Saying Goodbye

Our last day in Bali was, purposely chill, though we both woke up earlier than we expected considering the previous night of partying!

We had our last Nasi Goreng breakfast. Stir fried rice and vegetables with a fried egg on top. Actually we’ve had Nasi Goreng for MANY meals here! It’s a safe bet. We saw a T-shirt that said “Peace, love and Nasi Goreng” that would be appropriate for us.

Lunch down the cliff a bit with John, Sue, Chris and Drew. There was Nasi Goreng and Bintang involved. And a view of about 25 surfers trying to catch big waves (25 feet?) below us.

Packing took most of the afternoon. At 4:30 we said a tearful (me) goodbye to John and Sue. The rest of us walked 15 min to the Ulu Cliff House to have drinks and dinner while the sun set. Sherly and Chris hosted a lovely dinner for John and I, Drew (who I have loved talking to),Sara and Collin, Steff and Phil. The best sunset was saved for our last night!

Don’t lean against the glass!

This must be healthy, right?

When I ordered red snapper, by golly I got the whole red snapper!

And now we are landing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to switch to a flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Another currency to figure out!

A new adventure awaits!

Bintang and a Wedding

(Written on flight from Bali to Siem Reap. Catching up on posts for several days. )

In effort to remain healthy we have not been drinking local water or brushing our teeth with it. Where I normally I would choose water to accompany a meal I now choose a local beer – Bintang. I’m not normally a beer drinker but it sure tastes good on these hot and humid days. John, too, loves him a Bintang and has the t shirt to prove it.

We gathered at the glass walled chapel just down the path from our rooms a little before 5.

We loved that John and Sue put us in the front row with them for the ceremony. Monkeys were climbing all around the chapel until a grounds keeper shooed them all away.

Traditional bouquets of mixed white flowers were attached to each row of aisle seats (for the love of God, someone is giving themselves a manicure in a nearby seat and it really stinks). The altar had three small arrangements of white flowers. The center aisle was a carpet of white rose petals that we all carefully avoided crushing on the way to our seats. Even the bridesmaids cautiously avoided them. Not so the groom and groomsmen!

John, just before the service started, whispered “I don’t think you should take any pictures.” I agreed since i wasn’t familiar with Muslim custom and didn’t know if it was appropriate.

Sherly entered in a gorgeous mermaid style ( I think) that was very difficult to walk in. We all held our breath as she maneuvered the steps. Her long veil swept up many of the aisle rose petals. I have to say I wish I had gotten a picture of the rose petals gathered under the veil. It looked so soft and delicate, like a gauzy lens.

So here’s the picture taking deal: as soon as the bride entered the door her entire side started popping up to take pictures. There were three photographers on the floor in front of our seats. I figured at that point anything goes and whipped out my phone! Steff was right behind us in an aisle seat and got the best pix.

The bridesmaids all wore dresses of the same color of dusky lavender but they each chose their own style. Sherly’s sister wore a matching head scarf. Sherly’s family is Muslim and several of the female relatives wore traditional garb. The more liberal friends of Sherly (her squad) all wore gray gowns (they weren’t bridesmaids).

Guest apparel ranged from lace dresses to khaki pants or shorts for the men. The groom and groomsmen wore custom made gray suits with white open collar shirts.

The MOG and MOB had similar fabric used for their wedding finery. Sherly had them custom made.

(Hack, hack from middle seat. Oh I hope it’s not contagious!)

The ceremony was in English and Indonesian (though I think it’s called Bahasa.) Rings were exchanged, documents were signed. All the guests exited first so we could shower the bridal couple with rose petals as the came down the chapel steps.

