Thursday, 25 December 2008

a Happy Christmas from the tropics!

Thursday 25th December 2008

it's weird...Christmas in the tropics for me...will NEVER feel like Christmas - it's like any year i celebrate it in the tropics...i skip Christmas that year, it just doesn't happen, i can't bring myself to celebrate it. i have tried in past years but it just never felt the same. even now, as i am in Singapore for Christmas, with Orchard Road decked up to the nines with decorations...it's like i don't even see them. as someone who grew up spending every Christmas in Ireland...it just cannot be Christmas for me anywhere else! so what am i thinking about today, what makes Christmas for me...champagne and orange juice for breakfast, the smell of the turkey roasting in the oven, heaps of presents piled under the tree, the pop of crackers being pulled, twinkling lights and sparkling decorations, the warm glow of the fire in the hearth, the crisp cold winter air but mostly loved ones...so far away on this day...but so near in my thoughts...my dear family, i miss you all so much that i hope my thoughts can traverse the miles today and be with you. Christmas just ain't the same without all of you. Happy Christmas everyone...

Sunday, 30 November 2008

sunset at seminyak...

Sunday 30th November 2008

so where is one of the best places in the world to watch the sun drop right into the ocean and create a fireball in the sky as it takes its' last shimmering rays of light away for the day? why seminyak beach of course! it's a little further along the way than kuta and legian, but well worth a visit simply to see one of the most magnificent natural displays of light and colour blaze across the sky. and every sunset is different...no two the same, just like every day is different...it's a fabulous way to bring a close to the daylight hours...to just lie on the beach with your toes in the sand and watch and breathe and remember how tiny we are...earth, our planet, in contrast to the magnificence of the sun...its strength, light, heat and power make us earthlings and our planet seem like mere shadows to its' great existence...and remember that...we are but mere specks of dust compared to the size of the sun...and no matter how much we think we are the centre of our own universe, we are not...so get your toes down to the beach, sink them in the sand and marvel at the wonder of it all...

Thursday, 20 November 2008

moringa oleifera...moringa ole-what???

Thursday 20th November 2008

so what do you do when you find that you have one of the world's most useful trees growing right in your back garden? well you make sure that all those people who aren't in the know...get in the know...because it doesn't get much better than the moringa oleifera, my friends. this tree packs a punch of the most healthy kind. read what wikipedia has to say about it...

Moringa oleifera, commonly referred to simply as Moringa, is the most widely cultivated variety of the genus Moringa. It is of the family Moringaceae. It is an exceptionally nutritious vegetable tree with a variety of potential uses. Considered one of the world’s most useful trees, as almost every part of the Moringa tree can be used for food, or has some other beneficial property.

The leaves are highly nutritious, being a significant source of beta-carotene, Vitamin C, protein, iron and potassium. The leaves are cooked and used like spinach. In addition to being used fresh as a substitute for spinach, its leaves are commonly dried and crushed into a powder, and used in soups and sauces. The tree is a good source for calcium and phosphorus. Moringa leaves contain more Vitamin A than carrots, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach, more Vitamin C than oranges, and more potassium than bananas, and the protein quality of Moringa leaves rivals that of milk and eggs.

so don't you think, after reading that, you just have to have one of these trees in your garden.. you can use it in soups, salads, casseroles and you get all that incredible goodness..i mean imagine, you might never have to leave home again...everything you need, right there, on one tree...now if only we could get it to grow money...hmmm...

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

sunlight falling on bamboo...

Tuesday 11th November 2008
i do love you, bamboo...i really do...the past few months have been a bit rocky between you and me...there have been ups and downs with you...you gave way when i needed you to be strong, you leaked when i needed you for shelter, you cracked when i needed you to remain tough under pressure...i have often felt like saying that i never want to see you again...EVER. but never is such a strong word and despite everything...there might be room for you again in my life, some day. so i vow to think good things about you...to remember how tall and upright you are, how you can bend so flexibly and change your shape and mostly how the sunlight looks as it dances across your smooth exterior. you did not choose the destiny that befell you...you too were pulled from the earth and transplanted here, forever to be a part of a vision you knew nothing about. and so, bamboo, stand tall, feel connected to the earth, remain true...for in the face of all else, these are the things that you can control and know and find solace in when all else fails...i leave you with that thought...i leave you...

Thursday, 6 November 2008

desiderata...

Thursday 6th November 2008


Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.
Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment.
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

by Max Ehrmann©1927 (renewed)
Bell & Son Publishing,
Reprinted with permission.

as i take a step, i think of the words of this poem...and they remind me of so much...so much to be grateful for, thankful for and humble about...and i take a deep breath and take another step...one step at a time...that's it for now...

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

the veins that bind...

