The Angelic Villas of Bidadari (Bali)


Bidadari Villas at Ubud is a Balinese destination in and of itself.  It is, at once, a physically amazing place.  Lush, beautifully landscaped grounds surround opulently appointed private townhomes, perfect for a romantic stay or better yet a honeymoon.

Setting Sun from Our Villa

Artistic Accents Abound

As its name implies – “Angel,” Bidadari certainly holds a lease on a little corner of heaven here on earth.  As a high-end resort, it is a unique place by which the remote nature of Bali can best be experienced.  The amazing panoramic views, the unique, spacious and private villas, and an overly attentive staff make these accommodations worth every penny of a costly stay there.  Time melts away as guests are pampered and relaxed.  A stay here is a time of elegance.

Evening Views from our Villa

Balinese Doorways

Drama in Stone

Jody and I quickly fell in love with not just our Villa, but of the place.  Bidadari is mystically located, nestled in a jungle ravine, where rice farmers tending their terraced fields can be enjoyed from each room’s private infinity pool, all overlooking the jungle canopy of the river valley below.  The property is beautifully constructed of the finest materials, situated vertically along a steep ridge, giving each room almost 100% privacy and unadulterated views.  Be forewarned though:  the spa is located all the way at the property’s bottom, and after one of the best massages you’ll have in your life, the climb back up to your room can be a challenge.

In-Room, Private Dining

Private Chef

Surprise Birthday Celebration

The bar for service at Bidadari is set and held to the highest standards, with a personable staff all around and private butler for every room on-call 24/7.  As corny as this may sound, the employees really do seem to possess a genuine desire to provide an exceptional experience at every turn.  Mr. Rana, the site’s manager, makes you feel as welcomed as family, and having our own butler, driver and maid which we personally got to know made us feel completely at home, even in the midst of such luxury.  Each detail of our stay at Bidadari was simply a perfect balance of extravagance, relaxation, and service.

Delicious Room Service

The staff at Bidadari arranged for a diver on multiple days for us, an employee of the resort who was local to the area and spoke very good English.  The vehicles provided are well maintained, and the driver provides welcomed cold bottles of water between stops and sarongs which are required at most temple visits.

Open-Air Breakfast

Breakfast is served each morning open-air in a shaded living area by your secluded pool, and featured fresh fruits and a menu to order set the evening prior.  But it was the “special” meals we ordered which were so unforgettable.  On one occasion, we requested the local grilled sampler of local fare and favorites.  For this meal, a formal dining area was set in our villa, and a grill and private chef actually cooked out meal there not far from our table-side!

Romantic Dinner for Two

The food service at Bidadari will surprise and delight.  Personal and friendly Butlers provide gracious service for each room service menu.  All dining is private and luxurious, delivered to and served in your private villa.  Dining is open-air, complete with stunning vistas of the Ubud valley spied over your private pool.  The chefs at Bidadari source their produce, delivered daily, locally from Ubud Markets, and the room-service menu includes a wide array of Indonesian specialties and a fusion of other international foods.  To compliment the food, a wide array of wines is also offered, including selections from Australia, South Africa, Chile and New Zealand.  And, of course, to help pass the time, a full range of cocktails are just a phone call away.

Dinner in our Room

On another occasion, we decided to pamper ourselves (and to help celebrate Jody’s birthday) and ordered their romantic dinner for two.  Coming “home” after a day of touring we found our villa decorated with rose petals and candles, which really set the ambiance for the rest of our evening.  Needless to say, the food at Bidadari is exceptional, personal, and hand-crafted to order.

Romance

An amazing aspect of a stay at Bidadari is that you truly can feel like the only guests on property.  Given the private dining and pools, limited number of rooms (6 total), and the gated nature of each villa, only on very few occasions did we see anyone else…besides the staff.

Goodnight Desserts each Night

We stayed in Villa Melati.  Entering through iconic Balinese-inspired doors, and passing a fountain providing a soothing sound of splashing water, the main living areas of the villa are encountered.  To the right is a large couch, perfect for napping and watching TV, one of which we did hardly any of (you can guess which one…I hope).  To the left is the private infinity pool and dining area, both with wide views of the ravine across and below.  Passing this area and going downstairs, a fully appointed kitchen is found; moving upstairs the master bathroom and bedroom are found.  The only air-conditioned area is the bedroom, but AC is not really required anywhere else.  The furniture and decor all are designed to complement a stay and highlight the unique culture of Bali.

Napping Couch

But it’s not just Bidadari that makes a holiday here so fantastical.  The Villas are located just outside the mystical Bali village of Ubud, our favorite locale while in Bali.  The property runs a free, on-call shuttle to the village center, about 4 kilometers away, and around a 10-minute drive (or so).

