Making Paper

Pindaya is well known for making decorative paper and umbrellas.

To make the paper, mulberry bark is first soaked for a day or so and then boiled for about eight hours. Then the process of pounding the fibres to a pulp begins. Mashing the boiled fibers is a long process of rhythmically pounding with two mallets.

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When the pulp is soft enough, it’s rubbed into a small bowl of water and swished to mix.

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A rectangular wooden frame with a stretched cotton base is placed into a bath of water. When the pulp in the bowl is liquid enough, it’s  poured into the water. A good swishing spreads the pulp evenly in the water across the cotton base.

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After the pulp has settled, petals and leaves are added to decorate the paper.

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After a minute or two of settling, the frame is lifted from the water bath and put into the sun to dry.

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The finished paper is then lifted from the cotton backing.

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Up next: Umbrellas

Pindaya Caves

The Pindaya Caves date back to the late 1700’s and consist of many chambers filled with approximately 8,000 Buddha statues. Visitors can walk up steep covered pathways to get to the entrance or use a more modern method (car and elevator) to get to the top.

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Steep covered pathways to entrance.

The Archer and Spider outside the caves represent the legend of a giant spider that captured seven princesses and imprisoned them in one of the caves. A prince from Inle Lake bravely battled the spider and shot it with a single deadly arrow.

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The Archer and the Spider.
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Entering the caves.

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Erich and Debra admiring Buddhas.

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Up next: Making paper and umbrellas.

Heho to Pindaya

Our flights within Myanmar were with Air KBZ on planes like the one below. image

Heho airport is very small. We were able to quickly gather our bags and find our guide.

Heho airport.
Heho airport.

The drive to Pindaya was about an hour. We saw villagers bathing and washing clothes. We also saw people farming fields.

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We stopped briefly at a house where a family makes brooms. The security system next door was interesting….broken glass cemented to the top of the wall surrounding the building.

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Inside the house we saw the main room where the father was working and we also got to see their kitchen.

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Up next: Pindaya Caves

 

Balloons Over Bagan 3

After flying over the ruins, pilots landed the balloons on a sand bar just beyond a line of trees.

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Balloons landing next to the Ayeyarwady River.

Chris informed us that our balloon was too far north and that we’d have to land on the other side of the Ayeyarwady River.

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Flying over the Ayeyarwady River.
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Chris planning our landing.

After landing on an island across the river, a crew retrieved our group and took us by boat to catch our bus.

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The crew disassembled the balloon while we enjoyed champagne and fruit on the boat.

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Erich and John.
Erich and John.

We saw a “chicken courier” loading his motorcycle when we got off the boat. Seeing this made me think briefly about becoming vegetarian.imageimageBalloon flight certificate. image

Next up: Pindaya and Kalaw.

 

 

Balloons Over Bagan 1

I’ve never had the desire to ride in a hot air balloon and originally said no to the Ballons Over Bagan option during the planning of our trip. Debra and John opted out as well. Our travel agent highly recommended it so we reconsidered and signed on…….and I’m so glad we did!

We were picked up before sunrise at our hotel and taken to the launch site in a really cool refurbished antique bus.

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John ready to roll at o-dark-thirty.

After arriving at the launch site, we were briefed on passenger safety and then watched the crews inflate the balloons.imageimageSurprisingly to me, the baskets held seventeen people (16 passengers plus the pilot). Below, our pilot (Chris) blasts the burners and we climbed aboard soon after.imageAnd we’re off……imageThe flight was very peaceful and quiet, with the exception of occasional blasts from the burners.imageimageimageUp next: Flying over the stupas and pagodas.

Bagan Lacquerware Workshop

Myanmar has been producing lacquerware for over four century’s. Bagan became the industry’s hub in the 20th century, and in the 1920’s the British founded a lacquerware school in the city to foster the craft.

The lacquerware shop we visited had items for sale on the lower level. The second floor had about 15 people working on various pieces that would eventually end up for sale downstairs.

The first 2 photos below are panoramas of the 2nd floor. Workers can be seen engaged in various stages of lacquerware production.imageimage

The process of making lacquerware includes weaving of bamboo (like in the photo below), molding and drying of lacquer putty, engraving, and polishing. A small bowl can take a few months to complete while a large object with elaborate designs can take up to a year to finish.

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Lacquerware goes up in price based on the finer the detail and the more colors and layers of lacquer applied to the piece (15 coats is the norm for a quality item).

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Erich did some serious negotiating for the goods I wanted. He was so proud of himself that he had me take a picture of him and the salesgirl.

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Next up: Balloons over Bagan.

