Adventure overview

P2240535.JPGHello and welcome along on the next adventure. It’s been four years since I’ve had a long adventure like this. After caring for and getting my elderly parents settled, I’m ready for a break and some exploring.

My intent is to start in Bali to see the healers and simply relax for a week or so. Then, I’ll head to Northern Thailand, take come Thai cooling classes, visit an old friend and head into Laos.

Laos is reportedly much quieter and more natural than Thailand and I’d like to experience it before it gets any more crowded or developed. I’m heading to the Northern areas first where it’s cooler, mountainous, natural and life operates at a slow pace. Eventually, by bus or boat or truck, I’ll wander South and visit some of the Unesco World Heritage Sites. If I have time, I’ll take an overnight bus all the way South to visit the Bolaven Plateau (coffee and tea country). Closer to the border with Cambodia, in the 4,000 islands area, I hope to see the Irawaddy River Dolphin and the pink river dolphin in that area. Eventually, and probably reluctantly, I’ll head either to a beach to chill for a few days or directly back to Bangkok to catch my flight home.

If you are curious about anything, write me and I’ll see what I can learn for you.

Here’s a short video overview I put together for this trip:

Hot Flashes and SORE Muscles

Yesterday was a day for visiting healers here. At 8:30, I drove over to Wayan’s for the trip to visit the Holy Knife. I wanted to take the motor bike so I could come back slowly taking photo’s. She was a bit in disarray having lost the phone number for her driver Mario. By 9:00, she still hadn’t found it and Deanne had arrived and was waiting. Eventually, I decided to go on by myself fairly confident that I could find it. Deanne has more time here and considered riding with me. However, I wanted to linger my way back and felt it really is better to have Wayan there to translate at least for your first session or two in order to hear comments the Holy Knife makes while working on you.

He chattered away with me yesterday. I remembered the way there because we had ridden it by motor bike on our trip to Tanah Lot two days ago. Some of the “Ogoh Ogho’s” were still there and provided great landmarks! The “Ogoh Ogho” are effigies of demons they parade the night before NYEPI for their New Year here which fell on last Saturday. The silent “Ogoh Ogoh” remain silently standing in many villages.

Across a bridge that I remembered after 20 minutes or so on my motor bike, I started looking for an alley on my left with a bright orange/reddish water tank on top of the opposite side of the street. I found it, drove down the alley and walked back in to see the Holy Knife wearing my sarong and sash.

To visit a temple or ceremony here means to dress properly. In the case of temples, shoulders are to be covered as well as knees. When I visited the Holy Knife before, I wore a tank top and he asked me to remove it. I wore my new sarong with the sash tied around the waist. The body has two regions here, the lower region which is considered “dirty” and the upper region which is considered holy. Thus the sash to separate the two parts of the body.

He was working with an older woman when I arrived and smiled at me. When they finished, I watched them go through the prayer ceremony I would do when finished. A blessing with incense, special water is poured into the hands three times and sipped, a fourth time it’s poured and used to cleanse the head and flowers are used for saying prayers.

It was my turn and he smiled while nodding for me to join him. I sat facing away from him and could see his eyes defocus already as if he were looking off in the distance as he gazed at my energy. His hands tapped the surface of my back from place to place reaching my neck when he let out an excited “Ohhhhhh!” and started talking in Bahasa. I knew whatever followed next would hurt but only for a little bit. He placed his kriss on the spot where my head meets the neck and on the right side of my spine. It was very tender and painful. He removes the kriss/knife and repeats several times until the energy shifts. As he does so, he chuckles.

The last time I was there, I learned that chuckling with him helps release the energy. This time, I couldn’t help myself as he continued to feel his way around my body, letting go with another excited “Ohhhhhh” before working on the next spot.

He finished with several spots very low on my back and I turned around. More spots were discovered, more chuckling and pain, more heat arose. Every time I’ve worked with him, I’ve become extremely hot, almost as if a fever has temporarily invaded my body. It was morning and cool. I was burning up and sweating. My entire body felt like it was emitting a field of hot energy.

When he got to my foot, he found an especially tender spot where my reflexologist worked. Tender as it was, the energy passed immediately and he worked his way up my right leg. He poked and prodded a lot around the right knee finding many spots to work with. I could feel the tightness along those muscles relax the moment he finished. Then, he continued on up toward the hip and found the exact spot which has been painfully tight.

With that he finished working on me, laughing and smiling and grabbing my legs seemingly to say how good of shape I am in. We did our prayers after that.

In the afternoon, I met my friend Mary to go visit the Maharsi. I posted a file describing her yesterday. We arrived and waited. Over an hour later, after a peaceful wait, she arrived. The ceremony she was doing at the temple was stopped for rain. The man who works with her had called to say they were late. Mary and I sat and talked. Patience is an important part of life here. Schedules don’t mean a whole lot! It’s not a place for impatience or rigidity.

When she arrived, we sat and talked for a long time. I assumed we were waiting for others to arrive. An hour later, she asked if we were ready? I wasn’t sure what I was “ready” for but I was. Mary explained a little about the process when Maharsi simply described it as being “like a shower”. I knew it would be wet so brought extra clothes to put on.

We were about to experience a Malukat which is a form of energy cleaning performed by a priest or priestess for cleansing the Spiritual and energy space around the body. In Mexico, they do something vaguely similar called a “limpia” which is a cleansing as well.

Here’s a larger version of the photo of Maharsi:

Watching the Maharsi pray is like watching a performance. Her hands move so gracefully though “mudra’s” which all are considered to carry different energy. She is praying and speaking while doing so with the softest look of grace on her face. Then, she prayed over Mary first before dong the malukat with me. Gently pouring water over the head a little at a time while reciting different prayers, I felt a chill. Some chills are physical, others rise from deeper in the being like when you get goose bumps. That deeper chill is what I felt. What a special experience.