Upstairs Master Suite

Artistic Accents Abound

Ubud’s specific collusion of its particularly beautiful surroundings and gracious way of life have historically made it a haven for celebrities and artists.  But since being spotlighted in the famed book by Elizabeth Gilbert and movie of the same title Eat Pray Love, it has become a destination of choice for peoples from all over the world.  It seems that Ubud, at least for now, has maintained its traditions despite the onslaught of tourism.  Here the Balinese still place offerings gracefully on the side of the road and at every temple.  While they may now ride scooters everywhere (there seem to be about 6 billion motorbikes in Bali!), the Balinese still maintain their traditional beautiful dress.

Balinese Beauty

Ubud is the meditational heart of Bali.  Many come here purely to recharge and recover from the damages of suffering the unsustainable pace of western life.  Private yet open-air yoga studios and schools abound, surrounded by dense green jungles, myriads of rice fields and beautiful tropical gardens.  The village has a very relaxed vibe to it, and seems to actually physically resist those who are rushed in their lives.  Rather, it is a place to relax and live in the moment.  Have a casual meal on one of the many street side cafes or restaurants.  Slowly stroll around and do some window shopping and perhaps a big of haggling.  Or, better yet, just sit idly by with a good book and ingest the colorful and delightful Balinese life that passes you by….

Natural Relaxation

The vision behind the design and construction of Bidadari was focused on private relaxation within the natural foliage and fauna of Bali.  Plans insisted that each villa be totally autonomous, private, and secluded; once the gated entrance is enclosed, guests should be able to relax and indulge their every desire…without ever having to leave.  Nestled into a ridge meandering down to the River Wos, the six multi-story luxury villas are surrounded by breathtaking lush tropical gardens.  The villas have been constructed to artistically blend into a landscape of coconut palms and exotic foliage, undisturbed as much as possible.

Spa Staff

The on-site Bunga Matahari Spa is a captivating and casual stroll down meandering steps deep into the tranquil atmosphere which permeates Bidadari.  The spa is totally secluded, fringed by the running waters of the ravine’s river, and surrounded by the vibrant tropical rain forest and lush gardens that it nourishes.  Relaxing spa treatments and blissful massage unique to Bali are relished while your senses soothed by listening to the rush of the river below.  After your treatment, a warm soaking flower bath for two is drawn so that you can continue to relax while overlooking the river and the hidden valley of Ubud.

Our Spa Room for the Afternoon

To date, for me and I’ll go out on a limb and say this for Jody too, our stay at Bidadari remains our most luxurious holiday, and probably the most enjoyable and memorable.  We stayed for just over a week, and not only was our time at the Villas the highlight of that trip to Bali, it’s one of the highlights of our lives.  If you are wondering if the price of staying there is worth it, yes, absolutely it is.  When we return to Bali we will stay again without a doubt, with much love and eternal thanks.

Check out the Bidadari Villas at Ubud for yourself, or find them on Facebook here.

Die Motherfucker Die


“Death is the solution to all problems. No printer – no problem.” ~Joseph Stalin, quote only slightly modified

Hate is a strong word.  I realized that about the time of my divorce well over a decade ago.  It is not to be used lightly, or loosely.  And seriously, I don’t hate much, or often.

But, I can say, with great confidence, that I hate my printer.  My ex-printer, that is….

We bought this printer quite by accident.  Such is how these types of ill-fated relationship-to-be often begin.  It was, at first, innocent enough:  our regular household goods, crated months earlier in Pensacola for our overseas journey to Okinawa, Japan, were never shipped, but instead, left sitting idly by, collecting dust in some musty warehouse in the rural southeast United States.  Read about that here Castaway.

We were able to file an “inconvenience claim” against our movers for their negligence in, well, actually moving our goods.  Or forgetting to move our household.  So off to the Kadena Air Force Base Exchange we went to find a replacement printer since we both needed one to carry out the personal plan and business transactions of our days.

Of course, there was absolutely nothing wrong with our beloved printer from The States.  But having the opportunity to buy a new device on someone else’s dime (and rightfully so), we decided to “upgrade” to what seemed to be a popular HP set, one of those large all-in-one photocopiers, printers, scanners and fax machines.  And so the Demon found its way home with us.

Demon Printer started executing its seditious agenda almost immediately.  When our Household Goods finally arrived in Okinawa (a full two months late), and when our *beloved* trusty printer of the past was unpacked, we realized it was damaged, and damaged beyond repair or operation.  Coincidence?  I think not.

The “problems” with our new printer started almost immediately after putting our original unit to permanent rest.  …as if the Demon Printer knew it and it alone now ruled the tangible output of our electronic lives.

