Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Trip Down Memory Lane

Today I drove to Cochrane to visit my aunt who just got out of the hospital. She is doing well and is lively and chatty and as close to her old self as her ticker will let her be right now... all she needs is time!

As many of you may know, my family and I lived in Cochrane for a couple years when I was smaller (I think I was around 12 - 13 years old). I managed to spend some time today driving around looking at our old houses and neighbourhoods, drove the streets I would bike to school on, and even hit one of my old haunts for a well known treat of Hot Chocolate! It was a delightful afternoon drive and we are just so lucky to be so close to the mountains that you can see the them on clear winter days!

I noticed today that the hills seem smaller and the roads seem shorter. This could be because I am bigger, but I swear some of those hills I used to climb with my bike were GIANT and now, they seem to hardly incline! Oh how time makes you forget! The thing that shocked me the most however, was when I drove by an old friend's house. I used to spend hours at Sarah's house in Bears Paw and when I saw it today the house looked just as I has left it 15 years ago (WOW... 15 years!!). The thing that shocked me was how I didn't remember the amazing view that house had - it is absolutely stellar in the mid-evening dusk, showing the hills slowly become mountains in the distance and their fields decline to a beautiful river valley; all seemed close enough to touch. I don't recall ever sitting on their wrap around veranda and soaking in the surroundings, nor did we hike down to the river which seems like such a short hike and an obvious location for two young girls to discover and explore.

I so very much wanted to knock on the door and see if Sarah's parents still lived there but decided to just drive by instead... perhaps on the next trip! I remember so fondly catching butterflies in her fields or watching Disney movies until we could recite them or sewing in her attic. The endless summer days of youthful laziness that I now long for; when you didn't have a pressing urge to achieve something in a day... ahhh, to be young again!

It was delightful to take a trip into the past and remember the happiness I felt when Sarah and I would play. It was also bittersweet in that a connection that was so strong in the past has dwindled to nothingness in the present. How time passes and changes everything! It is nice to visit happy places from your past, but I have to admit, I love coming home to the present!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Did this work?

I am hoping that this works so that I can show everyone where I have been... :) Lets hope it works 'cause it is kinda cool!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Last Lecture - The first speach

So, Derek had a meeting tonight with his team and I think to myself... "Self, time to get the computer cleaned off and organized" as I have many things on here that I just don't need... This gets me looking into things that I haven't in well, quite a long time. Tonight, I stumbled upon the Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. Stumbling upon this link that I have saved brought a smile to my face. It is an hour long lecture about achieving your dreams, living your life fully, and what makes this man so unique is that he, when filming this, was dying of Cancer. He died this past July, but before he did he passed on this amazing, unique, and energetic epilogue of why and how you should achieve your childhood dreams. Before speaking, Pausch received a long standing ovation from a large crowd of over 400 colleagues and students that had gathered. When he motioned them to sit down, saying, "Make me earn it," someone in the audience shouted back, "You did! I warn you that this may be long, but it will make you laugh, make you smile and make you think. It will help you look at your life differently, and for me, it inspired me to continue to live life with passion and purpose. It makes me want to check off the items on the bucket list!
Click the link and watch if you have some time.

Some things that made me smile from this that are quotes he shares with us as he is explaining his childhood dreams, how he got to achieve them and what he learned along the way. "Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want" - how many times can each of us prove that statement!? "Decide if your a Tigger or an Eyore" - Decide if you are going to be full of life or sit on the sidelines and be a martyr. "Don't complain; Just work harder" - That is a lesson we all could heed and when you want to stop to complain we need to remember that we are so blessed with what we have, we should keep our heads down, shut up and work harder. No one wants to listen to a complainer anyways.

So, if this clip doesn't get you to remember to live your dreams, today was the Inaugeration of President Obama. A man who from humble beginnings inspired and inspires a nation to join together by the thousands. He speaks to all of us, I feel, and grabs our hearts and makes us feel like we to can change the world, just as he is promising us he will. He calls on us all to be better, more productive, kinder, gentler humans and to live our lives with purpose and passion, and he has shown us he has done this - he has lead by example. He has proven that dreams do come true.

"Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations." Such powerful words, and although this rhetoric is full of propaganda, it isn't bad. It isn't a bad thing that he spurs his nation to action, to passion, to purpose. It is what we all need, it is what should happen with our leaders - that is why we call them leaders, we should want to follow them!

