Suji Bungalow pool

Traditional dance

Ducks in rice paddies

April 2, 2001 (58-days)

Apa Kabar? (*How are you?)

In my travels through Indonesia the diverse culture and the size of the country surprised me. The maximum 60-day visa is definitely not enough time to explore all of the islands. I pushed it right to the limit and only saw Bali, Java and two smaller islands: Nusa Lembongan and Gili Trawangan.

I spent the majority of my time in Bali and it didn't take long to develop a true appreciation for the people and culture. When I first arrived I headed straight for Kuta to chill in the tropical paradise. I enrolled in surf school. I spent my mornings in the waves and relaxed with a massage at the pool in the afternoons. It was heaven.

Near the beach and on the street, life is much crazier. People try to sell you watches, sarongs, or "braid your hair." I was in the grocery store and my change was short. When I questioned the clerk she pointed to a sign that said, "Lollies given for small change" and pointed to a few candies in my bag. Imagine that happening in the U.S. Too funny! At first I thought it was bizarre, now I like getting the candy.

The point came where I needed to decide whether I was going to surf for 60-days or explore the rest of the country and take in the culture. Fortunately I had a rough day surfing in a rainstorm, which must be a bit like snowboarding in a blizzard. I felt like I was ship wrecked. The waves were pounding over my head and I felt like I was in a washing machine. I got my butt kicked. This encouraged me to hang up the surfboard for a little while and move on to Ubud.

Ubud is a relaxed village filled with Balinese art, dance and music. The monsters in the art remind me of "Where the Wild Things Are." The dance is quite beautiful with the intense eye and hand movements. The music is rhythmic and a bit tribal at times.

I had a beautiful bungalow with a great view. In the mornings I would watch the ducks walking single file through the rice paddies as I enjoyed a banana pancake, homemade bread and tropical fruit from my deck. Papaya, banana and pineapple were common, but I made it a mission to find: durian, snake skin, mangosteen and rambutan. Mangosteen is divine.

next page  >>