Bali, part 1: Travel and first days in Seminyak

In July I found out the I had the opportunity to go to Bali at the end of December/beginning of January. After a bit of research, I ended up booking a trip to Seminyak, a city on the southern coast of Bali.

Getting from Oslo to Seminyak is a long travel: Three different flights, and it took me about 26 hours to get here. The whole thing started with delays from Oslo to Heathrow, and I was really worried that I wouldn’t catch my next flight to Singapore. Fortunately, it all turned out good. I traveled by Singapore Airlines from Heathrow to Bali, both very nice planes. The seats were comfy, I had vegan food all the way and all was good. The only thing I didn’t like, was the long wait between meals between London and Singapore. Several hours. Probably because of time difference. We had lunch soon after we took off, and then breakfast just a couple of hours before Singapore. I was so happy I had brought a banana and some nuts with me!

Singapore is one of the nicest airports I’ve been to (and I have been to quite a few). It’s not very large, and getting between the terminals is really easy. I left for Bali from terminal 2, where you can find the “Enchanted Garden”: A small oasis of orchids and a pond. So pretty!

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
From the “Enchanted Garden” at Singapore airport, terminal 2.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
Another photo from the “Enchanted Garden”.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

Arriving in Bali was a mixed experience. First I had problems with the cash machine (ATM), only to realise I had forgotten to open up for my card to be used in Asia (a security thing my bank has), and then I couldn’t find the person who was supposed to take me to my hotel. After looking around everywhere and making a call from the information point three times, I gave up and took an airport taxi to my hotel. It was slightly more expensive than what I had agreed on with the private driver, but not horribly so. Apparently the driver had been there, so why I didn’t see him, or why he didn’t hear the calls over the information, I don’t know. Important thing is that I arrived safe and sound at the hotel.

Checking in went well, and even though my plan was to sleep when I got there, I simply was’t able to. I unpacked, and while doing so, I found out that I had forgotten my USB cable (that I use for charging my phone) on the last plane. I cursed myself, and hoped I was able to get a new one. However, I was so tired, I decided to have a nap, before heading out to catch one. Fortunately, getting one was easy enough, and when that was dealt with I decided to eat at the vegan restaurant across the street from the hotel. The restaurant is called EarthXpress, and is a bit expensive compared to other restaurants here, but I can deal. I had a really yummy meal: Chia Charm Bowl. The Chia Charm Bowl consisted of chia seeds marinated in coconut milk and agave, and was topped with purple dragon fruit. It was so good, I really want to have this again soon!

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
Chia Charm Bowl.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

Even though I had slept like a log (at least that’s whet it felt like), I felt exhausted the next day. I decided to take it easy, and went back to EartXpress for breakfast. I gad a Granola Fruit Mix, which was a mix of granola and fresh fruits, and topped with cashew milk.

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
Granola and fruit mix.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

Since I was going to have a relaxing day, I checked out the hotel’s pools. On the top there’s a “Flowting Pool”, which was really pretty, but didn’t really work for swimming. On the ground floor you can find the main pool, so I spent a little time there, which was nice and relaxing. I love swimming, and am in love with my new swimsuit, that looks a little like a dress! I thought I had managed to put on enough sun lotion, and I didn’t spend that much time there, but come evening, I found out my back was really sun burnt! I guess I should have had a sun lotion with a higher SPF than 30, as well as longer arms… Trying to put sun lotion on your back yourself really is a pain…

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
The Flying Pool.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
The main pool.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

I decided to have dinner at a vegan restaurant not far from the hotel called Tasty Vegan. When I got there it seemed to be a bit hidden away, and situated inside a sort of garden. It was a really quiet spot, and it was really cheap too! I bought a dish with tofu, tempeh, and vegetables in a coconut sauce served with rice. It was called Nasi Kare, and in my opinion really nice. I paid just 50 000 DPR (less than 40 NOK / 5 USD / 4 GBP) for the dish and a bottle of water!

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
A pond inside the garden of Tasty vegan.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
Inside Tasty Vegan.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
Nasi Kare.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

I was not pleased to find out that I was down with a cold when I woke up this morning. I decided to have breakfast at the hotel, and had a simple platter of fresh fruits. After having breakfast, I decided on visiting a coffee place near the hotel, that I found via Google Maps. I was really pleased to check it out, it was such a nice place, and the coffee was really good too! The café is called Koop Roaster and Cafe. After a chat with one of the people working there, I found out that not only do they roast their own coffee beans every morning, but they also own their own coffee farm where they grow most of their beans! How cool is that?

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
Inside Koop Roaster and Cafe.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

I went back to familiar places for lunch and dinner. Had a chickpea burger for lunch at EarthXpress, and a vegan steak (fitting for Christmas dinner, right?) at Tasty Vegan. Tasty Vegan is quickly becoming a favourite of mine here in Seminyak, the staff is so friendly, and the food cheap, but good.

