Star Date: December 2007
Hello Dear Family & Friends!
"Better to do something
imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly."
"Do you want the good news or the bad news"? After rinsing out our clothes, Joseph walked out of the bathroom with a sheepish look on his face. "Well the good news is I have 2 socks, the bad news is you only have one zip off pants leg; the other one went down the toilet with the rinse water." I flashed on a vision of me walking down the street, only one pant leg on and a plastic bag on my head to keep off the rain, a trick we had seen in China. We may be well seasoned and a little ragged around the edges from almost 5 years of continual travel but we aren't that bad yet. Time for a new pair of pants and pass the umbrella.
Bali has a magic that secretly casts a spell and draws you back time and again. The combination of warm smiles, exotic ceremonies, tropical breezes and an immerging aware expat community puts this on our list of places to spend more time at. Once you have seen all the noteworthy sites on this Indonesian island (see link ---) it is possible to choose a favorite location and settle down for a month or longer. The infrastructure that tourism brings provides a wide array of high standard accommodations and restaurants. You can rent a furnished house (only $400/mo.) or just search out one of the many comfortable guesthouses hidden down a side alley or in the middle of a serene rice terrace (only $6-$10/night or $250 -$300/mo.). The Balinese joke that with so many people on the island it may sink one day. Bali is busy but one has the choice to hide away or jump into the fray for a jolt of excitement, a lively temple ceremony, or a bit of western conversation. Long term visas to Indonesia are still tedious but agencies, such as "Bali Highway" can make it painless (see below).
Landing in Denpasar we always spend a few days at the beach in Sanur. Kuta is a noisy, crazy beach scene full of pushy vendors, and rows of oiled up bodies having massages or their hair braided. Once you've - been there, done that - we prefer 'Kuta in a cardigan', or Sanur. We are always warmly welcomed by Ketut and his family into their aviary, alias home stay. Choosing a room wisely we awake the next morning to the heavenly chorus of Ketut's prize winning song birds. He has over 50 and the place always has a cage bursting forth with a happy uncontrollable song. Ketut has had a limp since birth and spent many sad years being ridiculed by peers. He was always looking for his place in life and even tried drinking when his legs were kicked out from under him by a passing group of boys. Literally down and out he heard a bird singing one day and was inspired. Now his prize winning collection of song birds fills his heart with joy and he spends his day tenderly caring for his feathered friends (and his son), whom he loves dearly. We request our favorites songsters to be hung on our lanai and next time we visit we are going to go with him to a competition. If he's not busy preparing for one of the endless Balinese, Hindu ceremonies he will gladly give you a tour of his winged buddies.
We always took several walks a day, including a favorite sunset stroll along the beach. As the sun sets the place comes alive with twinkling stars, the moon rising over the ocean, endless candle lit tables in the sand and softly playing Balinese music. After you have worn yourself out in the clubs along Kuta Beach come by for a quiet, romantic evening in Sanur.
The artist community of Ubud is another favorite of ours. 'You can never go back' was true as we walked into our old haunt of Jati 3 Guesthouse. Expansion equating to a lack of serenity, doubled prices and frazzled nerves of the owners sent us looking for a new base the following morning. We thank them profoundly as this change found us in the middle of the forest only 100 meters down the way, complete with a spacious room and a serene lanai where we ate our meals, meditated, and watched the endless show of birds and squirrels playing in the trees. Change comes hard but we have to always remember to be open to what it offers. Venturing out from our new 'retreat', surrounded by trees, rice terraces on the hill and completely cut off from the busy road; we enjoyed the highlights of Ubud: the lively morning market, delicious organic food at Bali Buddha Health Store and Bakery, Juice Ja Cafe's juices, and our perennial favorite Dewa's Warung. There is an endless array of restaurants and activities in Ubud to choose from but our friends at Dewas are always so excited to see us. Their hugs and inexpensive vegan food keep us filling our favorite bench each night. I guess you can go back sometimes, especially in Bali where the continual religious ceremonies and obligations keep family members close and busy. Ubud not only attracts artists and craftsmen but people interested in health, healing, music. They have even started a weekly market for organic local produce, something we will be involved with next time we visit. But now there is so much world to explore.................
Rested up, with our free e-tickets from Air Asia in hand, we stopped off a few days in Jakarta. Like a blast of exhaust after Bali and living up to it's reputation for being dirty and hectic we realized why airplane seats were wide open on that day - it was Ramadan, the highlight celebration of the Muslim calendar. Our little traveler's alley was abuzz with music, drums, fireworks and family revelry as the end of the month long fasting was celebrated. We ventured out in search of mp3 music and computer software and were happy with the selection of latest programs. Asia has its finger on the pulse of technology, and shop owners here have the hands of local officials in their wallets to eliminate any problems.
