2. During Bali 2017

From the Past to the Future

Monday, October 16th, 2017

I never thought I’d feel like I was so far in the past and then feel so propelled into the future within only a matter of days…

The Past

The other day I went on another excursion to my favorite temple, Pura Lempuyang. This is the temple I visited during Galungan back in April. It was when I was at this temple during vacation that I knew I would someday come back to Bali in the future. It was a magical experience during the largest ceremony of the year. Lempuyang is one of the oldest temples in Bali and is also known as the Gateway to Heaven. I can understand why…

Back in April, Lempuyang was bustling with locals. Hundreds of them everywhere for Galungan, all praying and honoring their ancestral spirits returning to Earth. This time was quite different, though. Only a handful of locals and two other tourists. Golo and I practically had the entire temple to ourselves.

We sat down inside the temple and a holy man walked over and began the prayer ritual. Incense, canang, prayer, holy water, and rice. It was a very special day – and the cherry on top was that I was wearing the sarong my Mom made for me.

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The next day, I was invited to a cremation. Yes, a cremation… Cremations and weddings are the two largest ceremonies that happen in Bali. For some reason, I wasn’t nervous or hesitant at the thought of going to a ceremony where a deceased person gets cremated in front of everyone…

It began early in the morning and there were all sorts of traditions that I was trying to keep up with. We trekked all the way to the top of Lipah Bay and out of about 200 locals, I was the only white person. I was trying to look around and observe everything going on, but any time I looked a different direction, I’d make eye contact with a local and they’d quickly divert their eyes to hide that they were staring at me. But I couldn’t stop watching the holy man praying…it was about 2 hours of praying and various rituals.

After a couple of hours, everyone got up and started gathering the offerings and getting on their motorbikes to head back down the hill. There were about 100 scooters, everyone was honking their horns, whooping and hollering, and I don’t know if this is okay to say…but it was actually kind of fun. We were all following the truck with the casket to the beach. There was a group of men with sticks lifting all the wires and tree branches to protect the casket.

We finally got to the beach and hundreds of people huddled close together in whatever shade we could find. More praying, more music, and then a man who was clearly the torch expert began the fire. It was amazing to see so many people gather and celebrate this man’s life. When a Balinese person passes, they are cremated and then sent off into the ocean. It was an experience like I’ve never had before and it was wild to see the traditions (for examples, men must carry the casket in a circle three times on the beach). For a lot of these traditions, I’d ask about the meaning, and the locals would reply, “We don’t know. It’s just what we’ve always done for years and years.”

Within 24 hours, I went from watching a cremation rich with tradition, to a laser show in Singapore…

The Future

My Visa was coming to an end, so I had to leave the country to remain a legal traveler. I decided to come to Singapore because it is close, affordable…and completely different than Bali.

I’ve never stayed in a hostel before, so I was excited for yet another crazy, new experience. And if I’m going to stay in a hostel, might as well stay in a pod! I keep learning throughout my walks how hard it is to find what you’re looking for…or maybe I’m just not that intelligent. My driver from the airport told me to take a left and look for #51. So I walked down this ‘road’ and looked for #51. I actually thought it was kind of cute at first. “Ohhh, it’s like a tiny Italian cobblestone street! But instead of cute cafes and apartments, it’s a plethora of doors and air conditioners! Ooh la la!”


I finally found a door with #51 written in chalk. Seemed sketchy… The door wouldn’t budge and the construction workers were staring at me because they knew I was f***ing up. “Shoot. Within minutes of getting to Singapore, I’m lost, confused, and don’t know how to get into my hostel.” Thankfully, it was only a temporary brain fart and I quickly realized that, oh you know, I was wandering in the back alleyway. I walked along the other side by the river and finally found the door, complete with sign, distinct address, unlocked door handle and everything! [pat on the back]

This is the “pod” I stayed in.

Zetus Lapedus!!

And my thoughts after my first night in my pod? Welllllll, not sure if I’m a big fan of hostels… Just because I was in a futuristic pod doesn’t mean it’s still not a hostel…

Around 11pm, a couple men came back from whatever they were doing and came into the sleeping area and proceeded to talk as if they were still in a noisy bar. They talked about potatoes, cancer, and vaccines. I really, truly don’t understand people that don’t respect spaces with other people in them. These men had zero regard for the fact that there were 6 other people trying to sleep. There is a common area meant for talking late at night, but I don’t know, maybe they wanted everyone to hear their opinions on the best way to eat potatoes (they settled on mashed). Thankfully, I remembered I brought my ear plugs so I was able to tune them out – I thought about asking them to be quiet or move somewhere else – but since I’ve never stayed in a hostel before, I thought maybe this was normal? I was worried they’d look at me wide-eyed and say, “Hey Princess, this is a hostel. If you can’t handle people chatting, stay in a hotel.” Turns out, that’s actually what I’m doing for my second night. The hostel was completely booked up tonight, so this Princess booked a hotel room. DARN. Plus, those pods get zero air circulation and I woke up with a nasty sore throat. Okay, I’ll stop now. <rant over>

So, back to the future…

Look at this!

