Monthly Archives: August 2013

Treetop Adventures in Bali

The Treetop Adventure Park in the Botanical Gardens in Bali gave us several hours of thrills and excitement.  There are 7 adventure circuits within the trees from between 2 – 20 meters high.  In total there are 72 challenges including Suspended Bridges, Spider Nets, Tarzan Jumps, Flying-Fox, Flying Swings, and many more fun challenges.  All of the circuit platforms are held in place using an innovative compression system to protect trees from any damage and all of the cables are protected from cutting into the trees.

Once we arrived, we were kitted up in the safety harnesses with pulley and carabiners.  We then completed the training circuit where all of us learned how to  work the safety harness (1 of the 2 carabiners must always be attached to the guide wires) and how to work the pulleys for the flying fox zip lines.

The different circuit levels for ages 4 - 74!

The different circuit levels for ages 4 – 74!

The 4 of us having fun on the wires in the treetops!

The 4 of us having fun on the wires in the treetops!

We started on the Squirrel Yellow Circuit and Isabelle was straight up and taking the lead.  She was so confident and having so much fun doing it!  She was a little scared at some points but managed to keep going.  Oliver, who always wants to do everything that Isabelle does, kept up with us all on everything!

Isabelle high in the trees!

Isabelle high in the trees!

Oliver climbing like a monkey!

Oliver climbing like a monkey!

Smiling in the tunnels!

Smiling in the tunnels!

Owen on the Flying Fox Zip Line

Owen on the Flying Fox Zip Line

Me getting confident on the Flying Fox Zip line - look, no hands!!

Me getting confident on the Flying Fox Zip line – look, no hands!!

Once we had finished the Yellow Circuit, we went on to do the Green and Orange Circuits.  My heart was thumping on the Orange Circuit, and I was not sure that I was going to be able to finish……  (I used to be such a dare devil, but the older I get, the more I do not like heights).  However, seeing that Isabelle and Oliver had both finished this round, I could not let them see me wimp out!

Super nervous on this one.  Owen had to talk me through it!  I was so happy to finish this circuit!

Super nervous on this one. Owen had to talk me through it! I was so happy to finish this circuit!

Walking high and confident!

Walking high and confident!

Isabelle loving 1 of the Flying Fox Zip Wires

Isabelle loving 1 of the Flying Fox Zip Wires

Oliver on 1 of the Flying Fox Zip Wires

Oliver on 1 of the Flying Fox Zip Wires

After we had completed the 3 circuits that the kids could do, they wanted to start all over again!  So, we went round again, but this time Oliver went first.

Owen and Isabelle on round 2!

Owen and Isabelle on round 2!

Oliver in the lead!

Oliver in the lead!

So much fun!

So much fun!

Wheeee - we love Bali!!!!

Wheeee – we love Bali!!!!

 

A Bucket List Day

In 2009, after watching the movie “The Bucket List” and after going through a full physical for the first time in my life(!!), I wrote my own Bucket List.  Number 1 on my list is: “African Safari – ride an Elephant, see Gorilla’s in the wild, see Victoria Falls (between Zambia and Zimbabwe).”  There are 78 items on my Bucket List and vary from the very simple (Number 12 – See a spectacular sunrise. This one is complete – it was the sunrise from top of Mount Haleakalā on Maui Island in Hawaii) to the hard-to-achieve (Number 77 – take off and land in a plane on an aircraft carrier in the ocean).  Number 25 on my list is “Go White Water Rafting”.

On Thursday August 15th in Bali, I managed to do 1.5 items off my Bucket List!  After a 45 minute drive from our villa in Seminyak to the Bali Adventure Tour center, we were shown to the locker room.  After stowing our change of clothes, we then went to get kitted out in helmets, life jackets and collect our paddles!

Ready to go!  Oliver & Isabelle with Wayan, our fantastic guide.  Life vest - check; helmet - check; paddle - check!

Ready to go! Oliver & Isabelle with Wayan, our fantastic guide. Life vest – check; helmet – check; paddle – check!

As you can see, they are used to children as young as Isabelle and Oliver as all their gear was sized for them.  There were about 500 steps down from the reception center to the River Ayung.  These are well built, with solid handrails and are wide enough to accommodate a couple of people.  It is just a long walk down – Owen and the kids had jelly legs at the bottom!

The view from half way down the 500+ steps

The view from half way down the 500+ steps

Nearly there!

Nearly there!

Isabelle and Oliver were a little bit scared at this point.  Time for a Family Jones Motto" Feel the Fear, and Do It Anyway!"

Isabelle and Oliver were a little bit scared at this point. Time for a Family Jones Motto: “Feel the Fear, and Do It Anyway!”

Once in the raft, the action started.  It was just us 4 plus Wayan in our raft, so a very personalized and fun experience.  The rafts had safety ropes and foot holes and none of us fell out!!  We spent about 2.5 hours going down a 9.6km stretch of river, navigating through 33 class II and III rapids.  Superb unspoiled rainforest, rice paddy fields, waterfalls that seem to drop from heaven and the most spectacular 500 meter stone carving were our views for the entire ride.

