Our sad experience to see dolphins in Bali

A pink sunset in Lovina Bali, on the sea.
Hotel Wahyu Dana at Lovina Beach, Bali. An infinity pool facing the sea, with a dolphin as a fountain.
Hotel Wahyu Dana at Lovina Beach

Everyone search a unique experience. Early on in our trip, we were enjoying a sumptuous breakfast at the well known Yellow Flower Cafe, and during a conversation with some new friends, we learned that there were trips to see dolphins in Lovina.

Now, Lovina is located on the northern coast of the island so, after no consideration whatsoever, we drove from Ubud to Lovina, for 2h30 by scooter. That drive deserves a post of its own!

A scooter ride from a misty road between ubud and Lovina. Warning, steep descent.
A scooter ride from a misty road between Ubud and Lovina. Warning, steep descent.

Our only desire, was to see the dolphins that we heard so much about and who doesn’t love dolphins? Once we arrived at our hotel in Lovina, a local guide came over and asked why we were here (he knew, of course). As selfish tourists, we said we only came for a day or two, to see the dolphins. He booked us for a tour with one of his “fisherman friends”, for the day after, at 5.30 am.

This guide cost us IDS 200 000 (£10,14€ or $16) for 2 people. But I saw some prices on the internet offered by bigger companies for IDS 300 000 (£15, €20 or $25)

That morning, we awoke early and went to the meeting point, to find this “fisherman”. It was down a small concrete track off the main road. in a simple basic little house, with a chicken walking in the entrance with 4 of her chicks around.

All the other houses around were pushed up against each other – the word that springs to mind is “labyrinthine” – with the beach as the “back garden”. Their boats barely had space!

I believe it was a sandy beach, but the plastic from Indonesians and tourists was covering a lot…Our guide appeared with a 2-year-old boy in his arms – his son. We asked him if it will be some other people with us. He said, with his basic English and honest smile than it was a group.

After waiting 10-15 minutes, a woman came out of the house, to take the baby, and we started to go. I am was still not sure why we waited 15 minutes for. We took one of those traditional Indonesian fishing boat, parked there, and our fisherman started out in a precise way. The woman and baby, waving at us behind, on the plastic beach we left. He told us earlier than it was a group, going to see the dolphins, but it was still only the 3 of us! The fisherman, my partner and I!

Sunrise in Lovina, Bali, during the tour to see the dolphins. A lot of tourist groups are chasing the dolphins, in the luck to have a good picture.
Sunrise in Lovina, Bali, during the tour, to see the dolphins. A lot of tourist groups are chasing the dolphins, in the luck to have a good picture.

We continued for 15 minutes, until we saw a group of 30 other boats like us, waiting at a point. Our fisherman joined them, and we waited…
Little by little, more boats joined us.
Someone shouted something in Indonesian, and all the boats raced ahead together! Someone had spotted the pod of dolphins!

You could see a group of 3-4 of them, appearing behind a boat, and after a couple of jumps, hiding. I found it very crowded, as more boats were joining us. And it became more clear to my eyes that we were hunting those dolphins to their limits. This adventure, we thought would be unique and exceptional, felt like a dolphin hunt with 50-odd boats, and the number was growing every minute!

The chase made us feel bad – my partner and I felt disgusted to be part of a large group of tourists seemingly harassing this pod of dolphins. And our guide noticed we were not taking any more pictures, after 30 minutes playing this game. So he offered to bring us back, and we thanked him for his kindness and time.
Many reviews online, will warn of the same disappointment and sadness for those dolphins

The fisher men cannot say no to the money from us, tourists. Because for them, it is a very generous amount: easy jobs, perfect to feed their families. Money so easy to get, as tourists are VERY generous in comparison to the money on offer for non-tourist jobs.

But unfortunately, with such easy money can come the vices: easy beers, betting on chicken battles (cockfighting) and the like. Only the wise Balinese, who save and have an eye on the future – the future of their children – are likely to escape the economic situation they find themselves in.

A pink sunset in Lovina Bali, on the sea.
Sunset on the sea in Lovina, Bali

What are the Galungan and Kuningan Balinese Celebrations?

bali ceremony street penjor bamboo poles

bali ceremony street penjor bamboo poles

Some of you may come to Bali for the Christmas season of this year (2018), and found surprising celebrations going all around Bali, for the 26th December. But beware, as THEY ARE NOT doing it for Christmas at all, as they don’t even celebrate! It is only a coincidence, if this year, our Xmas celebration is very close to one of their celebration, who happen every 6 months. The date is calculated according to the 210-day Balinese calendar.

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How to Accept and Tolerate Uncertainty

growth mindset

When we awake each morning, we do not know whether we are going to see out the day. There are those that, often, do not wake up at all – their bodies have succumbed to eternal sleep. We plan for tomorrow, next week, next year or the next five years like these epochs are a certainty yet, if we stop for a moment, our small, withered, inner voice tells us that the only certainty is uncertainty.

When a Life Event happens to us, we raise our heads up above the parapet of certainty, logic and planning and we feel the tug of uncertainty in our hearts.

