Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Raise High the Roofbeams Carpenters?????

There has been a lot of progress on our house in the last couple of weeks….but, not as much as we had hoped for, due to the bi-annual occurrence of Galungan, a family holiday in which the preparation and festivities go on for about 2-3 weeks.

Although most of our crew is from Java, they too have stopped working in observance of this holiday (at least for a day). But, the roof is being worked on, and we are dependent on the Balinese to do this specialized form of craftsmanship. So, while the tiles sit on our building site, they are no closer to being raised to the roof then they were a couple of weeks ago

A small frustration, but the swimming pool continues to fill with rain water, and the timbers continue to warp with the humidity. We are anxious for the workers to begin the indoor work before the big rains start. Ah well, at this point we have little control over the process.

We now have about 8 men on the site. One of them left mysteriously last week, and we still can’t figure out why. His name is Nano and he was from Java. He was college educated, and could speak some English. When Henry saw him packing up to go, he was told that Nano’s wife was sick and he had to return home. When he asked the building supervisor, he was told that he wasn’t a good worker and was asked to leave. When we asked the architect, we were told to ask the building supervisor. We never feel like we get a straight answer here, and are always told either what they think we want to hear, or something that is pleasant. They never confront, and as New Yorkers, we are somewhat uncomfortable with that.
But, the stairs are now up and we can see the views from all directions. The plastering is being done inside and outside on both houses. We continue to window shop till we drop for toilets, sinks, plumbing supplies etc. Haven’t ordered anything yet, but at least we have an idea of the cost of everything, and the products that we want.

We also visited a Mask and Puppet collection the other day in a neighboring town that was extraordinary. It put our small collection to shame.


The weather here has been pleasant. Usually rains at least once a day which helps to clear the air of excess humidity. Then the sun comes out and dries up all the rain. So much for Life in the fast lane…..

Sunday, November 28, 2010


The Yoga Barn, in central Ubud  was started in 1992 and is owned by an American woman. She has built a mini-empire consisting of a two-level yoga studio with classes all day, a shop selling yoga clothes, a restaurant that is one of our favorites (Kafe--a true natural food/organic spot) and offerings of healing sessions and related events. Besides the Yoga Barn there are Yoga classes offered in many hotels and Yoga studios.  We go to Yoga sessions at a small studio just a five minute walk down the path from our house.  It is owned and run by a French-Canadian woman, Linda, with one or two classes a day and most taught by Linda. She is a wonderful teacher and her two hour classes are a generous mix of yoga and meditation.

Ubud is a small town--no traffic lights and only 3 main streets but filled with touristy shops, spas, yoga studios, hotels, (nothing is taller than 3 stories) and restaurants. (Speaking of restaurants, there are so many good to excellent eateries plus many local places that serve good, wholesome food and all at ridiculously low prices compared to the cost of food in the states. We also find a lot of organic produce and grains and even the locals are getting with it.  We eat out almost every night because the restaurant food is better and cheaper than what we can cook at home--altho we do make breakfast and lunch at home.) Ubud has become, over the last 10-15 years, a true yoga/healing/new-age center.  One cannot walk very far without passing offerings of Tibetan sound massage (you must try this!), healing sessions by local healers as well as healers from all over the world, yoga classes, chakra healing, meditation workshops and every kind of new-age treatment and event.  All of these things are frequented by tourists of all ages and nationalities, ex-patriots from all over the globe and even some locals. [Yoga is a tradition among the Balinese as their religion is Hindu, but a Balinese form of Hinduism, with their own Gods, some animism and a few other goofy practices.]

People come from all parts of the world for Yoga workshops and teacher training in every form of yoga--hatha, vinyasa flow, ayenga, ashtenga--you name it, we've got it.  In March the Yoga Barn sponsors a week-long Yoga festival  with classes, dance, chanting and a lot of fun.  There is also a large and varied selection of healing and massages including the newly popular ayurvedic.  I should add that all of these classes and sessions are very inexpensive compared to what they cost in the states.  Of course there are the expensive, upscale hotels and spas which due charge US prices.  

So we pick and choose our medicine, love our local yoga studio--Intuitive Flow, and go with the flow!  ((Do you kids still say that?)  As a matter of fact I'm off to to a class as soon as I finish this post.

