Another Month, Another Trip To Bali!

Hi everyone!

Wow, it’s already been a month! I guess that resolution of more regular blogging has gone down the pan a little, hey?! Time to get back to it. I’m going to leave the elephant in the room for today (the fact that I’m not back in the UK) and talk about a little holiday at the beginning of the month.

With my little brother now living in Australia, we arranged a little weekend getaway in Bali. Seriously, how cool is it that Bali is just a little holiday break?! Amazing!

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We met up in Ubud, Bali – I’d been there just a few weeks earlier at Christmas, it’s a good job I like it there! It was so lovely to get out of Jakarta – at this point I’d already been feeling under the weather for a few weeks and really needed a break (and by break I mean to see some green things, breathe some clean air and some family time!)

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We had 3 days together and spent our time wandering around the town, eating and drinking, and making monkey friends (more for Will then me, I was a little nervous after I was attacked by them last time!)

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We also spent a day exploring the island a little more thoroughly – Balinese dance, some rice paddies and temples, and visited Mount Batur.

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This is going to make me sound horribly uncultured (!!) but I find it very difficult to follow the stories behind the dance! It was fun though 🙂

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I’ve been to Bali a few times now, but this was my first time visiting Mount Batur, but it was totally worth the wait. The views were incredible – it started to rain and clouded over within a few hours so clearly Lady luck was on our side!

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It was the perfect weekend – just what I needed 🙂

More Christmas 2014!

Where were we? Oh yes, I’d just arrived in Ubud. I immediately felt more at ease – not that I felt unsafe in Kuta, as such, but I no longer felt like I had to clutch by bag to my body and be 100% aware of what was going on around me all the time (I realise I may be portraying Kuta in a bad light here – it is a great party town, but that’s just not my sort of thing!). We had previously found a good deal online and booked ourselves in to a pretty fancy hotel (Pertiwi Resort, Monkey Forest Road) – I’m talking beautiful grounds, lots of green (a world away from Jakarta!), 2 amazing pools, right in the hustle and bustle of the town but still relatively quiet.

We had 4 days in Ubud. We spent the first relaxing and exploring the area a little – I had been before but it was Glory’s first time, so nice for her to get her bearings a little. The whole town is so pretty – lots of little boutique shops, cute cafes and market stalls – I could spend days just wandering around the streets.

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Our second night in Ubud was New Year’s Eve. Now I’m not really in to having a big night on 31st December – I think it is overrated and people put themselves under too much pressure to have a good time, and as my Mum always says, I would rather be awake and hangover free to enjoy January 1st! We couldn’t just stay in though so found a fun bar called Oops for dinner (oh hello pumpkin pizza!) and I ended up enjoying it much more than expected! They had fireworks at midnight and a great live band. The fireworks were the most precarious thing I have ever seen – little kids just holding the sticks out at arm’s length and setting them alight – the sparks were flying out all over the place, including towards the passing motorcyclists! Very suspect!

On New Year’s Day we were determined to get out and explore some of the rice paddies that Ubud is famous for. Despite having visited before, this was new for me too but I did a bit of googling and they were relatively easy to find (seriously, thank God for smart phones!), and an amazing way to start the year!

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We met a farmer called Pak Nyoman and stopped to have some coconut and a chat. He was so adorable, telling us all about his family and his life farming these rice fields. I love talking to people and getting an insight in to the local culture – it really is what makes an experience and I’ll remember him for a long time.

There was one last Ubud experience to fit in and that was the Sacred Monkey Forest. Again, I’d been before but Glory hadn’t and it is a fun day out. In case you couldn’t work out from the name, it’s a forest full on monkeys that you can explore (and make some new furry friends!)

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Glory made one special friend – the monkeys loved her!!

It was a great holiday – we had a slight disaster at the airport and nearly got stranded in Bali for another few days (there are worse places to be stuck!!) but got home safe and sound. Now I’m just scanning the calendar and working out when I can take another holiday…!!

Happy Friday everyone 🙂

Happy 2015!

I love that renewed sense of  that you get at the beginning of January, don’t you? I hope 2015 will be as amazing, if not more so than 2014. I’m pretty sure that in November I will be leaving Indonesia for good, but there is still so much to see and do here, I want to make the most of my time.

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So here are some New Years Resolutions:

Coke free January – I’m a little ashamed to admit that my obsession with the cold bubbly coca-cola goodness may have got a little out of hand recently, so I’m going to give it up for January. They say it takes 30 days to make a habit, so maybe I can take 30 days to break one?!

Less phone time – Another awful Indonesian habit. People in Asia are literally addicted to their phones – it seems they can’t go 30minutes without picking it up, and I’m worried I am becoming more like that! It’s a struggle because I use my phone for everything – blogging, emails, skype, whatsapp – all of these things are a big deal when you live so far away from home, but I need to be more mindful of how I am spending my phone time.

More photography – This one is simple. I have a great camera just sat in my cupboard most of the time, and I want to learn how to use it! I’ve been reading some tutorials online, and asking a few people, so I’m going to use some of my free time getting out and about recording some memories.

Read 25 books – Another simple one! I’d like to replace some of the time I spend faffing about on my phone reading books instead. I’m about to finish #19 in 2014, so I need to step up the speed a little! you can follow my progress on Goodreads!

Take my blog to the next level – I’m talking more regular posting, better photos, more publicity – everyone tells me they love it so I don’t know why I keep it such a secret! if there’s anything that you’d like to see (read!) more of then please let me know – I really do appreciate all the comments and positive feedback 🙂

What are your plans for 2015?

2014 In Review: The Best Of Sophie Speaking

Wowzers – can you believe that in just a few days it will be 2015? I remember celebrating New Year’s Eve when we were welcoming in the new millennium – it’s difficult to believe that it was over half my lifetime ago! This year has absolutely flown by, and it’s been a massive one for me, the most courageous so far perhaps.

I started 2014 in Bangkok, celebrating (in a very low key, bed by 1am, kinda way with my friend Beth). I took my first flight of the year back to Jakarta on January 1st and really felt like I was coming home. I was full of expectations of what the next few months had in store for me.

Highlights of 2014 include(but are of course not limited to!) the following:

* My Mum coming to visit,of course! 2 wonderful weeks of exploring, fancy hotels, beaches and the best part of all – Mummy cuddles! (You can read all about her trip here)

* Carrying on from that, being able to introduce my family to my students and sharing their excitement.

* My friend Erica visiting just a few short weeks after my Mum had left! I really am spoilt for having such amazing people in my life! (Jealousy inducing photos and stories from Erica’s visit can be found here)

* Celebrating my birthday with one of my favourite classes! They bought me a lovely cake, learned my favourite songs on the guitar and made me feel so special.

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* Finally getting some sort of grip on the Indonesian language (this is a work in progress, of course!)

* Getting to work with some AMAZING people.

* The sense of pride (read: the need to collapse!) I felt after hiking through the jungle!

* Celebrating having survived a year in this crazy country!

* Walking through the arrivals gate at London Heathrow back in October.

* Getting back to life in Jakarta, of course!

It’s been a big year, here’s hoping that 2015 will be just as awesome!