Last night, after having those two sessions in one day, I was a bit disoriented and had to really concentrate even deciding where to eat or if I was hungry. That little decision took a lot of energy. I had a good dinner and wandered home to jump in the pool again. Water always helps clear the energy and was so refreshing after a full day. My friends Maks and Yelena from Russia came and joined me at the pool for a while.

This morning, I was so sore! I was never really touched like with the reflexologist or with massage but my muscles ached. My hips and low back were sore, my shoulders ached more than anything, the base of the neck where the Holy Knife started was tender to the touch!

I jumped into the pool around 7:00 to wake me up and after the rain last night, the pool was really cold! Now, as I’m finishing writing this, most of the soreness has passed. The only soreness I’m feeling at the moment is the soreness of sitting too long so I’ll shift that and go do something.

This being my last full day in Ubud and with a motor bike, I’ll probably go do a little exploring. There is a temple not too far carved out of stone and beyond that, a spring where people go for the holy water. If the sun came back out, I’d be tempted to spend hours lounging by the pool and enjoying the opportunity to do so before returning to Colorado in five days!

Ubud Count Down….

I woke early this morning. My left ear was plugged and I couldn’t near anything from it. Maybe it was the hours in the pool yesterday. Maybe it was seeing Nyoman, the reflexology oriented healer, for two days in a row? Maybe my body is preparing to go home, my ears and sinus’s go through strange adjustments when I first arrive in a tropical country. First, my sinus’s begin to run and drain. Then, my left ear gets sore and often plugged. After a couple weeks, all that disappears. Maybe my body is reversing it’s adaptation for my going back to dry Colorado. Normally, I get a nose bleed on the flight home or soon after, the membrane complaining of suddenly being robbed of moisture!

Having virtually no dairy in my diet with the exception of occasional ice cream bar, my sinus’s are fine. I’m sure the hours snorkeling in salt water removed any thing needing cleansing! With all the lemon juice I’ve been drinking (which cuts mucous in the body), I’m feeling pretty clean. And I’m walking in a green, moist, rain nearly every day tropical humidifier!

I sat on the front porch of my bungalow writing. The internet wasn’t working again so I couldn’t check email or do any surfing. An hour later, I ordered breakfast. It’s so nice having breakfast delivered to me sitting on my front porch by a smiling friendly face. Bayu, Miki and Wayan are the staff here who really know how to serve and love doing it. Wayan it new. Miki has been here nearly 15 years!

If anyone wants to volunteer to serve me breakfast on my porch when I get home, apply here. It would only be for a couple weeks until I can wean myself off that habit! Volunteers….send a sample menu and references assuring me that you can make a great coffee. Well, maybe I can do the coffee part!

Sitting on my porch sipping coffee, I really had to work to get oriented. I’ve got only a few days here before leaving for Kuta and my flight to Singapore. Half my stuff is still in storage at Dewa’s so I’ll have to sort through that. In some manner, I need to weigh my pack and see if it fits within weight restrictions. Air Asia has very inexpensive flights but allows only one carry on and one checked bag. If you pay for your checked bag in advance, it’s cheaper. I paid for 25 kilo’s (55 pounds) when I bought the ticket which is the least expensive way to pay for extra weight. I’m uncertain how much my pack will weigh with shopping and hope that is enough. Now, with the large Buddha, I’ll have to leave many things out of my daypack and put them into my checked luggage.

Pulling my thoughts back to being here now, I sorted through possibilities for what I wanted to experience while still in Ubud. The first thing I was clear about was getting a motor bike so I could be more flexible in my travel options. Then I headed for the laundry.

It seems the entire town is having a sluggish start! On the way to the laundry, I saw that my favorite local restaurant, Artini’s, but it is still closed today. Then, the laundry was closed. I walked back to meet friends in Kafe’, they weren’t there. On my way back to Dewa’s, I found another laundry that was open. Yes, it a sluggish return to “normal life” here after NYEPI.

Wanting to write some more and have access to the internet, I was headed to Moka when I ran into a man on the sidewalk who is staying at Dewa’s. He was so happy with his excellent breakfast, mostly with the delicious croissant! He told me he went to Casa Luna because Moka was closed.

Adjusting again, I went to Casa Luna and the croissant is excellent. The Americano needed emergency assistance but was beyond resuscitating! No amount of milk or sugar was able to remove the strong bitterness which smack the mouth on the first sip and lingers long after swallowing.

My waitress stopped to visit and we talked about coffee a little. She said their barista was sent to Australia for training but was still on break and asked me how my coffee was? I told her the truth. I’ve seen really nice espresso machines all over town including here but they don’t do a very good job. And Casa Luna has a cooking school! The pastries and food are excellent but coffee isn’t all that important to them apparently.

The almond croissant however will linger long in my taste buds and memory as a delicious treat. Maybe I’ll order one next time without the coffee!

Here’s part of my orienting, the internal selection process that’s taking place. After a day of “being” and no doing NYEPI, it is an effort to shift gears. The entire Blainese world was quiet. No airplane passed over Ubud. No motorbikes, no cars, no conversations except for the few conversations at Dewa’s.

I’m realizing that I have looked at so many gorgeous things, I’ve stopped seeing them. I’ve taken some pictures of what I look at but don’t see. Glancing up from my writing, I notice fresh orchids in the vase on my table, a lovely bamboo forest behind the restaurant, frangipani trees bloom just over the railing near me, soft music plays in the background and an eager staff watches for the next opportunity to help someone.

There might be some things I want to add to the color of my home?! So, I’ll visit some markets and this time really concentrate on seeing what is in front of me. In my mind, I’ve censored out some things because I only have so much room to pack. I know the brain can’t handle all the visual input available so censures most of it out. Here, there is a lot of visual input.

