Magic Moments

Immersion

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

The other day I was invited by Tane who works at Diver’s Cafe to join him and his friends to a “megibung.” A megibung is essentially a feast with all the food in the center of a circle and everyone sits on the ground to eat. It represents togetherness. I was so excited to experience a tradition specific to the Eastern side of the island.

I got to the beach at sunset and Tane and his friends had 7 fish that were caught earlier in the day ready to be grilled. I watched as they prepared the grill and the fish…it was obvious they do this all the time. Normally I’d be grossed out, but I was kind of in awe with how simple they made everything look.

Once the fish were fully cooked, they placed them on top of two huge banana leaves with rice and a spicy sauce. They brought a fork and spoon for me, but I opted to eat with my hands. When in Bali…

It has definitely been one of my favorite meals while here. It was not only delicious, but it was so much fun. There were 10 of us all circled around, eating in this sort of primal way, and all laughing under the stars. They even built a fire on the beach and it reminded me of the PNW. Didn’t have the same incredible smell as forest campfires, but I still managed to get lost in the flames like usual.

Then came the music… I could not stop laughing during all of their singing. They were having a complete blast – sure, they were sometimes off key, and definitely off beat, but it was so. much. fun. And believe it or not, no alcohol had been consumed! Just a good ol’ time.

The next night was pretty much the polar opposite of the megibung, but equally wonderful. Yang –> Yin. My first yoga class while here…can’t believe it took me that long to get to a class. The yin yoga class was held at Ocean Prana in this little open-air hut during sunset. As I walked in, I saw this man covered in tattoos sitting completely still and meditating. I knew this place was legit. Turned out, he was the teacher. There were only 4 of us and the class was as basic as ever. About 6 poses, all held for 4-5 minutes each. A few times, I caught myself thinking that this was too simple. Too easy. He guided us into each pose and then we would just sit. I’m used to classes where we’re guided how to breathe, what to think about, and setting intentions. This class was literally: Pigeon Pose. Hold 5 minutes. Other side. Hold 5 minutes.

Lots and lots of time for my head to think. A couple of times, he’d remind us to “Let go.” “Breathe in positivity.” So simple, but so effective. Then we held our hands in prayer position and placed them over our heart. “Everything we do will come from love.” We moved our prayer hands over our mouth.  “We will speak only with kindness.” Finally, our hands moved over our forehead – our third eye. “We will always think positive thoughts and listen to ourselves. We will connect with the Universe and know that we are all One.”

“Enjoy your evening and have a wonderful dinner.”

It was so simple, but I felt so rejuvenated after a lazy day of napping and eating. I knew whatever I did after this yoga class would be positively impacted by the mental workout. I went to dinner across the street at a warung called “Amed Kedai – One Love.” I ended up talking with a local who grew up in Amed and learned how to speak English from Australians and British people. It was really cool to hear him say certain English words in an Australian accent and then switch to a British accent. It was awesome going over Indonesian words and as I was listing off words and phrases I knew, he said, “You know quite a bit!” I kept going and even thought to myself, “Holy moly, I do know more words than I would have thought after a month. Whoa! Immersion is working!”

After the delicious meal and my Indonesian lesson, I went home and had the best night sleep ever. Thank you, Yoga.

Namaste.

Comfort

Sunday, September 10th, 2017

It’s been so strange being in a place that is so peaceful and with no worries when there is so much going on in the States. I’ve been so sad to see the updates on the fires and the hurricanes – everyone affected is in my thoughts.

