Latest Event Updates
Starting with a few updates from home here in Bali….the duck lives and is well.
I posted a video the other day of a dog we stopped to help on the side of the road, who was being eaten alive by maggots. He was severely dehydrated and lethargic. Between my friend, Moon, my mom and I, we gave him lots of water, called a vet, who gave him a shot that made all his ticks fall off and the maggots come crawling out of him by the hundreds. We have all checked on him often since then – making sure his owner is feeding him well and giving him his meds and water, and now after a little surgery at the vet and lots of antibiotics, he is happily walking around wagging his tail.
Cheers to Chico the dog!
Our sweet friends, Ana and Thierry, had a beautiful 9.6oz baby boy and have named him Pierre. He is so big and so dang cute. We had a fun gathering with them and many other friends at our villa and feasted a couple days before she went into labor.
Speaking of babies, our beautiful little grand daughter, Zailyn, is growing beautifully! She will be 1 on January 27th, so we will be flying the US to celebrate her big day with her and her Mummy and Daddy. I can’t wait to kiss that sweet little face!
A couple nights ago, some friends of ours invited us to join them at the Jimbaran Fish Market for dinner. We hadn’t been there yet, and immediately agreed to join them. We all met at our house and in one big scooter gang, drove an hour to Jimbaran. Mycah and her passenger were jolly stylish in their watermelon helmets! We call them Mellonheads.
As we parked our scooters the stench of fish hit me square in the face. It was getting dark outside, so as we entered the tented fish market with lights shining brightly, it took a second for my eyes to adjust…long enough for me to not see the deep puddle of stinky fish juices that I stepped right in to! I’m always either barefoot, or, when I have to I wear shoes, I wear flip flops. In this lovely puddle I was standing in flip flops. The first couple steps I took out of it shot fish cocktail up all over my back and every step after that was deliciously sticky. Yummy!
Spread out in front of us were rows and rows of tables, all covered in containers of every kind of fishy thing you can imagine.
Rather than breathing in and smelling the fish potpourri, I found myself breathing only through my nose and talking like I had a cold. As we passed by tubs of shrimp,
octopus, squid and fish, I couldn’t help but think of the many times I’d been in the ocean swimming along side these gorgeous creatures as they swam freely.
I felt especially bad as we passed by some cute little sharks who were lying wide eyed and limp.
For about 600,000 IDR ($45), we bought 10 kg of fish, shrimp, squid and clams, and took our stash across the street to a restaurant where they take your goods, weigh them, and cook them up for you.
All our food was cleaned and laid out on a giant BBQ, while we relaxed and enjoyed ourselves in conversation and cold drinks.
My mom enjoyed her favorite – a delicious, fresh coconut.
Before long, our table looked like a Las Vegas Seafood buffet, with deliciously seasoned shrimp, BBQ clams, savory fish and the most amazing calamari.
I thought to myself several times that I wished Danny was with us and I couldn’t wait to bring him here.
What a feast!!!
By the time we were done, we were so full, and my flip flops were permanently glued to my feet. As we climbed aboard our scooters and drove the hour home – cool air in my…helmet, I just knew at some point the smell of fish would stay behind. When walking into my room that night, still smelling like a dead fish, I pulled off my dress and smelled the back of it where my shoes had flipped up fish smoothie, and about puked. I jumped into the shower, scrubbed thoroughly and washed my hair, them burned my dress out on the sidewalk. (Ok just kidding, but I thought about burning it!)
We’ve been living in Bali for 3 months now, and in those 3 months Danny has spent 5 nights at home. He has accepted a position as a pilot for a young billionaire who keeps his jet in Beijing. In the past 3 months Danny has been flying him back and forth between Beijing, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore etc…A couple of weeks ago he called saying he was coming home for 9 days, and ended up being able to stay for 4, and last night he arrived home around 10pm, and upon landing, received an unexpected email saying he needed to head back at 7am this morning because the owner wants to go to Shanghai. So, once again he’s gone! I’m so glad he loves what he does. We miss him so much when he’s gone and appreciate his hard work.
Jude is currently in Australia. She’s been spending the last week with her South African side of the family in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast, and is helping our friends, the Murry Family, work on their sailboat, Pandora. Within the next few days they will be setting sail to explore the beautiful waters around Australia.
In the mean time, we continue to explore Bali and enjoy the culture here. Recently, the streets have been decorated with beautiful traditional Balinese decorations to celebrate Galungan. It marks the time when ancestral spirits came and visited the Earth, and the good spirit, Dharma triumphed over the bad spirit, Adharma. One of my favorite decorations, is Penjor, which is an offering to express gratitude for life. A tall decorated bamboo pole is secured by the roadside, and the upper end that curves represents the peak of the sacred mountain, Mount Agung, and the very end represents the tail of the Barong (good spirit).