Bagan

After three nights in Yangon we headed to Bagan. Not having had much down time, Erich and I snoozed during the 1 hour 20 minute flight.

Flight to Bagan.

The Bagan Archaeological Zone is a popular destination for Myanmar’s tourists. Between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in this area (formerly Pagan.) The remains of over 2200 temples and pagodas still survive today.

We stayed at the Aureum Palace Hotel and Resort which has an open lobby and dining area.

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Aureum Palace Hotel & Resort, Bagan.

The hotel villas exteriors resemble pagodas that surround the property. Villa interior photos are below.
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Sink and bathtub.
Shower
Shower
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Pool with pagodas in the background.

Our guide (Ko) took us to a local restaurant for lunch.image

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Up next: Tour of a traditional lacquer ware workshop.

Dhala part 3

During our trishaw ride in Dhala we made stops to visit a few local businesses. The spring roll wrapper shop had two young men making the wrappers and two women doing the packaging.

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Our next stop was at a candle factory.

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This boy and cat were resting near the factory entrance.

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On our way back to the ferry, our guide (Lily) noticed a wedding celebration taking place and arranged for us to check it out. We met the newlyweds and were then invited inside. He is 28 and she is 16.

Just married.
Just married.

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Erich liked the drink we were offered. It was made with milk so I spared myself the digestive agony and did not partake.

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Dhala part 2

Boarded the ferry and ready to take on the day!

Debra, Erich, Paige, and John ready to take on the day.
Debra, Erich, Paige, and John.
Boy selling cracker type food to feed the seagulls.
Boy selling crackers to feed the seagulls.

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As the ferry filled up, people cruised back and forth hawking their goods.

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Approaching the dock.
Approaching the dock.

Watching the passengers exit was entertaining. People were offloading a variety of items. In the second photo below notice the guy with a cart of chickens.

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imageUpon reaching Dhala we traveled by local trishaw (hybrid tricycle and rickshaw) through town. Dhala is very different from Yangon and has many trees, local neighborhoods, and quiet side streets.

Photo with our trishaw drivers.
Photo with our trishaw drivers.
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Riding past some cows next to the path.

John talked his driver into trading places.

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More on the next post: Dahla part 3

Dhala part 1

On our last day in Yangon we took the ferry across the Yangon River to Dhala. Before leaving the hotel to catch the ferry, our guide Lily applied thanaka paste to our faces. The paste is made by grinding the bark of the thanaka tree on a flat, smooth stone with water. The milky yellow liquid dries quickly once it’s applied. Thanaka is valued as a sunscreen and as a beauty product. In rural areas men and women apply it on their arms, legs and faces to prevent sunburn and sun damage. Urban female office workers who spend less time in the sun wear thanaka for its beauty and cosmetic purposes.

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Lily grinding thanaka to make the paste

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Wet thanaka selfie.

We walked past a street market on our way to the ferry.image

Quail eggs.
Quail eggs.
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No clue what this is.
Ferry waiting area.
Ferry waiting area.

I was in awe of this boy reading to other children in the ferry waiting area. They were engaged in the story and not running around. I kept thinking I’d never see this in the U.S.A.

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imageThe ferry arrived and the passengers were  ready to depart.

More on the next post: Dhala 2.

Giant Buddha

The original giant Buddha was built from teak. It can be seen in the photo below but eroded over time from years of exposure to the elements. Look closely and you can see people seated on the Buddhas arm.

Teak Buddha.
Teak Buddha.

A giant 70-meter long reclining Buddha was built to replace the destroyed teak Buddha. A pagoda was also built to protct the new Buddha from the elements. Locals often gather to pay homage and pray to this giant Buddha.

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Buddha getting cleaned.
Buddha getting cleaned.
Erich and our guide Lily reading about the traditional symbols carved in the feet of the statue carved with traditional symbols
Erich and our guide Lily reading about the traditional symbols carved in the feet of the statue.

Stray cats and dogs lounging inside and outside of the pagoda.imageimageimageimage

Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda is the most popular and well-known pagoda in Yangon. The pagoda is one of the main tourist destinations in Myanmar. It is the most sacred and impressive Buddhist site for the people of the Union of Myanmar. Shwedagon Pagoda stands close to 110 meters and is covered with hundreds of gold plates and the top of the stupa is encrusted with 4531 diamonds; the largest of which is a 72 carat diamond. It is considered one of the wonders of the religious world.

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Approximately 89 percent of the Myanmar people are Buddhist. Around half a million young Burmese men are members of a monastic order, and 75,000 women are nuns. The young girls below are orphans practicing to become nuns. They were singing and performing a Buddhist ritual.

