Travels & Settlings, Roaming & Expatriating
Saunters home page
A lot will be on Bali where we live since 12/13
starting this section 4/18 -- for new and prior posts
Origin of the section name of Saunters
Today is September 11 which I know from living in Indonesia is the
Muslim new year. So I thought that the 9/11 attack on the twin towers
was done on the Muslim new year but I was wrong. Our electrician/plumber
Mudik just finished doing some work here and I always make him tea and
we talk afterwords and I asked him if the Muslim new year date was
always the same and he said no so I looked up 2001 and found out that in
that year it was March 26th - actually the eve of the 25th to the eve of
the 26th. Must look into how that can be.
18-09-01 - I asked our host Donna here at Villa Nova about her staff. There are more than necessary maybe but she's of the heart of gold persuasion. One is a sweet older man she'd hired years ago and then learned he has balance problems so can't ride a motor scooter which for a Balinese is like not having legs. It also means he can't go shopping or do errands. Another she met at a ceremony, the type that goes on for hours with people mulling around and checking their smart phones and so forth. She noticed a young man just sitting there taking it in. She asked about him and was told he's stupid. She inquired further and found out he was deaf. Deaf people here traditionally are sort of written off. Deafness not dealt with is, according to what I've gathered, akin to being mentally retarded in terms of how well the person functions in society. So she hired him. Sh says he's strong and cheerful, has a great sense of humor, and now communicates well with hand signals and gestures, doesn't read or write but doesn't care to.
18-08-31 - Katrinka and I are most fortunate to have been invited to stay the weekend at Villa Nusa on the island of Lembongan which is part of Bali and just a half hour away by express boat. Sarah is here too. Donna, the owner who has a home on the property took Sarah around the island today. Katrinka and I hung out, having just arrived. Sarah did the website for Villa Nova.
18-08 30 - Got a little 220 shock today plugging in a fan. Katrinka called out. I told her what it was. She said she'd wondered if it was a snake which was unlikely as there aren't many left around here. I told her it sort of woke me up, not that I was sleeping, but just felt more alert. I was reminded of when we had horses and electric fencing at Green Gulch. When I got sleepy in a sesshin I'd go out and grab it.
18-08-27 - Katrinka and I had lunch at Luhtus on the beach back near where we used to live - tables and chairs in the sand. She was dying for one of their tofu burgers. I got a chef salad with prawns, no meat. A quite elderly woman came up helped by a man and was told by a waitress that the only available spot there was already promised to a couple standing by waiting for it to be ready so we called her to our table. The man helped her to her chair and went off, her driver. We introduced ourselves and she, obviously not the slightest bit shy, said her name was Ruth, sounded like Roos, and she commenced with a monologue while still standing, leaning over the table. As I noticed a bit of drool coming from her lower lip a couple of times, I pulled back our plates and suggested she sit down. She ordered a glass or red wine and after it had arrived didn't stop talking long enough to take a sip. She was German, moved to New York some years after WWII, had lived in Bali for 13 years. We found her pretty interesting and were happy to listen. Her 90th birthday was coming up in September but she said she wouldn't celebrate because she didn't like getting older. I thought about that - we're getting older every second with no increase in rate on birthdays - but didn't bother to point that out. She asked how old I was. I said 73 and she put out her right palm for a high five.
She'd had an electrolysis business in Long Island and had been married. Said she'd traveled a lot in her life and would rather live in Bali than anywhere including with her son who has a business in Jakarta and is married to a local there. She made the point with emphasis, "No place is perfect," and used that line as an introduction to what she found imperfect about Bali. Number one, "They don't honor appointments," which she illustrated with several examples like her computer tech guy would say he's coming at 11 and then not show and not call. She called him and told him she'd not gone out, waiting for him, and because he didn't call, she wasn't going to pay him for the next visit. She leaned over and said in a stronger voice, "Money talks!" I thought, well my tech guy does the same thing, but I'm usually home and if I need to leave I just send him a message and tell him I'll let know when I'm back. Anyway, it's not as bad as Mexico here and the drivers are quite punctual, tend to be early, not honoring what they call "rubber time." What else did she list - she didn't like Islam but the Muslims seemed alright. She didn't really like any religious organizations. She said Hindus think of women as possessions. There's too much traffic. The sidewalks, where they exist at all, are uneven, full of gaping holes. She'd fallen and lost her front teeth upper level. Thus the Roos for Ruth and maybe the drooling though there wasn't much of that. We had to leave before her. I helped her to another table which had opened up, her favorite. She goes there a lot - the waitresses all knew her. Katrinka had gone off to pay the bill. I said goodby and it's been lovely. She stuck out her hand for a high five and grabbed mine, pulled me to her and kissed me on the lips. As I walked off I saw she was starting to sip her wine.
