Friday, November 30, 2007

Indo-Bali, Legian--get the kid a helmut!

I finished my dental treatments here...i had painful 2 root canals with crowns that needed completed..i paid $200 each (would probably be $1600 in the states each)..the dentist i went to has been here 25 years and services most all the people living here from EU, Au, USA, Japan, etc....he has a remarkable reputation and about 20 assistants that he delegates alot of the dental work to (Dr. Indra, Jl. Patimura 19 Denpasar - Bali Tel : (62 361) 222 445, 234 375).

Ive been stayin in Legian which is a busy place with tons of restaurants, salons, massage spas, stores, internet cafes, bars, is right by the beach basically, but it seems to be about 1 square mile.....being on the beach allows me to still get away from it all, but be very near all the action and entertainment and other travelors from around the world.....i can go sit down by the water and only hear the waves and not hear the traffic or noises of the city...i have rented a scooter for about $3/day that has a surfboard rack, so i go find surf each morning within 45minute scooter ride.....thousands of scooters on the roadways here...most families only own one scooter if they are lucky and their whole family of 3, 4, or 5 can be seen riding on one scooter all the time together, its cute....not wearing helmuts is not soo cute though....i bought a great helmut today and I bought my taxi driver a little helmut for his 8year old boy (about $8-$12 for a kid helmut!), his boy didn't have a helmut because they are too expensive on his salary of $50/month working 29 days a month....I am learning how the people here work soooo hard every day doing various jobs:taxi, server, security, selling retail etc...and they never can get ahead, never, never, never..because they already work 12 hours each day and never take a day off just to live there current lifestyle...We are sooooooo damn spoiled in our country of opportunities....if these people came over with their work ethic, they would probably all be multimillionaires.......they can't even get ahead or save $10 a month, but then again who says our way is better, maybe they are more fufilled and happy?......I took one 45year old taxi driver to the movie with me for his first time ever, and a movie is only $1.50 here (it was some lame movie with Laura croft in it) seemed he felt out of place in the fancy shopping mall and theatre...(there are tons of HIGH priced stores here in Bali, BIG BIG money places for tourists and the Wealthy indonesians (top 5% only probably) is easy to live here and spend Thousands of dollars each month with soo many things to buy and see and do for those that want to spend a ton....The daily lifestyle for me is getting more and more fun the more i learn about a different culture and continue to be more and more grateful for my gift of life....i must say, the Balinese are very family oriented and have an amazingly trusting culture.....the Hindu religion is soooo prominant here that I see ceremonies going on every day every where i look....i think this emmersion of religion in a culture keeps people more honest..crime is very very low here, different feeling then Central America.
I went out to eat dinner with two local Indonesian girls, they were very fun to chat with, both speak english well, they took me to a hip local joint...only friends though as they have boyfriends....i met them at the Lombok Triatholon i did nov/07..Delphi and Ratna.

Online Articles: "Don't you get lonely?"

"You are traveling alone. Don't you get lonely?"
People have made the mistaken, though logical, assumption that I wrote an article about loneliness, because I'm lonely. Sometimes, I do get lonely, but I wrote this article because I've been asked the above question a hundred times.
I'll start my answer with a true story - A week ago, I was sitting at a bar on the beach, alone. I was thinking about loneliness and scribbling the notes that would later become this article. Then, a hot Finnish blonde and her hot German redhead friend sat down on the barstools next to me. They tell me that their Mexican (hot brunette?) friend is on her way. I put away my notes. It was like the Charlie's Angels had joined me for a drink.
Unfortunately, the Charlie's Angels don't always appear to cheer you up. Traveling the world alone does sometimes get lonely. But it isn't that bad. When you get lonely you just retreat into a novel. The rewards of traveling alone certainly outweigh the occasional loneliness.
Oddly, the times that I feel the most lonely are in the most touristy cities. There are tons of people. Plenty of people speak English, but no one is excited to meet a tourist. The locals ignore you, or want to sell you something. The tourists are involved in their own activities and chat among their friends. Bangkok is like this. There are times that, I'll sit in a restaurant with 40 other tourists, but cannot find a way to join their conversations and will have no one to talk to. That's a lonely experience.
When you do get lonely, you rarely stay lonely for long. If you have a good book you can retreat into that for a while. Otherwise, your loneliness quickly overcomes any shyness and forces you to introduce yourself to strangers.
More often though, the problem isn't meeting people, but remembering all the names. Backpacker guesthouses are very social places. You walk in and almost immediately have a dozen new friends. The friendships tend to be brief and shallow. Only rarely do you make enduring friendships. The conversations get very repetitive: "Where are you from?", "How long have you been traveling?" It's not the same as hanging out with friends that you've had for years, but it is enough to keep you from feeling lonely.
Off the beaten path, you're actually rarely lonely. The few travelers stick together and help each other out. When you meet the other travelers in places like Indonesia and East Africa, there's an instant bond and an implied friendship.
Way off the beaten path there may be no tourists at all. You may not be able to speak a word of the local language. There may be no one for you to talk to. But way out there, I find that I'm completed sucked in by the adventures or struggles (depending on the day) of traveling. I'm busy absorbing the sights, the sounds, the smells around me. Thinking about being lonely rarely ever occurs to me.
Then there are places like Myanmar. All of the kids run out and shout "hello". All of the pretty girls smile and wave. It's very hard to feel lonely in a place like that. Way off the beaten path the locals tend to be most friendly. You don't need to speak their language to feel welcome.
Email also helps. The internet is there if I am ever feeling depressed (not often), or have a need to share a story. It's not the same as being in the same room with friends and family, but at least I can easily enough keep in touch with them.
I'm also often asked: "Why don't you travel with a friend?" The easiest answer to this, is that none of my friends have the motivation and nerve to travel for years through some of the more dangerous places of the world. Some of my friends have said that they're going to fly out and join me for a while, but none have yet. In part, that's my fault. I have a vague plan, but not a schedule. I never know when I'll be anywhere, so it's hard to catch up with me.
But, also I'm very happy traveling alone. I can live my life on a whim. I feel like staying in and reading a book today. I feel like climbing a mountain today. I feel like taking the night train to Budapest in search of a bagel. There's no debate or compromise. There's no effort in making a decision. The total freedom you have when traveling alone is amazing.

