Villa G's Travels and Villa Cengkeh Bali

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Day 2016

It was certainly different for Susan and I to awake with 3 kids chatting about Santa (day break, 5:50am).  In fact, the first thing I heard was, "Santa did not come!"  Turns out it was so windy Christmas Eve that Santa had to leave presents in a protected area in the kitchen.  It was sorted out and Christmas festivities began.  Meet the Kee's.

Peter and Melia with Samuel, Erin and Isla

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Staff Party 2016

Villa Cengkeh staff, Susan and the Kees

The Khee family: Peter, Melia, Sam, Erin, Isla, are visiting from Penang and were instrumental in a very successful party for the Villa Cengkeh staff.  Our staff are all Hindu, so the rites of Christmas festivities were a bit new, but the kids did a great job setting the tone and keeping things on the light side.

Mr. and Mrs. Buda who made the nasi kuning
In traditional Balinese style, nasi kuning (yellow rice) made by Bapak Buda of Buda Bakery was served as the main dish.  This was followed by pineapple upside-down cake made by Susan.  The nasi kuning was accompanied by seafood, meats and lots of vegetarian dishes.

After the first course, various games were organised by the Kees and a good time was had by all (Dana took photos so did not have to suffer actually being a game participant).

Things got quite for the pineapple upside-down cake

Susan baked lots of goodies for presents

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Christmas 2016 at Villa Cengkeh Bali

It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas here.  Very green!  There has been a lot of rain and the countryside is lush and our new gardens are prolific.  The garden staff is BUSY.  Wida and Putu are also busy inside Villa Cengkeh.  The Khees from Penang Malaysia are coming on Monday for the Christmas break.

Susan's baking goodies for presents for the staff and the kids (and me). Most of the shopping has been completed after trips to Carrefour and Toko Rejeki.  There's beer, wine and arrak.  Decorating is planned for the coming week.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

What's Most Important at Villa Cengkeh?

Let there be no doubt, the pool at Villa Cengkeh is well used.  At least twice each day.  Twenty-five meters in length it is designed for laps in the long dimension and playing in the circular area at the west end.  There are steps in and out at both ends, leading either to the master suite or to the guest rooms.  It's Susan's dream setup.

Susan at rest
Susan getting serious

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Balinese Painting for Villa Cengkeh

We waited a few months before attempting to acquire any art for Villa Cengkeh.  We needed to get a feel for the house as well as Balinese art.  Ubud is the center of Bali's art world and we made some trips there to check things.  After a while we felt we wanted to begin putting together a few pieces that represent the diversity of Balinese paintings.  We already have some Indonesian Timorese wood cravings.

Mr. Nyoman Jendra and his brothers, nephews and son have a studio in Ubud with a good selection of Balinese paintings.  Maybe not the "finest", certainly not the most expensive, nor cheapest.  It is all interesting and we purchased four items.  Two of them are traditional Balinese paintings that are basically refined charcoal drawing that are subsequently colorized.  Each takes a few months to make.  The others are more modern, but not necessarily "global".  One is definitely based on a Balinese story of a good woman and a Cenderwashi bird or bird of paradise.  Nyoman and his son Bolit came over one Sunday to make the delivery and see the home for their art.  That was pretty neat.  Bolit has painted some nudes that are stunning, unfortunately, they were already sold to others.

Nyoman Jendra artist

Nyoman Jendra artist

A Good Woman and a Bird of Paradise - a Bali Legend

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Villa Cengkeh: The views are beautiful

Orchids growing in the master bathroom
I have not written much since we moved in as there has been a certain level of frustration over the problems with the water well (see below).  However, we have certainly been adjusting and there is very much about living here that we enjoy.  We have a great staff and, despite the water problems, the gardens are growing with the aid of un-seasonal rains plus the combination of organic and chemical fertilizers in the hands of enthusiastic gardeners, me included.  Susan even has the veggie garden producing eggplants and tomatoes.

Below I have chosen a few photos to show some views.  It is awesome to awake everyday to the beauty of and from Villa Cengkeh.

From the pool deck to the south, up the gorge.

View of pool desk to the northwest
From north verandha to the Bali Sea

Solar powered pool pump in action

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Drama at Villa Cengkeh: The Water Well

The well team with the test of the 
new well with solar pump

Special bore head to fish up broken pipe

Broken Pipe

16 June 2017, FINAL Update!  The new well is complete and the solar pump is in place and producing water.  The well was drilled to about 120 meters, 5 inch casing placed down to 105 meters, the pump is submerged at 90 meters and the water level is around 70-75 meters.  The well produces clear, colorless and tasteless water with 116 ppm total dissolved salts.