Posing by a part of the stone carving.

Posing by a part of the stone carving.

Along several parts of our journey, Wayan stopped the raft so that we could get out and take photos and stand underneath ice cold waterfalls!  The picture above is just one small section of the 500 meter long carving in the rock.

Rock Carving

Rock Carving

More Rock Carving

More Rock Carving

More Rock Carving

More Rock Carving

Posing with another part of the Rock Carving

Posing with another part of the Rock Carving

Time to move on :-)

Time to move on 🙂

This ice cold waterfall appeared to fall out of the trees.  It was very powerful and none of us could stand under for more than a couple of seconds.

This ice cold waterfall appeared to fall out of the trees. It was very powerful and none of us could stand under for more than a couple of seconds.

Photo opportunity!

Photo opportunity!

Brrrr - this is cold Mum!

Brrrr – this is cold Mum!

At one point, at a particularly good rapid drop off, Bali Adventure Tour photographers took photos of us.  I love this set of 5 because you can see the surprise in the kids faces as we come over the rapids…..

Woo hoo - this is SOOOOO much fun!

Woo hoo – this is SOOOOO much fun!

Fun, fun, fun

Fun, fun, fun

Over we go.....

Over we go…..

Kids faces are a picture.

Kids faces are a picture.

And, repeat for 32 more times.  Awesome!

And, repeat for 32 more times. Awesome!

Once we reached the end of the rapids, we had to climb back up more stairs.  Another 500 steps and this time all our legs were jelly!!  Oliver, the charmer, was carried some of the way by Wayan.

Wish I had been carried too!

Wish I had been carried too!

When will we get to the top??

When will we get to the top??

The facilities were excellent with good showers (including shampoo and soap!) plus hairdryers.  Once we were all clean, it was up to the top of the building for a buffet meal and rehydration.  Great views over the rain forest and rice fields from here.  This was a very short turnaround as we needed to get in the bus to go to the Elephant Safari park, Taro, Ubud.  This park is an official member of the World Zoo Association and meets International Standards for animal care.  It is set in more than 2 hectares of eco tourism landscaped botanical gardens, surrounded by national forest.  Acclaimed as the World’s Best Elephant Park, the facilities include a full Reception and Information Centre, a comprehensive Museum, with a large collection of elephant memorabilia and the only Mammoth Skeleton in South East Asia.

For people who know me well, this chance to get up close and personal with these incredible animals is a dream.  I have collected elephants in all forms (except for ivory, of course) since I was little.  I have supported specific campaigns through Ele-Friends and the WWF to protect these magnificent creatures.  All of us had the opportunity to hand feed them, touch them, take photos with them, and then – best of all – ride on them in a night time safari.

Arriving, and I am so excited.  This is a dream come true for me.

Arriving, and I am so excited. This is a dream come true for me.

Oliver posing with a lovely statue outside the park.  Little did he know that he was just about to do the same thing with a real one!

Oliver posing with a lovely statue outside the park. Little did he know that he was just about to do the same thing with a real one!

This lovely gentle giant is 30 years old.  I fed him for about 20 minutes!

This lovely gentle giant is 30 years old. I fed him for about 20 minutes!

Owen feeding the Big Daddy!

Owen feeding the Big Daddy!

Oliver and Isabelle being presented with a garland.

Oliver and Isabelle being presented with a garland.

This elephant is resting her trunk on my shoulder and breathing down my back.  It was very ticklish.

This elephant is resting her trunk on my shoulder and breathing down my back. It was very ticklish.

This elephant was our favourite.

This elephant was our favourite.

There are 3 baby elephants in this Safari park and successful breeding is a sure sign of animal wellness.  The elephants in this park are the Sumatran elephant and is the smallest in the world, up to five times smaller than its African cousin (which are actually my favourites).  While they can be gentle and playful, they have strong and unique personalities and get bored and despondent if they are just hanging around.  They also need to exercise, so their rides through the jungle is a key to their happiness and health.  (The weight of two people is easily borne by an 800 kilo creature).  After we had fed a few of the elephants we walked over to the Mother and Baby.

So fuzzy, so cute!

So fuzzy, so cute!

The Mummy's poop contains partially digested food that their babies love and are full of nutrients.  YUCK!

The Mummy’s poop contains partially digested food that their babies love and are full of nutrients. YUCK!

Quite amazing to see these animals sitting down!

Quite amazing to see these animals sitting down!

There was a brief “talent show”.  3 elephants played football, basketball and walked along the beam that these 2 are sitting on above.  While an elephant skillfully kicking a soccer ball or wielding a paint brush may seem a little gimmicky (and made me a little uncomfortable), I have learned that in the wild they will often kick around coconuts, or use sticks, pebbles and leaves to make pictures in the earth.

Isabelle and Owen enjoying their elephant night time ride.

Isabelle and Owen enjoying their elephant night time ride.

WOW - that was BRILLIANT!

WOW – that was BRILLIANT!

BRILLIANT!

AWESOME!

End of the day and the kids could not resist a cuddle with 1 or 2 more statues

End of the day and the kids could not resist a cuddle with 1 or 2 more statues

Feeling sorry for the wounded, bandaged ele.

