The 2004 Adventure of Cowboy Bob & Bonanza Jellybean!

This year we flew to Singapore then on to Bali for 4 weeks > back to Singapore > overland to Johor Bahru airport > then over to Sarawak (Borneo) for 10 days > and then back to  Singapore for 2 nights on the way home!

Thursday April 29, 2004 - Victoria

For a change we departed Victoria at the civilized hour of 11:00 AM. Joann talked me into walking  over to the JBI (James Bay Inn) to catch an Airport Shuttle bus instead of a taxi. This netted us a savings of CAD$20 on the first day. Security has slackened off quite after it's height just after 9/11. Just a cursory look... didn't even ask to turn on the electronics or ask for my shoes off.

We were fortunate that Singapore Airlines flight SQ17 wasn't sold out so we had the center 3 seats with the one between us vacant. This small luxury makes a huge difference on the 12 hour Vancouver to Seoul leg.

May 7, 2004 - Nusa Lembongan, Bali, Indonesia

So here we sit on our veranda, about 1 ? hours east of mainland Bali,overlooking a gorgeous central courtyard filled with exotic tropical shrubs and flowers. Just a few feet away, a small family of waxwings who look like diminutive canaries are repeatedly landing on the Balinese alter to nibble at the rice offerings. Our accommodation here at Bungalow No. 7 is on the edge of the azure blue lagoon. The protecting reefs of Nusa Lembongan are a Mecca for many day tripping tours from Sanur beach and surrounds. The huge surf thunders and entices. 

Getting out to Lembongan was certainly an adventure!!!  On arrival in Bali we over-nighted in Sanur Beach. The next morning of we awoke to the sound of thunder and very heavy rainfall. This wasn't a good sign for our departure to Lembongan. The waters between Bali and Nusa Lembongan can be quite treacherous. The port has no dock or ramp so the public boat backs in to the beach as far as possible and the passengers start wading. We hired porters to carry our bags out through the huge surf. The intense rain was horizontal. Trying to balance and reach to boat through waist high water was a challenge. Of course everyone was packed into the boat like sardines with huge bags of supplies of rice, propane tanks and just about everything else you can imagine. Bob and I chose to stay on the back deck of the boat as we felt marginally safer there that in the bowels of the submarine… (where is the easiest place to jump from). People just kept piling on... The fare was CAD$6.00each.

About a dozen operations have blossomed along the main beach. Bungalow No. 7 is a family run losman with about a dozen rooms and three small gazebos for dining on the seawall. The majority of the guests are budget surfers. What a pleasure to sit here and watch all our new friends catch a wave! At night the illuminated courtyard is quite magical. We pay about CAN$9.00 a night here. There is electricity from 3pm to 8am so our lazy overhead fan keeps us somewhat cool during the sultry nights.

The Balinese architecture is so very beautiful with their Hindu deities carved in all the stone work. Balinese have such an eye for design and detail, unbelievable gardens and temples.  so we look out at the huge volcano Mount Agung which towers over all of Bali. For the Balinese this volcano is a very sacred place and it seems to be shrouded in mystery. 

The people on the island are so very friendly, I've taken lots of long walks all over. It's been discovered by surfers but still has the old charm of Bali without too much of the commercial side. Bob and I sit with the locals in their Warungs (storefronts) and sip coffee and watch the world go by... of course everyone knows Bob's name and I am just Mrs. Bob!. The gorgeous women with their perfect posture caring flowers and offerings to the temples or just about anything else from gerry cans of gasoline to baskets of tuna or flowers. Of course the little girls will imitate with small baskets of their own. The kids all want their pictures taken and all seem to flash the peace sign. It's great to hear their laughter when we show them their photos on the digital camera. Seaweed farming is the main occupation on Lembongan carried out in the huge lagoon. Quite an industry. The seaweed is exported to Japan, some for cosmetics some for agar-agar. After it's dried out on land it brings in about CAD$0.25 a kilo. Hard work. One of my new found friends (a Frenchman and son) was walking through one of the poor villages and spied a toddler with a severe infections on her face. This great guy has arranged to have the child taken care of by the local doctor. What a nice guy! We had a candlelight dinner with him and a few others last night. The menu included a huge fresh Jack fish with rice, tomato salad, fried peanuts and a few beers. We practiced our French a bit and talked about Canada, Australia, France and New Zealand. Brought back such sweet memories of all these places. Our ages ranged from 15 to 57 and we all had a marvellous time.