After our arduous travel on Papua and Suluweisi we are always happy to spend a few days in the excitement of the 'Big City'. Going from sparse remote markets offering little to mega malls with too much, is a mind boggling change. Now we even experience culture shock within Asia, let alone going back to the west. Centrally located accommodations in large cities are expensive so we end up staying in basic but clean places. Out all the time soaking up the sights it doesn't matter for a few days, and the good food more than makes up for it. A choice of K.L's authentic Indian food or Chinese Buddha food has us salivating. Software has dwindled in KL, making Jakarta or Bangkok better options. Kuala Lumpur will always be a interesting, exotic, modern city with sites and smells galore. Make sure to walk through its many parks and visit some of the interesting mosques or catch the view from the world's highest twin buildings (link: --) Don't m iss a chance to explore the cultures and religions that have made this a bustling trade center from the time of the Rajas.
And so it goes.........................................Next Southern Laos and North East Thailand & Bangkok. Safron robed monks, ancient temples, and dolphins playing amongst the 4000 islands in the river delta. In laid back Laos we had a welcomed visit by our daughter and son-in-law. They dropped in for an elephant ride with us on their way to Angkor Wat. Maybe the next rendezvous will be with YOU! We are only an email away. Until next month cast aside your fears, go ahead be creative and try new ideas in the New Year. Flawless is for diamonds. We are glad you stopped by. Have a Happy, Healthy and Creative New Year! Take care, Thanks for Staying in Touch, & Keep Smiling.
Love, Light &
$1.00US = 9,500 Indonesian Rupiah
Air Asia: When flying around Asia don't forget to check out www.airasia.com. Their website actually allows you to purchase tickets with a credit card, unlike many foreign airline sites. Great, progressive inexpensive airlines with routes expanding every month.
We highly recommend that you take in both the ocean-side performances of Bali theatre on the beach. (We forget the name of the expensive resort - The ??. Facing the ocean at the Bonsai Restaurant it's down to the right - you can't miss the colorful stage and 20 ft high silk prayer flags fluttering in the ocean breeze). On Tues and Fri nights, the performance is free, fun and the Italian food and service is under the stars is excellent. (They make a custom vegan pizza (load up the ingredients) and tasty salads you can eat without worry).
Next to Sanur; Denpasar Nusa Indah.NET No. 19; 5,000r an hour instead of 20,000r in the tourist area. Good connection, helpful people. Take the green bemo (4,000r) ( get off at the Art Center - walk right down to the internet shop - left side. Gets you out exploring another neighborhood.
Weekly Organic Market at -Manik Organik
Our favorite local family restaurant. Great food and a
gathering place for travelers. From the playing field walk
away from Monkey Forest Road, past Juice Ja Cafe (971 056), on Dewi
Sita St. Turn left at one of the first little alleys, Gaotama
St. #13, & it's on the right. Very local and not well marked but
worth the search to find it.
In Kerobokan: Banjar Anyar 25 A, 844 5935, email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Highway Bali Visa
Service: Very professional and even if a little more expensive
they guarantee results. Jalan Raya,
Computers and software: Manga Dua Mall or Ambassador Mall
Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
www.tunehotel.com "5 star comfort for 1 star price" Book through Air Asia -$22 reg -watch for sales. Our room was $6, right at the airport. The room was a miniature, classy, spotless a/c room with bathroom. I would certainly check out their availability throughout Asia. One is opening downtown KL also. email@example.com.
www.stayOrange.com Hotel Petaling Street, right in the heart of Chinatown, phone # 603 2070 2208, Book on the internet for cheaper rates (we paid about $12 which is unheard of in downtown KL). You can stay in a basic but quiet, clean room, with spotless white sheets, comforter and A/C. Check out the backpacker places for the same price and you will be sold. None of the budget places have windows around here but at the Orange Hotel you don't have to put up with other people's smoke and noise at night.
Remember to check out the deals
on www.airasia.com throughout
Asia, and now China, Australia, London, India. They give away
free tickets 3 times a year - get on their mailing list. Good
dependable airlines, good
website, but recently NO refunds - only changes.
Indian food: Great Nan and dahl across the alley from Central Market. Three great vegetarian Indian Restaurants in a row in "Little India'. Just ask any helpful Indian person you bump into.