12 May 2017, Update - Things sped up and then hit more stone, then the pipe broke!  For the past ten days the team has been fishing for the broken pipe.  They succeeded yesterday and it is all out of the well today.  Hopefully (mudahmadahan), things will progress to the finish line soon.

20  April 2017, Update - Have had some breaks for Balinese holidays.  Only about 3 meters since last report.  In solid granite now!

1 April 2017, Update - Not an April Fool's joke!  After much trouble, it was decided to begin from the beginning a make a new well.  On the 14th of March, another ceremony was held to prepare the well site and the drilling began on the following day.   The new well has been progressing according to plan.  The process has been helped by a) having a good team doing the work and b) having a good source of water to use in the drilling procedure.  Currently at about 80 meters.

5 November 2016, Update - the drama continues.  While Susan and I were out of town the well workers were able to get down to about 95 meters deep and snag the infamous lost solar powered well pump.  Unfortunately, as they were pulling it up, it only came up about 15 meters before getting stuck.  They worked for days to release it and eventually brought in hydraulic jacks to pull the pipe up.  But it broke about 5 meters above the drill bit/old pump.

They have been thinking for about a week now about the next move.  We are five months into this pump retrieval saga.

29 September 2016, Update - a veil is lifted.  The well workers worked late yesterday as they thought that something was happening down deep.  At 18:30 one came running up shooting "lihat, lihat" (look, look).  I went down to the well site and they brought up the 60 meters of drilling pipe with their drill head having a second drill head caught on it.  The extra drill head had been blocking their progress.  Somehow they luckily snagged a drill head that the former team clearly had dropped down the hole.  Strangely enough it was upside-down!  
Now the mystery of why the other drilling team wanted to start drilling a totally new well has become apparent.  They never told anyone that they had lost a bit down the hole.  Their boss claims he is as surprised as I am.  In any case, the well workers are making steady progress today.  A welcomed change.
24 September 2016, Update.  The first team returned after number Two team faded out.  Their start has not been auspicious.  They had a serious pickup truck accident bringing the machine back from south Bali and then the boss severely injured his leg when they were moving the machine down to the lower leave where the well is.  He lost a lot of skin and we worry for infection.  The young guys currently working are not setting any records for action.
31 July 2016, Update.  The well drilling team has returned.  They have given up on the idea of getting the stuck pump out.  There have been pieces of it already brought up.  Now they are starting at the top and drilling a bore 3 inches larger in diameter and will go straight down to 140 meters.  There is a lot of rock.  The new casing will be larger and should not have troubles for the pump.  Six inches instead of four at the narrowest.
23 July 2016, Update:  The team has not worked for 3 weeks.  They returned to Java to celebrate Idul Fitri and were expected to return in one week.  What can we say?  The good news is that Roland has recently completed a good well at a nearby house and if worst comes to worst perhaps we can get water from there.  The other goods news is that there has been a good amount of rain in the past 3 weeks, so our need for watering the garden has been minimal.
24 June 2016, Update:  The team only works on occasion. They say they are coming, then don't show up.  The boss is a Mr. Doic.  He seems to have plenty of work to do, so this job doesn't really matter to him.  Most contractors in Bali are not like this.  But there is no choice now.  Once someone has started a job, it is next to impossible to find someone willing to replace them.  This whole well thing has become a fiasco and Roland and Tropis Living really cannot do anything about it.  I would never recommend solar powered wells in a location where one has access to good power mains which we do in Bali.  It is simply too complicated to justify the extra hassles and too expensive too.

11 June 2016, Update:  The special water well drilling team has been onsite for 3 days trying to get the stuck pump out of the well.  As of last night they had brought up 30 meters of the well lining and (what they believed to be) most of the steel cables, pipe and wires that had been connected to the pump.  Today is fishing day.  Wish us luck!
Drilling machine with retrieved pipe, cables and wires
Tip for well drill to be used to fish out the stuck pump

Susan and I decided to take some risks and do things a bit less than conventional when we built Villa Cengkeh.  One central idea was to use solar energy as much as practical.  This included using two solar hot water heaters that are on the roof and doing a great job.

The other idea was to use solar to power pumps.  Specifically for the pool circulator and for the water well.  The pool pump from Lorentz is in place and is working well.  So far so good.

