vrijdag 14 december 2012

Find your inner yarn hero!

A little while ago I found out about Suzy Brown´s ´Woolwench´ on facebook. Suzy is a great Dutch yarn spinner (born in New Zealand though)...I added her to my facebook contacts, to stay updated on her beautiful work. Not long after, she announced her very first workshop: ´Find your inner yarn hero´! Of course I couldn´t resist, and subscribed together with my bestie Eef.

Last weekend it was finally time to drive to Suzy´s cozy home in Soest. Packed with our weels, lots of roving and fibers (and also some finished yarns for inspiration) we arrived. Normally I´m never awake so early on the saturday morning, but the drive was very worthwile! The rising sun gave the snowy world a magical touch...

(I should really stop making pictures while driving though...).

Anyway, when arriving at Suzy's, the room was already full with crafty ladies (or: 'women with wheels', as Suzy said!). Varying in age and origins, but all with one shared passion: spinning! More specifically, spinning 'art yarns'. That's what this workshop was all about: learning to make those wild kind of yarns, letting your creativity take a free flight and going crazy on textures and colors.

Suzy definitely knows how to spin art yarns. She had some of her finished hanks displayed in the living room...what an inspiration! Singles, thick & thins, coils, plied, and her amazing LOTR-themed yarns: every piece unique in it's own way and seemingly made with lots of joy and care. After seeing this, I decided to hang my own finished yarns like this (in hanks) as well, instead of putting them away as a skein or rolled up ball. It shows off the textures and colors way better!

One of the things I really hoped to do this day, was carding my own batt. Well, it didn't take long before Suzy invited us into her garage, where two Louet drum carders were ready to roll. There was a whole table of fibers, prepared by Suzy especially for this day. Mohair, alpaca, angora, BFL, glitters, merino...in all colors you can imagine. Us ladies felt like little girls in a candy shop: so many to choose from to put in our batts! Suzy showed how to us the carders, and only minutes later we were throwing fibers in the carders like crazy :)

In the next picture you can see my very first handmade batt, and the corespun yarn I spun of it. Suzy showed us exactly how to perform this specific technique. I should treadle slower than I'm used to though, to avoid getting to much twist in my yarn. I'm such a speed devil when it comes to treading, heheh!

Once back at home I finished this yarn, and set the twist using hot and cold water like Suzy explained. The final yarn came out pretty balanced, yay! The colors and glitters remind me of unicorns (my boyfriend was looking pretty weird when I said this though...hmm :P). Oh well, I'm proud of it anyway!

I couldn't help myself and just hád to make two more batts. For these I used some of my own roving (together with a selection of Suzy's yummy fibers) that I didn't really like. Now, processed into the batts, I love them more than ever, and can't wait to spin them up! One reminds me of autumn, the other one of the sea & mermaids (I probably shouldn't say this to my boyfriend as well, right? :P)

After some spinning, explaining and carding, it was time for lunch. Suzy and her friends prepared a wonderful and delicious meal for us, including pumpkin soup and an extremely tasteful carrot pie (one miss let me eat the leftover icing...I don't remember her name but I'm still thankful for that, my goodness!). With satisfied bellies we proceeded our spinning. Suzy taught us how to 'navajo-ply' on her beautiful LOTR-themed spinningwheel.

She also told us more about puffy coils, bulky yarns and auto wrapping. I almost can't remember every little thing, but she was so thoughtful to make a summary for us on paper, including beautiful color pictures. 
Suzy: thank you for this wonderful day. It was SO worth it to meet you and to be educated by you! I'm inspired to bits again and driven to spend every free hour behind my wheel. 
To all the other women with wheels that were there: thank you as well, for your pleasant company and inspiration! Maybe until next time! X

vrijdag 5 oktober 2012

Urban Exploring

A little while I was driving through the neighbourhood with my boyfriend, when we noticed an old, abandoned building. Not too big or special or anything, I´d actually seen it a few times before...still it wouldn´t leave my mind that day. It would be such a nice place to make some photos! So...that evening I asked Mark if we should try to enter it for some shots...he was up for it (him being less scared but also more carefull than me actually makes him the perfect ´partner in crime´), so we packed a bag with neccessities and took the leap.

It was quite easy to get inside the building, since the fence around it was wide open. Entering the building itself was neither a problem, it had no windows or doors left and seemed to welcome infiltrants with open arms. We actually picked a perfect evening for our adventure, the sun was low on the horizon, shining into the building...her beams animating the graffiti art on the walls.

The building had 2 floors and a basement. A pillar that was covered with tiny blue, shiny tiles, looked pretty misplaced in this interior, probably one of the few items that weren´t harmed by the years of abandonment. The rest of the interior was mostly cracked up.

