My Experience Staying in a Homestay, Ubud, Bali

I decided to stay in a homestay as I usually like to stay in accommodation that reflects the country’s culture. Rumah Roda Homestay is a traditional Balinese family compound where three generations live on the property. The pool and garden separated the family living quarters from the homestay allowing some privacy.

Rumah Roda is situated on a quiet lane and walking distance to the busy main street. Nearby a ten minute walk takes you to the rice fields.

A book named ‘A Little One O’clock’ has been published portraying the family history. More information available on their website at

Rumah Roda Homestay overlooking the Pool

The Homestay overlooks a tropical garden surrounded by Hindu statues and a delightful swimming pool. The rooms were very large with a bathroom, air-conditioning, fridge and a large terrace.  The cost for one night is from IDR400,00 (about US$23) which included breakfast.

A restaurant is open all day overlooking a lane where you can view daily Balinese life.  Tea or coffee is available all day, Balinese coffee is delicious.

Terrace outside Rooms where I relaxed in the Afternoons

Overlooking the Roof Tops

In the mornings I walked in the heat, visiting temples and sightseeing.  Afternoons I relaxed on the lovely terrace outside my room, overlooking the rooftops, writing in my diary and reading a good book. A small temple nearby would play Balinese music every evening creating a Balinese ambiance, this was so peaceful and relaxing.

Whilst I was staying here there was a three-day Hindu festival called ‘Gulungan’ The family decorated the statues in the garden and made Bamboo decorations that lined the streets of Ubud. The family cooked me a traditional lunch consisting of Pork and Balinese vegetables.

Hindu Statues

Festival Decorations

The family and the staff at Rumah Roda were very friendly and as I was travelling on my own; it was nice to have someone to talk to.  I took two trips with the owners son to Tellallang Rice Terraces and North Bali.

Dharta the owner of the homestay speaks good English, is a character and was very helpful.

Driving on the Right around Moorea, Tahiti

Moorea, Tahiti

Belvedere Lookout

After relaxing for three days in my Fare I started to get itchy feet. So I decided to rent a car for three days from the owners of the Fare. Moorea is about 10 miles in width from the west to the east, it took me about one hour, twenty minutes to drive around the island. Driving on the right, with the steering wheel on the left was challenging, but the roads were quiet and the speed limit is 65km.

I had one bad experience where I drove for about thirty five minutes to find a restaurant that was open.  It gets dark at 6.30pm and the time I finished dinner it was dark and started to rain quite heavily, there is hardly any street lights and I couldn’t see a thing. It was very scary but I made it back safely to the Fare.

As I was driving around the island it seemed like every corner I turned there was another amazing Jagged Volcanic Mountain.  The scenery was stunning.

Moorea, Tahiti

Moorea, Tahiti

The first European to arrive on the island were Englishman Samuel Wallis and James Cook. Captain James Cook first settled on Tahiti and then he took his ship with Samuel Wallis and went onward to Mo’orea. He first landed in ‘Ōpūnohu Bay, Cook’s Bay was later named in his honor.


Opunohu Bay, Moorea, Tahiti

Opunohu Bay

Parts of the 1984 movie ‘The Bounty’ (starring Mel Gibson) was filmed in Opunohu Bay.

Moorea, Tahiti

Moorea, Tahiti

Moorea, Tahiti

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Staying in a Tahitian Fare, Moorea, French Polynesia


I booked this Fare through Airbnb, located on a French couples property on the Island of Moorea. Tahiti is known to be very expensive but this Fare was reasonably priced including breakfast and transfers to the ferry.

The Fare was made from natural materials including a traditional thatched roof.  The deck area was also a combined living area where you could enclose it with folding windows.  Bedroom and bathroom was separate and also had an extra bedroom on a mezanne floor. The property located on top of a hill had a beautiful garden of tropical plants, fruit trees and chickens.

I stayed in the Fare for six nights, the first three days it was quite overcast,  but I was happy to just relax read books, do some painting and catch up on some sleep. The breakfast’s were delicious and I had enough left over for lunch, yummy French Bread and Cheese.