Wednesday 5th November 2008
it's been way too long since i posted and it's been mainly due to the fact that things are just crazy at the moment and life is manifesting itself to me in strange ways but i am beginning to understand that it is its' own way of telling me that things are not necessarily in balance right now and i need to stop and think and breathe before i make the next step. the saving grace through all this madness has been the amazing small network of people who have supported me through this and to me, they are just like all those veins branching off that main stem...for without them, i think i wouldn't have been able to stand. the worst part of it all is that the person who has probably been there for me the most, is about to depart these shores. and i know that when you live the life of an expat, people come and go in and out of your life all the time and you should expect that, but sometimes, just sometimes, i wish we could hold on to some of those people a little longer. i'm not asking for everyone, ok...just the select few. but alas, that's not meant to be for now...so on sunday i will bid a very bittersweet fare-well to Lisa, Victor and Loy and while wishing them a beautiful journey ahead, will hope that our paths will cross again soon somewhere on this wild, turning planet of ours...for we are bound forever by the green-ness that brought us here, the uphills and the downhills these past months and the blood, sweat and tears and hopes and fears of a little bamboo village we once inhabited. so we shall travel our own paths for now, but always, always remember the veins that bind...

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

magic mushrooms???

Wednesday 15th October 2008
it's all about looking for the magic in the world around us. so often we overlook the tiny delicate things of beauty that are right in front of our eyes and if we only stopped for a moment to take them in we might feel all the better for it. i spied this mushroom delicately growing in the garden of my classroom and was just mermerised by its' perfect formation. its' colour almost ethereal, it's shape so defined, it perched precariously on the clay as if struggling for dear life, as if at any second it might drop off. i didn't know anything about it, but when asked was told that it was poisonous if eaten and i wondered how something so fragile, so enchanting could be harmful. but then, isn't that the way of the world. appearances can be so deceiving. we are fooled by the enchantment of others, led astray by the facades that people and things offer us and ignore what lies beneath. such is the intense mystery of magic...and so, this beautiful mushroom will have to be swept away - its' danger eradicated from the very environment it has chosen as home. but i am thankful, that it did not go unnoticed - that its' stunning appearance was captured for a moment and its little bit of magic allowed to work its' way into my vision and for a moment, just a moment, enchant me...

Monday, 13 October 2008

the enchanting magic of the kecak...

Monday 13th October 2008

video

i'm lost forever in the sound of a hundred men's voices chanting in unison...

i'm captivated by the fire dancing and twirling before my eyes...

i'm mesmerised by many bodies moving together as if one, a sea of perfect choreography...

i'm overwhelmed by the luck i feel at being part of such a special moment, of being surrounded by such creativity and such artistry...

i'm remembering the real reason why i am here and why i love Bali, its' culture and people so much...

such is the intensity of the kecak dance...if you see one and only one dance while here in Bali, make sure it is the kecak dance. a spellbinding dance where the music is made solely by a choir of men's voices. for me the actual dance itself is secondary to the sheer tone and beauty of the men's voices. it is rich, deep and powerful. a music that once enjoyed, you want to hear again and again. my favourite place to see the kecak would have to be in Junjungan...a small village on the outskirts of Ubud. a magical location. definitely not to be missed...

Sunday, 12 October 2008

living next door to Lisa...

Sunday 12th October 2008

so, my next door neighbour is Lisa. Lisa Kusel. And in between being like a big sister, a listening post, a co-conspirator, nurse, friend, advisor, she is also a writer - where DOES she find the time? She has written two books and i recently borrowed them to read.

Other Fish in the Sea, is a collection of short stories revolved around the character known as Elly. I found each story completely absorbing as I followed Elly and discovered more and more about her character and events of her life. It was an intriguing way to get to know a character, sometimes through the eyes of the character and at other times from another perspective. I love short stories too. There is something so incredibly complete about a short story because within a few number of pages one is satisfied very quickly and then gets to repeat the process again and again as they encounter each new story.

Hat Trick is Lisa's second book, a novel this time, revolving around three characters - Peter, Mona and Hannah. Lisa builds up a gripping plot as she interweaves the lives of the characters with one another and tantalises us with flashbacks throughout to help us learn more about the lives of each character and their histories together. i found the book hard to put down as i became engrossed in the lives of the people in the story and i love when that happens.

Lisa, baby, bring on the next one...which will surely be the most gripping read of all ;)


Wednesday, 8 October 2008

roti canai in kerobokan - a yummy-licious discovery!

