidomos were very popular with locals and unsuspecting tourists!
We spent our first four nights at Biba Beach Resort run by two cat loving Italians.
“Would you like to check in?”
“No, I’ll just sleep here thanks!”
The weather got a little wild and we had to sit right at the back of their amazing wood fire pizza restaurant.
A friend joined us for breakfast!
We found a great spot for a cappuccino. They were a lot cheaper than the cat-poo-cinno (local slang for a coffee made from Kopi Lewak beans) Nick tried in Ubud.
The view from Scallywags, our coffee spot.
One of the days we were there the Mandi Sapar bathing ritual was performed where the whole village came down to the beach to cast away bad luck from the island. This is not an Islamic festival or even Sewak but was bought to the island by Sulawesi’s Bugis people, believed to be the first inhabitants on the islands.

We hired bikes and enjoyed exploring the island.

Do you want to buy a bracelet?

We started our 8 day True Nature Yoga and Meditation Retreat at H2O Yoga. We loved every minute of it and would recommend the centre to all.

The gorgeous yoga circle

Roof of the yoga circle
The handstand wall!
The shared bungalows
Bindu in the Zen centre
A nice place to relax in the garden
Surya the resident cat/ Princess
She enjoyed sneaking up on you in meditation and would often plop herself on your lap.
We ate our breakfast and dinner in silence each day and were encouraged to eat mindfully, tasting and being grateful for every mouthful. This was our evening table setting.
Each day we snorkelled in a different location on the island and parked ourselves at a different cafe.
Each afternoon we would head down to the beach for a sunset activity and meditation.
Doing some Chi Kung moves in the water while we waited for the others to arrive.

Over the eight days we saw some spectacular sunsets!

The retreat ended and we had to say goodbye to most of the group.
With Sigrid and the Russian honeymooners, Mischa and Dennis.
With Karen and Ron
With Sigrid, our lovely new friend from Belgium also taking a year out to travel with her boyfriend.
The two beautiful, fashionistas of the retreat, Emma and Nathalie!
We stayed for one more night and returned to Biba beach resort for dinner on the last night.
“Are you still on this island?” was the first thing the waiter said to me as I arrived!
We dragged ourselves off the island the following day and went over to Kuta Lombok. It was beautiful but we missed Gili Air and just wated to do more yoga. After two nights at Seger Reef Homestay we booked our trip back to Gili Air.
Kuta, Lombok
We returned to our gorgeous Banana Cottages for another four nights.
And headed down to H2O for some more yoga.
Back at the Zen centre a certain someone was glad to see us again!
The last supper with the wonderful Amy, yoga teacher extraordinaire and all round sweetheart!
It was finally time to leave the island. With Guru Rich and the beautiful Amanda!
Waiting for our fast boat to whisk us back to Bali.
Being on Gili Air really taught us to slow down. We want to finish with this lovely poem that was on the coffee table at the H2O yoga centre.
Slow Dance

Have you ever watched kids on a merry go round?

Or listened to the rain slapping on the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight?

Or gazed at the sun into fading night?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast.

Time is short the music won’t last.


Do you run through each day on the fly?

When you ask “how are you?,” do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed?

With the next 100 chores running through your head?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast.

Time is short the music won’t last.


Ever told a child, we’ll do it tomorrow?

And in your haste, not seen his/her sorrow?

Ever lost touch and let a friendship die?

Because you never had time to call and say hi.

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast.

Time is short the music won’t last.


When you run so fast to get somewhere,

You miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,

It is like an unopened gift thrown away.


Life is not a race

Do take it slower

Hear the music

Before the song is over.


Goodbye India, hello Indonesia!
“It is impossible not to be astonished by India. Nowhere on Earth does humanity present itself in such a dizzying, creative burst of cultures and religions, races and tongues…..Perhaps the only thing more difficult than to be indifferent to India would be to describe or understand India completely.”
Rough guide to India
As much as we love India, after forty-nine days there it was time to get ready to leave. We enjoyed two more nights in Kolkata before saying goodbye.

We even bumped into an old friend!

We stayed at the gorgeous Fairlawn Hotel where the eccentric 92 year old owner told Nick behind her hand that she was looking for a toyboy! She was quite a character!

The very over the top Christmas decorations!
We loved it there! It was like visiting grandma’s house!
Our lovely room!
The view from our window down to the jewellery market.
We enjoyed wandering around the local area near Sudder Street.
And visiting the markets.

After India we were planning to go to either Sri Lanka or Myanmar but decided we wanted to end our year somewhere a little more relaxing, where the travelling would be easier. We settled on Indonesia and after a one night stop over in Kuala Lumpa we landed in Denpasar. We caught a taxi straight to Ubud where we spent three nights in a great villa we found on Airbnb.

We tried out the fish spa on our hands before letting them nibble away at the dead skin on our feet!
It was strangely relaxing as long as I did not look down.
This macaw decided to randomly land on Nick’s shoulder as we were walking down the street. I think he thought Nick’s hair was his nest!
We saw this poster outside the supermarket and as Gili Air was somewhere we wanted to go we checked the retreat out on line before booking.
New Year’s day was very wet and I was the unlucky one who had wear the poncho to protect the bag containing all our worldly goods. Yes I was as impressed as I look! Nick’s head could not fit through the hole! What a fashion statement I was making at the start of 2013!!!
We loved this row of mossy Buddahs in the main street.
On day four we moved to Ben’s Homestay in a family compound closer to the centre. It was cheap, beautiful and probably the cleanest place we have stayed in all year.
A stunning sunset from our verandah!
We booked a one day cycling tour to escape the madness of Ubud and to see the countryside.
View from our breakfast spot.
The clouds threatened throughout the whole tour but we managed to stay dry!
This guy was thrilled when I asked If I could take his photo.
Anyone who has been to Ubud recently will know how annoying it is to be asked if you want a taxi every two steps. We loved this guy’s different approach and decided to get him to take us out to The Green School.

He showed us all of his previous advertising tricks!

We could see why some of them had not worked but loved the fact he was willing to try out new ideas.
And he could do more than drive a taxi as well!
The tour of the Green school lasted for an hour.
Whilst the open air buildings and furniture were absolutely beautiful, I was left with a lot more questions about the quality of the the education. Perhaps I should return when it is not school holidays.
We decided to do something cultural so I took a Balinese cooking course. It started with a trip to the local market.
The course was very hands on.
In the end we made six dishes.
Balinese soup
Chicken satay sticks, corn fritters and tempura
Nasi goring and sticky rice pudding!
Nick did a full day wood carving course. The teacher was carving his own new creation while helping Nick with his.
The view from his lunch spot.
The beginning of his carving with a completed version just behind it..

These two reminded us of our cats Pudda and Rangy!

“The world’s fourth most populace country – 240 million and counting – is a sultry kaleidoscope that runs along the equator for 5000km. It may well be the last great adventure on Earth. From the western tip of Sumatra to the eastern edge of Papua is a nation that defies homogenisation. A land of so many cultures, peoples, animals, customs, plants, features, artworks and foods that it is like 100 countries melded into one (or is it 200?).”

Lonely Planet Indonesia