Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Bye Bye Gili Air

Finally, we came to the end of our amazing time on Gili Air [nostalgic tear]. Time to say good bye to the little baby goats that were born on my birthday

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And good bye to the wonderful family we stayed with (oh, how I’ll miss the delicious Indonesian breakfasts and Lombok coffee made by the grandmother, Camaria; and seeing the grandfather wandering in the beautiful garden at dawn, caressing the dew from his plants, plucking weeds, bringing the cow in to “mow” the lawn)!

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We got ourselves all packed up and said goodbye to our island home, and got on the boat back to Bali. Back to the land of noisy cars and motorbikes, smog, smells, hassling street hawkers… And also mountains and rice terraces.

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We went back to the sanctuary of the fancy hotel we’d stayed at the first couple of nights in Bali, and got our same room again – nice to have a little comfort and familiarity!

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Littletree had to get one last fish spa

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And we spent our last day doing a little last-minute souvenir shopping, and relaxing by the pool to get a last little kiss of sun before getting on the plane back to the winter.

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Littletree is homesick for Gili Air already! She said she never wants to leave there…

Friday, 25 May 2012

Monkeying Around

The gang went out on a boat trip on Bali to see dolphins this week – well, I didn’t go as it would have meant getting two boats to fit us all in, and at this end of the trip the budget is starting to wear a little thin ;)

Littletree had an awesome time, they saw five or six pods of dolphins, right up close to the boats. At this point, I’m not sure if it was wise or foolish, but Littletree didn’t take a camera out with her (yeah, when a small boat, small hands, and gravity are combining on the ocean, I’m not sure I want my camera involved!) so no pictures…

But on the way back from the dolphin beach, we saw… MONKEYS!!!

The kids were enthralled, so we pulled over for a closer look.

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So cute! This grandpa one was awesome

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The kids, of course, couldn’t help throwing them some bananas

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And naturally, the monkeys their very own pet dog.

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See; educational!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Gone Fruity!

In addition to all the awesome, scrumptious Indonesian food, we’ve also been exploring the local markets and trying all sorts of delectable delights.

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Well, not the bunnies, though Littletree and Anasho could have stayed and played with the rabbits all day, if I hadn’t badgered them to go and wash their hands for lunch!

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I was rewarded with finding some of my favourite of favourite: DURIAN!

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Woo hoo! I love love love love durian! Yum! It’s the best ever. Well… I love it. Apparently, less discerning people think it’s revolting

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Ah well; more for me!

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And for those who aren’t enamoured with the fruit of gods, there’s always the delectable, luscious, juicy sweetness of mangosteens

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As well as papaya, pineapple, bananas, mangoes, about 30 kinds of passionfruit, chicoes, lychees, rambutans, longans… and all sorts of funny little fruits I don’t even know what they are!


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Epic Sandcastles

What can one do when one is living beachside on a small tropical island? Swim, swim, swim and swim! Well, asides from the snorkelling; collecting and studying the amazing coral;

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And marine life;

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And aside from playing football on the beach; and learning about the life cycle of turtles; and running around with kids, and learning to speak Bahasa Indonesia; and getting our heads around exchange rates that are 1:9500… there’s always sandcastles EPIC SANDCASTLES!

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The kids got hard to work constructing the most elaborate architecture

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They devised ways of building bridges, and using driftwood and coral to reinforce construction

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Moats, tunnels, waterways, drainage systems… And the inevitable race against the tide

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(yeah, some of the “big kids” got in on the fun from time to time ;) )

I’m just continually impressed by the ingenuity of kids working in groups – it’s incredible to see how they solve problems and learn together.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Beach Football

We brought Littletree’s soccer ball to Indonesia, which has been a great success! Littletree recently discovered a love of playing football (apt, as she was born on a soccer field), and she’s been getting some great practice in on the beach in the evenings.

Not only is football Littletree’s latest sport du Jour, the other kids love playing as well; we’ve gotten some great games happening, with locals as well.

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And, as it turns out, football is the main sport on the island, with local teams setting up beach-side games every day in the hour before sunset. The only thing they miss is a proper soccer ball; the games being played with cheap plastic kiddie balls, so Littletree’s proper ball is like gold here.

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Gili Air island is incredibly safe, the small local population have an agreement that there will be no crime on the island so as to keep a good reputation with the tourists. Apparently, if any of the locals are caught stealing, they are beaten up and kicked off the island. I feel totally safe to leave my handbag on the beach while I swim, or have my computer on our balcony… but that soccer ball! We can’t leave it unattended for a second!

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Every wandering hawker passing by trying to sell sarongs or trinkets or pineapples gets big-eyed when they spot it; we’ve had dozens of offers to trade for it - a king’s ransom in hand-carved Balinese necklaces and batik sundresses. It gets snaffled up every time we turn around, but we always find it in use, not to far up the beach, and the locals always hand it back again cheerfully when we point out that it belongs to Littletree :)

(I wrote this post last week some time, and I thought it published… but - yay for slow, erratic internet – seems it didn’t work, so I’m re-trying again!)