Wednesday 8th October 2008
bumpity-bumpity-bumpity-bump along jl. raya kerobokan the other day...then suddenly...STOP! i spied a sign spelling out the words roti canai & teh tarik - two of my absolutely favourite things to eat and drink. this warung simply HAD to be checked out!

i first fell in love with roti canai in Singapore where it is called roti prata and is basically according to wikipedia...
...the Singaporean evolution of the Indian paratha, a pancake made of dough composed of fat, egg, flour and water. Roti means bread in Hindi, Urdu, most other North Indian languages and Malay, while Prata means flat. It is traditionally served with curry or, more rarely, with sugar or condensed milk. In addition, although consumed at any time of the day by some locals, the vast majority tend to consume it as a late night or early morning dish, particularly at 24-hour outlets.
so in we went to the warung and took a look at the menu...i spotted my favourite roti keju (or roti cheese) and ordered it with a chicken curry. it didn't disappoint. the roti was crisp, not too oily, piping hot and just enough cheese inside to satisfy...

the curry was spicy, flavourful and had a nice leg sticking out of it - which is my favourite part of the chicken!

for drinks, it was vital to order a teh tarik (direct translation pulled tea!) and i wanted the iced variety with cinnamon for that added bit of flavour. the guy 'pulled' the tea right in front of us and it was delicious - creamy, frothy and perfectly spiced.

and i leave you with the guy in action...now you know why it is called 'pulled' tea because it is poured from great height from one cup to another to aerate and create the froth.

you gotta check out this place if you're in kerobokan. it's a must!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

variety is the seaweed of life!

Tuesday 7th October 2008

i was back again at pantai geger over the idulfitri holidays and managed to get up close and personal with some of the seaweed that is farmed there. it was pretty mesmerising - i mean blankets of seaweed just lying in the sun and each blanket an interesting array of greens, purples and yellows. and the smell, the air was thick with it. which i absolutely don't mind because for me the strong smell of seaweed makes me feel like i am back where i belong...by the sea.

so i have been thinking a lot recently about variety and specifically about choices. life is full of choices...sometimes too many so that we don't know which one to choose, which one will be right for us and then again sometimes we feel like we have no choice and we are stuck with no way out. ultimately though the seaweed is always greener on the other side of the beach because when we are faced with too many choices we often wish there was just one clear one with a great big, flashing neon sign over it saying 'pick me for instant success!' and yet when we feel we have no choice, we want the plethora of options to just beam across the sky in front of us like a rainbow. oh, we are but such ungrateful beings at times.

do we make wrong choices sometimes? not necessarily 'wrong' choices but rather i like to think of them as 'alternative' choices that are like little side alleys that lead us off from the main path we want to see ourselves following and with a little more thought and extra searching we can get ourselves back to that main path, but along the way we have seen and heard things we never expected, we might have learnt some new skills or made some new friends that we want in our lives and would never have met if we hadn't taken that alternative route. it's all about how you see it, what angle you take it from and how you choose to frame things. i mean, i am by nature a positive person, i try to see the best in everyone and everything. i try to look for the positive in every 'alternative' choice and come out of it knowing that i am a better person for it. it is a constant challenge to view it that way and often i trip up but without these challenges that life throws our way, there would be no opportunity to grow, love, laugh, cry, dance and sing. so with wild abandon i pick a handful of seaweed and look for the variety of life...

Monday, 6 October 2008

bali buddha, kerobokan

Monday 6th October 2008

no trip to kerobokan (or ubud, for that matter) is complete without a stop at Bali Buddha - a health food cafe and shop that serves delicious food that is good and wholesome. so naturally whilst in kerobokan, i had to stop in for a bite of lunch...

for me, it's all about their club sandwich...i love it. chunky cut french fries, served with a way-high staked sandwich that is just bursting with goodies. meat is replaced with tofu, then there's egg, tomato, lettuce and and onion between hearty slices of brown bread. served up with a decent portion of homemade tomato ketchup. getting your mouth around the sandwich is an experience in itself...keeping it together between your fingers is also pretty fun too (but makes for excellent finger-licking closure!) and those french fries...well i just can't get enough of them. it is definitely the most healthy club sandwich i've ever had!

a great drink i tried...the detox! i mean it sounds good already and comes with aloe vera, mint, ginger, lemon and honey. it tastes surprisingly great...i mean sometimes i think these health drinks taste like what i imagine a 'sock' juice might taste like. but this was good...tangy, smooth and definitely drinkable!

raw food seems to be all the rage these days...i guess people are beginning to see the importance of not boiling, frying and grilling the be-jeepers out of everything and bali buddha has recognised this and offer a raw food segment on the menu. so i tried the spring rolls...totally brought me back to my days in Laos, where they eat these spring rolls at just about every occasion. wrapped in rice paper and stuffed with mint, carrots, tofu and vermicelli noodles and served with miso and peanut sauce...these were raw goodness in every gobble!

so one and all, when in bali do as the healthy do and get your skinny backsides down to bali buddha and jump on the health kick! you won't be disappointed!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

a little corner of heaven!