However, I’m also remembering that I am here now and if I see something I really like, I can ship it by sea mail. Sea mail is inexpensive but takes two to three months to reach the US.

There are several healers in the area I’d love to see. Wayan asked me to help her get a couple messages out through the internet. I want to go back to the healing waters which I rode by with Dewa but didn’t visit. And I want to sit and enjoy doing nothing in paradise while savoring each moment here.

I’m a bit apprehensive about returning to the US! People live isolated lives there compared to SE Asia. In the US, conversation revolves around stuff: politics, sports, weather, work, being busy, etc. Here, conversation is first person: I’m thinking I want to teach Yoga when I get home; I’m going to change jobs when I get back because I want to experience more….; I don’t know what I’ll do when I get home but it won’t be what I did before because I realize I really didn’t like it; I’m learning that I like….; I’m organizing my life so I can have three vacations a year; My next trip will be to ________ because I really want to experience ________.

A man I met last night, Jojo, told me how much he enjoys the conversation when he travels. For whatever reason, people really connect and look at each other. As he travels, he is also realizing that he lets himself get so busy when he gets back to the US, HE doesn’t have or take the time to connect. Not a good way to go through life!

The pace of life in the US essentially feels like ZOOM! Keep up or get run over! Except for NW Kansas….it’s much quieter there! And, of course, mom and dad are there. I’m not looking forward to leaving all the little individual shops I frequent here and walking into my first King Soopers or Super Target which feels absolutely overwhelming at this moment. I’m not looking forward to the news which I’ve hardly seen here except for occasional headlines but which is dominated by bad news in the US.

What I am looking forward to is seeing friends. I’m going to enjoy sitting on my porch on a nice warm morning listening to my birds. I will enjoy sipping a delicious “Larry’s Latte” made with freshly roasted beans from Stumptown!

I’ll enjoy drinkable water running out of the tap, having my own home over my head, taking a hot shower, doing laundry and getting my clothes really clean. Washing the road film out of my backpack, day pack, computer cover and passport wallet.

I’ll enjoy driving my car again, well, eventually. And camping and hummingbirds and planting my garden and seeing spring bloom and starting a new area of work and meeting new friends and…..that is a long list as well.

Back to now and savoring being here. I’m off on my motor bike to take things back to Dewa’s and then go to the temple on Monkey Forest to see the ceremony. Then I’ll go to the grocery store for some supplies and head out of town to visit a small village that makes batik wall hangings.

I’ll be smelling extra well so absorb all the aromas of blooming trees and flowers as well as the incense of daily prayers offered five times per day. I’ve grown accustomed to the fresh blossoms of Frangipani and may buy some essential oil to bring home with me.

Now, off to experience! The days are dwindling!

Pummeled, bruised healed and lobbied!

I wrote earlier today about feeling the energy of my trip changing significantly. On my way home, I had trouble with my motor bike starting up a steep hill. Changing gears and holding the throttle a little too open, I popped a wheelie going uphill for about 20 yards. The front tire landed softly and I rode on as nothing happened noticing a few bizarre looks on the faces of locals.

One of the guests here recommended Casa Luna for a wonderful breakfast and raved about how good their croissants were. He’s hooked on the croissants there and at Cafe Moka but was closed today. He’s so hooked, he wasn’t interested in the other three bakeries I found that have outstanding croissants!

After stopping several times, asking directions and learning that there are two Lotus Restaurants here (the land mark I’d been given to find Casa Luna), I rode on and found the right one. My energy was feeling a little shaky still, not from the motor bike incident, just out of balance.

I ordered an Americano and a croissant. The croissant was outrageously good! The Americano on the other hand, was beyond disappointing. They at least served it with hot milk but no amount of hot milk and sugar could correct the bitterness. If only “Latte Larry” had made it for me, it would have gone with the croissant perfectly.

On the way back to Dewa’s, I decided to go over to the back street and see where the healer was he told me about. I’d driven by once and thought I knew where it was. I found the green sign reading “Reflexology and Body Massage” and decided to drive through the gate and up into the yard.

A woman’s voice in the back beckoned me. I walked back and told her what I was interested in. Her daughter got her father who was in the family temple getting ready for ceremony. He was drinking coffee and offered me some. We sat on the covered platform in his yard, platforms so common here in Indonesia.

When we first met and he introduced himself as Nyoman, I could see his eyes defocus slightly as he looked at my energy. On the platform, I asked him a little about his work, how much his sessions were and told him Dewa had referred me. There are so many people named Dewa here, it took him a while to remember. When he did with his wife’s help, he was excited about Dewa, a famous painter here.

Once ready, I moved into the open room where his massage table was. Covered by a bamboo mat, it was barely long enough for me and he laughed. He first said his prayers and lit incense offering to his altar. I laid on the table and he began prodding my right foot. Almost immediately, I felt pain I didn’t think I could handle.

I kept breathing knowing it would end soon and leave me feeling better. Occasionally, I jerked and nearly pulled my foot from his grip. He barely let up the pressure focusing more on the healing than on my personal comfort.

The left leg produced the same result. He worked the meridian related to the bladder, the same meridian Eddy had worked on. Eventually, he left the feet and started working on hands and arms. More bladder meridian work which was painful but not as painful as the feet.

Well, not until he started working around the crease on the front of my right elbow. He was smacking it soundly with a stick or something of the sort. The energy wasn’t moving, the muscles were hard and the blood wasn’t moving as it should. After a long time and pain that felt like a burn, he started smacking it with the back of his flat hand.

He repeated the same procedure with the left elbow crease and then the back of both knees once I turned over. It hurt on the back of my tender knees but once again, he didn’t let up until he was satisfied. Both knees, little bruise lines where he worked so hard getting the energy to move. My right elbow as well has a lovely bruise.

