A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: pjburke

Off to the Mountains!!

Arenal Volcano

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19 April 2021

LIberia, Costa Rica

Last night was a quiet one. I worked on the previous posting and once the anticipated rain started we sat outside enjoying the cool(ish) moist air...and a nice cold beer. Of course, once it stopped raining - it was back to the AC.

This morning, the fun began. We repacked our bags. After really only 24 hours - we didn't need a lot of repacking. I think there was only one other guest last night so we had the dining area to ourselves for breakfast. Costa Rican pancakes are really quite good.

Adobe rental agent (Jorge) and our rental, a nice 2020 Hyundai Tucson, arrived just about 0930. After a quick inspection of the car and signing appropriate paperwork, we packed up and were on our way. I was a little nervous about driving in CR but I thought...after driving in Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Bosnia and from Belgium to Portugal - CR can't be that bad.

First stop - Kolbi store to buy a SIM card for my cell. Verizon charges $10 per day on their international plan. We paid $45 for a month with Kolbi. Also since we didn't rent the GPS with Adobe ($7per day) we are using WAZE and/or Google Maps hooked right into the car's nav system. Not sure about Google Maps but WAZE is free and we're using WhatsApp, email and/or Messenger to stay in touch. It's all quite easy.

SIM card in and we headed south into the mountains. We'll be staying at the Arenal Observatory Lodge (AOL) for three nights. It's the only hotel in the Arenal Volcano National Park and was highly recommended by my cousin Carolyn.

As you might or might not know - we don't usually splurge on accommodations. We like clean, comfortable, local places but since our 30th was last year and our three month European trip didn't happen - for obvious reasons. We did splurge a little at AOL. We opted for the Smithsonian Room with a direct view of the volcano.


Again - I digress. Back to my first driving experience in Costa Rico. After the first couple of miles - it was easy peasy. We were on the CR version of a freeway for about a half hour and then on to local roads. I was glad that we had WAZE. Signage is pretty much nonexistent as far as street signs. There was the occasional arrow pointing to a town but we could have gotten lost very easily.

I really thought it was going to take us longer than it did. There was hardly any traffic on the road. Making a left on to one road we were taken aback. There in front of us, glimmering in the bright sunlight was Lake Arenal. We really didn't think we were that close. We pulled over and also got our first glimpse of the volcano.


We decided to stop for lunch along the way and noticed a sign for Le Bistro. Pulling in, it looked very promising. Walking through the restaurant to their outdoor dining area we came face to face with a beautiful, full length view of Lake Arenal. With the sun out, feeling the gentle breeze....we couldn't ask for more.


Lunch finished and clouds rolling in - we were off. About thirty minutes down the road we found the sign for our turn off to AOL. Oh, if I didn't mention - we did opt for 4 wheel drive on our rental vehicle. We didn't think we would need it for our trip to Arenal but I was glad that we had it just in case. The 2Km drive up to the lodge had more than it's share of vehicle swallowing pot holes but once we go to the lodge - all that changed.

The manicured grounds, lush foliage and beautiful view was so much to take in - a jungle paradise.

Checking in, we we're given wrist bands that allowed us access to the amenities (pool, spa, hiking trails) and identified us as guests in the dining room. After settling in our room #29, we we off for a short hike/walk. It wasn't difficult but just walking along the paths felt like an adventure.


Dinner was a pleasant surprise. Ceviche, local cream of pumpkin soup - not exotic but very tasty.




Off to bed for our first night in the jungle, no AC but none needed as we have a screen door to our room and a ceiling fan. With the noises of the jungle in our ears - sleep came very quickly :-)

20 April 2021

Arenal Observatory Lodge

OMG - the best night sleep I have had in a very long time - 9 hours!!!!

Before breakfast we found ourselves on our porch searching for wildlife - again they do not disappoint!!!