Thursday 2nd October 2008
so what do you do when a fabulous friend offers you the chance to stay at their amazing villa for your long weekend? say no, that you couldn't possible impose and put them out or instantly accept and take advantage of everything on offer from swimming pool to fully-equipped kitchen, outdoor bathroom to charming garden? if you're like me, then you take the latter option and on arrival praise the gods for the fact that you have dropped into a little corner of heaven. i mean three minutes walk to the beach and the sound of the waves constantly in your ears...what more could one ask for? i'm switching to auto-pilot for now and checking into heaven...over and out!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

selamat hari raya idulfitri

Wednesday 1st October 2008
selamat hari raya idulfitri ma'af zahir dan batin
wishing all those a peaceful idulfitri

Sunday, 28 September 2008

ode to a bintang...

Sunday 28th September 2008



oh bintang, you pick me up when i'm feeling down,

oh bintang, i can find you all over the town.

oh bintang, you taste so great with a squeeze of lime,

oh bintang, you're there no matter the time.

oh bintang, you taste so good at the end of the day,

oh bintang, don't go changing in any way.



for those of you not yet acquainted with the joy of bintang beer, well, you can find it just about anywhere in bali for a nominal price but yet still achieve maximum enjoyment. i'm thinking of buying shares!

Friday, 26 September 2008

let the rain fall down...

Friday 26th September 2008

video


when it rains here in bali...it really rains! there is something about tropical rain that always, always amazes me. i have never experienced it elsewhere. it comes down in such torrents and with such ferocity it feels like the very heavens are weeping uncontrollably. it is a sight to behold...albeit one from behind closed doors. getting caught out in that kind of rain is certainly not fun and one can be drenched to the skin in seconds!

however, when the show really starts is after the rain. once the rain eases off, the whole jungle becomes alive with the sounds of those obviously highly contented by the rain...mainly the frogs! they start up a chorus in obvious thanks for the drenching they have received and it can continue on for many hours afterwards. it is a sound that has become comforting and one that i enjoy listening to. it reminds me how alive the jungle is. the multitude of life it houses and the preciousness of each and every living soul that inhabits it. enjoy the chorus!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

now you know...

Tuesday 23rd September 2008
so now you know...exactly what it was i went to kuta to get...huge thanks to wayan abuth - the tattoo artist from as-tattoo, for capturing exactly what i wanted so perfectly and daniel sato - the photographer for capturing my cheeky pirate side so perfectly!

Monday, 22 September 2008

spiderman! spiderman!

Monday 22nd September 2008
i had such a funny incident the other day in class...one of the children came tearing out of the class into the playground shouting at the top of his voice in rather an anxious tone...'spiderman! spiderman!' alli could think was...what on earth is he shouting that for? when i went into have a look...what did i discover? the most beautiful praying mantis, harmlessly making his way across the classroom floor and who had probably been terrified by my screaming student! he (or could it have been she) was just so incredible. i picked him up and rescued him to a stick in the fence...but first, of course, explaining to the children that he was completely harmless! they were pretty dubious at first but eventually came round to him when they saw me handle him. praying mantis are just fascinating...i could have sat and watched him for hours...doing his little dance and his little gangly walk. very precious...

Monday, 15 September 2008

a bit rough round the edges...

Monday 15th September 2008
it's strange the way i feel when i go to Kuta...i mean, Kuta is the Bali capital of 'sensory overloaded-ness'! when i go there, i lose track of conversations i'm having right in the midst of them, i forget where i'm going, i lose my way...it's incredible! it's like being put in a different country, world, whatever. so generally when i go it is with determined purpose. and it was so over the weekend...i went to get something that i have been wanting for a long time...something that signifies to me everything that i am and who i want to be and the way i want to live my life...with hair flapping wildly in the wind, at the helm of the ship, steering in the direction i wanna go, in search of adventure. for indeed underneath that calm, quiet exterior that you think might be me, there is a raging, stormy sea...twisting and turning, always moving, never still, that is the core of who i am.
'not all those who wander are lost' is a favourite quote of mine from J.R.R.Tolkien. why?...i'm so tired of the ridicule that one receives for not wanting to stay in one place, not wanting to have the car and condo and whatever else makes up the pre-requisites for the 'right' kind of life. i abhor belongings...i abhor a life cluttered with 'things' and 'items' that ultimately we will never bring with us. i have left a path of me across the planet, from the strands of my hair to the shoes i have worn, the books i have read to the clothes i have placed upon my back. as quickly as i receive something i can let it go...it terrifies me but yet pleases me that i am not held back by the very things that can often destroy you and prevent you from taking your life where you want it to go. i am probably happiest with a bag of necessities and a sense of adventure. and perhaps when the time is right, whenever that may be, i will drop the anchor, and make for shore...but that time is not now. for now, i'm all at sea...
so yes, i choose to wander but no, i am not lost. yes, i am a little rough around the edges, but that's what gives the texture to my very being. and now, the emblem for that i take with me wherever i go, forever emblazoned upon me. i am a child of the universe. i am me...