The past few days have been full of so much comfort. The longer I am in Amed, the more and more I grow to love it and the people within it. So many reasons why…


The Balinese version of the Ice Cream Man is the Bakso Soup Man. Every day, you’ll see a scooter with this large contraption on the back…people flock to him. Instead of ice cream, he serves meatball soup. It’s as comforting as pho or chicken noodle soup. These are folks from my neighborhood – the woman in the middle, Wayan, is my favorite masseuse. Every time I try to pay her more than 50,000 rupiah (not even $4), she refuses to take the extra money. And her massages are soooo relaxing. Delicious bakso soup followed by a massage. Yes please…

Speaking of comfort food, Stacey knew I was missing eggs benedict from home. Thank you, Stacey, for making such a wonderful eggs benny. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

After breakfast, we sat with Sri and Mila and went over Indonesian words with DIY flash cards.

Flower = Bunga
Rain = Hujan
Mountain = Gunung
Dog = Anjing
House = Rumah


The other day I was at Apa Kabar and I heard a woman talking to her son and I immediately asked her, “WHERE ARE YOU FROM?!” I could tell she was from America and since there are hardly any Americans in Amed, my ears perked up. Vanessa and her family are from California, but a few years ago, they picked up their lives and moved to Singapore. It was such a treat to get to know them and later on join them for dinner. It was a very happy, comforting night.

If you know me, you know I love coffee. I especially love spending my time at coffee shops to write. I’ve tried a couple places here that claim they have good coffee…but they always made me miss my coffee shops in Seattle. Today, I finally tried Utani Coffee and I’ve decided it will be my go-to spot. Maaaaaaaybe better coffee than Seattle (did I just say that?!). I tried their Mocha Float and OH MY GOSH it was so good! A mocha with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in it. Drooling…

I got to talking to the owner, Pande, who happens to be Golo’s cousin, and I was mentioning that I need to find a place with a good burger. The burgers here have “meat” that don’t really pass as meat to me. He said that he has a burger on his menu…and the beef comes from Texas. YES! Coffee and a cheeseburger. Does it get any better??

As I talked with Golo about the States and how I have extended family leaving their home because it will be in the eye of the hurricane, he said I should pray and have a small ceremony at my room for Florida and everyone in the line of the storm. “Pray for no big water.”

So I did. I placed canang and dupa outside of my room and I prayed. I really do hope everyone is okay and somehow finds comfort wherever they are.

If you want to believe in magic – if you want to feel true peace and comfort – come to Amed.

Saya senang.

I am happy.

Different and the Same

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

Different

From the Seattle Freeze to the Bali Heat. I went from a city known for being standoff-ish when it comes to new friendships or new relationships. In Seattle, men rarely approach women. Women want them to, but when a man is brave enough to approach a woman, the woman will think, “Whoa! Too forward!” This isn’t just me saying this…Google it. Personally, I was raaaarely approached by men. And when I was approached, it was oddly enough, usually when I was watching a sunset. Multiple guys have come up to me asking if I was okay. One guy at Golden Gardens even came up to me and said, “Who broke your heart?? Are you doing alright?” He was assuming I was at the beach alone because I had just been dumped. It was so strange. 

In Bali, it’s very, very different. Today, I was serenaded by a guy on his guitar and another man drew me a picture of a temple. Not bad ‘pick-up lines.’ (And no, Mom and Dad, I do not have a Balinese boyfriend!)

Same

I get asked by about 15 kids every day to buy a bracelet from them. The money they receive goes towards school and learning English. I wish I could buy a bracelet from every single one of them…but my arms would be completely covered in bracelets and I’d run out of money real fast. 

Kedek is a kid I would often see playing volleyball on the beach with his friends, and every time he saw a new tourist, he’d stop playing volleyball, run over and say, “Buy bracelet?!” These kids put their childhood on pause so they can make money to go to school. It’s powerful to witness. I love watching them break from their sales pitch and get back to the game. Wrestling with their buddies, shouting, dancing when they scored. 

Kedek often approached me and one day I told him,”I’m here for a long time. I promise I will buy one before I leave.”

He found me the next day and said, “You promised!” Better now than later I suppose. He helped me pick a good bracelet out and put it on my wrist. I absolutely love it. I was especially tickled when he asked my name, I said, “Mo.” I saw him for the next minute whisper under his breath, “Mo……Mo……Mo.” How could I not buy a bracelet from this cute kiddo?? 

