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Posts Tagged ‘family’

Eyepatches & Eye Surgery

As if my sister didn’t have enough to worry about between her in an intense nurse-practioner program at Yale and her bf’s recent brain aneurysm and craniotomy, she recently had to be hospitalized for sudden and unusual vision loss in one of eyes. After a visit to the school’s acute care center, the ER, 2 nights at the hospital, an MRI, several tests and countless exams from doctors, optometrist, opthalamologists, neuro-opthalamologist and other specialists, she finally got a diagnosis of central serous chorioreinopathy (CSCR).

The good news is that she was able to get a diagnosis and it didn’t drag out for a long time. Further good news is that she doesn’t have multiple sclerosis, other neurological pathology or an autoimmune disorder. The bad news is that while her condition can be treatable, it may not always respond to treatment, and either way, her vision will never be the same again.

Until her eye improves to a point where her brain does not have too much trouble reconciling the disparity in images, she will have to wear an eyepatch whenever she reads or studies. Otherwise, she will suffer intense headaches and migraines. She had one so bad at the hospital that they had to administer her IV pain medication.

My sister is an artist by trade – a medical illustrator to be exact. She loves things like skulls, bones, anatomical things and other things that people might consider macabre. So, since she’ll have to wear an eyepatch, there’s no rule that it has to be boring black, right? Plus, I’m a knitting designer so I designed and knitted her some fun eyepatches: Skull-patch and Eye-patch (<– Ravelry project page links)

"Skull-patch" - this one is reversible, side 1.

"Skull-patch" - this one is reversible, side 1.

"Eye-patch" - I got carried away and made this one too big.

 

I got carried away with Eye-patch and made it waaaay too big. Thus, I had to perform “eye surgery” before I sent it off to my sister.  I didn’t get a chance to do a photo shoot of Eye-patch post-surgery, so I just did a self-portrait and the photos aren’t as nice. My sister is really excited about the patches. 🙂

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sis wearing her patches with her skeleton, Virgil, in the background

Stitches

Stitches West is Feb. 17-21, 2001 in Santa Clara, CA. I will be attending again this year, only I imagine it will be even more fun than last year’s. Not only will several of my friends from my knit group be there, I have made lots of new friends on Ravelry and Twitter since last year and am looking to meet them. Also, I will be spending some time at a couple of really wonderful booths: Anzula (#840) and Unwind Yarn (#1245).  Both booths will be carrying some of my patterns, particularly the ones from the Liberation collection. There will be samples at the booths for you to see in person. So, please stop by! I’d love to meet all of you and also I will try to give you and tips/help if you need.

At Anzula’s booth, you will see lots of fantastic yarns by owner/dyer Sabrina. She really has a create eye for color and has some really fantastic yarns.  At her booth will be samples of Barbara G. Walker and Alice Paul worked in Squishy (merino/cashmere/nylon). I’ll be at the booth on Friday 10-12, Saturday 2-4 and Sunday 10-11.

At Unwind Yarn’s booth, you will see samples of all the hats in the Liberation collection as well as Pacifica. Stephanie (owner) had all the samples worked up in another one of my favorite yarnie’s yarn: Sweet Georgia.  Felicia (owner/dyer) is truly an artist and has some of the richest hand-dyed colors around. She provided yarn support for my sample of Elizabeth Zimmermann. I will be at the Unwind booth on Saturday from 12-2. Traffic permitting, I will also attempt to be at the booth Thursday night at the student preview market opening.

If there’s any updates or changes to where I’ll be at Stitches, I’ll post them on Twitter (you can read the feeds on the sidebar of this blog) and on my Facebook page.

Liberation FB ad

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While it wasn’t always encouraged or a skill or talent that was prized by my immigrant family, I actually come from a family of artistic and crafty people. (I had the stereotypical immigrant parents that wanted me to achieve that Asian model minority myth and become a doctor, engineer or lawyer.) I wasn’t allowed to take art classes even though I really wanted to. So instead, I taught myself to sew and craft. I even made my own dresses and jewelry in high school. I loved those things so much better than calculus, which I sucked at, btw.

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In my recent trip back home to visit my dad, I taught him how to use a digital camera and how to get his photos onto his computer and Flickr. My dad has finally caught on and has begun to photograph and upload all his wonderful crafty and green thumb creations.

