Star Date:  July 2014
Bali, Indonesia






Hello Dear Family & Friends!

"Selmat siang "
(Good day - Balinese)



"I'm not rich.  This is my rich."
(A Balinese man gazing around his family compound)


Quiet - what is that?  Asia is not quiet.  Societies are communal and thus the noise of chatter, laughter, bikes, cooking, roosters, dogs barking, horns honking, construction, radios and TV all get woven into a blanket  of reassuring grey noise.  At night crickets, choruses of frogs all blend with distant temple chanting, bells and gamelan.  Start complaining in general and you may as well start packing your bags. After a while you don't even hear the sounds.  Accept that silence is an unknown concept. 

Roosters.  They are my exception.  Kind of like the Dalai Lama talking about his respect for sentient beings, "Even I have trouble with mosquitoes at times!" In Sanur I was walking through a classy 4 star hotel on the beach when I discovered a large rooster in a stylish cage right in the middle of the expensive cottages.  After all it is good luck for Abraxis to bring in the new day.  My ear plugs have to be Chinese city proof, large Indian family proof, unknowingly behind a blaring mosque proof, or rooster proof.  Just how it is sometimes.

Explosion.  Ubud has grown in leaps and bounds but with one family compound hedged against the next it is impossible to expand the limited roads and un-clutter the 'jams'. With more babies and a population explosion, it is a joke that one day Bali and Java will just sink under all the weight.  It is true that after education began in the 70's about family planning the idea is finally catching on.  Many young couples are having only 1-2 children, as the older generation laments whatever will we do without any Nyomans and Ketuts?  First born is Wayan, second Made, third  born is Nyoman and the fourth is always Ketut.  We had 4 Ketut's around our place so we nicknamed them 'coconut Ketut, builder Ketut, plain old Ketut and our wonderful owner of our place Mr Ketut.  Gets a little confusing.

Life in the rice fields. We need to stay in a place that is quiet, away from road noise and so I began my quest.  Knowing how life just unfolds when one remains open, I started walking.  Left or right?  I ended up walking down Jl Bisma, right after crazy Monkey Forest Road.  I was led down a long path to the right which ended up in an expanse of green rice fields.  Construction noise in the corner; I continued walking.  In fact the rice fields surrounding Ubud are disappearing at an alarming rate so it is hard to find a place without construction.  It doesn't make sense as the average annual occupancy rate barely touches 60%.  Visiting many upscale guesthouses I was impressed with the variety but not the price.  I walked left, then right then left and was led by an owner to the final little motorcycle cement strip floating in the sea of green.  I was tired, hot and getting worn out.  Standing on the 4th floor of Three Dewis, 'surveying my kingdom', I spotted a little house by itself, surrounded on 2 sides with rice fields and 2 sides gardens.  I hurried down and smiled as a tiny little sign hidden inconspicuously behind the temple stated "FOR RENT".  As if by magic Nyoman appeared and helped make this little home become a reality starting in 3 days.  Nyoman would prove to be an invaluable help and friend over the next 4 months.  Quiet in the midst of busy Ubud.

The neighbors were wonderful and friendly.  One day I cooked with Made at their house next door and Deeta and Koman joined in for a blend of Bali infused with Hawaiian.  Sweet Made worked with me every 2 weeks to clean our little house from top to bottom including doing the laundry in our 'automatic' washer.  She couldn't believe it, wide eyed, as I filled the bathtub with hot water and soap and I marched around - hence automatic!  The last Saturday instead of working I took Made out for lunch at Bali Buda.  A relaxing, fun time together.  Husband Abu would stop by weekly to visit with Joseph on the terrace, talking of local and world politics.  Everyone joined in to help solve any little problem such as the time the "Dingos Ate My Tevas!"   I got up one morning to find that the local dogs Blacky and/or Whitey had feasted on my shoes.   Having to go out at noon I was distraught, since we now after 12 years of travel only have one pair of sturdy Teva sandals each.  If I was Imelda I would have 2999 other pairs to choose from.  We broke our own rule of always bringing in our shoes at night.  Well I now had 1 and 7/8 of a pair of shoes.  Made found Nyoman who called Mr Ketut who rode over on his motorcycle picked up the sandals, had them repaired in a little shop at the market for $1.00.  So what if one back is black and the other is brown?  A fashion statement!