Since I’m in Singapore for only a couple of days, I have been filling my time with trying the local fare. After reading a few articles and blogs, I had a list of meals and restaurants I wanted to try. My first meal was dim sum.

Getting to this particular restaurant, Tim Ho Wan, was almost an impossible mission. Singapore has much wider streets, taller buildings, and it is a lot hotter than Bali. Walking isn’t as enjoyable here as I usually find it because of the heat. I searched around for this restaurant for about 20 minutes and then asked someone at the Singapore Recreation Center to help me. He directed me to an area that was the complete opposite direction of where I was supposed to be. 15 minutes later, I ended up back in the same spot with the same man, attempting to decipher the map again. He finally said, “Eat here! We have dim sum!” At this point, I was starving, frustrated, and sweating like a pig. I walked upstairs to the restaurant that I was way underdressed for and looked at the menu – “Dim Sum Lunch: $300.” GULP. A woman walked over and said, “I’m sorry, we stop serving lunch at 2pm.” It was 2:15pm. I was actually thankful this was the case because that could be my reason for leaving rather than admitting that I couldn’t afford lunch there. “That’s too bad; maybe next time.” Riiiiiight.

Luckily, the woman knew exactly where Tim Ho Wan was, so 10 minutes later, I was finally sitting in a restaurant ready to eat!! I was noticing the huge contrast between Bali and Singapore here. In Singapore, everyone (and I mean everyone) is on their phone or computer – usually with a selfie stick. Everyone is very proper, clean, and wearing the most expensive designer clothes. Lots of heels, YSL handbags, and business suits. And I noticed there was a lot more PDA amongst the couples – one couple never stopped holding hands, even while eating.

As for the service, in Bali, everyone becomes your friend. In Singapore, I couldn’t get anyone to even look at me. So I marked my order sheet for various dim sum dishes and handed it to the one server that noticed me. I was definitely out of my comfort zone, but when I took my first bite of the pork dumpling, nothing else but that delicious morsel of flavor mattered. I devoured all the dishes and wanted to slurp whatever sauce was left.

And then, just like a movie, I became the center of attention. My elbow hit one of my plates and it crashed to the ground, crumbs and my unfinished BBQ pork bun scattered all over the ground. The entire restaurant went silent and looked at me in unison. I noticed the perfectly polished, hand-holding couple give me a sort of pity-look. I was wearing my workout shorts, a sweaty tank top, and I gave a large Shrek-like grin. Oops. “Hello, barbarian American right over here!” I seriously contemplated picking up the bun and finishing it, it was that good…

Later in the night, I walked to Merlion Park to watch the nightly laser show. It was INSANE how many selfie sticks and drones I saw! Singapore is a mix of futuristic architecture and nature. I’d walk through a park, but instead of kids swinging on swing sets, I’d see kids in flashing, LED rollerblades or playing on their iPads.

More proof that Singapore is in the future was the laser show… This dazzling show of bright lights, water displays, and cinematic music happens every night and the entire river walk is full of spectators. I joined the masses and ooh’d and ahh’d, feeling like a kid at Disneyland.

This morning, I got up extra early to get out of my muggy pod and try another famous Singapore meal: kaya toast with kopi. Kaya is a type of jam made from eggs, sugar, coconut milk, and pandan leaves. I walked about a mile South and found Tong Ah Eating House (it’s a miracle!). I’ll be honest and say I looked up how I’m supposed to eat kaya toast – you’re served toast with two soft-boiled eggs and articles mention that locals pour soy sauce over their eggs and dip the bread in the eggs. I don’t know why, but I was nervous. That’s a lie. I do know why. I was surrounded by locals who knew exactly what they were doing and I wasn’t even sure if I should order at the counter or if a waitress would come to take my order. I asked one of the women working and she didn’t say a word, instead giving a quick point to the man cooking. I finally placed my order and when the food came, I was still nervous. The eggs were cooked, but still in their shells. “Okay, do I use this little spoon to crack my egg and pour into the empty bowl? The eggs are so hot, I can’t simply use my hands to crack them, right?” I was thinking too much and being a little Princess about it. I shook it all off, cracked the eggs with my hands, and poured soy sauce on top of my eggs.

I have no idea if I ate this meal correctly, but OH MY GOSH, so good. The savory egg mix combined with the sweet jam was divine. Plus, yet another addition to my “Cheaper Than a Starbucks Tall White Mocha.” $3. YUM.

