Star Date: December 2011
Hello Dear Family & Friends!
"Halo! "Apa kabar." "Baik, baik" or "Bagus."
(Hello. How are you? Fine, fine. Balinese)
Water gently cascades over rocks, witness to the dawn of humanity. Thick lush forest envelopes the earth. Bowing to the wind, velvety green bamboo reveals the wisdom of it's existence. Be flexible, not brittle in life. Change. Join in the flow. It is said one can never step in to the same river twice. Ever changing, the river reminds us that whatever is needed is already in process. From this still essence answers are revealed, if only we take the time to listen.
A leaf drifts silently on the breeze joining the current and toppling over the cascade. Impermanence. Exquisite butterflies dance endlessly, rejoicing in their amazing lightness of being. Freedom. A lacey butterfly lights on a leaf fluttering in the wind; once a sullen caterpillar just tolerating life in the dark corner it had created for itself.
Squirrels use the express lane along the sleek bamboo; chattering, with not much to say. They are always collecting and surrounding themselves with consumables. Planning for the future that never comes. Preparing for the winter that never arrives in the tropics. Too busy to enjoy right now. Are we any different?
Thoughts of the day knock on my door, but no one is home. Silence is sharing its wisdom. Soon birds rejoicing in the beautiful day stir my soul. Yes, rejoice and be thankful. The truth is always simple.
Our green bamboo grotto offers refuge from the commotion of Ubud. Bali is one of the most highly populated islands in Asia. The joke is that someday it will sink under sheer weight. Historically an agrarian society the more children, the more help in the fields. Birth control initiated in the 70's is finally showing results, with young families preferring 2 children. The new philosophy: fewer children means a more prosperous family. Named for the order in which they are born 'Putu' and 'Made' are common but the names for 3rd and 4th born 'Nyoman' and 'Ketut' are fading away.
Mysterious Bali. Immersion in the Balinese culture is always at your fingertips. Wherever you go, cheerful Balinese music is playing, floating out over the busy market or shops lining the road. Women in traditional dress are hurrying off to temple, bearing offerings piled high on their heads. 'Canang' or small woven baskets of spiritual offerings are everywhere. Inside these banana leaf baskets each item represents spiritual significance. Slake lime wrapped in betel leaf is "offered as appreciation for all the blessings of God." Fragrant flowers serve as a symbol of purity. "Flowers are to remind humans that nothing lasts forever. Sooner or later, all material things will vanish so we must detach ourselves from them, avoid greed and put more effort in treating others with good intention." Leaves are a symbol of an undisturbed mind. Balinese add them to the offering to "avoid bad spirits and ill intention from manifesting in their mind and soul." Threaded coconut leaf serves as a symbol of harmony between humans and nature.
Nature is one with the Balinese culture. Everything and every action has a dual meaning. Rituals and ceremonies are non stop. One festival or temple ceremony ends and the following day intricate preparations are started for the next one. From the outside this is a fascinating procession of activities. Culturally this places great responsibility and burden on the people, financially and time wise. All money and all free time is to be spent on religious activities. Traditional 'awig-awig' disciplinary rules are strict. If not followed community based pressure is applied and the fear of consequences keeps the wheel turning. When visiting Ubud less than 20 years ago women were totally involved in these preparations but now it is common to see fresh ready made daily offerings to purchase on the way home from work. The bonds of religion are losing their grasp worldwide and Bali is no exception.
Let your feet and ears lead you towards hidden temple sounds to enjoy the dancing and music of the ancient text, the Bhagavad Gita. Enter another world. Watch carefully as you walk through the streets and alleyways of the island. Simple beauty awaits at every corner in the form of flowers, colorful art, carvings, or carefully arranged flower petals floating in a pool. It is a pleasure to see a woman enter the family compound, escaping from the chaos outside. She bathes, changes into a colorful sarong and prayer blouse, and starts out around the garden of the compound with her tray of offerings and lighted incense sticks, honoring the 4 corners and all the small ancestor temples. This moment of prayer and reflection is the connection with Nature that remains, withstanding the busyness of modern life.
"On the 6th day God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good." On the 7th day everything and everyone God had created was so noisy that God exclaimed, "Let there be earplugs!" Thank you, God! We couldn't travel without them. They have to be 'Bali rooster', roaring traffic and 'China city' proof!
It all started last spring with a delay in posting a new page on our website. A rumor started that spread like technological wildfire. Joseph and Nancy had been killed in Africa! They had simply forgotten to tell us, as we cheerfully drove around southern Africa. One of Joseph's friends from Hawaii, who he had lost touch with, did a Google search on us and up we came on WorldGlobetrotters.com. We were thrilled when he sent a welcome email catching us up on his life. He was married and living in Bali, our very destination as a stopover from Africa to Hawaii! After a few emails we were welcomed warmly into Dan's magnificent new villa, Tirta Asri Ubud. His creativity as an artist shone in every detail, right down to the infinity pool overlooking a lush valley, rice fields and a river below. Dan, lovely Balinese wife Sri and beautiful little daughter Natalie provided an insightful glimpse into life in Bali.
