Nosferatu tributeĀ 

My gosh it’s been a while between posts! Not because nothing interesting has happened, but so much has!

Like today.

Today, I faced, well, I don’t think I’d say a fear, but something that makes me uncomfortable. I gave blood. For the very first time! 

I’m no stranger to needles and blood tests, I’m the queen of mystery illnesses, but after I’d had all my babies, some crazy toggle was switched, making the sight of blood turn my skin scolding hot, and my blood ice cold. You know that feeling? Yeah. It’s not cool.

Back in the day I could watch them syringe the blood from my veins, but ever since G2 split her head open (she was about 3), the sight of that red fluid, does weird things to my brain. 

Maybe it’s just a mum thing.

And that’s the very lady I attribute today’s 470ml to. 

You see needles put me in a little bit of unease, until they’re attached to a tattoo gun. Then, we’re fine!

My mum is rather anti tattoo, well anti tattoo on her daughters anyway (and granddaughters G1. Me too). And every time I get one, she has a look and says “oh Alaina, why can’t you just give blood”.  

She gives blood all the time.

So finally, I decided to do just that. I waited the required time after my last tattoo, but then we went to Bali, so I waited the required time since Bali, reshuffled bookings around my new job (it’s awesome, I’ll fill you in soon), reshuffled for G1’s job applying processes, and reshuffled travel.

And finally today, my rubbish, wobbly, vein (that’s the official nurse term used today), produced enough blood to save 3 lives! 

I even got brave and looked at the needle! I took a photo and everything, but don’t want to scare anyone, so I won’t post that one. 

Bit light headed, bit queasy, but really happy with myself. I’ve made my mumma proud, and made a difference! All in about 15 minutes, and I got a free cookie! 

Win, win.

Now to book in for my next tattoo! I’ve earned it mum!  

  
Best cookie ever!

Of mice and mulberries.

The Easter school holidays are upon us once again, and this is the first year we’ve celebrated one of only 2 designated annual “chocolate for breakfast” days, without G1.

She’s tottered off to the big smoke to visit her mate, with 2 other mates from home!

My country mouses first solo city holiday! Awwww!

They’re having a ball, and keeping me grinning with regular updates on clothes purchases and teen style “hanging out” photos.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts about my solo city escapades (train stations still freak me out), but I did get to take a friend a few times, and those trips are standouts!

My bestest buddy, whom I’ll call B for this instance, came along for her first trip with me when we were about 13 or 14. We stayed at my Grandparents in Redbank then visited my other grandparents in Woodridge, and had a stint on Stradbroke at my uncles. It was a cool trip!

While in Redbank B and I would play pool, listen to our Walkmans and hang out in the mulberry tree on the rail line, admiring the train graffiti and painting ourselves head to toe in delicious purple mulberry juice, realising too late how great mulberries are at staining EVERYTHING, and accidentally discovering that moisturiser (thankfully) removes mulberry stain from skin. (Sadly not clothes). 

We’d walk to the plaza and shop, not that we had much to spend (by the look of the photos we bought T&C socks and matching Elton John glasses). But I did buy my favourite ever “Pussy/Chicken” hat. And we may have bought a mouse.

Each.

Yes mice.

Why?

Why on earth not!

They were like, $3! And came with a biscuit. And a small cardboard box each!!!!

Now, in retrospect, my grandma may have been a tad OCD. The plastic runner in the hall perhaps a dead giveaway. But I knew, well before the purchase, that there was NO WAY, she would accept our little darlings with the hospitality they deserved. So we hid them.

We hid them underneath our perfectly made guest bed, between perfect puffy pillows, soft teddies and ironed hankies (not really under the hankies, but they were there).

Crazy.

They were dearly loved and taken care of, even traveling with us on the train into the city, for a day in the Myers Centre on roller coasters and dodge em cars, and sharing our cheeseburgers. 

It was on the walk back to my Grandmas house from the city that we realised it was unfair of us to keep these wild creatures in their stuffy boxes, and the joint decision was made to release them back into the wild (yes as a grown up I realise the ridiculousness of this thought process). 