Penjor stand tall in front of each Balinese home for the holiday and are also used in temple ceremonies.
Women carry their offerings on their heads much of the time and remind me of those I’ve seen carrying all sorts of things the same way in Africa.
We took my mom to see the beautiful rice terraces, where layers of green stack like pancakes,
and hard working farmers stand bent over hour after hour tending to their crops…stopping only for prayers and sacrifices to the Gods.
The markets were busy as vendors spend their days bargaining with Westerners who want a good deal.
So many of these hand made crafts are created here in Bali, then shipped all over the world, marked up and sold for more.
Some of the stalls are so stacked with product, the goods seem to swallow people up inside where they’d never be found again.
Markets are perhaps some some of my favorite places. I love the people, the energy, the colors and textures.
Smells draw me in, as the scent of curry powder, incense, fruit and flowers fill the air. When it’s extra humid, the pleasant aromas are periodically interrupted by patches of sweat, garbage and fish. An aromatic buffet.
We walked down paths past beautiful moss covered temples that seem to have been forgotten,
and thatched roofs stacked like totem poles.
Every peak, every step and every level is symbolic in Hinduism…all a carefully planned and created masterpiece for the Gods.
The air is so thick with moisture from recent rain, it gathers and drips, saturating the ground once again.
Some walls never seem to dry and become a perfect base for vines and tiny beards of moss.
We finally head home as midday light finally makes its way through the trees and lights up fern like stained glass along the walls. I love immersing myself in nature because it is simple, and beautiful.
Our second day on Nusa Penida was another fascinating one. Jude and Mycah’s bruises from the previous days scooter mishaps were wonderful colors, and their scrapes were scabbed over. While others still slept my mom and I went for a stroll to check out the neighrborhood.
Fishermen were securing their boats on land, after unloading their morning catch.
Temples looked beautiful in the morning light,
and so did the beautiful flowers all around.
Locals sat quietly, watching people walk and bike past their warungs (little shops),
while others made morning offerings to the Gods.
We thanked the people running the place we stayed at, and set out for the underground temple. En route we stopped at a beautiful beach, where some of us collected shells while others skipped rocks.
We always love our beach time!
We reached Pura Goa Giri Putri, the underground temple, and parked our scooters under some trees. Some Hindu men were preparing decorations for the next days Galungan, which is a celebration of the triumph of Dharma over Adharma, or good against evil.
We rented sashes and sarongs, necessary for entering all Hindu temples, and began our climb up the many concrete steps.
The sign at the temple entrance encouraged us to maintain heavenly thoughts, words and deeds.
As we neared the entry to the temple, we could hear a bell ringing, and rounding the corner, we could see from where it came…
A priest was making offerings, seated at a small altar. The smell of incense filled the air.
Though we had to get on all fours to enter the cave, it quickly opened up to a large chamber (262m in length), thought to be dated back to the Neolithic era.
Bats flew around freely and huddled in groups on the ceiling.
“Giri” means ‘hill’, and “Putri” means ‘female’, so the cave was given the name because it represents Siva, the Goddess who possess the nature to protect, nurture and love human beings. When times were dangerous and difficult the cave was used for protection.
Many small altars are set up throughout the cave, which can fit 5000 people during ceremony.
A priest blessed each of us with holy water and placed rice on our foreheads, temples and throats.
The holy water comes from a small pond up inside the cave.
When exiting, the final chamber has two different worshipping areas and everything is donned in the color red.
We had heard of a village where weaving is the main craft, and wanted to check it out. After grabbing some bottles of water and conversing with a beautiful little old lay, we headed our beastly bikes down the road to find it.
Tanglad, the weaving village, was a very sleepy little place.
So sleepy in fact, that we saw no weaving and very little sign of life! So, after asking two young men on the street – who looked at us like we were from another planet, we moved on.
We drove for hours, admiring the beautiful forests, rice paddies and shorelines, and finally made our way back to the bike rental to return the scooters. The view of Aging was picturesque, with fishing boats in the foreground, as we boarded the ferry back to Bali.
We feel like we saw Nusa Penida pretty thoroughly, and enjoyed the sites of yet another gorgeous island. We live in such an incredibly beautiful world! I am grateful to be a small part of it.
So much has happened over this last week and every night I’ve fallen into bed, exhausted. My sweet Momma arrived and it has been wonderful to have her here. She loves scooter rides even though she has constant helmet hair like the rest of us!!!
