Only Planet

One Child, One Year, One Planet. A family of three traveling around the world...

You can contact us at werkingwells (at) gmail . com

Monday, March 31, 2008

Neither a Mad Dog or an Englishman

At least we try to adopt the local pace and stay out of the noonday sun. It's not too difficult, we are in bed by 9:00 pm each night, rise early each day awoken by a cacophony of some pissed ducks and take an 11:00am soak in the pool. It's not so much a luxury as a necessity since the mercury reaches in the mid nineties by 8:00 each morning.

The ducks are mad because they know something is up, their friends keep disappearing and we've seen evidence of where they go--there's too many menus featuring crispy duck for it to be a mere coincidence.

Most mornings we go for a walk, either along the beach to watch fisherman start their day or through a heavily forested road, where monkeys swing over our heads. After a simple breakfast of Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice) or Jaffle (no that's not a misprint, its some sort of pastry that looks like an overly buttered pop tart) we head out to our first activity which has included zip lining through the forest, having our palms read, or looking for someone to braid Dylan's hair.

It's good to be back in Asia. Though we've never been to Indonesia, so much reminds us of Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, or Cambodia. A million motorcycles or scooters tearing down the road, followed by cars that have their own rules--a never-ending game of chicken. The heat that saps our strength by midday. Broken up sidewalks where water from the rice paddies flows under unstable grates. Touts every 20 feet asking if we want a taxi ride, a tour, something unnecessary to buy. Mosquito coils burning by our dinner table and a patina of dirt covering everything. Toilet paper, ice, air conditioning and a decent napkin are a luxury. Flowers, cheap massages and smokers everywhere, are a given. We've often caught ourselves forgetting that we've ever returned home, but rather feel like we've been in Asia since 2005, it's amazing how quickly we've gotten used to these quirks.

But Indonesia, and specifically Bali, has its own unique charms. Incredibly friendly people always asking where you've come from and where you're going to. Everyone asks what country we're from, and when we say America we're kind of an oddity. We've been asked why more Americans don't visit, and whether we like George W. Bush. Our answers to that are "Americans don't get a lot of vacation, it's expensive, they think it's far away and some are afraid of Bali because of the terrorist attacks," and an empathic "No we can't stand the man!" When I yelled "Yeah Obama" we got a healthy applause--guess he can be considered a local boy, he did have a few years studying in Indonesia!

Bali is an island in more ways than one. It's uniquely Hindu in a country that has the highest Muslim population in the world. Unlike most countries in Southeast Asia that are Buddhist, Bali goes further back, to Buddha's roots as a Hindu and it's evident in the multitude of statues of Ganesha (the elephant god--remover of obstacles)and Saraswati (goddess of wisdom and the arts) dotting the landscape. Tiny offerings are everywhere--baskets woven from palm fibers holding flowers, incense and rice--on motorscooters, dashboards, driveways, store counters, wherever the gods are welcome.

Dogs are in front of every home and they know they own the road since they don't bother to get out of the way of cars until one is bearing down, just inches from their paws. Then maybe, if the offending car or motorcycle has nowhere else to go, they might deign to scoot their butts off the street.

Sarongs are worn by many--especially in the tourist industry, but on a festival day almost everyone is sporting a sarong and for the men a headpiece. Women create their own headpieces by placing whatever they need to carry on their head and moseying down the street.

Bali feels like a country in itself and if we return to Indonesia and visit Java or Sumatra or even Lombok I'm willing to bet it won't feel like we're in the same country.

We've got some awesome pictures but are having technical difficulties, will post soon!


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