So, on this historic day - one that I will never forget - I remember 2 men, very different, but with the same message. Be kind, be honest, work hard, live with passion, live with purpose and follow your dreams. Who can say it better than these 2 men?

Friday, January 16, 2009

We are home, sad but true!

Where we left off... we had one more day in Bali... boy did we make the most of it!

We spent the morning of January 9th in Candidasa hanging out and figuring out what we were going to do for the day and then in Taipei when we arrived there. We relaxed, re-packed and had lunch before Jumblo came to pick us up. He drove us to Kuta (the place we spent our first night in Bali) and we decided to see if we could try our hand at surfing... it is after all on my bucket list! We found a place, and after realizing that Derek's swim trunks were in the back of Jumblo's car, we signed me up with lessons and got me going out to the ocean with "Big Kahuna Surf School"... Derek was the photographer and videographer extraordinaire! It was so fun, it was so amazing, and what topped it off was I stood up on my first (very, very first) wave! I was so jacked!!! After the surfing, we went to a spa and got a nice massage... it was a great way to cool off, dry off and relax! We then went and walked around for a bit, did a bit of browsing (more than shopping) and I managed to squeeze in a pedicure (Derek got a great foot massage!). It was a great day in Kuta!

Jumblo came and picked us up at around 10:30 that night and we headed to the airport! We changed into our clothes for a warmer climate (I was sad to see the sandals go!) and we waited to board our plane. Before we knew it we were in Taipei (7am Jan 10 after a 5 hour flight from Bali) and after showers at the airport (they were the most amazing showers of our whole trip... it was I think the best shower of my life!) we found a tourist desk, got maps of the transit system and were off exploring like bandits! We went to Taipei 101 which is the tallest building in the world and checked that out but everything was closed! We then went to the Chaing Kai-shek Memorial Park. Chaing Kai-shek was the guy that brought democracy to the Republic of China - or what we know as Taiwan. It was fascinating to see the history and the architecture was amazing! We spent some good quality time there and then we wandered and explored the streets of Taipei. We stopped in at the computer market, where you could buy anything and everything electronic... we thought about buying something but the prices weren't bargain enough for us so we just looked. Time was running out, so we went back to Taipei 101 for the amazing night view... we spent time wandering the stores and we both lost ourselves in the GIANT bookstore that had so many English books. Before we knew it, we were back to the airport and ready to board our 10.5 hour flight (11pm Jan 10) to San Fransisco.

A mere 10.5 hours later, we landed in San Fran (6pm, Jan 10) and made our way to our favorite San Fran hotel, Hotel Triton. We grabbed some good food, a beer and then we were fast asleep! We woke INSANELY early (damn jet lag) and got ready for the tunnel. We missed our spot in the tunnel when we first got to San Fran due to the day delay, but we moved our time to the end of the trip so we didn't loose the deposit! It was well worth it! We took the transit system to the closest place we could and then a 10 dollar cab ride got us to the tunnel... we had so much fun. My new suit works so well and looks so good! :) I was able to get WAY more stable and in a better flying position, it was such a success for me... Derek and I even managed to turn some points! Yeah us! We took our time getting out of our gear and then scooted across the parking lot to a book store (we do love those!) and a restaurant for some grub! Once we were fed and watered, we grabbed a cab, and hopped on the transit/train system and back to the airport we went... back home... it made us sad!

This was such a great holiday, relaxing, adventurous, spontaneous and fulfilling! I have been thinking a lot about this holiday and this is what I think... It hits you like a ton of bricks when you look out at the big blue ocean listening to its lapping waves and tasting the salty air coat your lips, and then you look at the person who is next to you and you see someone that perhaps isn’t the most perfect, the most handsome or charming in the entire world but realize that they are the most perfect, handsome and charming person to you. They are the person that smiles at the things you smile at, laughs at the things you laugh at, and is saddened by the things that make you sad. They are the person that gets you, understands you, and accepts you when you are happy, goofy, pensive, grumpy or just plain you. That, in my mind is what happiness is. When you look forward to tomorrow and have someone that looks forward to the same tomorrow; that is happiness. When you see your goals and dreams and know that you have someone that will cheer you on from the sidelines no matter if it is a marathon, election, or a silly game show; that is happiness. All of these things, they show what happiness is. This shows what love is, and in my mind, they have grown to be one in the same. I know for myself, that in order to have happiness I must have love and in order to fully love, I must have happiness. It is the cyclical world that I am in, but it is my world and I have finally come to realize what it is that I want and have, thankfully and with a grateful heart, found it.