Here are some instagrammed pictures of the building:

At one moment it became too dark to shoot any more proper pics, so we decided to leave...but right then some guy closed the fence! Not sure if we were even allowed to be there, we hid behind the walls untill we were sure he had left, and climbed quickly over the barrier. I´m glad no one saw us. Even though we did nothing wrong and just took some nice shots (artistic purposes, right?!), it still felt a bit felon-ish :P

Visiting the building made me very curious about what it had been in it´s more glorious days, so when we got home I started googling the address. After some online research I found out it had been a milk factory, build in the first years of 1900. I found a réally old picture of the factory in it´s good years:


The factory has been empty for quite some years now. I discovered that we weren´t the first photographers over there...the building has been the location of many photoshoots and even a porn movie (oh my goodness!). Even though the ruin has been an eyesore for many years now for most villagers living in it´s neighbourhood, it´s still not taken down, for unknown reasons. It will be demolished one day, that´s for sure...only nobody knows when.

Finding out about the many photographers that went ahead of us into the old building, made the experience a little less special...but I discovered something way more important: this activity actually has a name. It´s called ´urban exploring´. According to Wikipedia:

''Urban exploration (often shortened as urbex or UE) is the examination of the normally unseen or off-limits parts of urban areas or industrial facilities.''

And that discovery, ladies and gentleman...was the beginning of a new passion (like I don´t have enough yet :P)!

I´m not gonna write all the details of this ´exploring hobby´ down here (I myself still have to find out so much more about it!), if you´re interested you can google it and find lóts of interesting pages. There´s one page I´d like to share with you though, cause it explains the attraction of decayed ´wasteland´ pretty well, and gives some information about it´s emergence as well.

A lot of urban explorers are also passionate about photography and make it a goal to depict their urban adventures in their own special styles. Those shots can be found on ´urbex´ forums, often lacking any referral to the exact location of where the shoot has taken place...to prevent destruction and keep the crowds away. The beauty lies in the abandonement, right? The bar is set high, some pictures I´ve seen I can only dream of ever being able to equal (not talking about the shots themselves of course, but more of the skills of their shooters). But I try to keep telling myself it´s about the fun. Every professional has started as a beginner, with pictures they thought were not really worth showing. Might it be possible that they became better photographers because they díd show them anyway, listened to feedback they got about them, took advantage of the advice and allowed themselves to grow?

A specifically popular editing technique among urbexers seems to be the HDR editing. I´ve started to play with this technique a bit recently. I took the leap and placed two shots beneath: they were taken in the flourfactory in Leiden. I did not take three pictures (like you have to for the ´real thing´ with HDR), but used the HDR editing tool in Photoshop. What do you think of them?!


Well...that´s it for now: a little introduction to my newfound hobby. I´ve visited some more amazing abandoned buildings in the meantime, but more about those adventures later.

woensdag 12 september 2012

Closet Cleanout!

************** September 25th price drop! *****************

Hiya fellow dolly momma's! It's time for a little closet cleanout...all Lovalizious girlies (both Blythes & bjd's) have something up for adoption. Take a look to see if there's something you like!

PukiPuki & Lati Yellow

From left to right:
1. Blue PukiPuki set (leggings and sweater) - 12,50 usd
2. Grey Lati Yellow cardigan - 10 usd
3. Pink Lati Yellow jumpsuit - 12,50 usd


From left to right:
4. TTYA cargo overalls - 25 usd
5. Layered dress (also possible as top for MSD!) - 4 usd


From left to right:
6. White shirt - 4 usd
7. Pink & grey dress - 12,50 usd


From left to right:
8. Red dress - 6 usd
9. Green crocheted frog hat - 7,50 usd
10. Knitted striped white & pink cardigan - 8 usd
11. Blue jacket (JerryBerry) - 5 usd
12. Grey hooded cardigan with colored buttons - 5 usd
13. Nicky Lad raincoat - 3,50 usd
14. Green checkered overalls - 3,50 usd

And last but not least...a little lot: the above 6 items for 10 usd.


Ships from Netherlands

Netherlands$1.00 USD
Europe non-EU$2.50 USD
European Union$2.00 USD
Everywhere Else$3.00 USD

Send me a message at lisette.de.jager@gmail.com if you're interested, including the item number(s)!!

maandag 3 september 2012

A new spinning friend

For a couple of weeks now, a weird-shaped piece of wood is standing in my livingroom. For me it's a huge treasure, but a lot of people don't even know what it is at first sight. When taking a closer look, seeing a thread, a pedal and some kind of wheel...they might realise it's one of those old-fashioned things people used to spin wool with, probably imagining a grey-haired lady (with sheep in her backyard :P ) behind it.

Then what the heck is it doing in my livingroom? Well...I just like to spin :) It is só relaxing and fullfilling to see a new  yarn being born by using such a simple power as twist! And the colors, and fibers....endless possibilities to combine and play, aah! As you might have read earlier on this blog, I've been spinning with a drop spindle since about January this year. It's a perfect and easy way to learn how to spin and to get familiair with different kinds of fiber and their characteristics. I learned how to draft and pre-draft, how to ply, set the twist, and even how to dye roving using lemonades. I enjoyed every part of it, so it was time for me to take it to the next level.

