The good, the bad and the ugly of Indonesia.
Random paragraphs to read:
The amount of organic and raw food restaurants and cafés here in Ubud blows my mind. They aren't crazy cheap but they are most defiantly cheaper then what these cafés would cost to eat at in America. I've had some traditional Indonesian food and street food but now I seem to be on a health food kick. I know I'm about to REALLY enter the land of rice and noodles as I fly to Thailand soon. My thought process is that I should enjoy this clean healthy food while I have it. The fresh blended juices are incredible! Young coconut water, fresh squeezed juices, smoothies all for $1.50 to $4.
I wish I could bring all this home with me for the same price I get them for in Ubud.
I am missing meat when I eat at these places but it'll be back in my diet before I know it.
A vegetarian German friend of mine wrote me last night from Thailand. She said she missed Bali as it's hard for her to find just veggies in Thailand. Meat and fish come with almost everything there.
Garbage and just overall waste here in Indonesia is an interesting issue. They burn their garbage. It used to be all organic matter that they would burn but then like everywhere else, artificial materials started being introduced. Plastic and glass bottles as well as plastic bags for example. So they burn this now as well. Not everything gets burned though. I haven't seem a lot of garbage burning during my stay here but I've seen it enough to know that this is how they dispose of waste. A lot of the waste ends up in their streams and on the roads and sidewalks.
It doesn't help that you can't drink the water in Indonesia so people are always buying bottled water.
There are a few places trying to make a green difference but I've only seen a handful and they are in Ubud. Places that offer for you to refill your water bottle from their big jug for a small price. Or instead of giving you a plastic straw with your drink you may get a bamboo straw, a glass straw or even a straw made from papaya stalk. There aren't enough of these places to make a difference... Yet!
On the topic of garbage and leading into their way of building, I just witnessed a man dump a bucket of rock onto a path. The path is just outside my home stay and the guy is a builder working on a building close by my place. He was apparently clearing the land near the new building by picking up chunks of concrete and wood and other debris. I watched him as he dumped the bucket and then strategically placed
Animals are a sad subject. The cats and dogs that I see are mostly maul nourished. Their ribs show and a lot of them look thirsty. A lot of them have their heads in garbage piles trying to find food. There's been a night or 2 when I've walked back to my accommodations after midnight. I walked down the street and there's small packs of dogs that have pulled garbage into the street. They rummage thru it and walk around barking making me question if I will be attacked by a Bali dog. Rabies is no bueno! But in the end if you just keep your distance from them they stay away.
The horses on the Gili islands that pull the small carriages with tourists are a soar sight. There are a few good looking ones but overall their skin is rubbed raw where the harnesses lay against them. They are thirsty and probbably overworked. I saw a horse panting and shaking one night, I found the owner/ driver and told him I thought his horse needed water. He strongly disagreed with me, telling me his horse was fine and practically shooed me off. I voiced this via text to my dad and he was right to say, you might as well give up because you won't make a difference on your own.
Before Pia left us she showed me a website she stumbled across. It was for a zoo in Indonesia, which island I'm not sure. I don't care to search for the name of it again but I will tell you PITA tried to shut them down. I'm not sure why they were unsuccessful as I would have been in full support of their closure. From the pictures of the animals I saw online, let me just say I've never seen a black bear, tiger, or giraffe look as awful as these did. I didn't know it was possible!
There is a strong cleansing/ yoga/ spiritual way in Indonesia, of both expats and natives. It's soothing to witness and sometimes even to be a part of it. There is a strong yoga presence in Ubud and on Gili T. there is a strong Muslim presence with the call to prayer being heard through out the island everyday at at 5am, afternoon and the evening.
Certain areas are not as green and lush as I had expected. There's much more commercialism here then I expected. However one of my favorite parts of Bali is being in a car driving somewhere. Anywhere. It allows us to get out of the main areas and see the less tourist areas. These are the more lush areas I had imagined, often there is garbage laying around these areas but it's definitely more of what I expected. UBud was not at all how I imagined but it has managed to hold my attention for a few weeks now. I pictured more foliage and less shops, less traffic. There's beautiful pockets of serene areas within UBud but you really have to seek them out.