My 'office' on Ko ChangYou also meet many more people when you travel alone. First of all, loneliness is the instigator which forces you to introduce yourself to people where you ordinarily wouldn't. But, you're also more approachable when you're alone. Individuals and groups often invite you to join them. Ironically in places where I'm making lots of friends and having a great time, I meet couples who complain they feel lonely: "No one talks to us". People assume that couples want to be left alone, but they often end up feeling excluded.
So, that's it. I get lonely, but the loneliness isn't that bad. There is no question that I'm happier now, occasionally lonely on a beach in Zanzibar, than I was spending all day behind a desk.

This is me and my wonderful Nephew, Josson In October/07. He leapt into my arms at the airport to give a wonderful goodbye hug. I was heading for my departing flight to began my vagabonding journey to SE Asia.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Helmuts for Kids

I was riding with my taxi driver to the dentist in Denpasar and asking him random questions since he spoke english...i noticed many families on their motorbikes and the kids dont wear helmuts, but the parents do.....he said its not illegal for the kids to not wear helmuts, so parents dont purchase them because they are too expensive (about $8). So after the dentist, we stopped at helmut store, I needed a good one for myself and I bought his kid one too....he seemed soooo grateful and said thank you many times to me.......
I am getting some ideas on how we can help....keep posted.

motorbiking to surfspot, relaxing at beach warungs

The daily trips to the Bali surfspots are interesting on the many motorbikes and scooters on the road, seems like more then cars.
Explored a new spot for surfing today Serangon..i enjoyed seeing a new place....many warungs (little restaurants that sell drinks, fruit, rice, snacks, nasi campur, etc..), are on the beach in Serangon....i chose one to park my motor bike and eat 4 delicious mangos and 1 banana, then went surfing, then returned to relax on their chairs and sunprotected places to lay down and nap for a while and watch the waves and the surfers.
I saw a lady scrubing her pot down on the beach using sand and saltwater and thought about how we have to purchase s.o.s. pads to scour our pans at home in our domesticated inland life....its fun to notice the suttle differences in culture.
Heading to yoga at a place called Desa Seni, here in Bali, near Canguu.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

DC with friend pics

my first Blog, in Bali currently

Today I awoke at 5:20am and layed in bed as i thought whether to get up and go surfing, or sleep more. The surf is typically less crowded in the early ours and many times the waves are better also....i decided to get up. I stretched and did yoga for 10minutes as I usually do first thing upon arising to loosen up and get limber and awake. I but my surfboard in my scooter rack and off I went to check waves at Cangu, Bali (25minute morning fresh balmy air scooter ride, with less traffic).....i took a wrong turn but it paid off because i found big fresh ripe, sweet papaya slices at a morning market for 1000rupiahs (about 10cents).
After arriving at the beach I ate my papaya and contemplated surfing the waves i was looking at....i got tired and not inspired by what i was seeing, so i layed down on the beach next to a warm wall that blocked the morning air (which was about 75degrees, but i am a wimp lately and have become acclimated....most Balinese wear big coats on their motorbikes event at 85degrees, I can see that happening to me too).
After a 1.5hour drooling beach nap, I woke ready to surf....i was sweating by then and ready to get refreshed in the 82degree clear, blue away I went.
Lunch was at Bali Budha, a very eco friendly hip place in Cangu area...i got a huge organic salad, 20dates, 4mangos, 7small tomatos and had a fiest..then at two small bananas...this will hold me over for 5hours....
I got my hair buzzed off today, a crewcut!! feels great and fresh ($1).
looking forward to an nice evening sunset surfsession, followed by another amazing vegan restaurant i love, called "Earth Cafe".
I am working on getting some tshirts printed here that say 'FRIEND NOT FOOD', and have a pig on them.....i plan to sell them at a Health festival here in Bali on DEC. 15th.....The cost per shirt is about $5.50US, so I plan to sell for $8.50US, to make a little, but mostly to keep them very affordable...i want to see everyone who believes in this phrase wearing these shirts around the world!