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My dad is a master gardener and manages to grow things in Texas that normally don’t grow in those climates. At one point he even had his own mini bamboo forest and harvested delicate bamboo shoots, which were so tasty and yummy. They taste 1000 times sweeter, better and more tender than any bamboo shoots you buy at your local Asian grocer. One of his gifts is the ability to grow super “magic” trees. Right now, he has a Frankenstein citrus tree that bears and abundance of 4 different fruits: Asian pommelo, tangerines, oranges (a super sweet Southeast Asian variety that has green skin, orange fruit) and lemon.

He also grows a myriad of other things, including veggies, other fruits and ornamental plants like gourds and bonsai. My dad also has a bougainvillea plant that has 4-5 different colors of flowers.

One of my dad’s other passions is growing gourds, both edible and ornamental. He mostly grows ornamental gourds though and throughout the years, he’s been making various gourd crafts! He paints, carves, polishes and grows them all himself. In recent years, he’s entered in Texas Gourd Festivals and has won an award each time!

Below are some photos from my dad’s Flickr:

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As per usual, I’m packing last minute. I’m headed for a long overdue trip home to the Houston area after being MIA for nearly 3 years. No worries, I am a good Asian daughter full of filial piety and have seen my dad and stepmom during this 3 year hiatus. I just haven’t been in Houston.
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One of my dilemmas when going on trips is not so much what clothes to bring or even what meds am I forgetting. Rather, I worry about what yarns to bring, because the earth might blow up if I have nothing to do or knit during down time. The funny thing is more often than not, as a indie desginer, I spend more time at home on the computer than knitting. Sometimes the only time I get to knit all week is at my knit nights.

Anyways, back to my packing. I generally am not considered a heavy packer. I’m a bit light, but not uber-light: I am vain and need to pack things like cosmetics too, unlike my sister who wears none (except eyeliner). I’m always afraid of not having a project, but each and every time, I never knit as much as I thought I would and I never use or even touch all the yarns I bring. I told myself that this time will be different.

Well, it is different. I’m bringing more yarn than ever!! I’m in the middle of doing proposals for a couple of potential projects, so I need to do lots of swatching and experimentation. I also need 1 or 2 quick-knit and/or mindless projects to work on on the plane or in the airport, as well as a larger project for downtime at the parental home. Oh, have I mentioned that I’ve committed myself to knit some things to donate for a Knit for the Cure event in less than a month? Yeah, I brought yarns for those potential projects too. And as if all that is not enough, I am getting some yarns sent to my dad’s house so that I can work on a new design for my Waterfall collection (you Pfeiffer Falls fans will love this collection!).

I also couldn’t decide what knitted garments to bring. I want to bring some especially since I plan to do some LYS hopping and will want to wear them when I go, right? In the end, I packed Eleanor Roosevelt, Septima Clark, Cocoon, Morgan, and a finished secret project (still haven’t decided whether to self-publish or submit somewhere).

Here’s what’s in my suitcase:

I didn’t pack sweaters, because I only have 3 samples of my patterns I can’t wear any of them. One is due to allergies, the other is because I look pregnant in it because my boobs are so big and it’s made to be less fitted, and the last one is in pieces (long story, but even if it weren’t, it’s not made in my size). I guess it’s pretty apparent that I need to knit samples of my sweater/cardigan patterns for myself! I’ve been putting it off because there’s not much need for sweaters for more than a short while here in Southern California. Also, all my relatives live in hot climates: Houston, Jakarta, Taiwan, so there’s little opportunity for me to wear sweaters. 😦

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Not the Way You’d Want to Hear About Such News

Social media and technology certainly has changed the way in which we all communicate. It has made life easier in a way, but in another way, it’s a bit dismal, IMO.  People aren’t relating face-to-face or voice-to-voice as much anymore. One of the negatives of this became very apparent this morning when I got a message through Facebook from one of my favorite paternal cousins (who loves in Australia) as a result of seeing this status message:

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Families are complex and I won’t go into the strange dynamics in my own family, but my sweet cousin did not know that my mom had passed and was shocked and saddened to find out through Facebook. She sent me a lovely message and asked me share what had happened.  I assumed she had heard through the grapevine, but at the same time I guess I’m not surprised that she did not hear about it from her dad. The paternal side of the family weren’t exactly fans of my mom or her side of the family for various reasons, some real, some simply rumor and hate-based.

