The Clark family are still alive …. And we’ve just enjoyed an amazing month in Bali and now we’re in Sumatra…
Royal funeral ‘celebrations’ in Ubud’s streets
Our Asian adventure is still just beginning but it feels as if we’re on the home straight! Last week we reached 500 days of travelling and oh dear, we’re maybe 20 or 30 posts behind! They’re kind of lined up to be finished off with photos…but we’ve had a terrible spell of ‘blogitis’ and some frustrating technical hitches, as well as some welcome distractions like enjoying time with friends and family we’ve visited, the odd book and for Martin, a few addictive tv series downloaded!
Coming soon… our final 3000km journey in Chile from Patagonia to Santiago, our magical times in 15 different Pacific islands, a wonderful few weeks in New Zealand and most recently our 2 month trip all over Australia by plane train and automobile (well campervan to be more specific) – all still to come. In the meantime, I thought we’d share a little of Bali and what we are up to right now!
Gorgeous paddy fields near Ubud
We arrive in Bali on a 3 hour flight from Perth, costing about £40 each and spend our first week with our friends the Rices who moved to Bali from the UK in July. Lara and Roxana were at school together and waste no time picking up their friendship. They live in a gorgeous villa in Sanur, on the SE coast and Rufus and Roxana kindly ship out of their rooms to the guest room to make space for the Clark Clan!
Our wonderful relaxing first week ends in Halloween celebrations and a day at the Green school for Ben Zoe and Lara. Sam and I get the job of making costumes for the Clarks but somehow efficient Sam is done by tea time and I’m still going at bedtime, hmm, must have been those witches hats…
Two witches and a bat at the Green school
Ben the Reverse Ninja skeleton at The Green school, Bali
And Martin excels himself with a watermelon jack o’ lantern, decorated Bali style!
Martin’s watermelon art, finishing touch flower by Sam
Martin and I have a tour of The Green School
, Bali. What an amazing place! Wonderful, holistic, educational philosophy, eco-friendly, beautiful bamboo architecture, cool, open air classrooms. amazing atmosphere. We’re impressed and our kids love their taster day and are quite envious of their friends!
We’re desperate to spend some time in Ubud, the magical cultural heart of Bali which I remember fondly from my trip 21 years ago. We pop into the town whilst the kids are at school and witness a huge royal funeral. The streets are closed (probably the only time we’ll see Ubud NOT teeming with traffic) The streets are often teeming with traffic AND people in ceremonial costume, but this day was especially spectacular.
We find somewhere to stay and rent a little two bed villa on the steep riverbank overlooking a temple for three weeks. We probably got a good price because they are renovating the temple so there’s builders across the water each day but even seeing them out there climbing up bamboo scaffolding, chiseling away at new carvings (and unfortunately throwing all their rubbish down in the river) provides a daily show of interesting happenings. And the pool is glorious!
Our riverside villa, pool and temple across the river
We’ve made friends with local families, been immersed in Balinese culture with visits to temples, a plunge into holy waters, attending a ceremony for the holy festival of Kuningan, and a Kirtan at an Ashram (that’s a kind of Hindu sing along).
We’ve breathed in the magical sights of art museums, architecture, statues and views over rice paddies, been white water rafting on the Ayung river, spent two super days at Asia’s top water park ‘Waterbom’ and cycled 25 km downhill from the volcano Mt Batur. Lara, age 5 and only cycling for 6 months was amazing! The guide took great care of her and put her in the support car or in a seat on the back of his bike for a few steep sections but she managed most on her own!
We’ve eaten wonderful food, had relaxing massages and taken yoga classes, silver making classes, painting, drama, wood carving and cooking classes and the kids have joined the library and enjoyed a stack of ‘real’ books!! It’s no wonder so many people get stuck here and find themselves staying for months or even years….. and the reason we’re coming back!
A fish foot massage in Ubud, after a visit to the library! Not sure why they prefer Ben’s feet to Zoe’s 🙂
Wise monkey surveys his domain at the monkey forest temple in Ubud
Ganesha, God of intellect and wisdom, is found everywhere. every doorway, every statue, every home has fresh offereings placed at least once a day
Zoe takes a dip in holy waters at the water temple!
beautiful paddies that surround Ubud
At a traditional Balinese Kecak Dance
Dancing on burning coconuts at the Kecak Dance
A cooking lesson and a silver making workshop
The Kuningan Ceremony trance dance
Rafting on the Ayung River
Cycling in the rain through beautiful Bali
Indonesia only grants a 30 day tourist visa on entry so last week we flew to Singapore (and accidentally getting ourselves a fine for overstaying our 30 days by a few hours. Doh!). Modern Singapore is already buzzing with Christmas spirit. The shopping centres of Orchard road each trying to outstrip one another with their displays. We catch up with Martin’s cousin Toby and wonderful wife Alice and son Edward, Then yesterday we flew to Sumatra where we’re about to head off into the jungle in search of Orang Utangs, in one of the few places that they still exist in the wild!
Today, we’re having our first true luxury hotel experience of our trip! In what must be one of the cheapest 5 star hotels on earth, the Grand Aston, in Medan, Sumatra, they have a special half price weekend offer. Off the beaten track but living like kings! While Ben and Lara enjoy (gatecrash?) a Sunday special free cake and nibbles reception in the lobby and Martin and Zoe luxuriate in the spa hot tub and sauna, I sit up in our 10th floor room in front of the laptop looking out over mosques and endless traffic, bemos, a procession of some kind… when I’m suddenly aware of the floor moving. The hotel is swaying! For a moment I think I’m perhaps having a giddy turn but then I notice there are coat hangers knocking in the cupboard! I stand up and it feels stronger! Looking out, people seem to be continuing as usual. Its surreal.
It stops after a minute or two – life continues, electricity is still on, coat hangers still again! A little Googling soon shows a 5.8 quake just off the west coast of Sumatra, later reported as a 6.0, confirming what I thought but strangely enough, none of the others felt it at the lower levels of the hotel! Reports show that it was a pretty major thing but I guess here in Sumatra, it’s a little one compared to what they are used to!
News of the N Sumatra earthquake. We are where the blue dot is, 264k from the epicentre. Not too close but close enough to make our building rock!
It seems to suit us to keep our journey plans fluid and simply stop or go where the spirit (or cheap flights) take us! We’ll head to Malaysia from Sumatra, then back to Singapore and hopefully back in Bali for Christmas. After that we just have 7 months left and the itinerary is still evolving. Martin’s Mum has finally sold her house and will be joining us in time for Christmas. After that who knows? Something loosely resembling our previous itinerary and yes, right now, we still plan to be home in early August….. (2014) 🙂