Friday, 29 January 2010

Photo Off we go...

Photo Final touches

Photo Dresser Ketut

Photo Help!

Photo Dinner at Ketut's Mum's

Photo Fancy dress

Little did he know but Julian (and us) were in for a real treat. We'd had our friend here, Ketut, around for dinner one night and he wondered whether we'd like to come up to Singaraja his home town and join him at a ceremony in his temple after dinner with his Mum. Damn right we would. Sinagaraja is on the North of the island so after a drive over the mountains (freezing.. 22c!!!!) we dropped down to the coast found a place to stay and called Ketut who came round on his bike to fetch us. We went to his Mum's house and met two of his 6 brothers (didn't meet his three sisters!) his Mum and his Uncle (his Dad died when he was 11 and according to culture his Dad's Brother then takes his place as the new head of the family along with his own). There are only four names in Balinese society: Wayan, Made, Nyoman and Ketut. This applies to both boys and girls and after the fourth you start back at Wayan. Well Ketut's Mum kinda bent the rules a bit so when number 5 arrived she just decided that she was going to stick with Ketut, and when the following 5 popped out she called them Ketut as well!! Apparently when she wanted some thing done she was never short of help she just shouted Ketut!

There is a dress code in the temple that applies to everyone. Not surprisingly we didn't have the required outfit so Ketut and his Mum kitted us out. I think I got away with looking the most authentic being dark (okay okay grey) but Kym and Julian were unmissable! After a fantastic home cooked dinner we first visited the family temple which every Balinese family has in their compound. It's not just for the immediate family but also the extended family (I guess it's an economical thing, the temples are pretty elaborate and must cost a bit). He explained that all the little temples inside the temple area (they look kind of like American letter boxes but way more ornate) are for different Gods and if they can't make it to the temple that represents that specific God (for example one of the most important is Agung Guning which is the largest volcano on Bali and the temple is on the slopes of the volcano at Besakih) they can make an offering at the representation in their temple. Practical really. Balinese families tend to stick together so the family temple is generally surrounded by the families' houses. Next it was off to the big temple. The ceremony was a six monthly affair although the Hindu calendar has 35 days in each month so it's all relative, and was to celebrate the temple itself. People bring offerings of food all day long and pray at various times. There's a real community feel to it all and the teenagers are all involved in keeping things in order in the temple (clearing up the discarded flowers, incense sticks etc) and helping people out. There's also a kitchen in there that cooks all day long and the lads are constantly taking around trays of tea and nibbles and everyone just kinda hangs out in the outer compound.

When it's time to pray you go into the inner compound taking your shoes off you step up onto a kinda of stage where all the offerings are placed and sit cross legged while the teenage/unmarried girls who are done up beautifully in golden dresses and head pieces, carry out the rituals ie splashing the holy water on you providing the flowers for you to pray through (cool eh?) and lighting incense. After being dowsed you then press rice on to your fore head to wish for things (but they don't wish for things like a lottery win or a new car, they wish for enough to eat the next day and that their Mum will be healthy and decent things like that). And that's that. We're still not sure what the ceremony involved, Ketut said that people just come and go but all sort of congregate at 8ish or maybe 9 or 10?! Lot's of Gamelan music which is percussion based and hectic, again very communal, lot's of really young-uns sitting with the old dudes in the band learning the ropes. All just a big meeting of the clans really. The offerings that everyone brings are free to be taken home so none of the food goes to waste and somehow every knows which pile of food is theirs. Apparently once the offering has been made it's taken as read that that God's have accepted it so it can then be taken back, more like a gesture I guess. The only exception to this is the offerings that are placed on the floor in various places, usually cross roads or corners in everyday life that are for the bad God's to keep them happy too. It's a real yin yang thing. Like mine and Kym's Balinese tattoos, Kym has a Barong which is a good benevolent God of the woods and land and I have Rangda which is exactly the opposite. They battle constantly but this creates harmony and without each other they could not exist. A bit like us but without the battling (most of the time x).

We felt hugely privileged to have been allowed to partake. Julian especially, as it was his first time here and was a real step away from everything normal for him. Thank's Ketut and yep for sure we'd love to do it again maybe we'll even buy our own sarongs. And thanks to all the people whose temple it is, they made us feel totally comfortable, nobody stared, everybody smiled and we weren't in any way a spectacle. It was very special.

