BALI – To dengue or not to dengue

Did you ever have the feeling that your life has turned into a black comedy and you are watching from the sidelines? I think its a coen brothers movie as they always confuse me. The script go’s something like this.
It starts of as this typical midlife crisis thing. Woman wonders or this is it in life? Is there anything more to life again then being a mum and a waiting wife. So she go’s out and seeks out people from her past, and digs up lots of sweet memories. But after all the memory diging decides to returns to her life with the intent to make it work.
When due to lots of different factors the woman’s  life appears to fall apart she decides to go on one last adventure with her daughter before school starts. Hoping that during this quest she will find her adventurous self and independence again and upon return see things in perspective.
It starts out great.. Her daughter was an absolute trained pro travelkid on the plane and they got to see their future house from the airplane. Although she gets a warning at the airport for leaving her card in the ATM machine while her daughter ran away. But thanks to the backpacker kindness the card gets returned and she has faith. This is what it’s all about. Stranger kindness.
 Its humid and the smell and feel of asia make her feel alive and at home again. It brings back so many fantastic memories and she feels like a weight has been lifted from her shoulders.  She can do this, She is ready for this and it will be the trip of their lives.
She starts the trip with taking surfing lessons as that was on the top of her bucket list for years.. She’s loving it!! But soon enough realises she might have needed a little bit more physical preparation. She feels free and alive as she is riding down the waves. But she feels half dead and like an old lady when she try’s to paddle back up.  After 3 days her beaten by board and waves body call it a day. But she is determined to finish what she started. It might just take a little longer.
After goodbyes thank you’s and paying at the surfclub she realises her bankcard is gone. Panick! Looks at the room – Looks at the surfclub – Checks again and again and again.. No Luck. Time to think and count and see if she can make it with the back up card. No Stress. Thats why she has a back up for things like this. So no stress.