And so our beloved pets (I don’t recall their names) ran free, and we returned to the mulberry tree.

I shudder to think how much strife we, or I, would have been in had we been discovered! And I shake my head at the irresponsible-Ness of us buying and releasing pets! Stupid heads!

But gosh we had a ball!

So now as I vicariously live through G1s first city trip, I am filled with nostalgia and happiness! 

But please remember G1, mice are not just for the holidays. 

  
A photo compilation of our city trip. Mice and all.

What I learnt from Bali!

Wow! 
I like to think that we not only scratched the surface, but took off a whole layer, that misconceptions, rumour and scare mongering news corporations, would have is believe is Bali.

We crammed in as much as we could in our 7 days, and have been left with such a huge desire to return and explore some more!

We had a wonderful taste of Senur, Ubud, Nusa Lembongan, Batur, Seminyak and a little of Kuta, and the vibe stays pretty much the same throughout.

Friendly, welcoming, humble.

But to sum up I learnt;

1. Learning even a little of the language goes a huge way! Seeing the Indonesian and Balinese smile as you stutter your way through a sentence is gold! But be careful, it only a slight difference between some words. You may come away looking like a crazy person who’s trying to find nice singlets for her pigs.

2. The food is fantastic! And westerners will easily find a safe alternative if they want one. But I beg you to just try everything! 

3. Sarongs are pretty much all you need (with your trekking gear of course)! Towel/pillow/jumper/blanket/shade/dress/skirt/top all in one! 

4. Bintang is great, and bloody cheap! Raddler Bintang is nasty. 

5. The Balinese have a great sense of humour, and are incredibly kind. The Mummas were so well taken care of!

6. If you buy just one thing from each shop, you’ll not be harassed.

7. Massages more often than not come with unexpected breast rubbing.

8. Climate is awesome! Much like home, maybe more humid. Though all the locals were rugged up against the “cold”.

9. We’re being super ripped off in this country for the awesome things these folk make by hand! And they in turn are being ripped off by us. If I had a shipping container to bring home, my house would be gorgeous! 

10. Wifi is everywhere! We’re also ripped of in this country with shitty Internet. Bali is certainly not lacking!

11. The crazy roads and scooters and cars and pedestrians, all work! There’s a crazy system of politeness and patience that just works! A little beep to let them know your coming, and that’s it! Very cool!

12. The plane from Townsville to Bali is very small, and I’ve flown on small planes. If your tall, beg for the emergency exit row!

13. The airport in Bali is still in its teething stages. But super cool!

14. There is no need to feel afraid, or intimidated, not for a second was I worried about anything.

15. Yeah, there are bogans in Bali, who will make you shake your head and feel ashamed, but they are easy to avoid, and we should all do our best to break that stereotype. 

16. And lastly, you can’t force nature. Whale sharks and Manta continue to elude me, and no monkeys jumped on me, but I was impaled with a sea urchin spine, so that’s definitely something.  

    
 

Beach witch!

Bali day 7!Our last day in Bali?! Noooooo!

Kicked off our last day with a beach stroll after sun up, madly dodging shop keepers that flew out like missiles, targets locked squarely on us. I was a little hurt as one missile/shop keeper told me I would now have the bad luck for not going in her shop. 

We had our wonderful new friend Kadek over to spend the morning with us, so middle sister, He, and I hit the water on our first ever paddle board expedition!

It was a lot of fun, we picked it up straight away, (Kadek being delivered a life jacket by JetSki as he was pretty worried by the waves and deep water, but he did have fun)! I had a balance issue at the very start of our hour and fell in the shallow water. 

I knew I’d hit something but didn’t want to know what, so continued out past the breakers to the deep reef to take it all in and enjoy the serenity.

Eldest sister swam out to join us, GoPro in hand, and we were lucky enough to have a local fisherman swim past with his spear in hand, and a belt full of reef fish and octopus!

It was at this point I decided to look at my knee, curious as to the damage done in my fall.

My suspicions were confirmed when I seen the sea urchin spine hanging from my flesh.

Awesome.

