Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Thanksgiving in Bali

So, Thanksgiving Bali edition started out with just two little piglets, Andrew and Andrea. Two piglets became three, as Danielle, my older sister decided to jump on the band wagon. Then came Chris, Ma, Ayah, Ash and TADAAAA! - Riani. Wait that's not all - Martini and David decided to come along as the whole clan was only a hop and a skip away from Lombok! We had faces come from Vancouver, L.A, Seattle, Kuala Lumpur and Lombok.

The two weeks was filled with food, food, and more food! Ok, there might have been some dancing, beach time, singing, motorcycle rides and some laughs. It was just such an incredible feeling to have family here in Bali. 

As you can see from the photo below, we spent most of our time on bikes. Sometimes, when there wasn't enough bikes to go around, we managed to squish one more full sized adult onto the back of a pair! There was a morning where we had 5-6 bikes and had created our own motorcycle gang :) If you're wondering whether or not anyone got into an accident - it would be the one piglet wearing the white helmet below. Kurt and I were feeling so very proud that all of our friends who had visited - had left unscathed. Andy wasn't going to let that statistic slide - and so he crashed my bike. Although he will argue that my tires were bald, and the roads are bad (all of this is true) I have been riding my little scooter just fine for the past 6 months! As we were all ready to head to Ubud, poor little Roo came home all banged up as he had crashed the Ducati (or so he thought my scooter was, the way he was riding it!) and had ripped up his arms and legs :) I wish we had a photo of the back pocket of his shorts - as his wallet had LITERALLY saved his ass from getting devoured by the tarmac. We were just glad he was alive and secretly enjoyed that he was receiving his own punishment by being unable to swim for the rest of the trip!


(MAY OR MAY NOT BE THE SMARTEST IDEA, BUT THEY LOOK SO SNUGGLY!)

For those of you who don't know who Ma and Ayah are, don't ask - it's a long story! Let's just say that the Townshend girls have adopted a pair of Malaysian parents :) They and their son, Ash (who is a rock star by the way!) came to Bali for the Thanksgiving celebration. This photo taken below is actually a day after Thanksgiving - as I missed the real dinner due to an unfortunate case of food poisoning. This night was incredible. We ate, danced, ate and ate some more! Ayah graciously treated us all and Ash performed for the whole gang as well! Such a memorable night. Ma has an embarrassing video of us all dancing to Dangdut somewhere.

(A WONDERFUL DINNER THAT AYAH TREATED US ALL TO!)
It seemed like the whole trip was about food. OK - maybe it was. This is probably one of my favs. A little homemade coleslaw, gluten free bread - filled with chicken satay (OMG so delicious) and sweet potato chips! A complete Paleo meal and absolutely scrumptious! I cant even say how many restaurants we went to. If we weren't eating barbecue fish by the beach, we were eating tacos at a Mexican joint. The backdrops were amazing. We had breakfast, lunch and dinner wrapped in the arms of the rice fields.

(EVERYTHING WAS ABOUT FOOD. THIS WAS AMAZING SWEET POTATO CRISPS & A GLUTEN FREE SANDWICH, STUFFED WITH CHICKEN SATAY!)

Nothing like some romance on the beach ;) Kurt and I took Andrea and Andy to Uluwatu for the day. This place is spectacular. Cliff bars, white sand beaches and cool water. This is probably one of our favorite places to go. It is quite the haul on motorcycles though, which is why we don't make it out there very often. It takes about an hour from our house to get there - which can be quite sore on your bum ;) We spent the day splashing in the waves and eating delicious food along the way. Andrew, however had to suffer as he was not allowed to play in the water (still healing from motorcycle wounds!) sad panda.

(A VISIT TO ULUWATU WITH ANDY & ANDREA. IT IS OUR FAVORITE PLACE TO WATCH THE SUN DISAPPEAR INTO THE OCEAN)

Ladies night! The best kind of night. Danielle and Riani decided to take Arty and I out for dinner. What a nice treat. They took us to Metis, a beautiful restaurant that over looks a rice field. Arty and I have known each other for 16 years now and i feel so lucky that she is still a part of my life and my family's life too. I had the lamb, which if you were wondering was to die for. Riani picked out a nice wine for us and we had girl talk - the best kind of talk :) Was so nice for the "big sisters" to take out the little ones :) Thankful for big sisters with big bucks! :p
(BIG SISTERS DECIDED TO TREAT LITTLE SISTERS TO A GREAT DINNER!)

I don't really know what I did to deserve such good friends and such a wonderful family. Everyone flew across the world to be with each other. It is such a beautiful thing to witness so much love in your circle. The world never seems intimidating to me when i know that i can call one of them and they'd be on the next plane out.

Really though guys, thanks. Thanks for coming to see where I live. Thanks for loving me and for spending your Thanksgiving so far from home.

Love you guys and see you all in 2014!

Happy New Year!

Love,

Stel

Friday, December 20, 2013

One Year Anniversary Celebration!