It seems so obvious, doesn’t it? That fate/chance/God/the universe could wipe us from the face of this planet, and existence, in the blink of an eye – like the motes of dust, spinning on a ball of molten metal in a galaxy with 100 billion stars, we are. But we are wired to still plan and live like we’ll be here forever.

When a Life Event happens to us, we raise our heads up above the parapet of certainty, logic and planning and we feel the tug of uncertainty in our hearts. And a deluge of questions springs forth as our inner child tries to make sense of the skewed, suddenly probabilistic, future that we are confronted with. You fail an exam: will I have a career? Your relationship ends: will I find someone new? How do I deal with loneliness? Your career takes an adverse turn: will I ever reach those career heights again? Will my bills be paid?

This awareness of an uncertain, illogical, future – where our plans are not set in stone – can lead to stress and anxiety. We’d rather know, than not know – this is how we are wired. We’d rather know that there is a lion in the bushes just outside of camp than not.

Over the years I have become acutely aware of how uncertain life can be. I’ve taken decisions where I lean into uncertainty and try to embrace it as much as possible. I am not fearless, as rushing headlong into the unknown is coupled with a shitload of fear and introspection. But, with blissful ignorance and a healthy dose of “fuck it”, I try to grit my teeth and embrace the unplannable.

Trust yourself, trust the process, your support network and  whatever/whoever your God is and lean into uncertain situations.

In a way, this is what this trip to Bali represents to us and, yet, we are leaning into our experiences. Riding a scooter in the midst of the nightmarish Kuta traffic is peak uncertainty but it takes, and builds, self-confidence and trust. Taking a small boat to an unknown location off the coast and jumping into the sea, in the hope that the boat is still there when you’ve surfaced is another small example.

Trust yourself, trust the process, your support network and whatever/whoever your God is and lean into uncertain situations.

There is a concept that I use in my life that I term drift that I’ll try to explain it here. In mathematics, stochastic drift determines the change of the average value of a random process which means that an insurance company, for example, is able to calculate the rate of mortality over a given time period (mortality being a random process and the average value of mortality rates is what is being calculated).

Go into situations knowing that, not only will you overcome, but that you’ll grow.

The point is that my concept of drift is related to the mathematical process above but is simplistic: the more you expose yourself to- and deal with – micro-bouts of uncertainty, the better you will be over time at accepting and dealing with uncertain events. Yes, this is not a new theory – it’s something I use for myself – but the point here is that the drift of how you deal with uncertainty in your life will expand: you will be able to deal with an ever-expanding clutch of uncertain events.

Further, one’s mindset is key to dealing with whatever may be around the corner. a growth mindset is stronger and more keenly attuned to your overcoming and succeeding at dealing with uncertainty than a fixed mindset. Go into situations knowing that, not only will you overcome, but that you’ll grow.

In summary, we can never truly know the outcome of any event yet there are those that affect us at our deepest levels and cause us to view the external world, and ensuing events with uncertainty. This causes stress and anxiety. Lean in, trust yourself and trust the process and you will be able to, eventually, not only tolerate uncertainty but welcome it.

Comment and let us know what you think!



Introducing RTT Book Reviews! Let Us Stock Your Bookshelves

bali pile of books

For a blog entitled “Read Think Travel”, you’d think that book reviews would be high on our To Do list but we’re probably too busy reading, thinking and travelling to make that a reality – until now!

Does the book call us to action (actively or passively) or does it merely pique our interest but does nothing more?

We’ve all read book reviews that take us step-by-step through each chapter or ones that do not critique or challenge the author’s viewpoints and overall message. A book review should make the reader understand what they’ll get out of investing time (and money) into obtaining the book and how the book may impact their lives.

Popular, mass-market fiction resonates with those who desire a superficial escape from their daily drudgery – which is most of the modern-day working populous.

Our goal to review books by answering the questions posed below:

  • What is the overall message of the book? Does it make sense and is it coherent or does the author jump from theme to theme without tying them together? What story is the author trying to tell and does he or she achieve this?
  • How applicable is the book in our lives? Does the book call us to action (actively or passively) or does it merely pique our interest but does nothing more? Can we derive tangible results from digesting and actioning the words printed in the book in question? Of course, this applies mainly to non-fiction, self-development-type works.
  • What are the author’s voice and experience in their respective field? This is important, especially when reading books that are directly or indirectly heralded as authoritative. A book on being the best space engineer that you could possibly be written by a hairdresser may not stand up to scrutiny compared to one written by a NASA engineer 40 years deep into his career.
  • What’s missing? No book is an island. What do we feel is missing from the book’s message? What sections could be improved?
  • What chapter(s) stood out to us? We firmly believe that a book chooses us and not the other way around. When you’re browsing the shelves of a bookshop, you’d stop at a particular tome for a reason unbeknownst to you. This is the “calling” of a book and different books resonate with different people. Popular, mass-market fiction resonates with those who desire a superficial escape from their daily drudgery – which is most of the modern-day working populous.
  • What are the key takeaways? What key messages do we take away from the book?
  • Is the book enjoyable? Reading should be enjoyable!

