Being Pampered in Siem Reap

We arrived at the Sofitel Angkor Wat mid afternoon. When Budi heard where we were staying he said, “Oh, they open the doors for you.” He’s right. Just as we approach a door someone appears out of the woodwork to open it for us have to say I like that!!

Somehow we again got an upgraded room. The grounds at this place are something out of the French Colonial era, as are the buildings. The staff throw in a little French at every opportunity. Here are some photos from the grounds.

Steff researched restaurants and found Haven. It was established by a Swiss couple to help Cambodian youth who come from rural areas and from orphanages, in their late teens/early 20’s to learn to work in the restaurant industry. They are trained for 16 months and then go to permanent job. The food is locally grown and prepared fresh.

We got there via a $4 tuk tuk

Ride through the city.

The meals were very flavorful, each ingredient standing out yet blending in. I had Cognac Marinated Pork Ribs. Yum!

This morning our driver, Mr Sophal, picked us up at

8:30 and we drove out of town a ways. Such very poor villages. So much plastic waste piled high. Naked kids running here and there. Extremely skinny white cows wandering free. I paved roads. Minimal toilets. Here’s a smattering of what we saw in our drive.

Driving on a dirt road for about 15 minutes brought is to a muddy canal with lots of primitive boats.

Here’s our cute boat man.

We rode through a remote floating village. The rainy season is just getting started so the boats are pretty high up now. Soon the water will rise to almost the bottom floor of these houses.

Our destination was a floating shack out on Tonle Sap Lake that served as a beer break for us.

Look at this cute baby playing with mom nearby.

The boat ride was an eye opener to the poverty and lack of services to these people.

Now back into the city and out the other side to a silk farm. To me, this was absolutely fascinating! Step by step we learned the prices and had hands on experiences. I even held a silkworm.


We walked through the whole process of making silk. No wonder it’s so expensive — unless you get machine made from China.

Stephanie got into the tying routine quickly.

Like any good artisanal workshop, this one exited through the gift shop. I may or may not have made purchases. Hmmm I did need a new eyeglass case…

Now we are pooped and hungry and so Mr S drives us back to the hotel. We went into the bar/lounge where I had a tuna sandwich and a wine flight. You know what happens after a wine flight at 3 in the afternoon. Zzzzzzzzz

Tonight we ate at the hotel and watched a Cambodian dance review. The costumes were elaborate and I don’t know how they made the quick changes. It was fun seeing one group get the giggles. I could relate to that.

The first part of the show was instruments only. Or maybe they were just tuning up. Hard to tell. You decide.


Tomorrow we meet our driver Mr Vantha at 4:40 am for a sunrise trip to the temples of Angkor Wat. The hotel is providing a box breakfast.

Here’s the thing that bothers me most. I sweat more than the average bear. It is so very hot and I can’t be outside for two minutes before my face starts melting down to my chest. Kleenex can’t keep up. I look around — no one else sweating like me. In Florida I just stay inside, but now we’re viewing great wonders and I just have to put up with it. Anyway.

Bed all turned down and calling my name. Bon sour, as they say here.

Saying Goodbye

Our last day in Bali was, purposely chill, though we both woke up earlier than we expected considering the previous night of partying!

We had our last Nasi Goreng breakfast. Stir fried rice and vegetables with a fried egg on top. Actually we’ve had Nasi Goreng for MANY meals here! It’s a safe bet. We saw a T-shirt that said “Peace, love and Nasi Goreng” that would be appropriate for us.

Lunch down the cliff a bit with John, Sue, Chris and Drew. There was Nasi Goreng and Bintang involved. And a view of about 25 surfers trying to catch big waves (25 feet?) below us.

Packing took most of the afternoon. At 4:30 we said a tearful (me) goodbye to John and Sue. The rest of us walked 15 min to the Ulu Cliff House to have drinks and dinner while the sun set. Sherly and Chris hosted a lovely dinner for John and I, Drew (who I have loved talking to),Sara and Collin, Steff and Phil. The best sunset was saved for our last night!

Don’t lean against the glass!

This must be healthy, right?

When I ordered red snapper, by golly I got the whole red snapper!