Anyway, I never really expected or thought that I’d be writing a summary of events 5 years later. It’s a bit sad but in a sense slightly cathartic. I’ve written short blog posts on Mother’s day or on her birthday/anniversary of her passing, but I don’t think I’ve actually written about the finer details. This year, I didn’t plan a blog post and thought I’d just do it via Twitter or Facebook, but my cousin’s message and shock at just discovering the news changed that. Like I said, it was a bit hard to relive that, but in a way it’s slightly cathartic, so I suppose I’ll share the detailed story a bit more publicly.

My Mother

My mom was diagnosed with stage 3 endometrial cancer in August 2003 and she had emergency surgery to remove a tumor the size of a basketball from her uterus. She initially thought her symptoms were due to benign fibroids that she had for most of her life, but she later also ignored some symptoms, probably due to fear of the truth. (Lesson Ladies! Don’t ignore your suspicions.) I didn’t find out about her illness until 2 days before her scheduled emergency surgery because she made my aunt Katy (her younger sister) promise that she would not tell me or my sister about it because my mom didn’t want to interrupt our lives and have us worry.  My mom probably wouldn’t even have told my aunt had she not needed someone to take her to the hospital. (My sister was in San Francisco at the time and I was still a relative newlywed (May 2001) living in South Orange County and working in downtown Los Angeles in a public interest law firm and in the process of looking for a new house.)

My aunt disagreed with my mom, but my mom emotionally blackmailed her, saying that if Katy told us, my mom would not allow Aunt Katy to see her. So, my aunt circumvented her promise by telling their older brother (who I think was kept from knowing initially as well), who told his children, and then one of my cousins called and told me. It’s like a very un-fun version of the telephone game. I found out at work, tried unsuccessfully to keep my composure, but somehow managed to tell my boss the bad news. That evening, hubby found me last-minute airline tickets and I flew home to Houston in time to see her before she was to go into surgery. My mom was very surprised to see me and upset with my aunt for letting the cat out of the bag, but I knew that she was secretly relieved (and she later told me to0) that I was able to make it out there.

I don’t think finding out news like this can be anything but shocking. However, just as shocking and puzzling was the illness itself. She did not meet any of the risk factors for endometrial/ uterine cancer….She was not overweight, ate very healthy, mostly macrobiotic foods, was a vegetarian for 20 years and there was no family history or other potential causes. I maybe spent about a day wondering the every unanswered “why” question, but decided that it really wasn’t worth my time or energy to think about the whys of it all. It’s part of life. We all have trials and tribulations to endure. This was ours. It was bad, but it still could have been much worse.

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Me and mom on my wedding day in May 2001

While still working full-time jobs, my sister and I took turns flying back and forth from California to Houston to take care of our mom post-surgery and throughout her radiation and chemotherapy treatments. (I had racked up lots of frequent flyer miles!) My mom didn’t have insurance so we tried to get her Medicaid, but her type of cancer didn’t qualify and she had to be sick for 2 years before qualifying. Deep down I knew the chances were slim for her to have to wait and survive that long, but it’s not something one really thinks or want to dwell upon at the time. Luckily, she lived in a county where there’s a good public indigent program and the team of doctors at the public hospital and the hospice team were wonderful.

My mom’s initial chemo treatment was an aggressive one. The drug, if leaks out of the veins can corrode skin and organs. This is what gets pumped into the body to kill the cancer. After several months of chemo, mom decided that she couldn’t take it anymore and needed a break. A very educated friend of hers was also going through her own battle with breast cancer and told my mom about her pursuit of alternative routes of care. While my sister thought a self-proclaimed naturepath “doctor” was a total fraud (I checked up on him and he had a PhD in Physics, but is not a M.D., though his “patients” thought he was), we supported my mom’s desire to go this route. It was her body and her decision; we just did our best to support it and to try to get her to tell her oncologist the supplements she was taking. I flew her to my house, since the quack lives 20 min. away, and my sister and I sat there, listened and made faces at each other while he spouted things to my mom and her friend about things that seem medically sound on the surface, and he made it sound like he knew what he was talking about as if he were a physician. But if you actually listen and know a little bit about medicine, what he said/claimed is just a giant pile of SHIT with lots of contradictory medical info, even if you strip away his stupid claims.