18-08-25 - We've had so many earthquakes (centered in Lombok) that I lie in bed now and anything that makes the bed move makes me perk up to see if it's going to continue and get stronger. And there are four of us in the bed often - and three species. Same sitting on the couch here. Now I feel like everything is always moving a little at least, usually unnoticed. And then I wonder if what I think is movement is imaginary or memory-induced like smells can be. When I've been on a boat for half an hour as in going to nearby Lembongan, I can like in bed even hours later and feel the movement of the boat. Sort of pleasant. But earthquake or maybe it's an earthquake starting feelings have more apprehension accompanying.
18-08-24 - Read a statistic today from this curious article that on average 7 people a year are killed by cows in England whereas 6 people a year are killed worldwide on average by sharks. They unload cows here in Sanur from boats by pushing them off into the water - at least they used to - I haven't seen it. But still, when I go swimming inside the reef here, I'll be on the lookout for killer cows.
18-08-23 - While Katrinka cooked I was reading her random stuff from the web. A friend had just said that India had one of the highest murder rates in the world which I doubted so I went to a Wikipedia page for murder rate by country and say India was 3.22 per hundred thousand, half the global average of 6.5. The US was 5.35. I was surprised to see Indonesia at .50 per hundred thousand. San Francisco was the global average. I assume the US has more accurate reporting than Indonesia but I bet it's good here because there's so much press local and international. Crime is low here. Purse snatching is the most common to hear about - zooming motorbikes, sometimes straps get cut- and smart phone snatching. If we're walking outside by a street and I pull out my iPhone, Katrinka has me hold it away from the street. But overall, a safe feeling place - even for a woman walking alone at night. At least where we are.
18-08-22 - A few weeks ago there were all these black blobs on the beach. The hotels had guys out there cleaning them up. They were mainly about the size of and sort of looked like human brains. I thought maybe they were coral that had washed up from a storm but when I punched them they were mushy. Katrinka said they were from an oil spill.
18-08-17 - More unseasonal rain and unusually cool here in Sanur - 72 degrees Fahrenheit this morning! Feels cooler than that to us really. Katrinka says this is the coolest she remembers in the almost five years we've been here. It's like Kintamani cool, Bedugal cool - and they're way up. I've got a cotton blanket over my legs as I type, might go get a long sleeve shirt on. And in the midst of this most pleasant dreamy morning, in the background I'm mourning the attempted suicide of the human race. Seems to me from what I gather, we're just not doing near enough to counter the harm we cause to our dear planet and don't seem to have much inclination to do so. Hasn't caught up to this place though in any unpleasant way - unless we count the bleaching of coral which is harmful but we don't notice it unless we're diving or snorkeling and even then only if we know what it used to look like. Still, the courtyard is beautiful this morning. I can appreciate the world I'm in, but can't take refuge in it for long. Yet here too the refuge.
18-08-16 - Western type ovens are not common in homes here in Bali, actually here in Asia. We have a nice one because this house was last rented by an Italian chef. We don't use it much but did last night to bake some potatoes. Before they were done the flames died. We were out of gas - second time in eleven months in our new home. I called a local propane guy at his home/storefront and he was over in ten minutes on his motorbike equipped with three circular metal baskets for holding propane tanks. Bandi was freaked out by the tanks I guess and wouldn't stop barking at him so I put her in the little dog carrier up front. It's so curious to me how she calms down in there which she hasn't done if I lock her in the guest toilet room where she tore off the bottom third of the outer plied layer of the door last February. The gas man went out back, exchanged a new tank for the old one. Checked it and gave me the bill - ten dollars at the excellent for us exchange rate. I added a little which pleased him greatly as mainly it's Americans who tip, he was off, and the potatoes were soon done.
18-08-15 - When we were in Singapore a couple of months ago we stayed in Chinatown across from a vegan restaurant Chinese style. Monks went there to eat. They had lots of faux meat dishes. We ate in a Chinese vegan restaurants in KL with friends there a couple of times. They don't have a word like vegan I know of. The just say vegetarian but they're totally non animal food. I've never been a fan of that pretend meat approach but I haven't been around it much. In the US, the Seventh Day Adventists have a lot of vegetarian food that looks like meat. But these Chinese vegan dishes are great, so much so that we just kept going back there. Cheap too. So I told Katrinka last night that we should apply that approach in a different way and open a restaurant called The Faux Vegan that serves all animal food dishes made to look like they're vegetarian. But first we've got to develop the recipes. Laboratory meat is just around the corner, being propelled by all the greenhouse gasses produced by livestock. I can see beef looking like beets, pork like broccoli, chicken like lettuce. I think I'll start with cow milk that tastes like soy milk. And then a spread called I Can't Believe it's Not Margarine!
18-08-14 - Dropped Bandi off at Hotel Anjing (Dog Hotel), formally named Bali Kennel. Super neat, clean, efficiently run. Owned by Swiss man who's there some and acts more like an employee. Bandi loves going there. Been taking her twice a week since Katrinka was in the US. When Nyoman brings her back he often says she didn't want to leave. About five bucks a day whether overnight or not. We left here there for a week when we went to KL recently. Yoni the manager gave her a free grooming. Said Bandi started getting a little bored hanging out in the small dog area so she tried her in the big dog yard and that worked well. Said she fearlessly challenged them - to play. She likes jumping on other dogs, play fighting, chewing on their legs and of course the usual sniffing. Yoni says she's a little crazy. Yoni brings her own dog there to play with Bandi.
18-08-13- We get lots of frangipani flowers dropping on the front courtyard and in the little back one. Them and their leaves and a few yucca type leaves from the tree with yucca type leaves that aren't sharp like yucca though and which our doggy (too small to be a dog) likes to chew on. Frangipani are called jepun here. That's Balinese I think. They're called kamboca in Indonesian. They're everywhere used in offerings and offerings are everywhere. Anyway, I used to leave them on the courtyard floors for Kadek, our housekeeper who comes three times a week to sweep up and separate them from the leaves and take them home to dry and sell for six bits a kilo to be used in making fragrant soap and incense. I noticed that whenever our local driver Nyoman would come, he'd always sweep the front courtyard before Kadek could get to it. I noticed that Kardino the carpenter would do that first thing. I noticed the trash guy sweeping it up while waiting for me to get the trash card and monthly payment of less than four bucks. I noticed wherever I went that people swept in front of their places first thing in the morning. There might be plastic and other trash all around but they'd sweep out front. I noticed all the kids bringing the little brooms made with some long stiff leaves. So eventually it got to me and now I collect the flowers every morning and dry them for Kadek and put the leaves in a container for the trash guys. This moring Mudik the plumber electrician was coming and I hurried to have it all done before he got here so he wouldn't know how late I'd gotten to it.
18-08-12 - Gregory sent a photo of a lizard in in Tucson back yard. He wrote: Nice coloring and he’s been coming right up to my feet and cocking his head and looking up as if to say, howdy....., quite confident.
I wrote back: Good lizard. We've got little ones all over, cicak, and bigger ones, gecko, we hear and rarely see. Those are all wall-dwellers. There are regular lizards on the ground too, and I love seeing a monitor lizard, close relative of the Komodo Dragon and up to nine feet long. I've seen maybe six foot. More likely three. Not dangerous as long as one doesn't go after them. I've read of exceptions but they're rare - they scamper away. People make pets out of them. Bad bacteria in the mouth so a bite can lead to infection. The dragon has poison.
18-08-11 - Met a nice young German couple yesterday walking back from a fruit/veg stand down the street with a big bag of fruit/veg on my shoulders. They were here for two months, the tourist visa limit, and wanted to learn to dive but didn't know which dive company to use or where to go. Were apprehensive about diving on the east side because of fear of a tsunami from the Lombok side. Brought them inside our courtyard and asked Sarah who's staying here a few days to come out. She's a diving guru here, has written books on diving (Diving in Indonesia), works for an expensive company, sent them to another a short walk from here. They wanted to rent a motorbike which are available everywhere. She suggested down the street on the corner at the Snack Shack, owned by a Dutch guy and his local wife. Dutch owner good, reliable. I suggested they have a more scientific, statistically based, criteria for what they worry about. For instance, the likelihood of their being threatened by a tsunami is super thin - I've never heard of a big one here and can find no mention of one on the Internet - but riding a motorbike is thirty times more dangerous than a car and is maybe a million times more threatening.
Lombok, the next island over to the east, has experienced some strong earthquakes in the last few weeks, with death and damage that has at times led international news. We get messages of concern from those afar. We feel those quakes but they're not strong here. Yesterday was the latest. A 6.2 in the afternoon. At the time I was having a discussion with Kardino and Nyoman (see prior post below) about what to call Velcro in Indonesian and how much to get. Kardino was using it to latch little openings in screen windows that enable us to lock and unlock the glass-paned windows on the outside - cute little wood-trim doors, Velcro held on with thumb tacks Anyway, it happened while we were talking and for some reason rather fast, loud, and on top of each other. Katrinka came out and asked if we'd felt the quake and we hadn't noticed it. She said the whole house was shaking. We were standing inside by the front door.
