A Travellerspoint blog

Bali – Arrival in Kuta

sunny 30 °C

To all those who have been bored with the lack of travel in our 'travel blog': we have lots of excitement to share with you from our trip to Bali!! I know this blog post is long overdue, but we have been very busy lately. And rather than writing one drawn-out post, (which we don't have the time for) we will be taking it in several go's. We spent a week on this beautiful island to celebrate our 6th year anniversary as a couple. Well, that and because we would have used any excuse to go on a little holiday! ;) And so from the 20th until the 27th of October, we were in a state of blissful happiness.

It just so happened that there was a special offer on all flights to Bali around that time and we were able to score some flights for $35! I never say 'no' to a good deal, so there was no question about it: we had to go! When we told our flatmate Scott about the good news, he asked us if we would mind if he booked flights for the same time as well. And so it happened that Scott and Adrienn were in Bali around the same time as us! :)

The weeks leading up to our little holiday, we bought a travel guide and searched the internet for the best sights and places to stay. As much as we were quite happy to blob on a beach, we really wanted to make the most of our time in Bali. We therefore booked our first five nights of accommodation scattered across the island to ensure we wouldn't be tempted to stay in just one place. And we were incredibly lucky with the choices we made: the trip turned out to be a wonderful get-away. Are you ready to hear all about it?

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Saturday 20th October

Despite only having hand luggage, the check-in process at the airport was ridiculously long. We waited in line for approximately two hours. It was incredibly annoying, especially as our actual procedure took less than 2 minutes. We travelled lightly: my bag was 2.9kg, Ben's bag was 5.2kg (bigger underwear and a camera) and that included all our toiletries for the week as well. Admit it, you are impressed! ;) In the end, it wasn't that bad as the waiting lounge at Darwin airport has nothing to offer and we would have been bored out of our brains. We embarked the plane, both had a snooze and two hours and a bit later, we arrived at Bali's international airport.

There was a vibrant hustle and bustle at the airport and after we paid for our visa on arrival, we got thrown into the Balinese culture of bartering as we looked for a taxi to take us to our hotel in Kuta. Ben was pretty awesome and we struck a good deal. The ride from the airport into Kuta should have only taken 20 minutes, but we got stuck in traffic amidst hundreds of scooters racing past us. Despite it being 11 o'clock at night, all the shops were still open, people were strolling along the beach and it was a wonderful introduction to our time in Bali.

Our room in Pop! hotel was quirky, with Andy Warhol style bright colours, an innovative shower pod and a very comfortable bedroom. The TV turned on as we walked in and it just so happened that Luxembourg appeared in one of the headlines of the international news. What a coincidence! We had an early night's sleep, excited about the week to come.

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room with innovative shower pod

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Pop! hotel in Kuta

Our next two days took us to the beautiful traditional town of Ubud. We did so much in only two days that it deserves a page on its own. Hopefully we will be able to post it soon and you won't have to wait an entire month for it ;)

Much love x

Posted by Fat Face 21:17 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

October

sunny 37 °C

We started the month with two movie outings - was this a sign of how awesome our month would turn out to be? I think so! :) It just so happened that both of them were Pixar movies (animated) with a Scottish twist to them: we saw 'Brave' at Deckchair Cinema on Thursday with Adrienn and then on Saturday we saw 'How to Train Your Dragon' at the Darwin Waterfront. The latter was probably one of the last free screenings of the year, which is a sad prospect.

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Brave

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How to Train Your Dragon

Not such good news was that we lost the car on Monday the 8th, which was quite a loss. Some kind of required fringe tax payment was the reasoning behind taking the car away, but we believe that it had to do with the fact that the poor rusty bugger was falling to pieces. The air-conditioning was non existent (not ideal in 35'C heat and 80% humidity), two of the windows were deficient, the lights weren't working properly and the car was starting to make a screeching noise. Nothing that we were to blame for, but we are happy that they took it away before it died on us. That would have been a costly business. With the looming arrival of the monsoon season, having to walk to the bus stops in scorching heat, high humidity levels or even tropical rainstorms won't be a laughing matter. Ah well, it is what it is and we were fortunate enough to have our own mode of transport for the first three and a half months of our time here.