Friday, 12 September 2008

ever decreasing circles...

Friday 12th September 2008
do you ever feel that when you are in a minority, you just wanna hold even tighter to that minority? you wanna be able to cherish everything that it means to be in the minority and fight harder to let yourself be heard. i am currently in a minority, and i received news yesterday that the minority is about to get even smaller as two members depart from the school for different reasons. so what to do? speak louder, make bigger hand gestures, who knows? there have been many moments in my life when i have found myself to be in the minority and it has never bothered me in the slightest. this time round, it is having a completely different effect on me and instead of enjoying it, i feel like i wanna be out recruiting members to expand the minority. i don't want to be in a minority...i want to feel part of the majority...but somehow, i can't. ultimately what sets me apart are the very things i wish to hold on to. if i'm being all cryptic...apologies...it's been a bit of a rough ol' day. and sometimes things really do need to be left unsaid.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

life's minutiae...

Thursday 11th September 2008
if there is one thing that i have learnt to do over these past weeks on this incredible campus, and with all the many issues that arise from such a vast and jungle-like campus, is to try and put aside the minute details that so often bog us down and prevent us from seeing the bigger picture. i must admit though, that i am a details person. i love details...in all their extraordinary tiny-ness, they just captivate me and hold my focus. i can easily while away a few hours staring at cracks in the wall...it has its good and bad sides...i mean, when something is dragging on, like a meeting perhaps, i can just shift focus and see something tiny somewhere in the room and totally lose sense of where i am and what is going on around me...on the other hand it didn't work well in school when i was suddenly shot a question due to having such a faraway look and naturally had no response whatsoever! well today, i was sitting waiting for a meeting and then i saw it...the tiniest leaf, in all its semi-decaying glory, with its innerness revealed through its veins and there behind it...two red berries. this is why, you just have to stop and enjoy the details. it is one of the most beautiful contrasts i have seen on campus...the decay of the leaf contrasted with the succulent red of the berries...breathtaking...i'm done with the bigger picture for now, i do see it... but for me, it really is all about watching out for the details...i need that.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

the best ceramics in town...

Wednesday 10th September 2008




one thing i have always loved (amidst the millions of others!) about here is the ceramics and especially those made by Jenggala Keramik - their designs are beautifully bali-inspired items in rustic colours with motifs such as geckos, frangipani and frogs. a number of years ago, i fell even more in love with their products when i discovered that they had a reject outlet...located along the main street in Sanur, just next to Cafe Batu Jimbar. here they sell items with tiny unnoticeable faults with a 30% discount that makes shopping there far more affordable. the range is excellent and there is enough of the different designs that you can quite easily get a set of plates, bowls, cups, etc. for a reasonable price. i stopped by a few weeks ago and bought a few different plates for photographing food on...i especially wanted the little motifs and the shop didn't fail to disappoint. known as the Goudang Keramik (Ceramic Storeroom) - it is well worth a visit if you are in Sanur, to pick up some pretty dishes to bring back as gifts to those near and dear.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

oh, nothing but blue skies, ba-by!

Sunday 7th September 2008

yesterday, i went to one of my favourite beaches in Bali - pantai geger. it is a very well kept secret! so let's just say that you can find it in Nusa Dua and if you really do want to find it you will make the effort, i'm not going to make it easy otherwise it won't be such a well kept secret any more! it has one warung where you can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner (there's a pretty decent banana pancake). it has lots of sun-beds, where you can just lie and lie and lie forever. it is a great beach to swim when the tide is in, the bottom of the ocean is soft and sandy with some patches of seaweed. and when the tide is out you can see the seaweed farmers gathering their treasures. there is a cliff at the end of the beach where there are some beautiful temples perched on the edge. ample parking space. white sand. bliss, bliss, bliss...need i say more...those blue skies...ahhhhh!

Saturday, 6 September 2008

a blessing for the house...

Saturday 6th September 2008

so when i came home after the grand opening blessing ceremony for the school, i saw that my house had been blessed too. a little altar had been erected at the entrance facing north to gunung agung. and an array of offerings had been laid out and blessed. the priests involved in the ceremony had indeed gone from building to building and blessed each and every one for the ceremony. a beautiful feeling to know that your house has been blessed and will be safe from the evil that might lurk...so might that have been why i wasn't sleeping so well here the past few weeks...or was that just stress about the first day of school! who knows but i certainly slept a lot better last night!

some preschool offerings...

