Morning One in Ubud, Bali – Roosters, Ducks and Fish – Oh My!

I wake in my over the top comfy 4 poster bed to the sound of rain splashing gently on the ground outside my room. We’re just at the end of the raining season – early March – and rain is a relatively\ constant companion to most day trips – but it’s not a sit at home rain – it’s an on again/off again rain that is gentle and warm. Totally brightens the colors.

What – besides the rain – woke me? I hear the clacking of ducks outside – with the occasional loud cry of the local – and apparently in good voice and not in a good mood – Rooster.

I grab my iphone – it’s also my camera – and dash outside. The colors are completely stunning. The lush greens contrast with the reds and yellows and oranges and purples of the flowers. I’m dutifully impressed. Our house overlooks a rice field – sections of which are flooded and provide a perfect breeding ground for a local flock, carefully tended by an elderly, but still very capable man. I’m going to try for a photo op – but I think he needs to see me as someone friendly first.

Our rental home – found by my friends on VRBO – which now I can see clearly around – contains 2 bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms (and the master bathroom is even nicer than mine – with an indoor and outdoor shower), a long and thin main room with a work desk, a TV and a sofa – and what passes as a kitchen. There’s a full sized fridge – a 2 burner stove top, and a tiny toaster oven. But there’s plenty of storage, a giant sink, and since water in the pipes is not potable – there’s a dispenser that holds those plastic 5 gallons water containers. The main living area is the back porch – and it’s huge. At least 40 foot long – with 2 comfy sofas and a wooden dining table that is totally Balinease. Perfect.

The thatched ceiling is vaulted and at least 25 feet high at the highest point. Since the living room is not Air Conditioned, the tops of the walls don’t meet the roof. Instead there is room for lots of air circulation – even if the glass doors to outside are closed.

But the coolest part of the house are the water ways. You enter by stepping on huge stones that are sitting in a pool of water. All around the ouside of the house is flowing water in narrow streams – several sections of which are wide enough to house fish that Liane feeds every night. You are always surrounded by the sound of flowing water – but it is a bit ‘watch your step’ when exiting the house. You don’t want to miss the edige and fall into the water.

There’s a lovely infinity pool that drains into a white rock studded drain – a wooden resting platform with a roof for relaxing out of the sun – and sun chaises to relac in the sun.

Rumor has it that the place is for sale – $200,000 buys you a 28 year lease – at the end of which time – the home goes back to the owner of the land – who can sell it again. hmm – Not buying in Bali I guess. But hey – I’m not even the rentor – just the guest of the rentor. It’s perfect.

I’m sitting on the desk, typing my blog, when a young woman rounds the corner of the house. She owns the land (houses in Bali can not be owned outright by foreigners – instead they get a lease on the land), and has come to bless the house.

I’m going to repeat that so you’ll know it’s not a typo. Yes – she’s blessing the house. Every exit – and every stair case (just one – but if there were more, she’d be keen). She is carrying a large tray with flower baskets and Incense on it – and proceeds to go to the 2 stone altars on the property. She uses a flower placked from one of out trees to waft the smoke from the incense into the altar. She repeats this process again and again, at the edge of the pool where you would exit it, on the stairs leading up to the porch, on the porch just above the stairs, at the front door and the back door – Keeping this up until every entrance to our house is protected and blessed.

I discover in walking around that all the women have been doing this today – and there are tiny baskets with flowers and the remains of incense sticks everywhere. More popular sites have piles of baskets – as each woman did her personal series of prayers.

What a lovely introduction to Bali. Birds flying everywhere – flowers everywhere – and the protection of the spirts.

Great coffee too.

I might stay here a long time! It’s perfect.

Signing off to enjoy the peace and quiet and to commune with the spirts of the house who are feeling very warm and fuzzy – The Soup Lady


6 Basic Rules for picking the Perfect Vacation Rental!

How do you pick a B&B or a hostel? With places like VRBO, HostelWorld, and AirBnB competing for your Reservation dollars – finding the best place to spend your holiday bucks is getting more and more complicated.

My solution – 6 basic rules!

These rules may seem simple, obvious even – but I’ve traveled around the world on them – in places were I don’t speak the language, don’t have a tour guide, don’t know a soul. And have had great success in picking places to stay that worked out perfectly – my one oops – I forgot my rule #2. Serves me right I think. So read and remember.

Rule #1 – Location. No matter how good the B&B is – if it isn’t where you want to be, it’s useless. I loved the Agit in Seoul, South Korea – but if you need to stay in Prescott, Ontario – the Agit is not going to do it.

Rule #2 – Reviews matter. Seriously. It is really important to check the reviews – you’ll get some bad ones – it happens, but if there are lots of reviews, and they are mostly positive, it’s a good sign. Actually – it’s a great sign. I’ve never been disappointed in a place with great reviews – nope, it’s the ones with NO reviews that tend to scare me away.

Rule #3 – Know what is important to you. If the review says – great place to party – and you don’t party – stay away. It will be noisy – and you’ll be disappointed. On the other hand – if you are looking to met people, a place that is quiet and calm is probably not going to work out.

Rule #4 – Check prices. B&Bs, hostels, and hotels will list on lots of different web sites –,,, – the list goes on and on. So if you find one that seems right – take a minute to check other sites. The websites would rather you didn’t do that – and they try to rush you (5 people looking at this B&B right now) – but take your time. I’ve avoided some really bad decisions by just being a little slow.

Rule #5 – Know your price range. I travel ‘cheap’, I travel ‘upscale’ – and it’s really critical to remember what you can and cannot afford. I’ve never been happy with a choice when I forget to be sure it’s a price I’m comfortable paying. Forget this – and you too will be sorry!

Rule #6 – Correspond directly with your host. Ask a simple question (Do they have cats, is the bed King-sized, how do I get to you from the airport) – getting an answer will tell you two very important things – a) They can figure out how to communicate in English – even if it means getting help from their grand-kids, and b) They are real. Never underestimate the importance of real. When you get where you are going – you are going to want to figure out where to eat, how to get from here to there, how to get fresh towels. If there’s a host – and they respond by email, odds are they will respond to you face to face even better.

So them’s the rules – simple right?. But they work for me – and I’ll bet they will work for you!