Out of nowhere her daughter gets sick she has a fever that is going through the roof. Is it just a fever? Is it just a flu? Is she being over worried? 2 nights go by as she didn’t want to be the worry sick mum.  But there was no sign of improvement and fever was around 40 degrees.
Counting on the kindness of locals she finds a dr,  and the nurse came to the guesthouse. The nurse drew blood in the room, the fan is turning while her child is burning up and screaming like it is being slaughtered. The nurse gets nervous. The woman is not sure at this point what kind of nurse this is. For all she knows she could be a vet. And where is this dr?? After the nurse leaves the childs temperature rises to 40 again and the woman is unable to get it down. Still no idea or the people around her are trustable. She contacts anything and everyone she knows while trying in all sorts of ways to get the fever down. She panics she wants to shout and cry but knows it won’t help her daughter so she does what she can and try’s to keep it together.
Later that evening the dr stands at the door with the lab results accompanied by the nurse who still seems pale from the screaming of her child. The dr go’s over everything and examens the child. The dr seems kind and knowlagable. He gives lots of information and will not leave before all questions are answered. The lab results are inconclusive. It could be dengue it could also be an infection the values are right on the edge so he can’t be sure. To be sure the child has to be treated for both and she has to be monitored. The mother would have to check for signs of dengue hemmorage and the bag for hospital needed to be ready. If any symptoms like a rash would show up she would need to be rushed as then it would be life threatening. Medication and fluids needed to be given every four hours also through the night. But the mother checked every half hour just to be sure. Days now that she didn’t sleep. All else there was to do was wait and hope for her to get better.
Even with the meds the fever is still above 39 except for that one time. As the fever dropped. She took the child into the stroller and runs to the ATM to get money for the dr and to buy more water and juice to make sure she got her fluids.
She runs back as even in those 5 minutes outside the childs seemed to do worse again and was crying. She was crying louder when the mother tried to leave her in the care of someone from the hotel. So there was not much choice and the woman was telling herself she did the right thing.
Back in the room fully loaded with money to pay the dr. She gives the child, fluids and medicine and the child go’s to sleep. The woman lays next to her watching the fan turning and feeling the burned up child next to her. Same scenario for days now.
 Outside is a thunderstorm,  the hot loud and humid kind one. As the thunder blasts through the room she jumps up and realises something. She shouts nooooo and starts to cry. But child doesn’t react. She searches and searches only to confirm her fear. She has the money for the dr,  but the the card. Where is the card?. …….
She had already lost one she could not have lost the back up. She runs down and asks the person behind the desk if he could watch her daughter for 5 minutes. It’s raining again, she runs through the puddles as fast as she can but there was nothing. No card at the ATM. She runs back up to check for the child to find her still asleep.  She runs again to the ATM to get the number from the bank maybe they can save her. She also try’s her normal bankcards but they don’t work in Bali only the credit cards seem to.
Back at the guesthouse she asks the desk to help her phoning the banks number as her phone doesn’t work in indonesia. The guy calls the number for her. She begs the person on the other side of the telephone line to help her, but the only reply she gets is the  words no english. After many transfers and what seemed hours later she gets hold of someone speaking English. Sorry mam procedure not card from this bank then the staff has to destroy. She begs the person on the other line and explains there is a sick child involved but finally has to hang up gutted and dissapointed. She breaks down and cries in the rain at the check in counter of the guesthouse. Ashamed She quickly thanks the guy at the desk for trying to help her and runs up. Her daughter is still sleeping. She looks up the fan its still turning and her head is spinning at the same speed. She cries and cries and cries. Feeling like her brain had left her and worried sick about the little girl she had no idea what to do anymore.
She contacts her husband for help. The husband gets in contact with his bank and they promise to do what they couldn’t do before. Up the limit of the card for groceries. It will take 2 days or so, for those two days she can’t do anything and she needs to keep her fingers crossed that her daughter won’t need to go to hospital within those two days. But after that at least there is a solution to her stupidity.
Its the middle of the night the childs fever starts going down from 40 to 39 and the woman can breathe again for the first time in days. She checks the fever every few hours and by the morning she is sure that she is better. She is relieved. There is a knock on the door and its the dr and the nurse. Proudly the woman shows them how the fever has finally gone down sure that they are off the hook now.
The dr explains that dengue can still not be ruled out and that she should stay around and have another blood test before leaving to anywhere. As dengue haemorrhage could still happen. The woman agrees but the child doesn’t. Neither does the nurse as it seems that as well the nurse as the child are traumatised from the last experience. They leave and the woman agrees that she will call them for another bloodtest if the fever go’s up again.
The woman has hope and so does the child and the child runs and sings for the first time in days. There is a knock on the door. Its the guesthouse staff. They want to make sure the child is ok and ask if she is sure she doesn’t want to go to a hospital. The woman reasures them that the child is in good hands with the dr and that she is better now. The child runs and sings and confirms the woman words. For the first time in days they go down to have breakfast and all the guesthouse staff are happy to see her better. The owner comes to the room again and tells them that they shouldn’t leave the next day until the child has been ok for a few days. They say they will make a special price and they are welcome to stay as long as they need.
The woman is relieved and sees beauty in all the kindness around her. After breakfast she and the child go up again as the child still needs rest. On the freshly made bed she finds a credit card. She can’t believe her eyes, It’s the first credit card that she lost. She squeals from joy and contacts her husband but can’t reach him as its the middle of the night in europe. She hopes and prays that they can undo the block. When she phoned for the other card there was such an option in the menu so it has to be possible.
She has hope again, could things be going in the right direction? Could she still get something positive out of this trip? Is the world just teaching her to be happy with what she has which is above all a beautiful daughter? She promises the turning fan above her as if it was god, that she gets it and that she will do everything in her power to be happy with what she has from now on. Just please let things go in the right direction from now on. And let her daughter be healthy.
 To be sure she takes her daughters temperature about an hour after the dr left. Fever Again!  A few moments later she gets a text that the credit card can’t be activated again. She stares at the fan while thinking of ways how to ask the staff to stay longer but pay later. She also needs to call the dr for another bloodwork. The fan spins and so is her head… again….
 After thinking about this from every angle she decides to try and get into contact with her dr back in Belgium. The dr also works at the tropical institute and specialises in things like this. So maybe she will have another say about the whole story instead of putting her daughter through this whole ordeal again. She looks for the email contacts but they are not advertised but thankfully she remembers receiving an email once from the reception. She finds the contact details and sends an email with the fever chart and the bloodwork attached. Only problem is that local time in Belgium is still only 6 am. So she waits it out.
After getting no response she tries to phone, in the meantime her husband credited her sim card and it should be working now. They pick up and tell her they received the email but that they can’t open the attachment as its too small and so unreadable. She tries to send a larger file and awaits response. As nothing happens she phones again. They didn’t receive anything. She has one last chance to get the blood work over there before the dr leaves her on call room.  She tries to send it from everywhere and in every format possible.
Ten minutes later she phones again, the credit on her phone now almost finished. They just received her email and are printing the bloodwork as they speak. They read it… And as result they tell her exactly the same as the local dr did. The result can’t rule out dengue so she needs another bloodwork if the child still had a fever, and she did. By the time she got an answer it was too late to have the bloodwork done that day.
After having dinner together and receiving lots of support from the staff of the guesthouse. Who didn’t make a point of the fact that she would be staying longer and paying later. The woman tried to talk to the child and prepare her for what would happen the next day. Soon she found herself in a situation where she would need to promise the child a dog. Crying about wanting a dog and not wanting injections the child fell asleep. The woman held her and cried with her child softly while she stared at the turning fan on the ceiling. Begging it to make it all stop.  After about 20 fan turns she got herself together and made the appointment for the bloodwork in the morning and asked if they could bring someone extra as she herself would be useless.
 The next morning the dr and the nurse came first thing for the blood work. The woman was a mess. A week of not sleeping and checking for symptoms every so often. But most of all she felt helpless and worried and scared. And now she would have to break her daughters trust and pin her to the bed so they could get more blood. She was in a state but she did what she had to do. Together with the Dr she pinned her screaming begging child to the bed for the nurse to be able to draw blood. Mummy please stop!! Those words were the hardest words she ever had to hear. Arm one was pinned. Milla managed to turn her arm and bent the needle inside her arm. Causing lots of pain. Straight to the second arm, don’t know what went wrong there. But no blood came out. Her daughter traumatised by needles for life the nurse had to give up. And they both left. Still no blood, still no result. The child was hysterical for another half hour after they left. The mother held her and cried. Cried out of guilt, disappointment, worry all sorts of emotions a mother doesn’t do well.
It took a few days more and slowly the fever went down. 11 days they had spent looking and praying to the turning fan above them. But after 11 days things were over. She wasn’t allowed to travel not far from hospital but they ware allowed to go. Things should be ok now.
Normally we would avoid zoo’s but since I decided that the rest of the holiday should be all about Milla we stayed overnight at a safari park with mixed feelings. But for once i forgave myself. Milla was happy and I still explained her what was good and bad about the things we saw but she was happy and thats all I cared about at that point.