Saturday 6th September 2008

yesterday we made our own little offerings in preschool for the grand opening ceremony also known as melaspas. the children had a lot of fun picking the colours of the flowers and placing them in their canang sari. today we had our own little blessing ceremony and the children enjoyed taking the offerings out and placing them in the garden. we used incense to send the essence of the offering up to the gods and then sprinkled them with holy water. it was a lovely little ceremony that was made more special by the fact that each child had lovingly created their own little offering to celebrate the 'birth' day of our classroom and to say in our own special way, a little prayer to ensure a safe year full of happiness, laughter and joyful learning! happy 'birth'day preschool!

Friday, 5 September 2008

watch out for coconuts!

Friday 5th September 2008


we had an amazing inpromptu lesson in preschool today when we had discovered that a coconut had dropped from one of our trees and landed in the garden. the head gardener called the coconut cutter, Pak Putu, and within seconds he had climbed up the tree to an amazing height. once there he proceeded to cut off some precariously positioned coconuts and with the most amazing 'thud' they landed on the ground! he was back down within seconds and then swiftly chopped the tops off the coconuts and allowed each and every one of us to have a delicious swig of fresh young coconut water. it was so refreshing! the children and adults were truly amazed by Pak Putu and the very limited materials he needed to help him get up the tree. i am truly in awe of the skill he displayed and his fearlessness in getting up that coconut tree with its thin trunk and staggering height. it is this ability to be able to show children spontaneously, the many gifts of others around the Green School campus, that sustains me in my teaching and reminds me at every moment how lucky both i and the children are...

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

reach for the sky!

Wednesday 3rd September 2008
Green School opened! with a zing and a whoosh, we welcomed students to their first day of school in the jungle and suddenly the place looked so different with the children there. with the youngest at just 2 years old and the oldest at 14 years, there is indeed a great array of experiences. children from around the globe and around Bali and they all came together in this special place. at preschool we had a magical day filled with wonder and laughter and lots of smiles. we sang, drew and jumped around lots too.
Friday is our grand opening ceremony and each individual classroom will be blessed in this process so i will be looking forward to experiencing that with the children. blessing ceremonies here are a beautiful process with flowers, incense and holy water and i will tell you more about it when i post photos on friday. there are animal sacrifices too, but we won't mention that as it is not being done in front of the children (although there are a few crazy dogs on the outskirts of campus that i would quite happily nominate for candidates - one in particular that woke me up this morning before my alarm!) i wonder if they need any human sacrifices...now that would really get me thinking!!!!

Monday, 1 September 2008

life from underwater...

Monday 1st September 2008

i was in kerobokan for a quick respite over the weekend, staying at a friends house and i must say that i do enjoy being in kerobokan...definitely much more than kuta. it seems quieter and less traffic of the human and vehicular sort. anyway, my friend had this amazing underwater camera pouch, that was basically like a very hi-tech ziploc bag that you slide your camera into. there's a special part that the lens can extend into and you ziploc it up and fold it over, then seal it with velcro. and the best part...it works like a dream. i just loved it and of course, with needing no excuse to be in the water, had many moments of fun experimenting with it. needless to say, some of the more embarrassing ones of yours truly looking like a frog, i saved you the trauma of having to look at, however, this one of the sky and trees...well, i just love it. it's all floaty and dreamy. just the way i feel when i'm in the water. if you haven't got one of these and like to be in the water you really ought to get your hands on one. hours of entertainment guaranteed!

Sunday, 31 August 2008

the quiet before the storm...

Sunday 31st August 2008
tomorrow is the 1st of september and if you have been anywhere near the green school campus of late you would know what that means...OPENING DAY! yes, tomorrow after months and months of building and preparation, the school will open its' doors to just over 100 children. it is an amazing feat to be here on the eve of it all. the road has been rocky in spots, but it sure is gratifying to see it all through to fruition and to welcome those smiling children to their new classrooms. and so as i gaze at the lotus above, i imagine myself tomorrow as the epitomy of peace and serenity. i imagine myself treading lightly amongst the children who i have the joy to invite into their new environment. i imagine myself laughing and smiling with them as we explore together, see the wonder and enjoy the beauty around us. all this is possible, as long as i keep imagining, seeing it in my mind, keeping it at the forefront of my thoughts. and yes, always believing that everything will be alright...

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

the answer my friend...is blowing in the wind

Wednesday 20th August 2008
some days i feel like i have far too many questions. some days i feel like i need to know the answer to all those questions now or else it will drive me over the edge. i feel the impatience rise within me and strive to inhale with a deep breath and remember the importance of taking time, of exhaling slowly, counting to ten before acting. i know that i have always strived to work for the things that i believe in. i have always tried to hold fast to the things that i believe in and keep them in my sights and never lose sight of them. for if i lose sight of those things, those guiding principles, then i am not being true to who i am. and that for me, would be the worst thing i could do.

it's been a rough few days with much to think over...and i feel just like this windmill photographed on the beach at Sanur, as it whirrs around, being blown whichever way the wind decides to move it. i look ahead to striving for stability, for feeling like my feet are planted more firmly in the ground and that my life, at some point will be fully under my own control and not susceptible to the whims of others.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

so where does all the chocolate come from?