New spinning wheels aren't cheap though...and living on my own now, I can't buy expensive things that aren't absolutely neccessary. Of course a spinningwheel was very neccessary in mý opinion, but my common sense didn't agree on that one :P Second hand wheels are cheaper, but who would assure me they're still working properly? What if something breaks? It's not like the spinningwheel technique is very common knowledge nowadays... Luckily I stumbled upon this Dutch firm called Low Lands Legacy. They take in old spinningwheels, repair and revise them, and sell them again for a very good price, including 2(!) years of guarantee. Wow, that was just what I needed!

Last month I visited them together with my dad, who was recovering from an ear surgery, and probably bored as hell, since he offered to drive and accompany me (not being very interested in spinningwheels...still sweet though!). Hans and Gerrie, the couple that owns Low Lands Legacy, welcomed us with a cup of coffee, and lots of spinningwheels to try. They sell Louëts (a Dutch brand), and just started selling Kromski's as well...a Polish brand of spinningwheels (they're beautiful, with a very nice price for good quality). I had spoken to Hans before on the phone, and he already reccommended a specific spinningwheel after listening to my experiences and wishes related to spinning. He thought the Louët S10 would be just what I needed, a good, basic and allround spinningwheel to spin meters and meters (and even more meters) of yarn on. 

So...guess who became my new best wooden friend? 

Best thing about a spinningwheel above a drop spindle, is the speed. It took me ages to complete a full skein of yarn on my spindle, but now I can finish it in two nights. Plus: my arms don't get sore and tired anymore! I can just pedal away, and the yarn rolls itself around the bobbin. I LOVE looking at how my new yarn baby develops this way :) This craft might be ancient and very outdated, I just can't help that it gives me so much pleasure. Way too many things are done by machines nowadays, it's such a shame that the old knowledge of doing things by hand slowly disappears. Yes, I know, yarns are made 100 times faster these days in fabrics. But it's okay to slow down and take the time to do something yourself (no matter what, cooking, gardening, crafting...whatever!), just to experience that feeling of satisfaction and relaxation afterwards!

Of course I've been spinning way too much the last weeks (instead of doing the things I shóuld do, like cleaning, work on my commissions, study, etc.). In the picture below you can see some of the results. Even did one with beads, I'm especially proud of that one! I've listed them in my shop, just to see if anyone would be interested. I've so many yarns already, I can't keep them al for myself (if I keep spinning at this speed my house would soon be crammed with balls of wool). Take a look if you like, I'd love to hear what you think! Also tips for improvement are welcome :)

vrijdag 27 juli 2012

Indonesia: day 5, day 6 & day 7

Day 5 - To the Gili's

Waken early by Mark's cellphone, we got out of bed for the last time at the Gemini's hotel, to pack our backpacks for our move to the Gili's. Time to say goodbye to busy Bali, for now! We had breakfast near our hotel in a super cheap Indonesian café...I really didn't wanna know what the kitchen looked like, let's just say it wasn't a very neat place...but the breakfast was okay. After we finished our much needed coffee, it was time to take up some more money from an ATM, and Mark wanted to change some books. I never saw these kind of backpacker bookstores before, really love them! These little shops are literally stacked with books, most in English, but also quite a lot in Dutch, German, French, etc. They're al read, none are new, so you can get them for a good price...and when you've finished them, you can bring them back for a small refund or exchange them for other books. The concept is perfect: books are read way more often than when bought by a single person, and you don't have to carry a lot of books with you when traveling. I've always been quite a bugger when it comes to books: I like them new and neat. No folded corners or tears please, I want my bookshelves full of new-looking pretty books. Recently a change has been going on in this convulsive habit...it has something intriguing when a book shows off it's been used. Holding a book at the bookstore in Kuta, I wondered how many people read it, and where it had been before it arrived at this specific bookstore. It might actually have made quite some travels, and been enjoyed by people from al over the world, considering it was a backpacker bookstore! Plus it's quite economical, and an earth-friendlier use of paper...but well, I'm rattling now. Sorry :P Let's move on to our boattrip to the Gili's!

When we were ready to go, we sat down on the side of the street, to wait for...yeah, for what? The man from the transport office we spoke to the evening before, said someone would pick us up at our hotel, but we had no idea who or what we were actually waiting for. After a little while someone showed up, asking us if we were waiting for transport to Padanbai, from where the boat to the Gili's would leave. Well...yes, we were! He couldn't drive his van into our narrow street, so we had to hoist ourselves and our backpacks on the back of two scooters that somehow magically appeared. (One of the scooters was even driven by a guy that actually worked for a competitive transport firm in the street, who saw us struggling with our luggage...how kind!) At first Mark and I were the only ones in the van, but soon other travellers were joining us on the trip to Padangbay. I remember I was pretty tired, probably from al the impressions of the last few days and from getting up early, so it didn´t take long before I fell asleep... Using Marks shoulder as a pillow, with my head in the fresh air coming through the open windows, I was dazed by the background noise of the Balinese traffic. I actually believe we had a tiny rainshower during this trip (although I'm not sure anymore...I might have dreamt it :P), the only rain we saw in Indonesia!