As he worked on me, my hands worked on me as well. I would reach to my hip or abdomen area and press on a spot. He remarked on how that was the direction the meridian ran and commented many times that I was very sensitive to energy.

Once we finished, he told me many people cry or scream when having this work done. I jerked and twitched a bit but that was it. Then he told me I knew this energy and could do this work if I wanted to. When I asked him where he got his training, he replied he hadn’t gotten any training, he received it at birth. It is that way in many cultures.

Once again, he commented on how aware I was of the energy moving through my body and where it went. I felt completely different than when we first started. My head was lighter, any tension I might have had in my neck was all gone and he never touched my neck.

One experience stands out from the reflexology, well, in addition to the pain and how it lifted. While laying on my bladder, after he had worked on my feet and both knees, he took my ankle and did a stretching with it over and behind the other leg. Imagine I’m laying face down. He picked up my right ankle and gently lifted it over my left leg until the foot was above the knee. He lifted it to the point where he could feel tightness and resistance in the thigh muscle on the front. I often have tightness there from all the cycling, running, hiking, standing and walking I do.

He gently laid my foot back down so the leg was straight and went to work on a spot on the foot. After a minute or two, he repeated the motion lifting the ankle and bending the lag. ABSOLUTELY NO tightness or resistance remained this time. No massage, no pressure points in the leg, no stretching, he only worked on a couple points in the foot. And for only a minute or two! The same thing happened with the other leg!

When we finished, he showed me which points were important for me to work with. There were many candidates but he touched four points telling me they were the most important. It “hurt so good”! Perhaps the most painful session I’ve ever had and one of the best!


Later this evening, Dewa returned. He took group of three young Canadians upstairs to the Elephant Safari today. I showed him the bruise on my arm and he asked what happened. I told him I went to the healer he recommended! It took him a moment to figure out which one. Then he asked what Nyoman has said to me.

Dewa went on to say he told Nyoman he had a friend who he was sending to see him Monday or Tuesday. This friend, me, was aware of energy and was a healer and he asked Nyoman to help me. Dewa went on to say that if I stayed here and studied with him for a week, I would then see my own clients.

There are two other healers in the area, one a Holy Man who works with the spiritual energy of people rather than focusing on the physical. Dewa would like me to meet them and have a session with them so I know about their work. That way, when I come back, I can study with them for a week and learn what they do as well.

He’s convinced I am a healer and with a little help, I’d be ready to work with people who desire some healing. That was the lobbying part of the day. Such a nice man and great friend. He has ideas, very clear ideas, for what I should do next if I want to change my work!

I’m thinking and feeling that the way I’ll use healing is through speaking rather than through physical contact with people. I’m ready for that to unfold. Years ago, a friend told me it was time to stop doing “talk teaching” and start doing “talking healing”. Dewa’s casting a vote in that direction as well.

NYEPI in Ubud

Yesterday was the first day of the Balinese New Year. I wrote about NYEPI earlier. I left Dewa’s around 5:00 pm the day before heading toward the royal palace and the Ogah Ogah Parade, the parade of the demon effigies they build. It’s not as large of an event here in Ubud as in other communities. It takes a lot of time, isn’t in the original writing about the holiday and the people here are busy year round with tourist.

It was great fun watching the little boys hoist their demon, shake and jostle their platform and shout loudly as they paraded down the street. They gathered with a crowd at the soccer field with loud gamelan music playing to help scare away the bad spirits.

After that parade, I went to have dinner with friends at Cinta. Around 9:30, I saw the street lights go out and assumed it was another power outage I’ve seen so frequently in my travels.

When I left the restaurant around 10:00 and stepped outside, it was pitch black. The start of the day of quiet, NYEPI, had begun. Most of the shops and restaurants had closed by mid-afternoon to give staff enough time to go home and celebrate with their families. Lights from all those businesses were out as well. I walked by the occasional motor bike headlight and stayed in the street off the sidewalk where there were more obstacles.

A surreal quiet had descended the town of Ubud that was palpable! Everyone was shutting down their life activity in preparation for the day of NYEPI.

Earlier, I had gone to see the parade of effigies known as Ogah Ogah

On my way back from Lovina, the road was absolutely packed with cars and THOUSANDS of motor bikes from people going to their home villages for the ceremony. Along the way, we were stopped while traffic negotiated around the huge statues at small villages we passed through. The ride was normally two hours or less but this one was three hours.

I caught passing glimpses of “demon” statues in all sizes and shapes. I saw traditional Balinese masks on large bodies sporting huge breast, long weapon like finger nails, and weilding some sort of weapon like a sword or ax. I also saw demon statues resembling mummies sporting grotesque facial expressions and blood holding an electric guitar. The later version made by the younger generation.

In some areas, our bus simply stopped and was unable to move for five to ten minutes. The cause wasn’t statues or ceremonies on the side of the road but an impatient driver pulling out to pass a continuous stream of cars and motor bikes stretching as far as the eye could see and then finding no one willing to let them back in the line. Unlike drivers in the US when that happened, horns rarely honked! One of the photo’s I took of the traffic shows that happening.

The parade of demons here wound it’s way down Monkey Forest road and onto the soccer field. A huge crowd of locals and tourist formed to watch and take part in the celebration.

I learned that in the evening, they have a patrol dressed in black who walk the street making sure all “fire” is extinguished. Fire includes lights except for tourists. All the buildings on the street were dark.

During the day yesterday, with the exception of the roosters, there wasn’t a sound! No motor bikes, no conversation, no music, no musical instruments, nothing but a feeling of stillness everywhere. It was great.

Some tourist had difficulty with the stillness and got restless. At one point, a conversation near my room was so loud, I could hear them talking over the sound of my iPod. When they stopped, the stillness settled back in. No one left the compound. I walked to the street late in the afternoon to take a couple photo’s of the “ghost town” out there. The family here was worried because they believe the demons and bad spirits roam there during the day looking for someone.

