Skimming Deep

Searching, traveling, talking, reflecting, and exploring. Read along with me as I continue on my journey through life.

Tag: sunset

Amed, Bali

Amed, Bali: definition #1: a place to which I hope to return

Amed, Bali: definition #2: a definite must-visit for any Bali-bound traveler (if you like the beach and would like to snorkel, dive, or learn to dive)

Amed is a set of tiny villages on the east coast of Bali. For the local Balinese, there is fishing, agriculture (I saw corn, various green veggies, fruit trees), salt collected from the ocean, and water sports, namely diving and snorkeling. It's a polar opposite from Ubud in some ways– hardly crowded at all, small, and all about the shoreline. But there is still the tourist industry which seems to be everywhere, not to the same degree as in Ubud.

I came here because I had done some research on TripAdvisor for good places to do a scuba course. It also shows up in the Lonely Planet guide as a nice getaway place to visit. And I have been rewarded many-many-fold.

First, I have to highlight the amazing place where I stayed and learned to dive: Adventure Divers Bali (the dive shop) and Geria Giri Shanti Bungalows (the attached guesthouses), currently owned by David (an Englishman, but totally seems like a So-cal diver dude with a proper English accent) and Liselotte (a Belgian, a beautiful tall, tanned blonde who's completely loving and charming).

If you come to Bali, you must come to Amed, and if you come to Amed, you MUST come to this place. They are amazing hosts, and the accommodations are perfect.

  • I paid 180.000 rupiah ($18USD) each night. That's their low season rate.
  • I had a beautifully clean and spacious room with two twin beds (nice, firm mattresses, sparkling clean sheets) each with their own option-to-use mosquito netting.
  • And the rooms all have open air showers, which are wonderful in this really hot, humid area.
  • Breakfast (with some options of banana pancakes, toast, and /or eggs any style), tea/coffee/instant cappucino are all included.
  • It's a hop, skip, and a jump away from the beach, which was nice, so I just took a towel down to the beach and swam for awhile and then hopped, skipped, and jumped back to my room for an open air shower.

I can't say enough good things about this place. It's not a super luxury resort with a-c and swimming pool, jacuzzi, etc. But if you have a budget and want somewhere really nice and clean to stay where the owners are super helpful and not just out to get your money, then this is your place. They have glowing reviews on TripAdvisor. It really doesn't feel like a budget place…

The only downside was that it's really hot in Amed. I mean oven-roasting hot. And it doesn't rain here, even during rainy season, which helps to cool things off (like in Ubud where it rained every evening). So you kind of sit in your sweat, even with a fan on you. Sleeping isn't the most comfortable. If it were just a touch cooler, I think I could stay here for the rest of my vacation!

  • I had good meals here, better than in Ubud. Not amazing, but more tasty. I'm just realizing I'm not crazy about Indonesian food, I guess.
  • I saw a sunset and a sunrise. With views of Mt. Agung, an active volcano that last erupted in 1963.
  • I swam in the sea on an empty beach with occasionally a few other swimmers, but mostly by myself. Peace and quiet.
  • I sweated buckets.
  • I met a bunch of local Balinese who work at the dive shop and guesthouse. Everyone was so kind and helpful.
  • I met a few other travelers and commiserated about diving and travel.
  • I got my scuba diving Open Water Diver license. But more on that later.

My faith in Bali as a tourist destination was restored by Amed. If only it weren't sooo hot.


Punakaiki: Pancake Rocks!

I'd been hearing about these so-called Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki that were highly touted as an amazing sight. I didn't really know what to expect, but I was looking forward to it. So when I saw them, WOW!

I came to Punakaiki on recommendation from the gardener at Seresin (thanks, S!) and originally planned on staying three nights, but after seeing how small Franz Josef was and thinking that Punakaiki was smaller, I decided to cut back to two nights so I could have more time in Nelson which was my next destination.

It was a pouring rainy day when I left Franz Josef for Punakaiki, but by the time we arrived, the rain had at least stopped. It was grey, but as the day went on (I arrived in the mid afternoon), the sun made an appearance for a bit.

The bus makes a stop in Punakaiki for all the bus-riders to see the famous Pancake Rocks, so I just joined the rest of them while waiting for my pick up to my hostel.

I love how many of the treks and natural sights kind of creep up on you here in New Zealand and then have a WOW-pop factor. There's an easy trail to get to the rocks, and as you turn a corner, you see the Tasman Sea and the first set of pancake rocks. It kind of takes your breath away because you haven't seen anything like it (at least in my case):

I'm a huge fan of the ocean and big waves anyways, so add on to that these amazing natural formations. I kind of whizzed through the trail on this first time around because I didn't want to be late for my pick up. But every bend and turn of this trail revealed more amazing-ness. I heard that it was cooler to see at high tide, which had passed a few hours before. But it was still amazing to see the waves pounding away at these formations, just cutting, cutting away at the rock. Water and wind are such amazing elements– so soft, rough, elusive, nature's agents, really.