We may be home, we may be back to the grind, but we are happy, healthy and ready for more adventures... for us, that is what life is about! Bring it on 2009!!!

From Canada... Love you all, Heather and Derek

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Quick update

Hey there everyone... just wanted to give everyone a quick update to let you know that we made it back to San Fransisco! We had an amazing final day in Bali and a great day in Taipei, Taiwan... we arrived here a little tired (OK A LOT tired) and confused about what day it was... but we got in last night and had a nice rest at our fabulous and favorite hotel in San Fran - Hotel Triton! We are heading off this morning to go and fly in the tunnel and then it is off to our home - Yeah for our own bed, clean clothes and hot showers!!! :)

I will make sure I get all the details about our final days of the holiday to you when we get back to Calgary... hope you can wait until then! :) I will also post some pictures so you can see some of the amazing things we did!!! :)

Love you all, Heather and Derek!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Still here and loving it!

We are still in Candidasa and loving it. Today we got up and after our yummy banana pancakes, we went for a 6km walk to a small village called Langanan. Here they have kept their traditional Balinese ways and it was remarkable to hear about their traditions. For example, when men reach the age of 25 and girls around 22, they stand on either side of a big wall - guys on one side, girls on the other. The guys then throw a flower over the wall and the girl that catches the flower will be that guy's wife. WOW... and I thought our process of choosing a mate was difficult at times!

We managed to hike to and from the village at high noon, through the humid jungle, and not die of heat exhaustion... lucky us! It was really refreshing to return to our hotel and have a dip in the pool and a shower - not to mention lunch! We feel our time is winding down here... and it makes me sad, but ironically, our conversation's direction is on where we will go next! Oh how we love to travel! We haven't even finished this adventure and we are planning the next one! :)

Hope this finds you all well. I am sure that we will not post for the next couple of days, seeing as tomorrow we leave for Tai Pei for 16 hours then San Fransisco for about 24. I will for sure post when we have reached home, Calgary, but will try to squeeze a posting in from San Fran! Just to let you all know we are safe and sound!

Love you all, Cheers and Happy Travelling!

Derek and Heather

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

We are in Candidasa

This place is wonderful... days filled with laying poolside or splashing in the ocean or snorkeling in the blue lagoon... it is heaven on earth and we have certainly found it!

We left Ubud, the cultural centre with a bit of reluctance but happily as we were craving a change of pace from the constant driving and hopping in and out of the car. We originally wanted to go to Pandi Bai, but upon arrival, we saw that it was nothing but a port town to Lombok and since we decided to not go to Lombok we felt there was nothing there for us. Jombu suggested that we come to Candidasa instead and here we are, happily baked by the sun.

Upon arrival yesterday, we took our sweet time enjoying the cooler (but still hot) ocean breeze and enjoyed a delicious meal of Nagi Goreng and pasta... then we settled on some beach chairs and read for a while... good thing we bought some more books in San Fran!!! We ate again - and had delightful music from a live band that played really old rock - Mom and Dad would have loved it! The guys were singing English songs and every once and awhile, they would mispronounce a word... it was funny!

The next day - which is today - we got up and had yummy banana pancakes! If you have never had these, try them immediately! They are so delicious! We have had them almost every morning we have been here... I am TOTALLY going to make this my specialty! :) After yummy banana pancakes (bring in the Jack Johnson!) we boarded this small boat - about the size of a canoe with poles on either side to prevent it from tipping in the ocean - and headed out to the blue lagoon. We bounced our way to the spot via the canoe like boat and it's motor. By the time we got to our destination (which was the middle of a cove) we were soaked from the boat trip. We got ready to get in, flippers on... masks on... snorkels on... we were set! Derek got in first and I slipped in reluctantly behind him... I had never been snorkeling and the prospect of all the fish I could see from the boat had me a little on edge! I got in the water and put my head in to see and OH MY GOSH... there were HUNDREDS of the little buggers all over the place... I kinda freaked out a little, but once we were moving (and knowing that Derek had my hand the whole time) I was fine and really enjoyed myself... the colours were spectacular and the coral was amazing... who knew it crackled like that! We snorkeled until our underwater camera ran out and then a little bit more. We hopped back into the boat and bounced our way back to the villa - just in time too as we could see a storm brewing where we were so we are glad that we got out when we did.