We signed up for the free guided nature walk at 0800, so it was breakfast at 0700. Opting for the Tica Breakfast (eggs, rice and beans, queso, fried plantains) - it did not disappoint. We think Rice and Beans is probably the Costa Rican National dish - and we've had it a few times on the trip so far. The rice and beans here at AOL are so far the best!!! I think they mixed fresh cilantro in and it made all the difference...yum.


At 0800, we met Didier for our walk. We were the only guests that opted for his early morning trek. Our one hour walk ended up being over 90 minutes. Didier took time to show us some of the hidden gems of the local jungle. He also educated us on the local Costa Rican tribes - his, the Maleku.


After lunch, we were off to explore some of the other trails. It was an easy hike and we had the jungle all to ourselves!!


20210420_132403.jpg Jim waiting for the rain to end.....

We did make it back just as the rain started.....and it was a good thing. It rained through Happy Hour and Dinner and into the night.



Horseback riding is on the schedule for tomorrow but we can wait til morning to make our final decision. We haven't been given much hope - looks like a system is coming in.....Fingers crossed!!!

Posted by pjburke 16:47 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (1)

Vaccinated and Traveling - off to Costa Rica

We took the leap

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It seems a little redundant to say that this has been a helluva year...but it has. I'm starting this blog by saying that we know not everyone agrees that it's time to start traveling. We respect your opinions - we really do but we have to ask that you respect ours.

Jim and I talked long and hard about traveling - to do it or not ..... we've decided to travel. We have been diligent in our research and found that Costa Rica is a country that we are comfortable with their precautions. Please know that we have been vaccinated, are still wearing our masks, washing our hands and staying clear of large gatherings - pretty much the same things we have been doing for the last year.

With that said - I hope that you will enjoy this trip with us!!!

18 April 2021

Liberia, Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a country that has been on our radar for years - now that we're here, we're not sure why we hadn't made the leap before now....well - we've leapt!!

The trip itself has actually been a pretty easy one. We left yesterday - Tucson-Houston-Liberia Both legs between 2 1/2 and 3 hours - the long part was the layover in Houston. With the recommendation of a good friend who has spent a lot of time in Costa Rica (thank you Jerry), we decided to start and end in Liberia and not San Jose. In fact, we don't have plans to go to San Jose at all. I'm sure there are some uniquely Costa Rican cultural sites but large cites, right now, are not where we want to be.

We arrived late, flying across a very dark landscape dotted with just a few smatterings of city lights. As the plane was descending - my thoughts were "where the heck is the airport??" and then, within seconds, runway lights and we landed. This airport makes Tucson (or Rochester) look like Houston. The terminal itself is quite modern - jetway and all. Down the escalator to Passport Control, it was apparent that we were the only flight (and our flight was not full at all). The frequent signs alerted arriving passengers to what information we would need to provide Immigration: current passport, hotel information, departure information (which they never asked for) and a QR code which verified that we were insured medically for $50K per person and also for $2K to cover quarantine accommodations in the unlikely event that we test positive when we go to leave and need to quarantine for 14 days. (I'm not going to go into the insurance process but if anyone has questions - get in touch with me - it was much easier that I thought it would be).

The Immigration Officer sent us on our way with a smile and "Adios - Enjoy your trip" :-) Bags arrived shortly and a quick scan (no questions) at Customs and we headed out the main doors to find Emmanuel from Hotel Villa Hermosa (Liberia). Even though his mask hid his face, his smiling eyes made us feel immediately comfortable. His Dad, Carlos, was waiting in their van at the curb and within minutes - we were on way.

LIB Airport is a short, fifteen minute drive to our guesthouse....and that was with a short tour of downtown Liberia added in. Saturday night and Liberia looked like Saddlebrooke - barely a soul in site - except for a young lady on a corner - but I'll let you use your imagination.

We pulled into the Hotel compound, got checked in, procured two very cold beers and Manuel lead us to our room. Our room has a double and a twin - is simple and clean and (lololo) the same colors that my living room used to be. We have AC, a frig, TV (all Spanish channels) and really good WIFI. We talked with Emmanuel a little bit and found that most of their guests come in during the week for business (as they are close to the city center). It was time for bed with anticipation of what Liberia would be like in the daylight.


