Tuesday, October 29, 2013

just a quick note, a movie recommendation

We went to a movie the other night. It was wonderful. Singaporean made.

It won at Cannes. If you can see it, please do. It would be at a theatre that shows not mainstream movies.

It is called "Ilo Ilo"

Singaporean life that even I don't know about. I imagine it, I see glimpses of it, but this movie is right on. It has sub-titles, and funnily enough, translates the Malaysian, Mandarin AND Singlish.

It is the story of Ilo Ilo, a helper hired by a family that lives in a HDB building . Both parents work, they have a ten year old boy, and a baby on the way. So they hire help.

You get a portrait of the young woman hired, from Malaysia or Philippines, or… It doesn't matter. The movie follows this family through a very stressful period in their lives. The conditions that they all live in, the space that they live in, the stresses that they live with. I don't want to give it away, because I really hope you can get to see it.

But hunt up the movie, and if it comes to your town, do go see it.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Gili Islands

So we went to the Gili Islands. When I planned this jaunt, I booked a hotel through trusty Trip Advisor. When I got my booking confirmation, I did as usual, e-mail the hotel to ask for airport pick-up. I didn't hear back within a day, so I called them. Am I glad I did that. They don't do pick  ups from Bali Airport, where we were flying in to. We had to buy another ticket, from Bali to Lombok. There they would provide pick up. I was very happy that there were two seats left on the connecting flight. All's well that ends well, and we were met and transported to the hotel from the Lombok Airport.

What I didn't know was that we were going to just where I had been a year ago, on the yoga retreat I did. I should have known that because we had gone by boat across from Lombok to the Gilis to snorkel. What confused me was that there was a fast boat Bali to Gili Trawangan, where the hotel was, but it only departed Bali once a day, an hour before we arrived in Bali. So we missed it and hence another airline ticket to Lombok.

I thought I might give a little info on Indonesia. If I find it confusing, and I am here, you might need a little background. The reason I find it confusing is that some of the islands to the east of us are Indonesia, (we see Indonesia from our balcony on a clear day) but east of us are islands of Malaysia. But Malaysia is to the north of us. Okay, the islands to the east, some belong to Indonesia, some to Malaysia. I was in Kuching, Borneo, and that was Malaysia. Bali, known to most, is Indonesia. We were just to the east of Bali, flew in to Bali and then island hopped to Lombok, and by boat island hopped to Gili Trawangan. Indonesia.

Indonesia is an archipelago of 17, 000 islands, population 238 million. The capitol is Jakarta (which I will be flying in to next week!!!) The Dutch held Singapore, Sukarno took over in 1945, and Suharto in 1965. In 1998, Sukarno was unseated, and an election was held. Indonesia is rich in natural resources, and yet has extreme poverty. It rates 2nd highest country in the world in biodiversity. It is mostly Muslim.

As we drove from the airport, we could hear the call to worship in any and every small gathering of homes. The voices of these men who sing the call to worship, they are good. It is really a beautiful sound.

On our boat ride over to our hotel, the driver (captain?) had no lights on his boat, but he did have a small flashlight in his mouth. Until we hit a really big wave, and it was knocked out of his mouth (as we were knocked out of our seats) and full speed ahead, he bent down, in total darkness to find the flashlight. Certainly regained my confidence when he had it back in his mouth!

The waves were huge, and we arrived to a floating dock, in the dark. It was a precarious walk to solid land, suitcase in hand, rolling up and down on the moving dock.

The hotel was great, beautiful grounds, spectacular beach, outdoor shower, working aircon ( I say that because it was stinking hot) and on the edge of a strip of restaurants, bars, and souvenir chutchka shops.
We went on a dive, or Tim dove (dived?), I snorkelled. His dive was good, my experience was awful. They let me in in big waves, to snorkel, by myself, in the ocean. Then they TOOK OFF! I was not happy. I was not comfortable. So I snorkelled over to the nearest boat, swam up the outrigger of the boat, and asked them where my boat was. It was a ways away. Me, without my glasses, it was the blue one further away. So I snorkelled over to the blue boat, got out, and pouted. I was furious I had been left alone, no buddy, ("never swim alone") in the G.D. OCEAN. When I got back to land, I told the diver master how I felt, and he said, "Well, did you ask for a guide?" ???  No. When ever have I had to ask for a guide when I have paid to go snorkelling. He did not charge me.

The next day I  went snorkelling with a different company. There was a family from Australia. A mom, a dad, and 3 year old. It was big water. Waves higher than the side of the boat. When we were in the trough, you could see nothing but the wave coming. It was awesome. These boats they use ply the water beautifully. Basically  a big dugout with outriggers on the sides. The little girl was trying snorkelling. But she just wasn't ready for the equipment. So there she was sitting on her mother's back, Mom snorkelling, she revelling in the huge waves. It made me think of the wonderful Australian movie, The Whale Rider. We were in mighty big water. And did I say, out in the middle of the ocean? I did see wonderful fish, and a turtle. It is so special seeing a turtle. Way down, they are supposed to be breathing oxygen, what are they doing way down there?

Jane, very happy to be ON the boat after the swim alone. Tim in his cute little diving suit

A lot of fire wood to be carried by this poor chap

Don't you love the island mentality?

A coral tree. And I thought that hard coral I saw was dead. It is alive and growing on trees

A typical boat, outriggers, narrow body, wonderful in the big seas.

Our outdoor shower. The gourd was our one tap of fresh water. All other were brackish. So you shower in salt water, then with the gourd, rinse yourself off with the fresh water. Washing hair is a bit of a procedure. But you are outdoors.

