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A Little Adrenaline

24 Nov

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]From terrifying, world class surf breaks at Ulu Watu to the beginner-friendly swells on Kuta Beach, from one of the world’s easiest and most satisfying wreck dives at Tulamben to high-adrenaline drift dives amid lethal currents off Gili Selang, Bali packs a lot of adrenaline into a very compact island…

I’ll be posting a lot, lot more about Bali (including some great dive sites) once we return there in January. After almost three months in Indonesia, we’d barely scratched the surface, so rather than heading for Latin America we’re going back to the archipelago, thence to China, Nepal and India by way of Laos… But more on that later.

Still, if you like a little adrenaline, without the ocean channel risk to life and limb, read on for probably the best waterpark in South-East Asia, rafting down 12km of almost constant white water, and a chance to leap through the trees, zipwire, balance and Tarzan swing up to 30m above the ground. Oh, yeah, and a gorgeous double waterfall with enticing rope swing too. Continue reading

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14 Great Arts Courses in Ubud, Bali

3 Nov

Yves Picq's image of Rice terraces in Bali

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Set amid the rice fields, temples and river gorges of rural Bali, art comes naturally in Ubud. And it’s one of the easiest destinations in the world to get in touch with your artistic side, thanks to a myriad day, half-day or longer arts courses just waiting for the taking.

Before you begin the perennial quest for cheap hotels in Bali, it’s worth planning some time to be creative. Here’s just some of the arts you can learn in Ubud:

1: Silversmithing Continue reading

The Adventure Island You’ve Never Heard Of: Morotai

15 Oct Flickering flames and logs against a pitchblack background.

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]Ever heard of Morotai?

Nope?

You’re not alone. But, when it comes to desert island bliss, this smallish island off northern Halmahera in Indonesia’s Spice Islands (Maluku or the Moluccas) packs some serious punch.

Over the last four days we’ve splashed by night in luminescent water on the soft white sand of our own private island (accommodation free), got up close and personal with critically endangered dugong, the origin of the mermaid myth, visited a pearl farm, and handled Japanese bayonets and American dogtags from World War II battlefields.

Also? We’ve seen some turtles, the odd dolphin, 6-metre saltwater crocs. And eaten fantastic crabs.

And there’s much, much more to Morotai. Continue reading

Because Children Know No Cultural Divide

30 Sep Flowering log extends over gold sand beach with coloured boats drawn up to shore.

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It never ceases to amaze me how children’s friendships cross cultural boundaries so effortlessly. We spent the Idul Fitri holiday in the Togian Islands, off Sulawesi, Indonesia, at a little guesthouse on an idyllic beach.

Amal, the son of the family, is thirteen years old. He was born at home, no midwife in attendance. Continue reading

Rafting the Maiting River

15 Sep Maiting River swirls around dark rocks in gorge. Tana Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonesia.

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We spent our last day in the Tana Toraja whitewater rafting. An activity, which in the mind of the child, now forms a kind of holy trinity with zipwiring and zorbing, as sheer, adrenaline-fuelled, screeching fun.

As he put it, “Zipwiring is aerial. Zorbing is, ummm…, terrestrial. And whitewater rafting is the aquatic equivalent.”

Or, “Wooooooo! Wapids ahead!!! Woooo!!! More wapids!!!”

Whitewater rafting is, actually, an almost flawless combination of adrenaline, nature and physical activity. Continue reading

Video: Dancing Clownfish

3 Sep

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This little guy was defending his nest and his baby just left of the dock in Pulau Derawan: he’s straight out of Finding Nemo.

He’s not as elegant as the manta rays and the turtles. But the kids thought he was hilarious….

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Turtle Island, Indonesia

26 Aug

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Pulau Derawan, a tiny palm and sand island off the coast of Indonesian Borneo, is famous for sea turtles.

Now, in general, when it comes to sea turtles, it’s wise to keep your expectations low. Maybe, just maybe, there’ll be a glimpse of a reptile or two sculling in the blue yonder, when you’re diving. Maybe, just maybe, over a long enough night, one will lay her eggs on shore.

Sea turtle grazing amid coral. Pulau Derawan, Indonesia.

The first words we heard in our guesthouse on Pulau Derawan? “Can you see the turtle?” Continue reading

Mr. Confidence

15 Aug

Z, grinning, coming off slide with rubber ring. Poring Hot Springs, Kinabalu Park, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia.

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]Sometimes, something happens which makes you look at your child with new eyes.

This morning, Z and I were at Poring Hot Springs, the sulphurous waters which seethe out of the jungly lowlands in the shadow of Mount Kinabalu. They function, if not as a panacea, at least as a salve for muscles recovering from ascending 800-plus metres of said mountain then descending more than 2 kilometres of it.

In a single day.

After a 2am start. Continue reading

The Coolest Fairground Worker Ever?

30 Jul

Illuminated fairground entrance with the legend UK Funfair, Bintulu, Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia.[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]Of all the places in which to find a “UK Funfair”, complete with British registration plates on the lorries, Bintulu, Sarawak, would come pretty low on my list. Thailand? Quite possibly. Peninsular Malaysia? Conceivably.

Borneo?

Nuh-uh.

Now, the nine year old and I love funfairs. The neon. The colour. The adrenaline rush. The cheesy music. The ephemeral, carnival spirit. And when the UK fairground concept meets Borneo safety standards, the results are extra-, extra-special. Continue reading

In Which the Family Dines in Considerable Style

19 Jul

view of revolving restaurant atop the bayview hotel, georgetown, penang[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]It was my Dad who said it first. “That singer,” he whispered, over the sound of a particularly special Malaysian band. “Is she actually a man?”

He is, I realise, very possibly still scarred from my parents’ last trip out to join us on our travels. That was the Philippines. A nation where he couldn’t walk more than thirty yards down the street without some chancer endeavouring to sell him Viagra.

I think his personal record (best? worst?) was six pushers over two hundred yards in Manila.

Perhaps the nine year old was dawdling at the time. But it wasn’t good for the ego of a man who, although a grandfather, only just passed sixty.

Anyway. My dad has a point. Were we in Thailand, or, for that matter, the Philippines, at least one of the chicks would have been born with a dick, and most likely still retain at least an attenuated version of the original. Continue reading