All the boats here are so delightful, brightly coloured with huge outriggers (like your toy boat Kris). Tourism is way way down. We are off to Bali tomorrow as we have been here 8 days. We had planned to head over to Lombok but stories of theft and unrest have deterred us. Everyone is struggling with the economy being so bad here. Heard recently through the grapevine re some bombing's in Medan, Sumatra and also 108 men were killed in fighting in Southern Thailand and unrest in northern Malaysia (just some news for you folk that travel over here) ...anyway we will spend another 3 weeks in Bali (power shopping a little) and then head to Singapore to have dinner with a friend and then fly to Sarawak (old name was Borneo). Hope to trek a little in the national park, visit with the orang-utans in the rehabilitation centre and generally goof off… maybe a little shopping... 6 weeks of fun with my best friend.

(work seems a millions miles away)
see you all of a sudden Jellybean and Cowboy Bob

May 16, 2004 - Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Well, getting off Lembongan heading back to the big island of Bali was a breeze. The Kapitan smoking his cheroot over open gas cans seemed pretty typical. Only 30 passengers and 4 Yamaha outboards screaming, cut a half hour off the trip.

Then off to the beaches of Bali, (Kuta and Legian). talk about culture shock! When worlds collide. When we first visited Legian 25 years ago we would weave through the lush bamboo growth on footpaths with pigs and millions of piglets. Tropical flowers everywhere were entwined in lovely Hindu Balinese temples. Now its all gone. Tourist ghetto, traffic, shopping, crowed streets. We were amazed one night as we sat at a beach front caf?marveling at the surf - you can watch the surf forever - huge magnificent waves crashing down on the long sandy beach. All around us were "Bali boys" who are now 25 years older and legends in their own minds - clad in leopard skin tights with long flowing hair, chatting up the sun pruned western women. Prostitutes of both genders. Drunk westerners on the move. Venders selling everything from massage to …. It was as we expected but no matter we came for some power shopping. We now have a solid teak table and chairs ordered imported wood from Java. We did stay at a really great hotel with wonderful tropical gardens, 2 swimming pools, a/c, and breakfast included. Situated on a quiet back lane (gang). 5 days (daze) later we hopped in a taxi and headed for the real Bali.. Ubud situated in the center of Bali.

I am sitting on a terrace overlooking the rice fields. Melodic chirping birds, water wheels, rice paddies, luscious flowers and a wonderful vista of Balinese temples is my view. Incense is burning nearby at a small alter. The Balinese women give offerings to the gods frequently during the day, watching them sprinkle water, place flowers and wave their hand during the small prayer is such a pleasure. Such grace and beauty! We are staying at a fabulous place (Norman/Longman - the Greenfield bungalow is right next to Tegal Sari). The pool is made of natural stone which is surrounded by 2 gazebos. One end of the pool drops off seemingly into the surrounding rice paddies (infinity pool). We swam last night at sunset in this magnificent setting… lives of the rich and famous! All around the pool area the staff had placed red hibiscus flowers on the lounge chairs next to the big fluffy towels. Our room includes use of a car and driver, nice breakfast, hot water shower, ceiling fan and endless coffee and tea on our terrace @ C$ 20.00. I bargained a little as Bali seems quite deserted as it is early in the season and tourism is way down. (saw the bomb site in Legian/Kuta…sobering).

Bob is reclining on the lounge (lounge lizard) looking out at all the white egrets in the rice paddy fields….a cricket just landed on me then jumped off, the fish nearby are swimming around the lily flowers, the birds are singing…could life be any sweeter? Time is slowing down.

We're to plan linking up with some friends from Germany we met 7 years ago in Sulawesi (between Borneo and Papua New Guinea) they sent us an email this morning from north Bali… just love the Internet.

Went out to Casa Luna last night for a wonderful meal. We then traveled back to our bungalow… we were sipping tea on our terrace with the incredible outdoor lighting illuminating the beautiful garden and being serenaded by an orchestra of frogs and toads… what a hoot!! (you know you are in Bali when you hear the cacophony of Bali's famous creatures of the night). Stay tuned… love to you all… weathers here wish you were fine!

Jellybean and Bob's your uncle

May 22, 2004 - Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Greetings from Bali.

We shoe-horned into a bemo (very small public transport van) outside the Ubud Public market and took off to another public market in Sukawati, a few towns away that the local Balinese frequent. We walked into the hot hot humid market creating a flurry of activity. The merchants could see money walking in the door and wanted to sell us absolutely everything. Within 2 min we were dripping and drenched with sweat. (normal for Bali in the super humid air). We bartered and were able to acquire some of the hard to find traditional batik … it seems the markets are saturated with the current trendy fashions of brightly coloured rayon. (the batik sarongs we purchased in Java 25 years ago are now selling in the hundreds of dollars if you can find them) The food part of the market is always an adventure to walk through (especially the meat market!). Bob is always creating a stir harassing the ladies and they love the attention! Love looking at all the flower venders - we purchased some flower essence oil - intoxicating scent.

We are still power shopping, Bob found a dozen new shirts in his size (believe it or not)! Cotton batik from old sarongs.

