Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Day 10 – Last Day in Northern Bali

It is hard to believe that in a few days we will be leaving Bali.  Tomorrow morning, we will be making our way to the southern part of the Island to Kuta.  A few days ago, we had a bit of a taste of what the south will be like after our day trip to Ubud.  Ubud was a fun adventure, but very different to our experience in the North.  I understand that since the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” was made, Ubud has exploded into a village that attracts tourists from all over the world.  If you are venturing into Ubud and other southern villages and cities, expect to pay a little more in your shopping adventures.  Fortunately for us, shopping in some of the northern villages, we had a baseline to work with and worked a little harder to get some fabulous deals. 

Yesterday, Tracey and I went for another scuba dive, while our travel buddies, Carol, Kathy, Lena, Paulo and Piero snorkeled.  I found a scuba diving resort located about an hour west of here in Gerokgak.  Reef Seen , is a small diving resort that is committed to the protection of the marine environment.  I met Amanda and Adrian who are originally from Southern England, who came to Bali and met the owner of the resort, Chris, during their travels.  Soon after, they decided to leave their high paced life in England to live their dream of being dive instructors in Bali.  I really enjoyed my chat with Adrian and meeting someone else who is living their dream.  I highly recommend this resort if you are planning on coming to Bali to scuba dive or snorkel.  I hope to come back here again and spend part of my holiday at Reef Seen and take in some more dives.

Today, we are spending our final day relaxing at the Villa.  I cannot remember the last time I felt at peace and so relaxed.  I continue to meet so many wonderful people and I have learned so much from the people of Bali through my observations and images I have taken.  There is something very simple here.  No drama, no feelings of resentment and a sense of inner peace of those I have met in my travels.  Being around all of this is so refreshing and I am bottling it all up to bring it back with me.  I have noticed changes in myself during this time and feeling a sense of peace within.  One common theme I see is compassion for self and others.  There is an understanding here and the people get it.  They have the secret to happiness.  It is not about how big their house is, how nice their car or scooter is, or what clothes they wear.  It is about faith, family and being the best you can be. Here are some images I have captured of some fabulous folks I have met along the way so far.

We came across this fabulous smile along our walk on a beach close to our villa.
These two were entertaining folks outside of an entertainment centre in Lovina
We were invited to watch a group of young dancers and singers one evening in Lovina

We did a four hour trek through the jungles of Bali along Lake Bukur.  We walked through a few temples and I had the pleasure of meeting Myann.  He and I had fun joking back and forth with each other and I managed to capture this one image of him laughing at one of my really funny comments (maybe he was being polite).
While driving along one of the rice fields, we came across some folks working the fields.  

I have a new appreciation for rice after seeing the work it takes to get it to this stage.  These young boys where hamming it up for the camera.
Meet Putu.  Putu is our FABULOUS driver who has taken us to many incredible places in Bali.  During one of our Temple visits, he sat patiently waiting for us and posed for this image.  Thank you Putu, you are fantastic and we will miss you.
Thank you to Tracey Harper for taking this image of me while I was taking a moment on the steps of one of the temples we hiked into.

It has been an honour being here and I will be forever grateful to all the people I have met along the way and my fabulous travel companions, Kathy, Carol, Lena, Piero, Paulo and Tracey.  We have had a lot of laughs and great times together.  

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Day 6 in Bali - Taking the Plunge

Many of my closest friends and family know I have a bit of a fear when it comes to confined spaces and being under water.  Prior to my trip to Bali, I contemplated getting my open water scuba certification, but could not bring myself to do it.  When I got to Bali, I realized there is a whole other part of Bali I wanted to explore…underwater.  I literally took the plunge and signed up for a three day open water scuba diving course with Arrows Diving Centre in Lovina.  Day one, my instructor, Mangku came to our Villa and we did the pool portion of the course.  Mangku was very patient and skilled.  He taught me how to relax underwater and control my breathing and buoyancy.  By the end of the day, I was set to go for my first open water dives, yippee!

My fabulous friend Tracey (who also happens to be a Dive Master), joined along for the adventure to Scuba off of Manjangan Island, which is part of Bali Barat National Park.  Getting into the water, and diving my first three meters was completely out of my comfort zone, especially once I was down 12 meters.  I may have watched too many Jaws movies growing up.  After a few minutes, my breathing and buoyancy were under control and we were descending deeper.  Surrounded by beautiful fish and plant life, I was so distracted by the beauty that being underwater was beginning to feel so natural.  For anyone planning to come to Bali, I highly recommend scuba diving around Manjangan Island.  The coral is incredibly beautiful and you are likely to see turtles, sharks, clown fish and coral rich in colours and texture. 

Yesterday, we made our way along the North Eastern part of Bali to dive Tulamben Ship.  The U.S.S Liberty was the victim to two torpedoes from a Japanese Submarine during World War II.  This ship is 120 meters long and sits along the shores of Tulamben Beach.  I made my way down 18 meters today while we explored the ship.  We came across a beautiful turtle, sting rays and a number of different types of fish, including Nemo and his family.  

After passing all my underwater skills tests and the written exam, I am now a certified open water scuba diver.  Many of the skills tests took me way out of my comfort zone and in time and A LOT of positive self-talk, I worked through my fear.  I am grateful to my fabulous instructor, Mangku for his patience and calming nature.

 I am also grateful to Tracey, for encouraging me, and celebrating my accomplishments.  This has been one of the most challenging things I have done and I have learned a lot about myself during this process.  

Fear is nothing more than an obstacle that stands in the way of progress. In overcoming our fears, we can move forward, strong and wiser within ourselves

Monday, 4 November 2013

Day one in Bali - I am here!

My journey began on Friday morning in Prince George and ended Sunday night after we arrived at our Villa in Northern Bali.  With a flight 14 hour from Vancouver to Hong Kong, four hour flight from Hong Kong to Denpasar, and a four hour white knuckle drive across Bali to our Villa, we made it.  We were greeted by our cook, Katut who had a beautiful meal prepared for us.  For anyone who has taken a long flight, you will understand how good it felt to go to sleep on a flat bed.

I woke up to the beautiful sound of crashing waves, tropical aromas and a view fit for a postcard.  A gorgeous start to the day.  This afternoon, we ventured into a local village to pick up a few items and check out a market.  The people here are so friendly and we met many wonderful locals on our first outing.  I have taken over 100 images today, and I would love to post all of them.  For now, I will only post a couple.  Today, I was able to stand in front of a beautiful temple.  Here in Indonesia, faith is a very important part of life.  As the sun rises, you will see people on the beach praying and leave an offering before they go for a morning swim.  Temples and shrines are everywhere, and at the steps, beautiful offerings are found.  I captured this small temple at one of the nearby villages.

As the sunset was nearing, we walked along the beach in search of fabulous images. I came across this lone flower that was left over from the days offering.  Although a common item to find on the beach here in Bali, to me the first time I have come across something so beautiful on one of my beach strolls.  Something so delicate and colourful, amongst the black sand.

I also came across this beautiful Buddha statue on fence.  I LOVE this statue, the detail is gorgeous. 

I feel so blessed to be here and to have met all the beautiful Balinese people in our travels so far. 

Now I am off to bed…good morning to my friends and family back home.