My Surfing Phase

“You are never too old to try new things” I told myself as I straddled a surf board like a beached whale, waves of salty water bashing into my face, salt water stinging my eyes and my thighs getting sore from several attempts to stand on a board and look like a cool surf babe.

still smiling

still smiling

As my children have grown and become less dependent on me, I have had a thirst to try new things and make the very best life has to offer. My son, Callum says that whilst I’m an inspiration to him, I am a crazy mummy. He describes my attempts to try new things as “phases” in my life, some have lasted longer than others. I somehow think my “Surfing Phase” will be very short term!

My gorgeous son, who would look much better on a surf board than I!

My gorgeous son, who would look much better on a surf board than I!

So it was, during my brief return visit to Bali that Felicia, a gorgeous 23 year old Swedish woman, with a beautiful smile, blonde hair and legs that reached up to my armpits suggested I join her and her friend Matilda, another young Swedish jewel, at Kuta beach to go surfing.

Hiding between two Gorgeous Beach Babes

Hiding between two Gorgeous Beach Babes

I had just celebrated my fiftieth birthday and was feeling a little jaded having consumed the best part of a bottle of red wine, (an unusual event for me in Indonesia due the extortionate price of anything drinkable there), but Felicia gave me little choice, I was going surfing.

My dear divegoddess friend Sonia enlisted her Sumatran boyfriend Iwan to serve as our instructor. He is one of the many local instructors who hang around Kuta beach enticing tourists onto their boards to enjoy the beautiful surf there.

Sonia, Iwan and I

Sonia, Iwan and I

We had a practice on the beach, I chose the smallest board, thinking it would be easier, and was soon corrected by Iwan and given the largest board which I could barely carry.

It was a bit of a struggle to even carry my board

It was a bit of a struggle to even carry my board

The board was laid on the beach and we were shown how to lye on it, paddle and when a wave came, to push up on hands, in true press up style, jump onto the back leg then front with no use of knees, it seemed pretty easy as I practiced on the sand, I was getting rather proud of myself, keeping up with the twenty somethings, that was until I hit the sea.

This looks pretty easy!

This looks pretty easy!

Iwan was very patient with me, but his words “Up Up Up Up….now” still reverborate in my mind.

All that beach practice coming to fruition, Im getting up......

All that beach practice coming to fruition, Im getting up……

Oh my oh my, Im actually riding a wave.....how cool!

Oh my oh my, Im actually riding a wave…..how cool!

Now you see me, now you don't....splash!

Now you see me, now you don’t….splash!

Felicia looking cool as a surf babe

Felicia looking cool as a surf babe

This is how it is done....in 10cm of water that is (sorry Felicia!)

This is how it is done….in 10cm of water that is (sorry Felicia!)

Felicia and Iwan

Felicia and Iwan

Couldnt resist popping this action shot in!

Couldnt resist popping this action shot in!

Beautiful Felicia

Beautiful Felicia

The lovely Matilda

The lovely Matilda

I had a wonderful time, and did in fact manage to get to a standing position on the board, albeit for a very short time and felt I got a real taste for surfing but feel that I am probably 30 years too late to start this new phase…..

I prefer to just lye on that board!

I prefer to just lye on that board!

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Lucky sailor

Here I am, a lucky lady on another adventure! I am 6 weeks into this particular adventure, and have so much to tell! I will start by writing a general blog outlining my travels, then write further with specifics, I don’t want to bore you after all. I try to keep my blogs as long to read as it takes you to drink cup of tea! So, fix yourself a drink, sit down and let me regale you will tales from the sea!

One bright morning when I was living in Bali, as I thought about finishing my dive training, I researched flights for my return flight to Australia, then remembered the words I had uttered before I left – “If it doesnt work out for me back in the UK, I will sail back to Australia”. This sent my mind racing, so I revisited a website I had used previously, called findacrew.net. It’s a bit like a dating site, in that it matches people who have boats and need crew with those who want to crew but sadly don’t have a boat!

I joined this site 2 years ago when I first lived in Australia, popped on a profile one evening, a few pictures, details about myself and my sailing and diving experience. The next morning, I checked to find I had 16 contacts. Within a month, I had over 50, and to date, have had 94 requests from boat owners around the world who asked me if I would like to join them – they range from some who wanted me to pay a fee to sail with them, those who want me to share costs, to those with commercial boats who wanted me to come work for them. To me, it was like a sweetie shop is to a child!

Through this site, I went sailing for 6 weeks in the Windward Islands (Caribbean) late 2012 and again in Turkey last year, and here I am again in Indonesia on a beautiful boat.

Again, people tell me I’m lucky, or how on earth can I afford it. Well, I’m not a rich woman (not in the financial sense anyway), I’m have worked hard all my life caring for others. When I lived in the UK, I wanted to change the cycle of working and living for days off and holidays, so I opened up my house, and lived with strangers, renting rooms out to save some money to help me do this

My home is now rented out completely, therefore paying for itself, and making me a very small income, I have no car, therefore no running costs, I spend very little on clothes, shoes, cosmetics, and only visit the hairdressers once a year. Here on the boat my only cost is my contribution towards food. My overheads are small, G&T’s excepting!

So when you think you would love to do this but can’t afford it, take another look and see if you can’t work something out yourself too! If you want to do something similar but think you cant afford to do, look at how much you are paying each month for things like a car loan, petrol, servicing, MOT, tax, insurance, rent, electricity, gas, rates, glad rags to wear and money in your pocket to hit the town on a weekend to get drunk to try to forget the awful week you have just had at work……? Still think you cant do it?

Anyway…….having completed my Dive Instructor training, I flew to Kuala Lumpur and took a bus north to join Daryl on his lovely boat Cool Bananas.

Daryl and I when we met

Daryl and I when we met

Daryl didnt understand my excitement at finding a pint of proper beer! I explained what he called "beer" was really lager, otherwise known as "sissy beer"!!

Daryl didnt understand my excitement at finding a pint of proper beer! I explained what he called “beer” was really lager, otherwise known as “sissy beer”!!

Daryl is a really cool guy, he is a cross between a cuddly teddy bear and Captain Birds Eye with a twinkle in his eye, a happy go lucky attitude to life and many a good story to tell. He is a Kiwi, giving me lots of scope to tease him about his accent (he says it is I who has the accent not him!) He has owned this beautiful boat for about 8 years, sailed to 35 countries, thousands of miles in his beautiful 50ft 8 berth catamaran, and now I am crewing for him. He has given me the opportunity to be able to enjoy time on a boat, visit places I couldn’t see without it and gain valuable sailing experience along the way. In return, I help him sail the boat, take share of watches, drop and raise the anchor, sort the sails, be a dive buddy, share in the excitement of discovering new places, act as a companion, cook nice nutritious meals, and spend many hours listening to his many stories!

Here is “Cool Bananas” my home for the next 4 months or so!

The Boat - Cool Bananas!

The Boat – Cool Bananas!

Daryl’s intention is to move the boat from its storage in Malaysia and bring it near to his home to New Zealand to be able to enjoy the boat with his family and friends. This does mean we are traveling in the wrong direction in terms of prevailing winds and currents and makes the journey a bit more of a challenge, it really would be so much easier travelling in the opposite direction.

The journey takes us from the North of Malaysia, down through the Mallaca Strait, which runs between Malaysia and Sumatra, past Singapore, down to Indonesia landing at Bellitung, continuing to Jakarta, then along the coast of Java, towards Bali, Lombok, Komodo, Flores, Timor, then, winds depending, decide which point eastwards best suits our trip south to land in Australia at Darwin. Thereon continue around the North East Coast of Australia, through the Torres Strait, and down the beautiful Great Barrier Reef. My trip is to finish when we land at the Sunshine Coast, at Mooloolaba.

A very rudimentary guide to our route

A very rudimentary guide to our route

Daryl gave me such a warm welcome to his boat, its such a hospitable thing, the boat is your home and you are inviting a complete stranger to come and live with you, in very close quarters, so it is important to get the right person. Daryl spotted my profile on findacrew, he has told me that he saw my energy and enthusiasm in my profile and he knew he wanted me on his boat. He got in contact and we shared numerous emails where I asked countless questions and he asked none. He had found my blog which told him enough about me, and he patiently answered all my queries.

He welcomed me into his home and even put up my special dragon!

I take my dragon with me wherever I go!

I take my dragon with me wherever I go!

There she is, looking very happy!

There she is, looking very happy!

Take a look at this fabulous idea! Daryl and I called him solar panel man! His arm with flag attached waves up and down as powered by the sun!

Take a look at this fabulous idea!
Daryl and I called him solar panel man! His arm with flag attached waves up and down as powered by the sun!

Although I had already spent 90 days in Indonesia, as I was now in Malaysia, I needed another 60 day visa to travel back there once more. We journeyed North to Georgetown to arrange a visa, having a day trip, and meeting some strange people along the way as you can see above…

We have had many interesting moments on the boat, and seen some amazing coastline, observed numerous and varied craft and dodged many hazards along the way (I found this so interesting, I will make it the subject of its own blog!)

The day takes on a pretty routine pattern, waking as the sun rises, raising the anchor and moving along, eating when we are hungry, arriving at our destination, dropping anchor once more and watching the sun go down with a Gin and Tonic!

So many beautiful sunsets and sunrises!

So many beautiful sunsets and sunrises!


Watching the sunset with a G&T in hand.  Life doesnt get much better than this!

Watching the sunset with a G&T in hand. Life doesnt get much better than this!