Had a Balinese massage recently. Walked through a fantastic private garden to a little room next to a bubbling brook… was asked to remove all my clothes and lay on the massage table. As the massage progressed I was gazing through the hole in the table at a bowl of floating tropical flowers - attention to detail ! I floated away. An hour later (pleasure and pain) I stood while my masseuse threw buckets of scented water after a pleasant wash by my beautiful Balinese lady.

Every night we have our driver take us to some delightful romantic exotic restaurant usually with candlelit Balinese sculptures and art everywhere. Sometimes you sit next to a fountain or pond. You can usually hear Gamelan music or frogs or both echoing eerily from somewhere. Afterwards we return to our terrace and drink tea …listening to the creatures of the night (no vampires). Last night we went to Indus (Casa Luna sister restaurant)- wow! - unbelievable view overlooking Campuhan ridge and the Wos Barat river valley. The most lush greenery imaginable cascading down to the river far4 below…like perched on the edge of a skyscraper… We could see someone way off on the ridge running thru the chest high Elephant Grass in his bright red shirt…magical!! At sunset the bats came out and the soft cool dampness of the rainforest came floating up. So tranquil.

Dining out in Ubud is so marvellous… the distant twinkling lights, flickering candles, luxurious silk cushions, incredibly detailed carvings in hibiscus wood, friendly Balinese, expansive vistas, water gardens filled with fish, bamboo chimes, wild looking architecture filled with mythical Hindu creatures and my lover smiling sweetly across the table. So romantic.

Bali has 20,000 Hindu temples and the festivals are ongoing and continuous. On our last visit we experienced a cremation… incredible.!

Planning to visit the Neka art museum which housed one of the best collections in Bali for traditional and modern art.

Well time for a swim and some exercise… then off to have some reflexology and lunch at our little Makasan Padang (local Sumatran style cafe. Costs about $2.00each for lunch and we get to watch TV in a foreign language which usually shows gruesome details of any murder or crime but no real world events.

PS: Just finished reading East of Eden by Steinbeck…loved it!

Time has definitely slowed down. As usual please print for dad and Mabel, Sue please forward to anyone who has expressed interest in receiving these emails, Sheila please call your lovely Grandmother…Sending my love to everyone especially wishing for good health to Debra, Sheila and Judith (our thoughts are with you)

Bye for now,

Jellybean and Bwanna Bob

May 31, 2004 - Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia

Hello from Sarawak!.... 3 countries in one day.

Bali first, then Singapore and then Sarawak (Borneo)

When we left Bali it had been raining monsoon style for 2 solid days and nights. We sat on our veranda and contemplated important issues. What do the fish in our little pond think when it rains this hard? What happens when the pond overflows (which it will). Will our clothes grow mouldy? Will we grow mould? Everything feels wet! The Balinese have festivals for everything. During the last few days there was a day in which one did not climb trees, one day that school children had to keep their school books closed and on Thursday (the day it started to rain cats and dogs) was the day of lessened activity. Hmmm We have enjoyed our visit at Green Field Bungalows as we have become friends with the family. Lovely people.

When we drove into Kuching at 10pm in our taxi we were delighted to see old fashioned Christmas style lights every 100 ft or so. Cats (Malay translation for Kuching), hornbills, Sarawakian designs, giant flowers etc all while listening to Perry Como sing catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, never let it fade away…a very auspicious beginning! We are now in one of the oldest hotels in Kuching city. (I had to chuckle as one of the attributes listed on the brochure mentioned carpeting). Loving Kutching situated on the winding Sarawak river with Fort Margarita overlooking the river from the hilltop, Picturesque with so much history… reminds us a lot of Penang.. The people are super friendly. Dropped into Nelson's antique store on the main bazaar (Glenn's recommendation) Wow…eye candy.. unbelievable…everything is piled high in utterly amazing confusion…kindly like Ali Baba's treasure chest…"open sesame". Chinese pearls, jade, porcelain, Dayak art (head hunters), statues, baskets, carvings, weavings, bronzes, carvings etc. And then Nelson roars up to the store in his candy apple red 2 seater sports car just as we arrived. He called me princess as he sat with his gold monocle examining an old gold watch he had acquired during his recent trip to Kuala Lumpur. What a character … with diamonds flashing on his fingers and his utterly flamboyant language. He makes you laugh and feel alive. One of a kind, his sister is pregnant with her 3rd child. Her mother in law is Chinese so she is hoping for a boy as she has 2 girls. We will see Nelson again soon after the holiday, there is a national holiday now for a few days and most places are closed (kinda like when Chinese new year happens in Asia, very family orientated). Bob and I found a wonderful vegetarian restaurant so I am hoping that Bob can watch the preparation of a few dishes made with gluten so he can serve his princess at home. Off to dim sum tonight… oh by the way Glenn we can see why you like the Hilton lobby…cheesecake and coffee no doubt!!

