January 21, 2015 A very happy new year to each of you! Glad to be back after such a long Christmas break!
Last Sunday Linus and Leonard turned 5 – amazing how time flies and amazing to see how they have become two distinctly different persons even though they are so close to each other and often think alike. They can communicate without words and when they play they seem to be in complete synchrony. We have seen them grow more and more independent over the past 4 months – ever since they started in their new school. In week 16 I overheard them speaking English to each other for the first time. Today English is their preferred language and we have to force them to speak French and German with us! Even if we speak to them in French or German, they talk back in English! But we will get there – perseverance is my middle name! We took advantage of our Christmas holidays to discover a bit more of Asia and went to Indonesia – Bali!
We really had a great time there. We stayed in three different hotels in three different parts of the island. And thanks to our driver we were able to go on sightseeing tours very comfortably. A friend of mine is going to start a blog about travelling with kids and I am really looking forward to reading it. I think travelling with kids is amazing. First of all they are THE ideal contact maker and heart opener to the local people. Then they see so many things so differently than you do and it sometimes makes things so much easier to accept if you just listen to them. Last but not least they ask you so many questions and force you to think about so many things – it never gets boring. And we are very lucky to have kids that are very curious, arduous and good walkers. They can walk for hours, climb and jump, be in the humid heat and never complain. As long as you feed them in a timely manner! When it comes to food, the boys are really great. Lilo has always been a bit difficult with her food choices. Very puristic with bread and butter as her all time favourite. But the boys eat everything and they try everything. So we had a good time ordering all the different dishes at the restaurants and eating what we produced during our Balinesian cooking class. The cooking class was one of the highlights of our trip as we had the chance to take a cooking class in a private home while the kids played with the cook’s kids in the garden. A very memorable day.
From all the different things we did, the kids liked best our visit to the puppet master who played and explained the traditional puppet theatre instruments for us, showed us how he makes the puppets and finally gave us a private show which was quite frightening at times! But even though we did not understand the language, we still got the story. Another highlight was our stay at the first hotel where we had our private pool. Luckily we had planned for two “beach” days as the kids wanted to stay at the hotel the whole day and play in the pool. Lilo even taught Leonard how to do a summer sault. We managed to go for some short excursions in between, but they enjoyed themselves so much in the water that we gave in and played with them or watched them play for hours.
Going to the beach was a different story anyway. First of all the current is so strong that it is dangerous to swim. But otherwise the beaches are not really appealing. Unless you are at one of the big hotels with private beach which is cleaned every morning, you have to cope with a lot of visible waste all along the shore. Bali does not have fully functioning garbage collection service or a waste management system. The traces are everywhere. People just continue to dump their waste behind their gardens as they always used to do. The difference: The waste is less and less organic and tons of plastic bottles and plastic bags are flushed down the open sewage lines into the sea. Most time of the year the current takes all the garbage away. In January the current changes and brings it all back on the shore. The invisible waste is much more dangerous as the non existing waste management system is also true for the waste water. Even the big hotels do not have clarification plants. If you hurt yourself in the water – let’s say a cut in your food by a broken glass bottle – or if you swallow sea water you risk serious infections. More to read here. Would we go back to Bali? Yes, but for a different kind of vacation. Skip the beaches, concentrate on the rainforest and on Ubud with its excellent restaurants and cultural scene. As of now we will concentrate more on the skiing in Japan. We did not go so far because we did not want to risk anybody getting a cold before the Bali trip. But now we are very excited to experience the Japan way of skiing where you exit the train at the ski lift! And by the way, 2015 is the year of the sheep.
The sheep is the eighth symbol in the Japanese Zodiac. As sheep live in flocks peacefully, they were considered as the symbol of a happy family life. This sign represents “peace” and “security”. Personality traits Sheep are caring, considerate, sympathetic, and they cherish friendship. They are endowed with artistic talent, and are passionate in whatever they do and believe in. However, they are very sensitive and tend to worry unnecessarily over small matters. You can identify sheep if they: Are keen to learn new things. Are always complaining. Suffer from insomnia.