Pineapples growing on the ground

Amazing breakfasts, hand made french pastries, tropical fruits, yogurt and honey

Beautiful Tropical Garden

My lovely bedroom

Bird of Paradise

The Driveway

Windows folded down


Banana’s growing in the garden


In response to The Daily Post Photography Challenge Solitude

Yunnan Minority Groups of China

Hani Women, Xishuangbanna, Yunnan Province

Source: longqueta

There are approximately 25 different minority ethnic groups in Yunnan.  Whilst I was staying in Lijiang I hired a tour guide/driver for the day and emailed before I arrived outlining what I would like to see. The main one was to see different ethnic groups.

Unfortunately when he picked me up he informed me that all the villages near Lijiang he had contacted were away for festivals.  He did take me to a Naxi village but I had already seen Naxi Women in Lijiang Square.

He did take me to a Tibetan Monastery which I loved, it was the highlight of my trip.  I also watched minority groups at a show in Xizhou Village, you can read about it here. I also saw a Bai lady in Dali whilst I was sitting in a cafe. These photos are from Flickr and I have asked for permission to use them on my blog.

Flower Hani Woman, Xishguangbanna, Yunnan Province

Source: lonqueta

Source: lonqueta

Hani Girls, Xishuangbanna, Yunnan Province

Source: lonqueta

Young Dai girl on bridge carrying baby (which was falling out); NE of Mengla, Xishuangbanna Region, Yunnan, China

Young Dai girl on bridge carrying baby (which was falling out); NE of Mengla, Xishuangbanna Region, Yunnan, China

Source: lonqueta

Yi woman

Yi Woman, Lijiang, Yunnan Province

Source: Linda De Volder



My Suburb ‘Beachhaven’ Waitemata Harbour Auckland

Beachhaven Waitemata Harbour AucklandBeachhaven, Waitemata Harbour, Auckland

Beachhaven situated on a peninsula at the end of the Waitemata Harbour, Auckland.  I have lived in this suburb for eleven years. Our local harbour beach has some lovely sunsets, I have spent many summer evenings here with friends for a barbeque and drinks.

Beachhaven, Waitemata Harbour, Auckland

Beachhaven Auckland

Beachhaven, Waitemata Harbour, Auckland Beachhaven is situated on a peninsula at the end of the Waitemata Harbour, Auckland. I have lived in this suburb for eleven years.

In the summer there is yacht races every Wednesday evening and Sunday mornings.

Beachhaven, Waitemata Harbour, Auckland Beachhaven is situated on a peninsula at the end of the Waitemata Harbour, Auckland. I have lived in this suburb for eleven years.

This play boat named ‘Children of Beachhaven’ was restored in 1970 by a man named Frank Larkin.  He transported metres of sand from across the harbour in his boat.  Moored with a rope and tied to a tree on the beach, children can pull on the rope to maneuver the boat.

Beachhaven Auckland

A painting I entered into an Art Competition.  ‘Beachhaven Sunrise’

In response to The Daily Post Photo Challenge  Local

Samoan Culture and Traditions, Savaii, Samoa

Savaii, Samoa

Whilst we were staying at Lauiula Beach Fales, Lano Beach the young man who worked on the fales invited us to watch him cook some traditional Samoan food.  He made a dish called Palusami which is taro, coconut cream and onion wrapped in taro leaves.  He prepared the fire first named a Umu using coconut shells, then adding stones. When they were hot enough he added the Palusami which took about 40mins.

Savaii, Samoa


While the food was cooking he gave a demonstration on how to extract the milk from a coconut, using a handmade coconut grating stool.

Savaii, Samoa


He invited us to church on Sunday, my sons werent that keen so I went on my own.  Each village has its own church and there seemed to be a church on every corner. They are usually painted in bright colours and families dress up for the service. I was invited into the pastor’s house which was behind the church and his wife made me a coffee.  We then went to the church service, which was all in Samoan.  There was music and singing which was beautiful.