The national parks in Sarawak are very inviting. The oldest rainforest on the planet with lots of amazing wildlife…crocodiles etc. We plan to go to Bako National Park and I'll leave Bob to sip tea with the locals while I check out a few of the trails. Want to take a boat trip down the river and also plan to visit the Orang-utan Rehabilitation centre….

Maybe even squeeze in a visit to a traditional long house... in the old days they could be up to 1 km long!

This city of 300,000 is just perfect for walking, everywhere you look there are mosques, Chinese temples , Hindu temples, churches, museums, boats, a zillion restaurants (these people love to eat), and on the bazaar lots of antiques, artefacts and unknown treasures.

So a little more adventure awaits us before we head back to the ultra modern city of Singapore for a couple of days and then we wing our way back to our paradise on Vancouver island. So time has definitely slowed down, we feel like we have been away for a long time. Sending big hellos to everybody we cherish.

Jellybean and Cowboy Bob

June 6, 2004 - Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia

Crash, boom.!! Lightening so loud I almost jumped out of my skin. We laughed and then the rain came. Oh did the rain come. Our river cruise started with a bang. It was too late to leave the upper deck under the canopy… attempting to go below would have been like someone throwing buckets of water on us so we hid under the table and waited. Be careful what you wish for… we had hoped to experience some rain storms as they are incredibly stimulating. After about 20min the storm moved on and the sky became a dramatic sunset. The wet tropical yellow green foliage was incredible…the huge rainbow and the beautiful town of Kuching reflected in the river was stunning…especially the gold domes of the mosque! Great cruise.

Yesterday Annie Wee took us on an extended tour around the Kuching area. She works in one of Nelson's antique stores (run by his sister Angie). First stop was Chinese breakfast for a taste of the local specialty… Laksa (very spicy coconut soup with noodles ). Then we headed for Semenggoh Nature Reserve. This is where the Orang-utan (Malay word for man of the forest) rehabilitation center is located. We were so very fortunate upon arrival to see "Delima" the resident new mother. She is 18 years old and has been at the rehab center for 16 years. "Selina" is 2 months old and is her second offspring born at the center. She was sitting on a small bridge blocking the path leading to the feeding station. We stood about 10 feet away staring in awe. We were advised by the park guides to give her space and be wary. What a treat! Managed to shoot lots of photos. We followed down the path and she climbed some trees with her four hands. Really enjoyed her antics. When we got to the feeding station we were very fortunate to see the huge male as he has not been seen for the last 3 months.. Males are twice as big as females. They have a throat pouch which enables them to issue a loud roar similar to a lion. They grow to about 1.4 m tall and weight about 60 to 100 kg! The length between their outstretched arms can reach 2.4 m and a male has the strength equivalent to 6 men. They are the only primate that make nesting/sleeping platforms and use them only once. Orang-utans are normally solitary animals unless they have young (the young stay with their mothers for 5 to 6 years).

Zoommm….off we go with Annie near the border of Kalimantan (Indonesian side of Borneo) to "Anna Rais" longhouse. The largest of the Bidayuh settlement in the area. Lucky us- as it was a public holiday and the communal settlement was enjoying time off. Soon after we arrived the music and laughter began, using gongs and drums the different members of the community started to create the rhythmic sounds while others danced. These are the only remaining land Dayaks in Sarawak living a semi-authentic lifestyle. They used to be head hunters. Some of the older men (one in his 90's) got up to dance. After some time I was asked by one young lady to dance with her. I tried to imitate her graceful movements - good luck! Everyone had a chuckle and we were offered rice wine by our generous hosts. Lunch with Annie finished off the afternoon tour.

Back in Kuching we a did a night tour of the city, a lot of the city is illuminated with colourful lights. The promenade along the river is lovely.

The people of Kuching have been so relaxed, friendly and generous. No one can buy land here unless you are born here or marry into a Sarawakian family. West Malaysians are only allowed 3 month work permits (which can be extended). These restrictions will help the Sarawakians retain their unique culture. The Hokkien Chinese has a large presence in the area as they have been trading with the spice islanders for centuries. You see this evident in the architecture, antique porcelain, furniture, temples etc. The history here is fascinating as they were governed by the British white rajas for a century ending finally as the Japanese came to Borneo in the second world war. The British influence is evident everywhere. Great to walk around and look at all the colonial style buildings everywhere. Kuching is a jewel in the east.

Today we are off to the Kuching museum…supposed to be one of the finest in Asia. Then off to the fabulous "Top Spot (not Tip Top Glenn) seafood restaurant under the stars.

Having a blast in Kuching.

PS: There is a new airline in Malaysia called "Air Asia" which is super cheap with festival seating….Kuala Lumpur to Kuching is only RM 69.99.

That's all folks
Jellybean and Cowboy Bob