Sunday, 29 July 2012

Let the games begin

Well, the Olympic games have begun and even though we are on the other side of the world, we are still enjoying watching them commence. On saturday morning we had good intentions to wake up at 5am and watch the opening ceremony live. Sadly this didn't happen, but we caught up later online and weren't disappointed. In fact I got very emotional whilst watching it and thought a good job was done by all.

At this very moment we are watching the women's road race live and have just seen them race past the end of my parent's road in Twickenham!!! How exciting!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Katie and Neil in Bali - Jimbaran

Our flight out of Bali wasn't until mid afternoon on the saturday, so we decided to head to Jimbaran for the morning. It's situated just south of the airport and known as a fishing village as well as for having some luxury resorts. The driver dropped us off and we wandered down to the area where all the  fishermen were returning with their catches. It was intriguing watching them go about their daily routine and I loved all the brightly coloured boats. We were amazed at how quiet the beach was, and spent a relaxing few hours soaking up the last of the rays before we headed back to Tokyo.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Katie and Neil in Bali - Sanur beach

By the time we had finished seeing the Le Mayeur house, the sun had come out and there was glorious sunshine. Our driver took us to the quiet end of the beach and we rented some sun beds and watched the wolrd go by. It's a popular area for kite surfing, so we got to see a lot of action. Neil had an amazing lunch presented in half a pineapple - not your usual weekday lunch!

Katie and Neil in Bali - Le Mayeur House

On thursday we headed to Sanur. We had heard about an artists house that was worth visiting there, so decided to make it our first port of call. The weather wasn't great, so this seemed like the perfect thing to do. 

The house was owned by a Belgian painter called Le Mayeur who moved to Bali in the 1930s and married a local dancer who became her muse. He built the house right on the beach and is in a beautiful setting. It is made out of the traditional woven bamboo walls and with a high ceiling to capture the sea breeze. His paintings were hanging throughout the house, many of them painted on hessian. These were painted during the war when canvas was hard to come by. I love his studies of women lounging and placing offerings and the texture of the hessian adds an extra dimension to the artworks.

Katie and Neil in Bali - Water Palaces

We visited two water palaces while we were there, both luscious places surrounded by manicured gardens and beautiful statues.

Neil and Katie in Bali - Tenganan

One of our trips took us to the village of Tenganan, which is walled in and where locals are only allowed to marry within the village. It is famous for its ikat weaving, a laborious process where the design of the weave is dyed onto the threads before they are woven. I can't even imagine how they do it, but the effect is gorgeous. Needless to say I bought some pieces while I was there and you can see photos of them here. We then wandered around the village and soaked up the atmosphere. An earlier downpour meant that is was very atmospheric and misty.

Katie and Neil in Bali - on the road

We spent a few days on the road and booked Made, our driver, to take us around some of the sights of East Bali. We loved being driven around as it meant that we got to see slices of everyday Balinese life. This crowd of people were en route to a cremation. They were very lively, laughing, chatting and playing music.

Katie and Neil in Bali - dancing girls

We stayed in Ubud until the evening and after a gorgeous sampling of a famous Indonesian dish (nasi goreng) at a local restaurant, we went and watched the traditional dancing at the palace. It was a magical evening, with a balmy temperature and beautiful surroundings and the combination of the music and dancing became quite entrancing.

Katie and Neil in Bali - Ubud market

On our second day, we decided to head into Ubud for the first time. We were quite far out of the town, so we got a taxi in and were instantly hit by the noise, traffic jams, tourists and it was all a bit of a shock! Many people had said how laid back and arty Ubud was, and I'm afraid I had something very different in mind. It was featured in the Julia Roberts film "Eat, Pray, Love" a few years ago and I'm wondering if that is why the hoards have now descended on the place. 

Anyway, it was good to wander round and take in all the handicrafts that overwhelm you, from printing and weaving to wood carving and baskets. The Ubud market was quite a treasure trove, and we managed to catch a glimpse of local women giving out offerings, carrying the baskets on their heads.

Katie and Neil in Bali - Luwak coffee

On our bike ride we stopped at a place where we were introduced to a Luwak, a strange little animal with a button nose, a long tail and tiger-like markings that "makes" a special coffee bean. He eats the bean, it comes out the other end and this is used to make a speciality coffee called Luwak coffee. I was dubious about trying it out, but knew I should. It was awful!

This man sits and roasts the beans over a wood fire.

This is the Luwak.

The surrounding area.

We had a coffee-tasting session, but I have to admit, I preferred the ginger tea!