And now we are landing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to switch to a flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Another currency to figure out!

A new adventure awaits!

Bintang and a Wedding

(Written on flight from Bali to Siem Reap. Catching up on posts for several days. )

In effort to remain healthy we have not been drinking local water or brushing our teeth with it. Where I normally I would choose water to accompany a meal I now choose a local beer – Bintang. I’m not normally a beer drinker but it sure tastes good on these hot and humid days. John, too, loves him a Bintang and has the t shirt to prove it.

We gathered at the glass walled chapel just down the path from our rooms a little before 5.

We loved that John and Sue put us in the front row with them for the ceremony. Monkeys were climbing all around the chapel until a grounds keeper shooed them all away.

Traditional bouquets of mixed white flowers were attached to each row of aisle seats (for the love of God, someone is giving themselves a manicure in a nearby seat and it really stinks). The altar had three small arrangements of white flowers. The center aisle was a carpet of white rose petals that we all carefully avoided crushing on the way to our seats. Even the bridesmaids cautiously avoided them. Not so the groom and groomsmen!

John, just before the service started, whispered “I don’t think you should take any pictures.” I agreed since i wasn’t familiar with Muslim custom and didn’t know if it was appropriate.

Sherly entered in a gorgeous mermaid style ( I think) that was very difficult to walk in. We all held our breath as she maneuvered the steps. Her long veil swept up many of the aisle rose petals. I have to say I wish I had gotten a picture of the rose petals gathered under the veil. It looked so soft and delicate, like a gauzy lens.

So here’s the picture taking deal: as soon as the bride entered the door her entire side started popping up to take pictures. There were three photographers on the floor in front of our seats. I figured at that point anything goes and whipped out my phone! Steff was right behind us in an aisle seat and got the best pix.

The bridesmaids all wore dresses of the same color of dusky lavender but they each chose their own style. Sherly’s sister wore a matching head scarf. Sherly’s family is Muslim and several of the female relatives wore traditional garb. The more liberal friends of Sherly (her squad) all wore gray gowns (they weren’t bridesmaids).

Guest apparel ranged from lace dresses to khaki pants or shorts for the men. The groom and groomsmen wore custom made gray suits with white open collar shirts.

The MOG and MOB had similar fabric used for their wedding finery. Sherly had them custom made.

(Hack, hack from middle seat. Oh I hope it’s not contagious!)

The ceremony was in English and Indonesian (though I think it’s called Bahasa.) Rings were exchanged, documents were signed. All the guests exited first so we could shower the bridal couple with rose petals as the came down the chapel steps.

The reception with a “live BBQ” seafood dinner was held poolside. The whole area looked magical with flowered candle rings floating in the pool, twinkly lights in the trees,market lights strung over the tables, white banners fluttering in the breeze coming off the Indian Ocean. All this and a spectacular crimson, yellow and orange sunset. Live music with excellent singers sang pop standards, Sherly’s sister sang a couple of songs for the couple. The thing I was hoping happened. The bride is an Indonesian pop singer quite well known. We’ve seen bits and pieces of her shows on YouTube, but what a treat when she sang a live song to Chris. Her voice is beautiful and her stage presence charming.

Steff and cousin Drew:

Niece Sara and fiancé Collin.

A DJ kicked in for the after party and he had our family up and dancing all night. So much fun. Sue whispered to me that she was so hot she felt like jumping in the pool. And then she and my brother John did! It was quite spectacular and everybody loved it! I wonder what trick they have in store for Sara and Collin’s October wedding!

John and Sue make a splash.

Soaking wet Sue.

We were so fortunate to be here for this joyful family gathering full of love and smiles and laughter. And an opportunity to make new friends from another culture.

Will catch again tomorrow!

Last Days in Bali

Last days in Bali

The evening before the wedding Sherry’s family hosted a home cooked dinner at the villa where they were staying. About 1.5 hours away. This was for immediate family so Steff, Phil, John and I planned a dinner outing at Jimbaran beach. That afternoon I wasn’t feeling well after a fish n chips lunch so I elected to skip that excursion. The others took off with reliable Budi.

John said that on arrival in the beach town it appeared that only shacks selling seafood, and not many of them, lined one side of the street.

