E-mail Update - 2005-07-03

Swastikas and Scooters

Selamat Malam (Good Evening in Indonesian),

Currently in Ubud, Bali for those scoring at home or even for those who are alone (old school Sportscenter).

Ok I left off with June 25, which could also be called the laziest day of my life :) I woke up at 8am to go check on Bela after the night before where he had gotten very sick. He was a little better but not in breakfast shape so I went by myself. There I talked to the leader of our 2 day tour who said that it was canceled because there was only 2 of us.
I let Bela know this & he just went back to sleep. I decided to get some rest because I was still tired from the Australia trip, not to mention the 4 hours of sleep the night before. However, the rest of the day turned into one big sleeping & reading fest. I decided to re-read the Da Vinci Code which I had first red in Australia. I did venture out to buy water & got to the Internet, but that was the extent of my days activities :)
Pretty thrilling isn't it ;)

Sunday, June 26 was much more action packed as it became the day where I planned the rest of my Bali trip & my Kuta shopping day. The shopping was an adventure all its own. I got home exhausted after all the dealing. I came away with 2 pairs of “Oakley” sunglasses, 1 Billabong shirt, 1 Bintang shirt & a Nike Wallet for about $13 USD (130,000 rupiah).
Although I was offered pants, wooden carvings, perfume, cologne, sarongs, porn, massages, watches, dvd's, cd's & transport to name a few. It was a rather educational & tiring trip. The only really bad thing was I got hit by one guy who was mad because I didn't buy his product. It wasn't hard & was in the back, so I just kept walking. I decided it probably wouldn't matter who started it staring from the inside of a Bali jail. It is funny because other than instant anger that was the other though in my mind.
Please know that this was the total exception. People touch you here a lot but it is mainly trying to drag you in the shop & they are totally peaceful. I also did a lot of research on DVD's which you can get here for about $1 each. However, I am not sure if I could send them home, so didn't buy any. A funny thing about Bali is that there is about 7 type of shops & they all offer almost exactly the same thing. I think people would figure out if you have 200 competitors selling the same t-shirts (not kidding about the 200), you would be better to open a different stand type. But that doesn't seem to happen. There are different type of shops in different cities, but within the city it looks very similar (Ubud has the most diversity from what I have seen so far). Anyways I went back to the hotel & read more from my book before going to sleep.

Monday, June 27 was the day of my first ever white-water rafting trip!
Also Bela had went home in the morning so the only person I knew here was gone. The transport for the trip picked me up at 10am for the afternoon trip. There were two other girls from Malaysia going, but I am pretty sure they were lesbians & seemed to prefer not talking to me, so it felt like I was by myself. The ride there was mildly interesting as I got to see some nice scenery & seen scooter dodging in and out of traffic, but you are in cities for most of the drive until the very end, which was very beautiful.

When we got there we were met by several people. There are always more people “working” in a place than needed here because labor is so cheap & most people do not work very hard. To get down to the raft was 450 steep steps (yep that many to get back up at the end as well). Although it was a nice walk & I got to know the guide a little. He was from the Kings caste (4 caste of people in Bali – Priests, Kings, Farmers, Laborers – in that order). Although the caste system is not really used that much anymore. Interesting, people from the priests caste have a totally different language than normal people. Anyways after a few pictures were in the raft with our life jackets & helmets on, paddles in hand heading towards some rocks. It is a grade 2-3 (medium) river this time of year (grade 5 in the wet season). We did get stuck a few times & I was tired when we got done paddling, but it is nothing to life threatening or strenuous. The worst part was that I got stung by a bee, which ended up making my hand hurt (yep right where I had to use the paddle of course).
But it was not a huge deal & luckily I didn't get to sick being miles away from a hospital. By that night you could not even see where I was stung.
I used to be very allergic to bee stings so I was a little worried about it at first. The great part of the trip was the incredible scenery & talking to the guide. He was 19 & did this 2 times a day so he knew right where to go. We got to talk all about how things were in Bali & Indonesia. I learned more in the 2 hour trip than I had up to that point in the trip.

After we were done we got a buffet lunch & a drink before the return ride home. I had the van drop me off at the Internet Cafe so I could send out updates, then returned home to finish up the book I had started 2 days earlier, plus pack for my 2 days trip which would leave the next day.

Tuesday was the first day of the 2 day trip that I had signed up for through the hotel. It cost me about $75, which included a nights stay in a Bali 5-Star hotel (about 2-3 stars back home). The trip of course did not leave on time, hotel organized trips never do, but it was only about 30 minutes late. We took 4 vans for the 20 some people that went. I was the only non-Aussie, and by far the oldest. The nice thing was that I met a nice Australian girl (Laura) who was actually interesting to talk to (most were party people around 18-20). I would also meet 2 other guys who were good to talk to & spent most of my time with these 3 people. The first day of the trip included stops at the monkey forest (where I got a picture with a monkey on my head) & got to see an impressive forest.
Before going in there Grumpy had give us a basic Balinese way of thinking talk. Here people think of things in groups of 2. Men/women, sky/earth, pretty/ugly. They also think that things that are bad must once again become good. That is why he explained that he had a necklace of a swastika & that you would see it around Bali (which I had) . The people here do not dispute that it was a bad sign in the past, but they feel it has been bad to long & know must be good (2 sides). It was an interesting talk that also covered things like why people from Bali can be so poor & so happy at the same time & differences in culture. It was mainly a comparison to Australia, but it applied to back home to. After the monkey forest we caught some lunch, which is also were I started talking to Danny & Dave to 2 cool guys I had mentioned before. After lunch we headed to a huge lake where you could do water sports, but I just chose to look around the shops. Then we went to a temple where Grumpy explained more about Balinese religion. We also got to see huge pythons, mongoose, iguanas & bats, although I declined having any pictures taken with them :) After that we headed to the waterfall which was my favorite part of the trip. I had a boy from the village who walked with me & pointed out tons of things for me & DIDN'T try to sell me anything :) I learned what so many plants looked like & learned about the local culture as well. After that we went to the hotel & I got my own room, since I was the only person traveling by themselves. One of the channels on the TV was in English so I watched a little CNN Asia before going to the pool. At the pool I had a good talk with Dave & Danny before we got out buffet supper. We also saw 2 different Balinese dancers which was cool. Then the drinking games started, which were clearly setup for 19 year old Australians, so I decided to call it an early night.

Ok folks that is all the time I have,...the next update will the second day & info about the last four days I spent scuba diving, which was great

Take Care, Safe Travels & Peace!