Monday, July 15, 2013

Till We Meet Again

So our last day of our vacation was spent just relaxing, reflecting and saying so long to our friends. I have now gained five new Facebook friends which is way cool, so we can keep in touch in between visits.

Our friends, Jaeb and Phen from Poppies

Last night Mike and I sent off two lucky balloons. You light the lighter at the bottom then once they fill with hot air, they lift off. You say a little prayer or dedicate them to a loved one first.

After saying our good-byes to the staff of the Banana Fan Sea Resort, the General Manager Supit Choo-in personally drove us to the Koh Samui airport for our flight to Bangkok.

Supit and Office manager, Mas at our hotel Banana Fan

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Good Time Samui

We're back!
Chaweng is the longest and most famous beach on the island of Koh Samui. With very smooth, white sand and clear, warm water, this is the beach and town we come back to each time we come to Thailand.

One of the things we love are the beach food vendors. They set up anywhere on the beach and provide just about everything--fresh fruit, banana pancakes, satay and vegetable skewers. They carry all of this in two baskets on either end of a long pole. Once set up, everything has a purpose, including the pole as an umbrella stand.
The town of Chaweng is fun and full of life. It's full of shops, restaurants, massage parlors, hotels and people. The town really comes alive at night and most everything is open until 10:00 PM or midnight. We couldn't come here again without going to one of my favorite little stalls with the most fabulous string lights made out of cool materials such as died lacy leaves made into flowers and silk worm coccoons. The owner is Poo, another friend who we've known since coming to Samui the first time in 2000.

                                              We ate dinner tonight at our favorite "Sydney BBQ" where all the fresh catch of the day plus fresh veggies are on ice for you to choose what you want and they cook it up for you.....yum

Check out the shark

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Spectacular Sendoff

So our final night in Koh Tao gave us the most spectacular sunset that rivaled all that we've experienced so far. These three pictures were taken about three minutes apart. I've never seen such a beautiful sky!

The next morning we are off back to Koh Samui via the Lomprayah ferry, the only way to get to and from the island. The picture below was taken from the Lomprayah Pier--colorful boats....

Everyones luggage is piled up front. This is a large ferry that takes three round trips per day, seven days a week. It holds around 300 people and is full nearly every trip.
Koh Tao has been yet another escape from routines to refresh and relax.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Farewell To Koh Tao, Until We Meet Again

Last night was a beautiful sunset on our beach here in Koh Tao. We spent our last day island exploring on our scooters, stopping for a massage (can't beat the price of $8.00!) and just laying around at the beautiful pool and beach.
                            I think alot of people went home this morning so we had the pool to ourselves.

Tomorrow morning we take the ferry back to the island of Koh Samui for the last leg of this amazing journey.
Going to sign off for now as it looks like another fabulous sunset soon.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

My Favorite Fruit

They have every imaginable fruit here in Thailand, but the one I love the most is the red fruit on the left--the Rambutan. It looks like a big strawberry covered with soft, green stem-like hairs. Cutting off the shell reveals what looks like a juicy, peeled grape, only white....and so sweet and delicious.
Wish we had these at home.....

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sensi Paradise Resort, Koh Tao

I've finally found it: my luxury jungle. So I sway in my hammock, linger over wonderful fish and prawn and relish the breeze that whips off the water, taking with it my cares.
The Sensi Paradise Beach Resort on the Western side of Koh Tao, lies on the quiet end of the island's longest beach, Mae Haad Beach. It is an unobtrusive masterpiece of luxurious, tranquil living that is perfectly blended with the natural beauty of its environment.

                      This far out in the clear, warm water, I was only calf deep looking back at our resort.

                                                 Our first night eating dinner at the restaurant

Mae Haad is the port town where the piers are located and where we came in on the ferry. There is a definite feel of the local Thai lifestyle here....lots of shops, restaurants, massage salons and dive shops. When we were here three years ago, Tanner got his PADI Rescue Dive certification here at his favorite dive shop Master Divers. When I stepped in, they remembered him, as they don't see too many 16 year olds get their Rescue Dive license.
One thing we also love is the street food vendors you find in all island towns. The most wonderful satay, kabobs and fresh fruit shakes will set you back .50 to $1.50....can't beat it...delicious for next-to-nothing.

Fresh Veggies and Chicken Kabobs

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Farewell Bali, Hello Thailand

So our time in Bali has come to an end.  We have had the most wonderful time on this island and hate to leave, but know someday we will be back. Our next destination is Koh Samui Thailand for a day, then on to the island of Koh Tao.