Walking around the streets or in the shops I was greeted with "Halo, Ibuh Nancy" or Mother Nancy.  Such a pleasant experience to be in a culture that honors families and respects anyone a little older.  As is the custom to figure out what makes you tick the same questions were asked over and over as I walked by daily:  "Where are you going?" (answer every day -"Walking") "Where are you coming from? (answer every day - "Walking")  "Are you married or where is your husband?" (answer every day - "Yes, resting")

Just to balance things off I would ask Nyoman daily as he brought our coconuts over, "How are you today?"  "Same like yesterday - Good" and then we would laugh. 

Every day when I walked by I would greet Mom, son or fluffy dogs in one of the compounds en route.  One day a flurry of activity and whirl of colors hinted of an upcoming ceremony.  Devi invited us to his wedding on Monday and since my wedding attire was lacking, neighbor Made came to the rescue providing a sarong and sash for me to wear.  What a fun experience to be the only foreigners, immersed in a compound full of brightly dressed Balinese; all smiling as the traditional marriage rituals were performed.

We loved our new place.  It had a simple design, a spacious room with endless windows, a 4 poster bed, a large bathroom with hot water and a basic Balinese kitchen.  What more could two true nomads want for a relaxing, healing time in the Bali rice fields?  And it was amazingly QUIET!  The front terrace was the center of activity daily.  Within 2 days seeds for a salad garden of cherry tomatoes, mixed greens and baby kale were planted in pots in a place of honor on the terrace.  From two large homes in Hawaii to this 12 years later it was obvious how happy we have become with the simplicity of life.  Life really can be simple.!  Most often the choice is ours.

This was a good place to switch from multi tasking to mono tasking.  With hectic 'modern' lives we unwittingly pile more tasks, noise, activities and gadgets into our lives.  Soon it is impossible to connect to the simplicity that a life with a little 'space' in the action offers.  Worn out, stressed, worried, exhausted we hit the wall or get sick.  This is the place to unwind after 12 years plus of continuous travel. The rice fields promise, "Send me your weary.........."

Slowly we unwound, relaxed, and joined in the flow of life in Bali.  Just outside our neighborhood cars and motorcycles crawled along congested streets.  Walking back from a town outing always reminded us what a gem we had found. 

Just observing life in the rice fields was like reading a book.  As I sat watching a Balinese woman inch her way along the slippery muddy 6 inch wide path dividing the rice fields, I pondered life.  A heavy bundle of greenery on her head, balancing a large ceramic bowl in one arm. Will she make the edge, almost 2 blocks away?  One side means a soaking, the other a 2 foot drop down into the mud. Slowly. Slowly. Step by step.  As with much of life, one day at a time.

Every morning the sun peered over the distant hills, casting a golden light on the verdant fields.  Roosters crowed in the distance and the lovely little doves greeted the new day.  Eternally optimistic these little dears already have the wisdom of life figured out.  If you listen carefully whatever the problem, whatever the outcome, "It's o.k."

When healing from cancer 13 years ago, without doctors, I had an encounter with a dove in Hawaii.  Not healing as fast as I wanted, fear crept in and I was battling with the possibility that I could die.  Just then a dove landed on the bird bath.   She was foaming at the mouth from something she had eaten.  I went down to see her and realized she was really sick.   I asked her whether she was going to live or die.  "Whatever happens, It's o.k.." I was told.  Fear vaporized.  I went into the house, relaxed and smiling, knowing that whatever happened in my life, "It's o.k.."  And so our little doves are a welcome reminder each morning.

What a feast for the senses living here is. Butterflies, dragonflies, birds, flowers all graced the painting before us.  As night descended and the orange clouds disappeared the night shift reported for duty.  Crickets, geckos, 4 or 5 different frogs (including the infamous fart frog) all joined the chorus.  Even George, Georgette and the kids, large tokay geckos 14 inches long, joined in with their loud "Ka - cha!"  Fireflies danced across the fields and during full moon danced in the moonlight.  These rice fields were truly magical.  Walking home in the dark one night, wearing my orange shirt with Buddha on it, a firefly landed on Buddha's head.  It rode all the way home, shedding her/his healing light on me.  As we slowed down Nature revealed more to us.

We enjoyed our yoga and fruit breakfast on the terrace every morning just as the 2 strong, sinewy, older workers appeared.  Lean, muscular, without an ounce of fat they carried large bundles on their heads or hoed the earth, even though over 70.  Life in the open air had been hard but good. We started waving to the rice workers, sharing food or water and before we left we knew everyone who was part of our life in the rice fields.  We stayed long enough to watch the complete cycle, from brilliant green fields to golden shafts ripe for harvest.  Then cutting the drying stalks they are piled and dried.  In comes a crew with a husking machine and in a matter of hours many bags of rice are produced.  The final payment for all the hard, manual labor.