October is also the end of some of the markets. With the climatic changes, the tourist industry is coming to a halt and the monsoon weather makes some markets non-operational. At the end of the month, we had to say 'goodbye' to our beloved Mindil Beach Market (with its gorgeous sunsets), Nightcliff Market and Palmerston Market. Luckily enough, the market across the road from us - Parap Market - will be there every Saturday come rain or shine and Rapid Creek's hustle and bustle of food fusions on a Sunday will transform itself into a Monsoon Market (whatever that entails). We made sure to visit the markets a few last times this month and make the absolute most of it.

Then, we had yet another of our super exciting Sunday outings with Scott and Adrienn. This time, all in the name of crocodiles! We set off to the extraordinary Crocodylus Park and Zoo, then cooled down in Leanyer Recreational Park and finally ended our day with delicious home-cooked crocodile burritos, provided by Scott. Yes, we will happily admit that we are very lucky!

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Crocodylus Park!

I will most likely dedicate a blog post to this day, but knowing me this may take another month to finally make it onto the internet! And this has everything to do with the fact that no matter how super our outing was, it would be outshone by our - wait for it - one week holiday to Bali!!

That is right, we went to Bali for a week and it was absolutely totally a-ma-zing! We have thousands of pictures to upload, as well as some videos, and I have yet to write everything up. So patience is definitely required, but it shall hopefully be rewarded soon!

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Bali!

And well, that was it for the month of October! We really cannot complain :)
Take care and stay tuned! Lots of exciting posts coming up very soon!

Posted by Fat Face 19:49 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Opa 30/10/1934 - 15/10/2011

- Happy Opa Day!

On the 15th October 2011, my beloved grandfather 'Opa' passed away. We were in New Zealand helping out a family in the Bay of Plenty, far away from family and loved ones. It was a very difficult time. Some of you may remember the blog post I dedicated to my grandfather: Dedication to my Opa and we are still grateful for the love and support we received from all of you. Thank you!

A year later, Opa is still very much a part of our lives. Not a day goes by without a fond memory of the man we have come to love so much. And so, we celebrated his life by going out for a nice meal, outside under the palm trees with live music playing in the background. He would have liked it. I never tire writing about my Opa, but instead I will leave you in the capable hands of Mary Elizabeth Frye:

===Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep (1932)===

Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

A wonderful poem for a wonderful man. Very fitting.
Goodnight, Opa. May you continue to live on in our hearts every day,
your Emilieke xxx

Posted by Fat Face 07:03 Comments (0)

Litchfield National Park

sunny 32 °C

On the first Sunday of September, Scott and his lovely Hungarian girlfriend Adrienn joined us on a road-trip to Litchfield National Park. It was about an hour's drive from our home to the entrance of the park. From there, we drove to all the sights which were accessible with a 'normal' car (there are additional sights for four wheel drive vehicles only). It was an amazing day!

Our first stop: the Magnetic Termite Mounds. It looked like something from outer space. Built by termites, they are amazing architectural feats complete with arches, tunnels, chimneys, insulation and nursery chambers. The mounds are aligned north to south to minimise the exposure to the sun - clever little critters. Apparently, you can experience these mounds all over the Northern Territory, but this particular viewing boardwalk and platform is a perfect place to see it up close.

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Magnetic Termite Mound

And with such a surreal background, a group picture was definitely in order!

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Scott, Adrienn, Ben and Emilie - Magnetic Termite Mound.

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And us!

Along the way, we stopped to view the Tolmer Falls, one of three major waterfalls along the western face of the tabletop range. During the dry season, and especially at the end of the dry season, the falls mostly dry out, leaving little of its former glory. There is no public access to the falls in order to maintain a secure setting for the rare Orange Horseshoe Bat and the endangered Ghost Bat. We had to make do with viewing it from a platform, which was good enough.