Last night there was an Indian music and dance recital right in our neighborhood and the price of about $10 included a meal beforehand--it was great!  A lot of people showed up and we all had a fabulous time.


This past week we went to a special ceremony in our friends village celebrating a 30 year cycle.  He said it is done in order to re-charge people's interest in their religion.  
Ceremonies here are so frequent and ubiquitous that one could go to a ceremony just in our town once a week--easily.  There are thousands of temples on this dot in the ocean--family temples, village temples, community temples, public temples and then the larger temples for larger areas--and they have ceremonies often.  Every full and new moon (they call dead moon), births, weddings, deaths (no bar mitzvahs) and to celebrate events as well as Balinese holidays. Small offerings of coconut baskets filled with fruit, rice, flowers, cakes and incense are made every day and put out in front of every house and shop.  On special occasions these offering are large and may include dead animals.

At this ceremony we attended we were the only westerners and squeezed in this small and very busy temple filled with dances, a shadow puppet play, praying, chanting socializing and all going on the same time--crazy!  Here are some photos.






Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Lifting up Buckets of Cement

This week we saw the start of the 2nd story of the main house.  That is, the ceiling was put in place, which becomes the floor of level two. Today and for many years houses in Bali have been, and still are, made of cement and cinder blocks, wood being scarce and, therefore, expensive.  Wood--teak, mahogany and others are used for door & window frames, roof beams and furniture.  So we have a great deal of cement being mixed--by hand in small troughs--with the bags of cement and rocks and sand and steel rods for the re bar carried up the 16 steps and the 7 minute walk down the narrow path to our house.  All day cinder blocks are stacked and cemented into place to form walls which will eventually be plastered over.

Me With Supervisor, Gede
Checking the Plans

We did have a two day diversion via a trip to Singapore in order to secure our Indonesian Retirement Visas which will allow us certain privileges such as opening a bank account and the ability to say here uninterrupted with only an annual government fee.  Singapore is not a very exciting city, but it is known for great shopping and world-class food.  We stayed (for the 2nd time) in Little India, which, as you can guess has a pretty good selection of Indian food.  But we opted to eat mostly Singaporean cuisine in casual open air restaurants.  Singaporean food is a rich, spicy and flavorful blend of Indian, Chinese and Malaysian ingredients and tastes--lots of seafood and vegetables, and a plethora of food courts, consisting of varieties of noodle dishes, soups, curries and much more--all wonderful!  We had dim sum one morning that was delicious!  We went to the Singapore Art Museum to see the works of two very prolific artists, both with a broad range of style and techniques--loved them both. The museum is in a beautiful, old building that has been retrofitted to house works of art and contains many exhibits, all excellently presented--even some Dale Chihouly glass!  We accomplished our mission and after two days there our visas were processed and we returned to Bali late Wednesday night--tired but relieved to have finalized this important step.

We see how important it is for us to be here, as there are revisions and changes that come up almost daily.  Luckily, our architect, engineer and site supervisor are always cooperative and do their best to keep us happy.
Who is that with our architect?
 Keep tuned for the story of Ubud and all the yoga and new age activity here.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

No Fishing!

We Now Have a Wall!

Well, I can hardly believe the progress in the past week! I was in Tejakula for another relaxing yoga retreat, and by the time I returned, the house had risen up above the wall, and the wall was almost complete.
2nd Story Going Up...

There are now two teams working on construction; one for the guest house and the other for the main. The foundations are now complete and today, they started working on the second floor.
The women are still bringing up material stacked on their heads as well as giant bamboo poles used to support the second floor while the concrete dries. Some of the pieces of bamboo are about 15 ft tall and larger than my thigh around. The site is now filled with sand, bamboo, rocks and window frames, with hardly any space left to walk about.
Almost every afternoon it rains for about an hour, makes the site muddy, but then the work continues. There are now about 15 men on the site at any one time. There is only a plywood shack, and they climb down a long rickety homemade ladder to the creek below for bathing and toileting. 
Henry came down to ‘supervise’ the building early and was fortunate to attend a very large cremation in the village of Peliatan. It was the cremation of a King of the region, who was also very wealthy. He died about 4 months ago, was buried initially, and was now having the ceremony to release his spirit so that he can be reborn.
There were thousands of enthusiastic villagers carrying the 75 ft cremation tower and three huge bulls to the temple, 1 mile away. It took most of the day..probably around 6 hours. Many people waited all day by the side of the road and there was a carnival like atmosphere.  Cotton candy, plastic toys for kids and food of all sorts were being hawked by vendors walking up and down the streets.