I have no idea what other local meals I’ll be trying while I am still here, but I’m determined to keep stepping out of my comfort zone. That is, until I’m in my air-conditioned, quiet hotel room tonight…

Nomad

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

Hello again! It’s been two weeks since I’ve written. So much time has passed, so much has happened, and Mount Agung has still not erupted… I feel like I could write a book solely on the past two weeks, but I’ll try to limit it to photos and a few anecdotes.

Sanur

Francisca and I spent a few days together in Sanur and explored the city on our bicycles. We enjoyed some nice meals on the beach and helped each other during our sudden and unexpected transition to a new city. Because of the news and ‘imminent eruption’ headlines, Francisca decided to head back to Switzerland. I was so grateful we had each other during what may be the scariest time of my life – I will always consider her one of my guardian angels.

After she left, I was completely on my own and so I decided to spend a few more days in Sanur before changing locations again.


My hotel was right next to the south end of the beach in Sanur. Flying kites here is a thing. Groups of men gather and spend all day watching their kites fly. They are MASSIVE and they are EVERYWHERE. It was a site to see.

During my time in Sanur, I’d either ride my bicycle along the road and find a fun cafe to eat at. My belly was happy… Thanks for the recommendation for the avocado toast, Miho!

When I didn’t ride my bike along the road, I’d walk miles along the beach. I’d see a mix of locals hanging out together at the south end of the strip and then as I’d make my way up north, I’d walk through the fancy resorts and a sea of wealthy tourists. It was such a huge contrast to see so close to each other. I frequently found myself in the middle of the divide on big bean bag chairs. This meal was called the “Happiness Bowl.”

It should be no surprise that the sunsets here were incredible.

I felt like I had spent enough time in Sanur and I was ready to check out a new city.  But I enjoyed one last stroll along the beach. You never know what you will come across.

Canggu

Canggu is like San Diego on steroids! Surf city with the chillest vibe and trendy spots to visit. There are multiple beaches to check out and they all have their own sort of personality. My hotel was just up the road from Canggu Beach and I loved spending time there watching the surfers. So much so that I decided to give it a try! I looooooved riding the waves and hope to do it again very soon. I took a class with a surf school and as I was going through the motions, I kept thinking of the surf scene in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” Pretty much exactly like that. I managed to get up on my first wave (kind of impossible not to on that giant surf board!) and I was hooked. I even watched “Blue Crush” after surfing because I felt like I could relate to the main characters. Ha!

There are hundreds of surfers with long hair, tan skin, and abs of steel. But it wasn’t the same type of traditional-Bali feel. I didn’t see any chickens on the road, I barely saw any temples, and the locals were from all over Indonesia. So when I spoke a few of the Balinese words I knew, only a couple people understood what I was saying. It was like I was in an exotic California. And the cafes were as hipster as can be. I wasn’t complaining though…

AND THEN THIS. SO GOOD.

A typical day in Canggu looked like this. Allllllll day on the beach.

Then the night typically ended like this. After several days in Canggu and a nice sunburn, it was time to make another change.

Amed

Back to the real Bali.

I was invited to a Full Moon ceremony and I couldn’t miss it. It had been quite some time since there was any activity with earthquakes and Mount Agung. Amed is in a safe zone, so I felt safe coming back to the little town I love. Paul was heading back, so there was no better time to return. I’m so glad I did. Plus, I’ll be honest, I missed scootering!

Unfortunately, I got very sick within days of returning. I think it was a mixture of crazy emotions and change the past few weeks, plus…..cheese. Yes, cheese. In Bali, I’m barely consuming any dairy, so in a short span, I ended up eating SO MUCH CHEESE. I was happy at the time, but then…not so happy. I managed to still make it to the Full Moon ceremony, but as soon as the sun set, I was quarantined to my room.

The ceremony was in honor of the Fishermen’s protection. It was extremely special to witness.

After an entire day sleeping and staying in bed, I crawled out of my room to experience more of Bali. I give the rain partial credit for feeling better. I woke up to a huge rain storm and it was so refreshing! I can’t remember the last time I felt rain, so I immediately put my swimsuit on and swam in the pool while it was pouring. A combination of the warm pool and cool raindrops was the perfect cure.

Later, Golo picked me up to go to Tirta Empul. It was the holy spring that we had visited before but I wasn’t in the right headspace to do the purification ritual. This particular morning, though, was the most perfect time for me to get in the water.

There were a lot less people this time which I was grateful for. Sometimes there are lines of people at each holy water spout, but this morning, I was able to take my time and pray at each fountain. Before I got in the water, the guide said something that will stick with me forever:

“It doesn’t matter what your religion is. All that matters is that you feel from your heart.”

All the feelings.

It was completely magical. And I felt 100% better after being so sick. I felt rejuvinated, happy, and at peace. My heart was full.

