Mother Nature says goodbye for now on our last full day at the villa in Bali...Romantic notions...Villa review...

This favorite photo bespeaks the beauty of this West Bali location and the divine pleasure we experienced daily overlooking the pool and the sea.
 "Sightings on the Beach in Bali"

This morning's sighting on the beach.  Wow!  Was that intended for us?
Early this morning, shortly after 7 am as the sky began to clear after a rainy night, we stepped outdoors to see this rainbow.  There was a smaller second rainbow at its side although faint and hard to capture in the photo.

Was it Mother Nature saying goodbye to us in those short few moments when it was visible?  It disappeared in less than a minute as the trade winds between us and Java wafted away the awe inspiring view.  We could easily have missed it.  Tom called that rainbow "safari luck."  It was the first we'd seen in Bali.

Although mountains in Java obstructed the final setting of the sun, we were able to capture a portion of its beauty. 
In a romantic way we believe it was intended for us.  Many of the intense pleasures of traveling continuously revolve around "signs," coincidences and optical illusions perceived in our minds as having a special meaning.

Some vacation rentals lend to the perception of romance more than others.  Today, we wanted to share a few romantic notions we experienced in the Beach House West Bali where we've lived for the past almost two months.  It's truly been a lover's Paradise and a traveler's dream come true.

View from the second floor veranda at low tide.
This special property could easily serve well as a vacation home for a family with its four large bedrooms each with an en suite bathroom with two additional water closets on the main floor, one intended for staff located in the garage and another other in the large foyer/dining room.

We didn't use the expansive second story at all where two of the four bedrooms are located including a living room and enormous veranda with views we captured in many photos. 

Creepy looking sea crustacean that "borrows" this shell for protection.
Common in many countries, steps and stairways are often constructed without a full railing  Also, the riser of each step is much higher and different than we're used to which could easily result in a fall if not paying the utmost of attention when taking each step.  This may not be ideal for seniors. 

Not previously posted Praying Manthis reflection on the edge of the infinity pool.

As a result, we opted to stay on the main floor.  Besides, we prefer to hang out on the main floor where all the action is!  For two or more couples or a family, this type of arrangement could be perfect.

The kitchen, which we only used for making coffee, refilling our iced tea and a bit of prep on Sundays when the staff is off, didn't attract much of our interest with the two Kataks on hand to prepare our delicious meals. 

Tom took this photo of an enormous grasshopper yesterday.  Each day we rescued many that were drowning in the pool.
With a comprehensive three-meals-a-day menu for guests, even the pickiest of diners can find options they'll enjoy.  The only restriction is that everyone at the table must order the same menu items (except breakfast) with a few exceptions as described below, although they may chose to swap favorites among themselves at each meal.  It's explained verbatim (rough English translation) as follows in the menu:

"All dishes are made by the staff themselves of local fresh ingredients. You need as a companion during lunch and dinner, to match the dishes on each other.  It is therefore not possible to opt a individually dish for lunch or dinner! This applies to both the appetizer, main course and dessert. From four people, you can choose a second dish.  Breakfast can be chosen individually except bubur ayam (a Balinese chicken dish)."

Here's our link for Part 1 of the villa's menu.
Here's our link for Part 2 of the villa's menu.

Workers harvesting rice.
Our special diet was easy for the cooks to accommodate especially when we only eat one meal a day. We requested our usual coleslaw salad, the stir fried veggies and a protein source. 

Each meal was prepared and seasoned to perfection.
Over the past three weeks we included an added one cup of cooked rice for Tom once we noticed he continued to lose weight even when it was added to his meal a few times a week.

Yesterday, Ribud cut the grass with a grass trimmer/weed whacker while one of the Kataks swept the grass into piles to be cleared. 

As for the cleaning and upkeep of the house and couldn't have been accomplished with more grace and ease, never making us feel as if our privacy was impinged upon.  Kindness, consideration and discretion was observed at every moment by the gentle and conscientious staff. 

The house itself is in excellent repair, having been built four years ago and is continuously well maintained.  The recent falling crown molding we described in an earlier post is inevitable in this highly humid environment. 

Tom's charging buffalo story of a few days ago will always be remembered.
Any deviation from perfection is addressed immediately and resolved with the least convenience to us.  As a matter of fact, any concerns are promptly and meticulously addressed to satisfaction.

