We had a pleasant and quick 2 1/2hour flight from Chennai to Kuala Lumpur, an overnight stay there and then a morning flight to Denpasar arriving there on the 2nd January.

The new airport is operational (of sorts) with sporadic power outages and our arrival time of 3pm coincided with about three other planeloads and few immigration staff which resulted in a 2hour wait in line.  We felt sorry for our poor driver who had been waiting for us and who told us that with the increased traffic everywhere in Bali, a trip from the airport up to Ubud (even with the new toll road out into the ocean) can take up to 3hours.  In the middle of the night this trip takes 40minutes.  Wayan (our driver) told us that there are 45 new transport drivers (with 45 new cars-most on hire purchase) on the road in the Penestanan area which makes for less work for everyone, increased traffic and more noise especially the modified exhausts on some of the motorbikes which makes you wish you owned a gun!  We hate to think what it will be like in another year.

We are glad that we are in our little villa away from the road and we can walk to the supermarket, yoga or just have a walk through the rice paddies away from it all.

We had four lovely days with our friends Tony and Michelle from Perth and the day they left Maurice’s sister Maura and her husband Tony arrived for 2 weeks.  We only have a 1bedroom villa this time so unfortunately our guests had to stay elsewhere but we made use of our private pool and lounge.  Maura and I did a cooking course at “Laka Leke” restaurant which is located close to the Monkey Forest and in a lovely garden setting.  We made marinated chicken salad, Nasi Goreng, Balinese style prawns, chicken curry and black sticky rice.  It was all delicious and two days later we bought all the ingredients and made most of it again.

It has rained a few times and sometimes the rain has been torrential with a lot of thunder and lightning but no fierce storms.

We have a great coffee shop down the road as well as many organic and non organic restaurants in Penestanan, Ubud where we are staying.  We are spoilt for choice.  The “Bridges” restaurant which we have visited already twice and the “Beduur” restaurant at the Hanging Gardens hotel in the hills north of Ubud are exceptionally good with wonderful food and service and many little extras which you rarely get at home.

You can still get good, safe food at the little restaurants in Penestanan for
between $3-$5 for a meal (as long as you don’t have wine) which makes it very economical (given we are staying a couple of months)to eat out and we can treat ourselves occasionally with more expensive meals at fancier restaurants or cook ourselves if we feel like it.

We don’t have a washing machine at the villa this time but as a large bag of
returned washing ironed and wrapped in plastic only cost between $3-$4 dollars we have resorted to using this wonderful service.  The washing is dropped off by our lovely houseboy Lopo and delivered back.  He arrives every morning gives us fruit and toast breakfast, makes the bed and cleans the whole place every day including the small garden and the pool.  All this for $52 a day.  No complaints!

I had my credit card hacked (from the USA)and wondered why I could no longer use my card. The bank had cancelled it. They sent me a new card and a few days later a new pin number which I could still not use as they (ANZ) had omittted to tell me that I then had to be identified?! so we trekked down to the Australian consulate in Denpasar (where they treat you like a criminal even after showing Australian ID) Before you can walk to the main office you have to give up your mobile phone, camera, USB sticks and advise where you are staying. They then took $35 for taking a photocopy of my ID and stamped the form we had filled out already which took all of 2minutes.

We had a slight change of plans.  I flew down to Perth on the 21st January to have an endoscopy/colonoscopy.  My lower abdomen had been feeling strange for  a few months and after several other tests in Ireland and Bali decided it needed to be investigated.  Maurice stayed in Bali and I went and stayed with Maurice’s sister and brother in law who had only left Bali a couple of days beforehand.  Luckily it turned out to be a diverticular pocket and it has given me no problem since so I was very relieved and glad to get back to Maurice in Bali after catching up with as many friends as possible over the 5days before and after hospital procedures and it was nice seeing the gum trees against the blue sky, the Swan River and the lovely clean blue ocean at City Beach .

We had to make a day trip to Singapore on the 31st January for us to have another month in Indonesia. The new airport in Bali is so much better than the old one and thank goodness we didn’t have a 2hour wait at immigration when we flew back from Singapore.  There is however only one rubbish coffee shop called “grand canyon” and they have used very low quality carpet on the floor which is already badly stained after only a few months.

Our next lot of friends (Colin and Kandy) arrived on the 1st February for a few days and now we are back to our normal routine of breakfast followed by a good coffee down the road, browsing the internet (planning of this years’ travels) followed by lunch, yoga and a light dinner.  There are dozens of videos in our villa so we have watched a few of these.

The lovely spa is just across our driveway so we have had a number of treatments.   Manicures ($8 for an hour) and $14 for an hour and a half massage.  Prices we only dream about in Australia.

One important event when we arrived back from Singapore was that my English passport arrived so now we will both have no grief with Australian passports and the Schengen agreement – relief.

We have another 3 weeks here in Ubud before heading on the fast boat 1 1/2 hours to Gili Trawangan and Gili Ayer (islands off Lombok) for 10days before spending a week on Lombok and then back to Candi Dasa on the east coast of Bali to catch up with friends from Sydney for a week.

We will spend our last three days in Bali in Seminyak before flying to Kuala Lumpur for 2days and then Dubai for a few days before heading back to Rome and Roccamandolfi to pick up the campervan and continuing our European travels.

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