The next day I was invited to a ceremony for one of the Villa staff’s baby. Wayan was turning 3 months old, and in Bali, that is a very big deal. There is a two-day ceremony complete with music, feasts, dancing, and lots of drinking. The entire village gets together and puts on this big ceremony for two days – it was wild to see so much activity and know it was for this little cutie.

It was all day and all night – I was honored to be a part of it. I know I keep saying that I’m experiencing the true Bali…but THIS. THIS was true Bali – I was in their homes and saw how close the village is and how everyone has an active part. Everyone was helping each other and they were all having so much fun. At one point, all the women got up to dance and as I was watching, I noticed all of their eyes were closed. They were all dancing around, barefoot in the dirt, waving their hands, but they weren’t running into each other. They were sensing each other and feeling the music. It was so beautiful.

After two days of celebrating Wayan, I went on another excursion. This time to Ulun Danu – another stunning temple. On the way, I noticed a spot I’ve seen in many photos. It was even more beautiful in person.

Ulun Danu was also just as gorgeous as I expected.

There was, of course, a huge ceremony – I believe to pray for Mount Agung. It was so special to be there at a time when hundreds of people were dressed up, playing music, and praying at the Temple.

As the ceremony was making it’s way across the large field, I took this photo and for some reason, it’s one of my favorite photos. This man was working on the ledge while the procession was going on in the background. It is so Bali. The Balinese are the most traditional and also the most hard-working people I’ve ever met.

Ceremonies and work. There is no choice. It’s just what they do.

After the ceremony, I wandered from the Temple and found a teeny, tiny zoo!

I was obsessed with the row of 10 little owls. They weren’t obsessed with me until I started scratching their heads.

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I wasn’t super obsessed with the bats, but I was BLOWN AWAY. They were huuuuge! I feel dumb admitting this, but I didn’t know bats could grow to be that large! This bat stuffed his mouth with banana and I was so on it’s level.

Why end the day here? There are more temples to see!

The next temple Golo took me to was near Ubud. Goa Gajah – also known as the Elephant Cave Temple. This place was packed with tourists and their selfie sticks. I wandered around, checked out the cave, and got blessed by a sweet old Balinese woman.

In one of my last posts, I wrote about my idea to create an Instagram account for Amed. I have done so and in the first week or so, I was GUNG-HO. I was researching how to get a following, watching videos on best practices, and filling my notebook with social media notes. I quickly gained followers and was thinking, “Hell yes, this is it! It’s working! Amed is going to get on the map!” There are all sorts of ‘tricks’ to gain followers fast – I was downloading apps for analytics and doing the best practices articles were recommending (like 1,000 photos and you may get 100 followers in return + like/comment/follow influencers + post at specific times + blahblahblahblah). Oh my gosh, it was exhausting and felt like I was selling my soul. I learned that all of those Instagram ‘celebrities’ literally don’t have lives – unless they buy all of their followers, they must not do anything other than stare at their phones all day. I quickly lost as many followers as I was gaining them (I read that if you don’t follow people back, they get pissy and unfollow right away – sheesh!). After I came back to reality and I opened my notebook to pages of hashtags to use, I started laughing at myself. “What the hell am I doing?! I came to Bali to ESCAPE this bullshit!” My intentions were (and are) good, but life is not meant to be spent on your phone constantly hoping you get so many likes and followers. I’m still posting here and there on @visitamedbali, and if nothing comes from it, that’s okay. I’m only investing a tiiiiiny amount of time on it now because I still think the beauty of Amed should be shared.

So I’m going to keep going, keep living, and I will always focus on the NOW. My mind has clearly been all over the map and there have been lots of speed bumps along the way. But with the bad, comes a lot of good. The volcano has kind of shaken everyone up.  For three days, I was terrified and I’d never feared for my life quite like that before. It’s so odd looking back at that time, just three weeks ago, and remembering calling family and friends wondering if they were my goodbye calls. I can’t even believe that’s a sentence I’m writing – but it’s true.

Time has passed, tremors have stopped, and things are slowly going back to normal. The talk of the town is Agung and everyone has different opinions on the volcano. But what everyone agrees upon is that no one knows if it will erupt. No one can say with certainty if it will, no matter what the news reports or what the scientists or the government says. She will decide for herself. But let me tell you – people in Bali are praying harder and more often than ever. In my personal opinion, I think the praying is working. And it is bringing people closer together – building upon an already strong community. And one of the best parts is that the tourists have slowed coming here, but have not stopped. I’ve seen quite a few tourists in Amed and it’s bringing a sense of normalcy.

A short section of our drive yesterday took us to a spot with an incredible view of Agung. I didn’t feel an ounce of fear and I still don’t. Everyone is prepared if something were to happen, but everyone is hopeful that she remains calm. It’s so bizarre how some days Agung looks massive, but others, she looks like a little hill. I don’t quite understand how that is. But she is always looking calm.

How has it only been two months since I’ve been here?!

