Travel Snapshots: Rice Paddies in Bali

Rice Paddies

You know how sometimes you go somewhere and you think, “Yeah- I could live here.  Maybe not forever, but six months or a year?  That would be amazing.”  That was both Lukus’ and my reaction as we made our way on a narrow path through the rice paddies in Ubud, Bali.  Of course we were even more convinced when we saw several lovely homes for rent along the path that were rather affordable.

Rice Paddies In Bali

Rice Baddies In Bali 2The path, which is not accessible to anything wider than a scooter (yes- the homes we saw were furnished), weaves through the rice paddies and is occasional interrupted by a small convenience shop, some sort of craft store, one of the aforementioned homes, and idyllic restaurants (offering free wi-fi to patrons).  It led us to a restaurant/farm in the middle of the paddies, called Sari Organik, which touts itself as being organic and sustainable.  No paper napkins here!  The view though was perfection.  And the food?  Delicious.  If you ever make it be sure to try the brown fried rice.  You’ll thank me.  It was the type of place that left me thinking, “Ahhh.. this is what life’s all about.”

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rice paddies in Bali 5P.S. Bali is also home to the Green School – another selling point for wanting me to go back and live there someday (once my daughter is school aged)—even if only for a semester…

 

 

 

Travel Snapshots: Sacred Monkey Forest Of Ubud, Bali

sacred monkey forest 1Bali has been an AMAZING experience thus far!  And while I already have scheduled content out through the rest of the week, I had to jump in with a quick post featuring our visit the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud.  Thus far this has been the little one’s favorite activity and frankly Lukus and I loved it as well.

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sacred monkey forest 3The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is unlike other wildlife preserves I have visited, in that the monkeys truly roam free.  Set in a small forest located in the village of Padangtegal, the forest is home to a community of long-tailed macaques as well as Balinese Hinduism (not to be confused with traditional Hinduism) temples.  The village owns and maintains the forest both for religious and conservation purposes.

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sacred monkey forestOn our visit we walked through the forest, interacting with the highly social macaques along the way.  They were absolutely everywhere and would even eat out of our hands and occasionally climbed on our heads!  The macaques ranged in age from true infants to full grown adults and live in family systems.  I loved getting to see these creatures up close and personal.  We got a taste not only of their communal systems, but of the personalities as well.  This was truly an extraordinary experience and one I would highly recommend if you ever have the opportunity.

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Oh and one- more just for laughs — here is when a monkey climbed on my head:

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Travel Snapshots: Chinese New Year In Singapore

Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year!  As you can imagine, Singapore has been in full celebration mode and will be for a little while longer.  Unlike Gregorian calendar New Year celebrations, which typically take place over the final day of the previous year (December 31) and the first day of the new year (January 1), the celebration of the Lunar Calendar New Year extends over several days and is a major holiday throughout the region.

This is my first real exposure to Chinese New Year and I was excited to visit Chinatown during the festivities.  The key word to describe this visit was abundance.  There was an abundance of candies, nuts, seeds, fruits (especially Mandarin Oranges and Pomelos), pussy willow branches and red and gold trinkets overflowing from the different merchants.  There was also an abundance of people (seriously- taking these photos was near impossible, I was bumped so many times!) –tourists and locals alike vying for grilled squid, fresh coconuts, and other bites as they made their way up and down the congested streets.

Chinese New Year

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I loved the energy of the night – all the bright colors and sounds- and to think, these photos were shot the evening before New Year’s Eve!

Travel Snapshots: Thaipusam Festival

In my previous Travel Snapshots posts I mentioned what a melting post Singapore is, and today I have another post that highlights that fact.  Singapore is home to a large number of Tamil Hindus, and on a recent outing we stumbled on the Thaipusam festival.

Honestly, when we first came across it, I had no idea what the celebration was about.  There was a procession of men, women and children coming down the street and not wanting to miss the moment, I dove for my camera (which was of course at the bottom of my purse).  It wasn’t until later that day that I was able to look up the festival to better understand the images I had snapped.

img_5196Thaipusam is a holiday that honors Murugan, the Hindu god of war and victory, who destroyed a demon with a Vel (spear).  Followers celebrate the holiday by following a designated path through the city while performing various acts.  Everyone is barefoot, many men shave their heads and both men and women carry milk jugs on their head.  But what we found particularly fascinating were the acts of penance, which included piercing of the flesh with large spears while carrying a kavadi  (a decorated canopy) throughout the route.  I learned that in Singapore the route is about 4 km long!

Here are some of the men carrying their kavadis down the street:

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I love getting a glimpse into other cultures.  I am so happy that we are having these experiences in Singapore!

Travel Snapshots: Peranakan Crafts

peranakan

One of the best parts of living in Singapore is the opportunity to get to know a variety of cultures.  This photograph was taken on a recent outing to learn more about the Peranakan history.  Peranakan is the term used to refer to the descendants of the original inhabitants of the region with traders from China, India and other countries.

I love the colors and the patterns in this photo.  It was taken in a shop owned by a Peranakan woman who is working to keep the tradions of the culture alive.  The shoes are traditional to the Peranakan culture and each bead is sewn on individually by hand.  It can take her up to three months to create a single pair.  The skirt is a sarong- also part of traditional Peranakan dress.

Have you picked up any new crafts or hobbies?  Tell me about them!