Visions of sea urchins twisted and hooked barbs filled my brain, poison, infection! Arrrgggghhhh!

After much discussion, it was decided that the spine needed to come out, so I paddled my spiney self back to shore.

The local beach people noticed something was up, so they came to investigate, and talk in Indonesian with worried looks and even more worrying hand gestures, imitating the best way to pull out the skin intruder.

Oh my gosh.

The security man from our villa came to my rescue with tweezers and alcohol. For the spine, not me.

Eldest sister had her camera at the ready and I braced for what I imagined was going to be a bloody awful removal.

The hoorah of the crowd was the first I knew it was over, seems the spine wasn’t in as far as I feared, much to the grand amusement of the beach men.

“You have the tattoos and then you get the spine and go “whaaaaaaa”.”

Thanks beach man.

For the record I did not go whaaaa. 

And I guess time will tell what the fallout from the urchin will be! Fingers crossed for no poison!

Seems the missile/shop keeper also dabbles in black magic. Well played shop keeper, well played.

After our urchin adventure, we headed out to lunch, eldest sister escorting the limping Mumma!

After yet again being begged yet again to get the massage, we decided to haggle a good price and get Kadek a massage instead.

This was a wonderful move as we had the full attention of the masseuse/shop keeper, and finally learnt the rules of the beach people! 

Back to the villa where the fantastic new business “we suck Bali” came along and vacuum packed and weighed our luggage! What a super cool idea!

Then off to the money exchange, walking past a huge Pig Ogho Ogho, fully anatomical correct. Ew.

There was a snake incident in one of the roadside market stalls, and the poor little fella was swept from screaming person to screaming person, before meeting his fate on the street, under the wheels of hundreds of scooters.

Wanting to cram in as much as possible into our last hours, we hit the shopping strip to drain our brains and wallets, back on the main drag for dinner at 3 Monkeys, a sneaky, super quick foot massage, then our taxi was there to take us to the airport.

Driving the streets out was so sad, as the preparations for Ogho Ogho were beginning, and it looks so cool!

Kadek surprised us at the airport to say goodbye, and after the arduous trek through security, 2.30am arrived and we boarded our plane home.

Ada Bali, suksma! 

   
   

Family volcano!

Bali day 6!

Wholey Moley!

Today would have to be the biggest day of all!

Kicked of by a 1am start (except MIL, who opted for resting, clever lady!), we met our driver at 2am, for the 2 hour drive up into the mountains to Batur Village. 

I don’t know if it was the fantastic food at the cooking class yesterday, the Bintang, the 4 hours sleep, or the winding road up, but I was feeling pretty darn ordinary, and terrified!

I was not missing out on this volcano climb because of sickness, not after missing the coral snorkel!

I put on my bravest face, and after the adventure that was the Balinese toilet at the Mount Batur volcano trail head (heads up folks, no paper! Or flush!), I felt ready to take on the world!

Actually no, I felt bloody awful. 

Really, really, sweating mouth, awful.

And oh my goodness, it was tough!

We met our guide, a village local, at the trail head, where we were handed out torches, middle sister and I, coincidentally at the rear of our trek pack, were blessed with “candle light” torches, though mine eventually faded out to “tinfoil reflecting the crescent moon” torch.

An hour (fairly slippery, ashy, steep) up, we came to our resting point, where there were other trek groups also resting, and our little group was joined by a lady from the village, this teeny lady, climbs the volcano EVERY DAY, selling Coke, Sprite and water.

Yes.

Coke and Sprite.

Who on this earth, feels like hot Coke, at 6am, after climbing a volcano?

Well someone does, as there is a Coke peddler for EVERY group. Even solo Trekkers!

Bonkers.

Our lady was so lovely, and helped the Mumma up the steep sections, until not far before the summit, when we all admitted we hate soft drinks on a good day, let alone at 5, on the edge of a volcano. Sweat and knee cartilage pouring from our bodies.

We tipped her for her help with the Mumma, and her kindness, and she skidaddled her way, back down, to find a willing group to follow to the top.

We stopped a few times to rest the Mumma, and were able to look out into the blackness, over the lake, only visible by the spattering of small village lights around its edge, and the reflection of the moon and stars on its still waters. 