The next stop after the zoo was Ubud. Originally I was going there to do yoga and babysit was sorted. But after what happened I chanced those plans. We would take it easy and it would be all about Milla. So we rented a motorbike and went on child friendly exploring in and around the rice fields and stopped to have a chat with almost every local on our path. We also did a bike trail with ecotours. Me cycling and Milla on the back in a kids seat. We started at mount Batur where we had breakfast with the most amazing view and then cycled down in the rain through local villages and rice fields. Ubud although very busy now still has this friendly relaxing bus around it and the people are so incredibly friendly. And then Im not even mentioning the food. Yummy!
After Ubud we took a taxi up North to Amed. I fell in love instantly. We stayed in a hut that had no lock. But felt safe none the less. Amed for me was perfect. Small enough so that when driving around the village after one day everyone knew your name. Or at least they knew Millas name. But big enough to find what you need in the supermarkets,  a good choice of seaside restaurant to eat from and the right kind of travellers around that you like to meet.  The beach is perfect for snorkelling? You just walk in and there is an abundance of fish and they put a little temple underwater that attracts the fish. Milla loved snorkelling there and even for me as a dive instructor there was plenty to see. Some reef had been damaged by dynamite fishing but there were artificial reefs trying to make up for that. The local ladies on the beach took their responsibility and shouted to tourists standing on the reef. They cared they know this is their income. Fish and tourism and that is the fish and diving are not there tourists won’t come so plenty.
One day while sitting at the beach there was a pod of dolphins just before us. It was my first time seeing dolphins from land. In my instructor days I’ve seen plenty but I still got excited as a little kid. Well honestly I got more excited then the little kids.
I wish we had more time to explore the lush green surroundings but we only had a few days. One unforgettable experience we had is that we got invited to a local ceremony. A cleansing ceremony before the big festival the next day. aaaah I forgot the name now.
Milla, our neighbour and I got invited by our guesthouse host. When we arrived we were greeted as friends and were introduced to the family. Everyone came to share food while our host explained the rituals. His toddler son was along and was learning from is father how to pray. All dressed up this was an adorable sight. I could have stayed in Amed forever. Its one of those places I could live. Driving our motorbike after dark there is this scent that the jungle only makes at night. It took me back to the beginning days when I was living on Koh Chang. Sweet memories those vivid memories that only smell can bring back. I felt home.
From Amed we took the speedboat to Gili Trawangan together with a wonderful family we had met a few nights before. I was going to Trawangan to meet some friends. Trawangan always makes me feel old. I think the average age is 18. Especially the one night I went out was very bizarre. After that I was happy just to be a mum. The end of our stay did take another weird turn though.
One night while having dinner with our Canadian friends I had fish. I had been eating fish all the trip which I normally don’t do. But after having a severe headache for a while my face turned bright red. I then started getting a rash on my torso. Also bright red. Then I started to feel sick. My heart was racing but weak and I felt myself fainting. Just in time I managed to contact a friend  to stay with milla and the dr on the island and they put me on a drip with everything they had. Apparently I went into an allergic shock. ooh the joy. It scared the life out of me. And I was out for another day or so but after that I was fine. When I contacted my dr in Belgium to tell her what happened and if or there was anything else I should do she sort of laughed. This could only happen to you couldn’t it. Two medical dramas on one trip. Ha! I guess its catching up with me. As except for motorbike crashed I never had anything wrong with me living abroad.
From Gili we went back to the place we started. Legian. Same guesthouse same everything. Only this time healthy and happy. We thanked everyone again for their help again in the beginning of the trip and we got treated like family.
When it was time to leave Bali I didn’t want to leave yet. I wasn’t ready to leave all the kindness and smiles around me. Even with the medical drama’s it gave me the energy and the insight that I needed. Be happy with what you have and  now go fight for your marriage to work.
PS. A year later Milla needed blood work in Belgium. And I asked if they could check for dengue. And it got confirmed that she did have dengue. So now when we travel we need to be extra careful. She is now immune to one strain. But if she would get another strain the chanced for complications have doubled.

#8 CANNGU and south Bali —* Lombok – Gili – Bali *

All good things come to an end. 

After fleeing from Ubud in search of the sun, we drove down to Canngu which stands for the villa filled area north of the main resorts. We knew upfront that this would be the part of the trip where we would leave tradition behind and once I got my head around that it was actually a nice change. We stayed around the famous echo beach where we had working internet and a big clean pool right outside of our spacious room at R&R Bed and Breakfast. We had a week left so we tried to make the most of it.  We tried to relax and prepared for the hard work that was to come when going back to Dubai. But because sitting by the pool every day isn’t really our cup of tea, we explored the surfing beaches by bike, Mark took on some waves in Batu Bolong (Old Mans) and found out maybe it isn’t the greatest place to learn but he looked cool anyway. We also rented a car for the day to head south. Down south we visited Kuta, I know I said we never would but we wanted to have a look if it was really that bad to stay there. It is the best place to learn how to surf but we wanted to know if we could survive staying there. To our surprise the north of Kuta really wasn’t that bad at all. So we decided that next time we would stay here a few days to take a proper surfing course. For some things especially when you have kids organised beach resorts isn’t all that bad as it turns out. After Kuta we drove down to Nusa Dua where you have you have the greger beach with its white sand and turquoise water. We drove on to Uluwatu temple on the south Cliffs ,where we said hi and goodbye to the monkeys one last time.

The Canngu area mainly caters for surfers and expats resulting in lots of great and hip places to eat. It’s one of these places everyone seems to go to these days as it was recommended by almost everyone that was ever in Bali. There is a downside to the area though and that is that is is pretty famous for break ins and it sort of shows as all the villas compete with the height of walls built around them.

Canngu had a little bit of a personal highlight for me on the agenda as well. . But I guess this needs a little bit of explanation. In 2005 I met one of my best friends ever in Thailand, we ran a small dive centre together on a idyllic beach,  lived in the dessert and on a boat diving one of the most beautiful places on earth on a daily base. Most of my funniest travel stories and memories were with this person but we managed to fuck this friendship up by becoming a couple and having one of the most dramatic break ups in history. This resulted in not seeing each other since Egypt 2007. Due to some big changes in his life we managed to get in touch again at the end of 2015 and we have been the best long distance friends ever since. He lives in Australia now and I live in Dubai and Belgium so the chance to ever see each other in real life again was slim. But the gods were with us and somehow we ended up only 10 km away from each other for a day. So we had to meet up and with a little push from my loving husband we did. Almost 10 years have gone by but for a few hours at old mans it felt like I was 25 again and no time had passed! It just shows that true friendship is stronger than time, distance and even drama. We got a second chance in friendship and I will cherish it Im happy my best friend is in my life again. I also believe in world peace again btw 😉

Goodbye Lombok – Gili – Bali, thanks for the memories.