The rest of the day has been relaxing and eating and strolling about Candidasa. There isn't much to see here, but the scenery is spectacular - especially from the water when the clouds have parted just enough so you can see the top of the volcano poking through the hills. It is amazingly beautiful country here, and we are so glad that we chose it as our destination. We both want to come back here, and we haven't even left yet! :)

Tomorrow we think we may take an excursion to a little village on the outskirts of this town known for it being a real glimpse into what Traditional Balinese life was like. We may also go snorkeling again... time will tell.

Our time is wrapping up here - on this island we both have grown to love. It is always sad when a trip ends, but we still have so much to look forward to. A day in Tai Pei and another day in San Fran where we will FINALLY be able to play in the tunnel! So much still to do, but we have done so much in the days past... We have plenty of pictures tho, and I am certain we will be knocking down your doors to show our amazing trip to you picture by picture. Until then... please stay tuned as the adventure (as it always does) continues!

Love Heather and Derek

Monday, January 05, 2009

Ubud is a awesome!

Hey everyone!

We have settled into Ubud which is the cultural centre of Bali for the past couple of days... it is spectacular! A shoppers paradise too! There are markets everywhere! There is so much to do!

Yesterday we went to the Elephant Safari park and watched crazy tourists pay WAYYYY too much to ride elephants... when you could spend 1/4 the money, watch all their party tricks, touch them and if you gave the "elephant expert" a tip you could go for a QUICK ride... we didn't ride them, however, just watched and were entertained with their tricks. Then it was off to see more rice terraces, and we had a delightful meal overlooking some breath taking views... the scenery here is just stunning and very much represented in any picture you see of Bali. It IS always better to see it first hand tho, and so here we are!

After the rice terraces, we went and found a new cheaper hotel. Hotel Sagitarius was just the ticket and once I bartered with the Hotel guy, it was even cheaper and in a better location than the hotel the night before! we settled into our room and set off to explore (and get some small trinkets) and then have a nice meal just down the road. The evening found Derek and I settled by the pool enjoying our books, and once the sun set (and our power was back on as the electricity and hence water was out for most of the day) we went for a quick dip in the pool to cool off and then hit the sack!

This morning saw us up a little later and meeting Jombo as he took us to his small village and his family house, temple and farm. What a way to see the life of the people of Bali. They were very nice and his aunt made us tea and sweet rice. We chatted about the differences in our lives and how in Canada we don't live with 10 of our closest relatives in one compound and we don't cook with wood - we have stoves. It put things into perspective in that we are so very blessed in Canada to have everything that we do, and we still complain that we don't have the things we want... made me feel greedy to be honest! Once we saw his family compound, he showed us his family temple and explained to us parts of their religion. They have many temples where they make daily offerings and explained a bit about what those were for... it was incredibly interesting! Once we finished that, we were off to the family rice fields. Rice, if you didn't know, grows quite high (about up to the bottom of my rib cage) and when the wind blows on it, it sounds just like the wheat fields back home... almost made me a little homesick... I said ALMOST! :) Jombo's father got us some young coconuts to drink the milk out of and we saw their cows - three in total and a calf (which was incredibly cute!). Derek got to touch a cow for the first time so it was a momentous occasion... much like me touching an elephant for the first time - except cows are WAY softer!

Once this was finished, we were wisked away to the Bat Cave - where there were monkeys galore and bats... HUGE bats... bats 3 feet in length at LEAST! They were creepy but really interesting! The monkeys were cute, really cute, and we were fortunate enough to see a baby monkey that was born hours before... it was so, crazy cute! We also saw one that was born still birth that the mother still carried around like it was alive. The tour guide said that they will have a special ceremony for the baby but they haven't been able to get it away from the mother. Monkeys are so very maternal it is shocking, and when you see them sitting there, staring at you they remind you of humans! Their faces are so expressive!

Once we did that we went to the temple on the sea. Here, the temple is on its own island which was really interesting. Not much else was here other than the fact that Derek and I were approached by two different families to get their picture taken with us. They were totally intrigued with our height, our whiteness and our blonde hair. It was totally bizzare, but in the name of interest we obliged. One family wanted me to hold their baby even... totally bizzare! I wonder what the story will be when they show their friends those pictures!