I went back to the hotel after dinner, and decided on having an early night.

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Book Review: Caraval, written by Stephanie Garber

We all know tha phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover”. Well, that doesn’t only mean the dull looking books, but the pretty looking ones too. Caraval by Stephanie Garber is a good example of a book that is really pretty on the outside, but on the inside it’s both problematic and not particularely good. I picked up Caraval from the library, because there had been so much hype about it on Instagram. Sometimes I think a book being a hype might be a warning sign, but with the book’s consept, which I actually like, I thought it at least had some potential.

One of the first things I reacted to while reading the book was how women were portraied. To be honest, I find it highly problematic that we’re supposed to dependant on a man to be free and happy. Other than that, the characters are fairly flat, and there’s no real charachter devolopment. And the characters were in general annoying, especially the main character, Scarlett. At several occations did I feel like shaking her, because she acted just plain stupid. And often in those situations she was saved by a man, namely Julian. Julian was another character I really didn’t like, as there was absolutely no depth to him, plus he was fairly predictable. So, yes, in general the characters were just too flat, and too annoying.

It being a fantasy book, I would also expect more about the world building. After having read the book, I know just a little more about the world than I did when I started. There’s magic, yes, but other than that, there’s not much description. Even though there’s a map of Caraval on the inside of the book, I never got the impression from how the world look like when I read it, that resembled the map on the inside. The map gave me assosiations to Venice, while reading the book, there was no such resemblance. At all.

This was actually the sort of book I normally would have put away, but for once I finished it just so that I could write a review on it. An over-hyped book like this needs to be taken out into the light and be shown as what they are not as good as the hype tells you it is. Another thing is, that I haven’t gone into here, was the abusive father of the main character and her sister. So consider this to be a trigger warning for that.

If I am to say anything good about the book, it’s its writing style. The language flowed fairly well, and I never felt that it was an obstacle, so that’s a good thing. I hope that the next book in the series (though I’m not likely to read it) will be less problematic, though I honestly don’t think it will be…

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

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Book Review: Binti, written by Nnedi Okorafor

When I first heard about Binti, a novella written by Nnedi Okorafor, it intrigued me, even though I didn’t really know much about it. Since this is such a short book, it’s a quick read, and even I managed to read it in one day.

This is the story about Binti, the very first of her people to be accepted into the Oomza University, which is the best university in the galaxy. The Himba people, which she is one of, hardly ever leave their home country, so accepting her place is a huge step for her. On her way to Oomza, the space craft she’s travelling on is attacked by the Meduse, and they kill everyone except for the pilot and Binti. The Meduse have been wronged by the Oomza University, and they’re angry… Will she sirvive the trip? And will the Meduse go to war with Oomza or not?

This was such an interesting read. I loved how communication and lack of knowledge about other people not like our own are such central themes here. I also enjoyed how influenced the book is by Nigerian culture and language. It really does give the story something extra for a westerner line myself. It is a well written and exciting book, and I hope to read the next book in the series in not too long! And maybe other books by the author too?

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

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The Diverse Reading Challenge

Lately I have been discussing diverse books with my friend Kevin, whom I first “met” on Instagram. We both agree there are not enough diverse books out there, and that we as readers need to show we care and actually want more diversity in literature! With that as inspiration, I decided that I wanted to host a diverse reading challenge.

I want this to be as easy and flexible as possible, so I am not setting a time limit. Nor am I setting a start date – people should be able to start whenever they want. All you need to do is to fulfill each point on the list. You can read the books in whatever order you wish.

I would love it if you posted your list of books as you read them as a comment here, or if you post them on your own blog or Instagram, that’s even better! If you post them on your blog, it would make my day if you link back to this post!

  • Book by a transgender author
  • Book by a bisexual or pansexual author
  • Book by a gay author
  • Book by a Zimbabwean author
  • Book by a Scandinavian author
  • Book by a Japanese author
  • Book by a Indian author
  • Book set in Brazil
  • Book set in Indonesia
  • Book set in Russia
  • Book set in Iceland
  • Book set in Iran
  • Book with a genderfluid main character
  • Book with a lesbian main character
  • Book with a main character with an immigrant background (first or second generation)
  • Book with a main character who suffer from mental illness
  • Book with a character in a wheelchair
  • Book with a blind character
  • Book with a deaf character
  • Book with a character who has ME
  • Feminist non-fiction book
  • LGBTQ+ non-fiction book
  • Non-fiction book on an Asian country (not a travel guide book)
  • Non-fiction book on a Nordic country (not a travel guide book)
  • Non-fiction book on an Indigenous people and/or their culture

I could have made this a lot longer, but that would made the challenge a lot harder. I hope lots of people will parttake!

Are you game?