The little ferry terminal in Padangbai was quite a busy place. A lot of Indonesian women were hanging around on the pier with baskets full of cookies and chips. The sellers in Kuta were okay, but these women were a bit too persistant...they just wouldn´t go away when you made clear you didn´t wanna buy something from them! It´s quite annoying when a woman keeps standing right in front of you while you just politely said ´no thank you´.... We really didn´t want to be rude, but honestly they made it difficult for us not to be! Unfortunately we had to wait quite long for our boat...so a lot of futile ´no thank you´s´ were said...but finally, our ferry arrived. In a short time it was fully stacked with travellers and backpacks, and we took off to Lombok. It was a glorious trip! At first we had to sit inside on the lower deck, but soon the crew allowed us to go upstairs to sit on the roof... With the music from my iPhone in our ears, the wind in our hairs, the sun on our skin and drops of water condensing around us, we flew over the Lombok Strait on full speed.

Early in the afternoon we arrived at Gili Trawangan, the biggest of the three Gilli islands. You can´t speak of a real harbour here, our ferry just stopped at the beach, and we had to wade onto the mainland. A lot of other traditional boats were lying around us, in al their colorful glory, waiting to be used for transport, fishing or snorkling excursions. They gave us a cheerful first sight at this beautiful island! Sweating with our heavy backpacks on our backs, Marks first priority was finding an icecold Bintang, and I agreed :) There´s enough booze on the Gili´s anyway...a lot of people come here to party (there´s not much else to do on the islands anyway). Cocktails and magic mushrooms are on almost every menu, signs on the side of the road claim to take you to the moon and back again. Even though drugs are strictly prohibited in Indonesia and penalties are severe, somehow the use of the shrooms and stuff are tolerated on the islands (as well as in Kuta, and probably lots of other places).

Once cooled down a bit, it was time to find a place to sleep. The crazy Canadian guys we met in Kuta (remember, at the Green Box?) told us about a place that sounded like paradise (especially since one of those guys was only going back to Canada to quit his job and return to Gili Trawangan, to start working at this specific homestay...I wonder how drunk he was :P). Whoever we asked about this place though (I can't remember it's name, it was something with 'coral'...), nobody seemed to know about it. Instead, loads and loads of other guys (some not older than 12 years old) tried to lure us into theír hotel, inn or homestay. Some were hard to refuse, cute little boys with big afro hairs (aahw...). In the end we gave up looking for that coral place, and tiredly surrendered to one of the recruiting little Indo's. He preceded us on his bike (his 'oh it's just about 100 meters away from here' didn't turn out to be a very accurate estimate of the distance to the inn, but oh well). Did I already tell about the Gili's not having any motorized traffic? There are only bicycles, and little horse-wagons. Only this fact makes it só relaxing to spend a couple of days on these islands. On Gili Trawangan, almost al buildings (= homestays/inn's, restaurants, bars, and rental offices) are on the main road, an unpaved way right along the beach. From this way, some small sandy roads turn inland, here you can find a couple of little houses (some don't even deserve that name) where the island inhabitants live. The rest of the island is, well...empty. Only palm trees, fields and beach!

The homestay the little Indonesian boy lead us to turned out to be a very beautiful place, even though it was quite a walk from the mainroad. It had cute little wooden cottages with a tiny veranda. The bathroom was roofless and had (yay!) hot water, and the bedroom was provided with air-conditioning. What else did we need? After installing our stuff we went for a walk right up the only hill on the island, to see the sunset. We took the ´touristic´ route, through the fields, meeting some Gili goats and cows along the way. Once on top, the sunset wasn´t that spectacular though, it was a bit cloudy. So...we went downhill again, deciding it was time to eat. Somehow we ended up on a silent road beside the beach, lighted by tiny torches alongside the quiet, sandy way. Slowly we we´re getting into busier areas again, while the scents of freshly roasted meat and fish floated towards us. The Lonely Planet really recommended eating at Scallywag´s, and since that was one of the first restaurants we we´re passing, we quickly settled down. The spare ribs on the menu looked too good to refuse, unfortunately we only got a couple of ribs...way too few for both Mark and me. Yeah, we´re carnivores, more meat please! Raawrrrr!

After finishing our ribs, Bintangs and probably watermelon juice (can´t remember, but chances are high I had one ;)) we had a big cup of Lombok coffee in a huge relaxing chair that could just hold the two of us. Mark almost fell asleep before the coffee was served to us...so his big cup of black yummie liquor was quite neccessary. Strolling down the mainroad a little bit later, we headed back to our cottage. Actually it was a good thing that it was so far away from the main road, ´cause the bars are open untill late at night and the music is loud. We weren´t covered from the Muslim prayer calls though (the Gili´s are, unlike Bali, Islamic), 5 times a day. Every summon was first performed by a child (which was pretty cute), followed by an adult. Oh well, you get used to it...even in the middle of the night :)