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Tolmer Falls

The short walk to the platform showed some extraordinary views across the vast planes, a cluster of cypress pines and cycad plants in a small valley. A desolate landscape, frequented mostly by aboriginals, which only deepens your respect for them.

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Desolate Landscapes

Next, we drove to the picturesque Wangi Falls. This is one of Litchfield National Park's more accessible destinations, which in turn makes it very popular. It has a gorgeous plunge pool at the base of the waterfalls and even though there are signs scattered all around warning visitors of crocodiles, we could not resist having a leisurely swim. Not until we made sure that there was plenty more fish in the sea for the crocodiles to feast on before getting to us, of course! ;) The first, smaller waterfall has a mini plunge pool which can be accessed after a short climb up the rocks. It makes for a very relaxing spot and from up above, through the mist of the water pouring down, you get such a beautiful view.

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Wangi Falls

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Crocodile Warning Signs at Wangi Falls

From there, we went on to visit Florence Falls. A short walk from the car park brings you to a lookout over the gorge with excellent views of falls and the surrounding forest.

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Florence Falls Lookout

To get down to the base of the pools and its lovely plunge pool you need to go down a series of stairs (the internet advises me that there are in fact 135 steps in total) which are quite a challenge in the 30'C heat. But once you make it all the way down, you are yet again treated to a picturesque setting with an inviting plunge pool. It was crowded with visitors when we got there in the early afternoon and many crazy devils were climbing up the rocks so they could jump at their heart's content. We had another swim whilst enjoying the peace and quiet and occasional screams followed by loud splashing noises.

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Florence Falls

And last but not least, we stopped by the Buley Rockhole, which as the name suggests is a series of rock holes along Florence Creek. It is a gorgeous little place with an ever present sound of falling water. It was getting late and we head to get back soon, so only the men went for a swim. They were acting like little children who had just been set free, going crazy and jumping about. And yes, there are videos to prove it! ;)

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Big kid Scott!

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Buley Rockholes

And that was the end of our time in Litchfield National Park. A gorgeous sunset accompanied us most of the way back into Darwin, which made us decide to stop at Mindil Beach Market for a bite to eat before heading home. It was just the perfect little outing!

I have posted the full set of pictures onto Facebook already. You can view the full album for free by clicking here: Litchfield National Park Album Unfortunately, some of the features on Facebook have changed, so I am hoping that sharing this album still works without non-members having to sign up for anything.

Much love, Emilie xxx

Posted by Fat Face 05:01 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Working Woman: Update!

sunny 35 °C

No, I have not been avoiding my promised blog post regarding my work-status, it's just that every time I intend to start writing about it, my situation suddenly changes. I am barely keeping track of everything that has been happening and believe you me, a lot has changed: I have gone from unemployed to suddenly juggling no less than five jobs. That's right: one, two, three, four, five... Five!!!! And who knows, maybe by the end of this post, something else might have popped up ;)

Compared to Ben's work history in Darwin, mine has been "slightly" more complicated and frustrating. As you may have read in my previous 'Working Woman' post, things did not go as anticipated and it was time for me to venture in a different sector. And you are about to hear all the juicy details! (at last!)

Where were we? Oh yes, I had my interview with childcare giant, Goodstart Early Learning (formerly known as ABC) and it was successful! YEAY! :) That was at the start of July and what came next were weeks and weeks of waiting around for my paperwork to come through. The notes taken during the interview and the short literacy test I had to take were sent out to their head office which is based at the other end of the country. Obviously. Then, I had to apply for an 'Ochre Card' which gives you clearance from the police and government to work with children. This is a must for anything that puts you in direct contact with children at work, no matter what it is you do. A copy of this and my passport then got sent back to the headquarters. Two weeks later, I had to come in to fill out my bank details, my tax file number and to sign my contract, which had to be sent off again. In the end, I started work almost a full month after my scheduled interview. It truly seemed to take aaaaages.