Our only issue during these two months has been the quality of the wifi signal which apparently will be improved by the time we return, although over the past several days we've had an improved connection.  Gede promptly contacts the provider when we have an issue which may or may not promptly resolve the connection issues based on the circumstances.

Flowers were placed on the sides of the track as a Hindu offering for a safe and successful race.
For us, the most romantic and ultimately enjoyable aspect to this property (and also the property next door owned by the same party) has been the outdoors where we've spent most of our waking hours, beginning as early as 7 am, ending shortly before dinner when we shower and change to dine.

From the impeccably maintained infinity pool, the comfortable cabana, the multiple seating and lounging areas with hut-type umbrellas, to the chaise lounges we've used daily which are freshly "dressed" each morning with custom made fitted covers and over-sized fluffy towels comparable to what one would find in an upscale resort.

The buffalo race was quite an event!
In fact, living in this fine property is not unlike residing in an upscale resort with every possible amenity available at our fingertips.  Yes, there are some drawbacks mainly as a result of being so far from a bigger city:  no nearby restaurants (who needs restaurants with the fabulous cooks at our disposal?); less immediate sightseeing opportunities; limited supply of local grocery stores carrying few western type products; and, the often poor wifi signal.

Even vegetarians get tarter on their teeth.  He needs a cleaning!
There are always trade offs.  Over the past several days as our first round in Bali comes to a close, we decided we've been easily able to accept the trade offs while living in this fairly remote location. 

If this villa was closer to the airport, as most popular resorts appear to be, the price could easily be five times this daily rate.  End result for us?  A better "bang for the buck" and ultimately a fine property we'd never been able to fit into our budget. 

Buffaloes trying to keep their heads above water while cooling off in the river next door.
In our world travels, its imperative we decide which appeals to us more; quality of location or convenience.  In many cases, we opt for the quality  of the property at times sacrificing convenience, mainly since we stay so long.

The look on this monkey's face made us howl with laughter.
A beautiful environment, often with a certain romantic appeal and its creature comforts and amenities are important to us over the long haul.  In Beach House West Bali, our expectations have been met as we anticipate our return in two months with even a greater degree of enthusiasm than prior to our first arrival.

As for tomorrow's four hour harrowing drive to Denpasar where we'll spend one night?  Its all a part of the experience.  Tomorrow, we'll be back, posting prior to leaving the villa with the final expenses in Bali!  Please check back for the surprising details!

Photo from one year ago today, June 26, 2015:
Scout Island as seen from Trinity Beach, Australia doesn't look too inviting and isn't inhabited.  For more details, please click here.

No haircut for Tom ...Favorite Bali photos begin today...Two days until leaving the villa...Three days until departing Bali...

Our wonderful staff at the villa, the two Kataks and Ribud holding a treasured Blue Fin Tuna which they filleted and cooked to perfection with spicy Balinese sauce, lasting us for a few meals.
"Sightings on the Beach in Bali"
The river is used by many locals for a wide array of reasons including washing motorbikes.
A few weeks ago Gede drove us to a local barbershop for Tom's usual international haircut.  In most cases, we find the experience quite interesting and photo-worthy based on the usual good quality of service and often surprising low cost.

Colorful custom made fishing boats at the harbor in Negara.
As we sat on the rustic wooden bench outside the barber shop awaiting his turn with two customers ahead of him, Tom reconsidered, nudging me, "Let's go. I don't want a haircut today."

What can we say about this, other than its simply adorable?
We're made a pact long ago. If one of us doesn't want to do something, whatever it may be, we don't do it.  For example, when we were in Maui in 2014 and Tom changed his mind about getting our teeth cleaned after we arrived at the dentist's office and were told we'd have to wait for over an hour beyond our scheduled time.  We canceled and left. None of it felt right to him; not the hour long wait or the appearance of the facility.  Here's the link to that story.

Buffaloes on the beach?  Wow, we never stopped enjoying this daily scene!
"Trust the gut," Tom says and there's so much truth in this concept.  On bigger issues such as where we'll travel, how we'll get there and how long we'll stay, its all up for discussion.  In most cases, we readily agree. 

Many nights we wandered outdoor to the cabana to watch the sun going down and to revel in our exquisite surroundings in this exceptional villa.  Click here if you'd like to see more about the villa.
We explained to Gede that we decided against the haircut without a further explanation, preferring not to offend him.  After a  quick stop at the apotek (pharmacy) and little market for a few items, once we returned to the villa Tom explained his reasoning.  It was exactly what I'd suspected.