The reception with a “live BBQ” seafood dinner was held poolside. The whole area looked magical with flowered candle rings floating in the pool, twinkly lights in the trees,market lights strung over the tables, white banners fluttering in the breeze coming off the Indian Ocean. All this and a spectacular crimson, yellow and orange sunset. Live music with excellent singers sang pop standards, Sherly’s sister sang a couple of songs for the couple. The thing I was hoping happened. The bride is an Indonesian pop singer quite well known. We’ve seen bits and pieces of her shows on YouTube, but what a treat when she sang a live song to Chris. Her voice is beautiful and her stage presence charming.

Steff and cousin Drew:

Niece Sara and fiancé Collin.

A DJ kicked in for the after party and he had our family up and dancing all night. So much fun. Sue whispered to me that she was so hot she felt like jumping in the pool. And then she and my brother John did! It was quite spectacular and everybody loved it! I wonder what trick they have in store for Sara and Collin’s October wedding!

John and Sue make a splash.

Soaking wet Sue.

We were so fortunate to be here for this joyful family gathering full of love and smiles and laughter. And an opportunity to make new friends from another culture.

Will catch again tomorrow!

Last Days in Bali

Last days in Bali

The evening before the wedding Sherry’s family hosted a home cooked dinner at the villa where they were staying. About 1.5 hours away. This was for immediate family so Steff, Phil, John and I planned a dinner outing at Jimbaran beach. That afternoon I wasn’t feeling well after a fish n chips lunch so I elected to skip that excursion. The others took off with reliable Budi.

John said that on arrival in the beach town it appeared that only shacks selling seafood, and not many of them, lined one side of the street.

Budi turned the car into a narrow dark alley and John was a little uncomfortable. We had had an “alley event” in Beijing one time and he was having flashbacks.

They reached a very crowded parking lot then walked through one of the storefronts which they now realized was the front of a dining spot on the beach. Tables crammed as far as you could see, down to edge of the water. As the tide rose tables had to be moved back. Here are photos from that adventure where they had a huge seafood dinner served family style. Quite a variety of fish and shellfish piled on the table.

While they were out I spent the evening on our bed in our villa. Very thankful I came prepared with a variety of OTC intestinal disturbance drugs! My brother calls it “Bali Belly.” The day before my niece had to take a trip to the hospital in Nusa Dua with an asthma episode and upper respiratory infection. Nephew Drew went along to translate. He is a brilliant linguist, in addition to being a writer. The hospital/clinic was in the Western people’s hotel area and, actually run by Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Sara said it was very clean, efficient, with knowledgeable medical staff.

That same night as the beach dinner there were preparations going on for the new moon festival. There is a Hindu temple on the. Resort grounds. White garbed men sat cross legged on the ground in front of the Temple chanting and softly ringing bells for hours. It was a soothing sound to me as they blessed the temple in preparation for the upcoming holiday. At some point women and children in beautiful white lace tops accented with bright yellow came to the temple, too. (I asked before I took their picture. )

Oh crap. I’m writing this on an Air Asia flight to Kuala Lumpur and it suddenly got very rough. Hope my Uncle Chin’s chicken and rice meal stays put.

Between John and I sits a man with a hacking cough and a gas issue. Dear God I wish I had a mask!

Will cover wedding day in a separate post. You may have seen the gazillion pix on FB!

Back after turbulence ends.

Most Treacherous Adventure

Saturday (your Friday) John and I and Steff and Phil had Budi for a good part of the day. He was excited to show us as much of this part of Bali as he could. The landscape.has changed to desert-ish dry land from wet thick green rainforest. We are living on a cliff rising from the Indian Ocean.

This morning the waves below are high and strong.

The surfers wait in the sand. Only two brave enough to venture out. This is where I’m planted until my 11:00 massage.

Back to yesterday.

Our first stop was Uluwatu Temple. Steps up, steps down and lots of aggressive monkeys waiting to steal anything shiny. Kept hats, glasses and water bottles hidden in pockets.

First the sarong. Love this color.

Monkey

Most of the Chinese tourists ignore the “monkey rules” and attempt to take selfies with the monkeys. We saw a monkey come up and grab the phone from a hand and scamper away into the brush. Bye bye phone!