On Bali, to escape the hustle and bustle one has only to find a place to stay in a tranquil corner bordering a forest, waterfall, or rice field. Once venturing out from your quiet spot it is possible to find respite with like minded people in a local families compound or farm, a yoga center, health spa, organic farmer's market, health food store, restaurant, or off the beaten path cafe. We spoke with many intriguing travelers from all corners of the planet such as our new friends Misha, Cecile and their lovely family; world nomads for over 4 years. The mountains offer serene intricately carved temples and of course the ocean beaches of this tiny island always offer a battery recharge. Peace is available if you search it out, just make sure you aren't carrying the turmoil and noise within yourself that you are trying to avoid.
And so it
goes.........................................Next month Bangkok and
Malaysia. Until then let's try to remain
flexible like the bamboo,
to bend with the inescapable winds of
life without breaking. Lean into the rough edges of change
with a smile, for challenges allow us to grow. Thanks for sharing this website with anyone you think might be
interested. Keep in Touch.
Love, Light & Laughter,
$1.00US = 8,900 Balinese/Indonesian Rupiah
Past the Soccer field from Monkey Forest Road on Dewi Sita St. are 2 of the best juice/organic places in town:
Ja Juice Cafe - always carry wheatgrass juice and tasty entrees. Friendly staff and fresh baked delights.
Across the little bridge:
Soma - (on right) 'High Vibe Organic Delights' Excellent juices, unique entrees, raw and baked deserts. Friendly John or daughter Rachel will make you feel welcome as you chill out from the noise of Ubud.
First alley left -Jl Goutama St
A little further on the right stop by to see Dani at Blissful Salon for a daily head and shoulder massage (1000rp per minute). Best to sit in a chair in the main room, near the fountain and let her take out the knots with some heavenly Jasmine oil - while Balinese music reminds you where you are. (skip the hair cuts)
Turn right first alley after Soma - a very good
reasonable seamstress on your left - next to the internet shop (5000
Down Monkey Forest Rd. On your left 1/2 down is Verona Spa. Recommended highly by Anthony and Judy, it was worth the search. I knew when I was soaking in a bathtub filled with fresh flowers, sipping tea and nibbling of fruit, gazing out towards the rice fields; following an hour massage, that this was a mandatory experience in Bali (150,000rp 1.5 hours).
Another Absolute Must:
Across the bridge on the Main Road take the
first left up the hill about 1 km. A small coffee shop, Kopi
Desa, is a great way to relax in Banjar Penestanan Kaja. This is one
of the many worthwhile projects run by Doug, his wife and their
volunteers. We spoke to a group of interested people about our
travels one evening at their weekly coffee shop event. This
caring couple are making a difference in Bali. For more
info check out: www.raciproject.org/kopidesa
The Yoga Barn: down Hanneman Rd about 1 mile watch for Siam Sali Restaurant on left (not recommended). Turn left down the alley and follow for 200 meters until you arrive at Charley's vision come true. A hub of classes, talks, dancing and a tasty open air organic restaurant.
Just past the Yoga Barn turn off is Pizza Bagus (JL Raya Penggosekan) a tasty restaurant serving organic meals and juices. Next door is a small health food store with unique items. They are home to the excellent organic market - direct from the farmers. Saturday 8-2 and across the street, under the tree on Wed 8-1pm. Support this up and coming organic movement.
Buma Sehat Foundation:
Anggada House: Bamboo forest, rushing river, in
the middle of Ubud! Take the alley next to Tino's Market (red
sign) across from the Lotus Cafe on the busy Main Rd. Once you
step through the stone gate (right side) of the family compound you
have discovered a whole new world. Experience Balinese family
life first hand while friendly Grandma Wayan and young Dad Kodek, Ani and Chica help you with
any of your needs. Stepping on to the balcony of your room
transports you to another
world - cool bamboo and rushing water drown out the busyness of the
central area of Ubud. (Doubles 150,000r/night - less for one
week or more /or for no breakfast. Hot water, simple but clean
rooms. Free wi-fi.
Our previously recommended guesthouse, Dewi Ayu Accommodation, Monkey Forest Road (see Dec 2007), has added a pool but also a large cement building which cuts the view and feel of being in the forest. Change is inevitable.
Bali Buddha down the Main Road, turn right, across from the Post Office. Great organic menu and small bakery and health food store. Another wonderful place to chill and hang out with like minded people.
S.O.S.: Sumatran Orangutan Society. With only 6,000 wild orangutans left on our planet and their jungle habitat being destroyed at an alarming rate, these gentle, intuitive creatures need our help. For more information on this Bali based group go to their website www.orangutans-sos.org, volunteer or support their Jungle Shop - a thrift shop in the heart of Ubud: JL Pengosekan #505 (Nr Taco Casa)
Highway Bali Visa Service:
Very professional and even if a little more expensive they guarantee
results. Jalan Raya,
Keni's Shop 25 along the beach in the large crafts/clothes market on the end. She offers everything for a good price - a marked price so if you are tired of bargaining just go see her. I found her the last day but would have shopped there instead. She also doesn't 'pick you up' along the beach and say, "Come see my shop." They always charge higher prices because it isn't their shop.
Bali is so varied with forests, mountains and
beaches. Nusa Dua is an expensive beach resort area unless you get a
good tour package price. Avoid Kuta Beach unless you enjoy being hassled
by vendors. This is a tour destination and gets pumping at
night along the beach. Depends what you are looking for.
Sanur has very few touts hassling you. There are many other
beaches that are hassle free. Send us an email with your