We will meet again soon! Emirates has direct flights starting from june.. jeeeeeeeej!!!!!

#7 UBUD ——- Lombok – Gili – Bali


The drive from Pedang Bai to Ubud gave me a glimpse of what was to come. And yes everyone is right.. Bali is very beautiful. The main difference between Bali and any other lush tropical paradise is the temples and the grand entrances of the houses. There is no other place like it!!!

By the time we arrived at our hotel it was already dark but even in the dark we were very impressed. Our own specious jungle treehouse, complete with four post bed and bathtub looking over the jungle, was going to be our home for the next few days.

Waking up with a jungle view through the massive windows of a giant hut just  has to make you smile. And if that didn’t then the tiny monkey you spot from your bed would. The few days we had in Ubud sadly enough were rainy but we tried to make the best of it.

First on the list was to explore Ubud itself. Mark had been there about 7 years earlier and as expected couldn’t recognise much as the place had a boom of tourism since eat-pray-love came out in 2010. Even more crowded Ubud centre still has his charm especially if you get off the main road. After getting disoriented in the Market we went to rent a motorbike to help us with the rest of the exploring. In-between the rain we explored the village around our hotel that was set just a few miles outside of Ubud. Breathtaking sceneries to say the least. The green is greener and lusher then anywhere else. The roads are windy and tiny and everything you see is pretty beyond believe. I’m not into finding yourself and all the other floaty things that happen in Ubud. But if there was a place to find yourself I understand why people would try to do it in this place.

On day 2 we set off early by motorbike to visit Gunung Kawi. We were hoping to get there before the package tourists would arrive hence leaving early morning. It turned out to be a little bit further then we and my bum had hoped,  but by the time we finally got there we were still ahead of the large troops. Upon arrival you first have to descent down hundreds of stairs and  Milla did a fabulous job on climbing down. On either side of the stairs you have view over the rice terraces surrounding the temple. After we had finished looking around the temples we were up for a stroll in one of the rice paddies.  Inevitably we all took turns in sliding down the muddy walkways and getting stuck while pulling out the toe bit from our flip flips. Resulting in trying to balance hopping on one foot while trying to avoid sliding down a floor. Somehow I did picture it more romantic in my head. On our way back my walk through Idyllic rice paddies fields  experience took a turn for the worse. I will now never look upon them se same and I’m afraid the perfect picture is ruined forever. Close to the entrance of the rice field there was a pile of runny human poo and toilet paper that we only missed by a few cm. Every person I saw from then on for me was the creator of that pile and in my mind I thanked each one for making sure my careless rice field strolls have only lived a very short history.

I still tried to tell myself that this is nature and you have to take this with it if you want purity and real travel. But at the end there is no way I could learn to like human feces.

Time to take my feces phobia out on the stairs back up. Milla made it to the top on her own while we sang the Diego tune but instead of Diego it was Milla of course. Hup Milla go Milla.. Hup Milla go Milla.. Lalalalalalalala.

Just as we got to the top of the million steps (maybe I’m over exaggerating) floodgates were opened again and we were stuck in a café for a while but that wasn’t a bad thing. The café on top of the hill has the most awesome views over the hills and the rice fields with the volcano in the background. Especially after the rained the view was stunning. The landscape was letting off steam and the colours were amazing. I could have stood there and watched this forever. Instead of standing there we got on the bike to another temple and on the way there it seemed like every new view was trying to top the one before. Breathtaking!!! So my lesson here is the rain sucks big time but it makes things even more pretty when it stops. So be patient when it rains and go out as soon as it stops you won’t regret it.

The other temple we visited was called Puri Gunung Kawi Sebato. Almost the same name but completely different thing entirely. This one was situated around the water coming from the holy springs. The water was caught in a main secret pool and from there on it divided into different pools. On each side of the temple there were public areas. One people used to come and do their dishes or fill cans with drinking water and the other side was used for bathing. The Large pool was divided into two sections. One for woman and one for men. Milla and I went into the one for woman of course and to my surprise bathing actually meant bathing and not swimming. My husband took a picture over the wall before actually realising what was there. And after everyone left I took a few pictures of Milla to remember the crystal clear water. On our way home we passed hundreds and hundreds of traditional and art shops, a container wouldn’t be big enough to fill with everything we want.

The next few days it rained and rained and sadly enough didn’t stop anymore. So with pain in our heart we decided to leave in search of sunshine. Ubud and I however are far from done. I hope to continue exploring in and around Ubud soon.


All About Bluedolph aka Sven

Our last days in Gili T.. Took a bit of a weird turn as Milla fell in love with a plastic reindeer called bluedolf. She quickly renamed him to Sven (Frozen reindeer). Sven had been travelling with a couple to over 5 different countries. They were given Sven as a present and were dragging him with them for a while now and in a very weird way had become part of the family by doing so. The time that they had left in Gili T Sven would be temporarily relocated as Sven soon ended up in our bed.