I know, I know, looks pretty hard to have to put up with.

It might be the next time is after my yoga retreat. We have good friends coming October 28. Rae and Brian Jensen, our neighbours and very good friends from Vernon. But they arrive and I leave. Oct 30 I have a 5 day yoga retreat in Java, on a tea plantation. More suffering for me.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

It was a tug to come back this time

We did get on the 5:00 flight to Frankfurt. An overnight, sort of. Eight hour flight, getting in to Frankfurt at 1:00 a.m. on your body, but 7:00a.m. Frankfurt time. We went to Thomas Cook desk to leave a message for our nanny Annette. She came to us when Elizabeth was a baby, so 27 years ago. She was still growing in to herself. She was at the desk, (she does the graveyard shift, overnight, not very busy, so long) and we had a wonderful visit. She has grown into the most beautiful woman. OMG she is 47 now. They came to Bala 13 years ago, when her Sven was 4. He fell in love with our black lab Cailie. They went home to Frankfurt and got a yellow lab Kaylee! It was wonderful to see her, and catch up.

We then got a day room at the hotel at the airport, because our flight to Singapore did not leave until 10:00 at night. I managed to sleep a full 7 hours. Our flight to Singapore, over another night, was twelve hours. We arrived late in the day on Monday. So two days to get here. YUCK!!!!

I forgot to take my little remedy for this lengthy torture- pills called No-Jet-Lag. I have to say the transition wasn't bad. Problem is that you go to sleep okay, but then wake up in the middle of the night, thinking it is time to get up. Like the movie Lost In Translation.

Being back here, it has been interesting. I really feel I am in the home stretch. Muskoka was so beautiful, and the visits so wonderful, I really could have stayed. Life here is pretty amazing, though. Summer is great, and summer weather as you all head in to winter is pretty nice.  It will be hard to leave some things here, but easy to slide back in to life there. I have heard that the transition back home , for an expat, is harder that adjusting to living here. OY.

I have been planning a trip. Tim has five days off next week. We were going to go to Dubai. I thought we will never be back near here, so see something of the Middle East while we are here. But it is a 12 hour flight, and it costs over a thousand dollars. So canned that. We are going to Gili Islands. They are off the island of Lombok in Indonesia. We fly in to Bali and take a speed boat to the island. I was to Lombok last year on my yoga retreat. We hired a boat to take us snorkelling to some little picture perfect islands off shore. They were the Gilis. It was so picturesque I thought then that I have to get Tim here to dive. So... we will have 4 days away. The islands (three of them) are tiny (the big one 2km X 3km), ringed in white sand beaches, and you just swim off shore to snorkel. Full  report to follow!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

back again, well not really back yet, but heading back

Hey, hi.

It sure has been a while! It has been an absolute ball. Two months of fun, visiting my kids, my friends, got a trip to BC and Saskatchewan, many (but never enough) gorgeous spectacular, August/September days at Southwinds, and great days in TO.

I stayed at my daughter Elizabeth's when in TO. She and I were so busy we mostly just had morning coffee together. But then it worked really well, we did not trip over each other, or suffer from overexposure. She lives at Harbord and Ossington. A block walk to the subway, but a glorious walk to appointments at King and Yonge, or Bloor and Yonge, or up to Fairlawn. All places I would have driven to , if I had a car. But I walked in the perfect weather, and I saw TO as a tourist. I was wide eyed and wide mouthed at the changes, buildings missing, buildings replaced, so many streets under construction. The city is all under construction I think.

I had days at Southwinds. It was spectacular. I was swimming in September. Tim went swimming in October. October 3rd! We just had 5 very busy days up there, meeting with builders. Had 4 in, and with an architect's (friend) drawings, talked with each about what we thought we wanted to do. Southwinds is 12 years old, a total rebuild after a devastating fire. But the plan wwhich we replicated was 60 years old. So we thought we wanted to change the living space. We went from my original idea of "french country" to open up, which would have been way too much money, for the property we have, close to the highway and on a small lake. We got as far as tearing it down to the foundation and starting over. But we both were hyperventilating at the thought of taking down such a really lovely place.So we ended back at doing cosmetic. Landscaping, painting, changing a few things, upgrading bathrooms and kitchen. Much more worthy of the present place. I am very excited at what we will do.

We have engaged a builder to design and build a garage which we will start in the Spring when we get back. Also a landscaper to do hard scaping, and he is available in July (!), and I will do most of the planting.

Going back to Singapore now, I know it will be hard to stay with our plans for Southwinds. East brain/ west brain syndrome!

We are at the airport. Didn't get on the 10:00 to Hong Kong, did not get on the 2:00 to Narita, now hoping for the 5:00 flight to Frankfurt. Then hope hope hope to get Frankfurt/Singapore. This is a gruelling flight when all the connections are good. It is very tough with sitting around the airport all day before even setting out. Oh well, the price is right.

My sister Marnie was to come back with me for a visit, but she has a nasty knee (torn meniscus), so I hope it will be better in January when I come through and she can come then. I have a yoga retreat the end of Oct , to a tea plantation in Java. I will start working on a trip to India, a trip to Myanmar, and hopefully a cruise from Hanoi to Bangkok. Sounds pretty fantastic, eh what?

I had a lot of time to think about this adventure. Being out of pain sure makes life happier for me. I truly see how fantastic this adventure is. We are both very very lucky to have this chapter. Life is pretty damn fine!