February 10th, 2017

This will be our second visit to Hong Kong and Bali, the first was in 2013. This time we will be staying in the same hotel in Hong Kong, the ICON, because we liked it so much, but it will be just be for a couple of days to get over jet lag from the 19 hour flight (and 15 hour time difference) from Phoenix. In Bali, we won't be roughing it as much as we did last time. We will be staying in the Klub Kokos, just a stone's throw from Wayan's and Nyoman's Karsa Kafe and villas, where we stayed in 2013. The Spa there is run by our Australian friend Jenny. Kokos at least has air conditioning and a pool, so we can escape from the unremitting tropical heat and humidity which caused me to lose my wallet and my debit card, and which, among other things, led to my appointment as the Bankiang Sidem Honorary Village Idiot. At least, that's my theory. We Brits blame everything on the weather.

While in Bali, we plan to meet up with our friend Robert, the manager of Mercia Marina in England where we berth our boat Basil the King and his Chinese friend Ken, who is a researcher at Nottingham University.  We are looking forward to some acerbic commentary on the world's woes and some fun times with these two international sages. If the dreadful floods subside in Bali we may also go whitewater rafting.

We also plan to visit Linda and others from the Bali Children's Project and to meet Sintiawati, a young girl living with her father for whom we helped replace a tin-roofed one-roomed shack with a brand new block-built home.

February 14th
LA Lounge

Short one hour flight in an AA Airbus to LA where we holed up in the lounge (above left) for a few hours waiting for our 10:25 p.m. flight to Hong Kong. Comfortable 15 hour 777 flight on Cathay Pacific (above right). Why are Asian airlines so much superior to US and European airlines? We arrived in Hong Kong two days later in early morning, a quirk of the overnight flight and the international dateline, and were whisked into Kowloon by the high-speed, but expensive, train. The Icon was expecting us but showed us into an inferior room with only a partial harbour view, not what I thought I had ordered. However, after a courteous negotiation and a small extra payment, we got into a room like we had in 2013 with access to their VIP Club and a free Tesla ride back to the airport thrown in. No loss of face all round, very important in China.
Icon View
  Panorama of Victoria Harbour from our bed.
Real Rooster
2017 is the Chinese Year of the Rooster
(My birth year by chance).
Here are three takes on the Rooster - a
mammoth art object outside the Hong Kong
Art Museum (left), a real one in Bali and
Cathay Pacific's stuffed bird (right).
Cathay Rooster
We had a very relaxing time in Hong Kong. We had done most of the tourist bits before, so we went for walks along the waterfront and took the train to see the Tian Tan Buddha, or Big Buddha, on Lantau Island. The cable car to the Buddha was out of service, so we were crammed on to a bus which careened up hill and down dale for what seemed like hours. But the ride was worth it, the Buddha is an amazing sight. It was built in 1993, is cast in bronze, weighs over 250 tons and is 112 ft high. It is perched high on a hill near Po Lin Monastery and accessed by 268 steps. Bronze statues of the 6 Devas and their offerings encircle it. Below it is the Wisdom Way which is flanked by statues of the 12 Divine Generals, and strolled by tourists like us, some worshipers and a few divine cows.
Kowloon Waterfront
Fishing Junk in Victoria Harbour
First View of the Tian Tan Buddha
Wisdom Gate
The Entrance to the Wisdom Way
Barbara and a Sacred Cow


268 Steps >>

General 1

Buddha &
General Kimnara
Kimnara, one of the Twelve Divine Generals
Two of Six Devas
Five of the Six Devas (above and right)
Three of six Devas
Roger at Po lin
Roger at Po Lin
Big Buddha
Hong Kong Sunset
Kowloon Sunset
A few notes as we leave Hong Kong... The city continues to be a fine emblem of the emerging Asian Tiger economy. New buildings are popping up all over the place and the city is full of smiling Chinese faces. The Art museum and cultural center is being rebuilt and expanded. The city is spectacular by night (photos left and right). Although the high-rise buildings make a dramatic frame for Victoria Harbour, individually they are mostly devoid of architectural merit. Unlike London, Sydney or New York there has been little effort to enhance the skyline with modern architectural gems.

The transport system excels. HK must have more modes of public transport than most cities. There are boats, trains, buses, trams and helicopters buzzing around everywhere. The MTR (subway system) is clean, modern, and efficient, with 99% of trains running on time - a record unequaled by any other city. High speed bullet trains will soon link Hong Kong with Beijing and Macau. Soaring new roads and bridges are under construction to link the islands as the population expands ever outwards. Huge new apartment blocks are sprouting everywhere, though many are depressing stacks of little boxes.

