Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving in Bali

Our friends invited us to their home in Bali for the Thanksgiving weekend.  This is the view over the infinity pool to the Indian ocean beyond.  I wish my camera could do a better job of capturing the view.  Surfers' dream waves were right there every day, all day.

Our friends greeted us at the entry to their place - which is often rented for weddings and other special occasions.

We spent a lot of time in the outdoor living room, reading and playing mahjong:

and having daily massages:

We had a traditional American turkey dinner served by a traditional Balinese staff:

John and I spent Black Friday doing a short driving tour of Mount Batur, an active volcano

seeing the rice terraced rice fields

(dodging motorcycles...a constant reminder that we were in Indonesia, not just Bali!)

and visiting the ubiquitous temples.  The Balinese are Hindus who believe spirits and gods are in everything.  They present offerings at every occasion and to every spirit you can imagine.  Their stone carved statues of good gods and evil spirits are everywhere, so it feels like an interior designer planned the island!  

  The art of palm frond weaving for offerings is exquisite!

And after all the touring, I had my traditional afternoon pick-me-up, serenaded by Christmas carols and snowflake decorations (it was about 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity)

A fabulous trip that everyone in Singapore needs to take at least once.  I can't wait to go back!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Deepavali Holiday

Deepavali (also: Depawali, Dipavali, Dewali, Diwali, Divali, Dipotsavi, Dipapratipad ) marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year according to the Lunar Calendar. It literally translated means 'Row of Lights' (from Sanskrit: dipa = lamp / awali = row, line). It celebrates the victory of Goodness over Evil and Light over Darkness - it ushers in the new year.  We did not venture down to Little India so I found a photo of the decorations for you :

We celebrated on Tuesday with a public holiday here in Singapore.  While the States was finishing Veterans Day, we were starting another New Year.  Let's see, we had the Jewish Yom Kippor, now Deepavali, January 1st for westerners, and early February we will have Chinese New Year.  Hmm.  I guess you can follow whatever lunar calendar you want and celebrate all the time!

We spent the day at MacRitchie Reservoir Park, hiking the perimeter trail and then took the Tree Top Walk.  Here is a photo of John high above the trees and thinking about making the bridge bounce and make me seasick. 
We walked for about 3 hours, up and down hill, sometimes on a paved path, sometimes in the mud.  We were only 2K from the end of the trail when the sky opened up for our daily rain shower (make that deluge).   Lots of families and couples like us on the trail, so we all just shrugged our shoulders and marched on!

The Reservoir is famous for its feisty monkeys, but the ones we saw were just minding their own business.  He wouldn't hold still for a good head shot:

Looking down we saw this delightful creature:

We tried a new street for dinner - had some local fair and a beer at a regular outdoor cafe, but as we walked down the street, here are some of the offerings:

(sorry this is blurry... it is pork legs and goose necks on the right)

Next up:  Thanksgiving in Bali!

Friday, November 9, 2012


We spent a day at Australia's National Rhododendron Gardens at peak bloom.  Enjoy!!!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Yarra River Valley Travelogue

I have been savoring the memories of our 4 days in Australia's Yarra River Valley and finally am ready to share them with you.  Just north of Melbourne, this beautiful area boasts mountains, rainforests, valley, farms, wildlife sanctuaries, eucalyptus forests, bike trails, bush walks, lots of wineries and really friendly people.  We found a wonderful B&B in Yarra Junction, the Langbrook Farm, which became our base for a delightful spring stay.

Our porch
Looking out from this vantage point, we could see the cattle and their newborns.  I heard a startling sound and looked up to see these 2 kookaburras arguing with each other and got a quick shot of the two of them:

And then a close-up as one stayed to chat with me:

We visited Red Box Winery at Kangaroo Ground, where John found friends and good CabSav:

And more fun birds

One day we took a short walk in the Rainforest

And on the way back from Mt. Donna Burang, 
we found a spot our boys would love...a hang gliding take-off

Another welcome sign:

Savor the sounds as we tasted the wine:

The bulls were putting on a show for us when we arrived back at the farm:

Next day was biking on the Rail to Trail

And more new birds:

A walk on Mt. Dandenong :

The most beautiful shots will be shared in the next post... but here are a couple of parting shots that make you praise God for His creation: