Tiles and Touring around Chettinad.

The next day started again with yoga – only two of us this time. Then breakfast followed by a 4 hour tour with Sarah. She works at the hotel for the few months of busy tourist visits. She takes guided tours of organises her own tours.

She’s American but grew up in the area, the child of missionaries. So she has a very good understanding of the life and people of the area of Chettinad.

Our first stop was a tile making business. It’s amazing to see how they make tiles in a rather primitive way. A technique from Italy. We had a demonstration. It involves putting a glass square in a frame then dropping in colour, making the pattern then putting sand and concrete over the top compressing it then turning it out. I was given a go at creating a design! Such fun.

This area was a big trading centre many years ago 1850-1950. Men left Chettinad for a few years to set up trading. They were traders and money lenders. This was how to make money in those days. When they returned they came with teak from Burma, enamel from Indonesia, woven mats and many other goods you see in the houses of the area.

As they returned rich they built mansions. The front door was used by the men for business. The back door women, children, the produce. There are around 4-5 courtyards in each house. When banks opened it changed Indian society. Rich money lenders lost a source of money making.

Most houses are now derelict. The owners – the men and the families are living overseas and only return for weddings and family occasions. A few have been turned into boutique hotels. The Bangala Hotel was first used as a men’s club.

We visited several of the mansion homes of the area.

Read about the area here: https://www.google.com.au/amp/s/www.cntraveller.in/story/looking-grand-mansions-chettinad/amp/

The first was Lakshmi House. We met one of the owners a men sitting at the house entrance. It was preparing for a wedding.

The people looking after the house were old and quietly dignified.

When we visit historic houses in other countries we see the furnishings as well here the mansions are empty. The people don’t have beds , tables and chairs.

Then the Kanadukathan Palace.

This sits in a small village which was obviously a centre for rich traders as there are a number of empty mansions. It has a large water reserve which is fenced to stop people and animals using it and it is the towns water source. People come with their water containers and fill them for home use.

We couldn’t go into the Palace but visited Mrs Meyappans fathers house. Once beautiful it was now neglected.

Last stop was a mansion which like the Bangala has been turned into a hotel. It’s lovely but we were pleased we were staying at the Bangala.

Back through the dry countryside to our hotel for coffee and fruit by the pool. No real lunch as we wanted to enjoy our 3 course dinner.

Another walk through the bustling village to the antique markets. They were in a particularly dusty street that was all dug up and hard to walk.

The antique traders weren’t interested in bargaining much. We tried hard to get better prices. But they stubbornly wouldn’t move much on price. Considering there were so many shops and so much for sale it was surprising.

Before dinner we enjoyed an aperitif on our verandah before our Indian fusion meal. Mrs Meyyappan the owner designs all the menus and the food is great. https://www.cntraveller.in/story/restaurant-bangala-karaikudi-chennai-28-top-restaurant-awards-2018-list/#s-cust0

Tonight we enjoyed Spinach & Broccoli soup, crab cake with spiced chutney and tangy cucumber salad , chicken stew with coconut rice and an egg hopper ( a delicious rice pancake like shape with an egg in the bottom – found also in Sri Lanka). Ending with bread pudding dressed with marmalade served with homemade vanilla ice cream. A delicious dinner for the equivalent of $A19 !

We’ll be sad to leave this gracious hotel and Mrs Meyappan who at 83 still has such presence. She is there every day with her diamond earrings twinkling as brightly as her smile – having a chat to all the guests.

Tomorrow Madurai and a visit to the Ghandi museum.

Good Morning Yogis from Chettinad,India

We’ve been having a few restful days in the Bangala Hotel. I don’t think we realised how tired we were.

I started the day with yoga beside the pool. Our instructor was a very kind, softly spoken man who was gentle with us – especially my knee.

He would show us the movement and whispered ‘listen’. We’d then do it and he’d finish with ‘reeelax’.

Following this we had a swim and breakfast on the terrace.

We decided to walk through the village. The hotel owner Mrs Meyappan offered to let us visit her house not too far from here.

