Beautiful Bali: Where calm meets chaos.

When you arrive in Bali (at Denpasar airport) there is an immediate feeling that you have stepped back in time. The airport has a 1980s/1990s feel about it. Things just are not as modern here.

Once you have shown passports to security, who are seated by little wooden crates (bizarre I know), you collect your bags and head out. Next you are faced with a row of cubicles (all glassed in) with money exchange workers all frantically waving and smiling to get your attention. It feels as though you’re in a red-light district with ‘ladies-in-the-window’ and is somewhat unnerving. It’s difficult not to stare (or laugh) at the weirdness of it all and so you find yourself quickly dashing along. I managed to avoid being lured in to any of the stares. Phew!

Outside the airport there are streams of taxis everywhere. Luckily we had a pre-arranged minbus transfer arranged to take us from the airport to our villa, but it seemed easy enough for people to flag one down. The carpark is chaos and if that’s anything to judge Bali by…..it gets busier. The road from the airport to Seminyak (normally 20 minutes drive) was packed and the journey took over an hour.

Seminyak is one of Bali’s hotspots. Located on the south of the island, by Denpasar (the island’s capital), Seminyak boasts a huge number of private villas, restaurants and bars. It draws in tourists from all over the world, but in particular Australians (many of whom are enjoying their hen-weekends or stag-dos).

So many of Bali’s visitors stay in private villas. I can see why. Behind the doors, away from the chaos of traffic and tourists passing by is a tranquil and harmonius villa. Inside the villa, my eyes quickly did the dream-holiday-checklist. Pool. Open-space. Lounge. Kitchen (I don’t plan on using it, but still….). Bedroom one (huge). En-suite (love it). Bedroom two (also huge). Another en-suite. Decking around the pool. Water feature. My eyes at this stage are flashing from one place to another. I’m greedily taking it all in. Heaven.

Staying in a villa in Bali can be a dangerous move. It’s not life threatening. It’s culturally dangerous. You might become so relaxed and ‘chilled-out’ behind the closed doors that you end up spending your time there instead of exploring. Don’t be too chilled. You must explore.

The nightlife in Seminyak is mixed. It doesn’t have the feel of a stag-do and hen-do holiday destination. It’s not like Blackpool (UK) or Amsterdam (Holland)….. or anywhere else that you find pre-wedding groups drinking their last moments of freedom away. It all seems slightly more classy here in Bali. There are security guards EVERYWHERE. Do not panic. They stand at the road side by every villa, bar and restaurant. If anything you feel safe with them all around, but I did wonder whether they were security or hotel staff (the strict uniform can be quite deceiving). They all carry lightsabers which I found very amusing. Not quite up to the standard and length of Darth Vader, although they still light up red and look great fun at night.

A day trip is a must. Taking a taxi for the entire day is easy and innexpensive in Bali. The staff wherever you stay are more than likely to assist in the arrangement. Our three butlers were brilliant at helping to organise our days. The service is always at its best. The taxi ride is a mouth-opening, extreme sight-seeing and epic journey. The roads are crazy. Busy. Packed……

There are cars. Bicycles. Motorbikes. Mopeds…… For every car there are about 10 mopeds zooming beside you. Think mayhem. Controlled mayhem, although I wouldn’t dare get on a moped in Seminyak.

Next, you see what they are carrying. We’re talking full loads. Mopeds with 4 passengers (oh, plus the driver)…..and one of the passengers is carrying a adult-sized bike on the back. It’s crazy!

Along the road side there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of shops selling wooden carvings, stone work, mosaic bowls, kites and more….and more…..and more. The shops repeat and repeat and repeat themselves along the longest straightest road. My poor camera.

There are lots of hot spots to visit. We choose to visit Ubud with the rice fields. If you have never visited places like this (like me) then all expectations are blown out of the water. The rice fields were great! I wasn’t expecting the slopes to be quite so steep. The driver let us wander and explore. We sat by the edge of the rice fields and had something local to eat. Yum.

