This week I did a quick video on one of my favorite temples in Bali, Uluwatu. Hope you like. Until next time.
Thanks for your questions! Here are my answers in this first podcast. Please let me know what you think. I had fun doing this!
Hello! I have published my first e-book: ‘Eat, Pray, Stay for Days: A Guide to Long Term Travel in Bali.’ It is available for free download until July 12, 2014. Please download and leave a review on Amazon. Click on the link below. Thanks so much for your continued support and interest in my journey.
Hello! I have been getting a quite a few emails from people wanting to know my story. I am a firm believer that it is never too late to follow your dreams. So, I am opening the floor to answer all your questions in a podcast. Post your questions below or private message me. Some examples of questions already asked are:
How did I make the decision to travel longterm?
What was my biggest fear in deciding to leave America?
What’s it like being single and living in a foreign country?
What did your family say when you decided to leave?
Don’t be shy! There are no stupid questions. You have until Friday, July 11 to submit all your questions and I will record the podcast over the weekend. Looking forward to your questions!
FC Residence is an exclusive eight -bedroom property in tranquil Pererenan. South Bali has become very busy and at times feel over-crowded. Pererenan is the exception. Located just outside Canggu, Pererenan still holds on to the serenity that is the ‘Old Bali’ charm. Emerald rice fields litter the landscape, banana trees hang over narrow roads and toads serenade you at sundown.
The FC Residence fits well with its surroundings. The grounds are well manicured and it’s clear that a lot of time and energy were spent. In fact, trees were painstakingly removed to provide a stunning view of the rice fields over the pool. There is a private road that leads from the rear of the grounds into the rice fields and further out to secluded Pantai Lima Beach. The same journey can be done on horses provided by a local riding school nearby. Locals use this road to tend to their rice paddies and other crops like bananas and melons.
The property sleeps twenty comfortably and is ideal for group getaways such as weddings, corporate retreats and family reunions. Bookings are flexible as guests can rent out the entire property or single rooms. As a solo traveler, it appealed to my sense of privacy with lots of nooks for solace. I stayed in the Pool Suite and there was plenty of space. I really didn’t have to leave my room because of the ample amenities. The garden, small plunge pool and the landing above the bedroom provided more than enough room to roam and relax. The comfortable king sized bed provided much reprieve while watching international cable television. The intimate and exclusive feel of the grounds are ideal for travelers seeking privacy and groups seeking exclusivity. The deep and winding 30m lagoon style pool facilitates a proper swim and not merely splashing about. Spa services are available on call. Choose from traditional Balinese, shiatsu, Thai, aromatherapy and reflexology. I had my massage under the joglo while listening to the Dream River flow. Massage suites are located poolside, so guests can choose from either location.
FC Residence is in close proximity from some of Bali’s pristine and exciting beaches like the world famous Echo and Old Man’s. Batu Bolong and Pantai Seseh are also near by. Surf lessons with a local guide are provided. The forgiving surf breaks of beaches close-by are ideal for beginners. Guests are welcome to take a guided tour of the area in the an open top VW car, aptly dubbed, “The Thing.” Be sure to watch out for banana leaves that can smack you in the face. Deus Ex –Machina’s popular Sunday night rock ‘n’ roll party is literally around the corner from FC Residence.
The food and cocktails from the FC Bar and Grill are top notch. The cocktails are tasty and strong. My favorites were the ‘tequila best’ and the classic maitai. It doesn’t hurt that the bartender, Agus won the Potato Head competition for serving up the best mojito, which the management serves a virgin version as the welcome drink. Plans are underway to make the FC Bar and Grill a neighbourhood night -time hang. There are several villas in the area, but the FC Bar and Grill is the only place that provides food and drinks in house.
Pererenan still maintains that ‘Old Bali” charm and after visiting the FC Residence, I am planning on moving to the area. Quaint warungs, temples, cafes, restaurants sprinkle the landscape, but unlike over-crowded Seminyak, you can actually see the landscape while relaxing with a cup of tea.
Pool Suite USD $200-$250 a night
Disclaimer: I was a sponsored guest at the FC Residence. The views expressed here are my own.
I was the last one to board the tour bus. As I made my way to my seat I noticed their curious glances up at me. I settled into a window seat and a few turned heads turned to look back at me. I smiled reassuringly. I was traveling solo. As the tour progressed from one Taiwanese attraction to the next their glances turned into stares.