Day 6 - Snorkling & a Campfire

Yesterday we arranged with our hotel manager to go on a snorkling trip this day. After a lovely breakfast on the porch of our wooden cottage (banana pancakes, again!) we took off to the beach, accompanied by a boy from the inn. He asked us where we're from, and as soon as he found out we're Dutch, he began talking about drugs (of course, Amsterdam) and bicycles. He claimed to own a real Gazelle (it took us a while to understand what he was talking about, it's weird to hear a Dutch brandname said in English) from around the 80's or something, made of...here it comes: bullet-proof steel. Whaha, this made us laugh out loud! He was talking so proudly of a bike that would be só dated in the Netherlands, the cute silly boy! We soon arrived at the beach, to gather with the other snorklers. We met a girl and a boy from Brunei (they were both teachers there...what an amazing job!), who already did the Gunung Rinjani climb (which Mark and I were planning to do as soon as we´d arrive on Lombok). The girl (not too sporty) said she still had trouble walking due to muscle aches...and they didn´t even go to the summit! As a result of superbad weather it wasn´t safe for them to go any further than the mid-camp. So we started crossing our fingers for good weather already then...but we weren´t too worried about the toughness of the climb (if she could do it..then wé definitely could :P). As soon as everybody got a pair of flippers and goggles, we left the shore in our glass-bottom boat.

According to the plan of action, the boat would stop at three special places at sea, where we would jump into the water for our snorkling experience. The first stop was between Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno. Hoopla, we let ourselves fall backwards out of the boat, and started exploring the beautiful underwater world. Slowly we floated over the stunning coral, surrounded by countless little fish. Mark´s all-proof camera came in handy, I probably took hundreds of photos, heheh. Snorkling has something so hypnotizing...everything is covered in a blue-greenish glow, as soon as you submerge and enter that quiet aquatic atmosphere, the outside world seems far far away (even though it´s just centimeters above you).

Our second stop was at a place where wild turtles were often seen. There was quite a strong current, so peacefully snorkling wasn´t really possible here. Our guide jumped in first, and we had to follow in a long row. Whilst floating along the current, everybody carefully looked around, trying to spot a turtle. It took a little while...the current was probably tóó strong, even for the turtles. At last we found a few though (still not sure if it were two or three of them...it was a bit confusing, with al of us drifting at one place, trying to spot the beautiful animal). He was deep under water, but slowly came swimming upwards. He really had something majestic over him, so peaceful! Not much later our boat came picking us up (impossible to swim back against the current ;)), proceeding to Gili Air.

At Gili Air we tied up for lunch. There was a nice restaurant alongside the beach, with snug corners to sit down and relax. These comfy seats can be found everywhere in Indonesia (or at least at Bali, the Gili´s and Lombok). I´m not sure what they´re called...but it´s like a small wooden terrace (about 2 by 2 meters) above the ground, covered by a wooden roof on four corner poles. You just sit down on the wooden floor (most are provided with pillows). I really want one of these at my roof terrace at home! We ordered a heavy lunch, hungry from our snorkling experience. Mark went for some spicy Indonesian dish, but I decided to be kind to my belly, which was sputtering a bit against the change of climate every now and then. Gili Air is the smallest of the three Gili Islands, and also the most quiet one. We didn´t see much of it besides the restaurant (almost al bars and restaurants are in open air though, to give you a good image of our scenery :P), but the relaxed mood that is so typical for the Gili´s was definitely present.

Finishing our lunches, we took off again with the boat for our last snorkling spot. At this spot we were allowed to feed the fish with soaked bread. This was so funny! The fish just ate out of your hand, so you constantly felt their little o-shaped mouths tickling against your fingers, hahah! A huge crowd of fish gathered around us, I found it a challenge to let the bigger fish eat out of my hand (the smaller ones seemed a bit more heroic in obtaining the bread). Snorkling makes you tired though (don´t ask me how, but it does), and after a little while it was finally time to head back ´home´. While our group was under water feeding the fish, the weather had changed a bit, and the sea had become a bit rough. This resulted in a harsh navigation towards Gili Trawangan, at which no one kept it dry. Oh well...good reason to be thankful for our hot water shower, back in the cottage!

It was still early in the afternoon when we finished our shower, so we decided to do a bit more exploring of the island. Starting at our inn, we took off further inland. With every hundred meter we saw more Indonesians and less tourists... I guess most of them stay at the mainroad, only a couple of them passed us on the bike or by foot. A shame, because the inland (as far as you can speak of an ´inland´ at such a small island) has something pretty too! Strolling over one of the sandy roads again, we passed hundreds of palm trees standing in empty fields. It made us fantasize about buying a piece of that (probably cheap) land. (Oh well, dreaming is allowed, right?!) Arriving at the other side of the island, we came into a more touristic area again. It was still way more quiet here than the main road area though, there are only a couple of hotels, bars and inns at this side of the island, and most of them are a bit more expensive, more intended for older adults, romantic couples and families with children.

We turned right, away from the hotels and bars, and continued our way along the beach, almost completely empty. After a few hundreds of meters we found a nice spot to sit down and eat some cookies (those cookies accompanied me everywhere, since hunger seems to take me by suprise at the most unexpected moments). I built a coral garden (don´t ask), and Mark took paparrazi pictures (keep practicing hun :P). When the sun went down, Mark (the pyromaniac) couldn´t resist building a campfire. Don´t ask me how he did it, I wouldn´t have been able to make a fire at that place in a thousands years, but he succeeded. Such cosiness!