Today, things are back to normal. Tourist here left early talking loudly and rolling their luggage along the stone sidewalk at 6:00 am. Others complained that their guide had not showed up yet to pick them up at 6:15 am, it was after 7:00 am when they left.

Motor bikes rumble in the background. Life is returning to normal but it will take a while. Dewa went to the market this morning early as he used almost all the rice he had left cooking for us yesterday. Because of NYEPI, the market was nearly empty. People haven’t had time to restock their stores.

Now, I’m sitting here wondering what I want to do and experience with the few days left before I travel home. It’s a very strange feeling especially after being completely still yesterday. I much preferred having months ahead of me and many adventures to launch into. My priority now is making arrangements to get to Kuta, weighing my pack to see if it is under weight restrictions, looking at my things to see what I can leave behind and preparing mentally and emotionally for the return to the US.

A quiet lull in Ubud

I’ve been here almost one week. It doesn’t seem possible it’s been that long?! Ubud has it’s own vibe and while it’s a spiritual center of sorts, there is definitely a buzz in the air to get out and do something, go somewhere, have a massage, try a different meal, or take a walk.

Hitting the ground running, I was off to see Eddy my first morning and had a wonderful massage from him. All the energy in my body that needed balancing was the same meridian. I went back two days later for the complete acupuncture session.

The day in between, I rented Bayu’s motor bike and drove into Denpasar to pick up my new external hard drive. Before leaving, I met a wonderful new friend in Jude who is originally from Ireland, taught English in South Korea for two years and now lives in Melbourne, Australia. What a delight she is!

The trip to Denpasar really took it out of me. It was hot! It was intense city driving on a motor bike! It was successful as I got the new drive for a bargain price and it’s a charm! And it was surprising as I took a wrong turn before finding myself in the right place…smack in front of Eddy’s!

Wednesday morning, I left early to have the acupuncture session with Eddy. When I returned was when Dewa and I were going to take motor bikes to the mountain and see the coffee in Kintamani. I wrote about that earlier, the woman arguing with him telling him how to run his business, winding up in a car relaxing out of the weather, and having some great shopping on the way home. I did however OVERDO it after the acupuncture session! I had a feeling I should have simply stayed at home and rested that afternoon. No harm done, just a weary body and mind to deal with.

I had dinner with Jude and that was re-energizing! Here’s a photo of her and some of the food we experienced.

OK, the fountain photo isn’t of Jude but the “fountain of the peeing Buddha’s” she didn’t get to see.

Wednesday, I took Jude to see Eddy. She woke feeling like she wanted a massage for the soreness in her neck and shoulders. She had seen Wayan two days before and had the full treatment! Miki, a wonderful staff member at Dewa’s, called Eddy and he could see her in 30 minutes. I rented Bayu’s motor bike, grabbed my book and camera and we were off! She had a great session with Eddy and made an appointment to go back the next morning for an acupuncture session. We had lunch next door at a vegetarian restaurant and, since Jude had the energy for it and had never been to the market, I took her to the Sukawati Market 300 meters down the road. Lots of shops were closed already. Translation: those that were open were offering great prices for “good luck” sale since they weren’t selling anything.

This is the market the markets purchase from. I’ve bought things here for half the price of the market in Ubud. For many items, it’s perfect. For nicer things like the Buddha statue I was looking for, I wanted something better than mass produced statues.

We found that in Ubud from Wayan who’s from the village where they are made. At first, I thought I’d go to the village and find a statue I really liked. When Jude and I walked in, he was so enthusiastic about seeing me again and meeting Jude, his face glowed. I looked at the Buddha and wondered, “Why am I EVEN looking anywhere else”? The first really nice one was originally $1,200 which was reduced to $600 US! Yikes! Jude and I saw a pretty nice on in Sukwati for $275,000 rupiah or about $30 US. The one with Wayan was $55 and fit in to my daypack. Now that I have my Buddha, I’ve got to figure out how to get it home with all my other purchases, what I’ve been traveling with, and stay within weight and baggage limits of Air Asia and Singapore Airlines. I’m guessing if I show them a Buddha in my bag, they might be more lenient!

Yesterday morning, I woke up feeling very groggy. I’ve been waking up around 5:20 every morning, going and not resting, and it was catching up to me. I took a couple PM Tylenol to help me sleep and really felt woozy for a couple hours. At 11:00 am, I was reading a book in my room when I put it down, closed my eyes and woke over an hour later. It was an experience, maybe you have had this one, where you feel like you are REALLY waking up!

Moments later, Jude returned from her session with Eddy and we went to grab a bite to eat. We bought wooden carvings from Wayan, had dinner and Jude abandoned me this morning. I miss her company! I’ve been so blessed by meeting amazing and “alive” people on this trip. Those are the highlights of every trip!

Jude is about to return to Melbourne, she’ll continue to meet amazing people and have wonderful experiences because that is who she is! I’ll be off to Lovina and make new friends there.

Caution: “UNMANLY” behavior described below!!!

If you are bothered by reading about decidedly unmanly behavior, stop reading now! The following information may be disturbing to you! On the other hand, if you are flexible, curious and open minded, read on.

Before leaving Makassar, I went shopping for an external hard drive. My laptop was quickly filling up with the 5,500 new photo’s I have taken. And, I would have to delete part of my music library which I wasn’t willing to do. The shopping mall was near the hotel so I mustered a little strength and went shopping. While that might be a pleasant experience for my female friends, it’s a bit painful to me. My neighbor Elouise describes my shopping trips as “missions” because they happen and are completed so quickly!

I found an Apple store there which didn’t have any external hard drives but recommended Western Digital as the brand most compatible with the Apple computer. They confirmed what I’ve suspected, I have two external Western Digital hard drives at home for my desk top computer.