Nonetheless, my sister and I kept our dissent to ourselves and I paid for the supplements that the quack “prescribed” her, because I think at this point, having hope for a cancer patient at this late stage in life is just as important as any treatment. I do think that my mom did suspect that he was stretching the truth, but she needed to try something else,whether she really believed his claims or not. (I later found out that some folks were filing a suit against the quack and the quack was trying to get support from his patients. He got none from me. He basically was claiming that he had cured patients of Epstein-Barr, Lupus, stomach cancer, among other things. What a fucking fraud! )

For Mom

I taught myself to knit from a terrible book while my mom was sick. This was my first completed project, which I made for her. There were no yarn shops around me so my only option was Michael's. This scarf was made out of Lion Brand Homespun. (my nose itches and I cringe just thinking about the yarn).

A few months and $2k+ later, my mom later decided that the treatment that the quack was recommending was also quite taxing and toxic and she couldn’t keep up with the regimen, so she stopped it. She decided to try traditional chemotherapy again, but asked the doctor for something that was not as strong as her first attempts at chemo. She did this for a little while, but it was unsuccessful and she really could not handle the drugs. A little thereafter, she was confirmed terminal, with secondary lung cancer, since the cancer had spread all over her body, and hospice care was set up. My mom was a simple person – she didn’t want any fanfare and wanted to die quietly and peacefully in her little townhouse.

I’ll never forget the sight and image of my mom towards those last few months. We weren’t sure how she hung on for so long…all the folks on the hospice team thought that she would have passed way before she actually did. Her pulse and blood pressure were almost nonexistent, and in such cases, patients would go comatose and die. That never happened to my mom. She was lucid and clear pretty much to the every end, albeit very very weak and lacking energy to talk/think. My mom was never a heavy person, she was about 5’1″ and probably around 110-115lbs when she was healthy. I don’t know how much she weighed in the end (70lbs?), but she literally had wasted away so much that she looked like one of those ice mummies. It’s really not the last sight or memory you want of a loved one. I could see and feel every bone on her body. I could see the well-defined space between the radius and ulna of her forearm. The only part of her body where you could not see a defined detail of bone was where her tumors had grown so large that she actually had a bit of a belly, and her misshapened left leg. The tumors blocked blood flow to her legs so she also had a very swollen left leg from the edema.

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I prefer to remember her as the beautiful fashionable lady in this photo.

My Mean Grandmother

While my mom was dying, my paternal grandfather “ah-gong” was also ill, especially since he was already in his 90s. My dad asked my sister and I to visit our grandparents in Taipei, Taiwan. I visited them about 1-2 times in Taiwan while my mom was sick and also went to ah-gong’s funeral. On once visit, my grandmother “ah-ma”, had pulled me aside to ask me about my sick mother. Ah-ma never really liked my mom and her side of the family for various reasons and her dislike was confirmed when my parents divorced. I thought that ah-ma would just ask me about it and be done with it. I didn’t expect any great words of wisdom. I was shocked in disbelief when ah-ma basically said “You know, your mom is sick because she and her family are bad people.” Her message to me basically was that my mom deserved to be on her deathbed.

I was very hurt by what ah-ma said, but at the time, I chose not to talk back to her about it. I just left the room. I also chose not to tell my dad or sister about it at the time. My dad was worried about us, ah-gong, ah-ma and the relationships with the rest of the family. I didn’t tell my stepmom right away either, because she wouldn’t have put up and would have told my grandmother off.  The reason I decided not to say anything is because what ah-ma said confirmed to me what I had suspected all along…that my grandmother was not right in her head. She probably never was, and my dad concurs.  I’m not a mental health professional by any means, but having worked and specialized in mental health advocacy and knowing her history of problems with all her interpersonal relationships, I think I can recognize these types of things moreso than other folks. I suspected that my grandmother may have had some sort of personality disorder, probably along the lines of borderline personality disorder or narcissist personality disorder.  Of course, I don’t know for sure, but I’m pretty sure that something was not right.