Right now, I’m safe in Amed and it’s another gorgeous, sunny day. I miss the PNW and Fall, so please embrace the pumpkins and the Fall foliage for me! Here is a tropical flower just for you. Miss and love you all! XO

Time Will Tell

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

The day of the first earthquake, I had said I wanted to take a technology break for 5 days. No internet, no texting, no social media. I was so excited to disconnect so I could explore Amed and get to know the locals, and myself, a bit better. It felt so freeing. That detox lasted only 12 hours because of the constant quakes and tremors which began that night.

It has been such a whirlwind the past week. Everything flipped and did a complete 180. I so wish everything could go back to normal where people are playing guitar outside, scooters with locals and tourists are zipping up and down the road, and restaurants and homestays are actually occupied. Everything is different now.

My head has been spinning – trying to decide what I should do. My heart is here in Bali. I just need some time…

So I’m going to take that detox. I will still text/call/e-mail because I want to inform family and friends that I’m still safe. But I think I need to take a break from writing here. I need to take some time to enjoy my surroundings and just be still. Might be a great time for a yoga class…

I hope and pray everything goes back to the way it was.

Talk to you later. ❤

Kite in the Sky Idea

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

I feel safe now…

I’m in Sanur now, which is a lot more touristy. I didn’t realize just how special Amed was until I left it to relocate.

Mount Agung seems to have calmed down a bit. Some people are saying it’s probably going to erupt, others are saying it’s not. I’m in the “not” camp. Science says that if the tremors are slowing down, that means the magma is ready to explode out of the top…but it could also mean that Agung is cooling down. I’m not an expert, but no one knows what is going to happen. The morning we left Amed, Francisca and I walked on the beach and noticed all the smoke. My hope is that she has blown off the steam that she needed to. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m thinking positive.

During all the chaos with the earthquakes, I was convinced I was going to fly back home. I was scared and was making rash decisions. I was also on 3 days of practically no sleep. So when the sun came up and the car was ready to take Francisca and I to Sanur, I was at an all-time low.

“Do I give up on this adventure? Am I going back now?”

But then as we were leaving Amed, the floodgates opened. My heart was broken and my intuition was louder than ever.

“You can’t leave Amed like this. You will be back.”

I was balling and trying to hide all my tears. We drove by all the little restaurants I frequented, I saw the people I formed friendships with. We drove along the road that I walked miles on the first week and later learned how to get over my fear of my scooter on. The breakdown I had when I was homesick a while back was nothing compared to this burst of emotion.

This is just a temporary speed bump in this journey. Maybe Agung will erupt and everything changes. But maybe it won’t. Maybe in a week, it will have calmed down so much that I go back to the sweet town with one road and continue. [crossing fingers] I thought of my friend Rick and his comment on one of my posts: “Keep going girl!!” I was looking into plane tickets back to the States and “Keep going girl!!” kept running through my mind. I knew deep down that I am not supposed to leave. I am going to a safer place at the moment and seeing a new part of this beautiful island for now…

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

I didn’t finish my entry yesterday, so here I’ll continue…

I’m listening to my Bali soundtrack – all the songs that every single warung, bar, and driver plays nonstop – memories of the times when it was normal in Amed are running through my head and my heart aches that everything is different right now. However, an idea came to me in the middle of the night and I’m feeling energized and driven. I’ve got a fire list under my ass. Before I get to my idea, I want to give an update on Amed and Mount Agung.

I haven’t felt any tremors in the past two days. Some tremors in Amed are still happening, but they’ve slowed down (from what I hear). I have to be careful looking into the news because there are a lot of exaggerated and false reports. But what is true is that there are practically no tourists in Amed anymore. They have all gone South or left the island completely. There are still locals of course, and a community of expats coming together in Amed. I even saw my favorite yoga studio offering free classes to try to keep the energy positive.

Right now, I’m still in Sanur and I’m sitting at a Starbucks.


While I’ve been in Bali, I’ve been listing “Things Cheaper than a Starbucks Tall White Mocha” and here I am, drinking a tall mocha (they don’t have white chocolate here…). And yes, it is on my “Things Cheaper than an American White Mocha” – about $4. I’m happy to be in a place that feels familiar, but I am also very sad. My heart is in Amed and with the people near Agung.

My heart breaks because the locals are already living day to day to survive, and now, it’s even harder. With no tourists, that means no money. No money means no eating. Locals can’t tap into their savings or sell items on Craigslist to make a quick buck. The money they get each day is all the money they have. The mocha I’m drinking doesn’t taste as sweet as I used to remember. The amount of money I spent on this drink is 5 meals for a local.

I’m sleeping in a queen sized bed with 4 pillows while locals are sleeping on the floor in large groups, sometimes with no pillows at all. I get to choose what I want to eat while locals eat rice and meat for every meal. I’m by no means wealthy at all – but in Bali, I’m filthy rich. Filthy. Since I don’t have a source of income, I can’t give away all my money like I’d like to, but I want to try to help in some sort of way.