Next Budi wanted to show us the hidden beach. We drove to a remote spot and found stairs that went down down down. Down down. Many stories of stairs. Here’s what was at the bottom that made the descent so worth it.

Truly I thought I would not make it back up. It took a loooong time and I stopped every 8-10 steps to sit down and stop shaking. At one sit down Budi yelled “Monkey, monkey, move it! He’s got an enemy chasing him!” Fastest I’d moved yet, scrambling up a couple of flights before turning around to check for my attacker. Gone, phew! Particularly long recovery after that exertion! But so proud that I did it.

We stopped at a “secret beach” next. A new highway has just been built and the surrounding land hasn’t been developed yet so this beach is pretty unknown, for now

We headed to the other (east) side of the peninsula to Nusa Dua resort area where all the big western hotel chains (Marriott, Hyatt, etc) have resorts. It looks very Palm Beachy.

Back to our private pool for a soak and a nap and delightful dinner hosted by John and Sue.

Chris and Sherly ⬆️

Closing out yesterday. Here is what’s going on right now in front of me.

https://videos.files.wordpress.com/GUwv2g46/img_1559.mov

Oops. The wedding photo opp parade begins:

On to my Balinese massage. YAY!

Arts and Crafts Day

We said goodbye to Ubud on Friday and traveled south with Budi at the wheel. We had said we wanted to see some arts and crafts on the way to Uluwatu and, boy, did we. Each village along the way had a different speciality that had been in families for generations.

This wood shop had some creative works and some very large and heavy mahogany furniture. If you’ve been to Washburn Imports on Orange Ave you know what I’m talking about.

Weaving through hundreds of motorcycles, we next stopped at a silver place. Nothing tempted me. The motorcycles seem to have no traffic rules. They swerve in and out of the traffic like Shriners on mini bikes in a parade. It appears that car drivers ignore them and the bikes find their way any way they can. We drove all day, from coast to coast and never had a traffic signal.

A few other stops:

A basket place

And an art gallery

We arrived at Blue Point Bay at Uluwatu in mid afternoon to meet up with lots of family and the bride and groom. This resort is a popular place for Chinese couples to book a time to have wedding pictures taken around the infinity pool. They have set routines and poses. Doesn’t matter that guests are relaxing in the pool area. Here’s a photo of my niece Sara who was just sitting in her lounge chair when a bride dramatically posed in front of her. None of them were married here. Just a photo opportunity they pay for. They are lined up and staged all day.

The day ended with my brother and sister in law (John and Sue) hosting a dinner everyone who had arrived so far. So great to see Steff and Phil here, and my niece Sara and fiancé Collin, and my nephew Drew who just wrapped up a year in Manila on a State Dept Fulbright Scholarship .

We were thrilled to find upon check in that the wedding planner had us upgraded to a cliff side villa with private pool and big back yard.

That’s day one at Blue Point. Today still needs to be blogged about but I am exhausted from a very full day of sightseeing with Budi and making the most difficult climb of my life. I feel so proud of myself for pushing through it with Steff’s encouragement. Tomorrow I’ll post about it.

We ended the evening with John and Sue hosting a dinner for all who are here so far (16 of us) — and to celebrate bride Sherly’s birthday.

Good night!

The Money Problem

Usually I can figure out the money in a new country I’m visiting. But these Indonesian RPs have me confounded. One dollar is worth approximately 14,000 RP. Nothing is a dollar, though that hasn’t stopped me from trying to buy something for 14,000 RP. There are these cute small crossbody basket handbags which I believe are seen in fashion magazines. My goal was to try to buy one for $4 or 5. I have succeeded in getting lower than $8. But stayed stubborn and didn’t purchase. My brother says I must leave the seller happy and don’t worry about a dollar here and there. I agree now, after have my method fail me this morning.