We hit the ground running with a watercolor painting class,
and a fun work Halloween Party with 24/7 Pilots! Aidan was a 70’s dude, Emma a pineapple, Jude was Ace Ventura, Mycah an 80’s workout chick, my mom a pirate and me an old lady who’d lost her dog and from behind one could see I’d sat on it.
Nico, Daniel and Teresa looked fabulous too!
We wanted to have one last pow wow with our dear friends, Teresa, Daniel and Nico, before they left Bali to continue on with their journey. We decided on taking a backpack each and spending a couple of days on Nusa Penida.
After a 45 minute ferry ride, we walked over and rented 5 scooters for $120 for two days, and set out on our grand adventure. We quickly discovered that the scooters had extremely bald tires and very little break power, but none the less, served as great all terrain vehicles. We snorkeled for a bit at Crystal Bay, but the clarity wasn’t great due to some funky current and surf (which doesn’t show up in the photo!).
Our adventures took us down roads that would have been unnerving in a 4WD Jeep! Broken asphalt, sand, loose gravel and rocks provided hair raising slides and bumps on the scooters, and Jude and Mycah have the scrapes to prove it.
But, we did reach breathtaking views and traveled through gorgeous scenery.
Kelingking Beach was one of our favorite places. Rock pools far down below from cliffs reaching skyward, were a beautiful scene. I love the eroded rocks gathering water in small pools, providing exquisite variety of texture and color.
Massive waves swelled and crashed into rocky coast line,
then receded to reveal tiny waterfalls reaching down, back into the sea.
A small canyon had formed on the rocky shore, and down inside its saddle, tide pools in inviting colors called to me.
Perhaps the most magnificent scene in the area was, in my opinion, a place called Broken Beach. A sea arch is the only entrance into the beach area from open ocean, and water movement is impressive.
A large bowl with swirling turquoise water, gorgeous waves and a perfect beach, are what one see’s when stepping to the edge to look down inside.
I stood memorized, watching the waves rolling in, soaking in the peaceful sound and colors.
I could have sat watching for hours….
Another gorgeous place we explored, was Atuh Beach, where a rock formation resembles a T-Rex’s head with a gaping mouth.
Tho colors or churning water around a nearby sea stack, reminded me of our back yard in so many places when we lived on Tanda Malaika.
To try and imagine the impressive size of these cliffs, compare the size of the person walking on the beach in this photo.
When I returned from the hike I found my Mom resting with her head on her arms, and brought her a cool, refreshing coconut to hydrate.
At the close of this first day of exploring Nusa Penida, we were thoroughly exhausted, and my mom felt like her tail bone would never be the same again, but we had smiles on our faces and wonderful memories and images fresh on our minds. We sat at a quaint motel and watched the sky darken around Mount Agung. A small amount of smoke could be seen rising from the crater. It is only here, in this setting, that we feel just how large the rumbling volcano is, and all commented on how insignificant it mades us feel.
I’m not sure what words to use to describe just how excited we are – maybe ecstatic? Thrilled? Coruscating? What ever it is, we are far beyond it because my mom will be arriving for a 2 month visit, on Friday night.The last time we were all together was when we still lived aboard Tanda Malaika and were in Puerto Rico last year.
She may be 70, but she has a young soul and has as much energy and spunk as anyone I know. The creatures call her Ouma, because that means grandmother in Afrikaans, to me, she’s Mommy, but really she’s an Angel.
Danny has been gone for 8 1/2 weeks now, and will be gone about 3 more. We have to make sure we FaceTime periodically so we don’t forget what each other looks like…We miss him very much and can’t wait for his return.
Our final day of exploring West Bali was a wet one, and we had many miles to cover.
We passed by some flooded rice paddies that, as always, were so picturesque.
It fascinates me how they are irrigated. Rice requires so much water – on average it takes 1432 liters of water to produce 1 kg of rice. Irrigated rice consumes about 40% of the worlds irrigation water (about 30% of the worlds fresh water resources.)
Land is terraced to allow easy flow of water, and continuous flooding provides the best environment for growth. The constant flow also cuts down on the amount of weeds.
We stopped at a lookout where we enjoyed a beautiful view of twin lakes, Buyan and Tamblingan.
Close by, were fields of small red chillies,
lettuce, cabbage and tomatoes.
A beautiful farmer worked skillfully and swiftly through her crops.
I am always amazed at how hard working the Balinese women are. Their jobs are every bit as difficult as the mens. Here, another farmer holds rice stalks in her hands, shaking loose the individual rice grains.