When it became darker and darker, it seemed sensible to head back, since we still had quite a long way ahead of us (longer than the outward journey, since we had to walk alongside the beach now, around the island to the other side). We sank down at the first restaurant that seemed fairly okay after our long stroll, and played with the kitties while waiting for our dinner. Did I already tell about the kitties on the Gili's? There are lots of them! I googled this, and it is said that there are even more cats than inhabitants on Gili Trawangan... There is something weird with those cats though: almost al of them seem to have a strange, short and stumpy tail. I should've asked one of the locals about this, but forgot about it, so Google was my rescue again. I was happy to find out the cats are not harmed or anything. Cats in Indonesia (yes, we also found some of these funny-tailed cats at Bali and Lombok) and elsewhere through Asia probably have descended from the Japanese bobtail breed. This, combined with the interbreeding taking place at such small islands as the Gili's, increases the chances that a cat will be born with the stumpy tail. Anyway, the cats are very friendly, and the perfect form of entertainment while you're waiting on your dish. Of course they get plenty of meat and fish from the open aired restaurants, so even though they seem not to be owned by anyone specific, they can live a happy and nutritive life at the Gili's.

I'm not sure anymore what we did after dinner, probably drank some Bintangs or cocktails somewhere alongside the main road, before falling asleep tiredly again in our pretty wooden cottage... I wondered if our cottage was waterproof, which was a véry stupid question according to Mark, but I really thought I saw cracks in the roof! Oh well...with a bed, airconditioning and tv with dvd player inside, the builders probably made sure no water would get inside...okay, stupid question :P

Day 7 - Relaxing Day...

We decided to stay one more day at Gili Trawangan, before leaving to Lombok. Time to recover a bit from our adventures :) Tired of al the walking the day before, we agreed on renting bikes for this day. I was happy, 'cause the bikes at the Gili's look so colorful and vintage! They are pretty small (a logic consequense of the fact that Indonesian people are never very tall) and some of them have cute little baskets on the steering wheel. I had to focus myself on the road pretty intensely though, since I suffered from an inflammation on both my inner ears a couple of weeks earlier...which still effected my balance a bit. Add my tendency to clumsiness , and you have a very unstable girl :P I also found out that biking on the sand of the beach is pretty much NOT possible, even though Mark said that I just had to ´speed up real quick´. Yeah right, like if that´s going to happen when your back wheel keeps slipping through the sand...aargh!

We hang out at a couple of nice cafes/bars on the beach (claiming our own snuggly wooden seats again of course), and swam a bit. I had trouble walking inside the sea over the coral stones in the water, and fell on my bum a few times. Ouch! Must have seen quite laughable, luckily Mark got used to my awkwardness already... At a cafe on the other side of the island (a very ´romantic´ (ahum...) place where a lot of couples were probably celebrating their honeymoon) we had a good view on a manly couple (manly is only pointing out here that they were of the male gender, and saying absolutely nóthing about their appearance). We really had a good laugh there, the two of them looked kind but SO misplaced at the island, haha!

Now we had the bikes at our disposal, we wanted to make the most out of our journey back to our cottage. So Mark preceded, and guided us through a real maze of sandy inland roads. The sun was already down, the bikes had no headlights and it was quite dark without the lights of the main road, so we had a few near-crashes. We passed some kind of open-air Muslim service (already wondering earlier what that monotonic sound we were hearing came from...) and a lot of cute, half naked Indo kids, waken up by the fresh evening air. Suddenly we were standing in front of the entrance to our inn, which took me totally by suprise, but which seems to happen regularly with Mark, whose navigation capacities are miraculous (in contrast to mine :P).

I had a little depressed moment at our cottage, suffering from the dumps. I guess you really have to be a woman to be able to feel down at such a wonderful island :P Oh well, Mark managed to cheer me up again with his silly songs. It was time to have our last meal at Gili Trawangan...the first meal at Indonesia that was a real failure. We made the mistake to order pizza at a restaurant that shouldn´t have pizzas on their menu. Mark ordered some (very regular) ingredient that - according to our waiter - had to be gathered in the garden first, and I had so many onions on my pizza that Mark would have slept in another cottage that night if that would´ve been possible. I couldn´t even wash away the taste (and smell :P) with the bucket of mojito we had after dinner. At least it was a memorable last night!

dinsdag 17 juli 2012

Pretty hairs on the bay

I just finished a thermal saran reroot! I decided to put it on eBay this time (instead of only on Blythe Kingdom, as I usually do). It's my first time selling something on the bay, so let's see how that'll work out... A selling fee of 9% seems quite a lot to me, but maybe it's worth it?

Anyways, here are some pictures to show you my latest dolly hairs :)

The reroot was done using the lock-loop method, and has a middle thatch. I used a coolcat scalp for it... The beautiful thermal saran turns from purple to hot pink when it gets warm!

If you're interested: quickly head over to the listing... Thanks for looking!

maandag 2 juli 2012

Indonesia: day 3 & day 4

My first night in Indonesia was good. Soothed by the airconditioning I fell asleep immediately, tired of the long trip to the other side of the world. I woke up full of expectations of what this beautiful island would bring me.

