Happy HOLIdays

The last two weeks have been as jam packed as the others, however the school holidays have now started and we are all enjoying some time to relax, especially as the temperature is rising by the day!

IMG_0384Last weekend we had the opportunity to experience something new and very unique. There was a local movie premiere being held in the town close us, Kalpetta. Chacko and Avi, who run the Our Home, are good friends with one of the main actors so he very kindly donated tickets to all of the children. ‘Take Off’ was a Malayalam film but we were able to understand the storyline with a little help from the older boys. It was far from your typical Bollywood movie and instead focussed on real life ISIS events when a group of Indian nurses working in Iraq were stranded in the war torn city of Mosure. It was a very touching storyline that we thoroughly enjoyed, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that it does well as it’s being shown exclusively in Kerala at the moment but it has the potential to go big in India! Our first ever movie premiere was brilliant and we even got to meet some of the actors. A memory both us and the children will never forget.

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The onsite school has closed for summer now and the children all had mixed emotions. Some are excited but others are sad at the thought of not seeing their friends for two months. The last day at school was a busy one, the Science Exhibition was held as it had been postponed from its earlier date. They were all so enthusiastic to show us their inventions and we couldn’t believe some of the masterpieces the kids from local villages had created. Our favourites included real electric fans made from cardboard, batteries and tiny motors and clay volcanos complete with lava and dinosaur models! There were also awards to be given out from the sports and art days held earlier in the year and we were delighted to be asked to present these to the kids. It was a great atmosphere as all of the winners collected their medals and trophies.

We missed Holi Festival due to the exams so to celebrate the end of the school year we bought some powder paints to play with on the first day of the summer holidays. It was just as we expected having seen many photos of Holi Festival and the amount of colour was overwhelming. We ran about chasing each other with the paint for a good couple of hours and it was so fun! It was a really good activity to get both the girls and boys involved in and we were like big kids too. We got some incredible photos of the children playing and this day is such a special memory that will stay with us forever.

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Throughout India there is still a huge amount of work to be done before women will be considered equal to men. Having worked with the Asian Circle we want to do everything we can to work towards equality for women and girls of this country. An estimated three million girls are out of school in India and it’s shocking statistics like this that need to change. At Our Home the girls are treated exactly the same as the boys and they all receive the same education, Chacko and Avi are such an inspiration in the work they do with these children and we wanted to enhance that. We spent a day with the girls simply chatting about how important their education is, what they wanted to do when they grew up and motivating them that if they put their mind to it they can achieve anything their heart desires!

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Our meal this week meant an early start as we decided to change it up a bit and cook breakfast. We opted for omelette with plenty of chilli and onion served with bread bread, sweetened of course as we can’t find regular bread anywhere. This dish was an improvement on our attempt at sweet chilli noodles, and the children loved the taste … as did we!

All in all it’s been two weeks filled with a good meal, lots of laughter, celebrations and our first Indian movie premiere! There’s always something unexpected in store and that’s what we love about India.

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We’ve got 99 problems but travelling isn’t one!

Bintang Bali

When we think about Bali the first thing that springs to mind is the food and Bintang beer! Leave your diets behind as you are spoilt for choice when it comes to menus in an array of restaurants. Okay they are all pretty westernised and if you are looking to try different cuisines, we don’t think you’ll find it in Kuta, Ubud, or Lovina, but what you will find are all the grills and BBQs you could imagine. Skewers of freshly caught fish, satay beef & chicken, amazing curries, Thai salads, cocktails, mocktails and of course the local favourite, Bintang beer. You’ll be quite content spending your days relaxing by the pool and looking forward to meal times. One particular favourite restaurant was Scallywags, found on the Gili’s! Another recommendation if you have a spare morning is to go to a local coffee farm. You will be bombarded with free tasters from vanilla and coconut to the best hangover cures or even coffee beans that have been made from poo! Don’t ask, just go… You’ll be sure to have a great time.