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Gili Meno

For the second part of our epic snorkelling trip, we went for a quick stop on Gili Trawangan and then to Gili Meno island for lunch and a visit to the baby turtle hatchery. Littletree was fascinated with the baby turtles, and the project to protect them at the hatchery where the eggs are collected and the babies raised in safety before being released into the wild (I sense a new biology-related interest coming on).


The kids also went into the bird park on Gili Meno


Littletree was hugely excited to see a palm cockatoo (she has a favourite documentary about them)


And there was even a cheeky crocodile


And even I have to admit; this was most definitely educational :)

Snorkelling Trip

Bella organised a snorkelling trip for all the home schooling families – we got to go out in a glass-bottom boat!

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We did delay the trip because a tropical storm moved in and the weather was rough for a few days, but the day we set out was so clear and calm, we even had a rare view of the usually cloud-shrouded volcano on Lombok

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And then as we came around to the other side of our little island, Gili Air, we got a clear view all the way to to the volcano on Bali, far in the distance!

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The glass-bottom boat was pretty cool – I didn’t manage to get good photos through it, but we were treated to a little window down into the underwater world, which was pretty special

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The guide took us out to a place called The Coral Gardens, just off the north-west side of our island. Oh, it was AMAZING! I’ve never been snorkelling before, but even the others said this place was extra-special.

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Such an incredible array of tropical fish, huge ones of all the colours of the rainbow, glowing neon amidst the beautiful coral and anemones. Wow!

I even saw a manta ray, and we got to see turtles! It was absolutely incredible!

Thursday, 17 May 2012


Happy Birthday to Me! I’m thirty three :)

Littletree plotted behind my back to organise, with the help of AquaCat, a surprise party for me at the local beach bar where we hang out. They somehow managed to conspire that I would be kept busy at home for the morning, and then got a massage in the afternoon, so when I finally arrived at the beach, our sala was all decorated and beautiful. Everyone jumped out and yelled Surprise!

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I’ve never had a surprise party before! Littletree was so excited

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AquaCat played music for us all

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And people bought me fancy cocktails

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As the sun set I played some guitar and talked with friends while the kids played on the beach

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We had an awesome feast – barbecued barracuda and all manner of delectable treats

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And then the big surprise – they had organised a birthday cake!

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I was somewhat dubious, given my experience with birthday cakes in South East Asia, but it was the perfect touch to a wonderful party

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And of course, the kids loved it, frothy, sickly icing and all!

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Yay! So now it’s only 364 days till my birthday!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Beach Life

Ack! I’ve been trying to post this post for several days, but the internet on this island is verrrrry iffy! …

Most days we wake up early – the Muslim call-to-prayer starts up shortly before five in the morning, the roosters jump in shortly after and the sun starts rising around six.

The kids play with the kittens in the garden till breakfast is served; fruit and a choice between banana pancakes or egg and tomato toast. Then it’s off to the beach!

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Our favourite spot to settle is a place called Zipp – a little beachside restaurant and bar with sun-lounges and bamboo salas set up just beyond the high-tide mark.

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It’s nice and shady, and we can order cool drinks and snacks in between dips in the crystal clear water, and we have a clear view of the kids, who spend their days snorkelling and playing on the beach.

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The snorkelling is especially amazing; loads of coral reef, and fantastic tropical fish and all sorts of marine life to explore!

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Evenings we take a walk around the island – takes about an hour and a half at an ambling pace – so we can take in the sunset on the far side (and last night we even got back to our side of the island in time to catch the waxing-full moon rising over the ocean!

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And yes, it’s all very educational!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Welcome to our Island Home

We finally made ready to get out of Bali, after two hectic days we were more than happy to be on a boat to somewhere tranquil!

AquaCat managed to get us a good deal on boat tickets direct to Gili Air, including transfers from our hotel. We were pretty lucky to get a good spot at the back of the boat and the sea was pretty calm – Littletree had a ball, watching out for dolphins and mermaids and seeing the little islands go by.

Littletree rockin out on the boat

We had a quick stop at Lombok

The quick view of Lombok from the dock

(photo by Littletree)

And then it was on to Gili! Bella and Anasho were there at the dock to meet us coming off the boat and walk us over to Villa Kompok - the bungalows they organised for us to stay in.

What a paradise! We’ve taken over a whole compound for the unschooling families; everyone gets their own little bungalow, each with it’s own cute balcony and flower garden.

The cute bungalows we're staying in

There’s also a kitchen we can use so we can cook (of course, we still eat a lot in the local restaurants, but believe it or not, fried rice and gado gado can get boring after a while!) and it’s all in a gorgeous enclosed garden with a view of the ocean.

The garden and compound at Villa Kompok

Naturally, we dumped our bags in the room and ran off to the beach to laze around and drink a cocktail in celebration of our arrival while the kids swam!

The kids swimming on the beach, view from our bamboo sala

People keep telling me homeschooling must be such hard work… I’m sure that’s gonna kick in any minute now!