On St Georges day (first time i even heard about such a day) the English tried to be English and had beach games and English food. We missed the food and games part because I was having my first Lobster ever at Scallywags. When we came back the goodies weren’t finished yet and we joined the crowd at Chappies (the bar in front of Manta) The betting was on… how many ‘ would it take to sink Bluedolf Aka Sven?  Some of us should at least have an idea because of our diving physics but anything went and there where bets between 5 and 80 kilos or so. Milla wasn’t all to keen on what was happening but she soon joined in for the fun as long as I promised I would rescue Sven if something went wrong. It took 3 people making it happen and after a bit of fighting back Sven Sank with 36 kilos. Soon after the excitement we took Sven to bed to get his well deserved rest and  the others partied on. It is after all a diving/party islandDSCF1590Indomanta2015©AnnekePeeters

Except for dealing with Sven we didn’t do so much in Gili T. We let of steam and after a few days we were relaxed and fine with doing everything at a slower pace. Letting go always is a bit of a struggle for us but Gili T forced us into Zenn mode and we thank Gili T for it. We did refresh our diving skills in the pool and Mark finally went diving while Milla and I got seasick on the boat like a proper hardcore dive instructor. Diving together did get postponed again. But at least one of us got wet so there is improvement.

I had been told over and over again by Nick (my ex boyfriend) what a great community of wonderful people Gili T had. Even though it was a weird way for us to meet them. It turned out that he was more than right. When the time came to leave we where far from ready, goodbyes where of a sad kind and we promised to return soon. The typical saying that some places use as a sales pitch came to mind several times. Come as strangers, leave as friends…… was certainly truth here!!!

The Day we left Gili T it was raining. Not the normal daily shower but the heavens had really opened their gates and it seemed like they weren’t going to close them anytime soon. By the time we got on the boat we were already soaked. The boat was a speedboat, a bus type as they call them here. I think it’s because the inside looks a bit like a bus? Now for this little girl this is a bit of a problem. No matter how many years I have spent out at sea, I still get seasick like a boss. As long as I sit outside and watch the waves I’m sort of fine. I’m sure you hear me coming.. yes outside and thunderstorms aren’t a great match, especially the roof isn’t a great plan because of the swell. So that left me a tiny bench on the back of the boat next to the 7 outboard engines. Milla fell asleep on my lap within the first half hour.  The wind, waves, thunder and lightning picked up fast and before we knew it we were getting soaking wet. I wasn’t feellng very safe as when we arrived on the boat we realised that we forgot Milla’s  life jacket in our bag that was now in storage. We asked for a life jacket from the boat. The answer we got was very unexpected. I wasn’t allowed a life Jacket for my 3 year old daughter because it would cause a panic with the rest of the guests. After trying to explain and even begging I still didn’t get a life jacket for Milla. They did allow Mark in to the luggage area and get our own. Not sure where the logic was in all of this but the fact that I wasn’t allowed a life jacket and the fact that he kept telling me forcefully that everything was fine made me believe the opposite. With every wave and thunder the conversation kept repeating itself in my head. I presume being worried beyond controle is sort of a mum thing,  but maybe not so handy for the type of mum who wants to be adventurous and cool.

Anyway after a while Mark took Milla inside and I stayed outside together with two people who seemed off their faces and kept howling at the wind. I honestly thought they were mad until I remembered that Ania and I used to howl at the wind back in the days when we lived on Frazer. After 3 soaking hours we arrived in Pedang Bai – Bali and I met for the first time and I could officially say that I was cold for the first time since we arrived in Indonesia.

#5 Gili T —- * LOMBOK – GILI – BALI*

Day 5 – 7

Taking in the sun and Rain and some diving at Gili T

After Lombok, Gili T was a bit of a shock at first. We needed to get used to people again. Especially the tourist kind. It took us a day or so to settle into the Island vibe and get into the pace of doing not much at all. My internet addiction is also getting help against my will as the internet on the Island is sometimes not there and other times very slow. Hence the main reason of me not doing any updates..

The main thing I can say is that its been hot and wet. Thankfully the second is not just because of rains. Thanks to my ex boyfriend we are staying at Manta Dive. The story behind it might be a little bit weird, but we were welcomed with open arms and are happy to be here. The dive centre and rooms are located right in the middle of Gili T where the boats arrive. It’s probably the busiest patch on the island during arrivals but it’s definitely not the loudest which is great if like us you need to go to bed early. The Island itself is all about diving in the day and fun at night with beautiful water and beaches as your playground. There are no motorised vehicles on the island. The main transport is by horse or by bike. You can walk around the island in about 4 hours to give you an idea how tiny it is.

On the first day Milla jumped into the pool with her snorkel and yes tiny fins thanks to the dive centre. Ever since then she has hardly left the pool. We did try snorkelling of the beach but without success as the surface was a bit rough for her. I do hope it will be quite at some point so she can actually see some fish. After all the main reason she keeps running around with the mask on her head is to see fish.

On the second day we got up early and jumped in the pool with our dive gear on. Time flies and Mark and I had not been diving for 5 years or so. A little refresher in the pool was in order. Neither of us had ever not dived for that long so no idea what that would do. It turned out that it was like riding a bike, the instructing part as well as the diving part. While we were in the pool doing skills Milla was snorkelling above us. I showed Mask replacement and Mark repeated it.. When I looked up Milla was also trying to clear her mask the way I showed it.. Cutest thing ever but it did mean I had to be underwater and on the surface at the same time as she kept repeating everything we did and the only words spoken where: I want to be a diver. This mum couldn’t be prouder of her little mermaid.

The only thing I find difficult here are the evenings. It reminds me of times when I was young and wild and free.. Or is that a song? No I can just see myself sitting here 10 years ago, because when I was on Koh Chang I lived this life once. It was a different place, but the same thing.. Diving in the day, a few beers in the evenings and lots of happy young people around all the time.  I love the life I have now but I can’t say it doesn’t do anything to be thrown back into it. But enough dwelling and like a good mum I will close down the computer and go to bed so my little princess and I can have a fun day while daddy go’s diving tomorrow. (and yes just daddy is going, I can’t leave her with strangers and enjoy myself) One day though I will dive again.. And it won’t be far off.. If we stay somewhere a bit longer. Next time.. next time..


