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Archive for August, 2011

Tough Decision

After being invited to a traditional wedding ceremony at the village of Tenganan..which lives exactly how it has for hundreds of years..I had to politely decline.

The traveling, experience-crazed part of me was screaming “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! GOOOO!” Followed by “You’re missing out on a once in a lifetime opportunity” “You’re being rude” “Maybe you’re just scared of going outside of your comfort zone,” etc…

But, my conscious self, which I am learning to listen to more and more..while blocking out the other, obnoxiously loud version sometimes referred to as the egoic self..knew the right thing to do was to respectfully decline.

I couldn’t justify invading a private ceremony in a culture that has been preserved for so long. I felt as though I’d be adding to the commercialization of their village. Finding a group such as theirs in the modern day world is quite rare. They are going far enough by opening the gates of their village to allow tourists to walk through, see their homes, and buy their handicrafts. They do have to earn some sort of income afterall in modern society.

I explained this to my friend who introduced me to the woman who invited me, and he happily agreed to relay the message. Although I would have liked to seen the ceremony, I would love even more if their culture stays preserved for as long as possible before succumbing to cookie-cutter tourism and modern-day monotony.

I have, however, been invited back in the next 3 to 6 months, to live in the village and teach the village children English. Although this goes towards changing their culture, the children do need to learn English to survive..sad fact as it is..it is still fact. I can, during this time, live the way these villagers live..learn their ways..and be a part of their society for however long they so graciously decide to accept me. In that time, if there are ceremonies, of course I will attend..

But as a common tourist..I had to make the decision to forego an otherwise enlightening and no doubt beautiful experience…for now.

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Candidasa

While still in Southern Bali, I stopped a local tours stand and decided to pick my next destination. I looked at a map and saw the name Candidasa on the Eastern coast. For whatever reason the name called out to me, and I knew I had to go. I booked the shuttle for the following morning knowing nothing about the location.

After a 3 hour shuttle through the winding, jungle roads of Bali, I finally arrived at my small, one street, seaside town. I was dropped off on the one and only road and set off to look for lodgings. I found one guest house..private room..pool..and amazing view of the sea for a little less that $12 US a night. Not only that, but I found a guide at the same time to take me to a traditional village, local market, and hidden beach for just $20 US the next day. I thought this was decent price for an entire day, 3 stops, and a local guide/driver.

My first day here was just lazy, hanging by the pool, going down to the beach, and reading. I had a delicious traditional Balinese dinner for less than $5 US..and retired early. This morning, I started my journey at 8 am and headed to the traditional Balinese village called Tenganan.

The people of this village live just as the did hundreds of years ago. The make everything from the natural resources around them and make beautiful handicrafts to provide an income. I found out that they grow almost everything..so the money is used for building houses for men who just marry, on land they already own. They have very strict rules about outsiders marrying in or villagers marrying out. Only a handful of times, outsiders have actually stayed in the village..but they are allowed in every day for a short walk around..as I did today.

Upon walking around, I went into one of the villagers houses to see the clothes she had made. I found, through translation from my guide, that she is a widow and her only daughter married outside of the village. Because of this, she had to pay a fine of 220,000 rupiahs or approx. $30 US to the village. This may not seem like a lot to you or I..but to her it was a lot..and the public shame even higher. She lives quietly now, in her home, alone..selling her handicrafts and performing her duties within the community. After talking to her for an hour, I was invited to a traditional wedding ceremony the following day (tomorrow) and there she will introduce and ask the head of the village if I can stay with her for a few days or even a few weeks..helping her sell her clothes and learning the ways of the village..There are no words to describe how I feel about that..for now I’m just grateful to attend the wedding ceremony. We’ll see how the rest falls into place.

The day was shaping up to be an excellent, unforgettable one. After leaving the village, my guide took me to a traditional market where I got to try local fruits and snacks..fried coconut and chile..fried long bean seed..a gelatinous black rice dessert served in a corn husk..to name a few. I liked the market, but it was a local one and I did feel a bit unwelcome there. Women were pushy and the stares could cut through you. I just smiled and enjoyed the experience and hospitality of its people.

Next was a scenic drive through winding roads, past rice terraces, the jungle, and small villages..down to the sea to a hidden beach called “white sand beach.” There are only about 5 locals restaurants here, no hotels or rooms, and a handful of beach chairs. The water was the clearest water I’ve ever seen. I felt like I was in Gilligan’s Island. The color slightly comparable to that of an electric blue lollipop.After some local noodles and veggies..an ice cold glass of fresh watermelon juice (my newest obsession)..I headed back to Candidasa for more lounging and reading.

Tonight there is some live, local music at my guest house..and then in the morning I will go to the traditional Balinese wedding..draped in Tenganan’s finest traditional wear. Wish me luck!

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Southern Bali

Coming to Bali has been an eye opener. I thought “Bali” was just a small little town..once upon a time a quiet place full of exotic culture and tiny little side streets filled with flowering bushes and vines..no turned into a major tourist attraction. Boy was I wrong..on most accounts!

Bali is actually an island..a rather large island in fact..with numerous different towns and villages, each with their own distinct little flavor. Southern Bali is in fact the place I just described..but other parts of Bali are still quite untouched and still have strong cultural ties and values in place.