My Idea

Ok, so I know there are some push backs to everything. These are some of the thoughts I’m having myself:

  • You’re on an island with a volcano that may erupt. Get the hell out of there, idiot!
  • The Balinese are poor and that’s the way it has always been and the way it always will be. No use in trying to change that.
  • Stop living in this fairytale of listening to your gut all the time. Life doesn’t work this way. You’re in over your head.
  • Come back to reality.

These are all valid. I mean, the volcano could seriously erupt and everyone is in danger. And yes, the Balinese will likely always struggle to make money. But the thought about my gut? I’m choosing to listen to it no matter what.

Amed has a special place in my heart. I’ve grown some roots there and I’m directly seeing how much tourism helps the locals – and keeps them alive and healthy. People aren’t going to Amed right now and likely won’t for a long time. So right now, I want to try to shed a positive, magical light on the “hidden gem of Bali.” I’m not rich so I can’t donate a ton of money or buy supplies for them. But what I do know – which I cringe saying this because I feel like it’s such a weird, millennial thing to so – is social media. This is where I have experience.

Hear me out…

When I came to Bali, when I was trying to decide where to go on my excursions, I turned to Instagram. I looked up hashtags and Bali-specific accounts to get ideas. It was because of Instagram that I visited a beautiful waterfall near Amed and experienced a truly magical moment. I can’t be the only one who turns to Instagram to get their travel ideas. It’s a lot more powerful and influential than I think it gets credit for. It’s not just an app. It’s a very valuable resource. Man, I sound like such a millennial…

“Keep going girl!!”

So I created an account for Amed. I’m going to curate beautiful photos of Amed and surrounding areas and build a following. You never know, someone could see a beautiful picture from this account and put Amed on their excursion list. Even if one person travels to Amed because of coming across this profile, it will have been worth it. Back in the States, I grew KOMO’s Instagram account from 8,000 followers to over 30K followers in 12 months. Did the pictures and the profile mean more people were watching the news? Ehhh, I’m thinking no. Will this profile mean more people visit Amed? Maybe not, I have no idea. All I know is that I’m jazzed up about it, so I’m going to follow this energy.

When (not if) I go back to Amed, I’m going to keep my creative juices flowing and keep going with my passion of photography and special moments. I’m going to keep exploring Amed and show people that it is a must-visit town. There is no other town like it in Bali…or the world. My time in Bali is not done. Besides, my Mom made me a beautiful sarong that I haven’t worn yet and I’m determined to wear it to a ceremony. Oh yeah, and I borrowed a book from WaWa WeWe that I need to return…

This is definitely a pie in the sky idea. It was funny when I was coming up with a vision, I thought of the phrase “pie in the sky.” Last night I went outside with Francisca to get a bite to eat and I looked up. Kites in the sky. Not quite pie…but I’ll take it.

Why not try? I have the time, I have the experience, and most importantly, I have the passion.

If you have an Instagram account, give it a follow: @visitamedbali.

Love you all. ❤

Authentic

Monday, September 25th, 2017

I don’t feel safe anymore…

In the past 3 days, I’ve probably only slept about 5 hours. The threat of Mount Agung erupting isn’t this once-in-a-lifetime spectacle anymore where people sit at Sunset Point and secretly hope it happens while they’re watching. It’s serious now…businesses are shutting down. Tourists are canceling their trips. Tensions are high and there’s a constant, subtle vibration. It feels like something is brewing. It’s very real now.

I have been trying so hard to remain positive, warm, and fuzzy, but I need to be honest. I am feeling fear now. For multiple reasons. All I know is that I will be leaving Amed in the morning to head South. I will be with Francisca and that makes me feel safe.

It’s a little before 4am and I’ve been FaceTiming family and friends to keep me distracted from the ominous energy. I still find it funny that a few days ago, all was well and I was about to have a technology-detox..and then the rumblings started. I’ve been using technology nonstop to keep in touch with loved ones. As I was talking with Kris, I mentioned that I didn’t know what to do…I will have trouble sleeping with this movement and I need to kill time before the sun comes up. She recommended I do something that will get my head into a positive space like yoga or meditation.

Writing is my yoga and my meditation right now…

Three Little Birds

I’ve been waiting for the right time to share this story, and well, I think this is the right time. It was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had, and right now, the memory is saving me.

When I lived in Greenlake, I was in love with my Monday and Tuesday Modo Yoga classes. One particular class happened right after the election. The Seattle Winter had been very tough for everyone, it seemed. Constant rain, several snow days, and barely any sunshine. And then the “T” word happened. A lot of negative energy was swirling in our Universe. Yoga was a great way to get back into balance.