...a fairly restful sleep and we're up for our first full day in Costa Rica. We had actually planned for a quiet day (not picking up our car until Monday morning) and are glad we did. The flight wasn't hard but after not flying for more than a year - it took the wind out of our sails a bit.
Breakfast is included in our stay and Emmanuel's Mom Heidi is in charge of the kitchen. They have an extensive selection: four or five different Tico dishes (all with the famous Costa Rican rice and beans), pancakes, a couple American dishes and even a Veg dish - and of course, fresh fruit and Costa Rican coffee. Great way to start the day.

Anticipating some afternoon storms, we took off after breakfast and walked into the city center (about 3 miles RT). The town reminded Jim of small towns in Peru from back in the 1970's. Most of the roads (not all) were paved with some one-way - others - two way but with not real rhyme nor reason. Being Sunday morning in this very Christian country - not much was open (except for a couple supermarkets) but the two churches we passed we're doing a booming business. At the large Catholic Church, there was a line to get in. It appeared people were social distancing and also stopping to sanitize their hands before entering.



With the heat starting to wilt us, we headed back. The AC in our room was a welcome relief. Combine heat and a little jet lag and it was time for an early siesta.

Waking 1pmish...we were a bit peckish but was we walked out - we were greeted with a darkening sky...so instead of walking downtown again to eat - we headed across the road to Pizzeria Hermano Castillo. Can you really go wrong with pizza - even in Costa Rica??. For about $10 USD, we even have leftovers.


Tomorrow our rental car is being delivered to us here at the hotel and we will be taking off for the Arenal/La Fortuna area - the adventure will officially begin...stay tune!!!

Posted by pjburke 01:23 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged #liberia Comments (3)

The Moluccas and back to Bali

Tidore and Ternate

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23 January 2019

Our last days on the cruise were more on islands than in the water.

Bastiong Village

Our final village stop was Bastiong Village on Halmahera. Very out of the way, small Christian village where we were greeted by, it seemed, the whole village.

Some were up for another jungle walk and others (like Jim and myself), wandered through the small village taking in it's everyday life. As we regrouped at the waterfront - the party began. A group of men and women graced us with local music, song and of course, dance - the Indonesian version of the Electric Slide. Music brought out the old and young alike and along with refreshments (fresh coconut water, fried plantains and "crazy hot" sambal )..... it was a lovely afternoon.


24 January 2019


Our boat traveled during the night and we woke to the sounds and sights of civilization and the view of the islands of Tidore and Ternate. Today our destination was the smaller of the two, Tidore.


Our day was broken up into two tours with lunch in the middle. Tidore is a city and an island and also a sultanate. The Sultan was not in town but we had the chance to visit his palace. It seemed the occupants of the palace (family members) were very excited to meet us.. Cell phones were out and there was photo taking on both sides. BUT before we visited royalty we visited a blacksmith shop - one of the few left on the island.

The Sultan of Tidore's Palace

The Sultan of Tidore's Palace


With the rhythm of pounding hammers - we watched the process. From the constant air rush of the bellows which stoked the fire that heated the the metal, to the group of men pounding the heated metal with sledge hammers. They were so in sync. I have no idea how they didn't hit each other. And then there was the master ...fine tuning the handcrafted machetes...truly a lost art in most of the world.


Due to the former Dutch influence and dominance in this area, there were a number of forts - which made for a nice stop and good views of the island. I think it may be a "tourist stop", though we were the only westerners I saw the whole day - anywhere in the city.


Our last full day on the cruise concluded with our Farewell Party. Not much "dressing up" to do on the ship but we did our best and the crew also brought out their best...Dinner was incredible and then we were entertained with the beautiful melodic voices of our Indonesia hosts. We (guests) joined in as best we could. We danced and sang and danced some more...fun, fun, fun!!!


