HI, and welcome to my blog! I am a field guide in a private game reserve in South Africa and below you will find stories and pictures of my amazing job!

October 12, 2011

Balinese Bliss

After a long drive back to Windhoek and the flight back to Johannesburg, Rika and I were afforded 1 night at home before heading back to the airport for the honeymoon.  Although booked 8 months in advance, I had been able to keep the destination a secret until then and relished at Rika’s excitement when she discovered that our destination was the island of Bali.  After 14 hours of traveling, we landed in Bali and were met by our hotel representative and whisked away to the mountains for the first of 3 locales of the honeymoon.  Although tired, we watched the scenery drift by as we headed north to the mountains and our home for the next four days; the Munduk Moding plantation.   

The hotel was tucked away in a coffee plantation, surrounded by tropical vegetation.  Warm temperatures and tropical humidity greeted us by day and at night; the mist rolling in from the surrounding mountains shrouded us in a cool blanket of cloud.  Service in Bali is impeccable and even in the industry that we work in; we learned a few things about personalized service.  Food was great and we spent most of the time there enjoying the scenery and the infinity pool, leading to a cliff top overlooking the northern coastline and the Javan Mountains beyond.  We visited a local hot springs, borne from the volcanic rocks of the island, reported to have healing properties among the locals and also a Buddhist temple.  Although Hindu is the most prevalent religion, Buddhist temples are common on the island with their extravagant architecture, striking icons and rich tradition. 

Religion is a hugely important part of everyday life in Bali and every single house has its own temple.  Offerings of colourful flowers and food are left on a daily basis and most days seem to have some sort of ceremonial significance, thanking the multitude of god’s for their continued good will.  Colours of clothing and flags signify the purpose of the ceremony, be they happy or sad, and the local people were often happy to explain the purpose of these events.  Coupled with the temples, our other over riding memories of Bali are the rice paddies.  Mile after mile of these stepped floodplains stretch across the landscape.  Local people, both men and women, can be seen on a daily basis, wading knee deep in the fields ensuring that this year’s crop is flourishing.  All of the locals are small and lean, muscles ripped from years or living out a physical lifestyle and all sporting the local cone shaped wicker hats that Hollywood has made synonymous with the Asian contingent.

Our next destination was Ubud, the cultural capital of Bali and deep in the humid interior.  The Royal Pita Maha resort was perhaps one of the most picturesque and well appointed places that I have ever seen.  The huge room, built into a cliff looked down first over our private 10m swimming pool and then on to the river flowing through the valley below - a true tropical paradise with waterfalls, water features and immaculate gardens.  Leaving the resort seemed was hard to do but we spent one day at Ubud market sampling the local merchandise and cuisine as we made our way through the cramped stalls littering the streets.  Handmade clothing and jewelry dominated the stalls but a large selection of local art was on offer and we purchased a set of three, very Asian feeling, minimalist line paintings to decorate our new house, and keep our honeymoon fresh in our minds.  We also took in a local show that portrayed a story of love and betrayal, brought to life by the local community in the form of dance.  No instruments were used, just the women of the village using their array of voices as the beat.  Colourful costumes and artistic dance served to bridge the language barrier and we watched enthralled as the lead characters span their story in the firelight.

  The final destination was the Wangsa Villas on the south eastern coast.  A private villa, with butler service and another private pool marked the end of our whirlwind tour.  The beach was a mere 100m away and although the area close us was predominantly a water sports Mecca,  a short stroll along the white sandy beaches lead us to calm clear waters.  6 days of uninterrupted sunshine enhanced our enjoyment of the tropical beaches and we tried our hand at some new forms of entertainment, namely parasailing and a day spent scuba diving over coral gardens and a ship wreck.  Neither of us had ever dived before and the images that we saw during our submersion will again never be forgotten.  The water was bath temperature warm and the variety of marine life simply staggering.  The level of biodiversity and Mother Nature’s ability to design and create such a rich array of colour and shape is a truly humbling sight.  To be guests in such an underwater world was a unique experience and has inspired both of to pursue our PADI qualifications and explore the rich marine life of the East coast of South Africa.

Basking in the infinity pool at the Munduk Moding Plantation

A captivating view of my beautiful wife admiring the Javan mountains in the distance 

A small example of the myriad of paddy fields in Bali

Cocktails at the Royal Pia Maha in Ubud

The view from our room at the Royal Pita Maha

Rika perched on our balcony with the tropical valley as a backdrop

Our private pool at the Wangsa Villas in Nusa Dua

Sheer bliss. White sand, warm see and a beautiful wife

Working on our tans at Jimbaran Beach

Who's got a lovely bunch of cocnuts.....

Dinner on Jmbaran Beach.  Fresh cocnut milk at sunset

Look how happy Rika is after her lobster dinner!

Us on a floating pontoon in the bay where we tried parasailing and had a water slide dropping straight into the sea!

Doing something I never thought I'd do....riding an elephant.  Although these Sumatran elephants are the smallest species

A very friendly and photogenic Sumatran elephant

A tropical vision indeed!