 The beautiful and lush grounds at the Bali Hyatt

One last relaxing day on Sanur Beach

It was a beautiful 3 1/2 hour flight from Bali to Bangkok, then a quick flight to Koh Samui. Once on the island of Samui, we quickly strolled over to see our longtime friends Lek and Kan at our favorite boutique hotel Poppies. As this is our 7th time to Koh Samui over a period of 12 years, we have seen them every time and they have watched the boys grow up. This is our first time here without one or both boys, so we had to bring pictures. They were thrilled. This was a quick visit as we leave by ferry tomorrow morning for our other favorite island, Koh Tao. After 6 days on Koh Tao, we will be returning to Samui and promised to take our gals to dinner.

  Lek and Kan

Monday, July 8, 2013

Bali Silver To Die For

The villiage of Celuk is devoted almost entirely to gold and silversmithing. The precious metal is imported from other islands and the silversmith workers-mostly belonging to the Caste Clan of Pande Mas, are traditional practioners of various metal crafts. The intricate designs are exotic and exquisite. All are .925 silver and some designs are inlaid with semi precious gemstones such as Garnet, Amethyst, Peridot, Aquamarine and Topaz.
These fabulous pendants are used as either perfume boxes (put in a bit of cotton with a favorite scent) or prayer boxes (roll up a small paper with a wish, prayer or favorite saying). These particular ones have gemstones at the bottom.
These intricate, lacy balls open to reveal a brass chime ball inside. When you shake the ball, you hear a soft chime sound--wonderful! Some styles also have gemstones.

In our town of Sanur there were a number of shops that sold the silver, but I found a favorite little shop run by my new friend Asri, her daughter and husband. This shop had a little of everything, but her silver was to die for and needless-to-say, I went nuts. Now I can't wait to see what I can create using my new treasures....stay tuned....

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Balinese Fish Foot Massage

The Garra Rufa fish love to nibble on dead skin cells, so with that being said, they have these big, low fish tanks filled with hundreds of these tiny fish just waiting for you to stick your feet in.....

It was fabulously tingly and when done my feet were soft like babys

Monkey Forest and Ubud

At the end of a long street known as Monkey Forest Road is a protected sanctuary for three troups of long-tailed monkeys-the macacs.

They are mischievous and can be aggressive, but are most entertaining to watch. The  last time we were here was in 1994. Justin was just 5 then and one of the monkeys litterally snatched the whole bag of peanuts from his hands. They now have us feed them bananas.

In the forest there is an important temple complex, Pura Dalem Agung meaning "Temple of the Dead". There is also a second smaller Temple that is partially in ruins, covered with moss and full of monkeys. It is quite lush and lovely here.

This monkey forest is located in the town of Ubud, a strong Balinese artist community. We spent the rest of the day exploring the town and it's outskirts. We came across a small rice patty field, newly flooded and planted with rice shoots-it was beautiful....

Inner courtyard Temple gate in Ubud

Friday, July 5, 2013

Coffee and Spice

Munduk is a villiage among plantations of coffee and cloves. While in this area, we visited one coffee plantation. The young man who showed us around pointed out just about every type of coffee and spice plant imaginable. The coffee grown here is Arabica. Their exotic coffee is the Civet Arabica. What makes it unique is the Civet animal, which looks similar to a possum only black, eats the wild coffee beans then passes them through its digestive system. The poop is then gathered, the beans are retreaved and hand roasted. It is said this is the reason for its robust and unique

                                                                    The Civet

                  Civet poop (top right) - roasted beans to the left - various spices grown there (front)

                                                                   The Cocoa Tree

Inside of Cocoa Bean

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Indonesian Rupiah

The Indonesian currency unit is the rupiah. Our rate of exchange to the US dollar has varied from 9,600 to 10,130 rupiah per 1 USD. You get a higher rate of exchange if you cash in $100 dollar bills than you would $20 dollar bills.
A meal at a local food stall cost me 5,000 rupiah, or .51 cents. This was Mikes meal last night at a nice little restaurant--delicious fish, rice, veggies and garlic bread for 40,700 rupiah, or $4.15 USD!!!
Needless to say, our spending power here is very good......

The Goddess Of Rice

Bali's terraced ricefields have been described as an "engineered landscape", a collaboration between nature and human beings. Terracing allows rice to be planted on steep slopes and protects the land from erosion. Each terrace is irrigated by a complex series of channels controlled by small dams.

Rice seed is planted in a protected bed. While the seedlings mature, farmers prepare the fields by flooding, ploughing and leveling. Ploughing with oxen is slowily disappearing as mechanization is slowing taking over.

Seedlings are then transplanted into flooded fields by hand. Maturity will take 210 days, thus they go through this process just three times a year.

Harvesting is usually done by women, who cut the stalks with a small knife concealed in their palms so as not to frighten the Rice Goddess. The Hindu goddess of prosperity, Dewi Sri, became identified in Bali with the rice spirit of local belief and she is honored in the fields, the granary and the rice basket.

After the harvest the fields are burned off, producing a soil-protecting alkaline ash.Then the cycle begins again. This was truely a memorable experience for us-one we won't forget for a long time....

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