We have stopped at so many beautiful anchorages

imagecuppaimage
imageimage

We spend time reading, chatting, playing cards and watching films on the laptop (I’m getting into Game of Thrones – reached Series 2 now!). So far we have been on a bit of a mission to move the boat along as we want to spend more time exploring and diving along Komodo and Flores, so its been a bit like a boat delivery really. Long days and sleeping when we can, but we are about to take a break in Bali while we sort out a few troubles with the boat.

I learnt to sail three years ago as I circumnavigated Britain, and got myself sailing qualifications, but I don’t feel anywhere near ready to captain a boat by myself. Like most things in life, its OK when things are going well, but it is the ability to manage the unexpected that sets us apart and tests our knowledge and skills. Just like when the traveller popped out and rendered our main sail useless. Daryl is fixing it himself, he is so clever and can turn his hand to most things (except trimming his beard!!)

Oops! A bit of a shock for us when this popped off!

Oops! A bit of a shock for us when this popped off!

A knowledge of diesel engines is important too. Ive actually completed a diesel engine maintenance course during my Round Britain Experience, it was a bit of a struggle for me, Im not a natural, and I definitely wasnt top of the class as I was at First Aid. Its as important though, and I am trying, I really am!

You have to come to love your engines when you are on a boat!

You have to come to love your engines when you are on a boat!

I think you have to spend some time cruising to appreciate that its not all fun along the way. Many hours are spent trying to make our way, sometimes in the middle of the night when our bodies and minds are aching for our beds. Some anchorages are noisy, with swells, waves bashing on the hull, nearby mosques with an early and very loud call to prayer. We have to seek food when we can, no supermarket delivery service. We have to take care with our water usage, showering only when necessary, and making them quick, often leaving the hair matted for another day. We collect rainwater when we can to help replenish the tanks and keep it going for a bit longer.

As we are battling against wind and currents, we have to use the engines for more than we would like, so we have to think about our fuel too, and have to go to the most unlikely places searching for it. Here is Daryl coming back to the boat having purchased some diesel from an unlikely source near Surabaya.

Here is Daryl returning to the boat with the dinghy laden with containers of diesel!

Here is Daryl returning to the boat with the dinghy laden with containers of diesel!

We mostly anchor along the way, it keeps things flexible for us, its usually far more beautiful, and far cheaper as its free! Its a lovely feeling at a safe anchorage, away from the beaten track, and we enjoy spending time before sleep star gazing and seeing who can spot the most shoots stars (I win that one!)

We have stayed on a two very nice marinas, the first one in Port Dickson as well as Batavia marina in Jakarta, splendid surroundings, absolutely gorgeous.

The beautiful marina at Port Dickson, Malaysia

The beautiful marina at Port Dickson, Malaysia


The restaurant at Batavia marina, Jakarta, Indonesia

The restaurant at Batavia marina, Jakarta, Indonesia

A highlight of the journey was crossing the equator. Ive done this several times in an aeroplane, but it feels so different doing it in a boat. Unfortunately, the line you see on maps just wasnt there on the sea, and we had to rely on the GPS to tell us, and we slowly moved forward to be able to take the photo of the actual point of Latitude Zero.

Zero!

Zero!

Daryl, with his great sense of fun wanted us to don fancy dress for the occasion, a bit tricky coming up with something when you have no access to ebay, so this is what we came up with!

image

Of course, it was time for celebration!

I really dont think 08:54 is too early for champagne!

I really dont think 08:54 is too early for champagne!

Along the way, we try to get network when we can, but mostly we are not in contact with the outside world. This can be frustrating at times, but often it gives you a real sense of freedom! As you start to approach a coastline a little bit of network allows a message to slip through. Any mother who gets a message “Mum, can I ring you, I need to speak with you” instantly thinks the worst, and the mind races through a million and one potential catastrophes. It was not to be, my gorgeous eldest child had some wonderful news to share!

Time to pick out a hat!

Time to pick out a hat!

As I write this, we are sailing down the East coast of Bali, having now sailed over 1400 nautical miles from the North of Malaysia. I am going to spend a couple of days catching up with my friends I met whilst I was living in Sanur, I feel like I’m coming home again. Ive got a bit of a big birthday with a big fat zero on the end and hoping my friends will be convinced I really am only 35!

I have loved my time in Indonesia, it is such a beautiful country with such fabulous people, I have so much to tell you about. I want to tell you about the people, the landscape, the diving, the fishing craft, the hazards we meet along the way, oh, and have I mentioned we popped to Borneo to see Orangutans……..more blogs to come, keep watching and have the kettle ready!

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Making Luck Happen

As I make my posts on Facebook, I frequently get comments saying things like “You are so lucky” or, “I’m so jealous”, and “I wish I could do that”, and it is something I have given alot of thought to.

Some of my FB friends have picked up on this, one commented that there is no luck in it, you make luck happen by opening the doors not sitting behind them (thank Geraint Jones (Gee) for that one – given me the title for this blog), and another comment is that its about making choices at different life stages (thank you Andrea Stuart). I usually comment that you have to take a deep breath and step out of your comfort zone.

I guess I can’t dismiss the concept of luck totally, I do have some of this on my side. Firstly, I’m very healthy which is great, although this isnt all down to luck, I don’t smoke, I generally eat a healthy diet and I have always been active which certainly helps. Secondly, I had the freedom to make the decisions I had – but again, this isnt all luck – I have worked hard for a career for myself where I have earned a professional salary, I had my children fairly young and worked hard to be the best mum I could to raise 3 healthy intelligent young adults who could cope with their mum exploring the world. You get my drift!

If you are not a follower of this blog, I will update you a little. I have raised a family of 3 gorgeous young adults,, built a career as a midwife (was a former school teacher too) then in 2011 I made a big life decision and moved to Queensland, Australia to try to make a life there (I did pop on a boat on the way there and circumnavigated the coast of Britain and qualified as a coastal skipper before I caught the plane!)

It took a very deep breath indeed to leave behind many family and friends, but it took a much deeper breath to also leave behind a man I was deeply in love with, at least I tried to leave him behind, but he was very much with me in my mind on the other side of the world. I wouldn’t have left the UK if we had made a decision to make a life together, but unfortunately, he didnt feel he could offer me any future as my feelings for him were not reciprocated. Before I departed, I said the words “if you decide you do want me in your life, you have to come and get me”

I loved living in North Queensland, I had a fabulous job, lived in a lovely home, went sailing every week on the gorgeous Coral Sea, scuba dived on weekends off on one of the top 10 dive sites in the world and made many good friends, and to top it all, I had both my daughters with me in the distant land down unda!

Its sometimes said that you don’t know what you have until its gone, and within six months the love of my life travelled to Australia to visit me to talk about me returning to the UK to be with him. Six months after this, I left Australia, (popping to the Caribbean on the way home to sail the Windward Islands) and arrived back in the UK in time for Christmas to make a life together with my man.

The reaction from my close family and friends to this decision was enormously supportive. They knew how much I loved him and that it was something I had to do to see if it would work. I knew I was taking a bold step once more as I left Australia, I laughed and spoke the words “if it doesnt work out for me in the UK, I will sail back to Australia”

I had a wonderful 16 months back in the UK, catching up with friends and family and made many new friends and had a ball. However, Lady Luck wasnt on my side in terms of making the relationship work, despite the hard work on both sides, it was with a very heavy (and broken) heart that I decided I had to leave and make a new adventure for myself.

It wasnt by luck that I booked myself a flight to Bali, nor was it luck that set me on a course to complete my Dive Master and Dive Instructor certifications, It was a decision which took me out of my comfort zone by deciding to leave the safety of a secure job, which although stressful, gave me a cyclical lifestyle where I lived for weekends off and holidays where I met up with my friends and had a great time, but dreaded returning to work, and looked forward to the next time off (does this life cycle sound familiar to you?)

Having finished my dive training, I started looking at flights to Australia, then remembered my words before I left, so, here I am…….on a boat……sailing back to Australia! Again, this isn’t by luck, but by thinking out of the box and looking around for opportunities to achieve what makes me happy

It wasn’t by luck that I had subscribed to a website where boat owners needed crew to help them sail, and it wasn’t through luck that I had qualifications and experience in sailing and diving that gave me a good CV. However, I have to say that some degree of luck did bring a lovely guy called Daryl to send me a message asking if I would like to join him on his trip and help him sail his gorgeous yacht (thank you Daryl!) I will write more about my sailing trip in this blog shortly.

So it is that I find myself on a beautiful boat, and have spent 3 weeks so far sailing from Malaysia down through Indonesia. We plan to continue the trip heading eastwards through the many islands of Indonesia diving along the way, then down to Australia, arriving in Darwin, then along the North East Australian coast where I will begin another chapter of my life.

This trip is giving me alot of time to relax and to think about life, my decision making and what is important to me. My heart is gradually healing, it is taking time, but as it heals I am making the very best of every day that dawns – this is not by luck!

As I write this, the sun is rising on another glorious day, a large pod of dolphins have just swam past the boat, I’m about to eat breakfast then go for a dive and hope to see the friendly turtle daryl and I met yesterday at 16 meters under. Tomorrow we are traveling to Borneo to trek in the jungle and look for wild orangutans…… How’s your luck?

cuppa

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Becoming a dRiving instructor in Bali

(Photos to be added soon when I get some wifi!)