This bracelet does NOT go on my “Things Cheaper Than a Starbucks Tall White Mocha” because it was $7. I’d say it was money well spent. (Random thought: if any of you would like me to get a bracelet for you, let me know. Win/Win)

Last night, I went to a performance by one of Bali’s Universities and it was held in Bunutan village. Before the show, everyone was hanging out on the beach during the sunset. I couldn’t speak the same language as all the kids, so instead I taught them how to skip rocks on the water. Sometimes we don’t need to speak in order to connect.

I had such a blast during the show, not necessarily because of the performers, but because of everyone around us. Stacey and I were the only tourists in the audience and we were surrounded by a ton of Balinese children all playing with each other. I could tell a couple of the kids had crushes on each other, other kids were fighting over the plastic chairs, and others were watching YouTube videos on their parents’ phone. I was 100% entertained. The madness was constant, even during the speeches and songs. But when the Balinese dancers came out, Oni and her friend froze and watched intently. I knew they were both thinking, “That’s going to be us someday.” I get chills thinking about it because I know one day, they will be the beautiful dancers little kids look up to.

After the show, as we were walking back to our scooters, Oni grabbed my hand and my heart swelled. No words were necessary. We are different, but more importantly, we are the same.

What’s Going On

Sunday, September 3rd, 2017

Weekends aren’t really a thing here. Not because I’m unemployed and every day is a day off for me…but because the Balinese work pretty much every single day. Every. Single. Day. Some get one day off a week – a day off is called a “holiday” here. But the majority work every day, until they’re very, very old. I’ve seen women that look 80 years old carrying large piles of tree limbs on top of their heads. 

I went on a long scooter ride and stopped a couple times and just looked out at the scenery. I was admiring the view, but was also noticing everyone working in the fields. I was thinking about how these people work harder than anyone I’ve ever met, and they get paid next to nothing. The Balinese are very, very poor – they’re considered lucky if they have individual beds to sleep in. Most Balinese live with their entire families, sleep in one giant room on the floor and use sarongs as their blankets. No pillows. I never thought I’d take my pillow for granted…

The other day I visited the waterfall in Les, which is on the Northern end of Bali. The hike was about 25 minutes through a lush jungle – Golo was pointing out jackfruit trees, papaya trees, banana trees as we went along. Finally, we ended up at the waterfall with a temple next to it. Breathtaking.

I’ve always wanted to stand underneath a giant waterfall and it finally happened! I felt like a little kid, walking under the waterfall and standing there as the water was streaming down on top of me. I couldn’t help but scream and laugh out loud.

On the way back down the trail, we stopped at a little, tiny warung. Here we were in the jungle, and then out of nowhere, this place pops up with the most incredible chocolate scent ever. It would be like walking up to Rattlesnake Ridge in Seattle and having a little pop-up shop with homemade ice cream along the way. 

We walked in and I had a good chuckle. I know I’m a pretty laid back person and lean towards the hippy stereotype with my incense, tie-dye, and all the jazz. But I felt like I walked into an SNL skit here. I felt like the most natural hippy vegan would even walk in to this warung and say, “Whooooa, I don’t belong here.” The decorations, the music, and the woman who owned it were unlike anything I’ve seen or heard. The owner, Gene, would literally float as she walked across the shop. I never heard her speak, but I imagine if she did, a light whisper is as loud as she’d ever get. 

I found it very entertaining, but I will say, she makes some damn good smoothies. Fruit and chocolate straight from the jungle are the best ingredients, that’s for sure.

I am so loving getting to know the Balinese and their way of life. Yesterday, as I was coming back from my scooter ride, I heard my name being called as I was riding by the Harbor. “Andre!” For some reason, the Balinese all say André when they learn my name. It was one of the Diver’s Cafe staff members, Ketut. He was on his ‘holiday’ and hanging out with all of his friends. So I joined them as they were playing guitar and singing. I asked if they go anywhere at night and they said, “When we have no money, we make our own party!” People were coming and going, bringing snacks and drinks, dancing and singing. 

