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.

Pi Day in Japan, a Math-lete’s Dream!


“Curves:  the loveliest distance between two points.” ~ Mae West

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William Jones, an 18th century self-taught mathematician, was the first to realize that the decimal 3.141592…, the number approximating the ratio between a circle’s circumference and its diameter, never ends, but continues on randomly without any repetition. “The exact proportion between the diameter and the circumference can never be expressed in numbers,” he wrote. He recognized that this important proportion needed its own symbol, and thus began every math-lete’s love affair with pi….

pi-berational

Saturday, March 14, 2015, was “National” Pi Day, a sometimes rational celebration of the irrational figure that describes the most sublime feature of circles. National Pi Day, although wholly unofficial, is a holiday that, in my opinion, serves three important if not incongruent purposes. For fellow mathletes like me, it’s a chance to celebrate a love of numbers naturally found in nature, proof that god in whatever form you believe (or not), is a geometrician. For those analogs challenged by this digital slant of the world, the holiday offers at the same time a chance to partake in the more literal if not delicious culinary desserts of the same-sounding homonym. And here in Japan, it coincides with the celebration of “White Day,” the Far East’s formal equivalent of Valentine’s Day, but this one only for the lady-folk. See White Day for a full explanation of how Japan interprets the West’s day of love and lovers.

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But this particular year hosts no ordinary Pi Day. In fact, March 14th of this year marks a once-in-a-century occurrence: at precisely 09:26:53 wherever you happen to be (local time), the date and time will read 3.14.15 9:26:53. I hear you asking, “Whoop-dee-do Basil, what’s it all mean!?” Those ten digits are exactly the first 10 digits of pi! This rather random coincidence ignites passion across the globe, and for most of us, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime affair worthy of marking in some odd fashion or another.

What goes well with Alien Crop Circle?  Pi!  Or so it seems....

Crop Circles even enjoy Pi, or so it seems….

But what’s so special about the non-edible version of pi that seemingly connects so easily to so many people? It’s not like differential equations (i.e., calculus) are on anyone’s hit parade, or that a statistical two-tail alpha test of significance rocks everyone’s boat. No, pi strikes a chord with people of all backgrounds, educations, and cultures. Part of its allure lies in its very simplicity, infused with the mysterious flair of things supernatural: a circle, nature’s simple shape of infinite perfection, is defined by something that can never be known with complete precision, so much so that we represent it only as a symbol. Pi is not just irrational, it’s transcendental, and its infinite value holds true no matter the circle in question.

ホワイトデー2

Almost everything is in Japanese

Almost everything is in Japanese

Okinawa White Day 2015, Mary's leaf pies are deliciousOf course Pi Day every year coincides with “White Day” here in Japan, a fun-filled day of candies and gifts for girlfriends and wives (may they never meet), which Jody and I celebrate in style and excess in some surely rational approximation of what the Japanese irrationally may or may not do. It’s hard to even know what you’re buying when everything is in Japanese, none of which can easily be read (even the Google photo-translate feature fails miserably). Thank goodness for the samples which are openly displayed in most stores! Most of the photos featured here are from the gifts Jody received this White Day as small Far Eastern Flirtations reminiscent of my growing love for and steadfast commitment to her since first meeting back in the late summer of 2010.

White Day presents for Jody

White Day presents for Jody

Okinawa White Day 2015, 3-14 White DayAnd in that meeting there is even deeper meaning for us personally, one more delicious than pie, more intriguing than the most sublime mathematics, and certainly something worth celebrating often throughout the year. Our own personal Ultimate Pi Day, one of Epic proportions and profound meaning. You see, when Jody and I first met, it was for a “pie date.” Let me elucidate.

Flowers on White Day

Flowers on White Day

Okinawa White Day 2015, fun and delicious gummy-aid for nurse JodyMeeting online through Match.com in early 2010, Jody and I had corresponded on and off for about 6 months prior to her transfer from Cuba to Pensacola, Florida, which happened later that summer. We were certainly interested in each other, but the timing of Jody’s arrival combined with my own schedule and our uncoordinated travel plans proved a challenge that would frustrate any attempt in jump-starting any type of relationship.

White Day Wrapping!

White Day Wrapping!

Okinawa White Day 2015, surprise flowers fcee7d6bf94730deb82a971eb4776dbbBut I was eager to do just that. Besides being a woman with almost every quality I was searching for, and certainly there was clear and unambiguous chemistry present, Jody’s curves – from her enticing bluest of blue eyes, to the arc of her smile, to the sexy arch of her foot, to her fertility doll geometry – her curves come close to outstripping the very transcendental nature of pi itself! As Mae West so perfectly stated, “the loveliest distance between two points is a curve,” and Jody’s are any mathlete’s dream.