The hotel is very special. Read this article about the owner 83 year old Meenakshi Meyappan.

https://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/83-year-old-meenakshi-meyappan-serves-fantastic-chettinad-food-at-a-palatial-home-1758033

Walking in these villages is dusty and rocky and constant beeping from cars and bikes doesn’t make it all that pleasant but there is plenty to see.

We found the ATM to restock our rupees and looked into various businesses. They are very poor looking but Interesting.

The afternoon was spent swimming, resting and have a massage. Completely relaxing.

Mrs Meyappan house.

India here we come.

Flying Air Asia is an experience. Not altogether bad but definitely not great.

The Sari 5 met at Roma St station at 2.45 for a 3pm train to the Good Coast. We got into Varsity lakes around 4.20 then a bus to the airport via the sights of Currumbin.

We passed the time till our 8.40 flight having coffee and trying to check in. We all had trouble getting the Indian visa sorted but did it! We had the correct paperwork but airline staff still took ages to check each one online. Not easy! Doesn’t India want visitors!

Our flight left on time and the no frills carrier took us off to Kuala Lumpur. I sat with Linda and the others managed to get a vacant seat next to them. Sleep 💤 was not a feature of the flight for me!

We arrived in KL at 3am ( body clock time 5am Brisbane) we hung about the unexceptional KL airport and met up with Di from Sydney to make us six.

The next flight was crowded and we were all spread out around the plane. I had a lovely lady ‘VJ’ from KL next to me. She was of Tamil heritage and was going on holidays with various members of her family to Tamil Nadu – visiting some of the places we’ll be visiting. We chatted away about her life in Malaysia and our expectations of India.

Finally India! Chennai, our first stop assaulted the senses. Our driver was there to meet us and take us down to Mahabalipuram. First stop was the Western union money changer. We brought Australian dollars and changed them into Rupees. $1 is worth about 50 rupee.

Next stop the supermarket. Who doesn’t like a supermarket in a foreign country. We walked the aisles stocking up on water and mozzie spray and couldn’t resist the sandlewood soap and a big bunch of bananas.

First impression of India. Noisey, first, colourful, funny signs!

We are in Tamil Nadu in Southern India. The women in this area all wear Saris. They look like exotic birds floating down the street.

We didn’t see any women dressed in western clothes. We also haven’t seen any westerners. None on our flight here and none on the streets.

Our driver took us via the beach, the fish market, various temples and down colourful streets with shops of every description. Even saw an Uber eats bike making it way through the traffic.

We stopped at the Museum to take in the bronze sculptures. There is a technique for casting these sculptures, such merging we will explore further later.

The sculptures were al of Shive , one of the main Gods of Hinduism. Along Parvarti his wife along with all the manifestations.

Our hotel in Mahabalipuram an hour south of Chennai is set in a garden and is quite tranquil. The boys behind the front desk are lovely and helpful and thankfully carried our bags up the 3 flights of stairs.

By this time we were starving so headed straight out to the vegetarian restaurant at the hotel. It’s been a long while since a meal. Only snacks along the way so the meal was welcome. It included mushroom mutter, eggplant curry and vegetable biriyani. All washed down with fresh lime. No alcohol at this hotel.

A walk around the streets to the Krishna cave temple with its fabulous rock carvings and Indian Hindu men in their dhoti trying to sell carved rocks and pictures.

A small detour after dinner to a clothing shop where men sat in a line at sewing machines whipping up tunics and pants. We couldn’t not get one!

And so our first long day ends. More adventures tomorrow.

The Sari Six head to India: follow along.

Tomorrow I head off to India. I wonder if my idea of India and the reality of India are one and the same.

I’m going with the HoiAn group of 4 ladies I travelled with two years ago. Only this time we are 6! In a van !

Our chief organiser, Linda, is a wonderful traveller. She has an amazing interest in history and a curiosity about other cultures that brings together an itinerary that is unique, cost effective and fun.

We’ve been labelled the Sari Six and tomorrow we begin our journey on platform 4 at Roma St station on our way to Gold Coast Airport for our cheap and cheerful Air Asia flight to Chennai via Kuala Lumpur. No business class lounge for me!

