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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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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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It’s been a little over 4 years since I’ve been anywhere near Asia.  The last time I went was 3 years ago. I went to Taiwan for my grandmother’s funeral. She unexpectedly passed about 9 months after my grandfather passed. And in-between that, my mother passed. Boy, that was a really crappy year.

A butterfly that "hatched" in my godparents' house in Beitou, north of Taipei. The cocoon was attached to one of their plants. I was lucky enough to see it (and hold it!) within 1 hour of it's metamorphosis and before they had to release it.

Anyway, thankfully, I am not going to Taiwan for something as dismal as a funeral. I’m going to attend the belated wedding reception for my godbrother (who lives in L.A.) since the majority of all his family live there. I will be meeting up with my dad and stepmom. In addition to the wedding reception and going to the mountains, I also plan to get really fat eating all my favorite Taiwanese foods, but to make up for all the excess calories, I intend to do some extra walking around the city of Taipei.  Taipei and New York are very similar in many ways: lots of walking, traffic, lots of people, good food, fun, shopping, big buildings, more traffic and more good food.

The actual cocoon of the butterfly, taken about 2 days before it's transformation into that large beauty.

The main thing I hope to avoid in Taiwan is getting stung by poisonous caterpillars. The last time I went back, I went on an excursion to Yangminshan mountain during butterfly season.  I sat down on some stone benches to eat a hot bowl of noodle soup that they sell on the mountain. Of course, being accident-prone, my knee touched a stinging and poisonous caterpiller under the table, AND I spilled the hot soup on myself. The hot soup burn was nowhere near the instantaneous and horrific pain from the sting. It hurt for over a week. The swelling lasted for about 2-3 weeks and even left a small scar for a while. (Taiwan has been called the “Kingdom of Butterflies” by entymologist and butterfly enthusiasts.)

From Taipei, the 3 of us will fly to Indonesia to meet up with my hubby and visit my in-laws.  This will be the first time my dad will visit them. I imagine that there’ll be lots of family stuff to do and not so much sight-seeing and traveling. However, I am trying to convince Mr. CD to arrange a trip for us to go to Bali for at least a day.  I have never been to Bali and do resent Mr. CD a little for it.  You see, I studied anthropology and Asian studies in college – we focused a lot on Indonesia and SE Asia, so I’ve always wanted to go. I told Mr. CD that the only reason I married him was because he’s ethnically Chinese-Indonesian, and I wanted my own personal tour guide and translator to the Indonesian Islands.  I’m still waiting for my tour.  I really want to see Bali, Borneo and Sumatra, though the latter is not that safe because they are anti-Chinese and occassional riots do break out.

We call these "lembu," also known as a wax apple though it tastes nothing like an apple. It is 50x better! If these are in season, I plan to eat a whole lotta them! They are the BEST fruit in the world and you can't buy them here at all. Like peaches and strawberries, they are hard to import/export.

I will be gone for a few weeks.  I’m just busted my butt to get lots of charting done on a project so that I can work on it on my trip.  I’ll need to bring something easy too. Perhaps I’ll get lots of charity knitting done this year. I think I will knit and donate to the same charity that I did last year.

As far as blog posting, I have already scheduled for at least 1 post while I’m gone.  If I can get decent internet access, I will try to post about my trip while I’m there.  In the meantime, I wish all my American readers a very Happy Thanksgiving.

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