The store near them had one version of the Western Digital but it wasn’t the “Passport” model which it TINY and highly recommended. Wandering the other stores, I finally located one. As a plus, the store would accept my credit card. As a minus, the credit card confused them and it took quite a while, huddling occasionally, turning the card to front to back over and over again, huddling some more, punching numbers into the credit card machine and eventually bringing me receipts to sign.

Once all that was complete, they asked for my credit card again and I thought we’d start the process once more and perhaps charge the drive a couple times to my account! A quick check of something and I was given the OK.
Back at the hotel and feeling rather satisfied at my proactive decision, I started backing up photo files to the drive. I was able to partition it (divide it into two sections) so one partition would hold photo’s and the other would backup my hard drive.

Somewhere in the copying and backing up process, the thing froze. For three days, I’ve tried every disk utility option available, searched the internet, tried other options and nothing would work.

This morning, my friend Mary told me where the local Mac/PC store is so I walked there and stumbled upon another computer store on the way.

Neither place was able to get any read on the drive.  They assured me I was having a hardware problem and would need to return the drive….where I bought it….in Makassar…back in Sulawesi.  Right!

The Mac/PC store told me there was a place in Denpasar called Rimo on Diponegoro Street which was a large computer shopping center. “Yes, Rimo can exchange for you”…I should have know that sounded too good to be true.

I talked to Bayu (one of the men working here), rented his motorbike and headed off with little idea of where I was going. Nyomen drew me a map that was quite detailed. Unfortunately, I must have started on the wrong road and never saw the land marks he highlighted!

So here’s what I did and be alert, this represents the “unmanly” portion of the day. Two or three times, I stopped and asked for directions! I know, how bizzarre, I asked for directions.

OK, the complete disclosure, I asked directions at least 20 times!!! I asked policemen, parking lot attendants, shop owners, hotel reception desk staff, the security guard in the parking lot, the little man on the side of the street, three guys in front of the hospital, the motor bike riders beside me, pretty much everyone. Eventually, I was able to find Rimo and stopped in the parking lot wondering, “is this really worth it??? And, how am I going to get back since I have no idea how to even begin?”

Up the stairs, I was guided to the center that works on hard drives and they checked it out for me.  Nothing!  It was definitely faulty as they couldn’t even read the drive.  They reminded me that the warranty was only good in Indonesia so I’d have to go back to Makassar where I bought it or take it to Jakarta.  Riiiiiight!
“Is there anything we can do” was met with blank stares and comments about it not working. Finally, I asked if anyone there could help. He pointed to the labels on the outside of their drives indicating a warranty was included, labels which my drive was missing.

Once again, he confirmed that no one else would be able to help me!  Trusting my own experience and persistence rather than taking his word, I wandered around looking for another store. One very helpful man asked if he could help me.

I told him what was happening with the drive. He looked concerned and pointed to a computer center that could help me.  It was the one I just came from.

Now, I’ll pause for an important reflection! Many times, I’ve had a thought that it’s a good thing that I’m a facilitator as it helps me get things accomplished. I’ve even written about that. Today, I realized it has nothing to do with being a facilitator, I’m good at communicating!

Good means flexible, adaptable, creative, persistent, more flexible, taking another track to express what I want to have them understand. With this young man, I did the same thing. He didn’t understand so I said it another way, then another and another before he finally realized what I was trying to communicate and help him understand. Today, I realized the ability to communicate creatively, patiently, finding new and alternative ways to say or ask something, that’s what really helps me get results. In this case, I got understanding!

Then, the young man did something stunning:  he went the extra mile!  I’ve heard many people describe men in Indonesia as generally lazy, they smoke and drink, sit around and watch the women take care of everything. In many places, that’s generally true.

This young man started punching keys on the computer, talking to colleagues, going back and talking to a manager, punching more keys, then writing something on a piece of paper for me. Knowing that I’d be leaving the country and couldn’t do anything about an Indonesian Warranty from the US, he looked up the warranty repair service for Indonesia. It isn’t all on Java, turns out there is a center in Denpasar.

He looked up Western Digital Warranty center on the web, wrote down the address and phone number for me and via a huddle with his peers, gave me directions for getting there!  Very cool! Amazing really, one more time of getting help above what I thought possible.

I headed off for the short drive. Of course, it would be short if I knew where I was going, had a clue about the proper starting place and after passing the same hotel four times, I found the place about an hour later.

Miraculously, I only had to ask directions about a dozen times to get there! The last person I asked, a security guard at a shopping center, got out a piece of paper, drew a map, and precisely told me where to go, where to turn and what to look for! Perfectly clear! I only had to ask five more people after that to eventually get there so I guess he wasn’t the “last” one after all!

Bernardus at the Western Digital place was very helpful. I showed him the receipt, explained it was only four days old and told him what was happening. He and a colleague checked it on three different computers and NADA, it wouldn’t work.

They looked up the serial number, discovered it’s a different variation they they have and then they had me wait patiently while they checked with Jakarta for authorization to see if they could do something about the drive for me.  An hour later, I finally learned that they would have to send it to Jakarta for approval and send one back.

Earlier, I learned that the drive I bought is the “old” version and a newer, faster 3.0 version was released 2 months ago.  I asked if it would be possible to upgrade and pay the difference. Bernardus told me it would be very complicated to exchange mine and pay extra for the new model.  It would cost about $200,000 or more to upgrade and be very difficult. “Better you keep this” he said.  I let it go deciding that a functional drive would be better than no drive.