Before heading to day 3 though, I realised I forgot a little something in my previous travel blog: a meet with two snakes! Don't worry, we didn't stumbled upon them in the wild, they were carried by two people of some kind of snake shelter home. You could hold the snakes around your neck (or even on top of your head) for a photograph. At first I was a bit scared (they're still snakes, you know...they looked quite poisonous in their yellow and green colours!), but oh well, just went for it. I was flabbergasted by how tame, lazy and slow they were, I actually wonder if they were drugged for this purpose. Anyway, it was funny to feel them creeping over my shoulders, the sluggish movements of a snake really have something hypnotizing. After taking some pics we provided the required donation for the shelter home and said goodbye to our new lisping friends.

Day 3 - Tuesday: Let's surf!

The Gemini Star Hotel had no breakfast included, so we decided to eat something in one of the many little restaurants again, some of them offer breakfast too (and by that I mean the European version of breakfast... I like rice, but rice for breakfast is a bit too much for me. Besides, I already had eaten enough rice in the plane for a couple of days!). Mark had noticed Kopi Pot a few days earlier. Kopi is Indonesian for coffee, so it sounded promising for us coffee lovers.

On the first floor terrace I ordered Indonesian pancakes (the first of many), with a fresh fruit salad and iced coffee. Yummy! Mark had sandwiches and coffee...both meals were delicious and gave the energy boost we just needed (regarding we slept quite long... :P). A lot of Indonesians eat pancakes for breakfast, which are pretty much the same as the European ones we know. The fresh fruit (in salads or juices) can be found on every menu for very little money. The coffee is quite tasty too! Indonesians have a different way of making it: they put the ground coffee in a cup and then pour hot water over it. The grounds sink to the bottom, leaving a little layer of 'mud'. This means you have to be careful not to drink your full cuppa, or you will have your mouth full of grounds with the last sip!

Our plan was to arrange a surf lesson for the afternoon, both eager to learn how to master the waves. Kuta beach is a perfect place for beginner surfers, with a constant flow of relatively small waves. Mark, who had been to the beach a couple of times before, had made friends with a local woman selling Bintangs (Indonesian beer) and other drinks. Not knowing the name of this sweet little woman, he called her Bintang-lady. There are loads and loads of these locals on the beach, offering you a selection of cooled refreshments, a seat on some old plastic chairs and a bit of shadow under a parasol. A lot of the locals know each other as well (later we found out that many work for one 'boss', who gets most of the money), and they will stay with you when you sit down...but not in an awkward way. It's actually quite cosy, the locals are often interested in where you're from (to subsequently let you hear their best 'Dutch') and where you're planning to go during your holiday. Bintang-lady made us settle down as soon as she spotted Mark, and called in someone who could help us with the surf lessons. We were introduced to Mr. Long-Long (who was - guess what - even smaller than Bintang-lady), a guy who rented surfboards. Mr. Long-Long found himself quite funny, the silly man couldn't stop making jokes and urging Mark to please bring back a mermaid from the sea. Duh.. :P Anyway, after the neccessary negotiating, we arranged a one hour surf lesson for both of us, followed by one hour of practice by ourselves. Armoured with our huge (the bigger the steadier!) surfboards we headed towards the sea!

Some Indonesian guy whose name I don't remember (not Mr. Long-Long) explained to us how to get up on the surfboard. After practicing a bit on the beach first (pretending you're paddling while laying on the sand feels pretty awkward by the way) we were ready to try it for real. Shortly said it's al about waiting for a good wave, paddling like crazy and trying to stand up. Our teacher helped us by giving our surfboard a good push when a nice wave arrived. That way you don't have to paddle like your life depends on it, so you can focus on getting on your feet. We were both suprised by how quickly we succeeded to stand up (and stay that way for more than just three seconds). Later, when we were practicing by ourselves, we found out that it's a bit more difficult when you have to paddle al by yourself (we also found out that surfing is quite exhausting when nobody's pushing you :P), but still we managed to master some waves. Yay!

Tired, abraded (I had a real surf accident, another newbie surfed just right into my head!) and with no feeling left in our arms we sank down in our plastic chairs again, while Bintang-lady served us some fresh and well deserved Bintangs. Aaah...we felt so proud of newly acquired surfing skills! I would LOVE to become better at it and practice way more. As soon as I got back home from my holiday I checked the Internet to find out if golf surfing is at all possible in the Netherlands. Seems it actually is at a few places, though only with specific weather conditions. Plus it's quite a bit colder than in Indonesia, and also more expensive. Hmm...well, who knows! 