Spring Time Happy Joy Chocolates

Spring Time Happy Joy Chocolates

Okinawa White Day 2015, Gugelhupf cakeJody had arrived in town while I was away on a business trip, and the day after my return she was traveling up north on a couple of weeks of leave. While she was to be on leave, I was starting my own much-needed vacation, a 3-week trip to New Zealand to skydive, ice climb, and do other things extreme. It turned out that we had only one night consisting of just a couple of hours to try and hook up…but not for that kind of pie (wink). If we didn’t get a chance to see each other on that particular Wednesday night, it would be about 5 weeks until we had a chance to see each other again. Neither of us was willing to wait.

Cloisonné Tea Pot Gift Set

Cloisonné Tea Pot Gift Set

Okinawa White Day 2015, cupcake chocolates shpolaWe made plans to meet, and since she lived way out in “west-west Pensacola” (Beulah, FL), and because of the limited time we had to dedicate to a first date, we decided to meet locally for pie. Jody likes pie (and ALL kinds of desserts as it turns out!), and commented that she had had a hard time finding any good pie while stationed for the last 18 months at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Favorite Framed Photos for Jody's Office

Favorite Framed Photos for Jody’s Office

Okinawa White Day 2015, Warming Heart CommunicationSo, I chose a local diner mid-way between where we lived. It was an easy place for Jody to find in the dark back roads of quasi-Alabama, and an easy drive using simple primary roads. I believe we agreed on a time around 9 pm, and upon our arrival (we were both early – a good sign!), we found the diner closed…of course. Pensacola is a small, conservative town, and many local businesses close down early. This Mom & Pop joint was no exception.

White Day Far East Flirtations

White Day Far East Flirtations

Okinawa White Day 2015, beautiful chocolatesCracker Barrel was nearby, an eatery sure to have delicious homemade pie, but it too was also closing. In that part of town there are not many other options. Being out on a first-date, I needed desperately to leave a lasting impression while doing my darndest to woo this woman. I had a feeling that boyfriends, past, present and potentially future were part of her travels plans starting the very next day. Luckily for me, there was a Ruby Tuesdays nearby, and although I’m not one to turn to chain restaurants for food or value, this was one place that stayed open serving dependable, late-night dessert. We were quickly seated at a table for two, and our great love affair started right then and there, blossoming over the pie we were served. A truly epic Pie Day for the books.

Okinawa White Day 2015, Jody with her presents

Like my fondness for Jody, pi/pie days of every flavor have all become even more magically intoxicating. And as surely as pi continues on and on forever, so too does my love for this woman called “Wife.” Happy White Day Jody King!

At least there's chocolate with booze!

At least there’s chocolate with booze!

Now, if we only could find really GOOD pie here in Japan! (wink)

Happy White Day, Wife

Happy White Day, Wife

Honeymoon’s Atomic Fireworks Saves Kyoto


Devastation at Nagasaki

Devastation at Nagasaki

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  ~ Margaret Mead

“Too fucking busy, and vice versa. [Reply to her editor who was bugging her for her belated work while she was on her honeymoon]”  ~ Dorothy Parker, Writer

“I told him [General Groves] there was one city that they must not bomb without my permission and that was Kyoto.”  ~ Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of War, 1945

The Stimsons meeting with Mrs. Tao Ming Wei, wife of Chinese Ambassador to the US during WWII

The Stimsons meeting with Mrs. Tao Ming Wei, wife of Chinese Ambassador to the US during WWII

A honeymoon saving a city?  A romantic notion, certainly, but like most romances, one seen through rose-colored glasses…the kind that distort the fuller and less sexy truth.

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Visiting the Golden Pavilion on a Perfect Honeymoon Day!

Kyoto Japan Winter 2014,_4190My wife and I just spent our 3rd Honeymoon and my 48th Birthday (we try to have one of each, every year) in the Imperial City (Emeritus) of Kyoto.  As a result of being saved from conventional and atomic bombing in World War II, it is one of the few Japanese cities that still have an abundance of prewar buildings, such as the traditional machiya townhouses and entire old-fashioned neighborhoods where we stayed, as well as a plethora of original temples and shrines, along with the imperial residence and Shogun castle prior to 1868.  Because of this, Kyoto has always been on my top-ten list of places to see in the world, and after visiting, should be the first place anyone visits when coming to Japan.

Nothing says Honeymoon like an authentic machiya deep-soak tub, this one set about 24 inches into concrete.

Nothing says Honeymoon like an authentic machiya deep-soak tub, this one set about 24 inches into concrete.

Kyoto Japan Winter 2014,_4244And almost as romantic as my and my wife’s 3rd honeymoon (less the fireworks!), Kyoto was indeed spared by the emotional reactions of just one man.  Because that one man traveled and honeymooned abroad, and like all those who hanker to see and experience the world hold dear and true, traveling changes your life…and others’…sometimes in the most unexpected ways.

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909The Targeting Committee for use of the atomic bombs in World War II listed Kyoto, Japan, as their number one choice in 1945:

“(1) Kyoto – This target is an urban industrial area with a population of 1,000,000. It is the former capital of Japan and many people and industries are now being moved there as other areas are being destroyed.  From the psychological point of view there is the advantage that Kyoto is an intellectual center for Japan and the people there are more apt to appreciate the significance of such a weapon as the gadget.”

