Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Somewhere Over the Swiss Alps

By far the most scenic flight of my life! How amazing are these snow covered mountains! I'm not sure "cold" gets prettier than this! I was glued to the window, watching them fade away and wishing we could fly a little bit closer so I could jump out! Next vacation, I'm booking a trip to Switzerland! 

Simply Amazing!!

Another breathtaking place in this beautiful world!

Swiss Alps fading away! 
I'll have to come back to see them up close and personal!

Coming in for our landing!
Such a bitter sweet day for us... all the memories made and stories to tell!
Where will our next travels take us?! For me... I'm heading to Texas!!!
Home Sweet Home!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Meeting The Medicine Man

Ketut Liyer from Eat Pray Love!
What an amazing experience!! We woke up around 6am, had breakfast and headed out for his house to wait for Ketut to start his day. Since the movie Eat Pray Love with the forever famous Julia Roberts, he has become a busy man. Before the movie he saw maybe 3 people a day and sometimes none at all. Now, there are 25 numbers... first come first serve. 25 people a day seems like a lot to me for a 99 year old man, but he is so happy for the company that never ceases to end. We were number 8! After introductions he brought out the Eat Pray Love book by Elizabeth Gilbert and sweetly flipped through the pages showing us where his name was printed... this seemed to make him extremely proud and happy. I was thrilled! Then he handed me a letter from Elizabeth Gilbert herself asking me to read it to him because he doesn't know English all that well. The letter was a kind letter of well wishes to Ketut because he had been sick with kidney stones and was undergoing surgery soon. She had sent gratitude for teaching her about love, sent her love and signed it with a heart followed by her name. He didn't know what 'gratitude' meant, what sending love meant or what the symbol of a heart was supposed to mean. We tried our best to explain. He asked if we had read the book and was happy when we said yes, of course, that is why we are here! After he put the book and letter away he had me sit Indian style in front of him, looking at my eyes, ears, cheeks, and forehead... he said he was happy and glad I came. He took my palm and began with the life line... telling me I'd live to 100 and that my husband would live to 101. He talked about love, marriage, children, success, my family in heaven, and that I must slow down when driving. He traced the vein in my arm and became startled with goosebumps... raising his shirt to show them to us several times. This was good he said, great blood... I have no idea what this is supposed to mean? Regardless, we loved meeting Ketut! It was a really special moment and he's charming to say the least. I hope we are as happy when we're 99 as we found him to be. A simple life and full of happiness and a laugh that is contagious. You just can't help smiling in his presence.

"To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced life." -Ketut Liyer

Ibah Warwick Luxury Villas & Spa

I fell in love with the charming Ibah! It's located in the artistic and cultural heart of the island Bali, which fits in perfectly with the lavish decor and is the ideal setting for a holistic getaway. Such a special place with a lovely and attentive staff! They made us feel welcome from the moment the driver greeted us at the airport and everyday after that. The exterior of the villas, restaurant, spa and pool reflect the traditional style of Bali. The enchanting gardens, moss covered stone walls carved with sculptures and the fragrant incense drifting though the air are examples of the island's heritage. They are committed to preserving the richness of Bali and we enjoyed every minute of it!

Poolside shade


Fresh fragrant flowers daily

Ibah's lovely Restaurant

Walking paths to your individual villa

Our last stroll in Bali... this was the most wonderful trip! 
I will miss every tiny detail, but looking forward to going HOME!!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Bali's Mount Agung

We set out on our next adventure exactly at midnight with a long drive to the base of a sleeping volcano in Bali. We were climbing Mount Agung (10,308 feet) in the middle of the night just to reach the summit by sunrise. I had read a little about this climb and expected 5 leg burning hours of hiking, a few breaks for water and a cooler climate once we reached the top. I was excited and my husband a little apprehensive. I've never considered myself afraid of heights; I've been cliff jumping, bridge diving, skydiving, and what I thought was mountain climbing all before this adventure. But I can honestly say after this experience, I might be somewhat afraid of heights when combined with strong winds while clinging to nothing but a slick wall of rock! I actually became petrified at one point (about 10 minutes from the top) and wondered why my lovely husband would let me make such crazy ridiculous plans? Forgetting, in the moment of my panic, how well I convinced him this was a once in a lifetime opportunity! It must have been a good spiel to get us both in this situation. Our guide, Ketut, took on the mountain with the grace of a mountain goat as I watched in half awe and half anxiety. About an hour into our climb my flashlight died and this should have been a red flag, but my excitement to see the top trumped all rationale. So, between Ketut and my husband I clung to the earth like an inchworm, fumbling for anything I could wrap my fingers around in the dark. Ruining my beautiful manicure, I followed the dance of their trusty flashlights. After 2 hours we stopped for water and to gear up for the colder climate ahead of us. Ketut advised us in his limited English to continue “slowly, slowly.” We were to reach the top in 1 hour and 30 minutes and the closer we got, the more unwilling my legs became to take each step. I could see the silhouette of the summit and it seemed impossible to reach from where I was hanging on. The wind was vicious and I was convinced my backpack was the only thing keeping me grounded as it whipped around us from all directions. Ketut watched as I became as still as moss growing on a rock, but with my husband reassuring me we were fine we kept going... “slowly, slowy.” Finally, reaching the top an hour before sunrise, we had finished the hike in 3 hours and 30 minutes! Ketut prepared a modest Balinese breakfast and we sat in silence watching the clouds roll in and out, waiting for the sun to rise. This was the reason we came and I was in complete awe. A humbling experience and a reality check for my adventure seeking self!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Koh Phi Phi Leh Lounging

In all my life I have never seen anything more beautiful! The islands of Southern Thailand are breathtaking and there are over 35 of them to visit!! You could island hop for a month!! Each one as beautiful as the last and calling your name to bask in the sun. If I'm ever deserted on an island, I hope it's one of these! We spent the day visiting, Koh Phi Phi Leh, Phi Phi Leh Lagoon, Koh Phi Phi Don, Maya Bay (which I would advise passing up because it's a tourist nightmare since the filming of The Beach with Leonardo Dicaprio... overcrowded and tiny) & Bamboo Island to name a few... snorkeling, swimming and sunbathing our hearts out!

A little starfish!

These starfish were everywhere!

Koh Phi Phi Lagoon

Snorkeling was beautiful! So many gorgeous fish!

Sea Urchin

Large Starfish all closed and ready to go back to the sea!

We will definitely miss this side of Thailand!!