We now have a name for our Villa and will call it Villa Semua Suka....sounds exactly like it looks. It means 'everyone likes' ....and I hope it proves to be true! 

Yesterday, we went shopping for plumbing supplies. It was so exciting, looking at toilets, sinks and shower heads!
We are really glad to be here on-site at the building. There are minor changes and sometimes mistakes that are made, and we are able to intervene before it goes too far. A window in the guest bathroom was left out, and after the doorway between the bedroom and bath was installed, we realized that it needed to be enlarged in order to open up the room and make it feel larger. There was also a small fish pond built between the two verandahs in the main house, but that was a surprise…and we’re delighted with it. We also asked to have an extra window installed there so that we’d be able to look out and see the fish. But remember…no fishing allowed!

Monday, October 25, 2010


First of all, this week was big for us because we finally succumbed and rented a motorbike. In all the years we've been coming here we've walked everywhere and gotten a car & driver when we needed to go out of Ubud or up to our house on the north Coast.  We like walking--it's the only way to really see life in the villages and all the street activity.  But we are busier now than ever before and have to run into town for one thing or another often.  It's a small Honda Vario and we park in the supermarket parking lot which is a five minute walk from our house.  We're going to have to share it, because neither of us want to ride on the back as the other drives, so when we both need to go into town, like we do often for dinner, we still walk.
Foundation for the Outside Wall
Residence for 7 Workers and Land

Worker's Abode
Back to the business at hand.  The workers have been arriving at the site a few at a time and we are up to eight right now.  They have erected a plywood shack to live in during construction, with electricity, a gas burner and of course, a water dispenser.  All eight are sleeping there and with another four or five arriving shortly we don't know just how many will sleep on the site, and how many will sleep elsewhere.  Trenches have been dug, and cement is being poured into the trenches.  These cement-filled trenches will form the base of the foundation which will be raised about 2 feet above ground level. [I have been learning to work with the metric measuring system and I'm getting pretty comfortable with it.]

 As the foundation is being laid work has started on the guest bungalow, and soon the digging will commence for the swimming pool.  I built a house in Marin County in 1977 and I tell you construction techniques here are quite a bit different than in the States.  The biggest factor affecting the build is the fact that vehicles have no access to the house.  All materials--sand, cement, cinder blocks, rocks large and small, pipes, rebar, et al. are brought up a steep set of stairs, than go on a five minute walk on the heads of women--always women.  Why?  I wish I had the answer. It is literally back-breaking work and I'm sure their husbands don't say "...but look how good it is for your posture."

We have been looking at plumbing fixtures and furniture, but I'll let Barbara write about that--it's her thing.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Let the Building Begin!

The building has begun…with women carrying rocks from Kintamani (volcanic mountain) to use for the foundation on their heads, and men digging ditches for the wall. The outline of the house was drawn with wood sticks and string. How will this ever become a house? Wait and see….
We had a bit of a cultural issue the other day, when the landowner told us that the land was actually .8 are more than we had thought.
When we purchased the lease in May, we ‘assumed’ that we were paying for the entire parcel. We didn’t know the exact size at the time, but was told that it was about 5 are (1000 sq meters per are). After the architect came out to measure it last week, it was discovered that it was in fact 5.8 are. So, we went to the agency that had drawn up the contract, and was told  that they had been aware of the size when the papers were originally signed….but, had neglected to tell us about it. They didn’t feel that it was negligence on their part not to have disclosed this. (In the US, this would have been grounds for a suit) But, as they said… what could be done with .8 are ? …and, it was up to us to decide which .8 are he was to get.
However, we didn’t want to have this hanging over our heads as an issue, and phoned the landowner to find out what he would want to sign over the additional land to us. Turned out, it was very little money….so, Henry drew up a contract, gave Sadi (the landowner) the money…and everyone was happy. I’m sure that a situation like this in the US would not have ended as quickly and painlessly. The landowner in question had inherited this parcel from his father. As the father has 3 sons, the land was divided up somewhat unequally. This son just happened to get a slightly larger piece then the others.
So now, full steam ahead on our building project! But first, some changes in the design. We have now decided to add the second storey onto the house for
both the view and future rentability. This is now the 6th or 7th change in the design, but the architect seems to take it in his stride. So tomorrow, Komang will come back with yet another design. This must be making him crazy but you’d never know it. He smiles and quietly says that he’ll return the drawings tomorrow with all the changes.
He also told us today about importing workers from Java. It seems that he has a 10 person crew that he brings over from Java, whenever he needs workers to build. He insists that the quality of their workmanship is superior to the Balinese…except for the wood work, in which the Balinese excel. So, we then asked him where they would stay….Seems that the wall will go up and that 2 workers will stay here nightly to guard the building materials. The other workers will stay at ‘base camp’ wherever that is? Komang pays for their transportation, food and housing…which is all included in our costs. So, our crew will be here in the morning! That’s in addition to the diggers and the carriers.
Today, the women are bringing in the sand for the concrete. Much of the house will be constructed of concrete ; the stairs, counters, sub-floor, and foundation. We are trying to stay close, so that we can both see the progress of the house and answer questions as they arise. We also have a site manager(Gede) in addition to the architect and his partner Chipta (the engineer).
So, it’s almost like a well choreographed dance or orchestra, ensuring that everyone plays their part and contributes to the whole. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