Kylie led the class and it was a wonderful practice as usual. And then we reached savasana. The room was full of sweaty, tired bodies soaking up what Kylie was sharing with us. She told us that there is a strange energy in the world right now and that this is the most important time for everyone to be our authentic selves. There is truth and positivity if everyone is real and authentic. So she told us that she sings…but only in front of her daughter. Not even her husband.

“I want to sing for all of you right now.”

She sang the most beautiful melody that made our relaxed bodies even more calm. I didn’t even have to look around, I knew everyone was doing the same thing: smiling or crying. I was doing both.

After she sang, she turned on the song, “Three Little Birds,” by Bob Marley. The smiles got wider and the tears got a little more plump.

And then the entire class joined. We all sang along with Bob and Kylie. Yogis were harmonizing and we filled the whole room with happiness and authenticity. “Don’t worry, ’bout a thing, cuz every little thing is gonna be alright.” It was a profound moment and it was exactly what we needed.

This is one of the only stories I tell that gives me goosebumps EVERY time I share it. Even writing it now, goosebumps. I live that savasana over and over in my mind.

After this class, I thought about it constantly. “Am I being my true, authentic self?” Most of the time, my answer was, “No.”

So I went to work. Not work work…but worked on myself. I wrote, I tapped into my creativity, I had deep conversations and went on long walks (another favorite form of meditation). I made a vision board, practiced yoga, and stopped falling asleep to my TV. I read like no other. I chose the happy and positive thoughts. I started being honest with people…and myself.

This would be a good time for me to share a picture of a delicious meal on the beach with a cocktail and say, “It worked.” But here I am, sitting in my shaking bed hoping time speeds up and praying Agung doesn’t erupt. Not necessarily paradise right now.

But you know what? I have this feeling that I will get to a new place, enjoy a nice meal with Francisca, maybe do a salsa dance, and actually fall asleep. And I have this feeling my good dreams will return.

Every little thing is gonna be alright.

Please keep Bali in your prayers. We need all the positive energy we can get! I feel your support and you have no idea how much I love all of you. Yeah, YOU. ❤

p.s. Natalie, thank you for printing out my entries for Gramma – love you. Gramma, I’ve been curious if anything about Agung has made it on the Weather Channel. I wish I could be with you right now, eating your kiss cookies! I love you – I will be safe!!

Base

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

I managed to get some sleep last night…until another big rumble around 1:45am. Right after the shaking, I heard Francisca’s door open and I got up to check on her. We decided to venture out and walk up the hill to see if anything was visible on Agung. We walked up the hill and into the Sunset Point sitting area, but was greeted by the guard dog. The barking started and we knew we weren’t going to be able to sit at the top of the hill. So we decided to walk along the beach instead.

We found a point that had a perfect view of Agung. The night sky was black and the silhouette of Agung was a shade darker. We could see a haze that appeared to be smoke, but we weren’t too sure. So we sat down and just…watched. We weren’t anticipating anything, we just felt safer on the beach than in our rooms. And, to be honest, we were damn curious, like everyone else on the island is.

I’ve seen a lot of people with their cameras set up just in case she blows. Sunset Point was packed last night and nobody’s eyes really strayed from the volcano. No one seemed afraid, thankfully. It was quite beautiful.

So there we were, laying on the beach at 3 in the morning. It may have been the most peaceful couple of hours I’ve had while here. I was laying on a bunch of stones and using my backpack as my pillow, but I was so comfortable and I felt safe with Francisca by my side. We were silent for almost two hours and I used the time and the sound of the waves to meditate. It’s wild what your mental path is when you’re in paradise and there is a threat of a volcanic eruption. I still feel safe and am truly enjoying the stillness that follows each rumble.

The sun slowly started coming up and we could see the fishermen going out to sea. We walked back along the beach and decided to sit some more and watch the sunrise. Why not?

I’ve always stumbled across cairns on my hikes…but I’ve never actually taken the time to create one. So during the sunrise, I sat on the beach like a kid with building blocks and built my first cairn. I didn’t realize how much fun…and difficult it is to do. It’s all based on a feeling and sensing the center of balance…plus, a solid foundation. Next time, I kind of want to try it with my eyes shut because it’s more about feeling than anything else. I’m curious if all the rumblings today have knocked this entire cairn down…

I haven’t left the warung today because there’s a different energy today. Even less snorkelers and people lounging on the beach. I’ve spent the day reading, snorkeling, and spending time with the folks at the warung. In the book I’m reading currently, there was a passage that really stood out to me. It reminded me of the cairn that I had built this morning. It talks about the process of awakening/enlightenment (yeah, it’s a pretty intense book, but I knew I had to bring a deep read if I’m going to be living in Bali!!).