25-26 January 2019

Our last day on our wonderful cruise.. tIme to pack and then into Ternate for a short morning tour to a couple Dutch forts and then back for lunch ....and it was over. Well, not quite.


Yes, we left the ship but Jim and I opted to stay in Ternate for two nights. Little did we know that eight other guests were also staying at the same place - Villa Masarai - a small villa up in the hills overlooking the sea and volcanoes.

It did seems as if we didn't want the trip to end.


Stephanie, Joe, Rob and Gabriella left the next day, which left us, Anna, Jeffrey, Andy and Caitriona. They would be there an additional night and then back on to the Ompak Putih for another 12 days..oh yes....we were very jealous.



Our trip back to Bali was uneventful as was the following week. Seems like the inner island heat was taking a toll on me and besides feeding Madu a few times we enjoyed the A/C of our small villa.

Next stop: New Zealand!!!

Since Jim killed (unintentionally) our underwater camera - big thanks to Nita for sharing her photos!! Click the link below:


Posted by pjburke 13:07 Archived in Indonesia Comments (2)

Further on through Raja Ampat

..... into the Moluccas

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15 -21 January 2019

The next 12 days would be one adventure after another. We visited small villages, small cities, walked the jungle and snorkeled (almost everyday) the reefs of Raja Ampat and the Moluccas.

We settled into the rhythm of the sea - usually doing our longer crossings at night, which meant falling asleep to the gentle rocking of the ship – sometimes the rocking was not so gentle.

Breakfast was between 7 and 730am each day - always with fresh fruit, juice, yogurt, cereals, toast and some type of special dish – my favorite being the warm, purple sticky rice. Sometimes there was bacon, sausages, smoked salmon, cheeses, rice porridge and the occasional mie goreng (noodles) and always eggs, banana pancakes and french toast available – made to order.

After breakfast, It was usually time to suit up and off for a snorkel. Our snorkeling adventures were what dreams are made. FISH.....and more fish, at times it felt like we were just another fish in a huge aquarium. For those that didn't feel like a snorkel, there was usually a beautiful island where one could enjoy the quiet shade of the palms. Anna, usually took her “pencils” and drew while Margaret liked to wander the shoreline for shells. Each to their own...was always the mantra!!


The only activity that was interrupted by weather was our attempt to see the Red Bird of Paradise. This was supposed to happen on the island of Waigeo on Day 2 BUT we woke to teeming rain. From previous experience, Anastasia let us know the possibility of seeing the birds in this weather was nil though we would try again the next day. Our schedule was altered and we did get a nice snorkel in. The second attempt was scheduled BUT again, Mother Nature was having a bit of a hissy fit...As a group, we agreed that we would forgo the lengthy return and look forward to other exciting adventures.

As the trip continued, each day was....same, same but different. The breakfasts, lunches and dinners were a one masterpiece after another. On the Ombak Putih, the kitchen is on the ship's main level. We all had the opportunity to poke our heads in, say “Hi” and also try to sneak a peak at each upcoming meal's delicacies.


The Islands of Raja Ampat lay ahead of us as did islands we had never heard of: Wofoh, Waigeo (home of the pearl farm), Wagay, Piaynemo, Widi (some of the best snorkeling), Doworalamo (home of the Sama Bajo sea gypsies), Bacan Island (jungle trekking to the waterfall), Halmahera Island and the Bastion Village and then on to the volcanic islands of Makian, Tidore and Ternate (which was our last stop).

In this instance, I think that photos will tell the whole story. Below is Part 1!!!!!!



Deer Island


Sea Gypsy Island


Posted by pjburke 19:25 Archived in Indonesia Comments (2)

On To Raja Ampat


13 January 2019

Time to clean up the apartment, get packed and head to the airport. Mr Blue (our driver) picked us up at 1pm for the ride to Denpasar. An hour and a half with Mr Blue is too short. We had a chance to catch up and he had a chance to try out all his new bad jokes on us.