Before I left the UK I said many goodbyes. One day, I met with a group of midwives from a birth unit I used to manage in Birmingham. We were all enjoying a lovely lunch together and catching up with one anothers lives, and one finally asked me, quite perplexed why I wanted to go so far away and “wouldn’t it be better to learn to be a diving instructor here in Britain?”

Whats a little letter between friends, an easy mistake (thanks Mychelle Taylor!), but no, the last thing I would want to do in Bali is to train as a driving instructor – you should see the roads!

all-in-one-classroom

Having completed my Dive Master, the natural progression for me was to do the Instructor Preparation Course (IDC), however, I had some wobbles about this during my DM training. I questioned myself why I was doing it, if I was capable, why someone my age should do such a thing! I remember the discussion with both Robin and Andre my instructors who both reassured me that all would be fine (thanks guys!)

Now that it is all completed, I’m so glad I continued, not only am I now a PADI diving instructor, but also an instructor in numerous specialities, emergency first response, oxygen provider, deep diver, wreck diver, night diver, underwater digital photography and drift diver – Ive collected quite a number of certifications! However, more importantly, to me certainly, I have learnt so much about myself too. Ive been taken well out of my comfort zone and challenged myself, learnt so much about dealing with other people, teaching, diving and patience as well as having confidence in my own abilities.

So, let me tell you a little about all this training.

The IDC runs for 16 days and is followed by 3 days if Instructor Exams (the “IE”!!), I had a long slog ahead of me so I took myself to the Gili Isles once again to prepare for the course, I wanted to do some study as well as rest, recuperate and mentally prepare – this involved about 6 hours during the day with my encyclopedia of diving and sunsets, cocktails and barbecue buffets and Bintang during the evening.

The IDC started and I was well prepared, like a kid on the first day at a new school, early night before hand, pencils all sharpened, rucsac on back I turned up full of enthusiasm to start the course. Deep breath!

The IDC turned out to be the pressure test, it was non-stop learning and work, but I have to say that I enjoyed every minute of it!

I felt so fortunate that I was part of a great group of people who made the whole thing so much fun.

Ami and I quickly became good friends and buddies. I was so very lucky, as she had been working as an instructor for the past 2 years for a different dive organisation (SSI) so she was full of knowledge and experience which she was more than happy to help me with and in return I let her use my laptop and gave her hair bobbles – fair swap I think! Love soon blossomed

I was delighted to have a fellow Welshie on the team. Richard was a surfer dude who had usually been hitting the surf 2-3 hours before class began and turned up looking nice and relaxed at the start of each day. Having spent 2 months in a team of Danish and Swedish speakers who frequently lapsed into their own tongue, Richard and I enjoyed doing likewise from time to time. We didnt mention to the others that we were not fluent in the language, but that we were just receiting the “Lords Prayer” to one another making it sound like a conversation!

Phil was from America, and at just 18 years of age was having a marvelous time being let lose in Bali with all the opportunities presented to him. He had a great sense of humour, and took all our American jokes with good spirit.

Max (aka Maximus) was a young Swedish guy and Ami and I loved to listen to him when he made his presentations, particularly when he told us how to locate the alternate air source on a buddy – the triangle between your cheeks (pointing to his chin) and the nipples (hmmmm….the lower edge of rib cage) As you can imagine, we had marvelous fun with this. Max had a lovely physique which came to great advantage during numerous classroom presentations.

The food – oh my god, the food was wonderful, the lunches and the endless snacks – I think I gained half a stone despite the stress!

There were classroom presentations we had to write and perform and receive the critique afterwards and hope to achieve the best scores we could, a “5” being top score. There were certain rules, we weren’t allowed to mention anything to do with sex, drugs, alcohol, politics or religion…….I don’t know about you, but when someone tells me I’m not allowed to do something, it just makes me want to do it all the more! Remember that Fawlty Towers episode where John Cleese says “Don’t mention the war” and thats all he can talk about. On one of my presentations, it was going marvelously well, but when I asked each “student” to pour a little water onto a sponge I had ready to illustrate tissues absorbing nitrogen, Richard tipped a big glug into the dish and, always liking a joke I said “I think you can prepare my G&T’s in future” Doh – don’t mention alcohol!! There goes my chance of a 5!

There were confined water presentations where we had to brief and demonstrate skills, then watch while the “students” perform them purposely making an error we had to detect and immediately correct (and hope they would just make the one mistake cough cough!), then ensure we give positive reinforcement, point out errors and offer solutions for the future, not forgetting to mention the objective and the values….phew!

Then to the Open Water where we had to do likewise.

We also had to demonstrate rescue skills with and without a pocket mask – approach to an unresponsive non-breathing diver, rescue breathing, equipment removal and towing to safety whilst doing so. Ami loved me practising on her and smothering her with my mask and nearly drowning her.

Of course, there was also the dive theory, with a standards exam and 5 areas of theory – Physics, Physiology, Dive Environment and Skills, Equipment and the Recreational Dive Planner – with a 75% Passmark, no pressure there. On day 2 of the IDC we turned up with the exams sat on our desk to try to see what we could achieve with no preparation. I was very grateful for my time on the Gili Isles preparing for this and I passed all exams with just a few marks down on my Physics, even achieving 2 at 100% (what a class swot!), but I knew I had to work on the Physics, I couldn’t afford to even let a few marks slip by. Thanks to Christoffer for your help with this mate!

We even had a presentation from the Area Manager from PADI – from Paul Tanner, Aka Tosh, who even gave us bribes to stay awake the whole time!

The staff were marvelous and we were so well supported. This was Conny’s first IDC as a course Director, and I had met him just the week before and informed him he had a girls name (what a great start to our student/Instructor relationship!) Well, despite the rough start, Conny was fantastic, always looking fresh faced each morning, full of energy, enthusiasm and humour he would lead us through the day. Half way through the course Minni returned from her trip to Kuala Lumpur and would work alongside Conny with her no-nonsense style and humour.

Felicia was training as a staff instructor. A young Swedish woman with a very gentle style and we soon learned to seek her help when needed. She is a very unimposing character who soon became a good friend to Ami and I, and I’m sure we will be friends for many years to come.

Christoffer was also from Sweden, another quiet character who was also training as a staff instructor. He didnt like mornings too much and gradually came to life as the day progressed. He absolutely loved diving and his passion for this shone through. He was a great source of support for us all, particularly for his support with learning Physics!

It was fitting that we celebrate the Swedish Solstice (Midsommer) in true style. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you that we all did a dance underwater around a handmade extra large penis and testicles (I’m sure thats what the art work was signifying!) all jumping around like rabbits in a circle with our hands at the side of our head with flowers on our head. However, I have photographic evidence!

The IE was soon upon us, we were all totally prepared and walked into a room with all of our wearing the Midsommer wreathes on our head, trying to ignore the worried glances from the other candidates!

We were led by 2 great examiners from PADI called Mark and Steve who had a very relaxed style and a great sense of humour.

We started with the theory exams and were delighted with the excellent pass marks for us all. Ready for the next day when we were to commence at 8am with our open water briefings then enter the water and perform our skills – we all emerged with “5’s”!! Ready for our classroom presentations in the afternoon, again, top scores all round! Just the confined water skills the following day.

The pool was absolutely freezing, and when I came to present my skill “use of a pocket mask” from the rescue course, I demonstrated on Ami and could feel her whole body shaking! It was all worth it, top scores all round – we were now dive instructors!!

All that was left was the celebrations!

There is always a party after the exams – fittingly called the “IE Party”, where candidates have to choose a theme for fancy dress – our group chose “~Tacky Tourist” (of course it wasn’t the American in the group who came up with that idea….was it?)

We had such a hoot at this party

There was only one day for recovery before the instructor speciality (Master Scuba Diver Trainer) course began. Many days in the classroom followed by finally getting out into the sea once more,blessed relief. We went to Candi Dasa, Tulumben and Nusa Penida (I think I need to write about this separately when I get a moment!)

I would like to convey my thanks to Crystal Divers for all their support and professionalism. I have made many friends during my time with them, and feel certain I will remain in contact with many.

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Jillyfish Goes Pro!

We live on such a beautiful planet, and it is wondrous to explore. However, even if you visit every part of every country on the globe, you will miss out on nearly three quarters of it unless you become a scuba diver as more than 70% of this wonderful planet is covered in water. So it was, 8 years ago, I took to the water and did my first PADI course, initially my open water, immediately followed by my Advanced.

Loving the colour scheme!

With my Instructor Hisham El-Sayed

 

A little pick me up from my OW and AOW instructor!

A little pick me up from my OW and AOW instructor!

I was instantly hooked and have continued to scuba dive whenever I can, completing nearly 300 dives since then in 10 different countries. About 4 years ago I was diving in the Whitsunday Islands, Australia, on a fab livaboard with a company called “Wings

My instructor was the guy on the left!

My instructor/guide was the guy on the left!

 

I just love this place!

I just love this place!

My instructor/guide asked me why I didnt take my scuba diving to a professional level. I just laughed at him and said, this is recreational diving – for fun and that I already had a profession. Little did I realise, he had planted a little seed in my brain! Then last year came a turning point in my diving when I was on a trip to Turkey – I was on a boat with loads of introductory divers.  A woman was terrified, (doesnt even even get into a pool normally) so wouldnt get off the boat and even snorkel with any of the instructors or DM’s – I had a nice chat with her, and she agreed to try it with me.  I gained her confidence and she stepped off the boat into the water with me and swam to the shore. On the way she had a panic attack – I cursed myself for even trying fearing a drowning (I did have a “noodle” handy!) so I tried my well used skills for helping a panicking woman in labour, she calmed down and continued. We reached the shore and  she placed her face in the water and swam back with me to the boat snorkelling!  She was ecstatic! So proud of herself – I got such a buzz out of helping someone achieve it! OK, so she didnt dive, but you get my drift! So I decided to take my diving to a professional level. So it is that I’m in Bali, Indonesia, taking my diving to a professional level.

I look like a real Pro eh!!!

I look like a real Pro eh!!!

I have now completed my Dive Master, it has taken me just over 6 weeks and I’m about to start my instructor training. I would like to tell you a little bit about it if you would like to read further. I did plan to go to Egypt and do my professional training with a wonderful dive school called Ocean College  I had enormous help from Jilly Healy, a fab instruct there who gave me loads of information and let me talk it through with her via facebook. Unfortunately, during the planning stage, some idiots decided to bomb a bus of South Korean tourists and threatened to attack other tourists if they did not leave. I decided I wanted to go somewhere a little more politically stable (!!) and knew I was eventually heading to Australia, so Bali was my obvious choice – Crystal Divers came highly recommended. The instructors at Crystal have been fantastic with me. They are so professional and helpful and I am indebted to them for sharing their knowledge and experience

Here is the lovely Robin, he has been such a great source of support for me - thanks Robin!

Here is the lovely Robin, he has been such a great source of support for me – thanks Robin!

Next is Andre who has been a real gem. Best quote from him "Jill, you are too good at being bad....." Hmmmm!

Next is Andre who has been a real gem. Best quote from him “Jill, you are too good at being bad…..” Hmmmm!

The adorable Magnus!

The adorable Magnus! (I told you to smile for the camera!)

The lovely Elsa - a fabulous teacher!

The lovely Else – a fabulous teacher!

Ive always thought it is magical underwater - now with Toto - it literally is!

Ive always thought it is magical underwater – now with Toto – it literally is!

Magic tricks underwater - honest!

Magic tricks underwater – honest!

You can see the lovely Amin here (bottom right), a very experienced, gentle, kind and fun instructor!

You can see the lovely Amin here (bottom right), a very experienced, gentle, kind and fun instructor!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crystals is a career development centre, which means that as well as being a busy dive centre for people who travel through and want to go fun diving and those who want to start diving, they are also a centre for people who want to train as dive masters and beyond. There are many dive courses you can take, but Dive Master is the first rung on the professional ladder. There are 2 very experienced Dive Masters here at Crystal – you can see Gusde in the previous photo between Lumi and I, Aan is at the top, and here he is again with a photo I love!

Here is a lesson from Aan in how to pose for an underwater photo!

Here is a lesson from Aan in how to pose for an underwater photo!

Alongside me were 4 other trainees, some of which you have already met if you follow my blog

Here she is again - I miss this lovely FInnish lass!

Here is Lumi again – I miss this lovely FInnish lass!

Craig from Glasgow - I have to translate for him as no one understands him!!

Craig from Glasgow – I have to translate for him as no one understands him!!

Roberto and Craig

Roberto and Craig

You have already met Sonia in other posts - here she is with me in the pool - this is a sign for "student"

You have already met Sonia in other posts – here she is with me in the pool – this is a sign for “student”

We all look after one another - here Lumi is snuggled in my bed one evening when she needed a bit of Mummy Beckett TLC!

We all look after one another – here Lumi is snuggled in my bed one evening when she needed a bit of Mummy Beckett TLC!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It isnt a course as such in terms of set dates and times, and people come and go at different times and study at their own pace, some full time like me and others very part time over many many months. The diving is beautiful around Bali, and as well as making new friends on the surface, I’ve seen many beautiful things under the sea

My favourite - Mantas!

My favourite – Mantas!

Love turtles too

Love turtles too

Morays are also a treat!

Morays are also a treat!

As are cuttle fish

As are cuttle fish

even jelly fish are kinda cool!

even jelly fish are kinda cool!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I even got to dive with my gorgeous daughter who surprised me with a visit!

The beautiful Francesca Beckett - future DM and Instructor!

The beautiful Francesca Beckett – future DM and Instructor!

 

and of course, Im always happy when Im out on a boat!

and of course, Im always happy when Im out on a boat!

Practicing my Dive Goddess pose!

Practicing my Dive Goddess pose!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is always someone around to talk to, go for dinner with, and we have had some fantastic times

My mate Nicky, superb new instructor who is so supportive, and my new friend!

My mate Nicky, superb new instructor who is so supportive, and my new friend!

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Crap picture of a great night out with Lumi, Arne, Patrick and Nicky

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I guess one of the biggest fears I had about my training was the stamina tests – just the title sends shivers down my spine. There were 5 in total, and you get scored between 1-5, and you have to get a minimum of 15 points to pass. I have a big birthday this year (thanks for thinking it was the big 40, you did…..didnt you?) and I was completing these tests with others who were 20-30 years younger than me, so feeling a little under pressure – not from them, but definitely putting the pressure on myself! I started with the 15 minute tread water skill, the final 2 mins being with your hands above your head. I took this very seriously, and at minute 13 clasped my hands, holding them on top of my head which immediately meant I sunk and had to kick even harder. I found it difficult to breathe as I I had closed off my chest by bringing my arms together, I really didnt think I could make it! Elsa told me all I had to do was hold my hands above the level of my head- thanks for that Elsa – I got a score of 5! Next came the 100 metre tired diver tow – I thought this would be easy. But don’t forget, I was against the clock here and but for the second 50 metres I made such a noise about it, dragging Roberto around the pool in full scuba gear, nearly drowning him along the way. I made such a  noise that it sounded something that Meg Ryan is famous for! I was glad to finish, and scored a 3 in this. Next came a 400 metre swim, I really don’t think I have swam this far without holding onto the side to take a rest, but I managed it, narrowly missing a score of 2, gaining a 1. The 4th skill was equipment exchange – in buddy pairs with only 5 mins to plan – underwater, and using just one single regulator (breathing mouthpiece) between us, we had to swap all our equipment except our clothes (thank goodness for that!), and weight belts. To gain a score of 5 you had to make it look super easy, and Roberto and I approached it in true buddy style and got our top score of 5! Just one stamina test left – and if you have been following you will realise I just needed one point.  This was the 800m swim with mask, snorkel and fins, without using your hands. I got my head down and went for it. Harder than it sounds I will say, but I knew I didnt have to break any Olympic records here, just finish in my own good time to get a 1. I was delighted to gain a score of 3 – yay! There have been many other skills to complete, including surveying a dive site and making an underwater map.

Craig and Roberto looking very professional

Craig and Roberto looking very professional

We have also had to demonstrate we can rescue non-breathing divers (as we had to in our rescue diver course before we started this), show how to set up a dive trip, including safety for a deep dive (setting drop tanks at 5 metres for example), demonstrate our knot skills, give dive briefings, lead dives, demonstrate set up search and recovery skills. Of course, we also have to show we can demonstrate the diver skills people learn on their initial open water skills – doing each skill in a slow deliberate manner in true “Thunderbirds” style.

Lift those fins out of the water!!

Lift those fins out of the water!!

Heres how you breathe!!

Heres how you breathe!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That just leaves the theory, culminating on my last day of being a DMT in 2 exams. On the morning, I opened my manual and felt that al the knowledge had evaporated so I approached the exam tentatively as there is a 75% pass mark. Ive found that my confidence level has varied so much during my training, not sure why, just being a mature student I guess? I neednt have worried, I gained 92% and 95%, I was now a Dive Master. This just left one more challenge – the shot challenge. Lumi had set the limit at 8 shots (each taken with one of the instructors). Roberto and I started and finished our DM together so it was fitting that we took this challenge together too. I managed to set a new record of 14, not something I’m sure I should be proud of!

Got a "bit of a dab on" after 14 shots!

Got a “bit of a dab on” after 14 shots!

My life in Bali has existed within a little bubble and I’m rarely alone, having finished my DM, I decided I needed some time alone, so I decided to take myself back to Gilli Air.  I also wanted to prepare myself for the instructor training which starts very soon. This is a very intense course, culminating in 3 days of exams, I wanted to be prepared and make my way through the work book and get my knowledge level up to scratch. I spent good quality time studying on Gilli Air, a piece of tropical paradise! It wasn’t easy sitting there with my broken heart watching all the couples romantically snuggling up together, but I got through it somehow – treated myself during the evenings to cocktails as I watched the sun set a blistering red and the new moon rising! I decided that all work and no play leaves Jill a dull lass. I also felt that I couldnt be there without seeing what the diving was like, so popped into the water and had a spectacular dive with Oceans 5 seeing 3 sharks, one of them pregnant, 2 turtles, numerous nudibrahchs, moray, scorpian fish, bat fish etc etc etc. It was nice being a guest and being looked after by another dive master I must say! Im now back in Sanur, and about to start my instructor training in the morning. I finished off my respite with a spot of relaxation in a raft

Restful preparation!

Restful preparation!

Once I have finished all my dive training, I am heading to Oz.  I have been looking at flights, they are so expensive……but hang on, why fly there when I can sail to Australia……….another adventure coming up!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Dive Master, Life in Bali, Scuba diving | 6 Comments

Little Rays of Sunshine Arrive In Bali!

My daughter Francesca went to University at Lancaster and I used to love visiting her and her friends, it was great to see them all having fun there and they used to take me clubbing!

Uni students and a mommy go clubbing!

Uni students and a mommy go clubbing!