Authorization complete, they had a new drive on their desk and I thought that was mine. Whoa, not so fast! They had to sent the old one to Jakarta, get authorization and send a new one which would arrive in three to five days. Then Bernardus surprised me showing the same initiative I’d seen earlier. He apparently asked his manager who asked Jakarta and they authorized upgrading my unit to the new unit for only $50,000.
Persistence pays! There were several times I wondered if I was waisting my time!!! Maybe I should just turn around and find my way back to Ubud. However, the pursuit felt important so I persisted. Now, I’ll have a much faster and more efficient model checked by the factory in Jakarta and pick it up when I return to Bali in a few weeks!

Before I left, I asked him for directions back to Ubud. He pointed, told me where to go, and I was off. It’s an interesting experience driving a motor bike in the most congested city traffic I’ve ever ridden in, being cautious and careful amidst the crazy car and motor bike drivers, and having no clue where I was headed. I drove through some tiny alley type road, small houses and rice fields on the side of the road, children playing, dinner cooking and no idea if I was headed in the right direction. Another dozen or more stops for directions and I finally popped out of the wilderness of Bali and into the familiar environs of Ubud. What a different day than what I had “planned” and so fulfilling.

At least this time, I wasn’t riding a PINK motor bike!

Ubud return, a few days later

As I’m writing from Ubud, you are guessing correctly, I was unable to find a flight out of Denpasar two days ago to Labuan Bajo. My flight in from Makassar was good, I was moved to an exit row that I had to myself, and the Lion Air Flight landed relatively smoothly which they are not known for doing. They have a reputation for hard landings which wasn’t the case, thankfully!

OK, so I’ve been here for several days and am just now updating. The internet service at Dewa’s is adequate for email and basic surfing but not for this. The internet across the street charges in 5-minute intervals. Half an hour costs more than two hours in Sulawesi and isn’t any faster. Besides, I’ve had laundry to take care of, my pack to unpack, croissants to sample, espresso to taste, friends to talk with and relaxing by the pool to handle. I do need more relaxing by the pool but what little I’ve had has been glorious!

After we landed, I collected my backpack, left the arrival terminal and walked to the ticket offices at the departure terminal. Helpful agents sent me from one counter to the next and the next and the next until I found the planes were all full or had already left.

Back to the arrival hall, I found the taxi station (referred to in some areas as the “taxi mafia”), saw the listed prices on the wall behind the ticket agent and purchased my ticket to Ubud. My unhelpful driver took off immediately walking quickly, not helping with my small pack which was unusual, and leaving in his dust. Across the terminal, over curbs and sidewalks, through traffic twice, we arrived at his car.

For the third or fourth time, he asked me where I was going. For the third or fourth time I told him the same thing differently, using different reference points, pronouncing the name or a business close to Dewa’s differently. Eventually, I stumbled upon the right formula. When I mentioned Monkey Forest Road in conjunction with Hanoman Road, he nodded in recognition. Most of the time, that nodding in apparent understanding doesn’t mean much. He started the car, we were off and I was wondering if he knew where he was going.

Immediately, I noticed much more traffic than the last time I was here two years ago! Perhaps my memory isn’t correct but there were many more cars than I remembered and certainly more and larger buses. Traffic was thick all the way to Ubud.

Each stop light came with a variety of vendors walking car to car with food or newspapers or colorful moving plastic gadgets. At one, my driver bought a plastic gadget which looked like a small blue plastic flower pot with a blossom and two leaves rising from the pot. It was solar powered blue plastic flower pot thingy! The solar energy powered the leaves and the blossom moving. He really liked it and placed it immediately on the dash with great delight!

His driving skills and speed diminished over the next 5 kilometers while he moved his taxi driver license around, looked for a better spot for the pot to sit and move, and repositioned it after each acceleration or tap of the brake. My backpack was handy meaning I could access my duct tape. I peeled off a small strip, doubled it over, and had him hand me the flower pot. Cautiously, he handed it toward me. I touched the tape lightly indicating it’s sticky nature to which he smiled. Now appropriately sticky, the plant was carefully placed by the proud smiling driver. Our drive resumed undisturbed by moving plastic moving plant thingy. His driving speed and attentiveness improved for which I was very grateful!

Our approach to Ubud, once we turned off the main road, was hampered by serious traffic jam. I wondered what all the traffic was about? I never dealt with those when I rented my motor bike and explored last time. Approaching a sharp curve, I saw the reason for the jam, a huge tour bus ahead, much too large for the tiny rural road, taking up 2/3 or the asphalt, and stopping off the pavement for other wide traffic approaching it. Closer to Ubud, it grew even worse! Buses meeting buses had to pull off the pavement where they could find he space; buses backing out of parking lots needing to move forward and reverse several times to get back in the lane of traffic; each maneuver stopping all traffic in both directions. My friend Mary wrote me about how much Ubud had changed and about the buses, now I knew.

I watched the road carefully and knew where I wanted to get out. My driver stopped where I asked, I grabbed my pack and walked the rest of the way to Dewa’s. I think my taxi driver was grateful he didn’t have to drive all the way through Ubud, have to deal with traffic and he was now free to make make a quick exit!

Ubud has changed a lot! Small open spaces looking over the rice fields now house new shops. Some of the small mom and pop shops have apparently sold and gone upscale. Their is an air of affluence or at least of wanting to be. Galleries, jewelry stores, many more aromatherapy and natural product shops, “organic spa’s”, new upscale restaurants, each occupying what was open space in the city and each very modern with fresh paint, glass doors and air conditioned interiors.

I arrived in Dewa’s and asked loudly if they had any cheap room’s, “SPECIAL PRICE” I said loudly. Then, they recognized me and all smiled. The entire family was there having lunch at 1:00 pm. I sat and talked sipping a cup of coffee they brought for me. Soon, Bayu came, grabbed both of my packs telling me to carry my cup of coffee and follow him to my room. I’m in a nice bungalow below the pool. I think it might be the same room my friend Wendy stayed in when she was here the fall of 2009.