Packing has been interesting. Four of the 6 travellers have opted for 7kg of luggage! I splurged and bought the baggage allowance. I packed today. Mostly floaty soft pants, covered tops, sarong and my trusty silver FRANKie 4 walking shoes.

https://frankie4.com.au

These shoes have been everywhere. Italy, USA, Galapagos, Machu Picchu, Spain, Cambodia, France and now India.

Come on FRANKie 4 send me a new pair!

My bag weighs only 9.5kg so I added in 2 bottles of tonic (large) for the Gin I’ll purchase in duty free on the way. Medicinal use only 😘

I’m hoping for a big sleep tonight as tomorrow night will be upright in economy with my attractive dvt avoiding stockings glued to my legs.

Keep reading……. I’ll post the itinerary tomorrow.

Goodnight and if you’ve been to India please post some hints in the Comments box.

Weekend in Adelaide

Adelaide is definitely the festival state, the event capital – an all round ‘there’s always something on’ capital.

I’ve been browsing various brochures for all the events on now and coming soon.

The Adelaide Festival is on in March. You should check it out. It looks wonderful.

https://www.adelaidefestival.com.au

This weekend is more about family for us though. The family came for dinner on Friday. Always fun with the children.

Saturday and Saturday mornings Steve and I tried the pools nearby. Saturday it was Unley pool.

Sunday it was Burnside.

Both pools are lovely. The lifeguards here take sunsafety very seriously. They wear long pants and long sleeved shirts topped off with shady hats. The pools are also partly shaded. We could learn a lesson in Sunny Qld.

On Saturday afternoon we headed into the Adelaide Hills. Niece Vashti,her husband Jeremy and their 4 children have bought a small farm. It’s not far from Hahndorf , has a creek running through it, wonderful big trees, a dam, 3 alpacas and a very large dog!

Inside the house there are multiple musical instruments and ten year old Soraya played the double bass for us. Very talented she is too!

We drove to Ambleside Gin Distillery and had a sampler flute of three different gins. I’m becoming a bit of a gin fan. In the hot weather it’s really the perfect drink!

https://www.amblesidedistillers.com

It’s in a beautiful spot and is the perfect place to go on a lazy Saturday afternoon. There were some very trendy young people there but we managed to not disgrace ourselves.

Then it was back to the farm for a walk and dinner before finishing with marshmallows on the fire.

Sunday afternoon we visited yet another historic house in Adelaide. It belonged to Edward Ayers ( a certain large rock was named after the family)

It was an interactive museum. You could touch things, use things and make things. Great for children.

The ball room where they now have concerts

The lovely dining room

They even had a dress up box which I took advantage of!

The weather has changed again. It very hot today. At least 32. So our plan for a drink on the roof top bar changed. We headed home for our own gin tasting.

Ayers House.

http://www.ayershousemuseum.org.au/events/signatureseries2018/

Decorative Arts in Adelaide.

Visiting another city, even one you’ve been to before can offer opportunities for something new.

I had heard about the David Roach House Museum when talking to ADFAS friends.

ADFAS for those who haven’t heard of it is the Australian Decorative & Fine Arts Society and I am Chairman of the Brisbane Society. We have lectures on things of a decorative & fine arts nature: it can be painting, sculpture, gardens, music, fashion, porcelain…….

My sister in law booked us into the 10am tour this morning. It’s in Melbourne Street North Adelaide, a fairly trendy area with beautiful home and many coffee shops.

We arrived in plenty of time for our tour and were greeted at the door by name. The Director of the Museum Martyn Cook met us, introduced himself and took us to the stylish reception room. We were the only two for the 10am tour. Yesterday it was booked out.

Take a tour with me now. Let me know what you think!

The Reception Room

Our guide John then took over. He was super informed and gave us a very good commentary on all aspects of the house and it’s collection.

David J Roche AM (1930–2013), a collector for almost sixty years, spent his lifetime developing what has become The David Roche Collection. The collection, which spans the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and includes European furniture, ceramics, metal ware, clocks and paintings, is remarkable in its quality and range. 

