Saturday, 25 April 2009

soto, oh soto...ay-am a big fan

Saturday 25th April 2009
ok so one of my (many) favourite dishes to eat in indonesia is soto ayam. soto translates as soup and ayam is chicken. so it is basically a chicken soup...but to bring it down to such a basic level is truly shameful, for it is oh-so-much more than just that. it consists of vermicelli, chicken, chopped cabbage, hard-boiled egg, fried shallots, spring onions, lime and chili. and that's just the toppings. let's not go into the stuff you need for the spice paste which gives the flavour to the broth...or maybe we should...ginger, galangal, turmeric, coriander, cumin, garlic and shallots...the flavour of the broth is divine...i could just have it all on its own. but added together with the toppings, it all comes together into a very exotic chicken noodle soup.
so naturally at this stage, i consider myself quite a soto ayam connoisseur...i mean i've eaten it countless times in any number of places and constantly compare, complain or compliment depending on how i feel about any given bowl. so, today i decided...ENOUGH! time to make it myself. shopped last night and got everything i needed (point to really is far more intelligent to cook indonesian dishes when living in indonesia as all ingredients are readily available in the opposed to something random and far-away where none of the ingredients are on site!) and this morning set about bringing it altogether. it happened with relative ease and apart from developing arms like arnold schwarzenegger pounding up the spice paste, things went off without a hitch. i followed a recipe i'd located at a favourite asian food blog of mine Rasa Malaysia and was delighted with the end result.
the broth was delicious and full of flavour and i have just finished the nice big bowl pictured above, right down to the last drop...what a thats what i call chicken soup for the soul!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

happy earth day...

Wednesday 22nd April 2009
c'mon everyone, pull your socks your bit before there's not much left of our planet to do our bit for. we're having a bake sale this friday at school to raise money for a great recycling programme from Eco Bali that we want to start using. cakes and fundraising...what a great combination! my darling little kindergarteners painted these fabulous posters that we are going to hang up around the school to remind everyone else to do their bit too! if they can do something to show their love for planet can you!

Sunday, 19 April 2009

who needs cable...?

Sunday 19th April 2009
when you have a sunset show every evening starting at 6pm til dark on a tv screen as big and far as the eye can see...and no two shows are ever the same...the wonder of nature never ceases to take my breath away...i can't say the same for soap operas! so switch off the box and get your backsides outside and fall in love with the planet all over just know you want to!

Batu Belig beach,
Kerobokan, Bali

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

the bridge to...

Wednesday 15th April 2009
...happiness. that's what this is! behold the beautiful, wobbly, bamboo suspension bridge at the end of my road, that leads to batu belig beach and beyond. once across this suspended piece of either mastery or craziness (depending on your sense of balance and trust in the universe) the whole of the coastline from Kuta to Batu Bolong is at your fingertips.
to make matters more perfect. if you look back across the bridge you can see a little warung nestled quietly at the end to the left. that is Warung Agung Kayu Putih, one of the most relaxed spots to have a beer and watch the sun drop serenly into the ocean. it's all too convenient, really...

photos courtesy of Rebecca

Saturday, 11 April 2009


Saturday 11th April 2009

i want to be lost forever in the ricefields of jatiluwih. was back there again over the weekend with a friend. i can never be bored of such vastness. for i think we always needed to be reminded of how truly insignificant we are in the presence of nature and all its glory and constantly think about how we can protect our precious planet. we are mere specks...but yet can wield such evil, can wreak such havoc, can cause such destruction. what has happened to the human race? sometimes i feel so shielded here in Bali from all that is happening 'out there' in the rest of the world and although most days i am thankful for that. when i eventually do catch up with the news, i feel such intense sadness, such dismay, at what is unfolding just beyond the horizon, just out of reach. with the approach of Earth Day, i am hoping together with a colleague to instill a little bit of love for the planet in my students...a few moments in jatiluwih seems to do it for me...for my 4 year old students, i might need to get a little more creative...!