That evening we hooked up with an Australian friend of Mark and his Balinese girlfriend. We agreed to meet at a Mexican restaurant at one of the Poppies, where we had a delicious dinner together. It was nice for Mark to catch up with his old Aussie co-worker William, while his beautiful girl Lou gave us some useful tips and told a bit more about the Balinese daily life. We were planning to rent scooters the next day, though we were still a bit afraid of the chaotic traffic. Lou told us she was driving the scooter since she was about five (?!), her brother just got a motorbike for his birthday (those are even more dangerous :P). I think a lot of residents of Kuta (and many other Balinese places) never own a car in their life. The islands aren't that big, you can get pretty far on a scooter. You can even transport your whole family on it. Seriously: the smallest child precedes, than comes the father (who drives), another child is being pushed between it's parents, and at last comes the mother, who sits on the very end of the saddle. Works perfectly :P Anyway, after some more Bintangs and cocktails with said goodbye to Lou and William, and headed back to Gemini's. We were held up at the Green Box (the tiniest cocktailbar you've ever seen, completely in green) for more drinks and a talk with two crazy Canadians, but finally we reached our bed for another night of air-conditioned sleep.

Day 4 - Uluwatu

So...we wanted to hire scooters the next day. You can practically hire those vehicles at every corner of the street, while I can't think of a place in my hometown where they would be available for rent! We decided to hire only one scooter so Mark could drive, since I tend to be a bit clumsy every now and then (to put it mildly :P). With the Balinese traffic in mind, jumping on the back might be a better idea for me. Our destination was Uluwatu, a temple at the south end of the island, also called the Bukit Peninsula. It took us about 1-1,5 hours to get there...and we arrived safe and sound! Mark has been driving the scooter before, to deliver pizza's during his time in Australia, so that experience came in handy. It's funny how quickly you get used to traffic with no rules. Before you realize it, you're taking precedence like everyone else, overhauling other scooters going slower than you (because they have their complete family aboard :P) and honking the klaxon to let nearby road users know you're approaching. Did I also mention people drive on the left side of the road in Indonesia? Just like in Australia, so again, good thing Mark was driving. 

Uluwatu was definitely worth the visit. This temple was build in the 11th century, on a steep cliff 70 meters above the Indian Ocean. How's that for a nice location? The temple is an important Hindu place for the Balinese people, but also quite popular with tourists, who often come to see the sun sink in the sea at this beautiful and peaceful place. We arrived early in the afternoon though, which meant it wasn't too busy, and we had al space and time to discover the 'pura' (Indonesian for temple). A lot of 'wild' monkeys inhabit the temple site, prying at camera's, sunglasses and other small glimmering items. As long as you look closely after your possessions, the little animals are pretty funny. There are some big old ones, too lazy to even move a feet, while little baby monkeys run around, play pranks and pick fleas at each other, concurrently following the passing tourists with a curious eye.

We wanted to relax at one of the beaches on the west coast of the Bukit Peninsula after our visit to Uluwatu. There were quite a few of them according to the Lonely Planet, some of them still pure and free from tourists (except for surfers), although a lot of building (both commercial and touristic) is going on at the Peninsula. We ended up at a place called Uluwatu beach or Suluban beach, which we found more or less by accident. It has just one small entrance road, only passable by feet, leading you to a sweet little surfer's village on the cliffs. A lot of tiny shops with surf gear, clothes and souvenirs are shattered over the rocks here, varied with cafes and small restaurants to get the necessary refreshments while you can enjoy the amazing view on the sea. An old stair leads down to the beach, set in a sort of cave. I actually felt like entering a Pirates of the Caribbean movie or something! The surf is quite far away from the shore and only do-able for experienced surfers (though amazing to marvel at for us wannabe surfers). The tide in the entrance of the sea was quite strong, so we had a pretty wild swim there, heheh. A lot of little Indonesian boys were playing in the tide with their body boards, I loved watching them laughing out loud every time a wave threw them back towards the shore!

After having lunch at one of the restaurants on the cliffs (with watermelon juice again, of course!) it was time for us to get back to Kuta, if we wanted to avoid driving in the dark. When you hire a scooter  in Indonesia, you shouldn't automatically count on working headlights (or brakes, or a full tank, or good profile on your tires). So off we went, heading back north and blending into the busy traffic again. We saw someone with a bunch (a HUGE bunch) of balloons on their scooter, like those ones you can buy in hospitals. It was a miracle the thing could still drive (instead of rising up into the air). It was just one of the countless things I observed whilst sitting on the backseat. Tired of the day full of new impressions, with my arms around Mark, I watched the Balinese scenery passing by in silence, hypnotized by the sweet scent of Hindu offers, gazed and sometimes waved at by Indonesian children. These late afternoon moments I felt so completely satisfied and happy... The sun slowly sank to the horizon, and we arrived at Kutah just in time to see it submerge into the sea.

Another day passed by at Bali. A bit tired of the liveliness and chaos, we decided it was time for us to move on to the Gili's for some relaxing. We booked a transition by fastboat (these boats are still pretty new between Bali, Lombok and the Gili's...they're more expensive than the usual slow ones, but well, wáy faster), and arranged to be picked up early the next morning at our hotel. Organizing these kind of things goes so easily with the Indonesians...you just enter one of the many little transport offices, sign a paper and set a time for pick up. You leave with only a small scrap of paper (representing a 'receipt'?), wondering if you will really be taken up the next morning. But somehow it al works out! I must say...I wouldn't have any problem getting used to this more relaxed way of living and working, compared to the Dutch urging lifestyle, compelling you to plan things months ahead. Maybe it's time to emigrate? :P

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