House exterior

The central hall

He came from a large Irish Catholic family and moved to Adelaide as a child. He had a passion for dogs! He had around 53 dogs and was a world renowned judge and often a winner of Best in Show. It’s definitely reflected in the paintings, ceramics and collectibles around the house.

The house is not big. He lived there by himself and often had guests stay in the one extra bedroom. Every inch of the house is decorative. All furnishings were custom made with no expense spared. The effect is overwhelming but somehow, beautiful. The collections are vast and stunning. From walking sticks, to hat pins, jugs, vases …….

The Russian room

Mr Roach’s bedroom

The sitting room

The Library.

The kitchen collectibles

Then the urn where Mr Roach’s ashes are kept.

We had a wonderful tour for 2! I urge you to visit.

http://www.rochefoundation.com.au

Opals: Fossicking in Lightening Ridge.

A little nightcap last night gave us s reason to have a sleep in so we wandered to breakfast around 8.30.

The town was waking and the sun was shining. Breakfast was at the Green Gecko 🦎. Another success! Delicious and served with a country smile.

We made our plans for the day and started with the Art Gallery across the road. The John Murray Gallery is a popular stop on the tourist trail. And with good reason.

The building itself screams outback. The paintings on the shed wall capture the outback in a humorous way.

Inside was just as interesting. We watched a movie with John Murray talking about his arrival in the Ridge and starting an art gallery. We saw his home with its natural materials. His art is colourful and fun and I couldn’t resist buying one or two small pieces.

No photo inside. 😫

We crossed the road walked past the emus on the wall and went into the opal cave. A renowned shop selling the famous black opal.

The shop is done out like a cave full of treasures. I spotted a beautiful black opal reflecting the most gorgeous colours. Not in any setting. A single opal for $12,000. Wow.

The sales people patiently explained how to spot a good quality opal let us look, examine and try various pieces of jewellery and good naturally farewelled us after we didn’t buy anything.

We tossed up over the next stop and decided on the underground mine. It was a few km out of town.

We hatted up and down we went. It was cool and a little claustrophobic. But fun. Another little movie explaining how to fossick. I think you’d have to be determined!

And you’d have to like being underground!

The owner of the mine was from Shorncliffe Qld. He told us if you worked hard mining you would make a good living. There are opals to be found. Perhaps a career change?

Above ground we decided it was beer o’clock. Michael promised us a tour of the 3 pubs in the scrub via the underground sculptures.

Today we could see the yellow car doors so followed them to the sculpture underground. Sadly closed for lunch. For 3 hours! So we continued heading out of town. Past the big emu.

A quick stop at the great church and then we spotted a sign. Yes it was the pub. Well one of them.

We drove across dusty, unpaved stony roads until finally The Club in the Scrub.

Such a great place complete with its own library!

We ordered food in the nick of time from the rather unsmiling waitress.

Helen ordered a large chips to share and boy …….. was it large!

What a place.

We loved it.

After lunch we decided to ‘blow this fox hole ‘. A rather fun saying meaning ‘that we got to go’

Back along some more tough roads past miners houses of varying quality.

Past a memorial to those who had died

And past Nashy’s thong tree whoever Nashy is!

And then a few dusty kilometres later the next Pub.

Disabled parking is provided with a smile.

Even bus parking!

We loved it all. Especially the friendly blokes , the miners enjoying a Friday afternoon beer. We joined them and had fun.

Before the dusty road back.

Back to Ridge and dinner at the Bowling Club. . Or as it’s known. The Bowlo!

Another great day in the big dusty outback!

Mt Agung holds us in Bali

If you have to be held hostage somewhere Bali isn’t a bad place to be.

We’ve spent the day just lounging in a cabana by the pool. With the pool in front and green lawn and the beach behind it’s pretty good.

There has been a little to and fro from the reception trying to organise rooms in case we had to stay another night.

So it seems the Qantas flight is going tonight ( or early tomorrow) at 12.30am. This is a surprise to us as the Virgin crew flying with me to Brisbane have been partying by the pool all day and said ‘if we don’t fly then Qantas won’t ‘ seems she was wrong!