Tuesday 19th August 2008
as someone who is such an addict of chocolate, i figured it was about time i found out a bit more about it and especially as we have lots of cacao trees on the campus here at school. well pictured above is the fruit from the cacao tree...it starts out green, then turns red and finally becomes yellow when it is ripe. so i picked one and brought it back to have an investigation.

when i cut it open, i found all these beautiful white segments inside. they tasted sweet and reminded me of mangosteen in their flavour. the cacao seed or bean, is in the middle of these little segments and these are eventually what are used to make chocolate. i have some of them drying at the moment on my window ledge as they are still covered in some of the white membrane of the flesh and i am hoping that it will dry enough so that i can peel it off. i can say that from what i did peek underneath, the bean is purple. i then explored further on the internet about how these beans are then used to make chocolate and it is fascinating. with just a few simple instruments one can make chocolate at home. that definitely sounds like an experiment to try.

i feel a lot more informed now taking those bites of chocolate...i mean, at least i know where all the chocolate comes from now!

Monday, 18 August 2008

the doorway to...

Monday 18th August 2008

the quality of craftsmanship here in Bali is truly amazing. i mean from the tiny trinkets on sale in the art markets to this - the doorway to what appeared to be a home. i mean how incredible is it! i can't say that i personally would want the doorway to my home to look like this...but as a piece of art it is truly astounding. the wooden carved doorway with the metal doors inset. you cannot help but stop and stare as you pass by. it might feel a little like the doorway to the depths of the darkest nightmares - especially with that demonic-type character overseeing all those who pass through. but to think that someone carved all that from wood...well like i said, the craftsmanship in Bali never fails to disappoint. wherever you go you have to remember to keep your eyes open at all times to catch those amazing creations all around you.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

just another day at the beach...

Sunday 17th August 2008

as you might have guessed by now...i am a serious anak pantai (beach child). i am happiest when i am by the sea. any stresses and anxiety i can imagine washing away under the gentle lulling of the waves. the water becomes an extension of my fingertips and all the things i want to let go of ebb away with the current. it's truly blissful! this weekend i had the greatest of luck to be invited by one of my fellow Green School-ers to the beach at Sanur where he lives. i have been to Sanur many times before in the past when i lived here and it never disappoints. the sand is beautiful and white and although it can be a bit rocky in spots, there are certainly plenty of places along the coastline to dip one's soul in the salty cocktail of the ocean. which i did, of course, with pure and utter abandon. i also enjoy how the beach is sprinkled with little pockets of colour as every now and then one comes across the parking ground of the fishing boats. they are beautifully constructed and painted a rainbow of colours and look adorable waiting patiently in the sand for their next put out to sea. some people say that Sanur is the 'old folks' beach, and although the age of people who visit there does tend to be older than one might encounter at somewhere like Kuta, it is peaceful and quiet and one is not particularly bothered by beach sellers, masseurs or hair-braiders! i enjoy it for the tranquility and of course the sea...so until my next salty dip fair ocean...

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Mepantigan...the 1st open championship in Bali

Saturday 16th August 2008

the first Mepantigan championships were held this weekend in Bali at Green School. Mepantigan is a relatively new balinese art form and according to sources on the internet - Mepantigan is a form of Balinese martial arts that involves techniques of throwing and securing one's opponent that is found in self-defense traditions around the world. Mepantigan also includes Balinese drama, contemporary dance,and Balinese gamelan music. participants wear uniforms consisting of bebuletan(sarong), kancut(sarong ornamental border), guladginting(undergarment), and udeng(head-dress). these martial arts can be performed on the beach, in the mud or rice fields, or in any open space. practitioners of Mepantigan gain physical fitness, release stress, and learn valuable lessons in camaraderie and sportsmanship. in addition to gaining valuable skills and agility, both emotional and spiritual intelligence is emphasised. accordingto Putu Witsen Widjaya, the founder and senior teacher of Bali Mepantigan Arts and a martial arts champion, students of Mepantigan develop important characteristics and avoid violence while cultivating compassion. as he observed, "Wherever proper martial arts develop, evil will diminish and a respect for others will grow. this is particularly true for those who practice Mepantigan, which is a celebration of the spirit".

Thursday, 14 August 2008

airy fairy, quite contrary, how does your pineapple grow?