Budi turned the car into a narrow dark alley and John was a little uncomfortable. We had had an “alley event” in Beijing one time and he was having flashbacks.

They reached a very crowded parking lot then walked through one of the storefronts which they now realized was the front of a dining spot on the beach. Tables crammed as far as you could see, down to edge of the water. As the tide rose tables had to be moved back. Here are photos from that adventure where they had a huge seafood dinner served family style. Quite a variety of fish and shellfish piled on the table.

While they were out I spent the evening on our bed in our villa. Very thankful I came prepared with a variety of OTC intestinal disturbance drugs! My brother calls it “Bali Belly.” The day before my niece had to take a trip to the hospital in Nusa Dua with an asthma episode and upper respiratory infection. Nephew Drew went along to translate. He is a brilliant linguist, in addition to being a writer. The hospital/clinic was in the Western people’s hotel area and, actually run by Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Sara said it was very clean, efficient, with knowledgeable medical staff.

That same night as the beach dinner there were preparations going on for the new moon festival. There is a Hindu temple on the. Resort grounds. White garbed men sat cross legged on the ground in front of the Temple chanting and softly ringing bells for hours. It was a soothing sound to me as they blessed the temple in preparation for the upcoming holiday. At some point women and children in beautiful white lace tops accented with bright yellow came to the temple, too. (I asked before I took their picture. )

Oh crap. I’m writing this on an Air Asia flight to Kuala Lumpur and it suddenly got very rough. Hope my Uncle Chin’s chicken and rice meal stays put.

Between John and I sits a man with a hacking cough and a gas issue. Dear God I wish I had a mask!

Will cover wedding day in a separate post. You may have seen the gazillion pix on FB!

Back after turbulence ends.

Most Treacherous Adventure

Saturday (your Friday) John and I and Steff and Phil had Budi for a good part of the day. He was excited to show us as much of this part of Bali as he could. The landscape.has changed to desert-ish dry land from wet thick green rainforest. We are living on a cliff rising from the Indian Ocean.

This morning the waves below are high and strong.

The surfers wait in the sand. Only two brave enough to venture out. This is where I’m planted until my 11:00 massage.

Back to yesterday.

Our first stop was Uluwatu Temple. Steps up, steps down and lots of aggressive monkeys waiting to steal anything shiny. Kept hats, glasses and water bottles hidden in pockets.

First the sarong. Love this color.


Most of the Chinese tourists ignore the “monkey rules” and attempt to take selfies with the monkeys. We saw a monkey come up and grab the phone from a hand and scamper away into the brush. Bye bye phone!

Next Budi wanted to show us the hidden beach. We drove to a remote spot and found stairs that went down down down. Down down. Many stories of stairs. Here’s what was at the bottom that made the descent so worth it.

Truly I thought I would not make it back up. It took a loooong time and I stopped every 8-10 steps to sit down and stop shaking. At one sit down Budi yelled “Monkey, monkey, move it! He’s got an enemy chasing him!” Fastest I’d moved yet, scrambling up a couple of flights before turning around to check for my attacker. Gone, phew! Particularly long recovery after that exertion! But so proud that I did it.

We stopped at a “secret beach” next. A new highway has just been built and the surrounding land hasn’t been developed yet so this beach is pretty unknown, for now

We headed to the other (east) side of the peninsula to Nusa Dua resort area where all the big western hotel chains (Marriott, Hyatt, etc) have resorts. It looks very Palm Beachy.

Back to our private pool for a soak and a nap and delightful dinner hosted by John and Sue.

Chris and Sherly ⬆️

Closing out yesterday. Here is what’s going on right now in front of me.

Oops. The wedding photo opp parade begins:

On to my Balinese massage. YAY!

Arts and Crafts Day

We said goodbye to Ubud on Friday and traveled south with Budi at the wheel. We had said we wanted to see some arts and crafts on the way to Uluwatu and, boy, did we. Each village along the way had a different speciality that had been in families for generations.

This wood shop had some creative works and some very large and heavy mahogany furniture. If you’ve been to Washburn Imports on Orange Ave you know what I’m talking about.