Regarding our apartment – I didn't really explain why we stayed where we did in Ubud. Originally, we had booked a cottage at one of the guesthouses closer to the city center.. One day on FB(Facebook), I noticed a posting from a woman we met in Karimunjawa last year -a lovely Australian woman who is a travel writer. We were there on holiday and she was there for work but staying in the same guesthouse. We got a chance to chat, share meals and I'm sure a beer or two. - but I digress. She is currently back in Australia taking care of her Mom and needed someone to take care of her cat, with the offer of free accommodations in exchange. We texted back and forth and decided it would work for both of us. Her great little apartment over Made's Warung was perfect for five days. No need to cook and we got to spend time with her tiny, honey colored cat – Madu (which in Indonesian means honey). It seems we might have been in need of kitty fix. Madu hung around quite a bit and took to sleeping at the bottom of the bed at night. Staying at Sally's gave us the true feeling of “living” in Bali...which for us – is dangerous... as we have talked for years about moving there. But...right now...it's not to be, so this was a great alternative.


But it was time for us to leave ….????

We're off to the eastern end of Indonesia for a 12 day cruise on a traditional Indonesian sailing pinisi – the Ombak Putih. The ship holds 24 passengers and a staff of about 15 – we had no idea how many passengers there would be, though we knew there is a group coming from Australia with “ASA – Australians Studying Abroad”– similar to our Roads Scholar program.

Flight there was an adventure unto itself. The flight for Sorong, West Papua leaves at 5pm via Makassar, Sulawesi. The problem was that there is an 8 ½ hour layover in Makassar. With a little research, we found an IBIS hotel right at the airport and for $30 it was money well spent.

Waiting in Denpasar was also bit of an adventure. A strong storm blew in (we found out later, associated with this storm, there was a tornado in West Java that destroyed 300 homes). We got the weak end it, which was still pretty intimidating. Waiting at the gate, I started hearing water running. Looking behind us, we noticed a deluge coming from a light fixture and a hatch in the ceiling. Must not be new to them as they got the yellow “wet floor” signs set up and proceeded to mop up...all in a days work.

We arrived in Makassar at 8pm, got settled in the hotel with a 2am wake up call and headed back for our 0330 flight to Sorong. The airport was pretty busy for such an early hour and after discussion later in our trip, we concluded maybe it has to do with the hot weather and condition of the tarmac on the runway later in the day. Just a thought!!

Arriving into the small Sorong Airport, we grabbed a taxi for the quick 2km ride to our hotel (favehotel). After a slight date faux pas (on my part) which got settled, we got settled in our lovely little room. Really nothing to do in Sorong. If there is a next time, we would probably stay in Makassar for a few days. Our big adventure for the day was turning left out of our hotel and finding a grocery. I was on the hunt for a very light rain poncho...found...13950 Rp = about 1 USD. Fortunately, the hotel had a couple of US TV channels (though I think the shows were a few years old).


Can anyone tell me what the last photo indicates????


14 January 2019

Up early, breakfast. Our transport to the ship arrived at 0900. We were greeted by the smiling face of Nita, one of our tour guides on the trip. She filled us in on the days events. After dropping us off in the capable hands of the crew at the harbor, she was off to pick up the last of the guests. We were transported by zodiac out to the boat. Passing boat after boat in the harbour, the Ombak Putik appeared at the outer edge of the moorings – a sight to behold.

Most of the guests had arrived earlier from either Makassar or Jakarta. We were soon to get acquainted with our shipmates for the next twelve days. Besides us, the two lone Americans, there were two Canadians (Toronto), two from the Netherlands and the remaining fifteen were Australasian (some with the ASA trip and others on their own).

First things....find our cabin....#9 – mid ship but right at the bottom of the stairs. There are only twelve cabins – I don't think there can be a bad one.


We met our other tour guide...the lovely Anastasia. Both Nita and Anas are Indonesian – Anas from Ambon and Nita...from (as she would say) all over!!