My experience in Southern Bali..Seminyak to be exact..was as to be expected. I stayed in a quiet little hostel hidden amongst a myriad of other small little streets all leading to the bustling beach. At the beach you found row after row of beach chairs all topped with AirAsia.com umbrellas..being sold for 5 dollars a pop or more..also men selling kites and traditional paintings..bracelets and trinkets..beers and fruit. The usual.

I spent two nights there..the first of which I spent with two French guys I met on the plane. We checked into the same guest house and then went out to dinner together. The next  day I was already craving my alone time..too much “what do you want to do..? is this place okay? where do you want to go?”..ish..I needed traveling with them to realize that I need to do this trip alone. Since leaving them and heading to my current destination, Candidasa..my entire outlook has changed. I now just want a trip of culture, contemplation, quiet, reflection, meditation, reading, and learning the art to just ‘be’.

I needed the hustle and bustle of Southern Bali to realize I don’t want the typical backpacker drinking binge experience. I need more. And that lead me to Eastern Bali..more specifically Candidasa.

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Kuala Lumpur

To catch up on my blogging..

After Penang..I took a 5 hour bus ride to Kuala Lumpur. The bus dropped me and about 10 other people off in the middle of the street with no word as to where the H we were..

I asked two other girls if they wanted to grab a cab to Chinatown and the happily agreed. Our taxi driver was a bit intense..in that he only had one level to the volume of his voice.. SHOUTING! We were just a little stunned and giggling..but talking to him nonetheless.

Upon arrival I bid the girls farewell..found my hotel, and decided to go out for the day/night. I found that KL, like Penang, like Malaysia..was a bit expensive..oh how I miss duty-free alcohol in Langkawi.

All the same, I found a reggae bar and had a few drinks..met some guys from the UK..and before I knew it a bottle of tequila was bought and was waking up with a MASSIVE..I mean..MASSIVE hangover. I decided right then and there that was not how I wanted to spend my travels.

After a full day..I kid you not..24 hours in bed.. I woke up and deciding to be a productive traveler. I took the local bus to Batu Caves..just outside the city..climbed the 200 and some odd stairs to a Hindu temple in the middle of a giant cave. What a beauty that was..makes me realize all over again how many places in the world that are so beautiful and majestic that I’ve yet to lay my eyes on.

Also makes me realize Malaysia is HOT..good lord. Not hot hot..just so humid you sweat a lot and it makes you feel like its hot. Its a strange thing..but hey..I guess it gets all the toxins out.

Another day of quite reading, walking around the city, and meeting up with an old friend for good chats and cold beer followed..and then I was on my to Singapore..

No need to blog about that one..As soon as I got there I wasn’t feeling it at all..just something told me to move on..So, I booked the next flight out to Bali, Indonesia. It was a little more than I wanted to spend…but I have to say..thus far..its worth it.

More on that to come.. 😉

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Penang

After a 23 hour train ride from Bangkok to Butterworth, Malaysia..I couldn’t resist the urge to hop off at the transfer point and stay a day or 2 on the beach. That sounded much more appealing to me than another 9 hours on a train at that point.

I hopped on the 1.30 ferry and headed to the island of Penang. I didn’t realize it was such a big city on this little island..but where I ended up staying is definitely an urban area. I had NO idea where I was going to stay when I arrived because I didn’t plan on even stopping here..but the ladies I was sitting next to on the train were headed to the backpackers area of town and said I could tag along and check a few places out.

The backpackers part of town ended up being Chinatown/Little India and I found a simple room for 20 ringgit ($6) a night. The little old man who owns the guesthouse was so helpful and chatty..he even gave me free bananas when I checked in! =)

Where I'm Staying In Penang

After checking in, I decided to head to the beach of course. It was a half an hour away on the bus, unfortunately..but I made it..and in time to see a beautiful sunset. There’s something about a cold beer, the ocean, and sand at my feet that calms my soul like nothing else. After a couple of ice cold Tigers, I decided to head back to my hostel and check out the nice reggae bar conveniently located next to my guest house.. fate?

Another fated moment..I met some awesome people from San Luis Potosi, Mexico who just arrived for their year of exchange here. We ended up back at their apartment drinking tequila..eating chips & Valentinas..and listening to awesome Mexican beats..ahh..I felt at home!

Today..I decided to have a lazy day in Penang..get lost in Chinatown..literally..2 hours walking non-stop..hoping to see my street…but alas..I found it..

Now to pack..and off to Kuala Lumpur in the morning..

So long Penang..you’ve been fun!

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Then & Now

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I can honestly say..

I can honestly say..

I’ve been a great nanny

I’ve been a lazy nanny

I’ve been a strict nanny

I’ve been a fun nanny

I’ve taught a child her first word, steps, and how to eat on her own

I’ve given a child a foundation for her academic career ~At 19 months, Nadia knows the alphabet, phonetics for almost every letter, 1-10, colors, and shapes (even crescent, heart, star, diamond, and octagon!)..and also a handful of words in spanish!

I’ve learned about Thai culture

I’ve experienced Thai society

I’ve helped a cause

I’ve learned patience

I’ve learned the art of being humble

I’ve learned to be alone

I’ve made a difference.

Thank you Thailand..Art..Dr. Narandr..Grandma..Camillian Home..Pinky..Rin..Rin’s Family..Alison..Faisal..Nok…and most of all..NADIA! ❤

Its been a whirlwind of emotions, experiences, trials, joys, tears, and laughter..but I’m a stronger person because of it..and I can honestly say..

I’m completely and utterly content with my Thai experience.

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