Weaving through hundreds of motorcycles, we next stopped at a silver place. Nothing tempted me. The motorcycles seem to have no traffic rules. They swerve in and out of the traffic like Shriners on mini bikes in a parade. It appears that car drivers ignore them and the bikes find their way any way they can. We drove all day, from coast to coast and never had a traffic signal.

A few other stops:

A basket place

And an art gallery

We arrived at Blue Point Bay at Uluwatu in mid afternoon to meet up with lots of family and the bride and groom. This resort is a popular place for Chinese couples to book a time to have wedding pictures taken around the infinity pool. They have set routines and poses. Doesn’t matter that guests are relaxing in the pool area. Here’s a photo of my niece Sara who was just sitting in her lounge chair when a bride dramatically posed in front of her. None of them were married here. Just a photo opportunity they pay for. They are lined up and staged all day.

The day ended with my brother and sister in law (John and Sue) hosting a dinner everyone who had arrived so far. So great to see Steff and Phil here, and my niece Sara and fiancé Collin, and my nephew Drew who just wrapped up a year in Manila on a State Dept Fulbright Scholarship .

We were thrilled to find upon check in that the wedding planner had us upgraded to a cliff side villa with private pool and big back yard.

That’s day one at Blue Point. Today still needs to be blogged about but I am exhausted from a very full day of sightseeing with Budi and making the most difficult climb of my life. I feel so proud of myself for pushing through it with Steff’s encouragement. Tomorrow I’ll post about it.

We ended the evening with John and Sue hosting a dinner for all who are here so far (16 of us) — and to celebrate bride Sherly’s birthday.

Good night!

The Money Problem

Usually I can figure out the money in a new country I’m visiting. But these Indonesian RPs have me confounded. One dollar is worth approximately 14,000 RP. Nothing is a dollar, though that hasn’t stopped me from trying to buy something for 14,000 RP. There are these cute small crossbody basket handbags which I believe are seen in fashion magazines. My goal was to try to buy one for $4 or 5. I have succeeded in getting lower than $8. But stayed stubborn and didn’t purchase. My brother says I must leave the seller happy and don’t worry about a dollar here and there. I agree now, after have my method fail me this morning.

These RPs can stuff your wallet fatter to about an inch beyond its normal expected expansion. And I’m only carrying $30 worth. Himself likes to dole the money out in small doses so I can’t go crazy buying brightly painted wood Balinese chicken carvings, or a pair of elephant print rayon balloon pants.

We hit this market today. Inside the walled part it is beyond hot, smoky with incense, smelling of BO from around the world. Outside was much less claustrophobic.

Backing up a bit – woke up this morning to cloudy skies and slight rain. Hot as Florida but the humidity seems much worse. In Florida when it’s hot and humid I do not go trekking a hill ridge. In addition to to heat and humidity the rocky muddy paths were very slippery. I’m looking forward to laundering my khaki capris that took it on the butt. After landing on my ass in the mud Budi would not let go of me the rest of the two miles. The hike on a ridge above the river gave a real view of the lush countryside.

Sue is very fit and scrambles on with ease. John and I both felt our age but so happy to have this adventure!

Our travel guide book mentioned another good spot to view the river valley. It was a place Budi was not familiar with, but with stops for directions and a wrong turn or two, and traffic obstacles such as this motor scooter carrying rocking horses,

we had coffee on a terrace overlooking the valley.


Back into Ubud for a quick look at the 11th century royal palace.

Found a cute lunch place for chicken and rice, and beer. Sue says we may start clucking soon. It is just a “safe bet” food. Another beverage choice is watermelon juice.

John and I headed back to the hotel for a lazy afternoon. We are good until about 2:00 and then crave a lie-down and some time to wring out our clothes.My hair after these excursions is totally wet. Because there is “product” in it, it also stands up and out in stiff little spikes. Not my best look.

Dinner tonight was at Three Monkeys restaurant recommended by a friend. Lovely setting outdoors on the edge of a small rice paddy. Two for one cocktails and grilled snapper for dinner. Ready to grab taxi home at 9 pm.

It has been a wonderful few days in Ubud with John and Sue. We don’t see each other often, but when we do we make great memories!

