Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bali Updates


Subject: Bali #5

Last night I watched the last half of Martin Scorsese's "The Last Waltz" rock n roll film on the tube.  It took me awhile to figure out what the movie was, but then it hit me: the Band's farewell concerts at the Cow Palace in 1978!  What a magnificent ensemble of interviews, thoughts of living on the road, our greatest musicians of the 1970s and the finale of them all on stage with Dylan singing, "I Shall Be Released".  

(I remember telling Scott a long time ago that I want to be listening to that song when it's my time, as well, to bid 'adieu' to this world...)

I'd seen that brilliant documentary film the first time while hitchhiking across France to meet Dave in Istanbul in the spring of 1979 after going home for Bruce's wedding.  I'd gone into Nice to see it, then hitchhiked back out on to the highway and a night's sleep alone out in a wheat field.  The next morning I got up and continued my travels down Italy to Brindisi for the ferry to Greece, Kos, then up to Stamboul where Dave and I took a ferry along the Black Sea to Trabizon and on across Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and India to Kathmandu.  

So much of what I look back upon these last days of 2012 have to do with that never-ended journey with my life's dearest friends across from the Mediterranean to the Himalaya.  With that "Last Waltz", in certain ways, I, too, bid my own fare-thee-well to my American roots and beautiful life to create something new on the other side of the world.  A dream of a life unknown, yet to be explored and rich in anticipation.

That leaves me today, 34 years later, on the beach in Bali with my beloved Mother, wife and daughter.  The three Devis of my adult life...  A man and the three women who are the home he builds...  While our sons, Joshua and Ezra, are off in their young adult worlds with their friends and guides ready to find themselves and their future quests without all the parental guidance and support that a child requires...

Much to reflect upon in those sentences, as well...

So today, with less than 48 hours left in 2012, is a rest day for such reflection, reading ("The Master and Margarita") and a bit of swimming.  Soon, we'll take Leah where she can do a short dive with a new type of spaceman ("Biff"??) helmet under the water.   She seems excited to go under the sea and live with the fishes!

Although, in truth, she wants to race back up to the Botanical Garden where they have a jungle zip line and various acrobatic activities up in the trees.  It looks a bit like high anxiety when watching some of the other adults yesterday, but kids are fearless, even our little daughter.  So we may save that for when we move to Ubud on the 1st for three days, as its closer there, if we get back again.   

Also, Mom's feeling much better!  She looks great in her newfound grey hair as the heat is too much for more luxuriant hairstyles or accompaniments...   

Happy New Year to all!  


Subject: Bali #4
I'm sitting in the morning sun on our small terrace here at La Taverna already starting to sweat by 9 am.  Time to go do my laps in the pool soon after checking the football scores, FB and the world's latest crimes and misdemeanors...

Yesterday, we took another day trip w/ our driver, Dharma, up to the highlands of Bali, this time.  Drove about 2 hours to the extinct volcanoes where there are three lovely lakes past miles of rice fields and the constant image of Balinese brick, stone and thatch pagoda temples along the way.  

These local, household and village temple complexes are the defining attribute of this luscious landscape.  Almost every day we see local communities heading to their shrines for puja and prayers, dressed in their handsome black and white checkered lungis and knotted head-dresses.  

At one such temple-school complex, we stopped for a bowl of noodle soup in one town, then at a coffee plantation to taste the local brew and try a new type of fruit with a snake-like skin that tasted like a harder, fleshier rambutan or mangosteen.  It's so wonderful to be among those tropical fruit of southeast Asia.

There was fog and some drizzle up on the mountain where we stopped to take pictures of the lush landscape and lovely lakes below.  Leah touched the large fruit bats that were on display on the roadside, before we turned around to go to a famous (and crowded...) temple island on the larger of the lakes.  It was Saturday so there were hundreds of Indonesian tourists there taking family photos with most of them in clusters of 10-14 family members.  Reminds one of the beauty of our basic human unit...

Then, the Bali Botanical Garden where we wandered among the orchids and bamboo, collecting specimens for our own garden along the way.  How much we love these botanical gardens around the world.  Nature protected, preserved and respected!  There is much on Bali that seems to have been respected by the culture around them.  Some type of graciousness and beauty that mirrors the island itself.

For dinner, we strolled on the main Sanur street and found a delicious Italian restaurant nearby for dinner of snapper, swordfish and pizza where we may have our New Year's dinner, too.



Subject: Bali Update #3

Hi, all!  Claudia was asking for the latest news on Mom, but, fortunately, there isn't any...  except, of course, that she's not wearing a wig today, so I feel younger and among a more age appropriate group...

Yesterday we were supposed to move to Ubud, the cultural capital of Bali up in the hills, closer to the magnificent volcano mountains that are in the center north of the island.  We did actually drive up there w/ our luggage intending to stay.  Mom was booked at what turned out to be a very cute, lovely, aesthetic hotel and we were going to be in our friend Emil's home not too far away (but, as we discovered, not too close, either).  However, little did I realize that Mom is no longer really able to manage stairs or steps very well.  She was not comfortable with the steps at the lodge, much less the very ridge-ridden hills of Ubud...

So, we went and looked at 3-4 other hotels, including the magnificent Amandari, but decided in the end to return to La Taverna on Sanur beach, which is lovely, open and without stairs.  It's a bit beachcomber-type for Mom, and definitely a bit humid in the tropics, but she preferred it to the up and down of Ubud.  Fair enough!  My body aches at times, I can't really imagine the wear and tear of being in one's 80s, not to mention, we all know that Dad's fall was precipitous for him.  Better safe, as they say!

