Monday, March 31, 2014

A trip to Bali

A month or so ago we got word from Spencer's Aunt Coleen and Uncle Oliver that they were planning a trip to Australia and would like to come to Perth to see us.  We were delighted.  They also mentioned that they would be happy to stay with the boys for a few days so that we could take a little trip somewhere.  We were overjoyed.

We finally decided on Bali for our getaway and booked a villa at a hotel in Ubud, a town several miles out of the main city of Denpasar and farther up in the hills and away from the over-crowded beaches.  When Spencer's aunt and uncle arrived we had a couple of days to show them around, take them to Fremantle and such with the boys before taking off.  I was not feeling the best and was taking antibiotics for a chest infection and I blame my somewhat foggy state on the fact the I forgot to bring a camera along on the trip.  That was disappointing, but I soon discovered that not having a camera freed me up to "live in the moment" and simply absorb the sights, sounds, and smells all around us.

At Denpasar we boarded a shuttle that would take us to our hotel and I rolled down the window to better appreciate the sights/sounds/smells and the fresh, humid air.  Driving through the city was a little crazy, with trucks, motorbikes and taxis nosing in around one another and rushing together in, what seemed to us, total chaos.  The longer we were there the more we saw a method in the madness, but we were nevertheless happy not to have to drive in it ourselves.  As we drove along the highway we passed a motorbike with a man driving and a woman seated behind him.  I noticed two tiny feet sticking out on either side of the woman and, as we passed, saw a small child sandwiched between them.  This became a very common sight.  The drive to our hotel followed the highway along which we saw every manner of commercial enterprise, set close to the road where their proprietors looked out at the traffic.  As we got farther from the city these thinned out and gave way to rice paddies and wooded areas.  We reached Ubud as night was coming on and were greeted, at our hotel, with frangipani leis and juice.  The whole place oozed relaxation and was just what we needed after a long day of travel.

The next couple of days were filled with exploring and sampling the local fare (which was very tasty).  The antibiotics I was on weren't really doing anything for me and my increasing shortness of breath held us back a bit, but we nevertheless made it to the monkey forest, a Hindu temple outside Ubud, and a spa.

At the monkey forest women were selling bananas to those who wanted to get a picture of a monkey climbing on their head feed the monkeys, and there were signs warning people not to hide any food.  We didn't take any food into the forest with us, but we did each have a water bottle.  One monkey snatched Spencer's water bottle out of his hand and sat down in front of us to unscrew the lid, dump the water onto the ground and lap it up.  Then he hopped over to where I was sitting, spotted the top of my water bottle sticking out of my bag, pulled it out and drink it up as well.  Another monkey nearly made off with my hat but a timely shout from one of the guides saved the day.  It was a beautiful forest that was almost more like a park with a paved path and ornate statues.  The monkeys were delightful but not a bit tame.

The Hindu temple we visited was a short taxi ride out of Ubud and our taxi driver had a sarong and sash for each of us to wear when we arrived.  He helped us into them and sent us on our way.  The temple was in a ravine and a winding stone staircase, bordered with merchants and rice paddies, led us down to it.  It was a beautiful site with water bubbling through the centre.  The temple itself was open air with enormous figures carved into the rock cliff on either side.  The vegetation was plentiful and lush all around and young girls walked quietly about in brightly coloured sarongs and lace blouses.  It was well worth the climb.

We were only there for three days, and I was getting more and more ill with each passing day, but in spite of that it was a very enjoyable trip.  Eating breakfast in our hotel restaurant every morning on a balcony over looking the river valley and the distant mountains, wandering the streets of Ubud, sitting in our hotel's open-air cafe for afternoon tea, watching people going about their daily business.  It was wonderful.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Eliot and Peter's Misadventure

The other night the boys thought they'd add a little excitement to their normal bedtime routine.  When their shower was done and their pyjamas on, they ran out the door.  This is something they do from time to time.  Our front door opens onto a balcony that runs around the courtyard that is in the centre of our somewhat circular building.  The boys run around it like a racetrack and come back in.  It's not something we encourage, but it's not the worst that could happen.  However, this time they decided to head down the stairs.  Spencer went after them and followed them out of the courtyard into the common area between the buildings.  Who knows how long the chase would have lasted if the boys had not been slowed considerably by the prickles in the grass.  It's all fun and games until your feet are full of prickles.  By the time I caught up with them (wearing flip flops) Spencer was carrying both boys out of the grass.  All three of them were barefoot and all three of them had feet speckled with little prickles.  They spent the rest of the evening taking turns having me pluck prickles out of their feet.  Some of them couldn't be reached, especially since Peter was resistant to having me come anywhere near his tootsies with a pair of tweezers.  After they went to bed I had Spencer soak his feet in water and baking soda which did the trick.  So the next morning I did the same with the boys.  A Thomas & Friends DVD and granola bars helped them pass the time, along with the novelty of sitting in the living room with their feet in a tub of water.  Another prickle was removed successfully from each boy.  They still have a few that will need soaking but things are pretty well on their way to being sorted.  I'm sure they'll think twice before trying a stunt like that again.