After drying the remaining stalks the old guy with a glint in his eyes lit the fields and for several hours we were smoked jerky.  We quickly put our yoga mat over the screened tops of the windows but before we knew it, it was done for another season.  Sounding like a rushing river the intricate irrigation waters were diverted to fill up the fields.  The next act was one of our favorites.  Donald duck and his friends arrived full speed in a row and made short work of any bugs or slugs hanging in the field.  They swam and quacked and mated right outside our windows and were a delight to watch.  Next came the 'Chinese water buffalo' or rotor tiller.  Sliding through the mud he quickly produced a flat mud base.  Once flooded we suddenly had water front property.  Terraced ponds reflected the white clouds, blue skies and even the fireflies and full moon at night.   A small patch of land was sown with rice and soon the green starts were ready and waiting. 

One morning a chattering, resembling a fox in the hen house, woke us up.  What now?  Three women giggling and talking started at the corner of each terrace and planted the rice starts in the thick mud at lightening speed.  Amazingly all the fields were planted in one day.  The water was drained off and the baby plants were left to bask in the sunshine and grow taller before our eyes.  Within 2 weeks the brown mud had transformed once again into beautiful brilliant green fields.  And so this cycle goes 3 or 4 times a year. This ritual has been carried out by these hard workers for centuries, since the land was terraced and the intricate irrigation waterways from the side of the mountains down towards the sea were constructed. 

Rice is the life of Bali.  Rice growing demonstrates the strength of the Balinese community.  Terraces fall down the hillsides - a patchwork of brilliant green, golden, brown, and reflective pools of water.  Ducks quack, feed and fertilize.  A full service crew.

A rice field is 'sawah'.  As the rice matures the villagers take time to do their art or practice music, a time to relax.  Once the rice matures the whole village turns out for the harvest.  It used to be that everyone was involved with the rice farming but now as young people are educated and taking jobs outside the home more and more land is leased out or workers hired.

In 1969 the new high yield rice was introduced; along with the need for fertilizer and pesticides.  They sprayed 4 times during a rice harvest and we always closed the windows.  Frogs and eels diminished and although the yield is higher at times, most agree the new rice doesn't taste as good as old Bali rice or last as long.  There has been a slow resurgence of the original padi rice.  Monsanto is losing ground.  Temples dot the rice fields, paying homage to Dewi Sri, the rice goddess, and it seems that she prefers the traditional rice, so there may be hope for a return to the healthier ways.  May she shine her light over Bali and whole planet!



And so it goes.........................................Next month more on Bali and an up close look at traditional healing shamans or Balians.  Until then  Keep Smiling and let's remember to look around at our lives and appreciate the richness that surrounds us.   We are each 'rich' in our own way.  Always so much to be thankful for.   Take care and Keep in Touch!


Love, Light & Laughter, 

xoxoox  Nancy & Joseph



Travel notes:

1 US Dollar = 11,000 Indonesian Rupiah.  It is nothing to withdraw 2-3 million for spending!

Our little home in the rice fields  JL Bisma:
Contact Nyoman first:
081 999 021 295

Nyomans email: 
or Ketut the owner: 081 338 512 875
(now up to 250,000r a night with a/c)

Mr. Ketut is a wonderful, friendly helpful owner.  Nyoman is a great help also when Ketut is gone.

Contact Nyoman for help finding a rental, or a driver or getting fresh coconuts daily, a tour local or island wide, or just about anything.  He will take you on his motorbike for the going rate or go get something for you.  A great guy, helpful, wonderful smile, and honest.  Call or email him for anything you need.
phone # 081 999 021 295

This is the only unit that faces the rice fields.  The other two are nice but face the other direction.

Ibu Dayu - across the lane.  The upstairs unit is great and has views.   Two budget units downstairs.

Angadda Homestay:
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, basic but clean rooms. Free wi-fi. 
Email:  Phone:  (0361) 970854

Three Win Homestay - our friends love this
small family environment with Putu helping to make your stay enjoyable.  2 modern rooms 300,000r

off Hanoman. Putu's website address is:
Family is Putu, husband Sampo, Windi, Winda, Windu (hence 3 Win!)

For a true Bali experience our friends Dan & Sri rent out their magnificent villa.  They have also have built a beautiful apartment next to their home, in the countryside 10 miles from Ubud.  If you want to splurge a little, at the same time getting excellent value for your money, give Dan a call or email him for details. 
phone: 62 0361 8627186
link: property listing #422077

He prefers long term stays but will pick you up in Ubud for a stay of 3 nights or longer.  It is easy/not expensive to call a car to drive you where you need to go.

Organic produce:
Satvika Bhoga:
An excellent health food store in Sanur (they also deliver to Ubud 2 times a week).  Contact Hira or Deepok by email for details:  email:
Fair honest and high quality control for organic produce, all with a smile.

Jl. Hang Tuah no 9 Sanur, Denpasar
tel. 0361 783 6741 dan 284 055

Sari Organik:
Complete selection of organic fruit and vegetables.  Shop down from Alchemy Restaurant in Penestanan.  Best to stop by or order by phone #0361 780 1839

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.

Ubud Bodyworks, 25 Hanoman St.
Ask for Astri for massage.  Relaxing to have a strong massage, then a sandalwood scrub, hot flower petal bath (175,000r).  Followed by a cup of ginger tea, papaya and tamarind chutney in the quiet courtyard.
phone ahead:  62 361 975 720

Star Child:
Lotus Lane off of Monkey Forest
# 085237791477 Great relaxing massage amid sacred geometry shop for only 70,000r/hr)  Sister company of the mesmerizing Starship 22 Sacred Geometry store near Gautama  Jl Dewi Sita No 22 
Sacred geometry is a pure language that transcends your religion and cultural beliefs. Transmitting harmonious patterns of frequency, which resonate with our original human blueprint. This innate language exists beyond the reach of philosophy, past belief or disbelief and transcends levels of awareness.

When Bali Hindus, plan to erect anything from a small shrine to an elaborate temple, they first perform a simple geometric construction on the ground, establishing where east and west lies and constructing a square from that point. Their final construction is brought to life with prayers and religious observances.
People experience many different feelings when looking at the patterns of geometry glasswork and jewellery. There are secrets behind the ancient symbols, which can be traced way back in Asian and Egyptian history. Some of the wonderful artisans of Bali have begun to incorporate these beautiful sacred geometry designs into their craft.

Restu - near Seeds of Life on Gautama St
Wayan Arjana - therapuetic massage (175,000 hr.)  Good massage
0361 970483  071 24640762

Chakra Healing by Drs. Ketut Paksa
Puspa Body Treatment, Monkey Forest Rd
0361 975539

Ketut Jaya:
Traditional Alternative Massage and healing
# 087862491927  Batuan (10km from Ubud) to visit his home compound or he will come to your hotel.

Indonesian Jamu is a unique system of traditional herbal medicine that can be consumed on a daily basis for both disease prevention and treatment of serious . 

Jamu: bladder infection: kumis kucing leaf or beetle nut leaf tea.  Turmeric jamu - great for the immune system and even Bali Belly.

Elizabeth Suli,  Above Alchemy Restaurant in Penistantin, 3-5 Mon - Fri 
good prices, reliable, must allow 10 full days to extend or renew a visa.   Best for longer stays to get a 2 month visa before arrival - then you may extend 4 months before leaving.  Or get a 6 month or yearly social visa.  Best deal is a retirement visa if appropriate. 

Komang works out of Bali Buda every afternoon.  The little extra they charge is worth not having to go to Denpasar 1-4 times.

Pt. Gedong Sari Tour & Travel.  Although we haven't used this company it is owned by our neighbor, Wayan and he says he has good tours phone# 973370

Kasih Ibu Hospital, has a good international clinic.  In Kuta (200,000 to 300,000 for a half day return trip by taxi)  Alarm center: 361 223 036.

Take the  Bus Parwista down then a taxi or to get home you can take the bus from Jimbaran then get off at the Batubulan terminal.  Local bemos 30,000 per person shared.  By a couple extra seats and go sooner.

Monkey Forest Sanctuary:  a must see
30,000 r p.p.

My favorite Seeds of Life:  Gautama St.
Raw, healthy, vegan food and deserts.  The best juice in town.  Such friendly helpful staff and the owner, Ben, interesting to talk to.  Try a juice, a raw pizza slice with salad or lasagna and top it off with a chocolate torte or raspberry cheesecake.  Guilt free.

Just down the street: Warung Siam for good Thai food

Further down JL Gautama, Soma's,  Johnny and staff share coconuts, juice, salads or entrees with you in a relaxing courtyard away from the traffic

Yoga Barn: (pet name the yogurt barn)
On the circuit for worldwide yoga enthusiasts.  Classes $10 but they have free community classes 5:30-6:30 nightly. They have peaceful grounds, treatments and a restaurant (with the BEST organic buffet every Sunday 12-2 60,000r)  First go to the free form dancing from 11-12:30.  Lively, pulsing, with a quiet spiritual wind down.  Clear the cobwebs then refuel on the buffet as you visit with new friends from around the globe!  A great Sunday tradition.