Thus, back to Sanur!  We will do day trips from here, like we did up to Ubud yesterday (only an hour from here).  I've arranged a car for tomorrow to take us up country to some artisan villages -- Bali is nothing if not an artistic, creative universe, ergo it's beauty...   We'll go to some of the famous Hindu temples (very much modeled on south Indian style from 1200 years ago), a stone carving village and maybe a famous water tank/park.  Let's see.

Oh, and we found a lovely restaurant at a nearby hotel (Serei Tanjang) that made it almost worthwhile to return yesterday evening.  Lovely setting on the beach w/ even better food.  Seared tuna, avocado salad, pasta and coconut creme brulee to die for...  We may be there tonight if you're nearby.

All is ok in this tropical world, hot, rainy at times (quick intense storms), the sea, the sky and water, plenty of water... 



Subject: Bali Update #2

There are way to many fireoworks going off in the background for my taste... sounds like Tet in Hue in 1967... but we're out the door in a minute to get Mom who is watching "Salt" on the TV on her front porch here at La Taverna, Sanur Beach, Bali. She arrived on time from HK mid afternoon, where I met her w/ Dharma, the local taxi driver. But with a serious cough, so we stopped at the pharmacy to pick up some decongestant and water. 

After settling in her ground floor suite here a 100 m from the beach, she took a well-deserved nap with the AC on. A far cry from the weather she's had the previous ten days in northern China. Here we're near the equator and the lush, tropical air will be perfect for her clogged lungs. 

I doubt she's up for a bicycle ride (Shakun, Leah and I just came back from 1.5 hours heading in land on the back roads to find a bamboo nursery) or a swim in the ocean tomorrow w/ Leah, but she can relax, have a massage and enjoy our five course Xmas Italian dinner here at La Taverna with us. It's a good way, methinks, to celebrate her 52nd wedding anniversary!

Still, I just wanted to let you know that Mom is safe n sound and we are out to the sandy terrace under the tropical trees looking out to the sea for pizza or pasta or a well-deserved drink. 
I like the idea of a drink... 

Subject: Grammy Does Bali: Day #2

Hey, Everyone!  Mom woke up feeling better this morning.  She had a coughing fit in the night, but besides that seems to have slept well and is more agile today.  She's out having a second long black Illy coffee on the terrace with her bagel and lox breakfast.  (Leah had the same...)  We'll take it slow today and then have our Xmas eve dinner here at the hotel tonight.  Tomorrow we go up to Ubud for ten days of Balinese culture, landscape and a few day trips around the island.  Hopefully Mom will feel better just resting, relaxing, breathing the warm, salt air and not traveling too much this week.  Just wanted to keep you informed...  


Subject: Grammy Arrives:  Day #1

Mom arrived two days after our arrival and Ezra's departure.  Mom's really worn down after her ten day trip traveling around China in the dead of winter with snow, rain and really cold weather.  She took a nap this afternoon, but was still pretty exhausted in the evening.  She said, 'everything aches' and has a real deep cough.  Hopefully a good night's sleep will do her well.  We'll see how she feels tomorrow, but it's been a hard trip for her, it seems.  

She took Ezra's deportation in her inimitable, practical way.  "Well, of course, you need six month validity in your passport -- all countries require that!"  She felt bad, of course, as she was so looking forward to seeing him here with us.  When asked what she would have done at Immigration, she was, again, all simplicity and directness.  "I would have paid -- and be done with it!"  She's right...

Bali should be a good rest without all the travel and plane flights and winter weather experienced in China.  She'll feel better after she's been able to sleep and not think about more travel.  

We have a Xmas eve dinner tomorrow here at the lovely boutique Italian resort, La Taverna, where we're staying on the beach at Sanur.  Should be fun and good food!  


Subject: Ezra Doesn't Do Bali Update #1

I've been trying to solve a conundrum wrapped in a corruption treated with respect...  if you can figure out what I mean...

In brief: Ezi was deported at the Bali airport the day we arrived for not having a six month valid passport.  The Immigration Officials wanted $1,000 to permit him to stay, but were willing to negotiate down to $300+.  However, something went wrong w/ the discussion.  Maybe it was me not feeling so thrilled or happy about the whole situation -- so they finally refused him entry and sent him all the way back to Kathmandu.  

We are waiting to hear from Ezra today if he has gotten a new temporary passport there to fly back here tomorrow (en challah!).  Of course, he wasn't certain if he wanted to return after the three days just coming and going.  But my mother is here and he does want to see her, so he may come or stay at home and work on his college applications due in February.  We've left it up to him...  

When I mentioned this to the Tourist Police at the airport yesterday when I went to pick up Mom, they said, 'the Immigration was trying to respect us by helping find a fair price to let your son stay'.  Of course!  But I was too Western, dumb and frustrated to see it in that uniquely Asian (particularly Indonesian, I suppose...) way.   It was all about the $$, bozo!  Forget your tales of morality or doing someone a kindness...  You could have had what you wanted if you had just paid the piper!

If I had, Ezra (for a few hundred dollars...) would be with us on Bali and not have been sent away...  

Live and learn, I guess...  although Ezra has the exhausting return to Kathmandu ahead of him...


1 comment:

Rajib Hossain said...

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