Since the city was being “groomed” for an atomic attack, it was largely spared from the devastating conventional fire-bombing that was widespread throughout wider Japan in 1945.  This so the effects of such a new “gadget” could be more accurately measured on a relatively undamaged city.

Enjoying the 1,000 Tori

Enjoying the 1,000 Tori

Kyoto Japan Winter 2014,_4172However, Henry L. Stimson, the then United States Secretary of War during WWII, vehemently opposed the strong and repeated Kyoto target nomination by General Groves.  Even though Stimson personally was at great odds with Japan and it’s militaristic culture and unabashed aggression of the time, he, like most who travel, had formed an emotional connection with Kyoto (Japan) from his visits there as a statesman, and quite possibly more so from more personal visits to the city’s cultural centers with his wife, exactly akin to my wife and I characterizing our recent visit as “honeymoons.”  Kyoto is a magical place, and it is not hard to fathom how Mr. Stimson could find himself enchanted with the long and mysterious traditions of the Far East.

Silver Pavilion

Silver Pavilion

Henry_Stimson,_Harris_&_Ewing_bw_photo_portrait,_1929Henry Lewis Stimson (1867 – 1950) was an American statesman, lawyer and spokesman on foreign policy.  He served as Secretary of War (1911–1913) and as Governor-General of the Philippines (1927–1929).  As Secretary of State (1929–1933) he gained further exposure to the Pacific, in particular to Japan during three official visits there.  He again served as Secretary of War (1940–1945) during World War II under Roosevelt, where he took charge of raising and training 13 million soldiers and airmen, supervised the spending of a third of the nation’s GDP annually on the country’s armed forces, helped formulate military strategy, and took personal control of building and using the atomic bomb.

Kyoto Japan Winter 2014,_4449In official documents, Secretary Stimson cited a number of “official” reasons why Kyoto should be taken off the A-bomb list, but most certainly one of the primary reasons he was so moved to fight the nomination committee’s flag officers and scientists at the time was that he had actually been to Kyoto.  Stimson did not refer to his emotional ties to Kyoto in formal texts, but a review of his dairies and those who were close to the events suggest his emotional decision to remove Kyoto was immediate and the “official” rationale came much later.  As Secretary of War, Stimson had no compunction with using such an awesomely destructive device on a Japanese city, but as a world traveler, informed leader, and educated statesman, certainly Secretary Stimson was swayed away from even entertaining the idea of utterly destroying a city he – and the rest of the world – enjoyed so much.  In this way, the emotions of time and place often outweigh the cold logic of calculation, and thankfully so.

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Tori across town from atop the Kyoto Tower

However, in breaking with the romantic notions of the story and the man, Stimson’s diary and papers also contain reference to a much more official rationale – and one no less valid – noted during a discussion with then President Truman (my own editorial notes in brackets):

Kyoto Japan Winter 2014,_4404“We had a few words more about the S-1 program, and I again gave him my reasons for eliminating one of the proposed targets [Kyoto].  He again reiterated with the utmost emphasis his own concurring belief on that subject, and he was particularly emphatic in agreeing with my suggestion that if elimination was not done, the bitterness which would be caused by such a wanton act [the destruction of Japan’s cultural center] might make it impossible during the long post-war period to reconcile the Japanese to us in that area rather than to the Russians.  It might thus, I pointed out, be the means of preventing what our policy demanded, namely a sympathetic Japan to the United States in case there should be any aggression by Russia in Manchuria [which Russia was about to invade as part of the Yalta Conference agreement with the U.S. and Great Britain].”

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Gate at Nijo Castle

Kyoto Japan Winter 2014,_4259It’s hard to say what can become of one’s Flirtations and Flings in the Far East.  But romance and love are certainly much kinder and more altruistic motivations than such talk of war and capitulation.  And believe me, Kyoto is full of life, vitality, and love.  With such notions afoot, it’s certainly interesting to think about the ramifications of Stimson and his wife deciding to honeymoon somewhere closer to home…or of having had terrible lodgings and room service in Kyoto…or having had problems in the bedroom while abroad in Japan!  Sometimes the fates of great cities and nations rest in what seems to be trivial yet tragic circumstances….

Devastation at Nagasaki

Devastation at Nagasaki

Like that of Nagasaki, Japan.  The city of Kokura was the primary target for the 2nd atomic bombing, and only because the cloud cover over that city prevented visual dropping of the weapon was Nagasaki bombed, as the secondary target that day…and as the replacement city for Kyoto.

We must always remember that we all have impact; when thoughtfully acted and committed with focus, each of us can each change the world.  Thank you Mr. Stimson for saving Kyoto.  It is, after all, an enchanted place to honeymoon!

Zen Buddhism:  even a Small Thing can have Great Impact

Zen Buddhism: even a Small Thing can have Great Impact