And as if we already sensed the darker nature of this particular device, it was relocated to a far corner of a far room, connected wirelessly to our home network.  Perhaps it was this locale that really triggered Demon Printer’s incessant interruptions in our lives, or perhaps it was just ill-tempered no matter.  Its fate was sealed quite early our tenuous relationship.

Constant connectivity problems.  Paper jams.  Running out of paper at the most inopportune times.  Drinking ink like a an alcoholic crashing an open bar wedding reception….  And so much more.  I quickly came to hate this particular machine, clearly a “no-talent ass-clown”.

But the Exchange kept carrying the model.  There will hundreds of ink cartridges available.  They sold the entire 3.5 years we lived there.  Was it just me?  Was it just this particular serial-numbered printer which had been demonized?

Every single time I hit “print” from my desktop computer in our comfortable living area, I would hear the Demon awake with gurgles and growls, and then almost every single time an error message would appear.  Pick one, any one, or all of them:  “out of ink,” “paper jam,” “not ready,” “not online,” “out of paper”….  Sometimes the Demon would simply refuse to stir, no doubt deep in some black magic trance.

I attempted rational solutions.  I tried to flush its memory by pulling power for minutes, even hours.  I checked that all the trays were seated securely, the wheels and gears all aligned properly, and stacks of paper and ink cartridges were locked in place and photo cards aligned and inserted.  All to no avail.

The printer, when powered up or upon receiving a document to print would start an orchestrated gyration of popping sounds, grinding gears, and mechanical motion.  All, one would think, to ready itself to print.  But more often than that, it was simply a prelude to an error message….

Clearly this was no normal all-in-one copier.  No, it was no doubt a paranormal printer.  An Exorcism was clearly in order.  Problem was, I’m no Saint (not even close), and while anyone should be able to compel the power of Christ to oust the Devil, this too failed.

I had planned, for the longest time, to kill this printer prior to leaving Okinawa.  But with overseas, international moves being what they are, making time for this execution was problematic.  Don’t get me wrong:  I had the plan, the people, the camera, and even the bat.  But it came down to my last 24 hours….

We kept that demon printer out in case we needed to print.  But we were NOT taking it home with us.  And, as it turns out, we did need to print some documents (those having to do with sending our wine home, will be the subject of its own blog I assure you).  So I go to connect to the printer wirelessly with my Surface.  I Can’t…of course.  Jody comes in and connects right away with her Surface and prints the document.  However, she realizes a mistake, fixes it and attempts to reprint.  Wait-WHAT??  MOTHER FUCKER IS NOW, SUDDENLY OUT OF INK!?  Jody and I standing there, laughing or else we would cry.  And this – its failure on its very last print job is what ultimately sealed the Demon Printer’s fate.  The clock was now ticking to DEATH.

By the by, I told Jody to change the font in the document to blue, and it did print.  POORLY.  But good enough to get our booze home….

Minutes before our departure for the airport, after our seven pieces of luggage, four carry-ons, and two cat crates had been loaded in our two-vehicle convey, and with no reprieve coming, some friends and I carried out the sentence.

Die Motherfucker Die.

Goodbye!


“Dream as if you’ll live forever……live as if you’ll die today.” ~James Dean

Saying “Goodbye” is important.  Much more than most of us will allow.

In the skydiving world, we say goodbye to each other every single time we jump.  Because it could very well be the last jump we ever make.  It’s not a somber occasion, or even stressful.  No, the goodbyes are said energetically, with beaming smiles and eye contact that says “I love you, brother/sister, and if I don’t see you again, remember me in this moment.”  It’s about embracing life and living it fully and in the moment.  But unfortunately, this jumper’s farewell with a very good friend of mine a week before moving to Okinawa in 2013 was our last.  I am so very thankful that we got to say goodbye to each other.  And, in this case, in our own very unique way.  Read about it in Blue Skies, Black Death.

That story, which recalls my permanent goodbye with Jimmy, instantly makes me happy and warm whenever I think about him, and I do often.  That’s one reason why I take saying goodbye so seriously.  The word “goodbye” used to convey a much more serious sense of finality than it does today in the electronic age of connectedness.  Originally, it was said as a contraction of “God be with ye,” which conveys a blessing of safe travels and life.  “Farewell” comes from the antiquated “fare thee well,” yet another blessing we find today in “be well”.  But these send-offs also can also almost be a plea.  And to those of you that bid me and Jody adieu at our costumed “Sayonara” party, I salute you for coming out to say a fun-filled cheerio.  If you don’t see me again, I plead with you to remember me in that moment!