Dewa’s has finished their construction and upgraded their rooms. I’m getting a special price and Dewa thanked me for all the people I have sent here. The special price is still more than I’ve paid except for once on my trip and I can’t think of a nicer family to spend extra money with. It’s really an exceptionally comfortable place to be!

The room is completely tiled, contains no mildew or fungus smells, (yes, the last few rooms have been a bit smelly but it is rainy season over here). It also has AC, a ceiling fan, “hot and cold” shower, a marvelous porch so sit on and write, newly installed “WiFi” and a pool I’ll have to myself when the boisterous group of 16 Chinese with children leave for a day adventure.

It feels a bit like coming home!

My pack is empty, I dumped everything out so it could dry and air out. One bag of clothing headed to the laundry, I headed to Tutmak for what I remembered was great coffee and some lunch. One reason for coming here was to eat something beside rice and veggies or rice and fish for every meal. So many food options exist here although they are much more expensive than other places I’ve been. A complete meal in Sulawesi often cost $25,000 rupiah or less. A coffee here cost that much or more.

Sipping my coffee at Tutmak, once again, I was reminded that the quality of coffee depends on the barista. The coffee tasted very good! However, the milk on my cappuccino was a thick foamy aberration, had been cremated and wasn’t so hot. The good news: it was still way better than any coffee I’ve had since the shop I stumbled upon in Penang.

On Monkey Forest Road, I found a travel agent who found a ticket for me on Saturday for $670,000 rupiah, much less than the $1,850,000 rupiah I was quoted in Makassar! The airline server went down so he couldn’t book the ticket. I went back that evening as instructed, he had left for the day. The next morning, I went back again. After about 40 minutes I was able to purchase the ticket. I needed to return that evening or the next morning to pick it up. I went back that evening. He was gone. Another man searched through drawers and cabinets finally finding a ticket with my name on it. My name was there, the name of the airline wasn’t! I think I’m flying “Fred’s Airline” or something like that.

I’ll travel by bus to Kuta on Friday, see a few old haunts and maybe get a massage at Jari Menari, have dinner (WITHOUT Rori this time as she’s freezing in Chicago) at TJ’s Mexican restaurant and fly out Saturday morning. I remember having some amazing salad with fish at TJ’s there last time so am looking forward to that and might even indulge in a margarita since I’m already there.

Being here at Dewa’s means I can store all my extra stuff and travel light to Labuan Bajo. I’ve already started the sorting process and am considering shipping some things home so I don’t have to lug them around for another month! Mary suggested it would be far more expensive to ship than lug so, I’ll be looking for an extra suitcase possibly for the extra things I’ve picked up. My flight from here to Singapore has a weight restriction and charges extra for weight over their maximum. If I pay more than four hours in advance, it saves more than 50% of the cost. The international flights, I’m allowed two bags for free.

I slowly wandered the city seeing old familiar haunts and discovering new ones. After five failed attempts to get money from an ATM, I walked all the way to the one I remembered working best last time. It still is reliable! Good thing too as I couldn’t use credit card for the flight or for Dewa’s so need more money here.

Past Bali Buddha, up the small hill, stands Wayan’s healing center. I walked in and heard a voice from above saying to come in. I stood there looking up at here as here face registered recognition and she smiled!

She was leaving for a ceremony so wasn’t working. I said I only came by to say hello. She asked me to help her with a couple things when I come back and I will.

I had coriander crusted tuna steak at Nomad’s my first night and remembered I need to tell them to cook it more (for my taste), stopped at Kafe on the way home for a scoop of gelato and an iced chai. Kafe feels more “uppity” and a bit pompous at times. There are expatriates from around the world who hang out there and are the “in” crowd. At other times, it’s the same old friendly place where the staff remembers me from last time.

I met Anna there. She’s from Holland and worked in real estate. The company she worked with was going “down” as they say here. She decided to leave, put her house on the market, was surprised in a slow market that it sold in one month, she had two buyers competing for her property so she got a good price, and now she is traveling for a couple months in SE Asia uncertain what she’ll do when she returns.

Four years ago, sitting on the Bia Hoi corner in Hanoi and talking with a man from South Africa, he shared one thing he loves about traveling and meeting travelers. “Everyone is looking for something” he said. Yes, that appears true whether they are looking for a break from life, a fresh look on what to do, a new cultural experience, whatever, travelers seem to have that in common.

Mary, a friend who lives here, said they have had nothing but rainy season for over a year. One night, after very loud and persistent thunder throughout the night, it was cloudy and overcast all day. Today was overcast as well and a bit of rain late in the day. I’m planning to be quiet, do some writing, rest, explore two new coffee shops I found, meet my friend Mary and generally relax. It’s the perfect cloudy, lazy day for doing that!

Seven days to lift off….YIKES!

Excited, nervous and mostly ready, I’m amazed at how quickly the past few months have flown by. One week from now, I’ll be landing in San Francisco where I wait five hours to lift off for Singapore. Five hours after I land there, I’ll be going to do Kuala Lumpur where my adventure begins.

From my past couple experiences, I’ve learned to take some time and acclimate. Really, I mean actually do very little, rest and let my body catch up. It will be about 40 hours of travel time to get there. The time change is 15 hours ahead of Colorado time so my body will be wondering WHAT’S up for the first couple days. The past couple trips, I’ve hit the ground running and jumped immediately into adventures. When I landed in Hanoi, a particularly bad stretch of weather was breaking up meaning it was perfect timing to see Halong Bay and to go to Sapa for trekking. About 10 days later, I suddenly realize I was exhausted and needed to find a spot to settle in and unwind. I was near the beach and had a wonderful place to do that with a motor bike rented to transport me around and a great massage place across the road.

Continue reading “Seven days to lift off….YIKES!”

The Borneo Adventure overview