Estelle and I recently reached a new milestone - the big 1 year mark in our relationship! Leading up to it, we went back and forth on how we wanted to celebrate it - but ultimately decided to split up the day.

I was responsible for planning the first half of the day and Estelle had the second half.

Easy enough; well, not really.. After "leaking" a few options, an unlikely front runner emerged for our destination. Instead of splitting up the day - we realized we both had the same idea anyway :) The Waterbom water park! I have to admit, I was very EXCITED that she wanted to do this and I really couldn't think of a better way to spend our anniversary. Water slides, good food and sunshine? AWESOME! Earlier on in our travels, we celebrated the 4th of July at the Sentosa Waterpark in Singapore [See Post], and we both had a great time! Guess we're just big kids after all.

Our BIG DAY. 


After I made a little anniversary breakfast (a delicious scramble in case you were wondering!) we packed up our backpack with the usual suspects: towels, books, sunglasses, and of course our sun block. We both had heard fairly good things about the park, but it sure didn't hurt that it was rated as Trip Advisor's number ONE thing to do in the area.

After we put our valuables in the locker, we were off! It was an overcast kinda-day, a Monday, and not peak season so the crowds were minimal - which was fantastic! We had our pick of any of the slides and promptly started off with a water slide called "Boogie Ride" -- it wasn't the fastest or tallest of rides but it had this double dip that made you air born! Whew! That was scary...

From that point we were on a mission to go on ALL of the slides...Here's a quick recap of our favorites!

  • Smash Down: A pretty standard water slide but you get to go side by side and race your partner (I kicked Estelle's butt BTW) on a foam board.
  • Boomerang: One of our favorites, that is usually featured on their commercials where you and a partner are in an inner tube and at first go down a steep water slide that then takes you to this nearly vertical wall that you of course go up....then go down backwards... not the best option for those who have motion sickness ;)
  • Pipeline: This one was the scariest of slides, where you go FAST and just pray for it to be over....Whew!
  • Climax: Okay, imagine walking into a plastic tube hatch, then having the door shut on you. Next, as you stand up right, the floor below you opens. So you are literally free falling for a while on this water slide...When you come out of it -- your body is literally shaking and you have to take a seat to regroup. So I guess the name is aptly named.

(HERE WE ARE GOING DOWN THE BOOMERANG...AND YES WE DID TAKE A PICTURE OF THE $15 PICTURE)
(TAKING A LIL' BREAK FROM THE SLIDES TO CATCH UP ON PRODUCTIVITY STRATEGY - NOTE: I DEFINITELY WAS UTILIZING SOME OF THESE STRATEGIES AT WATER BOM)

(CHEESING IT UP POOL SIDE!)

We had soooo muuuuccchh fun! And following up our madness at the water park we went and got 1 1/2 hour massages! :)

We had originally anticipated that we would go out and grab a nice dinner after, but were both so exhausted from playing in the sun all day! Luckily, we both felt the same way and decided to take some of our favorite Mexican food home. Popped open a bottle of wine and watched a great movie together :) Our kind of night.

What a perfect day and I am so thankful that I found someone that feels the same way!

Oh, and time for a little reflection...

As I've gotten older, I've realized a few things...

  1. Our time here is short...sometimes cruelly so.
  2. Protect your time...once spent there is nothing you can do to get it back.
  3. Be present in the moment...don't worry about what's happening tomorrow, next week, or what your FB news feed is saying; our life is only made up of "this moment" so make it count!
  4. Spend AS MUCH time as you can with those you genuinely care and love...you'll never regret it.
  5. And last, but not least, be extremely picky when you choose a partner.
These are some of the tenets that I try and live my life by -- and I will admit I have a long ways to go before I can say I practice all of them 100%. But, there is something that I can say I now practice and that of course is having chosen the best partner i could have ever dreamed of - Estelle. One of the things I love best most about her is the fact that she pushes me and always reminds me that there is so much more to life. I had always heard that cliche "she makes me better...yadda, yadda, yadda..." But really its true. It's incredible to think back on all of the things that we have done together, traveled here and there (and its been a lot!) in only one year -- but what I value most are those every day things that just embody who she is: her compassion, courage, intelligence, kindness, and adventurous spirit that have quite frankly changed my life for the better. Yep, I am one lucky dude.



Kurt

P.S. Here is a little collage I put together of some of my favorite photos of us from the past 1 year together...I guess we have been busy!
(FROM TOP LEFT TO RIGHT: TAKING A QUICK NAP BEFORE THE SUN ROSE IN HALEAKALA IN MAUI; MT RINJANI IN LOMBOK ISLAND; IN OUR PINK TAXI ON PANGKOR ISLAND, MALAYSIA; ROCKING OUR RIDING GLASSES IN SEMINYAK, BALI; ABOVE SEATTLE IN THE PIER FERRIS WHEEL; AND FINALLY, IN PORTLAND, OR AT WORLD FAMOUS POWELL'S BOOKS)




Sunday, December 1, 2013

Silly in Gilli!