Feeling sorry for the wounded, bandaged ele.

The elephants are beautiful!  They certainly looked healthy and happy.  I believe that the wild is the best place for all animals, but due to human devastation, most of the Elephant land in Sumatra is now unavailable to them.  If you would like to see the elephants that we fed and rode on, then check out this link:

http://earthcam.com/indonesia/bali/?cam=bali1

Oh – I have now completed 19 of the 78 items on my bucket!  Number 25 – complete!  Number 1 – partially complete!

Birthday Girl – Brunch at the 2nd tallest tower in Shanghai

On May 20th last year, we enjoyed the Lobster Sunday Brunch in the tallest tower in Shanghai – the SWFC (Shanghai World Financial Center), AKA the Bottle Opener.   When we asked Isabelle where she would like to go for her birthday lunch out, she said the Bottle Opener as she wanted Lobster, Crab, Shrimp and Prawn “on top of the world”.  (I cannot think where she gets her expensive taste from!!!)  Well, this year we had to make do with eating this in the 2nd tallest building in Shanghai as the “Shanghai Tower” is now officially taller!

The Shanghai Tower, the SWFC (Bottle Opener) and Jin Mao Tower.

The Shanghai Tower, the SWFC (Bottle Opener) and Jin Mao Tower.

Scott, Jo, Georgia and Saskia joined us and we had a lovely leisurely time.  All the kids had fun too!  Brunch is in the Park Hyatt hotel which occupy the 79th – 93rd floors of this tower.

Georgia, Oliver (in Isabelle's shades!), Saskia and Isabelle

Georgia, Oliver (in Isabelle’s shades!), Saskia and Isabelle

The view across the top of the Jin Mao Tower to the Oriental Pearl Tower.

The view across the top of the Jin Mao Tower to the Oriental Pearl Tower.

The view of the Shanghai Tower - construction is still going on the upper levels.

The view of the Shanghai Tower – construction is still going on the upper levels.

Saskia, Oliver, Isabelle and Georgia posing by the statues in the lobby.

Saskia, Oliver, Isabelle and Georgia posing by the statues in the lobby.

Saskia, Scott, Isabelle, Jo, Georgia, Oliver, Sara & Owen - a fab lunch out!

Saskia, Scott, Isabelle, Jo, Georgia, Oliver, Sara & Owen – a fab lunch out!

The most important thing is that Isabelle really enjoyed her birthday meal out!  Happy Birthday to my sweet girl xx

While the mice away…. 2013 version

It was a difficult summer for me last year because I spent too much time away from Owen and the Kids.  This year we have worked it a little differently, but it is still almost 3 weeks apart and it is heart breaking for me not to see them for so long.  I realize that I am being selfish as everyone (all of our Ex-Pat friends who have kids!) leaves Shanghai in the Summer and they would be so bored, but it doesn’t make it easier for me.  So, I fill my time with work, work and more work.

And…. maybe a little play.  I have 1 full weekend by myself.  I fill Saturday by getting my hair cut (for some reason, I feel guilty doing this on any other Saturday when the kids are here because I work so much during the week).  I also have a mani/pedi and massage.  Such luxury!  Then I spend Sunday reading books, lazing by the pool and finishing off by catching up with some friends in the evening.

Waiting for the family to return………

Views of Shanghai

As I flew down to Shanghai (into the Hongqiao airport) from Beijing this week, I had an amazing view across the city.  It is really quite the reminder of how many people live here because as far as my eye could see, the landscape is filled with apartment buildings and sky-scraper office blocks.  Oh well, you have to put 24 million people somewhere!

Apartment building after apartment building.  Most of these are 15-25 floors high.

Apartment building after apartment building. Most of these are 15-25 floors high.

As we got lower, I had a fantastic view (below).  This is a low smog day, but you can still the haze across the city.  It would be wonderful to take this picture on a completely clear day.  The tallest building on the right of the photo (immediately below the wing tip) is the building that I work in – Wheelock Square.  This building is 298 metres tall and has 61 floors – I work on the 47th floor and have a great view.

The view to Downtown Shanghai.  The Bottle Opener can clearly be seen.

The view to Downtown Shanghai. The Bottle Opener can clearly be seen along with the new tallest building in China – the Shanghai Tower.  You can barely make out the Oriental Pearl Tower at the left of the 2 tall buildings.

China’s tallest structure, The Shanghai Tower, is almost complete.  Construction is supposed to be officially over on August 3rd with an opening scheduled for early next year.  It is also going to rank in the world’s top 5 tallest buildings at 632 metres high with 121 floors.  They have been building it since 2009.  It has been designed and built with many “green” themes and has won awards in both China and USA (architects) for this.  This is what it will look like when complete:

The Shanghai World Financial Center aka "The Bottle Opener", the Jin Mao Tower and The Shanghai Tower - new skyline of downtown.

The Shanghai World Financial Center aka “The Bottle Opener”, the Jin Mao Tower and The Shanghai Tower – new skyline of downtown.
Source: http://www.asiagreenbuildings.com