First things first – safety briefing and then lunch. It appears that customs here in Sorong works at it's own pace. The crew were anticipating a quick departure...which didn't happen. While we waited for customs clearance. Option #2 – a quick dingy trip to the island of Doom. Anas had arranged pedi rickshaws for us all and it was a quick trip around the small island. I'm not sure how many Westerners come to this island but we were greeted with smiles and waves.


Returning to the boat, we found that we were clear to leave....anchor up and “Adventure is out there!!!”

Enjoying a little libation and the sunset, it set in that we were really here...


Before dinner, we would get the first of our talks from Jeffrey Mellefont. Honorary Research Associate, Australian National Maritime Museum. Over the next twelve days, Jeffrey will educate us on the maritime history of Indonesia, it's culture and also the journey of Alfred Russel Wallace (who traveled in these same waters and was discovering the theory of evolution at the same time as Darwin.)

Dinner was a feast, as we would find each day to be. A collection of Indonesian dishes that satisfied both the carnivores and vegetarians alike.


Food always brings people together and over these luscious flavors we started to get know those on the ship who were also up for this adventure.

Posted by pjburke 22:15 Archived in Indonesia Comments (2)

Adventures in Bali - continued

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9, 10, 11 January 2019


Our last days in Bali on this end of the trip were relatively quiet. I finished up the blog posting from our wonderful cooking class and then Jim and I headed out for a really nice dinner at Hujan Locale. Dining in Ubud ranges from the simple to the sublime. I hesitate to use the word “nice” to describe this lovely city center eatery, as all the cafes and warungs we've dined in have been “nice” in their own way. Hujan is a bit more elegant, but in a casual sort of way.

The building itself is located off Ubud's main thoroughfare Jalan Raya Ubud on Jalan Sri Wedari. The decor is tastefully simple, accented by bustling staff dressed in sharply pressed black and white. In the off season, I don't think that a reservation is needed but I think it is appreciated. We did make a reservation. Even though we were a bit early, we were promptly seated on the second floor, next to an open window, off to the side with a view of serene temple grounds just adjacent. First impressions gave us great hope for a lovely evening – our culinary adventure in Ubud.


Hujan has a special drink menu and we both started with drinks that were tropical with fresh mint and ginger (a Mule and a Mojito). It was hard to pick from the appetizer menu but we decided on “Sate buntel” minced lamb wrapped in caul and served with a goat bone tengkleng". Subtle spices in the lamb mixed well with the tengkleng, which was a type of soup.


On to our mains...we chose North Sumatran Octopus Rendang with star anise, fennel and chopped turmeric leaf and the Bebek Gorang – which is a Balinese style crispy duck leg. Both portions were not huge but definitely filling. (Note: Not knowing the portion sizes we asked our waiter and she told us that two mains would be enough....why??? because there is always dessert!!)


….and then dessert!! We shared the Salted Caramel Ice Cream with toasted marshmallow popcorn (which was heavenly, by the way) and Mango Mousse Cheesecake with Mango and Strawberry Sorbet.


From the lovely surroundings, the friendly and professional staff and incredible range of flavors, this will be a dinner that we will remember for quite a while.



It's a "to do" day!! Starting to think about the next leg of our trip. Time to do a little laundry and confirm reservations. It occurred to us that Madu (our feline ward) would need food before we left. With info from her Mom in Australia we headed to the Vets. Yes, this is starting to feel like home.

On the way back, we stopped for a light lunch at Yellow Flower Cafe – one of our favorites. It's located along a pathway (gang) in the hill above the bustling main street. As we enjoyed our spring rolls and Bintang (beer), we noticed a woman sitting by herself. “Do you live here?”, we asked. “No, just traveling but I just took a yoga class close by.” We were shortly joined by one of the yoga instructors, who does live here. Our question to her was simple. "If one lives here – what does one “do”? She smiled and replied...”Anything you like. Some people write, others are artists, volunteers, yoga and some....JUST BE!”

These two simple words ....JUST BE... seem to take on a new meaning every day.