These RPs can stuff your wallet fatter to about an inch beyond its normal expected expansion. And I’m only carrying $30 worth. Himself likes to dole the money out in small doses so I can’t go crazy buying brightly painted wood Balinese chicken carvings, or a pair of elephant print rayon balloon pants.

We hit this market today. Inside the walled part it is beyond hot, smoky with incense, smelling of BO from around the world. Outside was much less claustrophobic.

Backing up a bit – woke up this morning to cloudy skies and slight rain. Hot as Florida but the humidity seems much worse. In Florida when it’s hot and humid I do not go trekking a hill ridge. In addition to to heat and humidity the rocky muddy paths were very slippery. I’m looking forward to laundering my khaki capris that took it on the butt. After landing on my ass in the mud Budi would not let go of me the rest of the two miles. The hike on a ridge above the river gave a real view of the lush countryside.

Sue is very fit and scrambles on with ease. John and I both felt our age but so happy to have this adventure!

Our travel guide book mentioned another good spot to view the river valley. It was a place Budi was not familiar with, but with stops for directions and a wrong turn or two, and traffic obstacles such as this motor scooter carrying rocking horses,

we had coffee on a terrace overlooking the valley.

View:

Back into Ubud for a quick look at the 11th century royal palace.

Found a cute lunch place for chicken and rice, and beer. Sue says we may start clucking soon. It is just a “safe bet” food. Another beverage choice is watermelon juice.

John and I headed back to the hotel for a lazy afternoon. We are good until about 2:00 and then crave a lie-down and some time to wring out our clothes.My hair after these excursions is totally wet. Because there is “product” in it, it also stands up and out in stiff little spikes. Not my best look.

Dinner tonight was at Three Monkeys restaurant recommended by a friend. Lovely setting outdoors on the edge of a small rice paddy. Two for one cocktails and grilled snapper for dinner. Ready to grab taxi home at 9 pm.

It has been a wonderful few days in Ubud with John and Sue. We don’t see each other often, but when we do we make great memories!

Tomorrow we drive a few hours south to Uluwatu, the resort venue where the wedding is next week. Will meet up with Steff and Phil who arrive around midnight tonight. It will be a real change of scenery in the surfing area of Bali.

Falling asleep to rainforest sounds…

Countryside Wandering

As planned, our awesome driver Budi picked us up at eight to begin our exploration. I really wanted to see the rice terraces. On the way, we found this guy drying rice on tarp before the product is sent on to be de-husked.

We were warned about Luwat coffee. The process begins with a special cat who eats the beans, passes them through his digestive tract and then poops them out. The pooped beans are collected, cleaned and ground for cat poop coffee. I swear I have unknowingly had this coffee at a 7-11.

Stopped at a glass blowing “factory” – shed – and watched the makings of unique bowls and pitchers that conform to a piece of tree root.

So now we already need another suitcase to carry our fragile purchases.

We decided we needed to see only one Hindu temple today. Bali is 90% Hindu. The rest of Indonesia is a Muslin majority.

This temple is the Holy Water temple from the 11th century. A most lovely place where people were praying. Not too many tourists.

First we were required to don sarongs. John not thrilled to wear a “dress.”

This pool below is for praying. At each water pipe a person prays, rinses their head and moves to the next. Maybe like rosary beads. It looked peaceful and COOL.

We passed by a koi pond and then exited through the gift shop!

Now we are starving. So off we go to a 7-11ish eating spot that Budi recommended. He hit the nail on the head. We were able to get a spread of simple food and icy beers. What ya gotta do when you don’t drink the local water. Fried rice with an egg on top, chicken wings with tumeric, (which is the spice of choice here), and chicken satay. Very, very good!

Now exhausted, we headed back to our beautiful resort for a long afternoon nap. View from balcony.