Day 4

Kuta Drive – Lombok

After breakfast we packed the rental car and without a proper roadmap or GPS we started our adventure to the south of Lombok. In this quick visit to Lombok we try to have a little bit of an overall idea of what the Island is about. In 4 days this is hardly possible, that’s why I say try. At least whatever we see is more than what people to who just stay in the boundaries of their hotel, town or Resort. Now, I’ve driven in many places and Mark in even more but Lombok could be added to the list of adventurous place to drive. I’m pretty sure I even saw Mark closing his eyes and praying on several occasions while he was overtaking, but for sure he will never admit that. After a short drive through local towns we ended up driving though the islands capital and to our surprise even on Lombok there was a Mc Donalds, KFC and Pizza hut. Is there anywhere left on this earth that has not been taken over by fast-food chains? Soon the big city turned into towns again but the traffic never got any less. At one point there was police everywhere and we were asked to stop at the side of the road. For a second I was wondering what we had done wrong and I was incredibly relieved when the loud sirens raced past us. It turned out to be a really long convoy probably holding someone important. It was clear they were heading to the airport but until now I have no Idea who it was.

Near to the airport the traffic got less and instead of the exhaust smells we could finally  breath and take in the smell of the tropics again. There where rice fields as far as you could see. Local farmers were working their land dressed in traditional clothing and lots of kids playing on the sides of the road.. As we were getting closer to Kuta (not to be confused with Kuta in Bali, they are two entirely different things) the scenery started to change. We went from flat to hills and maybe even mountains. The rice fields gave way for jungle and here and there we saw signs of Traditional sasak villages. Even though I’m very curious to look into the local culture the fact that there were big tourist busses at those villages put us off. To tell the truth I have no Idea where the busses came from and where they would fill them. Maybe as a day trip from Bali? Senggigi where we stay is supposed to be the most touristic spot in Lombok. But there are only a handful of people there at the moment.

Finally we arrived in Kuta. We drove straight on direction beach. But we had to turn back because of the smell of toilet waste and garbage. This couldn’t be right? Luckily it wasn’t we took another turn down to the beach and this sort of looked more than what we had imagined. The big bay with white sand and shallow water where you can keep going. Sadly there had been storms so the water was murky and brought in all the sea grass. But you could defiantly see its potential. As soon as we got out of the care we were greeted by boys that sell bracelets. Even though we had made a pact not to buy anything on the beaches anymore as they ask way too much these boys were sweet and cute. At least the first 3 and then the next three and then the local sasak woman with piles of sarongs on their heads and and and.. We were the only white people walking on the beach and so the only one they could come to. It’s the one think about Lombok that we don’t like. And its the not giving up trying to sell things to you that you don’t need. They are everywhere all the time, and a no thank you isn’t enough. They try to hand Milla things, and then of course she would cry if we didn’t buy it. But together with us Milla is being trained and now learned to say; no thank you, nest time. I know these people are only making a living and we would never shout and or be aggressive especially not with the kids. But I do hope in years to come they will be les persistent, its more begging then selling and we can’t buy something from everyone. Cause when you do things happen like today. After giving in to those first 3 boys on the beach (when we thought that would be it) it ruined out that we had spent all our money and also our cash limit on the credit card had been reached.

There we where in Kuta but without money. After the walk on Kuta beach we drove down to the next beach hoping that it would be less murky for some reason so Milla could snorkel. On the way their way past the local monkey forest on top of a hill at the end of Kuta beach. This time we didn’t get out though. At the next roundabout near the Sofitel Hotel (strangely enough the only real resort until now) there was a lake. We had to stop there because lots of cows were being herded across the road to go for a swim. It was such an amazing and unreal sight and one of the reasons I love taking these drives. It was one of those you had to be there to understand it moments, and I was there.

We arrived at the next bay and it was as beautiful as the one before. The green hills going into the sea at each end and mushroom rocks coming out of the turquoise water. We put down our Sarongs and soon panick got the best of me. Nooooooooooooo SANDFLIES!! I sat there and Mark was ready to pack up and go. (He had seen me react to them once before) These just jumped but didn’t seem to bite perse so I got into the water knee-deep. So Milla could snorkel but our little princess didn’t like all the loose seagrass floating about so we got out anyway. We took another boiling drive into Kuta town again and stopped at the Warung with the cheapest advertised food. Nasi or Bami Goreng for 10.000 rupiah this we could definitely still afford. While sitting there we took in what was going by( in-between people trying to sell us things) Lots of backpackers on their bike with a surfboard just following the waves. I looked at them and I saw myself again a few years ago and then I looked at me now. And again I was in this twilight zone.. My head and heart is still back there, but my body is somewhere else. As much as I enjoy still being part of the bag packing scene for short periods and as much as I don’t mind sweating or teaching my 3-year-old how to use a hole in the ground toilet. Or how much I love figuring our where you can get the tastiest cheapest food, or how much I love spending us much time as possible with locals. I can’t say I didn’t really enjoy the refreshing swimming pool after a long sweaty drive back with a sleeping sweaty toddler on my lap back to our hotel.


Day 3

Monkey See Monkey Do – Lombok

After a night full of heavy rain and thunderstorms Milla woke up with the words “I want to see monkeys”. In my mind I said thank you to the guy at dinner who had put the idea in her head.

After breakfast there was still nothing else coming out of her mouth but Monkeys, so we asked around how we should get to the Monkey Forest. We had a motorbike but that wasn’t a great idea as the drive there wasn’t safe for Milla. So we took a normal taxi. On the way to the hills where the monkeys live, we passed the local market and some villages. I was surprised to see how poor Lombok really is. The conditions some people had to live in where shocking.