The Balinese were all curious about America – I’ve been asked multiple times to start a business with various people. American dollars go so far here, and they see me as “big money.” The Balinese don’t have money to start a business, but they own the land. So a few people have asked what type of business I’d start and they’d show off their land to me. (“This my land. You be my boss. We work together.”) If only they knew how little money I actually have! But they said they don’t chase money – if someone has a lot or a little bit of money, “everyone is same; everyone is human.” They may be poor, but they are so damn happy, no matter what.

As the light was disappearing, more and more people were showing up and everyone got really excited when the ‘community leader’ showed up because he’s really good at playing the guitar. He pulled out a binder with English-language songs and their lyrics. Lots of Eric Clapton, Guns N’ Roses, and Beatles. They asked me to sing and I was shocked that I actually did. In America, I need multiple drinks to get up the nerve to sing in front of anyone or at karaoke. But I was sitting at a beach with a bunch of Balinese who all sing a little off key anyway, so why the hell not? So I belted out “What’s Going On” by 4 Non Blondes. It may have been one of my favorite memories in my lifetime.

Other random thoughts:

  • Everyone smokes here. I get asked all the time to smoke and when I decline, they all react the same way: “You don’t smoke?? Why not??” Even right now, there are 6 people in the restaurant I’m at and every single person is smoking. 
  • Speaking of smoking, I had another noisy neighbor for a few days. Most people that come to Amed are here for only a couple of days. I’ve had several neighbors since I’ve been here, but one of them stayed for about 6 nights. She was a French woman who mean mugged me when I said hello to her. She wore bright red lipstick every day which made me laugh…we’re in Bali! No makeup necessary. She smoked all the time, so whenever she did, I’d escape into my room to avoid the smell. I wondered if she did the same thing whenever I lit up my incense… She hocked a loogie every 10 minutes so that was an added bonus. Luckily, this noisy neighbor didn’t last a week. I’m the only person at Diver’s Cafe now, which has been kind of fun to be honest.
  • The Balinese keep their cars immaculate. They are constantly washing them. I have yet to see a dusty car.
  • Another item on my “Things Cheaper Than a Starbucks Tall White Mocha” is a pizza and a small Bintang. $5.

Lastly, I’ll end with this.

The Balinese do memes…

Blessed

Friday, September 1st, 2017

In Seattle, I loved walking to coffee shops to write. In Bali, I walk to pools or beaches. A $1.50 cup of coffee is admission to their pool. Here is my setting today.

Yesterday, I hopped in the car with Paul and Stacey to head to the South end of the Island. Our first stop was Immigrations to begin the process of extending my Visa. It’s strange going from days full of beaches, pools, and scooter rides, to standing in a government building with a bunch of other foreigners waiting for their numbers to be called. It’s the kind of place where even though I was doing nothing wrong, I felt like a government official was going to walk up to me and say, “You can’t be here anymore! We are deporting you!” Thankfully, I wasn’t deported. I completed the first step of extending my Visa and we were back on the road. 

We made a few stops along the way and it allowed me to see a new side of Bali. I hadn’t been to the other large, touristy cities yet, other than Ubud. Amed is like the Edmonds waterfront and these cities we visited were like downtown Seattle. I was blown away by all the scooters. There are more scooters on the road than there are cars or pedestrians. 

I love watching them all ride. They all move around each other with such ease and no one gets angry. Road rage just doesn’t exist here. They get so close to each other and even if someone cuts another person off, they just keep riding. I’ve never seen anyone shout or give a look of anger. They all just flow. When we’re stuck in traffic, it just is what it is. In America, I’d be frustrated along with everyone beside me and we’d all fight to not let anyone get in front of us. Here, they’re calm and sort of have this odd working-together mentality.

