On Our Way to Bali
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.
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.
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.
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
This is our fourth time to Ubud. Barry, as usual, had done much research looking for a place for us to stay.
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.
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.
We are off to lunch and wish you could come too.