Monday, February 25, 2019

The Ultimate Guide to a Perfect BALI Experience

The name Bali is more famous than the country where it belongs to- Indonesia. This is not without credence since 80% of Indonesia’s tourists visit Bali and Bali alone. A co-teacher from the U. S. once told me that she never heard of Indonesia before but she was familiar with Bali. In fact, part of the reason why she decided to teach in Indonesia was to be able to visit Bali.

The perfect tropical paradise sits on the beautiful array of beaches, volcanoes, and wide expanse of temples and rice fields. While majority of Indonesia’s population has Islamic belief, Bali is the only Hindu-majority province with 83.5% adhering to Balinese Hinduism. An interesting trivia I found out from our tourist guide was that the reason why Bali did not allow skyscraper buildings despite of being one of the top destinations in the world was because buildings could not be higher than temples as a sign of respect to their gods.

My travel to Bali was suffused with wide array of experiences which were truly unique amongst different destinations in the world.


Bali’s richness in culture could be attributed to its spirituality. A visit to different temples would give you a glimpse of how their culture and traditions were elaborately influenced by their spirituality.

Our visit to Penglipuran village was extremely unique. Many tourists visited Bali thinking of beaches but the island offers more than that. The village alone was like being transported to something so extraordinary in the world. Houses were built differently and the customs and traditions were so unique which made the experience more unforgettable.


Indonesia's well- known for its thousands of authentic cuisines and the best are found in Bali. We indulge ourselves to the unlimited choices of foods and spices which were famous in the world. There’s the ‘satay’ or marinated chicken in the skewers, nasi goreng or fried rice, vast seafood made more delicious with different sauce and spices.


Bali is renowned for its distinctive arts. Even without entering museums and art exhibits, very detailed statues and other form of arts are prominently displayed all over the island. In fact, the Indonesian Film festival is held every year in Bali.

One of the highlights of our visit was watching a cultural play showcasing the different cultures and traditions of Indonesia. It includes an exhibit of different art works which was unique in the world.


With Ms. Joana, my former co-teacher who is a native of India. Just like me, she's also a Form Teacher (Lead Teacher) in one of the Secondary 3 classes. 

Beautiful Bali sunset! 

The sunrise and sunset in Bali is exceptional. You could totally lose yourself to the tropical beauty of the different beaches. There was a distinct sense, a quintessence of the authentic Balinese experience.

Our sunset experience included visiting a beach with a temple that you could reach by traversing knee-deep water. It has also a cave with what they call as the, “holy snake”.

The corals were perfect for divers and there were myriad waves for surfers. Shores were adorned with fine white sands which was perfect for your feet as you allowed the sun to kiss your skin.

Tanah Lot Temple 

Bali was definitely unparalleled with the combinations of food, beauty, culture and unique experience. It was a living postcard with its beautiful places and it was a fantasy that evokes thoughts of utopia.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Winter in Michigan (Polar Vortex, Ice Storm, Freezing Rain)

“In winter, the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity.” 

As someone who came from a tropical country, nothing has prepared me for this winter experience. For more than 30 years, I have never experienced snow. The coldest temperature that I probably had was 70F in an air-conditioned room. In normal days, we have about 80-90 degrees. This is just my third winter and this is by far the most extreme in terms of the freezing temperature, destruction, and amount of snow.

White Lake is one of the tourist attractions in our area and people fish at the other side during winter.

Winter Wonderland in Michigan. 

I love snow and I have always been spellbound by the surrounding panorama when huge crystal flakes fall. They are soft, lush and cold to the touch. Where there was once pallid, dead grassland, scenes are transformed with the trees covered with decadent ivory jewels and the ground is coated in a hefty blanket of solid white.

The snow covered lake at Whitehall which glistens like diamonds when the sun shines.

Enjoying the scenery with my husband. 

It never failed to amazed me when picturesque sceneries are abundant as the sun shines and the frosty ground glitters like diamonds. The ineffable scent drifted through the air unmistakably speaking of the crisp bluster and ice.

However, the recent polar vortex has proven that beauty could be deceiving. The colossal destruction was unimaginable as the coldest temperature in decades blanketed the state.

Grand River Hotel during the Polar Vortex effect. 

Grand River Hotel during the Polar Vortex effect. 

Grand River Hotel during the Polar Vortex. 

Grand River Hotel during the Polar Vortex. 

