Monday, 26 October 2015

Green fingers...

The garden

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need” Marcus Tullius Cicero

One of our ambitions is to be able to grow vegetables and herbs in our very own garden. Of course this is dictated by soil conditions and climate. While it is possible to find a wide range of produce in the daily market, the majority of it is shipped in from Lombok. Sumbawa’s produce is mainly corn with very little else in terms of vegetables. Apparently the soil and sun here are not conducive to good crops.

the colourful market stalls

lots of chillis and peanuts

We brought some plants over from Bali to aid the growing process. During the building works, however, the plants had to be moved several times, which resulted in them withering away.

Our resolve is strong and we are persevering with attempting to grow tomatoes, paprika (peppers), grapes, cilantro, basil, etc from seeds. It took several months before we could get hold of some decent soil, which had to then be mixed with dry cow dung from the field next door. Everything comes in handy at some point! 

our vegetable garden

the garden's first inhabitants

In order to grow the plants from seeds, we had to use another soil mixed with horse dung. Each tiny seed was planted in soil in a separate compartment of a seed tray. It was then covered with a bit of soil and watered. The process requires watering of the plants twice daily for 20 days, after which we will need to transplant them in the ground. It is quite exciting to visit the seed tray and watch as a new tiny green leaf sprouts from the soil.

it's a waiting game

We look forward to the day when we can actually make a meal from our own home grown vegetables.

Meanwhile, a few months ago I dumped some watermelon seeds in the neighbouring field and one day we spotted a watermelon lying on the ground! If none of the veggies make it, then we will have to survive on watermelons :)

our unexpected baby watermelon

watermelons aplenty

Tip: Instead of discarding seeds from fruit and vegetables, these can be dried in the sun and planted back in the earth.

Saturday, 24 October 2015


The pondok

A ‘pondok’ is a shack made out of bamboo and grass and is usually located in the middle of the ricefields. Its main use is to shelter farmers from the scorching sun. It is not unusual, however, to glimpse a family of goats relaxing in the pondok.

This structure has been adapted and is featured in most Bali homes and hotels usually located by the swimming pool (similar to a cabana). It is usually made out of coconut wood and a thatched or wooden roof.
the pondok on the right 

Our new abode also came with a pondok, located at the entrance to the land, which we soon realized had become a meeting place for the locals. We resolved to find a way to put an end to this. So a few weeks into the project, the pondok was relocated to the rear of the land, where a podium with two-metre high columns was constructed as its base. It took 20 guys to move and lift the pondok. There was no real plan for the future of this structure other than as a hideaway / viewing platform.

the elevated pondok

looking for inspiration

For a couple of months the pondok was idle. As the development progressed, the pondok became a focal point with a bar and bathroom located below it, an outdoor entertainment area and a covered dining area located adjacent to it.  

time for a hair cut

now you see it...

now you don't...

Ideas evolved and the pondok was stripped back to merely four columns, with no semblance of its former self (except for the fact that its use is still for relaxation purposes). It has now been given a new lease of life as a self-contained bedroom complete with walls, new roof and a trapdoor for access. The bedroom, which is probably the most private room in the development, looks out onto the sea with a side view of the numerous coconut palms. The ultimate tropical beach picture!

And the top half of the columns has been re-adapted into a high table/platform.

the transformed pondok...aka the coconut bedroom

Tip: While I would usually advise that having a plan is key, sometimes it is best to let things evolve and your imagination will take over.

Friday, 23 October 2015


The master bedroom

Living in Bali means that you seldom get to have a ‘noiseless’ sleep. You are never far from the whirring of motorbike engines, noises from construction sites, sounds of crickets, dogs barking or roosters, and if you keep your windows closed, then you have to contend with air-conditioning units buzzing. Here in Sumbawa we are living on a quiet stretch of beach with the occasional motorbike during the day and a herd of cows that strolls by early morning. I have been looking forward to a peaceful night’s sleep in my new bedroom.

view from the bedroom

a blank canvas

making use of all spaces

the bed

For years I have had a bedroom design in mind but I have never had the opportunity to actualize it. Until now. Due to the layout of the structure I had to amend the design but overall the result is pretty good. The bed has unobstructed views with the closet area and ensuite bathroom situated behind it. Feng Shui principles dictate that a doorway should not be located behind the bed, however, with three doorways in the room this is pretty challenging.

If you have ever lived in tropical countries, you probably know that wooden furniture has a habit of attracting termites. Bamboo furniture, which is the most eco-friendly material, is an attractive home for a wide range of insects as well as snakes. Therefore the best option for me is concrete. While it is more labour intensive and the angles are not necessarily level, the results are worth the while.

Basically it all starts with bricks, which are cemented together before being plastered with grey cement. Once this dries, it is sanded down and covered with a few layers of white cement. Onto this, paint is applied. We discovered epoxy paint, which provides a nice finish and is easy to clean. For certain load-bearing structures, steel is laid across the base before cement is poured in. It is of utmost importance that the cement is totally dry before paint is applied, as we found out! Moreover, from our experience, we strongly recommend not using white cement on floors as it is very cumbersome to work with, particularly if it has to be load bearing.

the built-in wardrobe
the bedroom in progress 

another layer of flooring is laid

in the beginning...
after the make-over!

So the bedroom is made entirely out of concrete….the bed, the headboard, the closet, the floors, as well as the en-suite bathroom shelving.

Tip: When taking measurements for doorways/ apertures and furniture always allow for any potential changes such as an increased floor height.