We’ve also passed by women – many in their old age, carrying large cinder blocks on their heads up uneven staircases and down winding paths.
Our dear friends, Erika and Ian, revisited visited Huahine, and sent us these photos of Tanda Malaika. She is perched in a beautiful spot with an amazing view, and will be a gentleman’s home on land.
Thank you so much Erika and Ian for sending us these. I have to admit I shed a few tears when I saw them, but in some way it brings some closure, knowing where she is and it definitely beats seeing her broken down and in a dumpster.
Our second day of exploring west Bali took us to an area called Banyuwedang. It is less than 2 km east of Pemuteran and is important in Balinese belief.
Folklore states that when the temple was founded by a 16th century priest, Nirartha, he was led by Macaque monkeys. Out of respect for him, they settled as temple guardians, and continue to guard the temple today.
There are a few theories concerning the temples original use, one being that it served as a check point for Chinese seafaring merchants, while other theories state that it was dedicated to sailors and fisherman departing Bali – a place for final prayer prior to a voyage.
Spunky monkeys surrounded that area and showed far more attitude and aggression than other monkeys we’ve become acquainted with in Bali. As I approached the temple steps, I was met by an ornery cuss who showed me his teeth while being groomed by his girlfriend. As soon and I stepped farther away from him he relaxed once again.
We sat on a wall opposite the temples and watch a group of monkeys on the beach, and witnessed the most curious thing…
I’d always been taught that monkeys intensely dislike being in the water, but these guys were jumping in, diving down and swimming around.
If you haven’t seen the video I recorded and posted to my Facebook page (Belinda Govatos), check it out! It cracks me up. They jumped out into the water, then wrestled in the surf.
After cooling off for a while, they’d walk their drenched bodies out, dry off, then jump back in again.
We were all fascinated and watched them for a long time.
One of these sneaky little guys stole my 55mm camera lens and took it diving. I’m sure they have quite the stash of treasure buried somewhere there. Someday I’d like to enter the water a short distance away with scuba gear on and surface close to them and scare the bejeebers out of them!
We drove to an area called Pemuteran, where we boarded a wooden boat and motored out to the island of Menjangan.
Aside from Jordan, we were a boat full of sailors, and it felt so good for us to be back on the water once again – even if it wasn’t on a sailboat. Dressed in our dazzling snorkel gear, we plunged into the coolness of the water and found ourselves instantly immersed in a wonderland of corals, fans and exquisite marine life.
Anemones and clown fish in all colors and patterns were on the reef.
I could watch them for hours. We dove down exploring a wall that ran farther than we could see in some places, and the depths called to me. I wanted to be a mermaid for the day and stay down for hours. I will keep searching for that magic lamp to rub…(maybe the naughty monkeys have it)
It made me so happy to see the creatures enjoying the place they love so much. There’s just nothing like being in the ocean.
We swam with beautiful schools of sergeant major, tuna and raccoon butterfly, and past blue starfish and deep red sea fans.
When we were on the boat I was talking to our guide about my love for the ocean and he told me that he is working on a project of rehabilitating dying coral and reintroducing it to the reef. He took us to see it but photos didn’t turn out because visibility was poor. He has large metal cages that have electric current flowing through them. The current encourages calcium growth and the coral loves the calcium and grows beautifully on the cages. I grabbed a hold of the cage for kicks to see if I’d get shocked, but the calcium build up prevented me from getting shocked. Its fascinating.
Not a day has passed since our shipwreck where I haven’t looked at boats online. Just to dream. I am grateful for our experiences now, but long for the sea.
For a whopping $260, Teresa and her two boys, and me with 5 of my creatures, hired a 15 passenger mini bus with a driver, to explore the north west side of Bali for 3 days. Made (Ma-day) was our driver, and our chariot was huge, with plenty of room for everyone to stretch out and enjoy the sights.
We told Made that we had some places picked out to see but wanted to just drive and pull off at spots that caught our eye. We each packed a back pack, some snorkel gear, and cameras, and set out on our adventure.
Made suggested we make a couple stops – the first being in Gianyar at the Batik Factory. We were shown how women use a pencil and trace a print onto white fabric,
then use gold paint to outline the pattern,
followed by various layers of dye and wax.
Sometimes stamps are made by carving intricate designs into wood, then dipped into paint and stamped onto the fabric in a pattern.
In the end when the fabric is immersed in hot water and all the wax is melted off, the wax can be reused for the next batik. The factory was full of beautiful fabrics,
silk scarves, ties and other clothing.
They also had a large loom where a woman was weaving cloth.