And Now for Something Completely Different...

The Ubud Writer's & Readers Festival

What a festival!  Five days, 140 authors from all over the world and hundreds attending.  Barb and I and our crew of four ran the information booth (and t-shirt sales), and since we only worked four hours each day we had time for many conversations with authors, book launches and discussions, plus a couple of parties at night.

Since there were a number of authors of books we had read we made time to hear these writers.  There was Christos Tsalkis, author of The Slap, a novel set in Melbourne, in which a man slaps his friend's kid and how that slap affects the lives and relationships of a number of people--very well realized and an excellent novel.

Barbara saw a conversation with Louis de Bernieres, author of Birds Without Wings and Corelli's Mandolin. "Very entertaining, funny, self effacing," Barbara says.

I saw and spoke with Ma Jian via his lovely translator/wife.  I recently finished his marvelous novel, Bejing Coma, based on his experiences in Tianenmen Sq during the massacre in 1989.  The story is told through the the thoughts of a student 10 years later who has been in a coma since being shot in the head during the crackdown.  [Note: Ma Jian knows the new Nobel Peace Prize winner, Liu Xiaobo and he related some anecdotes to me.] It was truly a thrill to meet Ma Jian.

A few of the many other authors and events we saw:

Slides and a dance performance from the people of Suva, an outlying island in Indonesia.

Conversation between an Israeli (Etger keret) and a Palestinian author--this conversation was funnier than you might imagine.  We bought the most recent book written by the delightful, charming and very funny Palestinian woman, Suad Amiry.  She said that during the siege of Ramallah in the late eighties her mother-in-law had to stay with her so she was under two sieges--one by Sharon & one by her mother-in-law! Hence her first book--Sharon & My Mother-in-Law. Wish I had the time and space to write more about her.

A walk through rice fields with a group of international poets.

Memoirists discussing their works and how they approach a memoir.

Bali: Past  & Present--panel with 5 ex-pats who have lived here for 20 years or more.

Food writers discussion-a Vietnamese restaurant owner from Sydney, a writer from the UK and the owner of one of the most popular restaurants in Ubud.

Witnesses of War--Kate Adie (senior news correspondent of BBC), a Croatian writer who witnessed the war in Yugoslavia and a Burmese author.

Conversation with Tom Keneally, funny, interesting Aussie author of over 50 work one of which is Schindler's Ark--you know what movie was made from this book!

Plus many more conversations and discussions and a few book launches at various restaurants around town with free food and drink!

I am sorry I missed Rabih Alameddine, due to scheduling conflicts, because I loved reading his book The Hakawati.  A Hakawati is a storyteller in Arab countries and this book is stories within stories upon stories--some present day some from times unknown.  A good read--I recommend it to anyone who enjoys this kind of book.

My favorite quote of the festival came from Ma Jian, who lives in London with his wife and four kids.  When asked how he felt living so far from China he said that he knows more of what is happening in China than does his sister who lives there. He said "...the further one gets from the mountain the clearer the mountain is delineated".