A petite woman dressed in white walked up to me, “You alone?”
Her eyebrows raised, “No friends? No family?”
“No. Just me.”
“And you ok?”
“Yes, perfectly fine.”
She nodded, smiled and spun on her heels. She approached her group and reported on what I’ve said in Cantonese.
For the next few hours it would continue like this. One by one they came up to me and ask if I was ok. My enthusiasm waned as I felt I was in a fish bowl. Slowly, I even began feeling sorry for myself. I quickly shook that feeling off. I was taking a three day cruise from Hong Kong to Taiwan. Solo traveling is not new to me. In fact, it is my preferred way to travel. However, this was my first cruise. And I became acutely aware of being alone.
Solo travel sometimes garner pity. It’s as taboo as eating alone in a restaurant, or even seeing a movie by yourself. On a ship everyone sees your movements. So the feelings of pity are magnified. They see you eating alone, swimming alone, taking a walk alone, working out alone.
I missed English. I tuned into the ship’s only English station, which was a football (soccer) channel just so I could hear it. There was an aching loneliness gnawing at me that was unlike any other time I’ve traveled alone. This coupled with the fact of not hearing my language jarred me. You take hearing your own language for granted until you’re on a 2,000 tonnes cruise ship surrounded by Mandarin and Cantonese speakers and every activity on the ship and the tours is conducted in those languages.
We stopped for dinner and a feeling of dread washed over me when I saw the banquet hall. Where was I going to sit? Every table seated eight people. Since people were traveling with their families and loved ones, as the solo traveler I was the odd ball out. Where ever I chose I knew I would be interrogated.
Another petite lady dressed in black with a short hair cut brushed past me.
“Oh you’re by yourself! Come sit with me and my family. I’m Conee.” Her English was perfect. Her warm inviting smile beckoned me to their table. Conee and her family were from Singapore, however she and brother David, speak English. The rest of the family spoke Mandarin. As soon as introductions were made, David ordered wine and beer for the table.
As we clinked our glasses with choruses of “Cheers!” We seemed to be the only table having fun. David kept replenishing everyone’s glasses with Taiwanese beer and wine.
My plate was never empty for long, as Conee and her family kept putting bits of food for me try. “Try this. This is the best part.” They would say as I sampled tentatively. They were proud to share their Chinese food culture with me. It was my honor to be in their company.
“Diana,” Conee said breezily. “Join us on our tour tomorrow. No matter if you don’t get an English guide. I can translate for you.”
The next day I made sure I on their tour. When they saw me they chirped, “Nihao! Nice to see you. Hello!”
For the next hour I was prodded with an array of Chinese snacks. “Diana try this,” as they passed pickled ginger, rice crackers, dried prunes and roasted almonds over the seat tops.
This tour did have an English guide for me. She approached me and introduced herself as Edna. “I will translate for you today.”
“No need. We’ve been friends since yesterday, so I will translate for her,” Conee said flippantly with a smile.
Edna nodded and walked up the front to join the other tour guide.
At one stop, I was treated to a pineapple popsicle. I stood with Conee’s family in an intimate circle as we chomped down on our cold popsicles as the rain poured down.
If I wandered off during a tour stop they all waited for me. “Diana! Come on.” They chided with broad smiles.
I was treated like a part of this family. Strangers who I had met only the day before had welcomed me with open arms. My heart swelled with gratitude at their warmness and generosity. If they felt sorry for me, they never showed it. Conee’s family reaffirmed my belief in people’s innate goodness. I will never forget them.
Last week I was in Hong Kong. I needed a change of scenery from my beachy island life. I wanted to walk on flat surface in heels, I wanted to take an MTR, hop on bus and sip coffee in a paper cup with the cardboard thingy around it and the cup’s lid didn’t have to be taped shut. Thousands of people visit Bali to get away and here I was looking to get away myself. When you live in a vacation destination, it’s a very different scene. I like my mini-weekend escapes to the mountains and visiting different parts of the island. After a while, I wanted to see high rises and proper skyline.
I went to Hong Kong to eat. Here are few of the dishes I ate. Hope you like!
When you crave a change of scenery where do you go?