You can’t compare it to Thailand and you can’t compare it to some worst of places in the world that Mark has visited. But it is poor and everyone we have met never waited long to share with us how difficult things are.

Tourism and the money it brings can be good I guess, as long as it doesn’t spoil more than it gives. Lets hope for the people here that some more tourists will come, but without bringing the downside of tourism that we have seen in so many other places. When you read the guidebooks is says that Lombok is authentic, real and pure, That for sure is the least you can say about it. Until now everyone we have met has been so kind and welcoming and I wish already that we could stay longer to explore more and to be able to accept all the invitations we had to go to people’s homes. But for now we only have one day left before we head off to Gili and then Bali.

To get back to Milla and her monkeys. They were not hiding!! As soon as we got a bit higher up in the rainforest they would be along the side of the road everywhere. The first place our driver could stop he did. It was a viewpoint where you could see the ocean from the mountains. Some monkeys were up a tree a little bit down the road. Mark went to them with a packet of peanuts. He opened that packet and within a minute a monkey came down and instead of taking the peanut he took the packet and climbed up a road sign. He was kind enough to share with his friends so that was nice of him. Mark got another packet of peanuts and the monkeys followed him to where we were sitting. It turned out they are still pretty sweet here in Lombok and they come to eat out of your hand without stealing all the other stuff you have with you. Of course we all thought it was fantastic and me too I enjoyed the spectacle very much. And I can’t say my heart didn’t melt when a monkey held my finger for a while. But at the same time I had mixed feelings as I’m all for leave the wild animals alone. If you feed them they get less scared of humans and that it its own will bring problems with it. I’m not even sure if peanuts is good for them and if this happens more and more they will probably get aggressive like any other monkey in any other touristic place. For now it’s fine as Lombok doesn’t have so many tourists, but I couldn’t help being cross with myself for not informing myself better before we left on this adventure.

After Milla’s little monkey fix and her being used for holiday snapshots from the Indonesian tourists, we drove back to the hotel. This time from the other side, meaning we got to drive all the way down to Senggigi from the harbour on winding beach roads. There where coconut palm fields, rice fields and on the beaches itself there were no hotels in sight. Just lots of local fisherman and their families. I couldn’t help but wonder how long it would take for tourism to take over. And I’m still not entirely sure if thats a good or a bad thing.

When we got back to the hotel we got on our motorbike straight away to visit the hindu temple close to us in Batu Bulong. Before entering we were asked to wear a red ribbon and make a donation. The temple  itself is named after a hole in a rock and of course it has a hole in a rock with a pretty little temple around it. Milla wasn’t to impressed and wanted to go back to the pool to swim so that’s what we did and that’s where our day ended.

#2 Lombok —- * LOMBOK – GILI – BALI*

Day 2

The day Milla learned to snorkel.

We woke up and had a relaxing breakfast after which we chose to get ripped off by some beach punters. I needed a sarong and was feeling soft-hearted. My old backpacking self was nagging in the back again but I felt like pretending I didn’t care for once. So we paid way to much for a sarong and some bracelets. Lets just hope they are doing something good with the money, like give their kids something extra. After getting ripped off we took a Taksi to Senggigi town to reload at the ATM.

We quickly returned to the pool because we had promised Milla to go swimming. We got the masks and snorkels out and placed ourselves on the sunbeds with a view. Milla was eager to get in the water and after a while she asked for her mask (until now she liked the idea of snorkelling but as soon as she got the mask on her head she bailed) this time however she seemed really keen. She has been obsessed by fish and maybe she now understands that without the mask she won’t be able to see any when we get to Gili T. Whatever it was that went through her brain it worked. For sure it wasn’t us pushing her. As much as I secretly wanted her to snorkel this trip I didn’t keep high hopes for success. (She only is three after all)

We were in the water with her and there was minor success but definitely a lot of improvement so I was already happy. Mark and I got out of the water, and this is when the magic happened. She asked for her mask and snorkel and jumped in. I wasn’t keen on giving it to her at the start, resulting in me being ready at the edge of my seat to jump in if I needed to. But something went click and she put her face in the water and kicked her little feet to the stairs of the pool. She got out, jumped in halfway the pool en repeated what she had done before, and again, and again, and again. I don’t think I have ever been so proud in my life. I actually cried! My little girl is a mermaid just like her mummy. She is even a better one!

The rest of the day we hung around and then rented a motorbike to go for food and a look around into town. Milla in the middle just like the locals, with the main difference that I brought a helmet from back home for her. She loves it!

My mermaid, expat and travelling girl. Im so proud!

#1 Lombok —- * LOMBOK – GILI – BALI*

Day 0

Travelling to Jakarta 

We set of for the airport in Dubai early morning after dropping off the last bits and pieces to the new house. As always DBX was smooth travelling. A lot of here you go’s , please mam and thank you’s while being escorted to cut in everywhere and anywhere because you are travelling with a child. Even the people waiting to board open up the row on their own account (like when Moses split the red sea) to let you go first.

The only obstacle we came across is Milla losing her dummy. You know this dummy that she needs for sleeping, the one they don’t make anymore and on top they don’t make the blanky anymore that holds the dummy and of course  its the only one she wants. As always I brought spare but just the idea of one day not having that spare anymore freaks me out completely.

After settling in on the plane we started our 7 to 8 hour travel. The plane was only half full so if we wanted we could slap anywhere. We were traveling during daylight hours so that wouldn’t really be necessary.

In front of us were to young arab boys. I think they were Egyptian from the sound of their dialect but I wasn’t entirely sure. About half an hour into the travel they caused a bit of a commotion as they had a bottle of whiskey and their intention was to down it in one. From living in Egypt there were thousands of stories going though my head. However after the crew took the bottle from them without a fight they fell asleep and slept all journey.