We're always in awe when we see how resourceful Balinese people are using their motorbikes for transporting a wide variety of supplies.

While we sat on the wooden bench our eyes perused the tiny lean-to type shop, certainly which in itself had no bearing on Tom's decision to leave.  He explained it was a lack of sanitization on the combs and cutting utensils.  How easily he could have ended up with lice.  I'd been thinking the same thing.

Each day, this neighbor, who lives on the road currently under construction, sits under this shelter and weave small baskets used for Hindu offerings.  She always smiles and says hello although she doesn't speak English.  Many Balinese people do not speak English although many speak both Balinese and Indonesian.
In a three days we'll be in Singapore where he'll surely be able to get the much needed haircut in between our three embassy visits and sightseeing.

Rambut Siwi Hindu Temple (Pura Rambut Siwi) in Negara, the largest of three traditional temples located in each town in Indonesia.
Yesterday, we packed our bags. With only a few items remaining including the toiletries we're still using, it won't take us more than a total of 10 minutes to wrap it up. 

Also, we both got busy washing our shoes.  Over these past years of travel we've discovered that many types of shoes can be washed by hand or in some cases, in the washing machine. 

Rambut Siwi Hindu Temple (Pura Rambut Siwi) in Negara is breathtaking in its design and long history.
With no washer available for our use and preferring not to burden the two Kataks with such a task, we handwashed three pairs of shoes with antibacterial soap, which included a pair of my leather sandals.  We left all three pairs drying in the sun with excellent results.  They almost look new.

The glass-like surface of the rice paddies inspired many photos.
We each only have five pairs of shoes. Keeping them in good shape is vital over the next year until we return to the US, when we plan to restock clothing and shoes. Hopefully, they'll last until then. my old life, I'd have never considered handwashing leather sandals other than an occasional wipe with a damp rag.  If they looked worn and dirty, I'd toss them out.  Yesterday, when I placed them in hot soapy water, I giggled over the irony.  How life has changed.

Gede and his parents whom we visited on one of a few trips to Lovina.  It meant so much to us to meet them, especially as Gede has become so dear to both of us.
Here's the rundown for the next few day's posts:
  • Tomorrow:  Villa review and more favorite photos
  • Monday (Sunday in Northern Hemisphere):  Final expenses for Bali and finalizing favorite photos
  • Tuesday:  We'll share comments on the harrowing four hour drive to Denpasar.  We'll also include photos  and review of our overnight stay in Denpasar at a four star Hilton for only US $61, IDR $818,010 a night.   Later in the day, we'll fly to Singapore.

This truly is Indonesian art.
From there, we'll be posting daily from Singapore for one week while staying in a boutique hotel walking distance to Chinatown and the beach.  It should be interesting and enriching between embassy visits. 

May your day be interesting and enriching.


Photo from one year ago today, June 25, 2015:
This beautiful cove was at the end of the boulevard in Trinity Beach, Australia.  For more photos, please click here.

Tom's second biggest scare of his life?...In his own words...Three days and counting...

This buffalo was not happy to see him.  Tom used no zoom to capture this photo when suddenly this monstrous agitated animal approached him.
"Sightings on the Beach in Bali"

Hauling a heavy load of vegetation on the beach.
Up until yesterday morning the most frightening experience of Tom's life occurred while we were sitting on the veranda in Marloth Park, South Africa and he spotted a Mozambique Spitting Cobra next to his bare foot.  Here's the link with photos to that story.

His second most frightening experience since that event in South Africa occurred late yesterday morning when he decided to take a walk in the neighborhood to check out the main road currently under construction which lead to the villas.  We've walked that road many times and he was curious to see how it was coming along.

This is the beginning of paver road under construction at this time.
I was busy attempting to get a good enough signal to upload the post and suggested he go without me.  He grabbed the camera expecting to return within an hour. I never gave it a thought.

Thirty minutes later he returned, sweaty and flushed.  "You won't believe what happened," he said, his voice more intense than usual.

Several workers were involved in the project to pave the road.
"What?" I asked with the utmost of concern while quickly scanning his body up and down for any possible injuries.  In a flash of 10 seconds, I wondered if he'd fallen, although he's as surefooted as anyone I know.

