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Originally, our plans did not include Bali. Hubby talked about taking us to the mountainous regions of Bandung. So, I was not prepared or packed for Bali at all.  Well, I suppose, even if I did pack a swimsuit, I wouldn’t really have taken a dip in the ocean because we didn’t really have that much time and neither my dad or my stepmom really swim. (Stepmom is really afraid of water.)

Nonetheless, I was just happy to have gone! I do admit to having a little pity party syndrome in that we only went for 2.5 days — not enough in my book! At least this way, I can convince the hubs that I need to go back again in the future.

Our trip (flight, hotel and driver) was generously and graciously arranged by hubby’s sister. We stayed at the lovely Bali Dynasty Resort in South Kuta and hired a driver to chauffeur us around the island.

Upon our arrival, our first stop after a visit to the U.S. Consulate’s office regarding my stepmom’s passport “problem” was a non-Chinese meal. We were all happy for the change in cuisine and dined one some super Indonesian and Balinese food.

Tanah Lot

Afterwards, our driver took us to watch the sunset at Tanah Lot, a rock formation on which a centuries-old Balinese temple sits. Tourists and visitors are only allowed access up to the ocean temple after they have been annointed and purified. I didn’t make it up there since the line was really long and I was the only one who could cross the waters to Tanah Lot. (Both dad and Helman had open sores on their feet and stepmom didn’t want to cross the water.) Instead, I observed others getting purified, played at the base of the rock formation, and took some self-portraits. Luckily, my klutziness was kept at bay and I did not slip on the slippery rocks with the evening tide at my knees as I crossed the waters.

Sunset at Tanah Lot

After my frolic in the water and getting my capri pants totally wet (I didn’t hike them up enough), we walked up to a cliff area and sat at one of the cafes for some drinks and to watch the sunset.

I snapped away as the sun set. No matter how many photos I snapped, I still cannot capture the allure of the whole experience.  How do you capture 360 degrees of color changes around you as you inhale the warm ocean air and listen to the symphony of crashing waves?

Nothing can compare to the actual experience, but I did snap enough photos to remind me of the trip and to show the progression of the entire sunset, shown below in 2 composites and in chronological order.

Composition 1: Sunset progression at Tanah Lot, Bali, Indonesia

The first 6 images on the second composite were taken with the zoom lens.

Composition 2: Sunset progression at Tanah Lot, Bali, Indonesia

After the intoxicating sunset, we had not intended on stopping in the market area designed to allure tourists.  However, this large and scary critter caught our eye:

Yep, a large and ugly bat. I’ve only seen tiny and less intimidating fruit bats. This one by comparison is ginormous. The bat-owner was letting the bat climb on him and had the bat on display for tips.  Eww. Gave me the heebie-jeebies.

Luckily, our day did not end with the bat. We found another delightful Balinese restaurant and ordered up some local cuisine. Since hubby is “local” (relatively speaking), he ordered for us and we ate every. single. morsel.  Nom. Nom. Nom.

Indonesian food in L.A. is no comparison. In fact, I don’t think I’ll eat Indonesian food in L.A. ever again – it’s always too salty, greasy and contains too much MSG. It’s like saying Panda Express serves real Chinese food.

pping in the market area designed to allure tourists.  However, this large and scary critter caught our eye:

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My main purpose for going to Indonesia was to visit my in-laws with my dad and stepmom. We met my hubby in Jakarta. (I left first to Taiwan and flew from Taipei to Jakarta with my dad and stepmom, who flew there from Houston, Texas.) Quite a global journey, eh?

Bribes

We almost couldn’t get out of the airport upon arriving. I don’t want to go into too many details in such a public forum, but we were sent from one official to another for a “problem” with my stepmom’s passport. Since Indonesia does not have a great record when it comes to corruption, we suspected that all those officers wanted bribes and when we didn’t give them anything, they sent us to their “boss” and so forth. I really didn’t know how to give a bribe, nor did we want to offend anyone who was ethical by offering. I did communicated with the officer in English and hinted that we’d be open to giving him a bribe by asking if we needed to pay a fine. i think because we were women and a bit dense about all that bribery stuff, they let us go after a 2 hour cat-mouse game…I guess they got bored too. Besides, how to you slip money for a bribe? I am not that slick. According to many Indonesian residents, police and other personnel expect bribes and some of their actions are designed to solicit bribes. Lately, the government has been cracking down on that practice, so the officer probably was not bold enough to ask for one directly or respond to my question about a “fine.”