So next guest arrives on Tuesday..... Mum.

Photo Ketut and Julian

Photo Awww

Photo Bali

Photo Bali

Photo Munduk waterfall

Photo Banana flower

Photo Holiday!!

Photo Zzzzzzzzz

Photo Zzzzzz


The day after we got back my best man Julian was arriving. I was a little bit excited about this, it was his first time ever in Bali which is pretty mad considering the amount of surf trips we've been on and how many times I've been here. We picked him up from the airport and treated him gently for the first evening. A stroll down to the beach and a quiet dinner with a couple of beers and early to bed ready for the dawn surf. Woke him up at 0500 and drove down to Nusa Dua for his first surf in Indonesia. Not quite what he or I for that matter were expecting. An apocalyptic scene, thunder, lightning and 10 foot surf, he was definitely not ready for! After I'd been washed across the reef and Julian caught one wave we got back in the truck and headed for much more user friendly Serangan to find 5 foot surf sun and a bit of crowd. After two days of Gazza's boot camp he finally succumbed to exhaustion/jetlag/surflag/dietchangelag/lackofkidslag and crashed and burned. 24hours later he was back on it and we had some great surf. Luke and gang returned from another tourist trip and the three of us went for a great surf together for the first time in about 18 years!

Photo Kym Sheila Garth Ali and slightly suprised me.

Photo The New Casino

Photo Singa

Photo Singa

Singapore the return..

The last time we saw Sheila she was still denying she was pregnant (we weren't fooled but they hadn't yet had their first doctors appointment) but there was certainly no denying it this time. We arrived on the Saturday evening and just about had time to put a shirt on before we were out the door and off to a party. Ali is an old friend of Garths who used to share a house with him years ago. We first met her in 2003 so it was great to see her again and just before she leaves Singapore for a new challenge in New York. It's always a pleasure visiting Singapore and meeting new friends but it's such a different way of life for the ex-pats there. They're all high flyers (bloody well done to Garth on winning the contract to project manage the Formula 1 in Singapore for the next three years. Can you even imagine that!? I reckon I could paint the lines!) and living a completely different way of life to us; So it's great to interact with with 'em all and see how amazed and impressed they are with our trip and then listen to them talking about stuff that mostly goes straight over our heads!

Needless to say, after 3 months of alcohol abstenance the Sunday morning was a write off. I'm sure I only had a couple of glasses of wine but they must have been big ones! A sofa session and a few dvd's was a perfect Sunday and how better to end a day like that than with a chinese and a beer. Monday and Tuesday happened and before we knew it we were picking up the passports and on our way back to Bali. Not before Ali took us out for a lovely dinner on the most expensive piece of real estate in Sinagapore... the Cricket club. What a great venue, smack in the middle of down town Singapore and shared with the rugby club, you sit and have dinner on the balcony with a back drop of the worlds most high tech city's skyline blazing behind you. The new building going up on marina bay is the "sands" a casino with a 60m cantilever on each end of the "shelf" that sits atop the three towers. It's due to open this summer and I'm sure is going to become one of those iconic buildings like the Petronas towers. Bangers and mash and a glass of Shiraz, you're a star Ali, thankyou.

Photo Glass floor over the pool!

Photo Lenny

Photo Jimmy didn't want to put on sun tan lotion!

Photo Sunday afternoon!

Photo Our house

Back for some more

Blimey, it's like someone's hit the fast forward button. People coming and going, surf, massages, mini road trips, cycling around Kuta, visa runs to Singapore and before you know it it's nearly February.

Luke, Steph and the kids have been out and about doing the tourist thing and Kym and I had to leave the country in order to re-new our visas. Basically you can only get a 60 day visa before arriving in Indonesia otherwise it's only a 30 day on arrival. So the easiest and cheapest thing to do is pop to Singapore and visit the embassy and get another 60 days. It also has the added bonus that we get to see Garth and Sheila in Singapore (and they always very kindly put us up in their beautiful apartment).

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Photo couldn't make out what it said on the boxes

Photo so we had a closer look.

Photo Lenny and Jimmy checking out the tent.