Simply awe inspiring.

Summit 2 was our stop, as we are a one in, all in kind of pack, and the Mumma was happy to stop there, so we all did!

We were ushered to a great little view point by our guide, before he went off to make tea for us all, and fresh banana sandwiches and boiled eggs (odd combo I know)!

The altitude, satisfaction of climbing a bloody big mountain, beautiful simple food, being with my strong, beautiful family, and icy cold breeze, combined to leave me truly feeling, on top of the world.

The sunrise was spectacular!

With our sarongs tightly around our shoulders (No one takes jumpers to Bali! Yes, thanks to all who gave that advice. It was bloody cold up there!), we ventured to the steam vents, bird cave/sacred temple, and crater edge.

Amazing.

The sights were incredible. Humbling.

And then some Australian tourists come along who make you ashamed to be associated.

We were from New Zealand for the rest of the summit.

The trek down was totally different, as one would imagine, for a start it wasn’t pitch black, but with a stunning view to preoccupy, plus the slippery, slippery volcanic soil!

The old lava was fantastic to descend!

The soil? Like black ice!

The slipping was out of control, and we quite literally laughed, for 3/4s of the way down, at the hilarity of people falling down. Our guide was busy helping the Mumma, but all the others who passed us, would ask why we were laughing so hard.

I’m pretty sure it had to be altitude/tiredness related.

I had a few falls, 1 bad, some skin off and my bad ankle folding up like an accordion, but we’ll see what tomorrow brings. It actually feels more nimble than it has since the spincident, and it gave the sisters a good laugh!

The Mumma had a bad fall though, and that is worrying us all. Tough as nails and stubborn as a Mule, she hides her pain well. And again, we laughed more than was probably necessary.

The volcanic soil all around the mountain is incredibly fertile, so the villagers have chilli, chives, peanuts, cabbage and tomato crops all over the base.

The lake also has fish farms!

It’s such a beautiful area!

Our driver took us up to a great spot to see the lava from the 1969 Eruption, and the view of the whole lake, volcano and surrounding villages! Gorgeous, yet so sad for the destroyed village.

We skipped the hot springs as it was back to being bloody hot by the time we descended, and we went on to the coffee plantation for the Mumma!

We limped in and seen the sad little Lewaks in their cages, and tasted the many teas and coffees.

We asked lots of questions regarding the Lewak welfare, gave them all names, and wished them all love.

The staff were so wonderful with the Mumma, helping us support her to and fro.

From there, back to Senur for lunch, Bintang and a quick rest, before hitting the beach for the Hindu cleansing of the temple, in preparation for Nyepi!

It was quite haunting, and very beautiful. It’s always wonderful to see people so dedicated to their faith.

That’s how I feel about my family.

I believe in them with all my heart, and am so proud of them.

We conquered a mountain together, not without sacrifice, in fact with much pain, sweat and difficulty, but we did it, we’d do it again, and we came out laughing till some of us darn near peed our trekking pants.

Coz that’s what families do!

Fingers crossed for the Mummas speedy recovery! We’ve not finished our shopping or massages! 

   
    
 

Bintang + shopping = Gila!

Bali day 5!

An early start again today with our cooking class at Anika’s cooking school in Kuta!

We were picked up nice and early, and headed straight to the Kuta food markets to suss out our days ingredients!

The market was pretty darn fantastic, with so many amazing, smells, sights and people! 

We were spared the red meat aisle, which I am both bummed, and relieved about.

The chicken aisle was a tad daunting.

We learnt so much, my favorite fact being that betadine is actually made from turmeric and iodine!

And I can totally back that up as I chopped turmeric at this mornings class and my hands look like I’ve been smoking for 20 years!!

We cooked 5 dishes 8 dishes all up, and were served 2!

Lots of fantastic spices and fresh vegetables! The colours were so great, and the taste, fantastic! 

Lots of chilli, garlic, ginger and lime! 

So fresh and tasty! If only I could retain all the information! Luckily we were all given a recipe book, including substitutes!

