Friday, October 26, 2012

Timeless Bali

My earliest recollection of Bali was during my senior high years.   Bali Ha'i was the fabled special island mentioned in the musical adaptation of James Michener's Pulitzer Prize winning book "Tales of the South Pacific."  However, South Pacific's Bali Ha'i (which was inspired by Ambae, an island off-Vanuatu) is not directly related to Indonesia's Bali as I learned.

Count the moments and not the time that flies....

With my limited knowledge of the world and no travel experience then, Bali Ha'i  did capture my interest and led me to Bali.  Apart from our very own Philippine Islands' Boracay and Palawan, Bali ranked as one of the famous getaways in southeast Asia today.   I also remember reading then that Balinese women were considered to be one of the world's most beautiful women.

Bali, being a lush tropic island with its promise of pristine white sands and breathtaking sunset reminiscent of our own Manila Bay sunset - easily goes to our bucket of "places to go" list.  I generally keep expectations simple.

Bali is a 2.5 hr direct plane ride from Singapore.  It was still considered off-peak season and we were able to get a relatively cheaper fare via Air Asia. We were greeted by sunny weather that day upon arriving at Bali's Denpasar Airport, which was undergoing massive renovations. I saw the architectural rendition of the upcoming revitalized Denpasar Airport and I must say, it will be a sight to behold when it's finished. It will manage to stay genuinely Balinese and at the same time, breath that world class look and feel. Something to look forward to.

Approaching Lembongan Island

Bali is also a significant vacation for Kyla who is celebrating her 9th birthday this month and she requested this destination. 

After weighing the options for the accomodations, we chosed Holiday Inn Baruna Bali Resort Hotel.   For one, it is situated on a beachfront, perfect for my vision of strolling along the beach on a sunset and suits Kyla's personal agenda.  Kyla started collecting sea shells and corals from the beaches we have been to. This resort is also 10-minutes away from the airport. You can actually see and hear the airplanes landing to the runway if you hang around at the beach.

Our Villa for the week. This one is secluded from the rest of the hotels.

View of the beach from our terrace

We got a spacious junior suite that can accomodate the main bed and has convertible sofa bed big enough for two kids.  It has a separate dining area and a mini living room where the sofa bed was stashed.   At some point in life, space is a precious non-negotiable bit when hunting for a place to stay.

Truth to tell, I did not have an agenda planned for the 4 day-holiday. I deviated from my usual "we gotta have an itinerary planned in advance to maximize the trip" mentality. I figured, heck, I've been doing planning everyday of my life... Why on earth would I want to do the same on a holiday right?
So we decided to just be spontaneous and see where the week will lead us.  So for the first two days it was simply the art of doing nothing.

Sand art and girly stuff

Waiting for the Sunset

 There are a variety of package tours available in Bali depending on your preference.  For the city slicker, one can have a tour of the rural villages and country life.  For the history buff, Bali have several temples where you can find remnants of the by-gone era; or have a tropical safari and white water rafting adventure. The famous Tanah Lot temple is best viewed during sunset.

Holiday Inn hosted a BBQ Buffet that also comes with a cultural show featuring Balinese traditional dances and the iconic Mas (ie, masked charactrers). Guest were also treated to free henna tattoo which Kyla and I availed of. I got my metamorphosis icon for a tattoo.

With the Balinese Cultural Presentors

Balinese Women in a traditional dance

Kyla's first (henna) tattoo

On our third day we decided to take the cruise to the nearby Lembongan Island. It is an hour's sail aboard Bali Hai II. This will take you to Bali Hai Cruise's private beach club where you can enjoy the tranquil view and white sand beaches, do a bit of snorkeling, parasailing, diving and endless Banana boat ride.  Sumptuous tropical BBQ buffet is served by lunch time.  And by siesta, you can simply, just bask under a hammock and watch the clouds passing by and keep an eye on the coconut trees in case something falls from the sky, which is what Kyla and I did.  You may also opt to get Balinese massage in one of the huts dotting the beachfront.

Welcome Aboard to Bali Hai Cruise !

Basking under the hot Bali sun and unbelievably cool waters

Kevin found his own napping spot at the Beach Club
My favorite part of the week was strolling along the beachfront, watching the twilight -- that point in time when the sky turns to red-orange as the sun starts to be enveloped by the clouds at the horizon.  Alvin and I watched Kevin and Kyla smiling and playing just over the shore and it was as of that moment was frozen for eternity and there was just timelessness....
I've always loved the twilight...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Food Rules by Michael Pollan

The Cover Page
This book by Michael Pollan came to my attention while reading Daphne Osena-Paez' blog. I checked the book review and excerpts before deciding to buy a copy. I got the 2011 hardbound edition. Earlier editions of the same book would have the 'pea in a pod' cover art.

I must say it's a must read for people who care about their health!  I am no health expert but I daresay that what goes into our system significantly affects the outlook of our health.   Not so many years ago, I learned this the hard way.   For moms like me, it is never too early -- or too late -- to imbibe good eating habits to our children (and yes, to our spouses as well!).  Fortunately, my two kids have no qualms about eating green, leafy vegetables.  Something I could have benefitted from when I was growing up.

And, I really hate to say this, but let's face it --  at a certain age, we have to put extra attention to our health if we want to live long enough to enjoy life (and for my husband and I, hopefully long enough to enjoy our grandchildren, if not beyond). 

If those are not great motivations to begin with, I don't know what is!   I am personally guilty of having too many excuses for sticking to healthy eating and this book is exactly the extra jolt I needed.

"The Food Rules" are centered on 83 simple rules to live by for a lifetime of good health, good food.  It's a fun, lightweight read, if not quite chatty. Reading it is like having an afternoon chit chat with an old friend over coffee.  My kind of reading.  I hope you get the drift.   As a bonus, the refreshing illustrations by Maira Kalman were a joy to see.

The 83 rules actually condense into 3 main concepts / chapters:

Eat Food.

Mostly Plants.

Not Too Much.

After finishing the book, I realized there is nothing rocket-science about the food rules presented.  We learned most of these were stuff we learned from grade school sciences and home economics. But it doesn't hurt to be reminded from time to time.   There were also new ideas I've extracted from this book that I've decided to immediately put into good use and I must say I'm pleased!

Rule 76: Place a bouquet of flowers on the table
and everything will taste twice as good.
I agree!!!  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

POSB PAssion Run for Kids 2012

Our second venture into family fun run was greeted by a pleasant and breezy Sunday morning weather with the Marina Promontory and the panoramic Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay as the picturesque backdrop of the 3.5 KM Family Walk event.

Gardens by the Bay - Literally a stroll in the park kindda thing

"The POSB PAssion Kids Fund aims to support the children in the community through different programmes. It is part of the People's Association Community Development Fund (PACDF) whose objective is to promote activities and programmes which will contribute towards social capital and community development." (POSB Fun Run Webpage)

Race Pack Collection at Velocity Sports Mall

Each participant receives a runner's pack that include shirt, shoe bag and towel
Since it is technically a walking event, there is less pressure at hand. Kyla, being the competitive one, did insist we should run instead of walking  (boring, she did say...). Nevertheless the temptation for photo ops especially at the Gardens area got the better of me.

There are also running events earlier that day including the 10KM competitive event but we chosed to do the Family Walk so that we can enjoy this together.

More pictures from the event...

Waiting Area overlooks the MBS. Beauty!
Comic Relief. Kyla running backwards!
Can't resist it! The photo op, that is!
What did I tell you - it's a walk in the park!