The journey back was just as interesting – more shops and sights to see.

In Bali, aside from the wonderful Ubud and the shops we also ventured along the coast. The sandy beaches are beautiful. Palm trees line the coast and add to the holiday feel.

Bali. Simply brilliant.

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Planking: 10 things you didn’t need to know about it.

Planking is a popular craze that has been sweeping the globe. Admittedly, it takes little or no talent to achieve, so it probably explains why it’s popular with idiots morons creative people students…… I really can’t decide (I think I’ll stick with idiots*). Here is my useless list of the 10 things you didn’t need to know about Planking.

What a planker!

  1. The game is also known as the Lying Down Game (how very imaginative). It does however describe the ‘game’ in a nutshell.
  2. How do you play? It is an activity consisting of lying face down in an unusual or incongruous location. The hands must touch the sides of the body, and having a photograph of the participant taken and posted on the internet (preferably facebook.com) is an integral part of the game. [Definition taken from Wikipedia].
  3. It’s particularly popular in Australia and Asia. I have lots of readers over there. Hi guys, Do you all like Planking?
  4. I called them idiots* because on 15 May 2011, Acton Beale, a 20-year-old man, plunged to his death after reportedly “planking” on a seventh-floor balcony in Brisbane, Australia. He was the first known casuality of the Planking craze.
  5. Planking has it’s own website. Can you believe it? It really does and you can find it here.

    How did she get there?

  6. Social Networking is such a vital part of the craze. You can be part of the Planking Network if you feel like giving it a go.
  7. I have friends on Facebook who have tried Planking. I didn’t know whether to admit it – but it’s true. The question is….. Should I give it a go?
  8. Tumblr has a great selection of photographs of people Planking. Some really will make you laugh.
  9. It is claimed that the game, which has been described as “Parkour for those who can’t be arsed”, was invented by Gary Clarkson and Christian Langdon in 1997 and first became popular in North East England (That’s where I’m from – Oh the shame).
  10. I found another blog post about the craze. Worth a read. Here’s another great post about planking.

Viral Internet Crazes: Another crazy post about them here. You’ll be amazed.

 

“Take your shoes off when you we go to bed”…..said the waitress.

That’s what the nice waitress from the Czech Republic said to me. I was expecting a drink – not an invitation to bed.

“If you could just take of your shoes when we go to bed…” I had to do the double-take…. The ‘sorry-did-I-hear-that-right’ look… I was stunned and then I realised that it was ‘all part of the experience’.

I feel I should explain – I was with friends. Yes, I was taking 5 friends to bed with me too! BED is a great cocktail bar in Prague. It was discovered quite by accident after a long day of walking and city exploration. Tucked away on the quieter corner of Prague’s main square the bright white and pink sign stood out and we were instantly attracted (like flies to the light). Inside everything looked hip and trendy. There was a very cosmopolitan feel to the bar. We were keen to enjoy a couple of cocktails before moving on to another bar. That was the plan – but when do those plans ever work out?

Here we are - just ordered our cocktails.

There were no chairs and tables in BED. Everywhere you looked were huge lounger-beds with people laid flat-out or snuggled together (shoes off) and enjoying their drinks. We were escorted led down a spiral staircase to the brightly lit basement. (This all sounds so much worse than it was. It was not a dodgy bar. It was very nice and bright). That’s when our waitress told us about ‘going to bed’. We slipped our shoes off, giggled a bit – It all felt a bit strange (it doesn’t happen in most place of course) and then we hopped on to the huge mattresses. The walls, floor, beds, sheets, tables were all white. The lighting was blue and it gave the place a surprisingly warm feel. The music was great. Chill-out lounge – we loved you!

The chill out beds - just before people arrived.

 

Easier to climb down that up, after a few cocktails.

I can see why the place is so popular. Why don’t more bars do this? It was so comfortable. We lay back and stretched out. Our bed could have easily accommodated about 8 people (or more). We looked at the cocktail menu and ordered. This was the life! Pure relaxation.