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Shwedagon Pagoda is always full of worshippers who pray and light candles. Our guide set up this row of candles which took us about 10-15 minutes to light.

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Yangon

Our Yangon hotel, The Belmond Governor’s Residence dates back to the 1920’s and at one time was the home to the president of Myanmar’s southern states.

The Myanmar hotels and customer service exceeded my expectations. The people we interacted with throughout the country were friendly and quite mellow. Buddhism in action!

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Pool.
The Pool.
Dining area overlooks the pool.
Dining area overlooks the pool.

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Breakfast offerings:

Egg station.
Egg station.
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Variety of meats and cheeses.

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Juices.
Juices in the bar.

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Random Hong Kong Photos

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Struggs buying tickets.
Struggs buying tickets.
Success.
Success.

John & Debra

Paparazzi outside the hotel waiting for Madonna.
Paparazzi outside the hotel waiting for Madonna on the way to her Rebel Heart tour concert.
Peninsula Chocolate chef.
Peninsula Chocolatier.
John sampling the goods.
John in chocolate heaven.

All parts of items created in the chocolate factory are edible. The photos do not do the chocolates below justice.

Chocolate Oscar.
Chocolate Oscar.

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imageThe chocolatiers made two large pieces like the sword below (which we were not allowed to photograph). They  were much more ornate and we think they were going to Madonna’s suite before her arrival later that day. image

UP NEXT……MYANMAR!

Hong Kong hotel

Peninsula Hotel
E & P in front of the hotel.
Our hotel room
Our room.

Hotel room

Bathroom

The rooms had Samsung tablets next to the bed so all lighting, room temperature, fan speed, and curtains could be controlled by using the tablet. Very convenient!

Room tablet
Room controls on Samsung tablet.

The indoor pool is very beautiful. If you’re not going to swim you might as well sit and drink a beer right?

Having a beer by the indoor pool.
The indoor pool.

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The Peninsula Hotel has a room dedicated to history of the China Clipper. It was the first of three Martin M-130 four-engine flying boats built for Pan American Airways and was used to inaugurate the first commercial transpacific airmail service from San Francisco to Manila in November 1935.

The China Clipper

On November 22, 1935, China Clipper took off from Alameda, California in an attempt to deliver the first airmail cargo across the Pacific Ocean. On November 29, the airplane reached its destination, Manila, after traveling via Honolulu, Midway Island, Wake Island, and Guam, and delivered over 110,000 pieces of mail.

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China Clipper map
China Clipper route map.
Clipper propeller
China Clipper propeller.

John’s grandfather Al Rabin and his well traveled brief case are pictured below. Mr. Rabin flew on the second China Clipper flight across the Pacific Ocean. His brief case and photo are displayed with other China Clipper items at the Peninsula Hotel.

Al Rabin photo and briefcase.
Al Rabin photo and briefcase.

Peking Duck dinner on our last night in Hong Kong.

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Peninsula’s transportation fleet isn’t too shabby.

Our airport shuttle provided by the hotel.
We were picked up at the airport by this cool ride.

Peninsula airport shuttle.

Hong Kong day 2

We started the day by taking the MTR (Hong Kong’s underground railway) from Kowloon to Hong Kong island to ride the Peak Tram. The MTR handles about  three million people a day but you’d never guess that based on this pic.

MTR underground railway
Hong Kong Station

The Peak Tram has had a faultless safety record since openning in 1888. A single steel cable hauls the tram up a long incredibly steep track ending at the Peak Tower.

Peak Tram selfie
Peak Tram selfie

The Peak Tower has the highest viewing platform in the city. The Sky Terrace platform is at 1,404 ft.

Sky Terrace viewing platform
Sky Terrace viewing platform
View from the Sky Terrace
View from the Sky Terrace
Debra & Paige selfie
Debra & Paige selfie
John & Debra
John & Debra

Erich’s photo op with Bruce Lee on our way up to the viewing gallery.

Erich & Bruce Lee
Erich & Bruce Lee

I’m ending this post with a few food photos from lunch. I don’t remember what they were…..but they were damn good.

Lunch

Lunch

 

Hong Kong

Hello friends and family,

We have had very little down time so this post is going to be brief.  Our trip will consist of 3 days in Hong Kong followed by 12 days in Myanmar. We’re traveling with our friends John and Debra who are very familiar with Hong Kong. John did a great job of showing us around and took us to some great restaurants.

Incredible view from the helipad on the roof of our hotel:

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Walking around town.image

Buying mangosteen.image

Dim Sum lunch.
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Aston Sunset Beach Resort on Gili T.

