On Our Way to Bali

In the duty-free shop in Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia is serious about discouraging smoking

Our university in China actually arranged to have a van drive us to the airport outside Hangzhou.  So instead of going in a day early as we had planned or having to lug our luggage on buses, we just left our apartment at 7pm and got driven directly to the departure lounge in plenty of time for our 11:20 pm Air Asia flight.

The delivery to the airport is an example of how well Barry and I are being treated here. We don’t know if it is because we are from a sister school to ZAFU and they want to lure other experienced UHMC faculty to come here (although the situation and classes are quite different) or if it is because I have a Ph.D. or if it is–as we suspect–because they think we are old (this is a country where at least until a few years ago, some people were made to retire when they were 45 years old because there are so many people needing jobs).  Patricia, when I tell my ZAFU students that you retired from UHMC when you were a very healthy and active 83, I don’t think they believe me.  I also tell them that you say never to tell your age to avoid being discounted for what you can actually do.  Whatever the reason the ZAFU International Office offered us the ride, we gratefully accepted.

I had worried that the Hangzhou Airport wouldn’t be heated and because we would have a two-and-a-half hour wait, I arrived wearing my long underwear, long pants, shirts, hooded sweatshirt, two pairs of socks, and warmest coat.  However, the airport is modern and warm with many duty-free shops (with the most beautiful silks) and quickly I got to start shedding layers.

Waiting in line to check our luggage, we talked with a ethnic Indian Malaysian man who had come on a tour with 15 others to visit five Chinese cities and experience winter.  Malaysia is much like Hawaii; he seldom wears a jacket or close-toed shoes.  He said that it was the first time he and his group had experienced winter weather and many were sick.  Although he had found the trip very interesting, he was going to kiss the ground when we landed in Malaysia.  Good weather is important.

The Air Asia plane was new, the stewardess and stewards young and cute, and the flight uneventful, the best kind.  The flight cost half of the other airlines.   Air Asia now flies to Paris and London, as well as all over Asia—so if you are planning to travel anywhere over here, be sure to check out this great airline.  We landed at 4:30am in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to catch our next flight to Bali.  As we walked down the steps onto the tarmac, the warm, humid tropic air enveloped us.  I felt like I was home—even the mix of peoples seemed a bit like Maui except for several veiled women and for Muslim men wearing white caps.  But there were the blonde, white women in short shorts with children in tow, cool dudes with tattoos, and guys asking if we needed transport.  We had four hours to wait for our connecting flight to Bali. After walking around, we stopped for breakfast at The Coffee Tree, a Starbuck’s looking place, that offered free wi-fi, big cups of delicious coffee, and breakfasts. A small green salad came with my eggs and toast.  The salad and the forks to eat with were the first we had had in four months.

Barry at Coffee Tree, Kuala Lumpur Airport at 5:30 am.

Tessa at the neighboring table had come in from her vacation in England and had a 14 hour wait for her flight on to home near Brisbane and the flooding there.  She tried helping us with our wireless connection, which even now is a problem.

Then we wandered the airport.  The duty-free shops were very interesting.

Signs in the Kuala Lumpur Airport warned of death to drug traffickers.  Smoking is discouraged.

Want a drag?  The scarfed Muslim clerk said that people still buy the cigarrettes and alcohol. We got chocolate–but not too much

The Hawaiian Host chocolate-covered macedonian nuts that you can get on sale at Long’s on Maui cost $24.00 a box at a Kuala Lumpur duty-free shop

Bali too has the death to drug traffickers law, but according to the Lonely Planet, Bali, it is practically a cottage industry here for caught foreigners are fined $50,000 U.S. and up to be released from prison.

We weren’t worried about that and when we landed in Denpasar, our old friends Dewa and Ayu and their darling two-year-old son, Rama, were there to meet us and bring us on to Ubud.

Rama and Ayu

It’s been eight years since we have been to Bali and we had read that Elisabeth Gilbert’s book Eat, Pray, Love and then the movie has had a big impact on the increased numbers of tourists here.  Many women come to Ubud looking for love that Gilbert found here (a rich Brazilian, Felipe).  The movie too shows the beauty of Ubud and so has been an incredible advertisement for travelers looking for a new place to visit.

Beauty is everywhere: in the plants, decorations, and people

First night in Ubud: an orchid on our lanai


Statues are at every turn

Even the laborers are graceful and strong

Bali life – real and in stone

This is our fourth time to Ubud.  Barry, as usual, had done much research looking for a place for us to stay.

Johnny’s room on the 2nd floor at Vera House, when he was 12. It still looks the same.

Because we have been to Bali, we don’t need to rush around looking at all the sites.  We know we love Ubud, and I want to do yoga and have time to read and enjoy the moment.  Barry is happy if he can swim, get massages for a good price, and talk to people.

We find ourselves back at Vera Accommodations where we had stayed with Johnny eight years ago.  This home stay room on Jalan Bisma, which is close to almost everything, is a clean,  space with lots of windows overlooking a rice paddy, has a wonderful hot shower, comfortable chairs, a writing table, and a deck that we are now sharing with Malcolm and Fiona, New Zealanders living in the north of India. We’ve bought a month’s pass to Nick’s Pension swimming pool, which is a four-minute walk from Vera’s.  I’ve bought a 20 visit pass to the Yoga Barn and am doing at least a 90 minute class each day. We feel very blessed to have this time and space—and just wish you could come visit us.

Ganesh–the god of opportunity

The Balinese have strong beliefs about karma.  Dewa has explained that he doesn’t worry about whether someone hires him or not, he is always nice to everyone.  He feels his good deeds are like seeds that are planted and may perhaps sprout later.

The Balinese Hindus are different from the Indian Hindus in two ways that I know.  Although it is very easy to get vegetarian food here, the Balinese eat meat because they feel the animal’s spirit escapes at the moment of death.  And although both groups believe in reincarnation, the Balinese Hindus believe they will be reborn into the same family (the husband’s—which I don’t think is quite fair).  But think about the ramifications if you believed you would always be surrounded by the same people.  Perhaps  family members would work harder at being nicer to each other and working things out.

And besides, the food is great.

A whole coconut, a fresh green salad, ginger ice tea, with tofu vegetable curry to come

We are off to lunch and wish you could come too.

About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

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