Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The end

We have reached the end of our vacation.  Surprisingly, we did not tour any temples, or visit farms, or do a lot of shopping, but we had fun.  Our vacation routine was simple but relaxing.  In the morning Babes would wake us up and we'd watch an hour or so of cartoons, this was followed by breakfast at the hotel and then off to the pool.  After the pool we'd hit the town for lunch, then back to the room for quiet time and then back to the pool.  We'd end the day with dinner then off to bed to repeat the next day.  I thought I'd get bored with this routine, after all we were on vacation for two weeks, but it was relaxing and nice.  I didn't even feel the need to get a massage or a pedicure (even though I really did need a pedicure). 
Some thoughts on Bali....  First of all, the weather was GORGEOUS!  Big blue skies, just the slightest touch of humidity to soften the breezes, and the temperature hovering right on the edge of hot.  I think part of the reason we were reluctant to do anything was that we just wanted to soak up those blue skies.  Coming from the grey days of Chengdu, blue skies are worth just sitting around in. 
Second, the Balinese seem very friendly.  They have that old fashioned customer service with a smile that you don't see very much anymore.  I saw very few people with evil scowls.  I wondered if the smile was the default expression of the Balinese and they were really happy at all.  But i decided that I didn't care.  I can't stop you from thinking bad thoughts about me, at least this way everyone looks pleasant. 
Third, like Taiwan, religion in bali was part of their daily life.  In front of every business, in the entrances to restaurants, every so often on sidewalks there were these little baskets of fruit, flowers, and rice that I assume were offerings to a God (are Hindu Gods Gods or gods?).  There were tons of little mini temples or mini shrines everywhere.  Driving from place to place you could see larger temples with people attending services in the neighborhoods we passed.  Bali reminded me that Islam and Hindu are two religions that I know very little about. 
Despite the touristy nature of Bali I really enjoyed myself.  It is very nice to have the infrastructure there and not have to worry about little things, for instance everyone that we encountered spoke enough English to make transactions.  I had drinks with ice in them (something I generally don't do when I travel) and didn't have tummy troubles. 
Bali October 24, 2011

In Bali

My first impression of Bali was not a favorable one.  I have heard over and over again about the beauty of Bali, but my first thought after getting out of the taxi in Sanur was "tourist trap".  Indeed this is the first place that we've been that has been so built up for tourists.  The place where we stayed was on a long street stuffed full of tourist restaraunts, massage parlors, and souvenir shops.  It was a little weird.  (what is weirder is that I'm not someone who ever wants to get in touch with the native peoples or their whatever, so for me to be saying this is very odd) However after we went to bed and woke up the next morning to a brilliant blue sky and weather that was perfect, not too hot, not too cold I began to see the attraction.  Despite the various tours that we could take to jungles, native villages, farms, or whatever, we spent almost all of our Bali vacation by the pool.  The beautiful sun and the perfect weather did not inspire us to trek anywhere but to the pool.  We did make it to the beach (Sanur beaches are NOT attractive) and then we went right back to the pool.  The same was true for Ubud, although we did make it to the elephant farm which was alot of fun, but as soon as we were done we were right back pool side again.  We have reached the end of our journey in Musadooah and the beaches here are beautiful, I would write more, but we are off to the beach. 
Bali October 20, 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sudden Showers

An interesting thing about the tropics are the sudden rain storms that will blow in from seemingly nowhere.  On our last evening in Kuching (which means cat in Malay) as we set out for dinner we noticed sinister clouds in the sky.  We hurried out to dinner carrying our umbrellas with us thinking that even if it rained we would be covered.  Little did we know that rain in Malaysia does not mean light drizzle or even the type of heavy rain you get in the US.  No, Malaysian rain storms give a new meaning to the term torrential downpour.  As we were sitting in a food court that specialized in seafood the skies opened up and it rained in a steady sheet for at least an hour.  At some point we realized that it was not really going to stop so when it lightened up to a heavy rain we made a break for it. 
But more on the food court...  The Top Spot, which is what the food court was called, specialized in sea food.  Now, as I've gotten older I've gotten a lot more picky about what I put in my mouth.  I've become one of those travelers that I used to scorn.  I will eat at McDonalds if I have to, rather than eat at some local hole in the wall.  The problem with local hole in the walls, is that you never know if eating there is going to be a great experience or if you are going to sit on the toilet for the next three days wishing you were dead.  But I digress.  At first blush the Top Spot did not look like some place that I wanted to eat in.  Plastic tables and chairs, sea food out on display, and dim lighting which made it look dingy.  But as we got closer I noticed the smell-or rather lack of a smell.  Despite all the sea food everywhere I did not smell old sea food at all.  In fact, there was a curious lack of smell.  And despite the dinginess of the place it was very very clean.  So we sat down to eat, and we ate, and we ate, and we ate some more.  And it was good.  It all tasted very fresh and flavorful.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Welcome to Oz

We have left the gray and gloom of Chengdu for the rain and sudden showers of Malaysia.  Babes was amazed by the brightness of the Malaysian sunshine and the colorful foliage even around the airport.  Her first comment upon seeing the landscape outside of the airport windows was "It's just like Oz!"  I laughed her off at first, but I can see how she might draw the parallel.  We just finished reading the Wizard of Oz in chapter book form last month (If you have a 4 or 5 year old Oz makes a wonderful read aloud book) and just watched the movie for the first time a couple of days ago (part of my project to get Babes into reading, we'll read a chapter book and then watch the movie).  Like Dorothy we left the dull gray sunshineless Chengdu (yes, the long dark of the Chengdu fall/winter/spring has started) flew through the air, only to emerge into a country that is filled with warm bright sunshine and beautiful colorful flowers.
We are not jet lagged, but we flew overnight to get here so yesterday we walked around in a bit of a haze.  Hopefully today will be better and colorful pictures are to follow.