You can read more on Samoan Culture and Traditions here

Below is a few pics of my three sons:

Savaii, Samoa

Son No. 3

Savaii, Samoa

Son No. 2

Savaii, Samoa

Son No. 1

Rickshaw Run Across India from Kochi to Jaisalmer

A guest post from my oldest son Gareth Jew:

At the end of this year two friends and I from humble New Zealand will be attempting the Rickshaw Run, a 2,500km trip across India from Kochi to Jaisalmer in a seven horse power three-wheeled rickshaw. Starting 1st January 2017 over seventy different teams will be joining us, and it all happens to raise money for charity! This is organised by ‘The Adventurist’s.

One of the biggest challenges we will encounter will be the vehicles themselves. The rickshaw has the same top speed as your average ride-on lawnmower, tends to fall over if you go around corners too fast, and breaks down constantly, and that is all if we can manage to get the thing started.

We do however get to decorate our beast of a vehicle as we see fit, which makes for a colorful race as each team will be doing the same. We have decided to go with the theme of a cricket playing duck, nicknamed Ducky Bollinger, to try to attract favour with the fanatical cricket fans of India. To commit to the theme, we have decided that despite the extreme equatorial heat, we will start the race in our recently acquired duck ‘onesies’, and challenge local kids to some backyard cricket throughout the trip.

Embarking on this mad mission without an honourable motive would seem a waste, so of course, this will all be in an attempt to raise money for charity. We have selected the Bowel Cancer Foundation Trust to benefit from our efforts, a cause which is close to our teams heart.

You can find more information on our journey and follow along at:



White Water Rafting Kawarau River Queenstown New Zealand

White Water Rafting on the Kawarau River and one of the movie sets for ‘Lord of the Rings’

White Water Rafting Kawerau

Me sitting front right ‘Screaming’

Many years ago I worked for a tour a tourist information center, part of my job was to travel in New Zealand. I traveled by bus with a group for a week around the South Island.

One of the activities was White Water Rafting, in Queenstown. It sounded quite scary but decided to give it a go as I had already declined the bungy jumping. White Water Rafting is fantastic in New Zealand, but I hear it’s pretty awesome in places like California as well. So if you live in the SoCal area and you’re looking for a fun group activity, then you might want to have a look at somewhere like so you can set up a day on the water.

There are 6 grades for white water rafting, we did grade 1, for 1 hour, a small part of the Kawerau River. I was the last person to get on the raft this was a big mistake as there was only a seat left at the front of the raft. When the boat goes over a rapid it creates a wave, so sitting at the front you get the full impact of the water hitting you in the face.

I was terrified of falling into the river and held on tightly to the ropes. The raft did not flip and no-one went overboard.

Although it was scary I am pleased I did it, definitely a adrenaline activity!

White Water Rafting Kawerau River Queenstown


Pillars of the Kings, Kawarau River, South Island

Kawarau River starred as the River Anduin in Lord of the Rings, so it’s like paddling through Middle Earth.

The Argonath or Pillars of the Kings scene was shot just 100 meters upstream of Kawarau bridge. The Pillars themselves were computer-generated.



Visiting Milford Sound, South Island, New Zealand

I visited Milford Sound about 25 years ago.   We were going to fly one way from Queenstown and bus back, but unfortunately we couldn’t fly because of the weather.  So it was a long day busing both ways, it took about four hours each way from Queenstown.  The scenery is amazing as you mostly drive through rain forest.

We took a boat ride for two hours. It was a misty day with light rain, but created an eerie atmosphere.

The fiord remained undiscovered by Europeans until Captain John Grono discovered it c.1812 and named it Milford Haven after his homeland in Wales. Captain John Lort Stokes later renamed Milford Haven as Milford Sound.


Maori Myths

The Māori named the sound Piopiotahi after the thrush-like piopio bird, now extinct. Piopiotahi means “a single piopio”, harking back to the legend of Māui trying to win immortality for mankind – when Maui died in the attempt, a piopio was said to have flown here in mourning.

Milford Sound, South Island, New Zealand MILFORD SOUND SYLVIA 3 Milford Sound, South Island, New Zealand Milford Sound Milford Sound, South Island, New Zealand

Photo Credit: