Star Date:  December 2011
  Bali, Indonesia


Hello Dear Family & Friends!


"Halo!  "Apa kabar."  "Baik, baik" or "Bagus."

(Hello.  How are you?  Fine, fine.  Balinese)



"The bamboo which bends is stronger than the oak which resists.  Real power comes from flexibility, not rigidity."

~Japanese proverb~



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  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, 
xoxoox  Nancy & Joseph




Travel notes:

$1.00US = 8,900 Balinese/Indonesian Rupiah

Bali, Indonesia:

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
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.

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

Dewa's Warung
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?

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 hr) 

Further on - right side:
Taksu Spa/Cafe in a private tropical garden.  A splurge but it comes highly recommended (about 300,000 an hour massage). Cafe starting at 40,000.

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:
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.

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:
# (+62) 0852 2161 1091

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:
We met with dynamic Robin Lim, midwife and visionary, who selflessly, from the heart, helps the mothers and the needy of Bali to heal or give birth.  Amazing lady.  If you would like to support a hands on - every cent reaching the people in need project - check out

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. 
Email:  Phone:  (0361) 970854

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, 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,
+62 361 972107  email:  or

Check out THE SMILE SHOP:  a thrift shop where all the proceeds go towards operations for poor children with cleft lip and palate, etc.,  left off JL Raya Ubud near Cafe Moca or Seniwati Gallery.  Check out this worthwhile organization at

Yulia 1 Homestay, Jalan Danau Tambligan 38, Sanur
(0361)288089  Friendly Ketut is all that is left of the family.  The rooms are basic but clean.  The new addition(250,000r) has taken over their priority but sitting on your little balcony in the old section, looking out over the temple, listening to birds singing puts you in old style Bali (150,000r - less for a week.)

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 recommendations.

Check out for more on Bali: Oct 2003 and Dec 2007.  Info on
central mountainous region and northern beaches.























Deep in prayer.


Verdant green rice terraces.


Off to temple.


A colorful procession.


A decorated local Hindu temple, reminiscent of India.


A delicately adorned dancer.


The ritual of 'kechek'.


The mischievous Hindu god Hanniman.


The prototype for Hanniman came from Nature.


The cheerful music of Bali echoes throughout the country.


A genuine Bali smile!


 Simple beauty awaits at every corner in the form of flowers, colorful art, carvings or carefully arranged flower petals floating in a pool.


The Hindu god, Ganesh.


  'Canang' or small woven baskets of spiritual offerings
are everywhere.  Inside these banana leaf baskets
each item represents spiritual significance.


Fragrant flowers serve as a symbol of purity.  "Flowers are to
remind humans that nothing lasts forever."


A men's only procession.   Black and white represents opposites,
good and evil, birth and death, yin and yang.


The end of birth is death.
The end of death is birth.
Such is the law.
(Bhagavad-Gita )


Colorful demon masks.


Wonderful Grandma Wayan and Chica in the family compound,
home of our bamboo grotto,
Anggada House


Plowing the rice fields with water buffalo, the old fashioned way.


The whole family works together planting, then harvesting their rice.


Rice is the lifeblood of the island
.  Sadly rice fields are
disappearing as 'megahouses' and villas buy them out.


One of the scenic volcanoes in the interior of the island.


Pounding rice to make flour.


Tarta Gangga, water temple.


A leisurely organic lunch in the rice fields surrounding
Sari Organik.


The gorgeous coastline provides relief from the busy interior.


Intricate stone carvings are everywhere.


Squirrels use the express lane along the sleek bamboo, collecting
food for the winter that never comes in the tropics.  Too busy to
enjoy the moment.  Are we any different?


Friends Dan and Sri in their magnificent villa, Tirta Asri Ubud.


When swimming in their pool it drops off to the lush green valley below.


Joseph & I were invited to speak about our travels at the weekly
gathering at Kopi Desa.
 Raciproject is a well run, caring project
helping the people of Bali.


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.


Honeycomb anyone?


Buma Sehat Foundation:
We met with dynamic Robin Lim, midwife and visionary,
who selflessly, from the heart, helps the mothers and the
needy of Bali to heal or give birth.  Amazing lady.


The colorful fishing boats along the beach at Sanur.





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