Budi picked us up again to drive us to dinner. We had hoped to eat at Three Monkeys recommended by Richard Arrendale but neither my brother nor Budi could find it. Ended up at a lovely spot for al fresco dining. Nice breeze, good wine, and more chicken for me. I like to stick to food I can recognize.

My Lemongrass Ginger martini was excellent and fun to watch!

Do you like my brother asking if he should order wine? A question that never needs to be asked because the answer is always the same.

Our after dinner stroll took us right to the Three Monkeys restaurant that we couldn’t find earlier. Reservation made for tomorrow night!

It’s so much fun being here with John and Sue and to have a terrific driver who “knows things”.

Time to sleep. Fun day!

First Impressions

Expecting to be supremely exhausted tonight, I am surprised to be wide awake at 9:30 pm Bali time. This lovely bed awaits when my eyes get droopy.

My brother John and sister in law Sue surprised us at the Singapore airport so we could all fly the last leg together.

We were coming off a 12 hour flight from Manchester UK. It turned out to be the best leg of the trip. With 12 hours there is time to settle in and feel at home in our little pods. Beds not bad.

Arrival in Denpasar, Bali uncomplicated and our drivers were waiting for us. It took 3 cars to haul to 4 of us the hour and 20 minutes to Ubud with about 10 pieces of luggage. Very narrow roads through villages with a Hindu temple on every block and motor scooters surrounding us like escorts.

The hotel is in a jungly location with the sounds of a waterfall not far away. There’s no clear path to the waterfall, and fearing scary Balinese critters, we choose to just enjoy the splashing from our balcony.

Lovely suite with a giant footed tub that I can’t wait to soak in. Candles and marches provided and I’ve got a stash of People magazines I brought along.

There is a photo opp every few steps. At dusk, after a short nap, we headed out walking up the road to a dinner spot my brother scopes out. Cute bar for mojitos then out to the deceleration overlooking the tropical landscape for dinner. But so many photos to take on the way there and back.

Love this creative spelling.

The airport grounds:

Ubud is 90% Hindu, unlike the rest of Muslim majority Indonesia.

Above is the pathway to our room.

Tomorrow we look forward to exploring the countryside with our driver Budi. I have so many questions for him! Sue has a massage in the afternoon and I see a chaise lounge with my name on it!

So happy to be here to celebrate Chris and Sheryl’s wedding next week !

Good night!

Tuesday at Retreat

Day Two at Elder Camp (aka Quilt Retreat) is crispy bacon day. The people who fix our food lure us to the large stone dining hall in the morning with the smell of country bacon. How lucky are we to spend four nights in a cabin in the Georgia woods with three meals a day laid before us? Country cookin’ for sure: fried chicken (twice so far), fried okra, French Fries, homemade mashed potatoes, apple cobbler, sweeeeeeeet tea.

This is the 18th year our group has met for a week long retreat in March. In a good year there can be as many as 18 of us here. As we age the numbers fluctuate and diminish. Two of the group have passed away and every year there are new health issues among us.

We seem to have had more than our share of cancers. More than half of us have suffered one cancer or another. Parts have been replaced. Husbands died. Divorces happened leaving 60 year old women to start a new life they never intended. But this is a support group that can lift you over any barrier or pot hole.

One thing hasn’t changed and that is the essential need we all have to let go of the “stuff” in our lives for just one week. We laugh heartily – some more heartily than others, share stories, gripe, sometimes laugh til we cry, or just cry.

Sure we get bitchy. Never can find music we can agree on. Or it’s too hot or too cold. Somebody’s crabby because it’s Wednesday and project panic has set it. So and so is feeling bloated. Most of us can’t sleep well. Pool the sleep aids. Pick your fave.

When we first started retreating we all quilted. Now it’s fun to look around the room and see the other directions some of the creativity has gone.

Pam doesn’t even bring fabric anymore. She has branched out with watercolors and is an accomplished potter. If we’re lucky she brings pieces we can buy. Look at this painting of a snake she made for her grandson who is obsessed with copperheads. Pretty scary sitting next to her!