Our hotel restaurant on Gili T was located on the beach which had a view of Bali’s highest mountain, Mt. Agung. This mountain is an active volcano that last erupted in 1963.

View from Gili T of the sun setting behind Mt. Agung.
View from Gili T of the sun setting behind Mt. Agung. Photo courtesy of The Schuelers.

Breakfast was included with our room and had options to please anyone. Fruit, juices, cereal, eggs cooked to order, noodle and rice dishes, porridge, salad bar, pastries, etc.

Breakfast at our hotel restaurant.
Breakfast at our hotel restaurant.
Aston Sunset Beach Resort restaurant.
Aston Sunset Beach Resort restaurant.

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Eggs made to order.
Eggs cooked to order.
Porridge
Chicken breakfast porridge.
Porridge toppings.
Porridge toppings.
Cereal, milk, and juices.
Cereal, milk, and juices.
Noodle dish.
Noodle dish.
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Salad bar.
Donuts and pastries.
Donuts and pastries.

For dinner the restaurant offered a Buffett on the beach in addition to their regular dinner menu served inside.

Dinner Buffett on the beach.
Dinner Buffett on the beach.

A few random shots of the hotel property……

Beach in front of the restaurant and hotel.
Beach in front of the restaurant and hotel.
Walkway 5o our room.
Walkway to our room.
Hotel pool.
Hotel pool.
Beach in front of the hotel.
Beach in front of the hotel.
Erich, Kirk, and Ro at the beach.
Erich, Kirk, and Ro at the beach.
Ro at the beach in front of the hotel.
Ro at the beach in front of the hotel.
Erich
Erich at the dinner Buffett.
Grasshopper half the size of a water bottle outside our room.
Grasshopper half the size of a water bottle outside our room.

 

Next stop…Gili Trawangan

All good things must come to an end…..well, kind of.   While Lauri, Charley, and Bruce headed back to Bend, the remaining five of us extended our stay and went to Gili Trawangan (aka Gili T.)  Gili T is about an hour boat ride from Jemuluk Bay in Amed. While the price of our boat tickets included transportation from Villa Paradiso to the bay, we didn’t envision it would be in the back of a truck. I sat in the front with the driver, everyone else and our luggage were piled in the back. We even stopped to pick up another passenger who threw her bag in the back and climbed in. It’s unexpected things like this that add to my love of international travel.

Our ride to catch the fast boat to Gili T.
Our transportation to Jemeluk Bay.

On our way to Jemeluk Bay I shot some video. Click on the link below to see what the majority of the roads we traveled were like:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6QuAS1Mp7U

Boarding the boat in Amed.
Boarding the boat in Amed.

Rochelle and I got a seat inside the boat.

Cramped seating inside the fast boat.
Cramped seating inside the fast boat.

All seats were well equipped with water and plenty of barf bags!

Complimentary water and barf bags.
Complimentary water and barf bags.

Erich, Mary, and Kirk sat in the back of the boat where they proceeded to get wet from water spraying over the side.

Erich, Mary, and Kirk sitting in the back of the boat.
Erich, Mary, and Kirk sitting in the back of the boat.

After arriving on Gili T, we got our luggage and went in search of transportation to our hotel.

Kirk retrieving our luggage.
Kirk retrieving our luggage.

Gili T, Gili Meno, and Gili Air, are very small islands located northwest of Lombok. There’s no motorized transportation allowed on the Gilis. Cidomos (horse carts) operate as taxis and because our hotel was on the other side of the Gili T boat harbor, Erich, Rochelle, and I squeezed into a cidomo with all our luggage for the 15 minute ride to our hotel. Kirk and Mary opted to walk rather than hire another cidomo.

Gili T cidomo (horse cart).
Gili T cidomo (horse cart).

Click the link below for video of our ride to the hotel:

http://youtu.be/GMzlCFT2ygI

Our rooms weren’t fancy…..

Aston Sunset Beach Resort.
Aston Sunset Beach Resort room.
Aston Sunset Beach Resort.
Aston Sunset Beach Resort.

But, we did get rooms with private pools which was very convenient and well worth the extra cost. No walking in the humid heat to use the main hotel pool. Just step outside our room and jump in.

Private pool.
Private pool.

Private pool.

We got settled into our rooms and relaxed a bit then went to dinner. Gili T is known for its’ bar and party scene. The east side of the island is more developed than the west so we opted to stay on the west side away from the loud late night party scene (I guess that means we’re old!) Upon returning from dinner Mary had a little surprise on her doorstep………

Passed out guy by Mary's room.
Passed out guy by Mary’s room.

We thought we were on the mellow side of the island and some drunk guy passed out near Mary’s door.