But now it is time for me to say goodbye to Okinawa.  I may not be back, after living here three different times and for over seven years total.  I’m filled with anticipation and I’m excited:  after living on Okinawa the last 3.5 years, Jody and I are moving, and moving to an area new to both of us (Camp Lejeune).  Don’t me wrong:  we don’t want to go, and we don’t want to go there.  But we have to.  Yes, it’s not what we wanted or expected, but it will allow me a wonderful new opportunity to continue pursuing my passion as a professional scuba diver, this time among the wrecks scattered off the coast of North Carolina.  But the fact remains I have to say goodbye to some people who and places which have come to mean a great deal to me.  Which always makes my heart hurt….

The military-industrial complex is not known for their stable, static jobs.  Active duty people continually transfer in and out through the proverbial revolving door.  Contractors come and go with contracts and sequestration, and even Government Service (GS) employees often relocate with either of these categories of people.  But even so, when the stable instability that is life associated with the military becomes even more unbalanced, what does it all mean?  The roles that people play are in reality easily replaced, but seldom is the person.  Once you know someone, it’s hard to unknow them—you might grow apart, your relationship might change, but if you know someone, have chosen to know someone, you will always know that person’s character.  It’s critical to us all, whatever our social constructs, that goodbyes resulting in significant change be acknowledged.  So we say goodbye, sometimes formally, often times as an expression of intimacy.  Goodbyes, especially among an affectionate cohort, can weigh heavily.  While you may officially say goodbye to such a someone once (or twice), you’ll continue to say goodbye, emotionally and mentally.  It’s a continual process.

So, at great risk of leaving important people off this list (and please take no offense), I say these goodbyes, in no particular order.  Ken Redifer, you’ve been a fantastic PADI Course Director and mentor to me along the way.  You have challenged me to be better at every turn, and trusted me with your students at every level.  I can’t think you enough for shepherding me along the way.  To Jessica Mills, my “Scuba Wife,” I value every moment together, even though as your surrogate Big Brother I probably annoyed you to no end.  You will do fine at the IE and will quickly mature into a kick-ass instructor!  Matt Lewis, you have been one of my closest allies here on Okinawa, and I’m ecstatic to leave both my Adopted Dive Site and the USS Emmons Diver Specialty in your capable hands.  I will not forget those final dives on that serene shipwreck with you.  Darlene Fong, my “Scuba Momma,” thank you for the tec training and 130fsw+ companionship along the way.  I will miss our trips out to the USS Emmons together!   Ben Favorite, a fellow retired flier and brother-in-arms, you have been a wonderful friend and solid dive buddy.  Here’s looking to Truk again in 2019.  Do me a favor and please do work too hard!  Rob and Wendy, thanks for introducing us to Ishigaki and the manta-scramble.  And Rob, my IDC cohort from back-in-the-day, you still owe me lunch!  For our dive industry professionals, including Mark of the Crystal Blue and Tony of Torii Scuba Locker, thanks for your assistance and pirate adventures on the high seas.  To my fellow instructors (including candidates sitting for their IE this coming weekend) and Certified Assistants with whom I have worked or taught – including Jeff R., Dale F., Kim N., Scott H., Gary J., Chris W., Mike H., Matt M., Jose R., Jayce G., Jimmy P., Brian P., Kurt R., Chuck D., Roger, Noorin, Louis, Troy, Sarah, Patricia S., Kim H., Rebecca R., Ben S., Barbara S., Cory J., Ty, Asako and Bruce, thank you for all the laughs and good times in and around the pools, seas and oceans of Okinawa.  And to the Divemasters who elected to train under me still located here (Ben, Jessica, Jacoby, Lewis, Gerardo, Peter and Cory), thank you for your trust in confidence in making your move to the pro side.  Mindy, I couldn’t let your broken foot go without a mention; thanks for all your help with my branding and website.  Ms. Ana, of course, one of my all-time favorite divers and former students, thank you for trusting me to safely introduce you to the amazing underwater world.  Your smile and passion about diving whenever I see you brightens my heart and lightens my day!  And, a special call-out to two individuals who need to become PADI Instructors:  Rich Kearney and Gerardo DeLucia.  You both have exactly what it takes, and I see you as perfect fits in our tribe.  Don’t put it off; I waited about 30 years too long….

Goodbye, to each and every one of you.

I no longer struggle with goodbyes.  Saying a heartfelt goodbye forces us to recognize a change in our path, an acknowledgment that we’re choosing (or sometimes being forced) to change the vector of our lives.  The very reason goodbyes are hard for so many people is the very reason we actually need to do them, and do them well:  because they matter.

Imbibing goodbyes is as much a part of the human experience as breathing.  Let them serve as goodness in your life, helping you to leave better, whole, and more loving.  All goodbyes contain a blessing.  Use them to make each goodbye count – even if you are just ducking out to the corner store.  Each fleeting goodbye can turn out to be a goodbye forever.

Blue Skies & Happy Bubbles, Kevin, Okinawa 2017

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