About 3 hours later – all plans of ever moving on to another bar had gone ‘out of the window’. We were staying here. It was too good a place to leave. We had watched other groups and couples arrive and give the same puzzled looks as they de-shoed and hopped onto a bed.

Loving my mojito!

I love to go out and enjoy an evening with friends. This bar will stay in my memory for its individuality. If you’re ever in Prague you must take a look.

BED in Prague. A must see!

You might also enjoy reading:

Bring Me Back to Bed (look, someone else has been and loved it too).

The John Lennon Wall: Prague

Visitors at the Lennon Wall.

One of the most surprising places to visit in Prague is the John Lennon Wall – sometimes known as the Lennon Wall or the John Lennon Peace Wall. If you ever get the chance to go to Prague, don’t miss the opportunity to spend a few minutes here. It’s very close to the Charles Bridge.

Here I am at the Lennon Wall.

It is a colourful, ever-changing, graffiti-covered wall that really captures the eye and the imagination. I was lucky enough to have read about the wall in my Everyman MapGuide prior to arriving in Prague – I was so glad that I did read about it.

A tribute to the Beatles.

Situated on Velkopřevoské Square, the wall stretches approximately 20 metres. The original portrait of Lennon is long gone now, lost under layers and layers of spray-paint. Over the years, visitors continue to add lyrics from Beatles tracks, message of love and peace and their own names. I spent quite some time reading the things written. I could have spent a lot longer there – every time I looked I noticed something else.

Lennon? Why John Lennon? He wasn’t from the Czech Republic, so you would be forgiven for being confused. I was confused too.

A new portrait of John Lennon (but for how long?)

Well, the answer to that is that Lennon was a symbol of peace and a hero to the pacifist youth of Central and Eastern Europe during the totalitarian era. Before 1989 there was a ban on western pop music, especially songs by Lennon, which praised freedom. After Lennon’s death his portrait was painted on the wall, defying the authorities. From that moment the wall became a symbol of peace and freedom. There are also claims that the wall helped inspire the non-violent Velvet Revolution that led to the fall of Communism in the former Czechoslovakia.

One of my favourite shots.

Peaceful poetry.

I want to know who these people are... Love it.

All You Need Is Love.

Captivating.

St. Patrick’s Day

Lucky, lucky, lucky.

Ireland always celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in style. Even outside of Ireland, the Irish will have decked out bars and pubs with green and orange to celebrate their special day. But, what is it all about?

Here are some facts about St. Patrick’s Day:

  • St. Patrick’s Day is observed on March 17 because that is the feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. It is believed that he died on March 17 in the year 461 AD. It is also a worldwide celebration of Irish culture and history. St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday in Ireland, and a provincial holiday in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • In Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day, people traditionally wear a small bunch of shamrocks on their jackets or caps. Children wear orange, white and green badges, and women and girls wear green ribbons in their hair.
  • Many cities have a St. Patrick’s Day parade. Dublin, the capital of Ireland, has a huge St. Patrick’s Day festival from March 15-19, that features a parade, family carnivals, treasure hunt, dance, theatre and more. In North American, parades are often held on the Sunday before March 17. Some paint the yellow street lines green for the day! In Chicago, the Chicago River is dyed green with a special dye that only lasts a few hours. There has been a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Boston, Massachusetts since 1737. Montreal is home to Canada’s longest running St. Patrick’s Day parade, which began in 1824.
  •  

  • But oh, the best facts are saved for last.  The real St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish. He was born in Britain around A.D. 390 to an aristocratic Christian family with a townhouse, a country villa, and plenty of slaves. At 16, Patrick’s world turned: He was kidnapped and sent overseas to tend sheep as a slave in the chilly, mountainous countryside of Ireland for seven years.
  • …..and finally.

    75 year old Jimmy Ford, who arrived on stage dressed as a Leprechaun.
  • The joys of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’…. The word ‘talent’ is used very loosely. I think I need a Guinness now.