I got picked up by one of the hostel owners, checked in, and got settled in this rainforest retreat: Te Nikau Retreat. It's a hostel tucked away in the rainforest (not a tropical rainforest like in South America, but the rainforest in New Zealand is really a lush forest of lots of native trees and plants. It rains a lot in the West Coast, and there is this a forest, so I guess put those together and you get New Zealand rainforests.). There are separate cottages, and I stayed in Rata Retreat, a dorm with a kitchen, common area, and a cool set up of mattresses on the top level.

After getting settled, I headed out for a walk right away. I walked for about an hour and then realized I wasn't on the trek that I had hoped to be on, so I headed back to the trailhead. There were some nice views, but it was a bit boring. Then I went to a beach trail which was beautiful, near the hostel.

My hostel-mates were an Austrian woman (very energetic and totally sweet. We chatted about traveling and about both having quit our jobs to come travel.) and a group of Chinese tourists led by a guy who had just moved to Auckland and spoke English quite well. The three of us (the Austrian woman and the English-speaking Chinese guy) chatted quite a bit, and the other Chinese tourists were kind of in the background, but very nice. They offered us to eat with them! So cute. It's always nice to come across nice travelers along the way. Swapped travel tips and contact information for future visiting!

My second day in Punakaiki, I did a long hike (all together probably about 8 or 9 miles or more? I wish I had a pedometer to measure how many miles I'm walking!) with some nice views.

Then I went back to the pancake rocks and got to see the amazing-ness of high tide when the big waves come in through the rock formations which act as blowholes that spray water through the small holes. I totally got sprayed with sea water. It was incredibly windy and a bit chilly, otherwise, I would've spent hours just watching the spray and waves.

The sun, which had been hiding most of the morning, came out in the afternoon, and I just sat outside, watching the waves of the sea, soaking in the rays. As I think I've said before, I am so solar-powered it's not even funny. I perk up when I get some sun, and my outlook becomes even more positive than before. Happily I'm headed to Nelson which is supposedly one of the cities with the best weather in New Zealand. Hopefully it'll be nice!

I'm getting a bit tired of my hostel meals– hot porridge (muesli and water) for breakfast, cheese-hummus sandwich with an apple for lunch (and an occasional boiled egg), and some kind of curry with rice for dinner. I made a tomato-lentil-leek curry for my Punakaiki dinners. Still tasty (more choices of spices plus cooking oil at this hostel!!) but I'm getting tired of the same thing everyday. I'll hopefully treat myself to a nice dinner or lunch in Nelson. And I'm thinking of buying some bacon to cook for dinners! Miss my bacon!

That evening, there were some new backpackers in the hostel, and we were all a bunch of women– me and a bunch of European women. A few of us went down to see the sunset and I had my small bottle of seresin dessert wine, and the Austrian woman had a bottle of red, and we drank wine and watched the beatufiul sunset over the Tasman Sea. At one point, it hailed and rained, but then the sun came out again from behind the clouds!

With our cottage being so small, it was easy to just make friends with the other backpackers, and we sat around and talked about life, culture, relationships… all sorts of things. It was a nice time to socialize and meet some new people. We even exchanged emails and Facebook usernames! It's amazing how much you open up and learn from travelers when you know you are just crossing paths for a day or two. I've met such kind and open hearted people.

The next (and final) day in Punakaiki, I hung out with my fellow travelers until they left, and then enjoyed a nice cup of coffee (called a long white– I think it's kind of a latte… didn't really understand the explanation). Yumm. I did a final turn of the Pancake Rocks (they're different all the time– depending on the tides, the wind, the sun, the weather…). And said goodbye to the beautiful coastal town of Punakaiki.

Stunning Sunset: One of Life’s Blessings

This is the first summer in a long time (at least within my memory) that I can remember appreciating the change in rhythm of the summer.  Things slow down a bit.  People are a bit more friendly.  I feel a little looser about things.  And this summer, I’m really feeling the “break” aspect of summer.  Even though I don’t get a break myself and summer is actually busier at work, I can feel the “vacation” spirit in the air.