One aspect of the process lays the foundation for the building of a solid concept upon which to base one’s newfound awareness. Much as when constructing a building, the ground must be cleared, old structures must be removed, carted away, and the area smoothed over to make preparation for a new structure that will stand fresh and firmly constructed in its place. The new structure does not emerge in its entirety on day one. But is formed, brick by brick, layer after layer, each level dependent upon the solidity, or lack thereof, of the layer upon which it rests. If care is taken with every stage of the new construction, the resulting structure has an excellent chance of standing and serving the purpose for which it was intended.

As I was reading that passage, I was envisioning my cairn. I also thought of my process of getting to Bali. You know how you go on vacation and the day or two beforehand are the most productive days at work? I always crossed so many things off of my list right before I left for vacation. Well, leaving my job entirely and moving to a foreign country made me productive in all aspects of my life. It was like a cleansing, mentally and physically. Shedding things that I no longer need and having meaningful moments with people I care about.

I feel like I have such a strong base now. It’s amazing how being so far away can make you feel closer than ever to the people you love. If you are reading this, you are a part of my base.

Sending my love across the big, blue sea.

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Safe

Saturday, September 23rd, 2017

The difference between yesterday and today is quite noticeable. 

Whoa, that was weird…just felt another little rumble. 

Yesterday, all the lounge chairs were full the entire day. Today, I’ve only seen a handful of people lounging out front. Not as many snorkelers as well. I’m curious if everyone is going through a similar thought process as I am.

Stay put – stay where you feel safe. I was nervous to go out and buy water and dried food because what if the eruption happened then? What if it happened while I was on my scooter or in an area that I wasn’t familiar with (and didn’t have an evacuation plan)? Or maybe everyone has already left Amed or Bali. But everyone that is here is just sort of…waiting.

Anytime there are rumbles, everyone sort of looks around and makes eye contact. Words don’t even need to be said. Looks of, “You felt it, too, didn’t you?” 

They raised the alert level to the highest it can be and they’re evacuating even more people near Agung. A lot of people are actually traveling to Amed to be safe. That’s given me a lot of comfort – I feel safe here. I feel safe at my warung and with the family we have formed here.

There’s a big part of me thinks that I’m completely overreacting to all of this. That this is all going to just go away and we’ll laugh about it next week. But then another rumble happens and reminds me that there is 100% movement below the surface. Another hour later and another rumble. I woke up this morning at 1:45am to the largest tremor I’ve felt yet. Shook everything in my room and felt more…sharp. Don’t know if that makes sense.

“Why don’t you just leave? Go home or go somewhere else?”

For some reason, I’ve never had the thought: Leave. Based on conversations, history, and the feelings I am getting, Amed is safe. We may get a large earthquake and we may get ash and smoke. But other areas I’ve heard have been even more intense with the tremors. Something is telling me to stay put. I feel immediately calm after a rumbling when I hear all the kids laughing. This doesn’t have to be a “WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE” kind of experience.

And like I said, maybe nothing will even happen in the first place. If I go somewhere else to escape, where do I go and how long do I stay? What if the rumblings last a week? I pay for another room and stay somewhere not familiar to me and where I don’t know anyone? I’m going to stay put for now…

Amid the wild energy, I was able to go on a little excursion to Bukit (hill) Mencol. When I rode my scooter a few weeks ago on a long ride, I rode as far as the base of this bukit, and then turned around. I heard if you go up the windy road, it’s a beautiful lookout point with a temple on the top. But that would be too long and challenging of a ride for me alone. So Tane took me on his motorbike and it was so fun finally being a passenger. Instead of looking at the road and watching for potholes or chickens, I could look out at the ocean and the villages. Absolutely beautiful.

We got to the windy road that leads to the bukit. I understand now why you must go with a local. If I drove on my scooter, I would have crashed 50 times – rocks, holes, and rough land that I’m not really sure how Tane managed to navigate. It was so fun riding on this road, despite the roughness, because there were so many families sitting outside and once we were in sight, all the kids would wave and say, “Helloooooo!” I asked Tane if they were saying hello to him or me, and he said, “You!” It was so fun to wave back and shout out hello. You know how it’s just instinct to wave at the firemen in the big fire trucks if they drive by you? It was really cool feeling like the fireman.

At the top of the bukit was the most amazing temple. I couldn’t go in because I wasn’t wearing a sarong, but I marveled at the ‘door.’

The view below was equally incredible. I saw a woman walking with her daughters on the ridge and feeding her cows. The little girls saw me and started waving and shouting “Hellooooo!!!” 

On the walk back down, I loved seeing the little village tucked into the bukit. I also couldn’t believe that all those people ride on that rocky road every day. Very talented.

Hoping everyone in Bali has a restful evening. The sun is getting close to setting and people are getting on fishing boats to go out on the water. Kids are playing and a family is snorkeling out front. Business as usual… Aaaaand just on time, another little rumble…

Goodnight, Agung. Sleep well, pretty please?!