Next post will be all about Puerto Morelos I promise, in the meantime I have downloaded a slideshow of my favourite photos from my Bali birthday trip - see on the RIGHT column at the top, it is quite special. Years ago I thought I would end up living in Bali, it is an Indonesian island my family has been visiting since 1975, our second home. The 'muslim led' bombings in 2000 and 2001 and my discovery of Puerto Morelos changed that and I had not been back for 10 years when I landed at Denpasar on August 5th this year with my mother. The familiar rush of sounds and smells tore away the years and we quickly felt the joy of visiting this busy and yet peaceful and unique place. Most of our time was spent in Ubud which is inland north of the bustling Denpasar and away from the milling crowds at the beach resorts. The traffic was unbelievable as the town busted at the seams with European tourists. Ubud rose to fame in the 1970's when artists and crafts people from around the world were discovering the treasure trove of artists already residing there. Villages are known for their particular craft - stone carving, wood carving, silver, gold, caneware, glass, furniture, painting, masks and puppets - all of these skills are inspired by the Hindu religion and the rituals that are part of the daily life there. Religion is interwoven and inseparable from their lives with many hours of the day being devoted to worship at temple or to preparing offerings for the innumerable ceremonies. Twice a day in every household offerings are placed aroud the house, on steps, in entranceways, at each temple for their ancerstors a miniature basket of banana leaf is filled with marigold and frangipanni, a spoonful of rice then sprinkled with Arak and topped with a lit incense stick. Balinese live in family groups and find our way of living separately from our parents as quite primitive and strange. Inside one family compound could be the grandparents, aunts and uncles, children and grandchildren and their spouses. Various bungalows on the property would house the different groups and at the back of the land would be a rice field, a piggery, chook pens and so on. With the huge growth in tourism many families have chosen to fill in the land and build bungalows which are rented out to tourists, this is called a home stay and is a pleasant, comfortable and economical way to experience the culture. Our homestay at Sania's was an elegant bungalow with a massive carved facade, wifi, swimming pool, tropical breakfast and we often ate with the family at lunch. We spent days exploring the area and visiting other locations around the island and off the main island to the tiny Gili Meno. We also explored as many different types of foods and restaurants as we could, hence we were a little chubbier on the way home. It is a wonderful place and I feel at home there too so you'll be seeing a lot of this little duck living between Puerto Morelos and Bali. Haven't quite figured out the practicalities but you know me, I will.