The thread was first laid out so a pattern could be designed. On the left the different colored thread that make up the pattern are not in place yet, where as on the right they are.
Once the pattern is determined, the thread is unraveled and prepared for the loom, then slowly woven into place. It’s an amazing process.
Made’s second suggestion took us to the UC Silver Factory. We were first led through an area that reminded me of a sweat shop of sorts.
Small desks each outfitted with a lamp where workers sat, hammering, filing, heating and shining pieces of silver,
It was so hot in there and I could not imagine doing such tedious work hour after hour under a lamp – day after day.
Each employee is searched when they exit the room. This woman was making the tiny 4mm rings that one would slide a chain through and place pendant on, on a necklace. One tiny ring at a time…
We walked over to the showroom, where more jewelry is displayed than I’ve ever seen in one place in my life. My sister would love it! So many over priced silver rings, bracelets, necklaces, pendants and brooches galore! We weren’t allowed to take photos inside, but it’s impressive. Th exterior of the building is covered in sculptures of dragonflies,
and more frogs!
We continued north on our journey, passing through many small villages, rice paddies and forests. Looking down off a tall bridge, made Jude a little nervous, but the view was beautiful
Close by, farmers carried bundles of freshly hand cut weeds for animals to consume, while others worked in the fields.
We stopped down the road to look out over the foggy valley and Aidan spotted an abandoned hotel that he so badly wants to go back to and explore.
Driving past mountain sides with large patches of cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, tomatoes and chillies, made me want to design and create a quilt.
We arrived at Kebun Raya Bali (Botanical Gardens), which is in the mountainous regions of Bedugul. The gardens were established in 1959 and are filled with gorgeous tall trees,
amazing tree top fun (which we didn’t do because it was pretty expensive),
and a Karate Kid look alike!
Jude climbed up on the same little perch and told me she was “stumped” (so full of puns). The gardens were divided up into many areas – each with a different kind of flower. Most of the orchids were not in bloom, but those that were, were so beautiful.
I’m convinced that orchids and octopus are somehow distantly related…
Each blossom has such a unique little face. I think it’s sticking its tongue out at the ant.
As we approached the cactus house we could see mischief in the works. A barrel of monkeys had dumped garbage all over and were rummaging through it.
Gorgeous blooms spread out from thick green cactus,
strange sci-fi looking pods and
tiny flowers nestled deep inside the mother plant, all caught my attention, holding me hostage as I studied them in awe.
I had seen them all before but never tire of their beauty.
Outside, beds filled with bright red lilies stood tall and proud.
Emma found a flower on the ground and decorated her face…
We walked and explored and sat and talked, enjoying the cool mountain air.
All of us noticed the huge difference in air quality between the southern, more populated part of the island, to here where cars and scooters by the 1000’s aren’t polluting the air.
We felt like we wanted to take huge breaths of air and feel the clean coolness through our bodies.
After leaving the botanical gardens we stopped by a farmers market on the way to the water temple.
Delicious fresh fruit lay beautifully on display and vegetables looked so clean and orderly.
We tried some of the dried food that was so neatly packed up for sale, and were surprised by the delicious taste of the spinach.
After meandering through the market place,
we once again loaded up and set out for Pure Ulun Danu Beratan.
This temple is on the shores of Lake Bratan at 1200 m above sea level, and is used for offerings to the water, lake and river Goddess, Dewi Danu.
The 11 story pelinggih meru in the complex, is dedicated to Shiva (a Supreme Being) and Parvathi (the Goddess of fertility).
The grounds surrounding the area are beautiful, with bright flowers,
and majestic entry ways.
While there we heard music and saw a procession of Hindu’s, carrying offerings and making their way to the temple for ceremony – all led by a priest in a black and white checkered sarong, representing good and evil – ying and yang.
Woman carried baskets of fruit and flowers on their heads,
men carried incense, banners and offerings,
and everyone was happy and united.
A beautiful older woman stood off to the side, and I couldn’t help but notice the wisdom in her eyes.
Our final excursion for the day took us to Gitgit Waterfall, which is close to the old island capital, Singaraja.
These beautiful falls emit a soothing cool spray which is incredibly inviting after the walk down many stairs from the main road.
The boys climbed around for a bit while Teresa and I relaxed and watched the heavy flow cascading down.
The bathroom facility at the falls has the prettiest walkway over stepping stones in water…
When we finally reached our bungalows for the night, we were thoroughly exhausted. Our bodies felt wonderful in the large swimming pool outside our door, then after a shower and some ice cream, I believe I melted onto the sheets without another word.