Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bali - Part 1

Australia still celebrates Easter as a public holiday.  This means that each year, we get a long weekend with a Friday and a Monday off.  This year, the ANZAC holiday fell on the same day as Easter Monday.  Australia was good enough to give a five day weekend.  When we realized this, a number of us decided it would be an ideal time to take a trip.  We came up with a list of places we'd like to visit - all of them international.  From there, we looked at how much each trip would cost and how long each flight would take.  After all this deliberation, we decided on Bali.

We left for Bali on Thursday bright and early on a 6:30 am flight which worked out nicely cause then we arrived in Denpasar in the early afternoon.  We were met by our driver at the airport and shuttled to our villa.  Once at the villa we were met by our housekeeper, Made, who showed us around the house and then how to get to the beach and town.  She handed us our welcome drinks and then discreetly left us.

Our villa was very nice.  When I booked it, there were no reviews anywhere on the web so we were going into it completely blind.  It ended up being a good choice.

Our pool area - each of the rooms led directly to the pool except for the master which was upstairs.

Our entrance - if we didn't lock the door, the local dog would stick its head in and drink from the pond.

Our living room
We spent the first afternoon in the pool and then headed into town for dinner.  None of us had done much research on the area so we picked the first restaurant we came to which happened to be an Italian place.  Yes, Italian in Bali.  It wasn't fantastic but it was ok.  From there, half of the group went home as we were tired and the other half went out for drinks.  We had a massive storm that night.  The thunder was so loud that it shook the house.

Day two we woke up and the housekeeper, Made, cooked us up a real nice breakfast and ordered the car for us.  It was a rainy day so we decided to head to Ubud for the afternoon.  Our car driver, Johnny, took us on the 20km drive which took over an hour.  While we were there, we went to the Monkey Sanctuary which is also an active temple.  A couple of pictures are below:

This is who greeted us

The littlest monkey that we saw

The temple inside the sanctuary
From the Monkey Sanctuary, we then wanted to get lunch so Johnny took us to really nice restaurant that was in a rice patty.  The food was Indonesian, though I suspect a very westernized Indonesian.  Once we were done with lunch, Johnny took us back into town to the markets.  The Indonesians are very in your face at the markets.  Constantly trying to get you to look at things and if you showed any sort of interest, they didn't want to let you leave.  It was a bit much for me and I think most of the group was not in the mood to haggle so we quickly got out of there and headed back home.

We spent the rest of the evening in the pool and then had a very late dinner at Cafe Bali in Seminyak.  The best Mi Goreng I had the whole time I was there was at Cafe Bali.  The quote of the night was "Bintangs for everyone!"  For those of you unfamiliar with Bintang, its the local beer for Bali and it wasn't too bad.

For Day three, we choose to go down to the beach.  We spent most of our time on the beach in front of Ku De Ta, which is one of the prime beach clubs in Bali.  The beach was much like the markets though, in that there were people walking up and down the beach trying to sell you stuff and if you showed any sort of interest, you were locked in.
Lunch at the Ku De Ta was actually really, really good.  I had the burger and chips and it was fantastic.

After the day at the beach, we made reservations at a restaurant called Delicious Onion which is supposed to be really yummy.  Notice I said "supposed to be".  This is because Saturday night was a bit of a debacle.  We had 8 people and, in Bali, you can't get a big taxi - you have to get two taxi's.  So, myself, HA, GOM (aka Grumpy Old Man), and Mrs. GOM, hopped in a taxi and the rest of the group hopped into another.

We all thought the drive would take about five minutes.  About ten minutes into the drive, we realize we're not in Seminyak any longer and we're seeing signs to Kuta (which is known for it's night clubs).  We finally get to a populated road and the driver tells us that the restaurant is just up the street but he can't take us because the traffic.  We fight with him for a bit but finally get tired of it and start walking up the street.  We're not seeing the restaurant so HA asks a police officer who says it's just up the street to the left.  So we keep walking...and walking.....and walking.  Finally we stop again and realize we're no where near the restaurant.  HA again asks another police officer who looks at him like he's crazy and proceeds to tell us we're about an hour away due to the traffic.  We're flabbergasted.  I pull out my iphone, turn on the data roaming and look at the map and sure enough, we're nowhere near where we need to be.  The traffic is at a complete standstill and there's no way we're getting there.

We text our other group and tell them that we're not going to make it anytime soon and they should start dinner without us.  We, in the meantime, find a bar which is showing the Liverpool soccer match for GOM.  We proceed to have pub food for dinner which was absolutely disgusting, but on the bright side, very, very cheap.  We had four dinners and about 12 Bintangs for $440k rupiah (about $44). 

We finish up watching the game and decide to head back out on the street.  We came across a bar which was playing some hip hop so we decided to go in. We have a few Bintangs and start people watching.  This is my first exposure to the hookers of Asia.  Maybe I'm assuming but there were a number of attractive, young, unhappy Asian women with frumpy, older white men.  I made an assumption that they were hookers.  There was one young woman in particular that broke my heart.  The man she was hanging out with was drunk and loud and she looked like she hated life.  I decided I wanted to buy her.  This made the group crack up laughing - and here's why:  before the start of the trip, I had told all the boys that they were not allowed to have working hookers in the house - yet here I was wanting to buy the woman for the night to save her from having to deal with the annoying Australian.  Needless to say, I'd had a few drinks by this point but HA was able to talk me into leaving the woman alone.  Please be aware that everything I've said here is an assumption - I don't know for sure that she was a hooker.