On returning to Sanur, sisters and I hit the town to change more money, and return to Little Bird, just to make sure their Bintang was still good. It was.

Possibly a silly move. As returning to the villa, we found the mummas (our new term for Mum and middle sisters MIL, as given by every Balinese person we have come across), well the mummas were missing.

After much searching on the beach, we found them at No Bullshit Jenny’s store, shopping up a storm!

A few Bintang under the belt, and fresh cash from the exchange, equaled a bit of an accidental shopping spree on No Bullshit Jenny’s strip! 

So very hard to put up a fight when your tired, and have too many Bintang under your belt. 

“Why you not shop at my shop?”, “I see you shop at Jenny’s shop”. 

Mannnnnn, ok, ok. I’ll just have a look.

Next thing, sarongs, bags, earrings. And much head shaking. And no doubt, little shop keepers rubbing their little hands together!

Sandra, shop #2, you got me good.

Then back to the villa to laugh and curse ourselves for our stupidness, before hitting the beach for tea.

A long, long walk up to the other side of Sanur (marked by a gigantic piece of land and crumbling resort that was once the Hyatt), to Lilla Pantain for dinner.

A delicious dinner followed by a brisk walk back to the villa, avoiding the beach dogs, and now in bed again!

Hopefully we’ll have time to check out the crazy things we bought, sometime tomorrow!

   
   

No Manta.

Bali Day 4. Another sunrise start to the day, beautiful and much clearer than yesterday!

We were stopped halfway on our walk by a group of tourists from where, we’re not sure, but they were very excited to have their photo taken with middle, oldest sister & I!

First just a few people at first, then a whole bunch of them! We ended up doing a few jumping photos for good measure and everyone left smiling and laughing!

A quick breakfast & money exchange before our new driver picked us up and delivered us to our boat for the trip to Nusa Lembongan!

About a half hour boat ride to the island, then onto a smaller boat for our snorkel with the Manta Rays, or Manta as they say!

A very squally trip to Manta point, with Wyatt and our learner driver getting some experience on the way!

The water is amazing! A totally new colour that I have never seen. Ink blue in the deep, and iridescent blue as the waves smash on the rocky cliffs! Stunning!

MIL stayed on the boat to watch, but Mumma joined us in her spongebob life jacket, and we swam and swam for hours! Plenty of fish to be seen, tusk fish, “gill” fish, sturgeon fish, bait fish galore, sadly lots of rubbish, and even more sadly, no Mantas. 

The universe has snubbed me again.

We did get to swim through a super cool archway in the cliff into “broken beach”, with some scary big sets rolling in! 

Then I was snubbed yet again with the sea gods blessing me with a bout sea sickness.

The last of my snorkelling for the day.

Middle and eldest sister had one more swim in a shallow coral reef, before we headed back to Lembongan.

We then hired Wyatt to drive us around the island for our last few hours, passing lots of scooters, jungle dogs and hidden villas and cafes!

First stop was Devils Tear, a blow hole type jut in the cliffs which we drove past in the boat on our way from Manta point. 

Impressive is an understatement. Stunning blues and huge swell, resulting in massive sea spray and rainbows! 

Dream Beach was the next stop, another gorgeous beach tucked away, with a resort perched above it on the cliff.

A steep climb down was worth the swim, though the huge waves, steep entry and massive swell/current kept many out of the water.

Middle, eldest sister and I went in, with a fair amount of concentration needed, then laughed so very hard watching Mumma get rolled about on the shore, crumbed in sand, tousled by the huge waves and uneven ground.

Eventually rescued by eldest sister, she managed to come away unscathed.

A quick Bintang, then back to the boat and home to Sanur.

A well deserved swim and Bintang for all at the Villa, before heading to the streets for dinner at the night markets.

Lots of interesting dishes available, all cooked on the spot, and pretty much all tasty!

We then had a wander through the streets, making our way to the resident Ogoh Ogoh (monster)! She is beautiful! One moths hard work by the people of the village, to be burnt at Nyepi festival!

Now home to bed, ready to paint and sleep, and continue to rock and roll on the waves of the deep blue sea!