Here's what I posted on Facebook after the last strong one, the 6.9 on Sunday evening:
The epicenter was in the ocean by Lombok, the next island over to the east, about 70 miles from here. Here's what I put on Facebook:
The first earthquake yesterday happened as we approached our home here in Sanur, Bali, coming from the airport. Didn't notice it but we wondered why so many people were going out on the street. The second one, an hour later or so, we felt while having dinner at an open air restaurant down the street. Even though it registered at a 7 the epicenter was over 100 kilometers away and it wasn't strong - our chairs were swaying side to side a little. A bunch of ceiling tiles fell at a shopping center maybe ten kilometers closer to it.
We also just missed being one of the planes that couldn't land because the airport closes when there's a quake near and we'd landed about an hour before the quake.
I've been in a number of quakes like this before - either small ones or far enough from the center that they seemed small. One in Tokyo I thought was going to bring the two story wood building I was in down. Others just shrugged. I remember curtains and furniture moving in Mexico city, window pane glass rippling like water while boats bobbed up and down at Greens. Once while chanting with monks at four in the morning in the Hatto of Sogenji in Japan. Once next to the temple standing talking to a neighbor I hear what sounded like a train in the distance, knew it wasn't a train and said to the neighbor that I think I just heard an earthquake. Turned out there was a 3.5 across town in Okayama.
Maybe we should Air BnB our place and move into one made of bamboo instead of brick and cement.
Joe, boss of the US consular office here said there are people in Lombok who can't fly out and can't get money now and spent everything before their flights that didn't take off.
My friend Gregory whom I'm in fairly constant email touch with - brief comments and links - hadn't been concerned or asked about it. I mentioned it and here's his response:
Figured you’d feel something. When I lived in Japan as a kid, we had earthquakes of various intensity, frequently - I was playing soccer one day in a field by our house in Misawa when a crack about 8 inches wide opened up right between my feet. Of course I thought that was cool and got down on my belly and looked into it hoping I could see the Center of the Earth. The US military in its superior wisdom built our houses out of brick - lots of cracks developed over the years and we had to run outside during quakes. Meanwhile, Japanese stick and paper houses just swayed and hardly anybody ran out. Never got used to the unnerving feeling of earthquakes but did get pretty sensitive to when they were about to happen- for one thing, insects and birds would become very quiet.Maybe good idea to do a move - seems you’re getting a lot of unstable activity in area with volcanoes popping off and growling ground!
18-08-09 - Set up this page in April, but haven't done a single Saunters post other than the long piece on Bali Usada. Was concentrating on another project. Took notes though. It's so much easier to put quick short posts on Blogger like I do for Shunryu Suzuki lecture excerpts and other Zen related posts. For a long time I put one Zen and one nonZen post up everyday. The nonZen were mainly Saunters and environmental posts. The latter tended to attract argument and I always felt a little uncomfortable combining Bali posts with the Zen stuff. No one complained, MK and Katrinka liked it but I still felt like it wasn't a good fit. So now I'm intending to put saunters posts here. I don't care if it's an obscure spot. I miss doing them.
Slept late. Been down with a cold. Not bad but saps energy - get something here that saps energy about twice a year. Colds are the best. Flus or flu like lethargic states are worse and can last much longer. Got nine and a half hours sleep.
Was going for ten but Katrinka told me Kardino was sitting on the bale, a raised, roofed area in front. Kardino's a carpenter who's done work for us for years. Our little dog Bandi loves him. He's Muslim from Java but likes to play with Bandi. Will hold her. She'll lie down by him while he's working. A few tasks - some painting and filling cracks from moisture in the walls and house moving manybe from earthquakes in Lombak. Screen work. A curtain rod fell. Rotten holders on the sides. Nyoman, our short range driver couldn't find any replacements. Kardino said he'd have to go far to get them. He rides a bike. I said Nyoman could get them. He said he'd make them from wood scrap I saved. Squatting on the courtyard with a bucket of water sharpening chisel with stone. Then on the bale The gardener, Ketut, arrived. Bandi always barks at him for a while. Bandi starts barking at those she barks at before they're inside and visible. She knows when Katrinka's returning even before Katrinka comes around the corner to our gang, our alley. The bell outside is struck. Man to collect for trash pickup. I told him I'd already paid the driver - show him in the book. Every month it's a race to pay the underlings who do the grunt work first. I pay them double - seven bucks so the four of them can have a nice lunch with their half. I suspect the reason the boss seems to try to beat them is that he keeps it all. I love these little exchanges with locals in Indonesian.
18-04-05 - Bali Usada - report on the March 25-31 retreat