This is the grassy path Tom took in search of photos, never realizing what lie ahead.
Here are his words as to what transpired on the walk:

"The road construction is a 20 day project using pavers/cobblestones.  While the work is being done cars have to drive on a small grassy trail (as shown above) to get to the highway.  

On Monday, when I went with Gede to the ATM, he drove on this path (not really a road) which is used by motorbikes and walking the buffalo down to the beach and the river located near us.

This buffalo snorted and stomped his feet ready to charge.
After taking photos of the road construction, I decided to walk the secondary path to take photos of the cows and buffaloes I'd seen on Monday when I rode in the van with Gede.

As I walked down the path, I noticed two male buffaloes laying down on the backside of a property.  I was walking on the grassy path about 10 meters, 33 feet from the buffaloes when they first saw me.

This is the second buffalo who considered getting into the action.  A cow is behind him seeming totally uninterested in what was transpiring.
One buffalo appearing agitated, immediately standing and snorting.  He was only standing on  three legs since the rope he was tied to was caught and wrapped around his left rear leg. 

Being tangled and seeing me simultaneously obviously added to his agitation.  I stopped dead in my tracks unsure of how secure his thin rope really was and what it was secured to.  My first thought was that he was getting ready to charge me.  This all transpired in a matter of seconds.

He untangled his fourth leg and aggressively began to approach me.  I started walking backwards, keeping my eyes on him the entire time.  Adrenalin kicked in as my heart started racing and I was sweating profusely.

Cows were contained in this roughshod enclosures.
My eyes scanned the area looking for a safe place to retreat in case he got loose.  At this same time the second buffalo, about 30 meters, 108 feet away, stood and approached using all the slack he had available in his rope.

At this point, I slowly backed up out of sight from the buffaloes still checking for a safe exit strategy if either of them charged.  At the same time, I was thinking to myself, "I'm glad I'm by myself and Jess isn't here!"  This way, I was only concerned for my own safety instead of worrying about her safety too.

Finally, I was out of sight of the buffaloes with vegetation blocking our view of one another. Then, I decided to carefully approach in order to take these photos.  I sound like Jess who takes every precarious situation and turns it into a photo op!

Cows often look to see who's passing by but seldom show signs of aggression. 
Originally, my plan was to walk the entire length of the grassy path and return the same way.  So far, I was only one quarter of my way down the path but decided I didn't want to take the risk of passing the agitated buffaloes again, especially when at one point, I'd end up between them on the path, not a good place to be.

I cut the walk short, retracing my steps back down the path constantly looking over my shoulder to make sure the buffaloes weren't following me, all the while thinking how grateful I was to escape and that Jess wasn't with me.

Finally, Tom had returned to the entrance to the villas and the beginning point of the road under construction.  He's was relieved and grateful to have avoided injury.
As I breathlessly told Jess the story, she asked, "Which situation scared you the most, the cobra in South Africa or the two buffaloes in Bali?"  I had to think about it.  In both cases we were in remote areas far from emergency medical care. These thoughts entered my mind. 

Both situations were equally frightening.  But, with the buffaloes I was only fearful for my own safety and didn't have to worry about Jess. So, for that reason, the cobra was scarier and the buffaloes are a close second." 

As Tom told me the story, my own heart was racing over the thoughts tumbling through my mind over what could have happened.  Once again, "safari luck" kicked in and much to my surprise...he still got the photos!

Photo from one year ago today, June 24, 2015:
In Trinity Beach, Australia I stepped out of the car to take this shot.  Tom reminded me that passengers on the ship had told him that the ocean is murky at most beaches in Australia, as opposed to the clear crisp blue waters of Hawaii and other islands. Here's an article about the murky waters surrounding the Great Barrier Reef.  For more details, please click here.

Four days and counting until the four hour harrowing drive...Tools for staying organized...

We printed all the paperwork and documents we could possibly need for multiple upcoming flights and visa applications which will be required on paper at the embassies.  Placing each in its own unique envelope seemed to be the easiest way to find what we'll need.  Also, included are the necessary documents for us both of us to apply online for the renewal of our Nevada driver's licenses, Tom in six months, mine in eight months.  The blue envelope contains extra passport-type photos we purchased here for use in applying for the three visas in Singapore.
"Sightings on the Beach in Bali"
Kids on the beach making sandcastles.  This is universal worldwide.
Originally, when we booked two separate two month stays in Bali in the same property we were hesitant, asking ourselves, "What if we didn't like it? What if for some reason we were miserable?"