So I’ll be here alone night and tomorrow after they all leave the hotel at 9.30 pm. Then the dreaded overnight flight.

The kids have been in and out of the pool all day. Great fun.

We had a little walk along the beach and chatted to a few locals offering manicures, massage and a chat!

So people who come to Bali should not complain if they get held up here due to volcanic activity. The airlines don’t like it , the locals don’t like it, but there’s nothing you can do.

There is no insurance to cover the hold up, so plan for it or perhaps don’t come to Bali.

Safe travels everyone.

Passing Time in Bali

It’s amazing how time passes when you’re not doing much!

Bali is super relaxed.

A day goes like this:

Wake up when a 3 year old Zali or 4 year old Jack appear at the bedroom door. Chat in bed. Share a story or play a game.

Prepare for breakfast- walk to the restaurant. Share the delicious breakfast and the chat, the hat swapping and some games.

Back to the villa for a swim and playing games together.

Then have a walk to another area we haven’t explored . Catch a buggy to the gate or for exercise walk! Walk!

The streets aren’t the easiest places to walk so we manoeuvre the ups and downs of the pavements which have a gold star in a red square every few metres.

Today we walked and explored the W hotel by the beach. It’s beautifully done – from the tree lined drive way

to the restaurant with a lovely pool area. Just right for a G&T!

The graffiti/ street art livens up the buildings

We usually have a sleep in the afternoon before heading out for dinner.

Last night we went to Bikini.

What a great restaurant. I’ll do a whole separate post on the restaurants we visited.

Tonight we walked down a long drive to Potato Head Beach Club. What a scene! It’s a great place to relax with a drink and watch the sun set.

We sat on the lounges near the pool. The dress seemed to be Bikinis 👙. The smaller the better. But we maintained our standard and dressed up, not down!

We watched the sunset with a cocktail in our hand and talked about the great week we’ve had together.

There was a large sculpture at the entrance which depicted the waste all salvaged along the shores of Bali’s west coast. 5,000 thongs or flip flops as they are known in some countries!

Another lovely day.

Tomorrow we pack and leave late at night.

State of Origin Bali Style

Another lovely dinner last night at believe it or not a Greek restaurant. ‘Slippery Stone’

This doesn’t suggest Greek but it was like being in Greece. And the food was good. The kids tucked in and so did we.

Then the fire show started. It was a little like the show I saw in Vanuatu last week. But just 2 lovely locals standing in ankle deep water.

This morning we walked from the hotel along Jalan Katu Aya past some of the big resorts and also some of the lovely homeware shops. There are some very smart shops here.

We arrived at the markets which compared to some markets I’ve been to were clean, friendly with individual little shops.

We browsed and chatted to the shop owners and bargained. The Balinese are really sweet lovey people. No mean words if you don’t buy anything. No shouting ‘looky looky come here lady’

We moved onto Seminyak square and had a cool drink in the Seminyak Bakery. A cool respite in the heat.

It’s not as hot as I thought it would be. Perhaps living through our Brisbane summers has hardened me!

We returned to our little oasis in Peppers for a swim and a Vietnamese salad from a little street food place named Street Boi – near our villa.

Once again a lazy afternoon by the pool until Clare suggested a session in the gym. There’s a good gym at the resort that Clare has been visiting each day. I did my 10km on the bus me and s few yoga stretches and felt better.

Now it is watching State of Origin in a bar near the resort. It’s dominated by Blues supporters and every time it gets exciting the TV freezes. It’s funny to watch the reactions of the crowd.

The drinks are flowing. The crowds are cheering. The Blues are winning. The locals are laughing. They prefer the soccer World Cup.

Now off for dinner at Sarong. This is an Indian fusion restaurant.

The decor of the place is dark, moody and sophisticated. The food delivers a punch.

We certainly are eating well here.

We walked back past the restaurants and bars, avoided the scooters and motorcycles and made it back to the villa by 10.30. A late night!

So we have been to:

La Lucciola

Stepping Stones

Sarong

If you have a favourite restaurant in Bali please send it’s name in the comments at the end of the blog.