Our dinner that night was back to an oldy but goody. Bubu's Warung was close to the first villa we stayed here in Ubud a few years ago. As life goes on and things change, so had Bubu's. It's been remodeled and although the food was still good, it lacked a bit of the comfortable Balinese charm we so enjoyed.


We settled in after dinner to “just be” and read a little. Thank goodness for Kindles, as the power went out in our area and with the moonless night, it was dark....very dark and as the blackness enveloped us, we had time to breath and listen to the sounds of the jungle outside our windows. Truly just being!!

Friday – our last day in Bali..well at least for a couple of weeks!!!

Did you ever had one of “those” days?? When you think that things are going along swimmingly and then...What the!!!!....Yes, theses days do happen even when you are traveling. But...truth be told, I'm being a bit of a drama queen. It wasn't really that bad. I had just spent two hours working on a blog entry (the one above I just recreated). I was excited because I would have been on schedule...up to date....only to inadvertently delete the whole thing. Aghhh.

I know!!!! You ask, “why don't you write on a word document, save and copy???” Because I'm cheap. The Word program subscription on this netbook expired and I didn't want to buy another one.

When you have lemons, the saying goes...make lemonade!!! This situation inspired me to do just that and to look for a program (free, of course) that will work for me. And for those looking for this this type of program – it's called Apache Open Office. It works really well and also has a spreadsheet (Excel type) program. Onward!!

Our farewell dinner in Bali would be a local dish.....Spicy Smoked Balinese Duck served right downstairs at Made's Warung. When we arrived, the table was set for a feast...table cloth, veggies, rice and then in came the duck ..in all it's glory....head and all. It was quite delicious and more food than the two of us could eat but the only part of the duck remaining was the bones!!


Posted by pjburke 19:42 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

Indonesian Cooking

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08 January 2019

Starting a day with the beautiful fresh, tropical fruit of Bali is a definite treat. Exactly what we did today.

Never a dull day when the Burkes are traveling... a little change in plans. Last night Jim and I talked....after our trip to Raja Ampat we are returning to Bali and we were supposed to go north for more beach time BUT we love it here in Ubud so much and after Raja Ampat it will be difficult to compare SO....we've cancelled those reservations and will be coming back here. We contacted Sally to see if she would still need help with Madu but it looks like there is a possibility that a friend will be here...Plan B - we rented a small villa (with a pool) that is about a five minute walk from our current location. We can still feed (and maybe cuddle just a little bit) Madu, if needed. And...we splurged - $50 per night with breakfast included!!

With those plans taken care of, we got ready to be picked up for our cooking class. Thank you Wiwik for making those reservations for us.

We were picked up by Wayan (the owner of the cooking school) at about 230pm and started the drive outside town. We really know nothing more than...it's a cooking class.


Arriving at Wayan's home compound in the small village of Laplapan (just outside Ubud), we were met by another couple - Ruth and Ollie ..from Ireland. Back into the van and off to the rice fields. Wayan explained the growing and harvesting process of rice. From where we stood, there were still open rice terraces but construction is infringing on much of the rice fields in Bali. Still Wayan's family had their swatch of land used for their family's rice consumption. Thought it may be small, many families do still have their own land.


Now back to the family compound and we are greeted with a welcome drink - cool tea with ginger and lemongrass???? - tasty on a hot day.


Wayan explained the family compound, who lived there and why. Toward the back of the compound the ground fell away and we were taken down a flight of stairs to the "cooking school" and greeted by Wayan's niece - in -law Made (Ma-day). Big smile and a bit sassy - we knew this would be a good afternoon.


We started by making a traditional offerings. We've taken cooking classes in Indonesia before and though we've been on the receiving end of the offerings - we've never made one. These were made the traditional way, securing the corners of the base with small bamboo sticks - no staplers in this class.


Now..it was food time. Made explained all the food we would be cooking with, the different spices, different methods we would be using - this would be an adventure.