Libby enjoys making complicated quilts that require her to do this before cutting fabric. Scary sitting next to her, too.

Edie, who is our Margarita Queen, works on authentic looking Harry Potter costumes for her grandkids. Fortunately, tiny Becky’s just the right size to be the model for a Griffindor cape.

I haven’t quilted much recently but this year I dug out some old fabric and stitched up this cheerful little quilt just for the heck of it. Also enjoying some mid morning and mid afternoon naps without being asked if I feel okay!

Crispy cold but sunny weather makes walking back and forth from cabin to lodge a nice break from our basement workroom.

These are the creations of what I call The Real Quilters. The women who plan each fabric, each placement, each design. Compare to my quilt above. Clearly, I have more time to drink wine so I’m not complaining. Somebody else’s turn in the drinking chair tonight:

I think I want this pimped out sewing machine.

Day Two in the books. Is there stuff going on in the world I should know about? If so I hope it saves until Saturday. Meanwhile, I’ll party on.

Memories – Photographs or Folk Tales?

I think a lot about writing my story.  One time I actually started a Life Story using Creative Memories digital story book software – a product they removed – along with the photo/storybook I’d made.  I’d only written up to 1981 when I got stuck on how to include my divorce.  Stopped me cold because to write the truth would not be an appropriate reveal for my particular audience (read: kids and grandkids).

Recently I enrolled in a “Writing your Life Story” course for seniors at Rollins College.

[Side note: When I actually went to college in the early 60’s the going-to-class part was not a priority for me.  I was busy learning how to drink 3.2 beer and smoke Salems.  Friday nights were for learning all that, plus drinking games, at the Purity. Saturday classes?!  Seriously.]

The first homework from Old Farts college is to write about our earliest memory.  Turns out my earliest memory is probably not a memory at all, but a folk tale that my mother loved to tell.  It was about me as a toddler descending the stairs to where my parents were entertaining –  hands covering my rear end with all the other lower parts open to plain view by the 20-something partiers.  It isn’t really a memory because I can’t picture it from my point of view.  The story in my head is more of a film because I am always viewing myself from the bottom of the stairs.

Skipping school when I was in Kindergarten is, I think, my earliest memory. Probably remembered because this adventure took place in winter in Rome, NY with a couple feet of snow on the ground. Why my mother let me walk to school alone, several blocks, in freezing weather, I have no idea. I got to the front step of the small brick two story building and decided I was too old for Kindergarten nap time, turned around and walked home.  In that 20 minutes or so my mother had left our apartment and the door was locked.  I spent the morning in a cold stairwell, curled up in front of the door, knowing the Wrath of Meg would soon descend.  THAT is a memory.  I can remember trudging through the snow, passing the crossing guard who never questioned my trip.  I remember being alone in the stairwell, shivering from cold and fear.  I don’t remember the consequence for this action, but it most likely involved some spanking “when my father got home.”

Photographs get imprinted in my mind as memories.  In the photo below:  I do remember the cellar door at 40 Parker St, Carlisle, PA in the background.  You could get a mean splinter sliding down the wood.  The boy – no clue.  My coat – made by my Grandma Galt.

ann cellar door

The rabbit in this photo. No memory. But I do remember (hearing?) that my Grandpa Galt once got me a de-skunked skunk for a pet.  His name was Sweet William. But, nope, no rabbit memory.

bunny

I don’t remember this slide adventure.  You’d think I would because I look like my life is about to end as my father forces me down the shiny aluminum.

slide1947

And the last photo for this writing shows a dog of which I have no memory.  From the same time period I do remember being part of a University of Delaware tv show.  Cutting food with a knife; my first time ever.  We didn’t even have tv so I’m not sure what audience they were trying to reach.

puppy

It’s a pleasant journey to go through old photos and try to remember the stories they bring to mind – whether a true memory or a folk tale.