Me with a Bintang

Outside trying to catch a taxi
That sums up the first three days in Bali.  Check out my next post to find out how we spent our last four days!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Project 52 - Week 15

I follow a blog called MCP Actions which gives alot of tips on photography.  A few weeks ago, they posted a blog on how to capture water droplets from a faucet.  When I was reading it, I thought it sounded pretty easy.  Of course, I should have known then that it wasn't going to be easy.

Tonight I had a bit of time so I thought I would give it a try.  I set up my camera in the kitchen and spent the next ten minutes trying to get a drip from the faucet.  That was probably the second hardest part of this whole project.  I then started taking pictures.  I used my wireless remote so as not to disturb the camera.   I quickly found that I didn't have enough light in the kitchen so I had to pull in every extra lamp I could find.  The kitchen started to look like a lamp store.

I found a few things to be aware of when you're doing this project:

1)  You need alot of light for this project.  You have to have a fast shutter speed to capture the droplet so if you don't have enough light, it just won't work.
2)  You need a large memory card.  You have to get the timing just right on these pictures so you'll end up taking alot of them.
3)  Clean your faucet.  You're taking pictures up close and personal - people will see the dirtiness! 

These pictures ended up being alot harder than I thought they would be.  I wasn't able to catch any droplets suspended in air.  I think I just couldn't get my shutter speed fast enough.  I'll have to try again during the day sometime when I have some extra sunlight coming into the house.



Sunday, April 10, 2011

Watts Up with Adam?

HA has changed his blogspot name.  He wasn't getting good reviews on the old one so we found a new one.  This all came about during our dinner with MayDay at an Indian restaurant.  Maybe you should live him a comment to blog about that night. :)

Be sure to change your RSS feed to get his new blog - Watts Up with Adam?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Project 52 - Week 7 [Catch Up]

I've decided that I'm going to try and catch up on my missed weeks for Project 52.  It might take me a while but I'll eventually have 52 entries.

One of the reasons I wanted to learn to take nice pictures is that I love to capture candid pictures of my friends and family.  I love the journalistic style of pictures where you capture a person in a very genuine moment.  One thing I've learned is a good candid shot still needs a lot of preparation.  You have to make sure your exposure is correct, the lighting is flattering, and the background/foreground will make a pretty picture.  Alot of the photographers that I follow tend to take alot of these candid type shots.  I love them. 

So when my friend LB asked me to take pictures of her and her family, I had to study up on how I would shoot them.  You may remember that I posted some pictures of her son, Silas, back in January.  LB and family are moving back to the states on Monday so it became imperative that we found some time to take pictures.  Unfortunately, our schedules have never worked out where we're both in Canberra at the same time.  Thankfully, on their last weekend in town, we were able to make it work.

We decided to meet up at around 8am so that we could try and catch some of the morning light.  But when we woke up, it was very foggy and overcast.  I got up a bit early so I could go check out the location Leah had suggested and to see if the weather was going to cooperate.  Thankfully, it was clear enough that I thought we could continue with the shoot.

Silas was very busy during the whole shoot.  I think he liked the shots where he could run around the best though he sometimes didn't like it when I got in his way.  He didn't much like the posed sitting shots but he cooperated for a few of them.

Below are some of my favorites from the session.  Thanks to LB for letting me practice with her and the family and thank you for letting me post them to the blog.


This is probably my favorite one!
Autumn Leaves

What's going on?

I had to include this one.  Silas wanted nothing to do with the wet grass.
This sucks!


Mom and Dad!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Project 52 - Week 14

If you follow my blog, you've probably noticed that I haven't been keeping up with my Project 52.  It looks like I've missed about 7 weeks.  I'm trying to decide if I just write off those 7 weeks or if I should try to make those weeks up.  What do you think?

This week for Project 52, the theme was Fusion.  I didn't really like the theme so I thought I would do my own thing.  However, after submitting my picture to the group, a number of comments have come back with ways that it can be applicable to the theme.  More to come on that later.

This past weekend, our friend LC (aka Clarkie) came out to visit from Brisbane.  We haven't seen LC in a long time so it was really nice to see him again and see what's been going on in his life.  We have a tradition when LC comes to visit that we play tourist in Canberra.  Last time he was here, we went to Parliment House and Questacon.  This time, we decided to go to the Australian War Memorial as neither he nor I had been there.

The day in Canberra turned out to be really nice - probably about 75 and absolutely beautiful.  This also meant that the War Memorial was very busy.  Either way, it turned out to be a great trip.  The musuem is very good.  If you ever decide to visit Canberra, I would highly suggest visiting the memorial.

While we were there, I told some of the iconic images of the memorial and they turned out pretty well.  For the most part, I was able to keep people out of the pictures but there is one with a man that just wouldn't move.  Let's see if you can spot him.  I decided to submit the picture of the Honor Wall with poppies as my Project 52 picture.

14/52 - Project 52

I've gotten a couple of comments with an interpretation on how this picture can be related to Fusion:  1) ANZAC is a fusion of words and 2) the fusion of life and death.  Pretty interesting interpretations.

Here are a couple more pictures I took while I was there.  The picture of the plane was HA's.

War Memorial Courtyard

War Memorial Courtyard

Mustang plane

After our visit to the War Memorial, we decided to have lunch at the Belgium Beer Cafe in Kingston.  That didn't go so well.  HA is considering making a blog about our dining experiences - Out with Adam.  Check out the blog and leave him a comment to encourage him to make his first post!