Goodnight Mary.
Goodnight Mary.

Mary did call security to have them check on this guy in case he was suffering from a medical problem. They laughed and assured her he was just drunk. They also got  him up and told him to go to his own room. I’m not sure how that turned out.

A week in Amed.

After spending a week at Villa Paradiso, here are some observations of Bali in comparison to our travels in Thailand and Vietnam as noted by Erich:image

Temples- in every village, there is one temple for each of the three major gods. And often times there are temples for the lesser gods. Most residences have a temple as well. So Bali has temples everywhere. But, they are pretty pedestrian compared to those in Thailand and those that still remain in Vietnam. Balinese temples seem to be more use oriented (practical?) and less ornamental.

Celebrations- the Balinese (and perhaps all Hindu people) have many, many of these. It seems like there is no invitation. The whole village just shows up.

People- they were all very warm and kind. Good senses of humor. But, the caste system that exists is a drag. It is hard to get too close to them as a result.

Transportation- a big bummer. I don’t feel like we saw a lot of Bali and I wouldn’t want to try. The roads are too narrow, windy, steep, etc. And the traffic, roughly 2/3s scooters and 1/3 cars, is too congested. Even a short excursion can take 30-45 minutes. A 30 mile trip, at least where we were, took 90 -120 minutes. So, being stationed in one great place, which we were, is critical to a relaxing vacation on Bali.

 

 

Special dinner and Balinese dance at Villa Paradiso.

The last night at Villa Paradiso we ate a special meal prepared by the staff and then watched some local kids perform traditional Balinese dances.

The centerpiece and all the hanging decorations were hand made by the staff.

Dining table decorations.
Dining area and table decorations.

Dining table decorations.

handmade decorations
Handmade decorations.

We took a lot of time to admire the decorations and food in spite of Kirk’s encouragement for us to “dig in.”imagePresentation is everything……..or so they say. None of us had ever seen a whole chicken presented with a flower in its’ mouth, or with its’ head still attached for that matter.

Chicken with a flower in its’ mouth.
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Curry dish, chicken and fish satay with two dipping sauces.
Komang serving Lauri.
Komang serving Lauri.
Komang serving Rochelle
Komang serving Rochelle
young girl performing a traditional Balinese dance.
Young girl performing a traditional Balinese dance.
Two brother (age 6 and 14) performing a traditional Balinese dance
Two brothers (ages 6 and 14) performing a traditional Balinese dance.
Group shot of the kids that danced for us.
Group shot of the dancers.

 

 

Pura Lempuyang Luhur video

As mentioned in the last post, Erich, Charley, Kirk, Mary, and Bruce hiked to the Pura Lempuyang Luhur temple. My travel book states that reaching the temple involves a two hour climb up 1700 stone steps. Below are links to video shot by Erich with our GoPro (now referred to as our “finger cam”).

Video 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9kWVGwhwMw

Video 2  http://youtu.be/zGFYxeykTkw

Video 3   http://youtu.be/QpZuG15NPUo

Video 4  https://youtu.be/0JgG9bBChsk

Video 5  https://youtu.be/xfLsxNgkB8E

Video 6  https://youtu.be/0id1HZzfWSQ

Video 7  https://youtu.be/i43SEOaXL8I

Video 8  https://youtu.be/413Vp1IKY8g

Video 9  https://youtu.be/C3vrV5501H8

Video 10  https://youtu.be/TZtVmG-8Cr4

Video 11 https://youtu.be/t-YkwcmyM2U

Video 12  https://youtu.be/8i5vHL5ODOg

Video 13  https://youtu.be/4zs8eMSePIw

Video 14  https://youtu.be/lBYKB8mynWE

Video 15  https://youtu.be/4_GhbyM6Dq0

Video 16 https://youtu.be/yqUoEt6ix8M

 

 

 

Bringing home the bacon.

On the day Erich, Bruce, Mary, Charley, and Kirk went to climb the 1700 steps to visit the Pura Lempuyang Luhur temple, Rochelle left at 5:00 am to get in another day of fishing.

This is Charley’s photo taken from the top of the temple.

View from the top of Pura Lempuyang Luhur.
View from the top of Pura Lempuyang Luhur.

Rochelle’s photo below is proof of another successful day catching Mahi Mahi. She brought 5 fish back to the house and gave the rest to her boat captain.

Ro's haul of Mahi Mahi.
Ro’s haul of Mahi Mahi.
The provider.
The provider.

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Mahi Mahi dinner. Thanks Ro!
Mahi Mahi dinner prepared by the house staff.

Lauri and I had more serious business to take care of.

Skip-Bo match.
Skip-Bo match.