Photo Airport pickup


Christmas morning was as you probably guessed a quiet affair but we still got it together to load the car up, grab Mark and Pilch and head down to Balangan (very quiet in the car also?!) a little surf a big Mie Goreng (fried noodles) and a beer had us all feeling slightly better and we moved on to our favourite beach Padang Padang for a catch up with all our friends there and a few more beers. Home shower and back out for Christmas dinner in the Havana club with cocktails (me and Ed had a huge cheese burger and Kym had garlic king prawns!) then back home and a traditional Christmas movie session on the sofa. I think we all had to nudge each other awake at various points in the film. Unconventional but a great day.

Ed gone, Mark and Pilch gone and 3 days by ourselves before the invasion of the Shillingfords. Luke's an old mate of mine from years ago who moved to the Canary Islands met Steph and now have two boys Jimmy and Lenny. They flew in at 1900 on New Years eve an after picking them up dropping the bags off and having a quick bite to eat we all headed down to Kuta beach. To say it was spectacular would be an understatement. A cloudless sky a full moon and every hotel along the 5 mile long beach from the end on the Bukit all the way up to Canggu putting a non stop firework display from 2000 till gone midnight. Not to mention the hundreds of people on the beach with their own fireworks. The kids were in and out the sea building sandcastles and the adults, feet in the sand drinking cold beers, reminisced as you can only do on the last night of the year. Midnight brought about a crescendo of explosions and huge cheers and lot's of hugs and kisses. What an amazing 2009 that was!

New Year new guests and new surf buddy. The surfs been good, the kids have been hilarious and the weathers been perfect. Luke and Steph have hired a car and taken off for a few days to see the island (Luke's been here before but for Steph and the kids it's the first time in the tropics). So we're back to just us two for a few days and really getting good at this relaxing business. Well Kym's done a bit of work and I gave the car a New Year treat of a complete service (and she deserves it, let's face it we wouldn't be here if it wasn't for our amazing car). Ed very generously bought us both a two hour body scrub and massage session by way of thanks (you're more than welcome any time Ed) so we might just hop on the bikes and use our vouchers later. Talking about the bikes, bloody brilliant, Kuta is a nightmare to drive around as it has this ridiculous one way system and too many taxis so the bikes have been perfect. We can do the whole length of Kuta from Seminyak to Tuban ('bout 3 miles) in 20 mins weaving in and out of cars, alleyways and tourists with a ding ding of the bell.

Photo Christmas pudding Bali style

Photo Christmas day

Photo They hadn't seen each other for ages!

Photo Competitive??!

Photo Mark and Pilch

Photo Sky Garden

Photo Sky Garden

Photo Kym and Ed and Santa?!

Photo uncomfortable Ed?

Selamat Tahun Bahru

Happy New Year people! Or as they say in Indo Selamat Tahun Bahru. Selamat literally translated means "bless your.." and is used for all sorts of everyday greetings and salutations. Selamat Datang: welcome, Selamat Pagi/siang/sore (sor-ay)/malam: morning/afternoon/evening/night. Selamat makan: bon appetite (why isn't there an English version of this?) you get the gist but it's quite nice don't you think?

Well Ed came and went in what seemed like no time at all but was a real joy to spend time with. He's good for both of us in that he'd be up at 5 in the morning with me for a surf but would happily stay up late dancing with Kym and hitting the cocktails! Didn't stop him having forty winks in the afternoon though as you can see! And you know what? He even had the cheek to say "I just couldn't get comfortable on that sofa"! Also on Bali were Mark and Pilch. Pilch is one of Kym's oldest mates but it took some getting used to to see them here. With Ed still here for Christmas along with Mark and Pilch we all decided Christmas day should definitely be a beach affair but not before a traditional Christmas eve night out in the Sky Garden Kuta's coolest club (well we think so any way, maybe something to do with all the promotions) drinking free long island ice tea's and watching fire dancers and the like. At one point Kym and Ed upset the bar staff by complaining they wern't mixing the drinks strong enough provoking one of them to tell Kym "I don't like you" which succeeded in turning the pair of them into giggling wrecks. Even me pointing out that the drinks were free and they could have as many as they wanted still didn't dissuade them from asking for stronger ones. Which was probably why Kym needed telling by security to leave the stage behind the bar because the next lot of professional dancers were coming on. Ed only egged her though!