Another Absolute Must:
Sari Organik:
Turn right up the hill about 200 meters past Cafe Lotus on the Main Road in Ubud.  Watch for small signs.  At turn follow the small middle path which leads out into the rice fields.  The 800 metre walk through the lush green fields is spectacular. Arriving at the open air restaurant you have your choice of fresh organic entrees and juices from their own farm.

Sugriwa Street - one over from Haneman, great organic food.  Large portions, unique recipes.

Angelo Store - nice little herb shop along Sugriwa St.

Bali Buda:  Restaurant and health food store.  Great food and juices - most comprehensive store in town. 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.

Down to Earth:  A bit more pricey in the cafe and store but a good selection and may have what the other stores do not.

Alchemy Restaurant- Penestanan - up the hill from the Bridge, #0361971981  Best organic salad bar in town.  Only 39,000r

Dewa's Warung - JLGautama
Unfortunately the foreigners this visit have begun doing at Dewas what they wouldn't dream of doing back home - smoking like chimneys right at the large shared tables, right while their table mates are eating.  We gave up and found other smoke free environments.  Too bad - great place.
The best local food in town - friendly family run business.  Fresh tasty food - over 20 vegetarian items.  Say hi to Mama from us!!  Try the fern with fresh coconut, rice and tempe with fresh tomato sauce - or any of the curries.  You can eat the salad here.  They have widened their place since 3 years ago.  It's fun to sit at one of 2 large tables with travelers from all over.  One night we Hawaiians were sharing a meal with 2 girls from Sri Lanka, a couple from Germany, a woman from Australia, 2 girls from Hong Kong, a South African and a man from the Czech Republic.  What more needs saying?




What a smile!


Husking the rice.


Construction noise is common as the rice fields
disappear before our very eyes.


  Lean, muscular, without an ounce of fat, the workers carried large
bundles on their heads or hoed the earth, even though over 70.


 Donald duck and his friends arrived full speed in a row and made
 short work of any bugs or slugs hanging in the field.


Ducks quack, feed and fertilize.


Burning the fields.


Chinese water buffalo.


 Terraced ponds reflected the white clouds, blue skies and even
 the fireflies and full moon at night.


A small patch of land was sown with rice and soon the green
starts were ready and waiting. 


 Three women giggling and talking started at the corner of
 each terrace and planted the rice starts in the thick mud
at lightening speed.  Amazingly all the fields were
planted in one day. 


Within 2 weeks the brown mud had transformed once again
into beautiful brilliant green fields.


Kites are a big part of a boys life in Bali.


A 10 ft kite whistling in the breeze.


A kite store.


 Kites start out small and simple, usually made from
plastic bags.  As the boys get older their kites get
bigger and more intricate.


Our friend from the rice fields with his new plastic
bag covering his new hat.


Blacky and Whitey resting at the little rice shack.


A stunning reflection.


Time for a frog snack.


flies of all colors.


George, Georgette and the kids, large tokay geckos 14 inches long,
 joined in from behind the wardrobe with their loud "Ka - cha!"


Frogs only came out at night, and this little guy ended
up on my suitcase for a visit.


Brilliant colored kingfishers were a common sight.


Eternally optimistic these dear little doves already have the wisdom of
life figured out.  If you listen carefully whatever the problem,
whatever the outcome, "It's o.k."


Mr. Ketut is a wonderful, friendly, helpful owner.


We loved our new place.  It had a simple design, a spacious room
with endless windows, a 4 poster bed, a large bathroom with
hot water and a basic Balinese kitchen.  What more could
 two true nomads want for a relaxing, healing time in the
Bali rice fields?


I arranged fresh flowers from the garden in 2 bowls daily.
What a marvelous meditation.

Builder Ketut!


  Nyoman would prove to be an invaluable help and friend over
 the next 4 months.


One day I cooked with Made at their house next door and Deeta
and Koman joined in for a blend of Bali infused with Hawaiian.


Pounding bark for 'Jamu' or herbal medicine.


A strange rice field creature.


Neighbor Made.  What a sweetheart.


The sun rises on my little patio garden.


Harvesting of our first tomato was a cause for great


Beautiful view into one of the many gorges near Ubud.


Over the bridge on the way to Alchemy Restaurant
for an organic salad.


The 800 metre walk through the lush green fields to
Sari Organik is spectacular.


This salad is a feast for the eyes and stomach.  Their organic
farm across the path supplies all the fruit and vegetables.






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