Tomorrow we drive a few hours south to Uluwatu, the resort venue where the wedding is next week. Will meet up with Steff and Phil who arrive around midnight tonight. It will be a real change of scenery in the surfing area of Bali.

Falling asleep to rainforest sounds…

Countryside Wandering

As planned, our awesome driver Budi picked us up at eight to begin our exploration. I really wanted to see the rice terraces. On the way, we found this guy drying rice on tarp before the product is sent on to be de-husked.

We were warned about Luwat coffee. The process begins with a special cat who eats the beans, passes them through his digestive tract and then poops them out. The pooped beans are collected, cleaned and ground for cat poop coffee. I swear I have unknowingly had this coffee at a 7-11.

Stopped at a glass blowing “factory” – shed – and watched the makings of unique bowls and pitchers that conform to a piece of tree root.

So now we already need another suitcase to carry our fragile purchases.

We decided we needed to see only one Hindu temple today. Bali is 90% Hindu. The rest of Indonesia is a Muslin majority.

This temple is the Holy Water temple from the 11th century. A most lovely place where people were praying. Not too many tourists.

First we were required to don sarongs. John not thrilled to wear a “dress.”

This pool below is for praying. At each water pipe a person prays, rinses their head and moves to the next. Maybe like rosary beads. It looked peaceful and COOL.

We passed by a koi pond and then exited through the gift shop!

Now we are starving. So off we go to a 7-11ish eating spot that Budi recommended. He hit the nail on the head. We were able to get a spread of simple food and icy beers. What ya gotta do when you don’t drink the local water. Fried rice with an egg on top, chicken wings with tumeric, (which is the spice of choice here), and chicken satay. Very, very good!

Now exhausted, we headed back to our beautiful resort for a long afternoon nap. View from balcony.

Budi picked us up again to drive us to dinner. We had hoped to eat at Three Monkeys recommended by Richard Arrendale but neither my brother nor Budi could find it. Ended up at a lovely spot for al fresco dining. Nice breeze, good wine, and more chicken for me. I like to stick to food I can recognize.

My Lemongrass Ginger martini was excellent and fun to watch!

Do you like my brother asking if he should order wine? A question that never needs to be asked because the answer is always the same.

Our after dinner stroll took us right to the Three Monkeys restaurant that we couldn’t find earlier. Reservation made for tomorrow night!

It’s so much fun being here with John and Sue and to have a terrific driver who “knows things”.

Time to sleep. Fun day!

First Impressions

Expecting to be supremely exhausted tonight, I am surprised to be wide awake at 9:30 pm Bali time. This lovely bed awaits when my eyes get droopy.

My brother John and sister in law Sue surprised us at the Singapore airport so we could all fly the last leg together.

We were coming off a 12 hour flight from Manchester UK. It turned out to be the best leg of the trip. With 12 hours there is time to settle in and feel at home in our little pods. Beds not bad.

Arrival in Denpasar, Bali uncomplicated and our drivers were waiting for us. It took 3 cars to haul to 4 of us the hour and 20 minutes to Ubud with about 10 pieces of luggage. Very narrow roads through villages with a Hindu temple on every block and motor scooters surrounding us like escorts.

The hotel is in a jungly location with the sounds of a waterfall not far away. There’s no clear path to the waterfall, and fearing scary Balinese critters, we choose to just enjoy the splashing from our balcony.

Lovely suite with a giant footed tub that I can’t wait to soak in. Candles and marches provided and I’ve got a stash of People magazines I brought along.

There is a photo opp every few steps. At dusk, after a short nap, we headed out walking up the road to a dinner spot my brother scopes out. Cute bar for mojitos then out to the deceleration overlooking the tropical landscape for dinner. But so many photos to take on the way there and back.

Love this creative spelling.

The airport grounds:

Ubud is 90% Hindu, unlike the rest of Muslim majority Indonesia.

Above is the pathway to our room.

Tomorrow we look forward to exploring the countryside with our driver Budi. I have so many questions for him! Sue has a massage in the afternoon and I see a chaise lounge with my name on it!

So happy to be here to celebrate Chris and Sheryl’s wedding next week !

Good night!