Thursday 14th August 2008

the wonder of growth! i recently spotted for the very first time, a growing pineapple! and it was such a miracle to me how it grows...i had no idea and was in such awe. and this is just a snippet of what i am learning while being here. the wonder of growth is all around me here on the Green School campus as i walk through the grounds every day and see another sign of the speed at which things grow here. recently we have also been having some rain and the effect this has had is astounding...all the living fences that have been planted around the campus are suddenly sprouting green shoots and leaves. i feel so invigorated and rejuvenated being surrounded by so much growth. i see the endless possibilities in each day. i see the wonder of life. i feel the power of the earth and it runs right through me with each step i take. i breathe and know that no matter what everything will be alright (not just because Bob Marley said so) but because i feel it and am empowered by the wonder in everything. i remember every day what it feels like to be a child again as i experience everything again with fresh eyes and learn things that i never knew or had long since forgotten. i close my eyes and am thankful for opportunities...

Monday, 11 August 2008

a bug's life!

Monday 11th August 2008
ok, so what do you do when you come home and you see the scariest looking creature just hanging out on your mosquito net...you be a complete and utter girly-girl and go in search of campus security and plead with them that there is a massive bug in your bedroom and tell them you won't be able to sleep unless they help you take it away! don't ask me how i struck up the courage to actually photograph it...i mean my heart was really pounding i kept thinking that mid-photo it would just make a dive at me or land on me or something to such effect. i thought for a nano-second of putting my finger near it so that you could get a proper idea of its' size but then saw that horn on the end of it's whatever and decided against it! then of course, when the security came, he just tapped it off the mosquito net and picked it up and put it outside. 'ini tak bahaya, ibu' ('it's not dangerous, miss) he says with a twinkle in his eye as he laughs at me hiding behind one of the bamboo pillars...ya, ya, ok...i know, i'm a right over-reacting psycho, totally useless and out of my depth in this jungle existence but c'mon...it does look pretty freaky, for crying out loud it's got hairy legs - SERIOUS hairy legs!!!!
so you see, as you all sit in your rooms, wherever you may be and wish that you were on the other side of the planet, sunning yourself on a glorious beach, stop and think for a moment...do you have bugs of this magnitude sitting on your beds to welcome you home each day???
oh ya and size -wise, this guy was as long as an index finger and as wide as two and a half fingers together...now that's a SERIOUS bug!
after a quick bit of googling...i have discovered this is a rhinoceros beetle...an apt name indeed considering the size of that horn you can see! and from the looks of it they can grow up to some pretty large sizes! as for me, i'm just glad i have a mosquito net hanging around my bed so that this fella didn't think he was getting into bed with me for the night!

Sunday, 10 August 2008

a most serendipitous discovery...

Sunday 10th August 2008
just got back from the beach after a fabulous weekend and a new discovery. this is a picture of balangan beach, down south, near uluwatu. it is a beautiful, peaceful beach. it's quite a surfer hang-out but if you don't mind that...then you can enjoy a beautiful landscape...with cliffs cascading into a blue ocean and a white sandy beach with a private little cove. there are lots of little warungs where you can grab a bite to eat and even rough it rustic-style by sleeping in some of the warungs for Rp. 100,000 a night or you can have a little more luxury and stay in some of the fancy-schmancy bungalows up on top of the cliffs for Rp. 250,000 and there's a pool and restaurant too. that definitely sounds like the spot for a nice weekend getaway!
the water is cool temperature-wise and when the tide is in you can have a decent swim over to that little private cove and when the tide is out, you can wade across and the depth would be up to you thighs.
i can honestly say that this is my new favourite beach and believe me i have been to a fair few in my time. but if you have the transport and the inclination to go a bit off the beaten track then you really have to take the time to visit this beautiful little peace of heaven.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

the intricate web of life...

Tuesday 5th August 2008
this afternoon, i had the most uplifting experience in that i was given the opportunity to walk around the Green School campus with Chakra, the school's permaculturist. it made me feel so much more connected to this place and everything that lies within its' grounds. so many plants from the large to the small that i walk past every day without a second thought have been re-introduced to me in a way that makes me so much more appreciative of their presence. plants with medicinal value, plants rich in vitamins, plants with the ability to liven up your dinner...so many incredible discoveries lie within the living fences that surround the school that it makes me so excited to be here and know that i am indeed in the presence of so many living miracles. and i felt so humbled in the presence of Chakra, a true font of knowledge on plant life in the area and all its wonders. if i could learn a quarter of what he knows i would truly feel blessed. i think i learnt more in a one hour walk with him than i might have learnt on any course in any college. and again i feel that sense of how so many of us are missing out on this, and missing out on educating children about the wonders that grow naturally from the earth. how important is it for all of us to be able to learn about the wonders that grow around us? i believe that each and everyone of us should have had the opportunity to learn these things at school. this was what was important then and is even more important for now...a return to that which we have brushed aside, a reconnection with the planet in the most organic of ways - through the plants, trees and bushes that surround us. let's put those laptops aside for awhile and really think about the necessity of making our lives a little greener...