Saturday, October 9, 2010

2nd Posting from Barbara

We have now met with Komang (our architect) and Chipta (our engineer) multiple times. They return every couple of days with and updated drawing of our house, including all the changes we decide on during our meetings. We initially wanted to build a 2 storey house in order to take advantage of the ricefields and views of the volcano, Mount Agung, where the Gods are believed to dwell. It would face East and allow us to see the sunrise from our bed each morning. But the cost was more than we had budgeted, and so we have to come up with another plan.
We tried to think of various ways to cut back and discovered that building on one storey would be less expensive. So, we now are planning on 1 bed and bath for the main house….and a guest house with one bed and bath as well. We also had to reduce the total size down to about 1,600 feet…but since the house will flow into the terrace area, and there will be high ceilings, white walls and floors and lots of windows, hopefully, it will feel much larger than it is. There will also be fairly extensive gardens, a pool with a bale (small meditation platform in the pool), and a lotus pond. Finally, we are satisfied with both the price and the plan!
All that needs to be done is approval of the final drawings, a signed contract, and we can break ground to start the foundation in a couple of days.
Look at our architectural drawings to get a better idea of the design of the house and land.
PS...We are also looking for a name for the Villa, and could use some help with it. We've toyed with names in Sanskrit, Indonesian, Indian Gods and Goddesses etc, but so far nothing seems right. Henry's sister Joan, though of one that used the first initials of all the kids names....and that is definitely in the, please, give us your recommendations, suggestions and ideas....

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hank's First Post--Settling In

What we're going to do is this--we will both write posts, so ideas, thoughts and observations may overlap.  I'm not going to read Barbara's posts so I may repeat some of what she has said--so be it.  I want to express my thoughts on all that is going on here and now.

A little background.  We spent the summer wrapping up our lives in Santa Fe by selling most of our stuff--furniture and personal items, and packed 23 boxes to ship to Bali (where it is now in storage behind the house we're staying in).  What we sent here is a lot of kitchen things, linens, towels, rugs and many paintings and artwork.  We rented the house in Santa Fe, visited our kids in Denver and Seattle and made our way to Bali.

After a couple of weeks settling in, we rented a small, but new house right next to our plot of land.  This two room-plus house has a small swimming pool, air-con and after we installed wi-fi (pronounced wifey here), and a satellite TV to go with our new flat screen we are feeling pretty comfy. We have a view of rice fields, which I absolutely love--they are so green and beautiful just before harvest and represent a fascinating and intricate culture which is unique to the Balinese.  They also go thru a 3-4 month cycle so they are always changing--I love when the ducks are brought in to clean up the fields after the harvest. 

Site of our future home
Our plot along the path with a sharp drop to a river on the left

Our plot of land (and the house in which we are staying) are along a quiet, motor-free path and a short walk in one direction to a couple of cafes, small restaurants and yoga studio and a walk in the other direction to a fairly large supermarket.  This store has almost everything we need, so we are there often.  We make our own breakfasts, but almost always go out for dinner (so many restaurants to choose from), because they are cheaper that what can make at home, and the menus offer a lot more than what we can come up with.

So now--we interviewed a few couple of architects and have settled on one mid-thirties guy and his engineer.  They seem very talented and we have checked out some of the places they have built--very good work, indeed.  After five revisions of our concept we are about to settle on a final plan in the next few days.  Due to our limited budget, and the spiraling costs of materials here we have had to re-think our dream house and cut back many areas--the biggest loss being the elimination of a 2nd story.  Instead we will build a small, free-standing guest cottage--a big savings.

We have been busy here, and will be busy for the foreseeable future.  We have spent time organizing our retirement visa, which we will get in November.  Beginning Wednesday we are both the coordinators on the Information Booth at the Ubud Writer's and Readers Conference, now in its 7th year.  The conference is an extremely adventurous undertaking with writers  (and readers) coming from all over the world.
We will be working there but will also have the chance to attend seminars, discussions, interviews, book launches and parties of one kind or another day and night.  There are more than a few authors of books we have both read and really look forward to seeing them.

Dressed for the Ceremony
Balinese Hinduism has many rituals, ceremonies, holidays and celebrations.  It turns out yesterday was one of the only days this month in which we could consecrate the land--that is, converting the land from a rice field to a home site.  So the family that owns the land (we just lease it) brought in a priest and made all the arrangements for a proper ceremony.  This is all much too complicated and  mysterious to go into here, but suffice it to say that the baskets of fruit, fragrant flowers, incense, bells and dead chickens was all we needed.  Lots of chanting and sprinkling of holy water and rice made it all a great experience.