More commercialism then expected. The Indonesians really need to take a few selling tips from the western culture.
**When a customer walks into your product area, give them time to look. Let them get a feel for what you are selling.
My goodness!!! I can't tell you how turned off I get, friends included when it's, buy! buy! buy! from the Balinese. It's so annoying! They have so many yet so few different selling tactics but they are all frustrating. Their ways of pushy selling and the humidity are an awful combination!
Here are a few examples of things I hear from the street merchants:
When they see me wearing a sarong: "sarong? You want one more? You buy one more? Yes? They nice, one more? How much you pay? I give you same price!" "For good luck!"
When I stop to take a picture of rice paddies, a lady calls me down a few steps to take pictures closer.
Her: "Where you from?" Me: "America" her: "oh America... I like America, good people. You like this?" She pulls a foam plumaria hair clip out, quickly flashes it in front of me before putting it in my hair!
I take it out of my hair and hand it back to her.
Her: "I give you good price, you buy from me, good price!" Me: "I have no money, I don't want it, thank you." Her (pointing to Shasta): "she have money."
You get the point! It just makes you want to pull your hair out sometimes!
The prices aren't so cheap, at least to start with. It's as if they expect the westerners to come pay the bigger prices so they have marked things up. It's a bit aggravating but with a lot of patience and some knowledge of bartering you can't get the prices lower. Heck! I bartered for a 1500ml bottle of water in a circle K a few nights ago! I never thought I'd see that happen! They were asking $.61 for a bottle of water when I had seen the same bottle a day before for $.35 so I told them no and worked them down. I told them I wasn't buying otherwise. They basically ended up saying, well okay, maybe this our last one at this price so you can have it for less.
When you walk down the streets you constantly hear, "Taxi?" Get used to it because there's loads of taxi drivers offering you their services and it can become as frustrating as hearing the street merchants trying to sell you another sarong! I've watched a few friends almost lose it with the street merchants AND the taxi drivers. Sometimes making a game out of it is the best way to deal. Just laugh it off. Tell them no thank you as you continue to walk on by.
The beggars are a sad sight. I've only seen them in Ubud and they are mothers with small children. It hurts my heart to see them with babies laying on the hard sidewalk asleep next to them. It also really makes me wonder what their story is and why I never see men on the streets begging? It's always women with children.
I found out quickly that many Balinese speak English here but I seem to keep forgetting that they only speak so much. Usually only enough English to sell whatever it is that they are selling. I was loosing them in conversation, often until It was brought to my attention that I use to many words when talking with them and then they don't understand. So I've made a point of trying to be simpler with my words.
More Americans need to travel, bottom line!
During my time away from the states, Ive noticed there are hardly any Americans out here exploring and educating themselves. This was true years ago when I found myself in Canada, Mexico and Europe and still, nothing has changed.
There is a big difference in culture with Americans vs... well basically the rest of the world! Other countries encourage their kids to get out there and travel after high school and college. Where as the majority of Americans tell their kids after high school to go to college and then they tell them to get a job. There is so much to see and learn from the world first hand. This is as important of an education as college is, sounds crazy but it's true!
Pool crashing has been fun and a necessity in Bali. It's so stinkin humid that I've become hooked on wearing my swimsuit almost everyday with a sarong over the top, even when I'm as far inland as Ubud. This is for 2 reasons, 1 is i never know when ill stumble across a pool to jump into and 2 it's easier to hand wash my swimsuit after being sweaty then it is to wash my regular clothes. I've crashed some good pools, and it's SO nice! The refreshing feeling I get coming up from under the water after that first jump... I can't describe it! These aren't home pools either, they are usually at small hotels. When people discover me I simply tell them I'm waiting for a friend who is staying there. That's usually all it takes for them to leave me alone. I taught Shasta how to pool crash a few days ago, I suppose I'm a bad influence. She needed a good cool off though and she thanked me later.