At the time, with the commitment to finalize the booking imminent we decided to take our chances.  If we didn't like it we'd find a way to make it tolerable.  In most cases, if a location isn't a favorite, we end up spending a good chunk of our time making plans for the future while we stay busy enjoying the location as much as possible.

Fluffy flowers.
That concept is predicated by a good wifi signal allowing us to do research while the time whittles away.  Although we totally loved the house and the staff in Marrakech, Morocco in 2014, we stayed a little too long for the venue, a total of two and a half months. 

But, here in Bali, in this lovely villa, we feel comfortable and at ease.  Certainly, the wifi signal could be better.  Gede hopes there will be a resolution by our return.  If not, we'll live with it. We haven't been unable to post something each and every day during these past almost two months. 

This flower design is commonly used at the ends of posts in Balinese construction.
Sure, there's always nuances we'd prefer to be different; no flies while we're dining is probably the biggest one.  But then, its a reality of life in many parts of the world. 

While living in Australia, we quickly realized that the flies bite so we had to leave the screen-less doors closed in the heat of the day.  Here in Bali, only on a rare occasion do we feel a nip from a fly, perhaps from a different variety.  I've been able to use only a tiny amount of repellent to keep the mozzies at bay, especially early in the morning and late in the day during dinner.

A wide array of tropical flowers bloom in each location we visit.
No English speaking TV?  No big deal. Four hour harrowing drive from Denpasar to the villa (each way)?  Annoying.  Visa extension requiring three roundtrips at a total of four hours of driving time along with hours of waiting time on each of the three days in order to complete the process?  Bothersome. Poor wifi signal?  Frustrating. No opportunity in this remote area to dine in a restaurant from time to time?  Unusual.

On the flip side, we've loved so much about this location; the fabulous staff and their attentive care; the outrageous food; the exquisite accommodations; the infinity pool; the ocean views including daily wonders on the beach; the local people and interesting culture; and the unusual experiences we had almost daily in one way or another.

Birds and beasts are symbolic in Indonesia designs.
A few nights ago, there was a crab in our bedroom.  That made us laugh.  When does one find a crab in their bedroom?  With a handful of paper towels I picked it up, depositing it back to the beach.  Buffalo on the beach every evening?  Where does one see this?  We've never lost interest in watching them meander along the shore.  It goes on and on which we've shared in post after post.

So now as we wind down the remaining four days at the villa we smile with the knowledge and the acceptance of the few obstacles, while for the first time in our travels, we know what to expect upon our return...another two months in Paradise. 

Neighboring villas also have neatly trimmed landscaping.
Will are readers be bored when we're back here with "same old, same old?"  We hope not and, we have a plan.  During the upcoming two whirlwind months of activity after traveling to Southeast Asia we'll be thrilled for a little downtime while back in Bali to begin sharing stories we'll have saved for our readers. 

We're planning to save many of our Southeast Asia cultural stories especially from the Mekong River cruise (to eventually be posted when we return to Bali), writing the stories as they occur while the information is  still fresh in our minds. 

Bus stop in the neighborhood.
Of course, we'll prepare a shorter daily post in "real time" while on the Mekong River cruise as we experience Vietnam and Cambodia both by land and water since we'll be out on tours most days during the cruise itinerary.

As for Singapore, starting in five days (we're spending one night at a hotel in Denpasar, Bali before the flight), where we'll be for one week, we'll prepare our usual posts with photos as we visit three embassies for the required three visas we need, incorporating sightseeing along the way.  This should be quite an experience it itself.

The Hindu temple often has scary statues to drive away evil spirits.

Today, we'll both pack and weigh our bags, pay the online excess baggage fees and be done. Once again, this will give us peace of mind allowing us to thoroughly enjoy our remaining few days at the villa. 

May your day bring you peace of mind!

Photo from one year ago today, June 23, 2015:

Shopping in Trinity Beach, Australia was as unique as it has been in most new locations. The AUD $227.57 for Woolie's Grocery Store, (aka Woolworth's) translated to US $175.86.  This total didn't include the veggies at US $32.77, AUD $42.41 and Italian sausage at US $13.45, AUD  $17.40.  For more details, please click here.