One such visit, about 6 years ago, I spent 40 minutes in the ladies loo chatting with a load of students who couldnt believe a mum would go to a club with her daughter! Why on earth not I asked, they said their own mums never would – but I will have to say that my daughter and all her lovely mates were always so welcoming and we had such fun together.

Dorothy Cortrviend is one such friend –

I used to love visiting Dot at Uni!

I used to love visiting Dot at Uni!

and from the moment we met Dot and I had a ball

Sisters - most definitely!

Sisters – most definitely!

We were so innocent in those days!

We were so innocent in those days!

When we met, we had our own special little dance due to Dot’s fascination with my job as a “Baby Catcher”

Dot and I know how to boogie!

Dot and I know how to boogie!

Did someone say "push"??

Did someone say “push”??

Its the "Dotty and Mummy Beckett Dance"

Its the “Dotty and Mummy Beckett Dance”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dot and her partner Nicole have been living in Australia, their visas have now expired so they have decided to spend some time in Asia before returning to Europe.  Once Dot heard I was going to be in Bali, she decided to come and pay me a visit.  I was so excited about her and Nicole coming. I made a little sign just like all the other hosts waiting at the airport

My welcome sign for Dot and Nicole

My welcome sign for Dot and Nicole

and I jumped with Glee when they both arrived at the airport in Denpasar

My visitors arrive!

My visitors arrive!

They seemed in rather a hurry and didnt want me to take long taking this photo as they emerged and quickly moved through the lobby towards me, then they made excuses about putting their bags down and seemed rather distracted.  I did think just 2 hours of jetlag shouldnt cause their strange behaviour.

I quickly realised what was going on as I heard a very familiar voice in the distance saying  “I think you have forgotten something” It was my daughter – Francesca

"I think you've Forgotten Something"

“I think you’ve Forgotten Something”

My daughter Francesca lives in Cairns and I havent seen her since I departed Australia 18 months ago – they had been scheming and plotting for weeks and she had accompanied them!

I think I brought the airport to a standstill with my screams and cries – I was beside myself with glee!

Not only was she with them, but she had decided to take time off work and surprise me and spend 10 days with me in glorious Bali! All the lies which had been spun flew through my head, right to her and her boyfriend Mikey on Facebook pretending to meet up in Cairns at the time she would have been in Melbourne airport enroute to me!

I had a most wonderful time with these 3 lovely women and it was great to catch up with Dot and see she hadnt grown up at all

Dot doesnt take herself too seriously!

Dot doesnt take herself too seriously!

I have been so busy working on my Dive Master that Ive seen very little of Bali apart from some of its dive sites.  Now was my time to be a tourist.  We took a tour of Bali, starting with a bit of Balinese Theatre

About to watch some Balinese theatre

About to watch some Balinese theatre

It took about 10 mins for this character to enter the stage - we were enthralled (cough cough!)

It took about 10 mins for this character to enter the stage – we were enthralled (cough cough!)

Band member takes time out to send a text!

Band member takes time out to send a text!

The Balinese version of the "Chuckle Brothers"

The Balinese version of the “Chuckle Brothers”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ive tried to do this dance and contorted my fingers - they are amazing!

Ive tried to do this dance and contorted my fingers – they are amazing!

Mixing with local talent

Mixing with local talent

 

We were all relieved when the show finally finished (sorry!) and ready to move on and finish our tour of Bali.

 

 

 

Next we went to a Hindu Temple dressed in our gorgeous sarongs, it was so very beautiful, ornate and peaceful

A Hindu Temple

A Hindu Temple

Francesca made this instrument sound very tuneful

Francesca made this instrument sound very tuneful

Which is more than I can say for me - but I did take it very seriously!

Which is more than I can say for me – but I did take it very seriously!

Helping the local women prepare the "Ceremonies"

Helping the local women prepare the “Ceremonies”

Very arty

Very arty

All this culture made us very hungry, so we drove up north to the beautiful volcano

Bali is so beautiful

Bali is so beautiful

and went to an All You Can Eat Balinese Buffet – yum!

Tucking into Balinese Food

Tucking into Balinese Food

 

All You Can Eat Balinese Buffet - Yum

All You Can Eat Balinese Buffet – Yu

Not only was the food fabulous, but we had stupendous views of the volcano and the lake (Danau Batur) – it was absolutely stunning

 

 

 

 

I couldnt possibly tell you how many times we all went up to re-fill our plates!

 

 

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Beautiful views, beautiful food and spending time with beautiful people – I felt so blessed!

Ces is such a keen photographer

Ces is such a keen photographer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have to give credit here for most of the photographs which were taken by Francesca.  She has a fairly new camera and was like an addict with it, taking 1689 photos during her trip!

 

THis is only a "little" waterfall apparently!

THis is only a “little” waterfall apparently!

 

 

We went to a Tegenungan waterfall,our guide apologised-it was only a little one!

 

 

Enjoying the view

Enjoying the view

 

We had no complaints, it was bloody beautiful and we spent quite some time just sitting and looking at the beautiful views, enjoying a nice cold can of coke and glancing at the splits in the floor wondering at what point this building was going to fall into the valley below!

 

 

Its amazing how tired doing very little makes you, so we wanted to head for home, but we had to do a bit of a tour of a plantation and found this wonderful example of “Ecoagriculture”

One of the many plants

One of the many plants

Visit to a plantation - ecoagriculture - very interesting!

Visit to a plantation – ecoagriculture – very interesting!

 

About 20 types of tea and coffee to taste

About 20 types of tea and coffee to taste

We tasted a completely different type of coffee, one of the rarest and most expensive brands.  Its called Kopi Luwak and is made from beans which have been eaten by a Luwak, the stomach acids and enzymes deep in the intestines of these cat like animals ferment the beans, but cant digest them so they poop them out – the locals collect the poo, take out the beans, give them a little rinse and make coffee from it.  Honest, I couldnt make something like this up!

The cat which eats the coffee bean, poos it out and it gets rinsed out and served in Harrods for £50 a cup!

The cat which eats the coffee bean, poos it out and it gets rinsed out and served in Harrods for £50 a cup!

Holding actual cat poo!

Holding actual cat poo!

On our adventure to the Gilli Islands

On our adventure to the Gilli Islands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We all decided we needed a bit of tropical paradise in a slightly quieter area, so took a ferry to the Gilli Islands, and we were so glad we did!

 

 

 

Going to a tropical island certainly seemed to make Dot feel very romantic!

Going to a tropical island certainly seemed to make Dot feel very romantic!

Francesca and I were feeling pretty loving too as we watched the sun set…..

So happy to see my baby girl!

So happy to see my baby girl!

I Love Sunsets

I Love Sunsets

Here in Gilli Air, we very quickly settled into a routine of sunbathing, heading to a cocktail bar to watch the sun go down, then ambling along for dinner, then falling into bed exhausted from all the stress!

Girls Do Sunset Cocktails!

Girls Do Sunset Cocktails!

Such marvellous sunsets from the Gilli Islands

Such marvellous sunsets from the Gilli Islands

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “hotel we stayed at was lovely, exactly what we wanted were after.  Having walked off the boat without a clue, we turned left to find accommodation, with no roads on the island, we took a short walk to find this lovely place.  We discovered that if we had turned right, it was far more touristy with back to back bars and shops – not the idea of tropical paradise we had in mind at all! Good luck struck!

An unfortunate name for a piece of paradise

An unfortunate name for a piece of paradise

I would definitely recommend “Pongkor” if you happen to be around the Indonesian Ocean, it was lovely! Very novel little huts to stay in with fancy showers

Take a look at our fabulous shower!

Take a look at our fabulous shower!

 

and comfy hammock outside

Relaxing into Balinese life

Relaxing into Balinese life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most of these places are family owned, with all the family members living in the complex, going about their daily lives.

Boss Lady!

Boss Lady!

The “Boss Lady” of our particular home stay put on a lovely fish buffet once the sun had gone down,

Imagine how well a restaurant in the UK would do with fish like this

Imagine how well a restaurant in the UK would do with fish like this

 

you just choose what you want to eat and it gets barbecued there and then for you

Sweet Lips

Sweet Lips

Dinner on the Barbie!

Dinner on the Barbie!

Fanning the Flames - quite literally!

Fanning the Flames – quite literally!

 

 

 

 

 

As a scuba diver I do struggle with the concept of eating fish.  I love seeing them in the water and admit to a bit of Catholic guilt when I eat them too.  This is sustainable food though, caught by the locals with a single line and it is the mainstay of their economy……..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A novel way to get the BBq going!

 

 

 

Our chill out zone

Our chill out zone

 

We had such a relaxing time in Gilli Air, and loving every minute

 

 

 

Honestly, I didnt drink them all!

Honestly, I didnt drink them all!

 

 

The Bintang was served very cold, but as the weather was so warm we had to drink them very quickly!

 

 

 

Beautiful Dot

Beautiful Dot

How could you fail to feel relaxed here?

How could you fail to feel relaxed here?

Not enjoying spending time with young people!

Not enjoying spending time with young people!

Picture perfect

Picture perfect

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The time came for us to leave our patch of paradise, but not until Francesca had contacted the local adoption agency – guess what Mikey!!!

Francesca adopts a new baby in true Angelina Jolie style!

Francesca adopts a new baby in true Angelina Jolie style!

 

 

Only joking – this gorgeous child was a member of the family from our home stay, and she got passed around the tourists with great pride!

 

 

The boat trip is part of the holiday, and we made the best of the return visit too to pack in a bit of fun

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Smile!

What a super model!

