Wonderful Connections…

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Orchid VillaOne of the things I love about traveling is the wonderful people you meet along the way…some of these connections turn into lifelong friendships. And so it was, that on our last two days together, Christine and I had the wonderful opportunity to go and stay at Orchid Villa, the home and retreat centre of my good friends Rick and Lita Pursell.


It feels like coming home when I arrive at Rick and Lita’s place…you are always met with huge, bright, welcoming smiles and warm, loving hugs.  The rooms are beautiful, the scenery is stunning and the food is divine…you never want to leave.

I was so happy to be able to take Christine there before we parted company, as I knew she would love it and I’ve talked so much about them to her, it was great they could finally meet.  It was a bonus that they were ‘between’ being fully booked with guests and retreats so we were very lucky to squeeze in.

It was here that we also met some new friends.  Bernadette (Bernie) who is from Germany and Nadine who is from Switzerland.  They were staying for two nights as well, taking time out from their busy NGO work in Sanur.  We all hit it off wonderfully, conversations flowing easily and eclectically, especially with Rick’s famous Margarita’s thrown into the mix 🙂

Relaxing Orchid VillaOn the second day it was Bernie’s Birthday and she and Nadine headed off for the day while Christine and I stayed where we were, lapping up the relaxing atmosphere – swimming, dozing, massage – ahhhh.

The girls returned early evening after a fantastic day out, and had invited another friend, Leon, to join us for Bernie’s Birthday celebration. 

Once again it was a fantastic night of very interesting conversation, sharing of knowledge and dreams.  More Margarita’s, the best bottle of red wine I’ve ever tasted (direct from Italy) and raw coconut cacao dessert – the twinkling of the candles on the table adding to the magical atmosphere, we were all in heaven!

Birthday Night

As we all went our separate ways the next day (Friday), Bernie invited us to her Beach Birthday Party at White Sands Beach Saturday night.  It sounded like it was a lovely beach and was going to be a special and fun night, and being not too far from Tulamben (about one hour by motorbike) I made it my intention to get there somehow.

So, Friday saw Christine and I part after four weeks 24/7…we thought we would see each other at the party but little did we know at that stage, it wasn’t going to be…Christine headed back to Ubud and I headed to Tulamben…heading back to where I lived for five months in 2011 and one step closer to Yogi 🙂.

It felt strange to be back, but it also felt like I hadn’t left.  I settled into Toraja Hotel (where we first stayed when we arrived in May 2011) and I let Brent know I was there (he had been there a week already).  It was good to connect again and we had dinner at our favourite local warung, which had transformed into a much larger and newer version of its previous self.

Yogi knew I was coming but didn’t know exactly when.  He txt Brent to find out if I had arrived from Ubud and we told a little white lie that I hadn’t, because I wanted to surprise him the next day (Saturday).

So Saturday arrived.  Feeling excited and nervous, and imagining my reunion with my dear Yogi, Brent drove me up to Tianyar on the motorbike.  He dropped me off around the corner and I walked up the back laneway to Yogi’s house, while Brent went directly to the house to distract them.  As I rounded the corner and saw Brent I pointed and mouthed “Is he there?”, only to find out he wasn’t – bugger! 

Koming, his Mother was there and was beaming as we hugged.  She doesn’t understand much English but who needs words at times like this!  Anyway, Yogi was off with his mates, snail hunting of all things and she didn’t know what time he’d be back.

So with the anti-climax of the non-reunion, we headed off to the local barber (who works from two walls and a roof under a tree at the fork of two roads) so Brent could get a haircut…which is always a bit nerve racking as Kadek likes to cut hair and will keep cutting until you have a number one if you let him! 

Local kidsThere, we met another local, Nyoman, who is a taxi driver but will also rent his car to you if you need it (handy to know).  He invited us back to his house for coffee, so we accepted…his 13 year old daughter making us coffee and the smaller children coming in to have photos taken with us and then disappearing again.  Another lovely family, another connection made.

We then headed up to the Yayasan for a lookie to see what was happening up there.  Not a lot as it happened…no one was about there either, which shouldn’t have really surprised us being a Saturday AND school holidays but there’s usually someone about. 

A lot of transformation had gone on, with a new house, new classroom, and another new building underway. Just as we were leaving, Ketut (the Manager) turned up on his motorbike with the current volunteers, who he had just taken  to see a cock fight (which they were still recovering from!)  Ketut was delighted to see me (and I him) but we  only stayed about five minutes as I wanted to get back to see if Yogi was home.