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Goodstart Early Learning

At long last, everything got sorted and all that was left to do was to wait for one of the centres to ring me up and book me in for some shifts. Goodstart Early Learning has no less than 10 centres around Darwin alone, so I was promised a lot of work. I had to wait a week before the first phone-call came in: a centre in the nearby town of Palmerston needed me for three full days the next week and as it turned out, they ended giving me a lot more work over the weeks that followed. Score!

Anyway, as I was working my way into Goodstart Early Learning, I received a response from another company I had applied to a few months back. I kindly declined their offer to set up an interview, thinking that I would be covered with Goodstart, but after a few weeks, it started to dawn on me that the work flow really was not as steady as I had hoped. So, I apologised and kindly asked for my interview back. Yet again a walk in the park and I walked out with a contract: YEAY! :) I was super pleased as this company was the recruitment giant Randstad, a Dutch human resources/ recruitment agency that is used all across the world. Basically, they assemble employees of all walks of life together, interview and assess them and then send them out where there is a need for them. So in my case, childcare centres across Darwin with the need for an extra pair of hands call Randstad up and they in turn offer shifts to whomever wants it (like me). You regularly have to inform them of your availability through out the week and then they will allocate you work as it comes in. This does mean that you could either get woken up by a phone-call as early as 6.30am, or it could mean that you might wait around all day for a phone-call that never comes.

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Randstad Education

I had only just started my first shift with Randstad, when the Darwin Languages Centre got in touch with me in response to an e-mail I sent them a while ago. It was dated a good month or more ago, so I was very surprised to hear from them, more so when they were so enthusiastic about wanting to have me on board. YEAY! :) Not even an interview, nor proof that I spoke a single word of the languages I claimed to be fluent at was needed and before I knew it, I rocked up to my first class: Senior French. It was an after-school class held every Wednesday afternoon for two hours. I was really nervous and worried about being a French assistant as I haven't really been practising many of my languages lately (read: in the past six years), but I should not have worried. The main teacher is a lovely retired man by the name of Lino and as Italian as can be. His French was far from perfect, but no one seemed to care, so it made me feel a lot more at ease. He was really great with me, very welcoming and so there was never an awkward moment. Not that this cooperation lasted long, as two weeks in, it turned out that the assistant I was replacing would be coming back sooner than expected and at that same point, schools were closing for a week.

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Darwin Languages Centre

During that waiting period, I was called up by the secretary of the Darwin Languages Centre, Justyna, who offered me a position as head Dutch teacher. Before I really thought it all through, I accepted it. Not much later however, I was informed that there weren't enough pupils to start a new class (there are currently no Dutch classes being held at the centre), but if I wanted to, I could give one of the families a call and offer to do some private tutoring. I am not even sure if Justyna can legally pass on potential clients, but she did and I will be forever grateful. YEAY! :)

And that is how I become a private Dutch tutor to Jolie's children. Jolie is a lovely lady from Hong Kong who with her two children moves approximately every year to a new country/ continent for her Dutch husband's work. He works very long hours and as they mostly speak English and Cantonese at home, both parents really want their children to strengthen their Dutch roots by getting to grips with the tongue. And that is where I step in. Sort of. It is a little more complicated than that, but I will go into more detail about that some other time.

And with our ever-going work for our non-profit organisation Akwaaba Africa, this brings my grand total of jobs to five. We had our very first volunteer this Summer, we have been redesigning and bringing new life to our website (please take a look and let us know what you think: www.akwaabaafrica.org) and we are in touch with a generous organisation in Bahrain that is willing to ship a few containers filled with donations to Africa as long as we can get all the bureaucratic conundrum organized. Add to this that our mother-charity STAESA was broken into a while ago and you will understand why I list it as one of my jobs; it takes up a lot of our free time!

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Akwaaba Africa

You would think that I would be a very busy bee, but surprisingly enough five casual jobs do not even amount to one full-time job. And I am earning money both on the lowest end of the scale, as well as on the higher end of the scale, some of which comes in once a week, once a fortnight and once a month. Can you see now why it took me so long to write this blog post? It's all mightily confusing... ;)

Much love, Emilie xxx

Posted by Fat Face 05:30 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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