September in Bali: Out of the Water

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I returned to Bali and took a short break from the diving. From my base of Permuteran up in the northwest of the island, I spent a day relaxing Bali’s Lake District, enjoying the cool air at Tamblingan Lake.

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It was lovely to admire a body of water and not feel the urge to dive in. I enjoyed the feeling of the cool air and being warmed by the sun instead of hiding from its much fiercer rays when down by the sea.

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We then headed to Jatiluwih to view the rice terraces. The intense green terraces were a marvel of human ingenuity and tenacity, and the coconut trees up on higher and cooler ground was a surprise to me.

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I was particularly tickled by how entire herds of ducks would take over harvested fields. They were probably scavenging for the scavengers that scavenged on the spent grain and leftover sheaves.

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Going closer, it seemed as if the entire field was quacking in symphony.

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We stopped by at the Botanic Gardens to admire the fountains…

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…  and the various, sometimes rather impressive greenhouses. This one was a desert hothouse, aridly beautiful in the stark light.

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And there were lily ponds galore, with the noon sun reflecting itself in the water.

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Our last stop was the Gitgit waterfall, a picturesque stream of water cascading down into a shallow pool, covering everyone below in a fine mist.

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Again, there was plenty of that wonderful green that made a good break from the diving.

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November in China: Fried Rice Un-Paradise

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Since Yangzhou was on the way back from Nanjing and Tangshan, we thought we’d stop by at the capital of fried rice. In Mandarin, fried rice is generally referred to as Yangzhou fried rice, just like fried beehoon with curry powder is called Singapore fried noodles and chicken rice is called Hainan chicken rice. We stopped for lunch at a fairly large restaurant and had an abysmal Yangzhou fried rice, complete with yucky extra-large and extra-starchy frozen peas. Yuck. It wasn’t the best experience, especially since the wait staff starting changing into their street clothes and switching off the lights at 1.30pm even though we weren’t even halfway through lunch!

We also stopped by Yangzhou’s biggest attraction, Shou Xihu (literally: skinny West Lake). It’s modelled after the many West Lakes all over China, in particular the one at Hangzhou. There’s of course a skinny lake and it’s surrounded by atmosherically grim weeping willows and lots of bridges and pavilions. The dreary weather, for once, added to the feel of the place.

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It was a long walk round the park and we only made it halfway round before giving up and heading back.

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Grey weather and tourist hordes notwithstanding, it was a decent place to spend a few overpriced hours. It is in the end just a garden.

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Though it did have some pretty but ageing flowers.

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