Kuta sunset

We were initially underwhelmed by the beaches in Bali but we were completely dazzled by the sunsets and spent many a night watching the hot sun set over different beaches.

Kuta is a great spot for surfing with a huge beach running for miles. From playing volleyball to relaxing on a beanbag listening to live music and the crashing of the waves, bliss. Lovina is great for dolphin spotting, be prepared for a little boat over crowding and the most beautiful sunrise ever. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a chilled out, pool party vibe consisting of cocktail drinking and sunbathing, visit Seminyak beach. Here, you will find the ‘Potato Head Beach Cluv ‘ where you’ll have a day away from backpacking and an excuse to put on your best swimwear!

Island hopping

The perfect beach is hard to find as the volcanic black sand isn’t the most attractive and you’ll struggle to find a beach completely clear of rubbish. Although, you can’t really complain when holding an ice cold beer and watching one of the most stunning sunsets you are ever likely to see.

If you are looking for a good spot to swim, snorkel and sunbathe with some clear sea and white sand head for the Gili Islands. Our opinion is unless you fancy going to Malia, skip Gili Trawangan and head straight for Meno or Air. Both are a lot more chilled out, with lush white sand and walk-off-the-beach snorkelling. Take a walk or bike ride around the whole island (do not pay to ride a incredibly badly treated horse & cart!) enjoy the salty sea air and delicious fresh seafood restaurants.

Monkey business

At 5780skm Bali is relatively small and we felt we got to see a fair share of it. Ubud is the place we’d like to call our favourite. If you’ve seen Eat, Pray, Love and that’s what your hoping for when you visit, Ubud is where you’ll find it. Away from the hustle and bustle and bargaining of Kuta, Ubud is much more relaxed with a tranquil and sacred feeling.

Bali rice fields

From the luscious rice fields to the famous monkey forest you are not short of options here. Not at all shy, the monkeys are inquisitive and quite fun to interact with but they are mischievous little buggers so make sure you take care of any loose belongings. If you’re lucky you might even see some monkey loving.

The cobbled streets are lovely to wander around, looking in the quaint shops and stopping in the different happy hours, the days soon turn to nights and before you know it you’ve been here longer than expected. Rent a bike to fully explore Ubud’s hidden gems. If you’re looking for a cheap, friendly hostel check out The Happy Mango tree, with private or dorm rooms, reliable tours (including Mount Batur) and great breakfasts, you can’t go wrong.

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Getting up and out at 2.30am is hardly our idea of fun but when it is to climb an active volcano, we made an exception!

Climbing Mount Batur was no easy task. Our first encounter was a huge thunderstorm which lasted for hours, continuing during our ascent. The lightening lit up the dark sky providing sparks of light in an otherwise blackened environment.

Rain fell sporadically through our journey, refreshing us as we trekked through the night in still relatively warm temperatures. Carrying torch lights on the now slippery surface, we stopped at various rest points to regroup before finally reaching the summit after hours of walking, climbing and tripping.

On reaching the top, we were greeted with an egg…. which we boiled on one of the steaming vents from the volcano. We then took a seat and awaited for sunrise which eventually came but was blocked by low lying clouds. The view was still unmissable just not quite what it could have been.

Being on top of a volcano really is an awesome feeling and we cannot recommend it highly enough. One of nature’s most powerful and destructive features was literally warming our feet with the possibility of an eruption at any moment.

Two people, one world

A few other highlights for us consisted of the hot water springs not far from Lovina, the many waterfalls you’ll stumble across, and of course the beautiful temples which there is certainly no shortage of. Lastly, don’t forget to test your bargaining skills on the latest Bintang vests, elephant print pants and “Namaste Bitches” tops.

It’s a great country to experience a new culture, especially if you haven’t travelled to Asia before. However, it is extremely touristy which we feel has detracted itself from its true Indonesian roots. If you’re thinking of visiting Bali do it now as our bet is that in five years time it will have changed even more.

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