Seems like we can't get enough of Martini and David! For those of you reading our blog for the first time, we were recently in Singapore with the newlyweds! It has been such a blessing that this couple is taking a year off as well! 

I really wanted to explore more of Indonesia this year. It seems like I have spent most of my time in Jakarta, Medan and Bali over the years. Seeing that most of my Indonesian family is in two of those cities, it made the most sense to visit them the most. Indonesia has over 17,000 islands for me to explore though... and my first new island of choice? Gilli Air.

The Gilli Islands sit right off of the coast of Lombok. There are a few ways to get there. Fast boat, sloooooow boat or a quick flight. Since Martini and David are living in Lombok for a few months, Kurt and I decided to fly into Lombok and see the new island they call home. After a quick visit to their current abode, we headed for Bangli. 

Bangli. How do I describe this horrid place? This was the port we had to set sail from on our last leg to Gilli Air. If any of you have ever been to a S.E Asian tourist town, you are familiar with street peddlers. They can be aggressive, tiresome and simply annoying. Imagine them... on steroids.

The second you set foot into this place, you are hounded. This hounding however, is different than the little old man trying to sell you scarves. This is where you become the puppet and you are subjected to the rules the puppeteer has made. We arrived and quickly scanned the perimeters for the least shady area we could find that was selling tickets. We were informed that the ferry only runs in the morning, and it being 3 PM - we had missed the "affordable boat". The difference in price for public transportation and private charter are mind blowing. 

Being half Indonesian, Martini and I take pride in protecting ourselves from being screwed over by "tourist prices". We also take pride in protecting our American beaus from the even "whiter" prices. We were quick to realize that we were being trapped in an endless game of "you'll never get a price any lower than this". Finally managing to negotiate with a young boy who wanted to help, we were smuggled onto a private charter boat for a reasonable price. Bargaining at this place was extremely taxing and we had all heard one too many "well then why don't you walk to Gilli Air if you don't like my price". All aboard! 

(HEADED STRAIGHT FOR GILI AIR)

The boat ride was just a jaunt from the coast of Lombok. It was so great to leave the madness behind at the port and land on white, sandy shores! We had been given some recommendations from a friend of mine of places to stay - so on we went to explore Gilli Air!

What's so great about this island is that there are ZERO cars or motorcycles! Everyone has to either use a bicycle, their own two feet or some hooves :) Horse and carriage are the main way to move heavy loads around the island. Lucky for us - we all packed light and set off on foot. After playing peek or boo with many hotels, we decided on a cute hotel on the main strip.

(BACKPACKERS SEARCHING FOR A HOME!)\

A friend of mine, Tash, had just opened a new restaurant/bar in the heart of the island and i promised her we would come check it out. What a place! Caballito de Mar had delicious food and was just a really comfortable place to go to and have a drink. We loved that we could play with sand between our toes whilst enjoying a cocktail. Tash went to middle school with Martini and I in Jakarta before moving away. Funny how the universe brings back certain people into your life. I am so glad that it did with her because she is a gem! We actually visited her place a few times because we loved the ambiance. Beachfront property with a real cool, laid back feel. I love places where you can dress up or show up in flip flops and still feel like you fit in? So great. If you ever visit Gilli Air - go check it out :)


(MARTINI, DAVID, TASH, ME & KURT AT CABALLITO DE MAR)

The rest of the time? What did we do? Sleep, eat, lounge, sunbathe, snorkel, swim - it is really a hard life but the four of us really don't mind taking one for the team ;) Me being me, I decided to run around the entire island for some exercise. How long does it take you ask? 32 minutes at a leisurely pace! That's just about 4 miles around the island - just a wee lil' thing! Here are some pictures of the trip:

(KURT TAKING A BREAK TO WRITE IN HIS CABANA!)


(IN ONE OF THE CABANA'S WE SPENT MUCH TIME LOUNGING IN!)
(BIKE RIDE AROUND THE ISLAND)

(MARTINI & KURT SOAKING UP THE RAYS!)


(CAUGHT IN A TROPICAL RAINSTORM ON OUR BIKE RIDE!)



Kurt and I decided to rent a bicycle to ride around the island on our last day. Figuring that it would only take 32 minutes or less - we hopped on and took off! You just never know when you're going to get caught in a tropical rainstorm. We had managed to make it half way around the island when it started to pour. Why didn't we just pull off into a cafe somewhere? We had to meet David and Martini to catch the ONLY ferry leaving the island back to Lombok in just 20 minutes. Have you ever tried to ride a bicycle through sand? And then through sand-paste when it starts to rain? You don't. It's not possible. We had to push our bikes most of the way till we found some beautiful gravel that allowed us to peddle again!

In proper Kurt & Estelle fashion, we made it in just the nick of time! We loved the Gillis and cant wait to explore the other two and so much more of Indonesia. 


My family and friends have just arrived in Bali for Thanksgiving! Will be posting lots about that soon!

All my love,

Estelle