Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Kuching Kristmas

Had a terrific couple of weeks with JB in Ubud. A nice balance of work and play. Through Cat Wheeler we met Gede, who drove us anywhere we needed to go. He is the instigator of the Bali Project Fund, which supports families and children in Gede's home village in East Bali. JB and I each bought a piglet from the mother of our masseuse, Nyoman. In about a month, they'll be old enough to be separated from their mother. They'll go to women in the village who can raise litters for sale from them when they are old enough. Nyoman is a real sweetie. We went to her village and met her parents (rice farmers), brother Ketut (a wood carver), sister-in-law and toddler niece. She came to see us off on our last morning and gave us each a gift of a handwoven shawl.

The food and fruit/nut milk drinks on offer in Ubud are a reason on their own to spend time there.

We spent a day with Gede driving north to Kintamani to see Lake Batur, Mt Batur and Besakih, the Mother Temple, but were defeated by the rain. On returning to Ubud we chanced upon a huge double cremation ceremony just near Cat and Gede's street. I saw a cremation back in 1978. It was serendipitous that we saw the procession just as we arrived back in town.

Another day we went down to Kuta to see the Bali bombings memorial and to check out Jimbaran and Seminyak. We found ourselves back there on another day after aborting a visit to Nusa Dua at the invitation of the Peninsula Resort. If you're visiting Bali and are asked to fill in a survey, and are then offered a free holiday as a thank you for doing so, yes, it's a scam!

JB had a few early salsa dance lessons at Cafe Havana with the delightful and cheeky Karma ("Shurre") and dance sensation Made. We got to ride a couple of times in the '63 red Chevvy that ferries patrons to and from the club.

The Jazz Cafe was welcoming, with a waiter called "Good Looking".

On the second-last day we met an English guy, Justin, who has spent a few weeks recently in Sulawesi. I've been getting pointers from the universe about Sulawesi, so I bought a map and spent an hour with Justin at Bali Buddha taking notes. He is an architect, and his father is a painter based in Thailand.

Had dinner at Siam Sally, Laughing Buddha and Cafe des Artistes with Cat, whose book is being reissued under a new name and with new cover art.

I've booked a week back at Tegal Sari for next June, on my way back to Oz.

On Wednesday I flew up to Kuching. Called in to see Emily on Thursday morning, and had dinner with her, Rita, Rita's daughters Kah-Yee and Kah-Ling (Bebe), Emily's brother Darroll (back from Florida for Christmas) and a couple of others at a steamboat place. Emily earlier gave me a drawing she had done for me, showing my aura as a runner. I was really impressed by her drawings when I saw them back in June. She tried for some months to do the one for me but couldn't get it right, she said ... until she got back from Sri Baba's ashram in India. She then drew it in one day.

On Thursday I also called into Artrageously Ong to see Ramsay and Narong. Narong is always painting; Ramsay is always talking, as he has so many visitors. I met Lesley and Aiden there, a retired couple from England who now live in Kuching. Last night I was invited to dinner at Michael Lim's house, where I visited in June. Moses picked me up and dropped me off. He's a real sweetie, and is Michael and Ramsay's #1 man. Talked with David, a teacher, who I met in June, and with Stephanie, who has known Michael and Ramsay since they were children. A good long talk with Ram. Others there were Vivian and Jessie, and Michael's sister.

I'm staying at Batik Boutique Hotel, where I had my farewell dinner in June. It's in a great location and I love the decor. Jackie (into hiking and climbing) is the director. Hafiz, who picked me up from the airport, is studying marketing and uses the textbook I'm currently working on! Fiza (Hafiza) is into cake decorating. Other staff are Kenny, Jake, Raj, Lily and Mas (Mastura).

Today is Christmas Day. I'll be spending it working on the marketing textbook. My Christmas present is the fact that I can travel the world and meet wonderful people while doing my work. Thank you :-))))

Friday, December 10, 2010

Uber-groovy Ubud

I had a bit of a last-minute panic in Hong Kong a week ago when my laptop died without warning. I was lucky to find an Apple Store nearby and within three hours all my files had been transferred over to a new 17" MacBook Pro. The hiccup meant I didn't get to catch up with my friend Nicola. A day or so earlier I'd had a drink with Cathy H-F, who had finished the daunting MacLehose Trailwalker event the previous weekend.

Really enjoying Ubud with my pal from Oz, JB. I'm in full-time work mode, but we go out for our meals and are treating ourselves to spa treatments. I've had a manicure, pedicure, foot reflexology, facial, and three massages, two with flower baths and a papaya body wrap. All very indulgent.

We caught up with writer Cat Wheeler for dinner on Wednesday at Siam Sally. (I met Cat in May.) Went to her house yesterday for JB to have a Reiki session with Cat, who is also a Reiki Master. Her dog Hamish followed us to Juice Ja (shown here) where we had lunch, then he tootled off home afterwards. Last night Cat spoke and read from her book about Ubud at the Bar Luna Lit Club night. JB and I had dinner afterwards at Cafe Havana.

Our stay has coincided with Galungan Day. Activities extend for about 10 days. Lots of processions and noise, and the temples are all freshly decorated.

The villa where I'm staying at Tegal Sari is gorgeous. JB comes to use the pool and to have massages in the pavilion in my garden from Nyoman from Sang Spa. I also had one with her this morning.

Heading out to a reggae place tonight.