Photo: Hidden in a Book © 201
A selection of some diverse books.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

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Elin’s Chana Masala

I simply love Indian food, and chickpeas are among my favourite ingredients. One of my favourite dishes is chana masala, and here’s my super simple recipe. It is, of course, 100 % plant based, vegan, and gluten free. This recipe is meant for two persons, so if you’re four, make a double portion.

Ingredients
1 can tinned cickpeas (ca 500 g)
4 tablespoon rapeseed (or sunflower) oil
2-3 cm piece of fresh ginger
1 red or yellow onion
1 fresh chilli
2-3 tomatoes
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lime juice
Finely chopped, fresh coriander (to taste)

How to
Pour the brine of the cickpeas into a cup or a small bowl (to be used later).
Peel the onion and the ginger, and cut the onion into two halves. Cut off the stem of the chilli.
Put the onion, ginger, and the chilli into a foodprocessor, and run until it’s all finely chopped.
Heat the oil in a pot. Pour the onion, ginger and chilli into the pot, and fry on a medium heat until the onion is golden.
Cut the tomatoes (use the foodprocessor), por them into the pot, and bring to a boil. Add garam masala and salt, and let this simmer for a few minutes.
Add the chickpeas, stil well, and bring to a boil. Let this simmer for a few minutes.
At the brine of the chickpeas, stir, and bring to a boil. Let this simmer for 30 – 45 minutes. Stir it every now and then, so it doesn’t burn.
Add the lime juice and the coriander, and simmer for 1 – 2 minutes.

I recommend serving this dish with rice.

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2010
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2010

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#AmWriting

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This is somthing I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and I’m finally doing it. I have been wanting to for a very long time, but work tents to eat it up, so to say.

So, what’s different this year, you might ask. Well, I have been mad enough to take four weeks off work. Unpaid. Simply to write. So, that’s what I’m doing. Come 30 November, I will have a novel of 50 000 words. I’m well on my way, but there’s still a lot to do.

I am currently trying to write 2 000 – 3 000 words every day. This leaves space for bad days. Like last Wednesday, when the day was filled with bad news, a migrain attack, and some other blahness. I managed only 500 or so words. Fortunately, I had had a couple of other days with about 3 000 words, so it was okay. There will be good days, and there will be bad days. It’s just as well to write more on good days.

Are YOU doing NaNoWriMo this year?

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2016
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2016

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September Challenge – how did it go?

As I wrote earlier, I set myself a challenge to read more books in Norwegian. So, how did my challenge go? How many books in Norwegian did I manage to read?

1. Hålke, written by Helene Uri

I was fortunate enough to win a ARC of Helene Uri’s new book, Hålke. It was published early in September, and is a book on an elderly couple who early in January don’t get to leave their flat due to it being icy outside. With only a little food to get by on, and the coffee running out, we get to know this elderly people. What’s their marriage built on? Why do they still keep together after over 40 years, in spite of unfaithfulness (her) and violence (him)? It was a really interesting read, and I really enjoyed it.

2. Odinsbarn, written by Siri Pettersen

This was actually a reread. I first read Odinsbarn (meaning Odin’s Child in English) shortly after it came out, and it’s the first book in the Ravneringene (meaning “The Raven Rings”) trilogy. I love this trilogy, and thought Odinsbarn was even better the second time around.

3. Et norsk hus, written by Vigdis Hjorth

This was my first book Vigdis Hjorth, and I borrowed it from the library’s ebook app. I enjoyed reading about this middle aged textile artist who rented out a part of her house to a Polish family and the conflict between them. And even though this lady is a weird woman with many faults, I grew to love her… I am definitely going to read more books by her!

4. Forbannet, written by Tonje Tornes

This was the second book in the Kire series, and it has been a while since I read hulder, the first book in the series. I am loving this series, and I liked the second book even more than the first – it’s darker and there’s more magic! I can’t wait for the third book, even though I have no idea when it will be published.

So, I ended up with four Norwegian books in September, which wasn’t so bad. I also read On Writing by Stephen King, which is also a very good read. I think my conclusion is that this challenge was good for me, even though one of the books was a reread. I will try to read even more Norwegian books, and am hoping to get some more read this year.

Did you succeed with your September challenge?

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2016
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2016

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It’s Monday, what are you reading?

I finished Et norsk hus, written by Vigdis Hjorth yesterday, on the plane back from Oslo. I had a nice week end with the boyfriend, even though I wasn’t feeling too well. The plan was to run the 10 km run during the Oslo Marathon, but I wasn’t well enough to participate.

I am kind of reading Dronningens løfte, but I can’t seem to focus, so I have decided to put it aside for now, and read Forbannet, which is the second book in the Kire series written by Tonje Tornes. I enjoyed Hulder, the first book in the series. I have a signed copy of both books in the series, so they’re not leaving the house. I have borrowed the ebook version from the library ebook app eBokBib, which makes it easier for me to read.

What are YOU currently reading?

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2016
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2016

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