What a super model!

Trying my best at "smiseing"!!

Trying my best at “smiseing”!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

How many horsepower?

How many horsepower?

Francesca held a fascination for the motors on all the boats, telling us all how Mikey would love to see these…..I think she mentioned Mikey once or twice during the trip…..hmmmm!

Back in Bali, I was getting withdrawal signs from diving so Francesca and I booked a trip to “Manta Point” Francesca was so excited that she was going to get to see mantas with me and we got up nice and early with true eagerness.  Unfortunately, mother nature was not nice to us, we had a massive storm overnight, the loudest thunder I have ever heard and lashing rain, this, combined with a brilliant full moon meant loads of waves and surge, so it was not possible to anchor the boat at this fabulous dive site off Nusa Penida so we would have to try another day to see mantas together.  We did manage 3 fabulous drift dives however

Mummy and her baby girl go diving

Mummy and her baby girl go diving

Perfect buoyancy!

Perfect buoyancy!

 

The next day we travelled to Ubud and stayed in yet another lovely home stay.  We visited a very interesting market (more to come on this in another blog)

Our best "bitch please" faces

Our best “bitch please” faces

 

 

and joined a cookery school which was so fabulous.  If you are ever in Ubud, please seek them out, we all had a great time together and a lovely feast. http://lobongcooking.com

 

 

Taking tea Balinese style!

Taking tea Balinese style!

All ready to start cooking

All ready to start cooking

Ive made such a beautiful daughter!

Ive made such a beautiful daughter!

Just like an advert for MKR!!

I love this photo – Just like an advert for MKR!!

Getting stuck in!

Getting stuck in!

Looking so professional

Looking so professional

Francesca supervises Dot!

Francesca supervises Dot!

Cooking isnt that scary Dot!

Cooking isnt that scary Dot!

Hmmmm!

Hmmmm!

Girls do cooking!

Girls do cooking!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This culminated in a gorgeous feast with the most stunning food ever!

Our posh hotel!

Our posh hotel!

When the girls planned their trip here, Dot and Nicole were going to go to Ubud initially, so Francesca booked a hotel for a couple of nights in order to be local and just turn up and see me! Well, Dot and Nicole decided to come straight to me in Sanur, so Francesca just moved the dates of her hotel and we ended her time in Bali there!  It was absolutely gorgeous and a real treat – thank you Francesca!

Hotel Puri Tempo Deloe

Hotel Puri Tempo Deloe

 

If you are in Bali and want somewhere to stay, I strongly recommend this place, it was so centrally located, yet so peaceful and luxurious with a gorgeous spa – see above! http://hotelpuritempodoeloe.com

The time had arrived for Dot and Nicole to leave.  We had a lovely time with these two beautiful women!

Beautiful!

Beautiful!

Mwah x

Mwah x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and they came to join us at the hotel for their final afternoon and have lunch

The Last Supper with Nicole and Dot

The Last Supper with Nicole and Dot

Goodbye Dot

Goodbye Dot

 

 

 

A starter for Francesca

A starter for Francesca

 

 

 

 

 

Then to my last evening with Francesca.

We went to a lovely Italian restaurant to enjoy a tasty meal (as if we hadnt eaten enough during our sojourn!)

 

Yummy Mulbery juice!

Yummy Mulbery juice!

Travelling is a wonderful thing to do, but it is so difficult as a mother being away from your children.  I have a child living in Australia and two in the UK. So lovely to spend time with my Francesca, and I so wished Natasha and Callum could be with us too.

Missing Tashy, but felt all along she was with us!

Missing Tashy, but felt all along she was with us!

I escorted Francesca to the airport, we said our goodbyes yet again.  Last time we had done this we had no idea when we might see one another again, just as I had at Heathrow just over a month ago with Natasha and Callum. This time, I know that I will see her when I go back to Australia, some time in July.

Time now to get stuck into my training as a Dive Master – Ive nearly finished it and soon start to train as an Instructor – I feel another blog coming on!

 

 

Posted in Family, Life in Bali | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Life in a bubble!

Well, Im here to make bubbles, but find that Im living in one too!

I live in a little room in Sanur very close to the dive centre, so close, it takes just 2 and a half minutes to walk there, and my life these past 3 weeks, apart from travel to dive sites, is pretty much isolated to this small street – my “bubble”

If you have read my previous post, you will have seen my little apartment

My own little Balinese Garden

My own little Balinese Garden

My little balcony

My little balcony

 

 

This is my new home for the 3 months I plan to stay in Bali!

 

It is on the first floor of a small complex which they call a “Homestay”, I have upgraded to a slightly larger room which has its own balcony, hot running water and a bath (unused in the 3 weeks Ive been here!), but more importantly, air con and even more importantly – it is within reach of the wonderful wifi in Indonesia, which although intermittent, is provided free of charge!

The sun rises above the trees opposite at 06:57, just at Earl Grey o'clock - so the owners of my homestay fixed this blind for me so I could sit outside with my cupa without being blinded!

The sun rises above the trees opposite at 06:57, just at Earl Grey o’clock – so the owners of my homestay fixed this blind for me so I could sit outside with my cupa without being blinded!

I find that my walk from my homestay to the dive centre is taking longer and longer as I meet and get to know more of the locals along the small stretch of road that is my daily commute

Local ladies

Local ladies

Local tour guides

Local tour guides

One of the family members who own my homestay

One of the family members who own my homestay

 

 

 

 

 

I find the Balinese to be such friendly people who respond well to you taking an interest in their lives.  If I try to speak their language, they seem delighted and only snigger a little at my mistakes, which are numerous.  There is a group of men who sit on the side of the road each morning who greet me and try to teach me a new word each day.  They spent the first 2 weeks trying to arrange transport for me, they now accept I can manage the 0.2 mile commute on foot!

I go out for a quiet meal alone, and end stting witha British woman, French woman and Indonesian man who decides to teach us Indonesian!w

I go out for a quiet meal alone, and end stting with a British woman, French woman and Indonesian man who decides to teach us Indonesian!

Part of my Balinese classes

Part of my Balinese classes

The lady in the Deli next door - teaching her English each day - she likes to call me "Ibu Jill" (madam)

The lady in the Deli next door – teaching her English each day – she likes to call me “Ibu Jill” (madam)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, as you can see, Im having a terrible time living in a “Bubble in Bali!

My little street has more than 10 different restaurants,

A lovely Thai restaurant a stones throw from home!

A lovely Thai restaurant a stones throw from home!

Thai and Indonesian restaurant

Thai and Indonesian restaurant

Snack bar

Snack bar

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Pizzaria - with wood burning pizza oven

A Pizzaria – with wood burning pizza oven

Vegetarian food, plus a visit to a chiropractor!

Vegetarian food, plus a visit to a chiropractor!

even a Japanese restaurant

even a Japanese restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 spas,

My local Spa - only £3.50 for an hour long massage!

My local Spa – only £3.50 for an hour long massage!

A much more upmarket Spa, as good as any you would get in the UK, with an hour long massage costing around £16

A much more upmarket Spa, as good as any you would get in the UK, with an hour long massage costing around £16

These gorgeous woman give fabulous massages.  I love stopping by for a chat with them

These gorgeous woman give fabulous massages. I love stopping by for a chat with them

 

 

 

 

 

 

a hairdressers,

A Hairdressers

A Hairdressers

 

 

 

 

 

3 hotels, 2 local shops,

My local shop!

My local shop!

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 tour guide shops, numerous clothes stores

A local clothes store

A local clothes store

Not sure why I brought any clothes here with me

Not sure why I brought any clothes here with me from the UK!

A more upmarket clothes shop

A more upmarket clothes shop

 

 

 

 

 

 

a laundry service

I hope my laundry doesnt return in piecies!!

I hope my laundry doesnt return in piecies!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and a deli which would put most British Delicatessens to shame

The lady in the Deli next door - teaching her English each day - she likes to call me "Ibu Jill" (madam)

The lady in the Deli next door – teaching her English each day – she likes to call me “Ibu Jill” (madam)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The shops are even cute when they are closed

I just loved this shop sign!

I just loved this shop sign!

 

People find many ways to get around, you can catch a taxi which costs from 6000 Rp (30p) or a beamo, a little bus for 15p, or alternatively, hire a scooter, or ride your bike

an interesting way to steer a bicycle!

an interesting way to steer a bicycle!

I couldnt do that if I tried!

I couldnt do that if I tried!

or alternatively……just carry your bags on your head!

 

 

 

 

There is even a tattoo parlour in my bubble!

Im thinking of having a tattoo of a manta on my back......

Im thinking of having a tattoo of a manta on my back……

Frangipani petals litter the pavement - they smell fantastic!

Frangipani petals litter the pavement – they smell fantastic!

 

 

 

 

 

So, Im settling nicely into life in Bali, have brought some home comforts with me

I take my mug and Earl Grey everywhere I go!

I take my mug and Earl Grey everywhere I go!

 

and am rarely alone

 

One of my neighbours who pops up from time to time......

One of my neighbours who pops up from time to time……

Girls night out!

Girls night out!

 

One of the great things about doing a dive course is the fab people you meet along the way.  More about my dive training in my next blog……..watch out for it!

 

In the meantime……

Living in a bubble is exhausting....goodnight!

Living in a bubble is exhausting….goodnight!

 

Posted in Life in Bali, Scuba diving | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I’m falling for Bali!

Hard to think that Ive been here in Bali for nearly 2 weeks, the time has flown.  To my shame, have to admit I haven’t even made it to the beach yet!