Another painless journey had passed. Emirates always manage to spoil our little princess which only helps with the travel. We landed in Jakarta around 22.30 local time, got our luggage and went to emigration only to realise that we forgot about the visa application on arrival. After they did the custom visa office trick (trying to let you pay four times as much because we didn’t have local currency) we went to the ATM machine and waited inline again to pay only what we needed to pay this time with Indonesian rupiah. The next thing we needed to do is to pass passport control and then we would be able to sleep. A few people in front of us needed to do the same and they took a really long time bribing the officer as we waited and waited and waited, while money was taken and put back and taken again and finally they went through.

I believe this is where Milla stopped showing patience with anything. She was really tired and after walking into a chair leaving the plane she now got stuck with her bum and legs up in between the desk and the foot railing. Time to get the slingshot baby carrier out!! Even that didn’t really help. After the ‘Taksi’ took us to the IBIS airport hotel and we dropped ourselves on the bed I was a happy mum again. Happy to have a sleeping exhausted child and happy to have felt the tropical heat and to smell that typical smell of Asia.

Day 1

More Travel – Arriving on Lombok

After a good nights rest on a comfortable bed and jet lag not spoiling to much we had breakfast and took the shuttle bus to the airport. Ready for our last stint from Jakarta to Lombok we tried to check in at the normal Garuda desk. The girl behind the counter giggled and someone came to translate that giggle for us. ‘WE HAD BOOKED BUSINESS CLASS’.. What????

We went to the business class check in that was in a different building and tried to figure out what happened and how much it has set us back. Turns out that when we checked the total price while booking it was the one person price. The fact that we booked in Rupiah a currency we don’t understands but that has a lot of zeros at the end didn’t really help. Anyway damage was done so we should better enjoy what was coming. And we did..Only little Milla didn’t really realise how special the big chair was that she was sitting on.

Business Class for all
Business Class for all

A short flight later, were we got to see what was coming from the air, we landed in Lombok. My luggage came straight away, but Marks didn’t. So we waited and waited until there was nothing to wait for anymore. When we didn’t have another choice anymore we accepted the thought that it was gone and Mark went to baggage claim. Few minutes later he came back with his bag. Apparently they load first class on a cart for you and they forgot mine. Nice gesture but not really failsafe as we noticed. We walked out of  the airport and there were about 10 Taksi desks right in front of us shouting and another 30 people to the left of us shouting. My first thought was: why didn’t I read up on Taksi prices on the plane and what was the name of that good Taksi company again. That of course didn’t stop them from shouting so whatever they said I said 200.000 less and we went with whoever still stuck around in the end. The one still had to pay off another one and since having a child I’ve become to soft. Instantly I regretted haggling on the price and maybe I even regretted not going with the official Taksi. Anyway those things are the love/hate things about travelling. There is no decent travelling without taxi haggling I guess.

Driving about 10 minutes the sky broke open and rain started to pour down in ways that it can only do in tropical countries. It however didn’t really make our driver go slower, maybe it even did the opposite, but thank god the rain stopped after a good 10 minutes. During our drive we overtook every other car, bike and truck that was on the road in Lombok that day. I saw my own funeral several times as on numerous occasions we avoided a head on crash only by millimeters. I managed to keep my screams from coming out in noise and put a polite (I’m not scared smile) on my face. While I was putting on my show, Milla was sleeping for the whole drive.

Welcoming rain
Welcoming rain

After an hour of racing against chickens, dogs and people we arrived in the Chandi boutique resort near Senggigi. It sounds fancy and it is fancy. Every time we make it to a place like this, my inner 25-year-old bag packing self, is looking at me disapprovingly. For years I believed that you can only call it travelling if the place you are staying has no AC, no pool and is built out of bamboo. And then I became a mum and things changed. Even though we still don’t use the AC it’s just nice to know when it’s there for when Milla is too hot during nap time in the day. A pool is safer to let her swim on her own and well yes those kinds of places are sadly enough built from concrete. Now this place was even a step higher than when we usually just try to get the previous things for the least amount of money possible. This place is only possible cause my husband saves up free hotel nights through For every 10 nights he gets one free. Because its business hotels he stays in during the year we can afford descent places here and there. This was definitely one of those descent places. It had an open bathroom that I love so much, it had lots of glass and was sett on a grass patch full of coconut palm trees with a beautiful naturally looking pool all facing the sea. The resort was on the main road but still in the middle of nowhere. Locals living on each side, and around sunset there would be a never-ending line of them Knee deep in the sea trying to catch whatever they would eat that evening.


Just as Milla and er dad came back from exploring I saw a bird on its back on the floor in front of Milla. It wasn’t moving much but it was alive, I screamed (I’ve got a thing for half dead animals it upsets me more than any other person). Mark picked it up and Milla was loudly impressed, but not really understanding that the bird was in pain. We found a basket and put the bird in a basket and secured it on top of an orchid that was growing on one of the palms. This way it would be safe from whatever was crawling around and also from Milla. It just laid there, hardly moving and hardly breathing. Every half hour Mark would pick up Milla and let her have a look. I didn’t have high hopes for the bird and thought we would have to make a bird funeral, but by midnight it was gone. Leaving only a little bit of birdshot behind in the basket. We looked around to see if it was somewhere on the ground but noting. All of us couldn’t be happier that the little bird was flying again, and every bird that comes near is now the bird that we rescued coming to say hi and thank you. At least in Milla’s world that is the only truth.

At night before closing my eyes I couldn’t help but think about bay lan bay back in Thailand. How that place had no AC, no pool, no lock on the door, no glass in the windows, no luxury, but it was so perfect. If only I could find a place like that again someday.