I mean, seriously, who in their right mind, would tell their granddaughter that her mother deserved to be dying and wasting away from cancer? Most people I know would not even think that or say that to their enemies. Not that she still had the right to say that to me in any situation, but I’ve never been disrespectful to her, nor had I ever talked back to her. Thus, while what she said hurt me, I know that there really must have been something wrong with her mental status, so it did not bother me as much. Now if her personality was more stable and more like ah-gong’s and she said that, then that’d be a different story.  A little background about my grandmother: she was rather caustic sometimes and burned lots of bridges. Ah-ma was at times a spiteful person and perseverated on things and people that wronged her for years (sometimes they were tiny tiny insignificant issues that you and I would have forgotten). She even had a little notebook where she noted people’s infractions against her.  Distance kept us from being close, but she may have burned our bridge earlier if we were in fact close. Several of my grandmother’s grandchildren were not on speaking terms with her as were 1-2 of my uncles.  Some of my cousins did not even go to her funeral, even though they lived in Taipei as well.

I went back to Taipei for ah-ma’s  funeral to pay my respects. What she said to me will always resonate a bit – I can’t lie about that, but I’ve made my peace with it. I just hope that the other family members she hurt made their own peace and that she likewise, did as well. She died unexpectedly after ah-gong died. My sister and I lost ah-gong, mom and then ah-ma within a span of 9 months. Needless to say, it sucked big time. I’m not sure whether I believe in heaven, hell and reincarnation, but whatever there is, wherever they are, I wish them all the best and I will always miss them.

 

 

 

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Day 3 in Bali was a little sad, because it was our last day. I started with an early morning stroll along the hotel beach (S. Kuta) while Mr. CD snoozed (and the wierdo doesn’t like beach either).  In the rock crevices, I spotted lots of small sea snail. While I took photos of the sea snail, I heard a strange rustling sound on the rocks. I moved forward to investigate and spotted lots of tiny crabs scurrying away (photo, bottom right).

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After a breakfast that included lots of yummy fruit, our driver took us to Nusa Dua park and beach. The trees had the most beautiful and entwined roots, while the water was so clear and clean. It really felt like paradise! The shelf of shallow water was amazing and extended quite far. In the photo below (Row 3, right), I’m standing at least 100 ft from the beach. Another unique and very interesting part of the beach is a band of sand, which from farther away just appears more coarse. However, upon closer inspection, each grain is a round pellet about the size of millet (photo, row 4, left).

Along the the beach is a small peninsular rock formation onto which another Hindu temple is built.  We hiked the mini-peninsula and stood on the cliffs (photos, Rows 5 & 6) admiring the ocean view and the naturally occurring and human-planted flora, which included lots of plumeria trees.  My dad got really silly and placed plumeria flowers into each of the ventilation holes of his cap.  Doesn’t he look pretty (photo, row 6, right). He got lots of laughs and strange stares from other beach pedestrians.

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After Nusa Dua beach, we had our final Balinese meal and reluctantly headed towards the airport for our flight back to Jakarta.  I won’t bore you with the details of the rest of my trip because Jakarta is just not as beautiful, we only ate Chinese food and there really is no point in comparing the two locations.

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My second day in Bali started with a stroll around the resort gardens and a breakfast that included lots of rambutan.

Bali Silver

Our main goal for this second day was to go up to Ubud, a town known for its arts and artisans. Along the way to Ubud, we stopped at an Australian-owned jewlery company and factory that produces high-quality handcrafted Bali silver sold exclusively for export, except for sales to the tourist market in the on-site showroom. We toured the factory and then of course, escorted to their in-house shop.  I was permitted to photograph the factory studios, but of course, not the any part of the showroom except structural fixtures.

Click on photos to enlarge.  Row 1, L to R: 1. Rows of work benches; 2. Annealing a pendant frame; 3. Setting decorative elements to the bezel; Row 2: 4. Sizing a ring; 5. Polishing a bracelet; 6. Finished bezel-set turquiose rings.

Given my interest in jewelry fabrication and silversmithing, my dad jokingly suggested that I stay behind and offer to apprentice and learn from them for 2 years in exchange for my free labor.  I’m not that industrious.

Batik

After the silver factory, we headed towards one of the many batik centers. Several artisans sat in a pavillion working on batik as a live demo for tourists. Some tourists were so crass that without asking, they would lean into the artisan and touch them and their work while they are actively working and applying the designs just to get a photo and a closer look! Geez! I really wanted to slap those uncouth tourists on behalf of the artisans.