Im not here for the tourism, but have come here to take my diving to a professional level.

Its official - Im now a Dive Master Trainee - even got a T shirt to make me look all official like!

Its official – Im now a Dive Master Trainee – even got a T shirt to make me look all official like!

I started my PADI dive master training (DMT) 9 days ago, and am yet to have a day off.  (PADI unless you know is the “Professional Association of Diving Instructors” http://www.padi.com/scuba/)I have been reading, answering lots of questions, watched instructors teach people brand new to diving, tried demonstrating dive skills in a pool to an imaginary group of students, been diving, tried to map a dive area with limited visibility in current and been learning Danish, well, at least listening to lots of it (“Hvad en dejlig sprog”) as the dive centre I attend attracts many people from Denmark due to its instructors!

More about my training in a later blog, but I will just add a sneaky little mention of the fact I saw a manta (my most favourite of all sea creatures!) last week

A sneaky glimpse of a manta!

A sneaky glimpse of a manta!

OK, not a great piccie, we waited 40 minutes for this little beaut to come say hi, and my camera was not at the ready – caught it before it headed off, too shy to roll and come back to play.

I liked this little guy too……

Mr Moray saying good morning!

Mr Moray saying good morning!

The dive centre to which Im attached is a busy, well run, professional outfit which prides itself in excellence with its training of dive professionals, (www.goprobali.com/bali-idc-internships/)and I am one of a group of 5 studying for dive master – all at different stages.  You have already met Lumi and Sonya – now I would like to introduce you to another DMT – Roberto, an Italian gentleman, from Como in the North of the country.  He is a great guy and we instantly hit it off together. He has a great personality, is great fun to be with, intelligent and has a great “PADI smile”.  Let me explain about the PADI smile. We started our training at the same time, and watched the Dive Master PADI DVD which tells us all about our role. Throughout the DVD, divers, instructors and just about everyone is depicted with a big beaming smile and nodding heads – and we have adopted this style!

Spot the PADI DMT smile!!

Spot the PADI DMT smile!!

As we started our training together, we are sharing our PADI journey which is lovely – we are also sharing lots of meals out as we like similar foods.  This photo was taken in a local restaurant where we were asked if we were on honeymoon…..I said yes with a wicked glint, trying to smooth out my wrinkles which could give away the fact I am 18 years older than him – gulp!

Im kept pretty busy doing my work but find that I am settling into the area and feeling more at home.  The dreaded jetlag has finally passed and Im more or less sleeping at right time.  I have fallen for the place….quite literally!

Ouch!

Ouch!

Without any influence of alcohol, I have managed to crash to the ground as I walked the short distance from the dive centre to my home stay.  I have now learned that you cant easily walk along the pavement unless you are looking down

Maybe you can see why you have to keep your eye on the pavement!

Maybe you can see why you have to keep your eye on the pavement!

Can you imagine the claims this would get in some UK cities?

Can you imagine the claims this would get in some UK cities?

There is an alternative to walking – I could do as many thousands of others do (including Roberto) and rent a scooter.

Thought I would rent one - but you have seen the damage I do walkin!

Thought I would rent one – but you have seen the damage I do walkin!

Im a little sore, but feel more silly than anything else.  Never mind, I soothed myself with a nice massage which I would like to tell you about before I head to sleep.

I visited a little place 1 min walk from my homestay in my attempt to get me a better night sleep.  I was escorted to a little cubicle, asked to remove my clothing and lye face down on a table by a little lady who called herself “Angel”. She had tiny, yet extremely strong hands as she asked me if I liked it “strong” or “medium” – I opted for the latter and soon wished there had been a third choice as her fingers worked my back.  As I was face down initially, I couldnt see her, but I could feel the fact she had jumped up on the massage table, sitting astride me and working out all my tension areas.  When she started massaging a new area, she applied a few thumps, I knew the time had come for that part of the massage to finish when the slapping began.  All sounds very strange, but was surprisingly pleasant!

During this hour long massage, I could hear the guy in the next cubicle talking all the way through his massage in his Australian droll, as he chatted his masseuse up.  I indicated to Angel the “talk alot” hand signal, to which she whispered “he come here every night” As I finished my massage and paid the extortionate fee, he appeared in the reception and made me feel a little queasy as he waddled along, Michelin like – all 160cm of him, layers of fat wobbling as he moved – I felt more than a touch of sympathy for the poor woman who had to massage him for a whole hour each devening and listen to him chat her up.

Never mind – she is well paid…….for a full hour massage cost 60,000 Rupiah – sounds alot until you convert it and realise it is only £3.12 ($5.62AUD)

I can afford regular trips to the spa!

I can afford regular trips to the spa!

The women work from 9 in the morning until 11 at night to offer all these treatments to their clients.  If they work continuously, the maximum fee they would raise is £43.96 – its astonishing!

However, this wasnt my first massage in Bali.  I bought some oils and honey from a woman who was going around the shops selling her wares, and she struggled to find me the change (2000 Rupiah) so I told her not to worry about it (Im not that generous – its only about 19p) .  She was so happy with this, kissed my hand and asked me to sit on the floor.  She then proceeded to massage my hands, arms, neck and back – right there sitting on the shop floor.  She was bloody good and I would have invited her back to my room to continue it further , but somehow, it just didnt feel right to do so. She even read my palm as she massaged – I didnt understand what she said, but it sounded positive and she did utter the words “good life” – I hope she didnt meant it in the past tense!

The people of Bali are so generous and warm, and seem delighted when you take an interest in their lives.  They have ready smiles and happy to help when they can.  If I think back to my first night, just 12 days ago, when I felt so vulnerable, I now find I sometimes go to sleep at night without even locking my door. I feel safe walking around here with the biggest danger being the footpath itself!

Anyway – writing this made me feel like another massage, so at 9.45pm I popped round for a foot massage, Im just home and my legs are tingling – another little lady with hands of steel – part of the massage was more an endurance test.

Speaking of endurance tests, I really ought to get some sleep as I am attempting my “stamina tests” tomorrow.  These are timed exercises – 400m swim, 800m in mask and snorkel, tired diver tows etc etc all to be completed within certain limits to achieve points – will let you know how I got on!

Posted in Life in Bali, Scuba diving | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Selamat Datang Di Bali (Welcome To Bali)

So here I am – finally made it to Bali feeling tired but very excited.

Beautiful Bali

Beautiful Bali

My lift had arrived and I was taken to my digs for the next 3 months.  I told myself not to be disappointed in my accommodation, to expect little out of the facilities offered and I had prepared well!

My courier did not speak on the journey, I was dropped off with my luggage, no idea where I was in relation to my new dive college, no currency in my purse, no water, jet lagged, sweaty and still smelling mildly of vomit (cheers young Thomas my fellow passenger!). It was nearly 11pm and I wondered what the hell I was doing coming across the world, a woman of my age trying to embark on new adventures!

I quickly asked the driver what time I needed to be ready in the morning as I was told my dive master course would start – he replied 7am, here.

I went into my room, decided instantly that I would ask for somewhere else tomorrow, and tried to clean myself in the trickle of cold water which emanated from the shower. No wifi to let my family and friends know I was safe – so I tip toed out until I found some. Now midnight, I decided I needed to sleep.

I fell into a deep, luxuriating sleep at 00:30, much needed rest after my journey – and my body decided at 02:30 it had quite enough of a nap and it was now party time! I tossed and turned until just after 5 when I fell back to sleep again – to be woken by my alarm at 06:30 – arrrgh.

I was always a good girl at school, and so it was, I was ready with all my gear outside my digs as asked at 7am – I looked like poo, but I was going to be a good student – I even had a pencil case at the ready for my studies.

Getting into snapchat with my kids

Getting into snapchat with my kids

7.15 came and I felt uneasy about this as I stood on the side of the street with taxis continually beeping for my custom as they passed.  I decided to try to find the dive centre myself – and was amazed to find it was only 0.2 miles away – they must surely be waiting for me! Nope!

Thats when I met Sonya

My friend Sonya!

My friend Sonya!

Sonya is new to diving, but has quickly got the bug and is already half way through her dive master course.  She is from Darwin and is so friendly and relaxed.  She told me how to get breakfast and where the ATM was. I hurried off – tried 4 different machines who obviously didnt want to communicate with Barclays – I was still penniless. Sonya shouted me breakfast (thank you Sonya – I will always remember you!)

When staff members finally arrived, I asked where they wanted me – to be told my dive master was starting on Saturday and I had 2 days rest before it began! If only my alarm had known that!

Back to my room and try to snooze – a solid 3 hours sleep and my body still on UK time!

I emerged in the afternoon a little jaded, unsure what to do, where to go and how on earth I would feed myself with no cash – ready with laptop to find reliable wifi to Skype Barclays, I tried one more time at an ATM – result! It allowed me to take out the maximum possible for that transaction – 3 million Indonesian Rupiah – wads of cash came out  – all 100,000 notes – I felt rich! (each one worth just under £6!) I could eat!

I hung around the dive school, everyone seemed to know everyone else except for me and I felt a little lost.  Then I remembered my daughters words – you will make friends straight away.  Along came a lovely lass from Finland called Loumie

My new friend - Loumie

My new friend – Loumie

She is also training as a dive master, she is funny, speaks excellent English, is 18 years of age and knows how to seek out a cheap meal! Firstly, she helped me move rooms – I am now in the best room in the complex and have my own balcony

My little balcony

My little balcony

 

and little garden right by my veranda (as well as air con, hot water should I need it, and somewhere to put my things on!)

