Friday, November 23, 2012

More of the Same Same

Words, words, words... I am done with trying to put word to how much I enjoy the highlands of Bali. I took a long scooter ride up to the mountains droppings down to the shore a guestimated five thousand feet. I left at 7am and returned to my bungalow just before 4 in the afternoon. I do not know how to share the experience in words. Pictures add another dimension to it, not enough for me to keep snapping off short. Since I got a new memory card for my camera, I decided to tie it high on my neck and record some video of the cruise. I don't know how it will turn out. Maybe movement and sound, capturing kids walking home from school, ladies drying rice, revolving vistas, and the monkey swing from the tree as I glided under (got lucky on that one) will add another dimension to the experience.

By 9am I was already high in the hills enjoying breakfast as some home stay looking out over the rice paddies toward Mount Agung, one of a handful of the inactive volcanic mountains and the tallest peak in Bali. I though about hitting the "Mother Temple" that was located at the door of the mountain, but was even more curious about this little road leading up hill to a little icon-symbol on the map. When inquiring if it was possible to get put there a local told me it was much better than the original destination because it was not swarmed with tourists.

The drive felt like I was going straight up the mountain. I thought I was heading into some rain for a while until I popped out from the clouds just a hundred meters before reaching the Puranas Passran Agung temple. Other than the two fellows doing some maintenance work on the structure I was the only one there. Clouds swirling below me and the last couple thousand feet of volcano rising above me in an adorable open air rock temple... I would love to romanticize it by throwing in some blissful sound of birds and geckos, but the truth is that the maintenance men were using some sort of electric stone cutter making a tremendous racket. Still, the view was breathtaking as the clouds would open up for moments giving glimpses of the jungle valleys far below. There was a point where the mist was moving up the hill as it trying to carry me to the top.

As I approached top step crowning a long zigzagging flight to where my scooter was parked, I looked down through the swirling fog and saw a procession of people, all dressed in white, carrying fancy boxes and baskets of fruit and flower offering on their way to do ceremony. Another stunning sight. Nearly all of the maybe fifty people, men, women, and children had smiles and kind hellos as I passed them by. I did not stay to watch, my instinct told me that this was their and theirs only.

Just two hour later and I would be experiencing the opposite end of the spectrum. Down from the cool serene forest the coastal lowlands were hot muggy and I was certainly not the only one there. I stopped at cheap shack on the shorefront along the road where I saw some retired, no shirt, heavily tanned, chain smoking foreigners with a sign above saying, "Monster Aussie Burger!". The chatty old crew whipped my up a huge burger that had everything you would ever normally throw between the buns along with loads of bacon, fried eggs, and beets. How could I not have a small beer with that.

Location:Bali Indonesia

Friday, March 18, 2011

Photo Updates

My slow integration after returning home included many hours of going through our 2500 something pictures. I picked out something like 650 pictures to group by country and post for anyone to poke through. Please enjoy some of our top pics picks taken by both Asiana and I.

Location:Denver Colorado

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Journey Back

Our boat ride from Turtle Island was mesmerizing. Sliding through swells of water not bothered by wind, looking like smooth jello, then through the rippled patterns when the breeze turns to mold the sea surface. Flying fish zip out from under our boat floating over the ocean fleeing from the huge, loud, frightening vehicle. Three hours later we pulled into the small port where we we're supposed to wait five hours for our bus. Nothing there but a place selling cheap rice and fried noodles to the crew of tourists waiting for the connecting train or bus.

There was not one person on our full bus that was not under the impression that the night ride to Bangkok was to take off at 9pm. We were all a little surprised when we were called aboard a couple hours early. Its not like we wanted to stay there because it was so great, we were only worried about arriving in Bangkok too early. Minor fears realized, but getting into Bangkok at 3:30 am sunday morning is not that bad. A block away from the drop off point we found ourselves in a very traveler friendly establishment that Asiana scoped out weeks earlier. It stores luggage and lets travelers sleep on their cushions, free internet, serves drink and food. Perfect place to use as home base for the twenty hours we had to kill in Thailand's capital.
We were joined by a French girl who travels the world working at various SCUBA shops as in instructor. She worked at the outfit we dove with in Ko Tao. Not only was she a fun person to spend the day with, we also got some great downloads on diving around the world. The three of us ran around Bangkok doing all the last minute shopping. All the stuff we wanted, but didn't want to carry it around. Now we can bring it all home.

We were walking through the airport like the living dead. Exhausted from such a long day with no sleep and trying to stay awake to catch a 1am flight. As soon as we climbed on the plane we were out. Only awoken by the sunrising over Beijing as we came in to land.

The Beijing airport from which we spent ten hours starting this journey feels just the same. We feel different. That adventure is behind us. We are quiet, still tired, not ordering bloody mary's now, just some coffee. It always seems like the return trip takes longer.

I have run out of books to read. I am running out of things to write about. This journey is running out of time. The next journey is going to begin. It may be more familiar, but it will be with family and friends and I am looking forward to it. It's all a journey - just a different chapter - new blog.


Traveling with Asiana

As this trip comes to a close, I thought I'd give a quick mention about my partner and travel partner, Asiana. Like in the rest of life, we travel quite beautifully together. It's not always easy in the chaos of movement to be graceful all the time. I think we did exceptionally well. We were both understanding and patient. We were always open minded about each others ideas, directions, and basic needs. Yet, since we are two different people we had to collaborate and sometimes even separate. I can't think of anybody I could make this journey with that could compare to Asiana. I am blessed to have such a good companion.

Thank you so much!


One of the best side affects of this journey for me is all the reading I enjoyed. It seems like I move through books slowly at home. A full day of reading a computer screen and then getting to work my way through less inspiring material, like Data Warehousing Concepts keeps me from getting around to the literature I want to read. The book I want to read sits by the bed. At the end of the day I open it, read a page, fall asleep.

It was such a luxury to work my way through novel after novel. Books I wanted to read. Of course I read plenty pieces from Lonely Planet about each area we visited. I read most of that before leaving or on the planes. Not so ironically I read a lot a quasi-travel books varying greatly in humor and approach. I few of them I downloaded, others I ran across at guest houses, or found at book exchanges. Once the Kindle died, I ended up going back to paperback.

I probably made my way through books in three months that would take me three years to finish.

Lost on Planet China
A Cook's Tour
Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?
Sex Lives of Cannibals
Heart of Darkness
Shopping for Buddhas

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Beer Tour

Everest - Nepal
Kingfisher - India
Angkor - Cambodia
Tiger - Vietnam
BeerLao - Laos
Batang - Indonesia
Chang - Thailand

Friday, March 4, 2011

Sleeping Under the Stars

The stars were bright with the moon hidden by the earth. It was our last night in a real bed and we spent much of it on the beach, watching the sky, drifting in and out of sleep. Listening to the insects shake their moraccas excitedly and water rushing over the sand. A couple shooting stars. Big Ocean, Big Sky, Big Universe!

One of the best ways to celebrate the new moon is to appreciate the stars that she revealed - how much more of the universe she has allowed us to view just by sleeping in the shadow.

Location:Ko Tao Thailand