There really isn’t a speed limit here, either. 80 mph was relatively normal on the highway. And if anyone was going really slow, riders and drivers just wait until they can pass. No annoyance or shouting, “Uuuuugh! Hurry up!” It’s been a strange, but wonderful difference.

Along the way, we stopped at the place to stop for one of the Balinese’s favorite meals: Babi Guling. Eating it felt like a Balinese Rite of Passage.

Best part? You ditch the fork and spoon and EAT WITH YOUR HANDS. Hell yes. It was delicious (enak) and a little over $2 (adding it to my “Things Cheaper Than a Starbucks Tall White Mocha”).

Then the highlight of the day. Pura Tanah Lot.


This temple is one of the most famous and sacred temples on Bali. Tanah Lot means “Land in the Sea” and it sits on top of a huge rock formation that’s been shaped over the years by the ocean tide. Karma was on our side – we happened to visit the temple during low tide, so we could actually walk to it.


At the base, there is a cave you can walk up to and get blessed. I gave them my donation and was sprinkled with holy water, had rice placed on my forehead, and was adorned with a plumeria. The rice is supposed to bring out the positive energy within you. I’d say it worked… Thank you to Paul for capturing a very special moment for me!

Such an amazing experience. 

Then to top off the epic road trip, we had dinner at Paul and Stacey’s favorite Mexican restaurant (they heard I was missing Mexican food). For a moment, I forgot I was in Bali! Incredible burrito with a coconut pineapple margarita…all for about $11. Happiness. 

Oh, and the latest item on my “Things Cheaper Than a Starbucks White Mocha” list is this beautiful beaded wallet. $2.

Alright, time to go jump in the pool!

Believe

Sunday, August 27th, 2017

A while back I wrote about “Notes from the Universe.” My friend Kait told me about it and I immediately signed up. Each day I receive an e-mail with a positive message that makes me feel like, “Yes! Magical things CAN happen!” They’re kind of cheesy, but I’ve grown to absolutely love them. And I feel like they’re part of the reason I am here. 

The other day, I got my e-mail from ‘The Universe’ and this one seemed to stand out.

“Odd, isn’t it, how folks will look back to great milestones in their life – to when they met someone, fortuitously changed careers, or were somehow found to be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time – and consider such incidents turning points?

Because actually, Andrea, the real turning points in any life always occur well before such manifestations, in the moments when they finally began thinking, speaking, and behaving like never before.

Hey, it works – 

   The Universe

p.s. Then, the inevitable serendipities that will follow – chance encounters, thrilling work, and breakfast in bed – are just a matter of us (in the unseen) rearranging the “furniture” of their lives, Andrea, setting them up for some magic. (Yeah, talk about the right place at the right time… More syrup?)”

I thought back to when my turning points have been. It’s awesome that I have proof of when I started thinking, speaking, behaving, and believing

I can’t describe the feeling upon reading that post again. It’s all coming true…

At this moment, I’m writing and enjoying a delicious juice while watching the waves roll in.

What are you thinking about? Why Not do it? 

Certified

Saturday, August 26th, 2017

Officially a certified open water scuba diver!

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Today’s dive was incredible. My nerves were gone, I got over my weirdness with my instructor, and I took time to look around and soak up my unbelievable surroundings. We did this morning’s dive at Tulamben to see the USS Liberty shipwreck. The Liberty was a US cargo ship that was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1942. People travel from all over the world just to do this dive…and here I was diving at this site as a part of my certification. Counting my lucky stars… It was extra meaningful for me because I have barely come across any Americans while here in Amed. So there was something oddly special about diving around a site that was connected to America.

We went throughout the shipwreck and saw all sorts of beautiful aquatic life. And then the pinnacle – a giant sea turtle! Just a few feet from me – I was mesmerized. I can’t wait to spend some more time under the sea. Such a fascinating world.

Today was a very good day.