The composite above shows various steps and aspects of textile art production (click to enlarge or go to my Flickr set to see larger individual images).  Row 1: 1. Tools of the batik-making process; 2. Various types of natural waxes and resins used for the resist, including a pine resin; 3. Carved stamps used to stamp images; 4. the first step of a batik with the main images drawn with the resist; Row 2: 5-8. Artisans carefully drawing swirls with the tjanting (the pen-tool used to apply the resist); Row 3: 9-11. Artisans working in different stages of the batik process. 12. A partially completed batik; Row 4. 13. Washed fabric with a partial design hung to dry; 14. the wax/resin pot; 15. Artisan sewing a garment; 16. Loom; Row 5. 17. Hank of yarn hung on a loom; 18. Yarn reeler; 19 & 20. Looms  on which traditional cloth is woven.

Of course being in such an environment and my love of beautiful textiles made it hard to resist wanting to buy a whole bunch of batik fabric and garments. Despite having lots at home as well, I did buy a few select pieces.  These lovelies always make good presents for good crafting friends anyways. The problem comes when I can’t decide which ones to part with!

Hindu Temples

Another one of our stops on the way up to Ubud was a large Hindu temple.  Prior to entering, visitors are encouraged to provide a small donation and are required to wear some sort of ceremonial wrap skirt/covering over their legs before entering. I’m not sure what the skirt’s significance is, but all the skirts were colorful and festive.

The temple complex is a very large outdoor complex surrounded by a decorative perimeter wall.  Several  different altars and pavillions dot the landscape inside.  I assume that each pavillion is dedicated to a different diety. Every part of the temple is decorated with intricate carvings and stone work with orange bricks. While some pavillions have very simple straw-thatched ceilings, others have very elaborate fresco and gold-gilded decorations, as show in the photos below (last row).

After visiting the temple, we went to a Balinese restaurant with a lovely garden and located next to a rice paddy field, where Mr. CD ordered us some more delectable Indonesian cuisine and specialties.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Our next stop on this very eventful day was among my favorites: Monkeys! We went to the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud, where nearly 350 macaque monkeys live. According the the forest website, the sacred forest

“is a demonstration of the harmonious coexistence of humans and nature. In Bali, sanctuaries such as the Monkey Forest are usually in sacred village areas, often surrounded by temples. These cultural sanctuaries are not only an important part of Balinese heritage, but also an important part of everyday live.” (sic)

Mr. CD bought bananas to feed the monkeys. Boy, are they cunning when when know you have bananas! They will pull on your pant leg and jump on you to beg for a banana. If you are not careful, they will steal it from your hands.  And if a baby monkey has a banana as a larger more dominant monkey approaches, the baby will drop the banana and run.

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My favorite part of the monkeys are their mohawks!

Starfish at Jimbaran

We walked around the main Ubud areas mainly helping my stepmom find some batik dresses.  I tried a few on, but none of them fit my bodacious overgrown boobs. 😦 (Well, if they did, they were made for larger people and I ended up looking preggars.) We also bought a few other small souvenirs, trinkets and gifts for friends.  Mr. CD was very helpful in price-negotiations with the vendors and shops.  Bargaining and negotiation prices is a very common practice in many countries, just not common in the U.S., not even that much in flea markets and swap meets, where it’s practically the only place you can bargain in the U.S.

My dad wanted to buy a carving from one shop and no matter how many times he tried to get the shop owner to lower her price (in English), she would not budge.  My dad was about to give up and was getting ready to approach the counter when I told him to wait as I ran across the street to fetch Mr. CD. Upon seeing and realizing that hubby’s  Indonesian, I could tell that the shop owner was not happy. Of course having a native speaker present was very helpful with everything, especially since he managed to get the lady (begrudgingly) to lower her price after at least 3 failed attempts by my dad.

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After Ubud, our trusty driver drove us down to Jimbaran, where we watched another sunset while dining beach side at the Blue Marlin Cafe & Seafood Grill.  We ordered various seafoods and had them grilled to order.  The food was fresh, although not superb. However, the fruit juices they served were rich, thick, sweet and super yummy.

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While waiting for our food, I strolled the beach by myself and met a waiter who was releasing a live starfish that had washed ashore. He was kind enough to hold it up for a while so that I and another tourist could snap some photos, however in the process, the starfish stung him. oops!

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A perfect end to a perfect day.

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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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