Sunday, 5 April 2009

getting misty at kebun raya, bedugul...

when in bedugul, a visit to kebun raya (or the botanic gardens as it called in english) is a must for me. first and foremost, the weather is completely different to what one experiences in kuta. bedugul is cool, foggy and almost jacket weather. the botanic gardens themselves are lush, green and a mixture of tropical and forestal (is there such a word?). there are beautiful big forest trees next to ferns and bird of paradise plants. it is a beautiful spot. full of plenty of nooks and crannies where one can unpack a picnic, unpack life, lay back and just enjoy being at one with nature. i love sometimes the way you can be sitting there and suddenly the mist will descend out of nowhere and blanket the area and then just as quickly lift and disappear. it is due to the fact that you are up in mountain country. and boy, is the air refreshingly clear and clean. you feel like you want to be able to bottle it and store a couple in your bag for those trips you have to make through denpasar, where the air continues to be somewhat less clean and clear these days.
on the way into the botanic gardens there is a food market selling everything from fresh herbs, to rose plants. the strawberries are a must...i can buy a couple of punnets (not sure that applies to what i actually get mine in here!) and scoff my face with them, be smeared with strawberry juice and then have a vile stomach ache or be covered head to toe in hives, for my disgusting gluttinous sins! but it's worth it, because the weather, the strawberries, the trees...reminds me a little bit of home and for a moment, just a moment, makes me miss ireland - gloomy weather and all!

Saturday, 4 April 2009

rock on...nasi rawon!

Saturday 4th April 2009
nasi rawon consists of a special spicy beef soup served with rice. it is a traditional food originating from East and Central Java. commonly, the beef consumed in rawon is cut into bite sized pieces. the very special spicy soup is prepared with a grinded mixture of spices. the grinded spices are first cooked in some oil till aromatic. then this cooked spice paste is put into boiled stock along with the beef and the special dark/black colour of rawon comes from the addition of keluak nuts (fruits of the kepayang tree - which i believe is a mangrove tree native to Malaysia and Indonesia). it is then completed with small bean sprouts, sambal and salty duck eggs.
i tasted this while on holiday in Yogyakarta. the soup was delicious - it reminded me of the taste of oxtail soup and tasted great with even bread just dipped in it. rich, flavourful and aromatic...a very interesting breakfast!

Friday, 3 April 2009

monkeying around at alas kedaton...

Friday 3rd April 2009
Bali seems to have its fair share of monkey forests and there i was thinking there was only one...Monkey Forest in Ubud. but alas, seems there are a plethora of monkey forests lying in wait around the island for us to wander into and be attacked by aggressive monkeys!

Alas Kedaton is located in Tabanan, and is quite a sizeable forest, with a temple located at the site. there are of course, hundreds of monkeys, running freely around the location and their 'tame-ness' is in large part to the fact that bananas and nuts are readily for sale which people buy and give to the monkeys...they are beautiful, with their brown eyes and ash grey fur. but one feels the necessity to hold tight to one's belongings for fear one might be held to ransom - camera or a bunch of nuts...

the site is also home to hundreds of bats, who were sleeping rather unpeacefully in the trees whilst i was there. the sound of them is quite eerie and high-pitched children's screams. (i realise i'm not doing a great job of selling this spot!) but the bats are huge and some with a wing span of up to 1 metre. i was quite mesmerised looking up at them and at the same time wondering if bats poop while sleeping and hoping that i don't get one in the eye!

it also didn't help that i went here on a public holiday and so the place was full of people out for the day...i'd definitely recommend a weekday when one can have the cheeky monkeys and the squealing bats all to oneself!

Thursday, 2 April 2009

serenity at pura ulun danu...

Thursday 2nd April 2009
one of the most beautiful and sacred temples here in Bali, is Pura Ulun Danu at Lake Batur. this beautiful temple gently nestled on the shores of the lake, cannot be reached under normal circumstances. a bridge is only erected when there is a ceremony at the temple. otherwise it looks like it is serenely docked just out of reach, away from the trampling feet of the many visitors that make their way through here, both of the domestic and international variety.

for me, it is certainly one of the prettiest temples...with the stormy mountains behind, the beautiful gardens in the immediate surroundings, full of flowers and trees and the lulling lapping of the water at the shore. what a location. it would make anyone want to get down on their knees and give thanks for just being alive and in the here and now.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

jatiluwih...a hidden paradise...

Wednesday 1st April 2009
Jatiluwih, i am thinking of the way your name rolls off my tongue like the very whispers of the wind that caress the padi that grows on your beautiful terraces...
Jatiluwih, i am thinking how your vast expanse, stretching as far as the eye can see, makes me feel like the merest speck on this planet...tiny and insignificant...
Jatiluwih, i am thinking how i want to be lost forever through the tiny paths that separate your lush green growth, running my fingers through the gentle leaves...
Jatiluwih, i will never forget you, your breath-taking immensity, leaving was so hard...i promise to return...soon

Jatiluwih, Tabanan, Bali