This time we didn’t go into ‘stealth mode’ but drove directly to the house.  Brent went in first and found Yogi in the bedroom watching TV…I snuck into the adjacent room and waited for Brent to bring him out, hands over eyes so he couldn’t see…

I went up to him, Brent removing his hands, seeing the look of surprise and delight on his face as I grabbed him and gave him a HUGE cuddle saying “It’s so good to see you again Yogi, I’ve missed you so much.” “I’ve missed you too Paula”. I stood back looking at the taller, older version of the little Yogi I left 18 months ago and saying “OMG you’ve grown, you’re so tall!”, looking at Koming and saying how tall he was.  I couldn’t stop looking at him, how he’s changed, how he’s grown even more handsome and still the loving Yogi I remember. It was a sweet moment.

Me and Yogi

We stayed for a couple of hours. I had gifts for the children (Ari, Yogi’s Sister was in Denpasar on holiday with family) but his twin Brothers Riki and Raka were there.  The children from nearby came for a visit too, as they always do when we appear.  Then invitations to come next door for more coffee, and not wanting to offend, you go, and meet yet another family 🙂.  That’s what’s so wonderful about Bali – it’s communal, it’s family, it’s sharing, it’s openness.

Yogi's Home

Visit over, we headed back to Tulamben to grab some things for our White Sands Beach Party! The weather had been very unseasonal, with rain in the afternoon most days, but we decided to go on the motorbike anyway.

We were 15 minutes into our one hour journey when the dark grey clouds appeared and the rain fell.  We kept going.  When it rains here it’s still warm and it’s only water, you soon dry out again when it stops.  And that’s exactly what happened.  It rained for about 20 minutes and then cleared and by the time we got to White Sands, we were dry again 🙂.

White Sands Beach is a little slice of paradise in an area surrounded by rice paddies.  It’s only a small bay and even though the sand isn’t exactly ‘white’, it’s clean and clear and quite beautiful.  Small warungs and clothing stalls line the small stretch of beach, and Bernie had ‘hired’ a delightful warung at which to hold her party.

White Sands Beach

They had a large circle of sun loungers surrounding an unlit fire pit, ready for later.  All food and beer was put on and you just made yourself at home, swam, drank and ate and had a good time. 

When nightfall came, the guys from the warung lit the fire…they poured kerosene in the fire pit and in a line down to the water’s edge where they then lit it from.  The flames raced up the line in the sand, dogs standing in the way scattering, and when the fire hit the pit, the logs whoofed up in flames – fire lit and with a flourish!

White Sands Fire

It was a beautiful star lit night with a full moon.  Sunday was to be the Super Moon – the closest the moon is to Earth all year, so it was pretty amazing.  We drank a bit, ate a bit, I danced a bit, all outside by the fire and gently rolling waves…it felt like something out of a movie 🙂.

Full Moon

Then, around 8.30pm Bernie brought out her box of ‘wishing lanterns’.  These lanterns are (supposedly) made of environmentally friendly fabric/paper (felt like fabric but could have been paper), with a flammable disc at the bottom that you light.White Sands Lanterns

So, you shake the lantern out, trying to get as much air as you can inside and then lighting the disc with a lighter.  Once the flame is underway, the lantern fills with heat and gas and the lantern takes flight.  As you let go, you make a wish and watch it sail away into the night sky. 

My Lantern

My lantern is the small one at the bottom

It was just magical…very special…very moving, watching 50 odd lanterns rising into the night sky, disappearing into the ether with individual wishes attached to them.

Magical Lanterns

We didn’t stay too late as the ride home by motorbike in the dark is always a bit hairy, you never know what pot holes are going to jump out at you unexpectedly or if any dogs take exception to your motorbike and run out at you…so Brent just took it easy and got us back to Tulamben safe and sound.

It was just so lovely to meet such awesome people unexpectedly, and to have such a magical experience because of that meeting.  That’s what I love about travel – the unexpected delights, sensations and experiences that happen to you along the way…you just can’t beat it.

Retreats in Bali 2015:

Writer’s Retreat

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  1. Paula, it sounds like you are having an amazing time. Enjoy and well done for getting to Bali again and seeing the kids again.
    x Andrea

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