Taking the longest to cook and having three different steps - the Balinese way to cook rice would be our first lesson. Wash the rice, cook in a woven, conical basket with a terracotta cover for about 30 mins, then take off the heat, put in bowl with a little hot water (just to cover), let sit for 15 minutes and then back into the cooker for another 30 minutes ....and the Balinese eat rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It's not Uncle Ben's!!!!


Then on to our other dishes. We made curry chicken, chicken sate, steamed fish in banana leaves, fried tempeh with sweet soy sauce ,Balinese vegetable salad, chicken soup and for dessert (my favorite ..Kue Dadar Guling...saying rolled pancake just doesn't do it justice). We also made a spice mixture and two different sauces...from scratch. "Scratch" meaning pounding the peppers to make sambal, mincing garlic, chilies and shallots until they were a paste. We worked as couples, cooking, stirring, pounding - following the instructions of our fearless leader....


..... when all was done...and the sun was setting over the brilliant green forest - we ate our delicious creations. Enjoying our dinner, we got to know a little about each other - where we were from, what we did and of course, where we had and they had traveled and where we would be going next. And of course, it is a small world...Ruth's name???? Ruth Burke!!! I guess it was meant to be ????



Ruthie....thanks for pics!!!

Posted by pjburke 19:31 Archived in Indonesia Comments (2)

Chillin' in Bali

sunny 85 °F
View New Asia Adventures 2019 on pjburke's travel map.

07 January 2019

This is our second of 28 days in Indonesia. We had to do a little planning around our cruise (more about that later in the week), since we are only allowed to be in country for 30 days with a Visitor's Visa. We'll be here in Ubud (actually Penestanan - right outside Ubud city center) until this Saturday (12 January ) when we take off for Raja Ampat for a couple of weeks. But we'll be back.

Today was all about getting settled. After a yummy breakfast at Made's. The fruit here is awesome!!!!


Telecom store was first on our list - we've opted for local SIM cards instead of the expensive Verizon International plan and fortunately on our Australian trip last spring we found out that my Samsung 8+ phone is unlocked. Our Taiwan SIM was $10USD for three days coverage and our stop at the kiosk at Bintang Market got us a 7.5G/4G coverage card ..cost: $9USD. It's good for 30 days and we can upload extra data if needed.

While I got the phone set up, Jim shopped. A few essentials: beer, tonic, limes and our favorite peanuts with hot peppers. Food is so inexpensive here (and convenient with Made's downstairs) that I don't think we'll be doing any cooking.

After cell phone and shopping, on to the important stuff - spa treatments. YES!!! Our favorite place in Ubud is Putra Bali and a quick phone call setup a 2pm appointment with a 145pm pick up time (yes, they will transport as long as you are getting more than a massage).
Jim's choice : 90 minute massage, mani and pedi (No, I'm not kidding) and for me: 90 minute massage and facial - just what we need after all this traveling...and all for about $100 including tip.????

We arrived at the spa and were greeted by familiar smiling faces. The owner approached us and said "I remember you - thank you for coming back." After a refreshing glass of lime water and cool towels we were lead to the same room. OK.... It was a beautiful large room with two tables. We'd be getting our massages together and then off on our own for the rest of our treatments.


The 90 minute massages were wonderful. So soothing and relaxing. My facial was nice but Jim won the prize with pretty hands and feet. ????

We stopped for a beer and apps at a small cafe on the way back to our apartment. Life is good!!


Quiet evening at home (Sally's apartment). It's taken us no time to feel comfortable in her lovely home. Sally is a writer for an Australian travel blog and her home is microcosm of travel. If feels like we're living in a travel adventure - like heaven to us.????


Tomorrow?? Another favorite of ours - a cooking class!!! People ask us how we find out about things to do. Talk to the locals. On our way to Ubud from the airport we asked Wiwik if she knew of a good cooking class ??. Of course, she did. What day?? She took care of the rest. Guesthouse owners can also be really helpful. Don't be afraid to ask, if they don't know someone, they will know someone who knows someone... Guaranteed!!

Posted by pjburke 23:05 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

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