My husband’s dad was on schedule to have a surgery at the time that the coldest temperature was felt across the nation. We were at the road on the way to the hospital around 4:00 a.m. and the zero-visibility, below freezing temperature, exacerbated by strong winds greeted us. We arrived at the hospital safely and spent hours of watching the city blanketed by the heavy snow. The drive to the hotel that night after his dad’s surgery continued to be a challenge when we grappled with slippery roads and plunging temperature. My fingers and toes were numb, cold nips at my nose, and my eyes hurt just in a short walk going to the lobby.

The following day, temperature continued to drop and the road on the way home was zero visibility. There were many car accidents and classes and businesses were suspended.

Grand River Hotel during the Polar Vortex. 

Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids where we stayed over night after my father-in-law's surgery. 

Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids during the Polar Vortex. 

Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids during the Polar Vortex. 
Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids during the Polar Vortex. 

Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids during the Polar Vortex. 

Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids during the Polar Vortex. 

Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids during the Polar Vortex. 

Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids during the Polar Vortex. 

Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids during the Polar Vortex. 

The polar vortex was not the worst part of this winter, the cold taste (literally) finally hit us during the ice storm. Snow is beautiful and soft to the touch but ice is dangerous and could be fatal especially when you lose power. The power lines that veer down between poles become dense as they were laden with the heaviness of the ice formation. Before long, massive power outages gripped different places in Michigan. We were ones of those who lost the power when two transformers in our area gave in. And the battle to keep the house warm ensued.

Bridge overlooking the Lake Michigan at Whitehall. 

Ice formation during the ice storm. 

Glass window of the hospital. 

For some, staying in the hotel during a power outage is a more viable decision. But, it’s more complicated when you are scared of water pipes bursting and little dogs freezing. Thankfully, we have gas stove and the water heater is also run by gas. We had our power back on after almost three days of struggling to survive.

Ice formation during the ice storm. 

Ice formation during the the ice storm. 

The experience was unforgettable. I have always thought of heavy snow fall as being transported into the winter wonderland and fun at sledding. Winter is absolutely beautiful BUT it can also be destructive.

Sledding at Double JJ. We don't let the snow stop us from having fun. 

Sledding at Double JJ. 

One of those days we woke up and the car is covered with several inches of snow. 

Shoveling is a must if you don't want to be buried under these thick snow. 

“What, I sometimes wonder, would it be like if I lived in a country where winter is a matter of a few chilly days and a few weeks' rain; where the sun is never far away, and the flowers bloom all year long?”

-Anna Neagle-

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Thursday, January 03, 2019

Today, I Failed

“The Phoenix must burn to emerge.” 
– Janet Fitch

The news was disheartening and perhaps, inevitable. Somehow, I had that notion of failure even before it came crashing on me. I worked so hard. Countless hours, in fact. Day and night, I worked laboriously unmindful of rewards. All that I wanted was to get a glimpse of success. Yet, none of it matters anymore. I failed.

The news however, only created that fire burning inside me to work even harder convincing myself that failure is not an indication of permanence. If my way did not work, that means I need to find another one that would work. Life is a series of disappointments, pains and hindrances. But, life is also a string of hope and success.

A friend once told me that once we hit rock bottom, there is no way but up. When I first heard the news, I felt worthless leveraging my skills that amounted to nothing. It was gut-sinking and terrifying but I had no choice but to face the truth- starting from nothing.

In hindsight, failure catapulted me into realization that the world is not so rosy but I can parlay the pain info future gains. Instead of sulking and trying to lick my wounds, I need to work even harder to maximize the probability of success. I failed but it does not mean the end. Failure in essence just made me internalize from the deepest recesses of my soul to examine the raw pain and find ways not to get on downward spiral which could harm myself more.

I failed. I understand that I am in pain. I acknowledge my vulnerability. But, I take the challenge to succeed by failing.

I got this.

“When you take risks, you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.” 
–Ellen DeGeneres- 

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

The Eyes that See the Best of Everything

The world is often dark. The reality is accentuated with the fact that more often than not, you are bombarded in social media with cruel, merciless, and nonsense posts. I do wonder, what is there to hope for?

The feeling of isolation is more potent than ever. Despite of what the technology has done to connect people around the globe, we still live in a really lonely world. We become more concerned of being ‘RIGHT’ than being ‘HEARD’. We desire for instant gratification by ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ on our posts than finding genuine happiness. We become judgmental without hearing facts because of how easy it is to do that instead of engaging in intelligent discourse. The world needs less anger, resentment, and negativity. We need the eyes that see the best of everything.

With all these less than optimal feelings, I take comfort with what Martin Luther says, “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.” Sometimes we need to walk through the dark in order to see the light. It may be cloudy now but there’s a silver lining along the way.

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Inspirational Articles/ Daily Blog

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