My own little Balinese Garden

My own little Balinese Garden

Time now to find food. Its hideously cheap to eat here in Bali, particularly if you get off the beaten track.  We were enticed into numerous restaurants along the way and anything which cost more than £3 for a meal was instantly dismissed by Loumie.  We met a guy along the way, similar age to myself (21!) who told us he lived there and advised us to eat at the place he was, saying you can get a good fill and its only 10 bucks! Loumie just laughed and continued until we found this little place

Nom Nom

Nom Nom

Local Balinese cusine - meals from 76p

Local Balinese cusine – meals from 76p

We had fried chicken,

IMG_3927

numerous vegetables, some of which I could recognise, with a chilli sauce over the top. She had water, I had a beer (which someone quickly ran out to buy) and I decided to treat Loumie for helping me move – so generous as the whole meal cost just £2.76 for both of us including drinks!

We wiled away the evening, bit of shopping, drinking and socialising, and I decided tonight was the night to get some proper sleep! So at midnight, I feel into a delicious sleep – that was until 3am when again it was party time! I fought it for an hour then decided enough was enough, and got up.

I had got myself organised and bought a cute little hot water maker so I was able to make myself a cup of earl grey, and thought that it was a good time to defrost the refrigerator in my room and chat to my buddies in the UK time where it was late evening and they were soon to settle down to sleep. At 6am I decided to do just that and get a couple of hours to take me through – earplugs and eye mask at the ready – again I fell into a deep sleep. I woke thinking I had slept well and it must be around 9 to discover I had been asleep for a solid 7 hours and it was gone 1 in the afternoon – I felt like such a teenager – but knew I was just still on UK time as it was 6am there and getting up time! Its 7 hours ahead here, but my body seems firmly fixed on UK time – damn you jet lag!

Feeling a little disorientated, homesick I took a look at the weather back home as everyone seemed to be raving about it on Facebook back in the UK

Spring time in Sheffield!

Spring time in Sheffield!

I could see why they were thrilled. Then I took a look at mine

Perfect temperatures!

Perfect temperatures!

That made me feel better.

So, Ive stayed awake all day, Ive been shopping to buy a few of lifes little luxuries to make me feel at home – a fan and extension lead so I can use it on my verandah, cutlery, sharp knife, plate, bowl, nice food nibbles.

Ive spent some time keeping an eye on Severe Cyclone Ita as it threatens the coast of Far North Queensland – where my baby girl is – seems she is safe and having fun (when does the worrying as a mum stop?)

Severe Tropical Cyclone Ita

Severe Tropical Cyclone Ita

Its now 9.30 as I type this, Im sat on my little verandah. Im sipping a nice cool G&T (albeit illegal!) complete with ice made in my defrosted fridge.

Enjoying my contraband!

Enjoying my contraband!

Im nibbling on a little treat my Chinese friend gave me, having no idea what Im eating, but think it could be something to do with beef as he explained to me on the plane using his hands as horns on his head!

Anyone any idea what this is?

Anyone any idea what this is?

Does seeing it help? Tasting it certainly doesn't!

Does seeing it help? Tasting it certainly doesn’t!

Its now midnight and Im trying to convince my body clock  it is “night time” rather than “nap before partying time”!

Tomorrow I start my dive master course (at 11am!) – life is good!

Posted in Life in Bali, Scuba diving | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Im Leaving On A Jet Plane, Dont Know When I’ll Be Back Again!

Goodbyes can be so sad, and I have had over a month of them

My bestie - Debs!

My bestie – Debs!

Morning coffee with my dancing buddy Andy Crawley

Morning coffee with my dancing buddy Andy Crawley

Girls night out with Tashy and Lillian

Girls night out with Tashy and Lillian

 

 

A great send off by a fabulous bunch of people

A great send off by a fabulous bunch of people

 

 

They bought me a cake

They bought me a cake

 

Im such a lucky lady!

Im such a lucky lady!

My spice besties!

My spice besties!

Enuf said!

Enuf said!

My gorgeous niece and her baby girl!

My gorgeous niece and her baby girl!

Saying goodbye to my son

Saying goodbye to my son

Yet another meal out

Yet another meal out

I think thats enough photos, Ive said so many goodbyes, not all captured on camera. Anyway….. Here I am, yet again, with my life in boxes ready to move across the world.

My life packed into boxes yet again!

My life packed into boxes yet again!

So it is, that I set off from Heathrow airport, saying goodbye to my gorgeous daughter and son (thanks for driving and taking the photo Will!)

A teary goodbye at Heathrow

A teary goodbye at Heathrow

My oh my was that difficult! I sobbed and sobbed as I passed through security, trying to look like a relaxed seasoned traveller, I was breaking up inside,

Last time I “emigrated” to Oz, not content with a move across the world, I decided to have a little adventure first by sailing around the coast of Britain, circumnavigating its coastline from London clockwise then back again (if you have a spare day or three you might like to scroll down and read all about it!). This time I have decided to stop off in Bali, Indonesia for 2-3 months and train as a scuba dive instructor……..more about this later.

I boarded the plane for Singapore, thinking of the line I said to my son minutes before “lets hope Im not sitting next to a small child” Oops – along comes Thomas, a cute little 5 year old, with not so cute sharp elbows which relentlessly poked into me as did his feet whilst he slept right across the seats.

I became a “mommy” to yet another child, responding to his needs as his father seemed a little out of practice in this art.  A smooth twelve and a half hour flight from Heathrow to London, made sadder by watching 12 years a slave, ended as we touched down a little late in Singapore.

I couldnt resist a sneeky piccie out of the window

I couldnt resist a sneeky piccie out of the window

Everyone prepared to exit, whereupon cute little Thomas said he felt sick. Daddy reassured him – “don’t worry, I have a bag for you”.  Thomas turned green, dad didn’t respond, and there was no sign of the aforementioned bag.

Being ever resourceful, I reached into my seat pocket, grabbed mine, not noticing that you had to tear along the perforations on the top to open. Being a little cutie and seeing a bag, Thomas immediately turned towards me as I struggled to open the bag in time, he emptied the contents of his stomach right over me in true Mr Creosote style – I was soaked through to my underwear.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aczPDGC3f8U&list=RDaczPDGC3f8U

Daddy fussed around Thomas, offered me a small tissue then turned heal and walked off the plane leaving me to clean up! I had prepared to disembark the plane, with my belongings on the seat – kindle, travel cushion, flight socks etc ready to put into my hand luggage, all in the firing line of Thomas – well, you have enough detail!

I ran off the plane which was already late, looked for my connecting flight, had little time to connect, but found a toilet where I stripped off. Being a seasoned traveller, I had a change of clothes, but didnt think of also bringing a fresh bra too – will always take one in future!

I boarded the flight to Bali and took my seat near the back of the plane. Oh joy – another flight to take, sweaty, knackered and smelling of vomit. All was not lost, as I was surrounded by a group of 40 people from Chengdu, right in the heart of China who were taking a holiday to Bali.  They were the Chinese equivalent of “Spice UK”

 http://www.spiceuk.com/home?handshaked=true#.U0fASpV0Uy4

The guy next to me spoke to me in English using his entire repertoire “How are you today” “How may I help you” and finishing with “Do you speak Chinese?” He made this last for the 2+ hour flight, I kid you not. I taught him to say “Cheers” which he continued to do at alternate mouthfuls of his 3 cans of lager – and many of the others joined in too….

Chinese answer to Spice UK

Chinese answer to Spice UK

I am now part of numerous Chinese photo albums as I posed with numerous members of the group. They asked where I was from by showing me a map from the airline magazine, I pointed and they responded “Ah, Canada”! Just as many Brits would if China was pointed out to them no doubt! One member of the group had completed all their landing cards – my new friend showed me his – all beautifully completed with occupation being stated as “holiday” I made a guess from his English repertoire that he was in sales and altered his card accordingly! I felt for the poor air stewardess who was the only Mandarin speaker who they constantly called over to translate! My new friend could now say “Vely nice to meet you” and they all copied……..

At last – in Bali, such a relief! Just got to get through immigration and customs. Immigration, no problem, I didnt have to queue through the “visa on arrival” as I had already arranged mine through the Indonesian embassy in London as I was staying longer than 30 days – this was a breeze.

The guy from the dive school Im training with had asked me to buy some Jack Daniels. At duty free in Heathrow, I was tempted by the 2 litres of Gordons gin for £22 so I decided to go for it – I never get checked at customs after all, and all 3 bottles fitted nicely in my hand luggage. With this in mind, and having ticked the box on the customs form “Nothing to Declare” I headed towards customs with my head held high feeling confident.  This crashed when I saw the X-Ray Units where all bags were screened.  I quickly altered my form with the honest version and very sheepishly entered through the “Red Zone”. with images of a scene from Bridget Jones in my head!

I was taken into a customs office, along with others who had been found out in the “Green Zone” (At least I was honest – ahem, ahem!). He gave me a lecture then demanded $45US from me.  I had absolutely no currency on me and prepared to hand him my 2 litres of delicious Gordons as if it did not matter, then remembered the sneaky little $20 Aussie dollars I had in my cosmetic bag left over from my last trip there.  I dug it out – handed it to him and quickly left – it seemed to do the trick as I wasnt followed.

I walked into arrivals with a sea of placards being held as I searched for my name – finally – I was here, and they nearly got my name right!

Its official!

Its official!

Ive finally arrived in Bali – another adventure begins!

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