We saw no evidence of political dissent this time, no street demonstrations or Falun Gong members handing out leaflets. However, the newspaper ran stories of the arrest of Hong Kong businessmen who were spirited off to Beijing for trial, and the legislature is being cleansed of Representatives who are not considered pro-Beijing.
Kowloon Night
February 18th
We flew to Denpasar, Bali, a short 5 hour flight on a brand new 777. We were met by a driver from our hotel who guided us for 1 1/2 hours through the usual throng of unruly traffic to Klub Kokos, near Ubud. The number of scooters and small motorbikes seems to have increased exponentially since we were here in 2013. There are few places that I would be afraid to drive myself but Bali is one of them. I was unable to discern any rules of the road at the many intersections and roundabouts, almost all of which are lacking stop signs or traffic lights. Klub Kokos is a typical Balinese small hotel with an exquisitely planted compound in the center, alongside a swimming pool. The buildings are solid and well maintained. It is not quite the upgrade from our 2013 villa that we had hoped for. The amenities are far from those in the Hotel Icon! The feeble aircon is unable to keep up with the torrid heat leaking through the void between the walls and the roof. The plumbing is ancient. The toilet flowed continuously for want of a 50 cent flapper valve. When we complained we were told "Oh, it's always like that.", so I was forced to close the valve in the cistern by hand so that we could flush the toilet. We were the only guests, so if we wanted dinner a cook had to be arranged the day before. We didn't. Breakfast consisted of an excellent tropical fruit plate with optional eggs to follow.

So we usually ate at our old haunt of Karsa Kafe, owned and operated by our friends Wayan and Nyoman. It is a few minutes walk from Kokos. I will let the photos speak for the rest of our ten day trip...
Ladies at Karsa
Karsa Extension
Karsa Kafe has expanded since our last visit.
There is a new upper deck (left) and a terrace
over the lily pond (above).
Wayan and Family
Wayan Karsa (left), Nyoman (right) and Putu,
their daughter, at the Karsa Kafe

Karsa View
View over the Rice Terraces from the Cafe
Karsa Party
At Karsa, we meet our friends from the UK,
  Ken (centre) and Noted Bali Expert, Robert.



Bali is Constantly in Bloom.
These 6 photos (above and right)
were all taken at Karsa Kafe and Spa.
Planting Rice
In 2013 we saw the rice harvest. This time
we are here for the beginning of the cycle -
planting time.


Koman, Putu, Kadek
The Karsa Kids - Koman (reclining), Putu
and Kadek (behind)


Kadek in her School Uniform.

R & K on the
Robert and Ken on the Campuhan Ridge
Campuhan Walk
Barb on the Campuhan Ridge walk to Ubud
Entering Ubud
Entering Ubud
B & R at Karsa
Barb and Robert Debate World Affairs
(or what to have for dinner, who knows)
There are Hindu Statues everywhere -
they adorn temples, houses and hotels....
  ...but the Balinese are not above using a
statue to make a joke for the tourists:
Statue Joke

Hut in Paddy
Balinese Shed?

Tiny Villa
Tiny Villa
Lily Pond
Lily Pond at the Karsa Spa
One of my favorite Hindu Gods - Ganesh.

Detail of another Deity in the Klub Kokos
Gallery - possibly Vishnu?


High Ken
Ken Gets High on Coconut and Bintang

Heavy Load
Pig in a Truck
Pig in a Pick-Up

<< Balinese ladies carry enormous loads
       on their heads.

Everyone can be a Millionaire in Bali -    
 this is a Million Rupiah (about $75/61) >>
Before we move on from the Karsa Compound, I must highlight the amazing job Jenny (our Australian friend) and Wayan have done to develop the Karsa Spa, which by all accounts is now in the top echelon of spas in Bali. When we were last here in 2013, there were only two incomplete rooms and two therapists. Now there are at least 8 rooms and six therapists, all selected and trained to a very high standard by Jenny. Wayan designed and built the new buildings and he and Jenny furnished them with some outstanding art work, meditative water features and top professional massage equipment. The spa is booked up for weeks in advance. Jenny managed to carve out some space for Barb and I and we had a session each of head and shoulder work. In addition, Barb had two Tibetan 'singing bowl' sessions and I had two cupping therapy sessions on my right knee, along with foot and leg massages. The cupping therapy helped my injured knee immensely, and I have since bought a set of cups so I can do it at home. It is a Chinese technique which generates a vacuum over the sore or injured spot to increase circulation and relieve pain and inflammation.
Jenny and
Jenny with April - a Brahma Kumari who gets
 up every day at 4:30 to meditate (Jenny says).
Spa Entrance
The Entrance to Karsa Spa where April or
another friendly receptionist will welcome you
Spa Art
Water Features Grace most Rooms
along with gentle music to soothe your soul
Spa Art
Even the Toiletries are Art Objects!

Massage Beds
Twin Therapy Beds under Thatched Roof
Ceremony Audience
While we were there, an opening ceremony was
conducted for the latest extension to the Spa.
Here we are waiting for the Hindu Priest.
(photo by Ken)
* The Priest Conducts the Blessing Ceremony
Blessed Offerings are all over the Spa
Priest and Offerings
* The Priest leads a group who sprinkle holy
water and distribute offerings around the Spa.
Therapy Room
* Exquisitely Designed Therapy Room
More Art
* A Detail from the Same Room
Singing Bowl
* Barb Receives Singing Bowl Therapy
(Barb is under cover)
* Stills from Video DVD (Coming Shortly)

Finally we get to the real HIGHLIGHT of this trip and the main reason we came this time. We came to see the work of the Bali Children's Project and meet their Executive Director Linda V. who is the driving force behind the amazing work they do for the deprived kids of Bali.

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