After this temple, we returned to our hotel for a nice snack and some reading by the pool... it has been so relaxing so far and it will only get better! Tomorrow we are headed out to East Bali for some time on the beach again... there is no beach in Ubud as it is at the centre of Bali. We plan on getting in some real snorkelling and perhaps some surfing or kayaking... and definatly some more relaxing!

We hope all is well with everyone - I will update again when I can! Love you!

Heather and Derek

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The amazing adventure continues!

SOOOO much has happened since I wrote last... but first of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

We got to Bali, safe and sound and the next day we were off to the island of Lamboutang. If you want to know what that is, just think of what you would imagine Paradise as and you have it pretty much pegged! It was this fantastic, amazing island that you could only dream about. The first night we spent there was New Years Eve. We settled into a Villa named Villa Wayan. It was a cute little villa that was cheap and comfy. We got invited to the owner's (Wayan) son's birthday party that night. Once situated we went for a massage that was heaven, then played in the surf with some kids who definatly showed me up... the under-tow was quite strong so we stayed close to the shore. Once we had a bit of a nap, we wandered to the birthday party and befriended a fantastic Aussie family. They adopted us instantly and it wasn't long before we were laughing, dancing, and shooting off fireworks in celebration of the new year!

The next day, Derek and I moved to this cozy hut just down the way to a beach named Mushroom Beach. It is named this for the mushroom coral that graces the shores. This hut was a honeymooner's dream... a 4 poster bed with white linen and a rumor of HOT WATER! (if you waited long enough, you could have a smigen of the hot stuff! :)) We happily unpacked our bags here and set out to RELAX... we had a leisurly lunch and then went for a bit of a snorkle in the ocean... we didn't see much so once we finished our playing in the surf, we sat on the sun chairs and read and dozed off as the ocean breeze cooled us off... it was magic! Once we did that, we had a shower and headed off to have supper with our new Australian family. This family (Kim, Steve, Amy and Sam) have moved to Bali from Australia to open a villa... we are invited back once they open it up and honestly, I can hardly wait to return to the paradise of the island. We had a great time chatting with our new friends and once it was revealed that I had never tried Vegimite, the show was on and the night was all about going back to their villa to get the Canuck set up with the "MIGHTY VEGIMITE"... well... I tried it... and it is safe to say, I will not be trying it nor getting it shipped from Australia anytiem soon. YUCK!!! Derek got the look on camera, so fear not, I will try to post it later. After they "Australian-ized" me, it was off to the honeymoon hut.

The next day we went on a picnic to a beautiful beach called Dream Beach... the water was too rough to swim in but Derek and I passed the time listening to the waves and just relaxed... we are really on Bali time now! :) Once the morning was passed, we checked out of the hut and went to our Aussie family's villa to get organized to go back to the mainland. Before we left however, Derek and I took one more dip in the beautiful blue ocean... it cooled us off nicely. Once we got orgainized to go, we made our way to Jungubatu (a village on Lombongtan) or as Steve calls it "Jingle Bells"... we said good by to our Aussie Family (sadly) and we spent the next 35 minutes bouncing up and down (hard and roughly I might add) across the ocean back to mainland Bali. Good thing neither of us gets sea sick! Once there, we met our driver Mr. Jombo - our Aussie family hooked us up - and we were off to UBUD - where we are now! Jombo got us set up in a nice hotel and promised to be back the next day to take us on our tour! We wandered around for a bit - it is really artsy here - and then had some really great food... Italian! :)

Today - finally - Jombo picked us up and took us to a taditional Balinese dance... it was really hard to follow, but the costumes were very elaborate and the sexual connotation of the dance was quite entertaining! After we saw the dance, Jombo took us to the art district and to weavers, wood carvers, silver smiths and painters... it was all amazing and we got a couple nice trinkets! We also stopped at a temple and wandered around there for a bit... it was a day of celebration today, celebrating teachers and students... there were many offerings and they were preparing the temple for a ceremony. It was very interesting. We then went to the Volcano and had lunch looking at the AMAZING view. The most recent erruption was 1994, and you can still see some of the remanance. The highlight - for sure - was the Monkey Forest... There were Monkeys EVERYWHERE! I even had a monkey on my shoulder for a bit... it was wild and the babies were SO very cute... if I could stow one away in my bag I would have...

That is what we have been up to up until now... may more things to see... but I will make sure to post again as soon as I can!

Love you all... Heather and Derek