Afraid that we may encounter additional problems upon exiting, we did visit the U.S. Counsel in Bali, who inspected my stepmom’s passport and informed us that there was nothing wrong with it and all her passport pages were okay. We had no other problems and a pleasant experience after the airport incident.

Jakarta

The city of Jakarta is very urban, crowded, polluted and dirty.  The dispartity between socio-economic status is quite remarkable and wide.  My in-laws don’t really get out much and there are areas in the city that they felt were not very safe to venture into, so we mostly were limited to perusing giant urban malls.  All the malls and higher-end neighborhoods have lots of security personnel that check cars and purses for bombs and other dangerous items. However, the inconsistency in which all the checks were conducted does not really make one feel any safer.

Everywhere you drive, there are street vendors that walk between the cars selling everything from statues, water, fruit and snacks.

Other than visiting family and people-watching, I don’t find Jakarta particularly interesting.  I’m sure there are great foods and other finds there, but my FIL and MIL only eat Chinese food. Some of the restaurants we went to didn’t even have good Chinese food, especially the over-priced restaurant that served a tiny and scary-looking piglet (which I did not eat at all) and an overcooked lobster.

One thing that I did enjoy in Indonesia, whether in Jakarta or on the island of Bali, is the all the yummy tropical fruits. The 2 fruits indigenous to the archipelago of which I don’t like at all are durian and salak (also, snakefruit).

My favorites are rambutan, mangos, papaya, coconut (fresh ripe ones only) and mangosteen.

The photos above show the following, from Right to Left, starting with the top row:
1. Rambutan, star fruit  or carambola and banana; 2. Salak or snake fruit; 3. Mango juice; 4. Duku or lansa; 5. Pink Guava juice; 6. Salak or snake fruit; 7. banana, star fruit or carambola, and papaya; 8. papaya juice; 9. Mangosteen; 10. Duku or lansa; 11. Mango; 12. Coconut; 13. Jack fruit and rambutan; 14.  Mangosteen; 15. fresh Lime soda

While I love fruit and veggies, one thing that I did not want to try was this:

No Eggplant juice for me!

Dad, stepmom, MIL, FIL

Next post: Bali!!!!

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Contrary to what I thought, I actually have not had time to really upload and organize the bazillion photos I’ve taken, let alone sit down to write a blog post.

Here’s a peek at what I’ve done and seen so far, in no particular order….

Saw lots of cute monkeys at the Sacred Monkey Forest, Bali, Indonesia

Watched artisans make traditional batik. Bali, Indonesia

View from my hotel balcony. Sun Moon lake, Taiwan

Endured charted tour bus karaoke, albeit from a talented and fun bunch (my godparents' family & friends)

sunset at Tanah Lot where an ocean temple is located. Bali, Indonesia

Ate fresh and sweet mangosteen in Indonesia

Went to a few night markets, including this one, Taiwan's largest and most famous: Shilin Night Market in Taipei

And eating some delicious treats at the night market.

Nusa Dua beach area, taken from cliff off a mini peninsula. Bali, Indonesia

Wading through the shallow waters at Nusa Dua beach, Bali, Indonesia

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Festivities

Laura’s Birthday

Last Thursday was my friend Laura’s birthday. To celebrate, my knitting group and I went to the fabulous El Cholo near my house. It’s not the same as the original one in L.A. that I used to go to when I worked up there, but the food and service does satisfy my food cravings plenty enough. The extra wonderful think about El Choloe is to order a nice libation to go with your food, such as the pomegranate margarita! Yum!!

I didn’t get my new camera settings right, so I only managed to get 2 pictures of Laura and her giant birthday sombrero.

Company Holiday Party

The next nght, Friday, Mr. CD and I went to his company holiday party held at Downtown Disney at the House of Blues.  Since he started working there, for some reason or another, I haven’t been able to make it to their holiday parties until now.   I was interesting…as interesting as it can get when it’s not your friends and colleagues.  The most interesting part is that they have a fairly talented company president that plays the piano very well.  Part of their annual holiday party features the president playing the piano and singing songs parodying their company and employees.  It was certainly entertaining.  It was also a plus (for me) that there was an open bar.   I’ve only worked for nonprofits with small budgets and we don’t have parties like that, especially not with an open bar.  At one point during the dinner, while people were giving speeches and raffling off prizes (we didn’t win any), I did wish that I could multi-task and knit, even though it’d be socially inappropriate. You know how we knitters like to multi-task and bring our knitting everywhere.

I didn’t think to ask someone to take our photos, which was a bummer because I was wearing a nice dress, but here’s a self-portrait:

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