I’m loving the later hours the sun stays up.  I’m also loving living near the beach where I can take a quick walk or drive down there to see beautiful sunsets like this (can you believe the reflection in the still water?  it’s intense!!!)

and this  (a bit ominous with the sign, but it sets an interesting story.  plus more amazing reflections.)

and this (that’s the Boston city skyline in the far distance)

I’m so lucky to be alive and living where I live!  I am counting my blessings more and more and this has been such a joy– to see all the amazing aspects of my life’s blessings:

  • having a steady job, skills, and the ability to make a living where I am comfortable, not in debt, and able to even afford luxuries like travel, my techie gadgets, and dinners out.  So even after I leave this job, I’m pretty confident that I’m going to be able to make a living doing something else.
  • my amazing friends and community of people whom I love and who love me just as I am.
  • my quirky and wonderfully unique family.  My parents who’ve never pressured me to be something or someone that I’m not.  My brothers who are doing their thing and being wonderful role models for their kids and loving husbands for their wives.
  • my health.  My only weakness there is my eyesight.  But other than, I have good health!
  • a wonderful place to live for now.  With fresh air, lots of space, and a happy “welcome home” feeling.
  • the ability to cook and clean, without it being because I’m a woman but just because I love to do it, and I love the effects after I do it: getting to eat good food, getting to live in a clean environment.
  • confidence in and love for myself.  I haven’t always felt this, and it’s still a challenge to remember that I AM good enough for myself and those around me.  Keep riding that wave of confidence and love, I have to keep telling myself.

I’m feeling blessed today.  And even when life gets difficult or when I’m feeling fearful and uncertain of what lies ahead, I know that I have all this to provide a safety net in case I fall.  I’ve been fortunate enough not to fall too hard in the past, and it’s because of these amazing blessings. Sending out thank you waves to the universe for all that has made my life possible.

#31: Purple Clouds

What started as a rainy, grey day turned into a humid, purple-cloud-sunset evening.  Just couldn’t resist stopping around town to take this pictures.  It was kind of funny my stopping in the middle of the sidewalk.  Like  tourist.  But taking time to slow down on impulse and not thinking about it too much.  The small steps in slowing down.

It’s amazing what you can see in a city when you stop and look up.  If I had had my head down, or even straight ahead, I would’ve totally missed these clouds hiding in between the tall buildings.  And yet there they were to be watched or not.

And then on my train ride home, more stopping to gaze.  I usually have my head buried in my iPhone, reading or just staring into space, but I happened to look out the window where the train comes above ground and saw this:

I’m still amazed at what I can capture on my iPhone.

And finally, getting off the train, I stopped again to look up at the sky and saw this– a perfect finale to an hour commute home:

I’m starting to count down the weekends.  One by one, they’re coming and going so quickly.  And so much to do before I leave.  Thing to buy.  People to see.  Loose ends to tie, or at least semi-knit together.  And a realization it’s probably all not going to get done.  But I’m going to have to be OK with that.  I’m trying to just enjoy the summer, enjoy the last weeks, and keep breathing.

#25: Rainbows and Clouds

We’ve been having summer weather (a bit too early for my liking) with mid-90 temperatures, high humidity, and then thunderstorms followed by blue skies, beautiful cloud formations, and gorgeous sunsets.  Today was the end of a three day hot and humid spell.  And then after a few thunderstorms, we had a beautiful evening. I went a little crazy on the photos (with my iPhone, no less!) and so here are some of my favorites.

This was doctored with Instagram, but even the original was beautiful.

The view of the sky and a local yacht club in the dusky light.

Amazing split sky– one side of the sky (to the left of this frame and beyond) was pure blue, no cloud a sliver of moon just starting to glow.  And the other side was grey, white, wispy, clouds far into the ocean.

I had a revelation about some of the discomfort I’ve been having about my blogger voice.  The blogs I like to follow and read (see my Links page under “Other Blogs”) are mostly people who give advice to others.  They are on their own journeys, but they share their life lessons with others and read more as self-help type narratives… which I like.  I find a lot of inspiration and food for thought from these blogs.  I know people don’t always like this writing style, but I enjoy it and find meaning from it.

However, I know that I’m not that kind of writer.

I’ve never been a “let me give you some advice” kind of person.  I’m much more a listener when it comes to others, bouncing off what they say with my own input and feedback.  And when it comes to myself, I just reflect on my own learning.  So this blog is becoming more like the latter, since I don’t have anyone on the other side that is talking to me.  If this were just my own personal journal, I would be fine with that– a journal for me and my own voice.  However, I don’t want this to become an online journal.  As I’ve said before, I don’t want this to be a musings, rambling e-journal, which I’m a little afraid that it’s becoming (see, what am I doing right now, as a matter of fact?!).

I’ve enjoyed the photo posting, but there hasn’t been any thread linking those posts other than I’m doing it everyday to keep a streak going.  The act of taking a photo everyday has also been really fun and enlightening about my own interest and focus.

However, the blogging– I need to (re)focus this effort.  Maybe that’s part of the process, too, though, and I shouldn’t be so hard on myself that I’m still figuring out my blogger voice.

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