Monday, February 9, 2015

Welcome to Beautiful Bali

When you picture paradise, it probably looks a lot like Bali. During our trip there this summer, I was constantly blown away by how beautiful everything was. Everything looked straight out of a postcard.

My dad and I went to Bali for a family reunion. My family is Dutch, and like many Dutch people, we have a personal connection to Indonesia through the centuries of Dutch colonialism of the island. Through the centuries, my ancestors were traders, naval commanders, farmers, and during World War II, prisoners of war in Japanese concentration camps. We grew up eating Indonesian food and using Indonesian words my Oma taught us (she learned the language as a child). 

Now in her 70s, my grandmother decided she wanted to show us Bali, visit the grave of my great-great grandfather, and introduce me to cousins from New Zealand and Australia.

We spent the first few days lounging on the beach, recovering from jet lag (and a 27 hour plane ride) and getting acquainted with each other.

I loved Bali from the moment we arrived. It was beautiful, the people were so friendly, and I hit it off immediately with my Kiwi cousins. It was also amazing to see in person the land I had always heard stories about and imagine my ancestors making a life here so far from home.

Though Indonesia is mostly Muslim, much of Bali practices a kind of Balinese Hinduism. Everywhere you go you'll see little shrines set out to the gods, full of flowers, fruit, and sometimes even candy or cigarettes.

We explored the villages, waded in the water, and ate way too much sate ayam and rendang padang and kroepoek. It was pretty much the perfect vacation.

I can't wait to show you more of beautiful Bali!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Hong Kong Layover

In June, my dad and I took a trip to Bali, Indonesia. We started our trip in Atlanta, flew to Dallas, and then took a 16 hour flight to Hong Kong, flying over Alaska, Russia, and China before finally landing in Hong Kong for an overnight layover.

By the time we arrived, we were exhausted. I wasn't even sure what day it was, and my jetlagged body begged for sleep. But once we entered the airport, a sense of adventure took over. It was an assault on the senses-Cantonese and Mandarin being spoken around us, sleek bullet trains whisking us over to the immigration desks, landing papers written in Chinese characters...I have traveled a lot, but nothing could prepare me for how exotic the East felt in those first moments.

My dad spent last summer in China teaching English, so he immediately took charge and put his basic Chinese to good use. It was all a blur as we got our tourist visas, took the train to Hong Kong, and found our hotel, complete with this great view from our room.

Hong Kong at night is vibrant and pulses with energy.
Hong Kong in June means humidity like you can't imagine. The smog coupled with the summer heat rivals any summer misery in south Georgia. But despite all that, I couldn't wait to explore as much as possible.

After checking in, our first order of business was finding dinner. I let my dad do the ordering and struggled my way using through chopsticks (I'm pretty sure I was highly amusing to neighboring diners). Chopsticks aside, dinner was delicious.

Full of delicious Chinese food, we did some wandering through Hong Kong streets before jet lag sent us scurrying to our beds.

The next morning, we repacked our bags, snapped some pictures and headed for the airport to catch out flight to BALI!!

Let's go to Indonesia!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Mission Churches, Nuclear Warheads, and Quesadillas

When I travel, I always look for things I don't have at home, whether that is new food, or unique architecture, and or just new people. As a Georgia girl, the Southwest is totally new to me. I wanted to see all the Tucson area had to offer-from mission churches to Cold War history to tasty Arizona-Mex food.

First stop, Mission San Xavier del Bac!

I just love Spanish style missions. They make me feel like I'm in an old Western. Built in the 1700s, San Xavier del Bac did not disappoint with its beautiful architecture and soaring white bell towers (so pretty against that cloudless desert sky). We loved the vibrant paintings inside.

Next door is a smaller chapel for prayer and reflection.

After San Xavier del Bac we headed down the road to the Titan Missile Museum, a Cold War throwback that once held a Titan intercontinental ballistic missile. My heart leapt in my throat when we looked down through the glass ceiling at the business end of a (inactive) nuclear warhead!

After a long day of sightseeing it was off for some tasty Arizona-Mex food! We had margaritas, tacos and quesadillas, and I can definitely say that Arizonians know how to do it right.

Til next time, Tucson!