Keep an eye out for our forthcoming reviews:

What Does Career Burnout Feel Like? A Retrospective

This post was originally published on a now-defunct blog. My hope is that it helps those of you who may be suffering from burnout or who just want to make a change.

It has been a tough few years. Divorce, depression, learning to be single again and rebuilding myself. Learning to love me again is a hard road to walk down.

During all of this, one thing has not suffered – until now. Whilst in the midst of juggling property and divorce lawyers, of wondering how badly my daughter would be affected by her mother leaving, of dating and wild parties; I have always worked hard at my job.

Professionalism is the hallmark of my success in the investment banking technology arena. It is intrinsically linked to my reputation in this industry and is built on hard work. And my hard work has always been derived from a deep passion and interest in the technology that I was responsible for. That was until the beginning of 2017.

The end of last year was tough: 1 am releases, weekend working and long office hours. But, I thrive under that kind of pressure and welcome it. At the turn of the year, I started to feel something new – disinterest. My manager – with whom I have a great relationship – stated his intention to leave and I thought about following suit.

I put my growing disinterest in my job down to me having been in the role for a few years and mastering my domain to the point that there was nothing left to learn. Little did I know that this was not to be the reason.

After scouring the internal company job site, I eventually applied for – and accepted – a role within the Digitial Initiative of the bank. A challenging step up the corporate ladder, or so I thought. To cut a long story short, my disinterest is now a glowing ember in the gasbag that is my career. And it is a result of burn out. At nearly forty years old, I have burnt out. The toll that my mind and spirit has paid in recent times has left me needing a break to re-evaluate my life and reignite my motivation.

The voice inside of me used to whisper the sweet notes of change but now, like an F1 car on the home straight, it is screaming those same notes and I cannot deny it any longer.

You see, I am part of a  social class that remembers the advent of the internet, that grew up watching dad wake up at 6 am to work as a mental health nurse in order to pay the mortgage. The mortgage and bills were the twin monoliths that immigrant parents worshipped through (mainly) working class jobs, back in the day. There was no concept of career “choice” for them. It was: find a job, stay in said job and pay the bills. Put the kids through school. This is the mentality that I adopted, which is why many of my dreams of extended travel to far off lands were curtailed due to the duty that I felt had to The Job and my folks.

But we live in a different time now. The internet has given us choice. The whole concept of “work” is changing rapidly from nomadic working to ultra-flexible office hours. People are starting businesses, taking professional courses and helping others from beaches, jungles, mountains and swimming pools the world over. Okay, it is not as idyllic as that, but you get my point.

What does all of this mean for me? Well, for the first time in my life, my relentless pursuit of a career is going to be put on the back burner for a while. I intend to take a break and explore starting my own business(es), studying and living. The voice inside of me used to whisper the sweet notes of change but now, like an F1 car on the home straight, it is screaming those same notes and I cannot deny it any longer.

10 Things to Do in Amed, Bali

We’ve just come back from five stupendous days in sleepy, gorgeous Amed, located on the North Eastern tip of Bali. On a recommendation from a beautiful soul that we met in the Yellow Flower cafe, in Ubud, we booked a taxi over the weekend, with plans to only spend two nights in Amed…we ended up spending five!

Here are our 10 tips on getting the most out of one of Bali’s most stunning locations.

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Are You a Fellow Beach Snob? Black Sand is the Cure

So many adventures and musings and so much laziness to battle through in order to write about them, I don’t know how you regular bloggers do it! There’s definitely a Catch-22 happening here: the more adventures and experiences you have, the less time you have to write about them and the more time you spend writing, the less time you have for building new experiences!

I’m a card-carrying beach snob and I really don’t give a shit. I’ll compare every beach that I come across to the beaches of Mauritius, and Tobago

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Getting what YOU Want out of Life

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe.

I am struggling. I am struggling with the weight of expectations; those self-imposed and those thrust upon me by society in my formative years and now, by the whispers of social media. We are all told to “do more”, “be more”, “have more”, “love more” etc. The interweb seeks to unlock our true “potential” so that it can, ironically, deliver us the best, greatest version of ourselves, to ourselves. Our own personal Nirvana.

What is the truth, though? Where do we fit in, those of us that are not uber-connected millennials? Those of us who are children of hard-working parents, whose only notion of achieving their “potential” was to bring home the bacon each month? What does the notion of “potential” mean to me, an almost-forty-something single dad?  And, importantly, what can I do to achieve my potential now?

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Decentralising Education in Paradise

Rain, temples, lush jungle and undereducated workers are the staples of Bali in general and Ubud in particular. From taxi drivers to waiting staff to construction workers (mostly women, from what we have seen).

Like many developing countries education is reserved for those who can pay. Here, a Travel and Tourism course costs 30 million Rupiah a year. For five years. And this course just gets you through the door in the hospitality game; it doesn’t elevate one to management or supervisory positions.

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