i’ve neglected to post about oksana, our housemate, because we don’t really have any photos of her. oksana is the original inhabitant of our house, who returned last week from a month abroad. she is a yoga teacher who is also involved in the film industry (sound familiar?) and is into raw food. our friend jeanne connected us, and her prediction that our family and her would get along well has been correct. oksana is super mellow and living with her has been a piece of cake. of course its only been a week, but its been a great week indeed.

oksana has been getting busy putting the house in order since getting back. one of the things on her to-do list was to remove some of the stuffing from the pillows. we have been sleeping on super plump pillows, which isn’t the best thing for your neck. so yesterday brenda and oksana gutted our pillows. the excess stuffing will eventually be used to make even more pillows but provided nayou with lots of fun in the meantime.

i might be biased, and i’m definitely repeating myself, but my goodness this kid is CUTE. brenda and i couldn’t stop taking pictures… but i’ll refrain from posting all of them. i’ll just post most of them 😛

last sunday our balinese friends took us up north to visit a temple. i’m hazy on the details, but there is some sort of custom where they build temples of varying sizes at places where two streams of water join. and/or where it wells up from the ground. something like that. the temple we went to is built over an underground well and is considered holy.

the temple was about half an hour by scooter from ubud. on the way we stopped to check out these amazing terraced paddies. one thing i love about bali – there is at least one moment every day when you are awed by nature.

of course the temple itself is gorgeous.

before going into the actual temple, we were required to bathe ourselves in the holy water that springs from the underground well. the water is potable and tastes really sweet. my skin felt smooth and soft after a quick dip! here is nayou making inappropriate faces before jumping into the holy water.

here is the heart of the temple. water wells up from below the altar pictured below. the energy of this place is very tranquil, very meditative.

i love all of the wood and stone work on this island. a lot of talented artists are getting busy around here!

we also saw vampire deer there. seriously. check out the fangs on this deer. they are a little hard to see, but that white thing sticking out of its mouth is a tooth. also, its eyes are unmistakably hungry for blood. human blood.

a very, very large chunk of life in bali is devoted to all kinds of ceremonies. there are ceremonies to honour the bazillion gods, the harvest, the family etc etc. you name it, they make offerings to it. on one hand its amazing how strong spirituality runs through the entire culture. on the other hand its a bit sad to see the time and money they pour into these ceremonies, especially if times are tough. having a baby can break the bank because you need to pay large sums of money for various ceremonies when they are young. ditto for marriage. perhaps this is my western-minded cynic coming out, but it does seem a little excessive when so many people are hustling every day to make ends meet.

anyhoo, our friend ibu kadek (literally “mama kadek”) invited us to the ceremony celebrating their family temple last week. its held twice a year. ibu kadek spent days cooking mountains of food for the occasion, as did the rest of the women in their family, so there was a sizeable cornucopia when we rocked up to their family compound. this is what the main temple looked like:

their other family temple was also laden:

the weather looked promising all morning, but just as the ceremony was about to begin it started raining. we waited it out but the rain didn’t let up so they went ahead with it while it was still coming down. it would have been nice to have the full experience, but it was still cool to be able to participate!

after the ceremony we had dinner at ibu kadek’s house. i was tired and a bit shivery from being out in the rain so this is how i spent most of the afternoon before eating. shameless!

we all really like ibu kadek and her family. her two sons, wayan and kadek, are nayou’s bffs. here is their papa, made (pronounced ma-day), being a horsey despite feeling ill from an upset stomach. giddy up!

this is a typical warung (corner store, sometimes a restaurant). there are millions of them around bali. the bottles on the right contain petrol, so refueling your scooter is a piece of cake. two liters (around half a gallon) costs $1.10USD.

brenda is the champion of green smoothies. they are my favourite way to start the day. and nayou’s as well!

it rained for two days straight last week. just when cabin fever was about to set in, the weather granted us a reprieve and we went out and shot some photos in the rice paddies around our house.

these huts are scattered around the paddies for the workers to store their stuff and to rest in.

shiva stands guard over our pool.

nayou finds lots of these adorable froggies in our house.

street art.

kadek got some chickens for pets. unfortunately the poor chicks’ feathers have been dyed purple, pink, green and blue. they’re not exactly compassionate towards animals around here…

life has settled into a nice groove here in ubud. we’ve started to make friends, get into a routine and become familiar with the nooks and crannies of the city. weird to think that we’ve already been here for over a month! brenda and i have taken tons of video and i’ve been meaning to edit it into something coherent, but once again the number of files makes it a little overwhelming so here is a montage of video from our first two weeks here.

i also had intentions of making a long post about our visit to the green school, which is this fantastic eco-minded international school 20 minutes out of ubud. the whole campus is made of amazing bamboo structures, designed and built by ibuku – a company specifically set up for the green school. ibuku also designed the houses in the green village, an eco village right next to the green school (see a theme devleoping here?). we took a lot of photos but once again i am overwhelmed so here is a video from our visit.

and, finally, check out this guy climbing the coconut trees just outside our house. no ropes, no safety nets, just sheer monkey power. this was the second tree i saw him climb that day. lord knows how many he goes up on a daily basis. in general the people here are very physically fit. you see men and women who must be in the their 60s and 70s carrying huge loads, working in the rice paddies etc. its a testament to the benefits of regular exercise! this coconut climber was probably 40-something! he was kind enough to give nayou and i a coconut, and boy it was gooooooood!

we have made a bunch of new friends recently. we met olly, adina and their son jonah outside a warung near our house a couple of days ago, and through them our circle of friends have expanded rapidly. olly and adina live just up the road and are here for a year. they are into raw food and are interested in building an off-the-grid house. sound familiar?

today we went with them to the east coast of bali to a place known only as “white sand beach”. it reminded me of the beaches around sayulita with its white sands and turquoise waters. we spent way too much time in the sun, but we couldn’t help ourselves! nayou’s time in the pool has paid off handsomely – he was swimming really far out with all of us adults, and loved riding up and down on the bigger waves. that blue spot on the left hand side is nayou!

we all had a really awesome time. it was good to get out of ubud, good to hang out with cool new peeps, and good to get some beach time. nayou fell asleep in the car on the way home, which speaks volumes about how much fun he had! and us parents were having too much fun to take any nice photos 🙂

all in all, an awesome day. and to cap it off we got another amazing sunset at our house.

to our friends and family all around the world, we hope you had or are having a merry christmas with your loved ones! we had a great day today, starting off with checking out what santa brought. then wayan and kadek came over with their parents and we spent the better part of the day hanging out by the pool. we managed to catch up with family over skype as well, which was super cool. obviously we wish we could be with our parents and siblings in person but celebrating in bali ain’t so bad either!