The third solar application for the deep (>100 meter) water well has not been as satisfactory.  For both solar pump systems we contracted with Matthias Wenisch of Prosol a local Denpasar Bali company.  

Matthias actually came toward the end of March and put a pump in, but too shallow, 70 meters. The well was bored to 150 m. I was not here then, but I think they had a problem lowering it (it got stuck) and the well drilling man is said to have told Matthias that there was water at 70 m. In any case there was no water and the head of the pump burned out.  He said a replacement would come from Germany in one or so weeks. In the meantime the project contractor organized to have an AC pump and we had great water while it lasted. 

In May Matthias sent some workers who pulled the AC pump and put a solar pump in place. It worked. However I knew something was fishy when he only connected a subset of the solar panels. After they left I looked more closely and saw that the controller was only for 1800 watts, not 3800 as specified in the contract.  Matthias became very difficult to reach. His wife said he was working in a remote location in Sumba.  Ultimately our contractor, Roland, spoke with Matthias who said the the replacement pump had not actually come in and he had wanted to be sure we had water.  We did, but it was not enough and Roland got water from the local village mains connected to supplement our need.  Due to the new gardens and not much rain we have really needed a lot of water. 

Now for the drama.  Matthias came today with all the correct equipment including the controller and higher output pump. Yet the gods were not favorable. While removing the 1800 watt pump it got stuck and one of the two wire cables used to suspend it parted when they attempted to raise it with block and tackle.  A couple of days later they used a steel pipe to try to push the pump back down.  It did not work.

Of course that pump still needs to come out and the correct one go down. The two pumps have the precise same physical dimensions, so I believe there is hope.  We are awaiting a new team of water well specialists to arrive and try to work it out.

I shall update later as data becomes available.

The pump that needs to be placed into the well

Panels for pool and well pumps

On a shake-down cruise on Villa Cengkeh

We have been living in Villa Cengkeh for two weeks.  It is an absolutely beautiful place with great views of the sea and the mountains.  However, it is like a new boat in that there are lots of things that need adjustments such as the garden drains that were full of stones and had to be cleaned out.  The main problem has been with the water well.  It has been a drama and not sorted out yet so I shall write the details once all is said and done.

We found a old Buddha statue outside of Ubud that was for sale and I really took a shine to it.  The price was okay and it was delivered yesterday evening.  As always, the Balinese found a way to get the job done and it is now in its place in our garden overlooking the sea.
Afternoon view toward East Java
We been assured that the rainy season is over - really?

Arrival of Buddha statue for the garden

Buddha's first night at his new home

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

We have a new home in Bali: Villa Cengkeh

New Temples at Villa Cengkeh
On 22 May 2016 we had the ceremonies to bless the new temples, the land and the new house at Villa Cengkeh.  The activities began at 07:30 and finished with an Indonesian buffet lunch.  Eighty persons were in attendance including 25 members of the gamelan (orchestra).

We were then able to sleep in Villa Cengkeh than evening.  It is going to be an adjustment after living on a yacht for 5 years.  There is so much space that my leg muscles are strengthening.

The kitchen is super and Susan and has already been able to roast a chicken and bake a fresh apple pie.

Villa Cengkeh is in the village of Kayuputih (white wood or eucalyptus) just above the villages of Lovina on Bali's north shore.
Roasted pig for an offering to the gods

Dancing a la Bali

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Construction 20: Entering the final stage

Statues at Zakia's in Lovina's Kaliasem
We have two weeks for finishing Villa Cengkeh.  The necessary ceremonies are scheduled for 21 May which is a very auspicious day in the Balinese calendar and not to be missed.  It is working 7 days/week now.

As workers are doing touch-up on the paint, floors and walkways, others are installing furniture such as the locally build beds, wardrobes and kitchen cabinets.  Most of those are in and yesterday the appliances were placed in the kitchen.
New Appliances in Kitchen

We have also been shopping for some items such as statues for the garden and paintings.  Last Tuesday we made a trip to Ubud, the artistic center of Bali.  While there are many art studios and galleries there, the traffic is horrendous and it is very difficult to get around.

The statues shown above are going to go on the pool patio as guardians.  They originated from a Hindu temple that was renovated.  I found an old buddha statue in green stone in a place near Ubud.  We have acquired some interesting Timorese wooden statues for both the garden and the living room in shops in Denpasar.  I'll provide photos of these once they are in place.
Installing Blinds, Solar H20Heater on Roof