Alain came back to Ubud to visit and brought a friend from Canggu, Bali Crossfit with him. Michael is from Southern California and traveling for an unknown amount of time. He has a theme to his trip and a sort of business plan that really seems to be taking off! It's called WOD the World. For those non crossfiters WOD means workout of the day. Michael and Alain rented motor bikes to come to Ubud. I sold them both on renting rooms at our home stay and also talked them into driving Shasta and I around on their bikes. This is what I call, getting warmed up to motor bike - driving.
It was fun, a true adventure but also crazy scary! People are insane drivers here! I'm not really sure how to describe it well enough for a visual.
How about this: on a one way road motor bikes can go the opposite direction, if they want. They aren't supposed to but they can.
I think I may be ready to rent my own now but I could be alright without renting either.
There's actually been talk of a small group of us meeting in SE Asia, buying motor bikes and touring Vietnam, Laos and Thailand together and doing Cambodia on foot. That plan is still being worked out though, it may not happen.
I organized a driving tour with Wyan (our home stay owner) yesterday. We paid him $8.68 each to drive the 4 of us around yesterday to points of interest outside of Ubud. We went to a picturesque rice terrace area, (another!) a holy water temple, coffee plantation (my 3rd), and then lunch at a local Warung (means kitchen & more importantly to me it means cheap and traditional).
Then we went to the elephant caves which we walked to the entrance of and then turned around. We were put off by what a tourist trap it was. On the way to our final destination I caught sight of a possible cock fight happening along side the road. I had Wyan pull over. The locals were welcoming, thank goodness! They even allowed us to take pictures - cockfighting is illegal in Bali but it still happens and they pay the cops off if they come.
Turned out to be more of a cocks in training session and not a true fight but it was interesting to see, regardless.
And finally we ended at a huge waterfall that we were hoping to swim beneath but it was to gross! When we returned back to Ubud Michael and Alain headed back to Canggu. Shasta and I are headed there in a few days.
Can you see how dirty the water is at the bottom of the fall?
I'm suddenly reminded of a little thing called MSG! For whatever reason it has felt like that is something that doesn't exist anymore. I remember seeing a sign somewhere in Bali that said "no MSG" and I thought nothing more. Then Shasta bought a container of seaweed flavored Pringles (just to try the unique flavor) and as we were almost finished with the can she thought to read the ingredients. One of the first things was MSG. Awesome! We tossed them in the trash.
I'm so much more aware of my food, again.
Is it possible that Asians have fogy minds from all the MSG in their food!? Because apparently they use it in everything! Something to ponder.
I really miss drinking tap water! Being able to just fill up my water bottle whenever I want and to be able to brush my teeth without a bottle of water. This will be the longest amount of time I have gone in my life without freely using tap water. It starts in Bali and it'll end a few months from now. Walking to the circle k every night for a bottle of water on my way "home" is becoming a habit OR is it more of a chore?
I received an email from Burgerville the other day (don't judge me!) announcing that it's fresh strawberry season! Oh yes, yet another thing I'm missing out on fresh strawberry smoothies! I hope someone reading this post has one in my honor! :) let me know if you do!
Fresh Strawberry smoothies made me think of my other favorite Pdx stop... salt and straw (why are you still judging me!?). I'm missing my monthly visit to try the seasonal flavors. I'll admit I got on their website this month to see the current flavors I was missing. Perhaps that's pathetic to some of you but I support local business with great ingredients! Even if it is ice cream. :)
I had live tropical porridge last night as my dinner/desert, in lieu of salt and straw and Burgerville. I went with the super healthy option.
Wyan told me if I wanted to swim in a pool I could go down the lane to Inah Inn and swim at their home stay. So the day before yesterday Alain, Michael and I went swimming there. As we were leaving the staff saw us and asked where we were staying. I told them and mentioned that Wyan said it was okay. They asked what we were paying to stay there and after responding they told me if I paid $5 more I could come there to swim!
The unfortunate part is that I have referred several people to them AND the place I'm currently staying at. However they don't speak or understand good enough English for me to inform them of this. In the states I could explain that to them and they'd probably let me come back. Again, FRUSTRATING!
Well thats all my thoughts for this posting. Have a good rest of your day, whatever time it is for you. Where ever you are in the world.