Consecrating the Land
Wish you could hear the bells and smell the flowers and incense


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Barbara's Post, Oct 3
Who would have thunk it? A middle-class, Jewish girl from the bowels of Brooklyn, building a house in Bali. But, it’s been a long journey, and a consistent dream which began 35 years ago the first time I visited the Island of the Gods.
I had left the Peace Corps, where I served in Micronesia, was pregnant with my first child, and started traveling with my then husband through Southeast Asia, before having to settle down and raise a family.
In 1975, Bali was a sleepy island, and Kuta and Legian were quiet beach towns. Ubud didn’t even have a paved road or electricity, and the only places to stay were losmen or homestays.
But, I was fascinated by the culture, lush setting and people of Bali, and if I hadn’t been pregnant and had only a 60 day visa….who knows what might have happened and how this might have ended.
So, after many years of living in Northern California, Seattle and Santa Fe, I am now back in Bali working on building a house. Not actually building a house ourselves, but having one built for us to our specifications.
Henry and I have been visiting Bali for the past 12 years and finally decided that the US had become too expensive to live in, the economic climate, too unstable to work, and the politics too crazy.
So, about four months ago, we started looking for some land, and low and behold, found the last piece on the Campuan Ridge pathway, in the ricefields. It was affordable, and we were able to get a 25 year lease with an option for 25 more. So, I’ll have to live to at least 113 in order to benefit from this agreement.
We then signed the contract and went back to Santa Fe for the summer, in order to earn enough money to pay the land lease within 90 days as specified. Henry and I spent every weekend this past summer either working the flea market selling clothes, Balinese jewelry etc, or garage sales selling our 30  years accumulation of furnishings, housewares, art etc.
Let me tell you a little bit about Penestanan. Ubud, the cultural heart of Bali is made up of 17 villages or desas, Penestanan being just one of them. The ridge where we’ll be building is inaccessible by either car or motorbike. There are two stone staircases which leads up to the ridge from the main street, so all our building materials will need to be carried up to the site on the heads of women. That’s right! No other way to do it.  
The ridge has it’s own personality and is very popular with ex-pats, who often live here full-time. It is like a small community with a couple of small warungs (restaurants), a laundry service, a yoga studio, meditation with Swami Ji, and beautiful ricefields slowly being eaten up by the construction of Villas. We are sad to add to this destruction, but our ricefield had been cited for sale and hadn’t been planted for several years.
View from the back of the house
 So, as I said, there are many ex-pats living here, Australians, French, Germans, Italians, Dutch and a few Americans. There ages vary, their interests as well. Most are on business visas, trying to find a reason to remain in this agricultural paradise.  All this variety makes it interesting for us!
Our house for the next 6 months
Anyway, we arrived about 2 weeks ago with the hope of finding an architect to build our dream home. We had envisioned a 2 storey home with a view of the ricefields, a pool and lotus pond, very open, airy and light. We rented a teeny weeny house with a pool for the next 7 months and have actively been trying to make it our own. We've already unpacked some of the items from our home that we brought with us and are now eating on familiar dishes, and have a good set of knives for cooking. You wouldn't think that little things like that are important, but believe it or not, they are (at least for me).
We spoke with two Balinese architects and an American woman, who had been living and working in Bali for the past 7 years. The challenge was to build us our dream on a paupers budget. As it turned out, we had to rethink our dream and have finally come up with a plan, that is a bit of a compromise, but will make us happy and our pocket as well.
We are still going over the drawings, but have chosen the architect and the basic design of the house. It wasn’t easy, and I’m sure somewhere down the line there will be more revisions and changes to take place. This week we plan to sign the contract, outlaying the design, cost, timeline etc, and the building can begin as soon as two days later.
But first, we have to have a ceremony to consecrate the land. Only a small one of $100 to satisfy  the landowner and the spirits. It is mandatory, and there will be another larger one upon completion of the house. There will also be a small shrine erected in the corner of the garden, so that the spirits can continue to be placated and kept happy.
So, step number one starts tomorrow…..keep tuned for more news!