Fear and Loathing in Lamai

29
Jun
2007

We thought we would hang out one more day in Samui after our lease on the villa was up. So we came to Lamai, supposedly one of the nicest beaches  on Samui. While the place we are staying is not so bad, it is a little far from the beach. So we went out for a walk and exploration, only to discover that Lamai is, in fact, a bit of a dump. Fortunately, we have each other (with the exception of Chris, who left for Bangkok today) and we have air conditioning.

Tomorrow we head for the main coast then probably on south to Georgetown in Malaysia. Stay tuned.

Pool Blogging.

26
Jun
2007

That’s right, I am blogging poolside in Koh Samui¬†with a view over Big Buddha from our fabulous villa. This place is amazing. We went grocery shopping for just about everything this morning and will be here for the next three days, hanging out and celebrating the aging process.

The Gang and me in BKK

25
Jun
2007

I have been having the best time with my friends in Bangkok. I am feeling totally blissed out and happy they are here. We have been doing touristy things and having fun just hanging out while sweating profusely. We leave super early to meet Keith at the airport tomorrow morning, then all fly to Koh Samui.

In the air

23
Jun
2007

They are coming. My pals Maureen, Mike and Chris left LA and are (according to the flight stalker web sites that I have viewed) in the air, arriving tomorrow morning. They will soon be followed by Jeff from KL and Keith from San Francisco. I get all dewy thinking about them coming here to help me celebrate turning 40. I mean, that is one long ass way to come just for a party.

It is raining like crazy here in Bangkok, but I kinda like it. Here I sit in front of my blog thinking in depth about the past 9 months, what led me here, what I (thought I) wanted to accomplish with this entire trip. And even though it isn’t over, this is a bit of a stopping point, a time to reflect on what I wanted.

I wanted to take time out and think about things I hadn’t thought about before. That certainly has happened. I have been exposed to massive amounts of culture that I had never seen before. This in turn has led me to a greater understanding of how things within my own culture are constructed.

Without sounding morbid, I wanted to think about death. This trip, for a variety of reasons (including scary bus rides) has made me explore life and death in far more depth than before. And I am grateful for it.

I didn’t plan it this way, but this trip has really been an exploration of belief systems. All kinds. I have been able to connect in a meaningful way with a variety of belief systems and faiths, and ask honest questions. I have been lucky to transform my formerly sneering disdain for all things spiritual into an honest curiosity about the nature of belief and how people connect with the divine. I have come to understand and refine my own sense of metaphysics, and am much more accepting of the variety of tools that people use to come to terms with the infinite.

Perhaps this is a summing up of the above, but I wanted to be ok with turning 40. I wasn’t particularly bothered about it before, but neither was I convinced that leading up to this milestone (and it is a milestone) that I was as conscious about living as I wanted to be. This trip has forced me into the present moment in so many ways, and I am so much the happier for it.

I am sure that embarking on this journey was the best decision I have ever made. Because let’s face it, at the end of it all, we regret the things we didn’t do, not the things we did.

In transit

22
Jun
2007

Sort of. I flew back to KL two nights ago and hung out there with my buddy Jeff until this evening, when I took my flight here to Bangkok (to celebrate 40 with friends in a few days). I can’t believe it has been almost 9 months since I began this. Coming into BKK this time was nothing like the culture shock I remember from those many months ago, and I suppose that is just about right.

I’m gonna go out and hit the town a little later tonight. Let’s hope it doesn’t hit back too hard.

Where are you going?

20
Jun
2007

One of the books I’ve been reading recently (and just finished last night) is called Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. This woman is a beautifully gifted writer telling her tale of a year of travel in Italy, India, and Bali. (Blah blah, of course it resembles parts of my journey, blah blah.) I first heard about this book when considering this trip to Bali. As I was reading through the Bali portion (“Love”, duh), I was struck by her description of the Balinese people and her perception of their need to place themselves in the world. After that I started noticing that oddly yes, the first question everyone asks me here is “Where are you going?”. And I’m not talking about cab drivers either. Not “Where are you from?”, or “Are you married?”, but “Where are you going?”.

The more I think about it, the more lovely it is. Perhaps this should be the first question. It implies that we are always on a journey. Although regular readers (both of you) will know me well enough to know how strongly I feel that the journey is the destination, however cliched that sounds.

Bali Idyll

19
Jun
2007

As we were climbing the hill out of Ubud and past the pura, the landscape opened up and (I know this sounds cloying, but) I almost started to cry. The walk Jeff and I took today through the villages surrounding Ubud was one of the most beautiful I have ever experienced. Bali opened up in a way that was sweet and natural, and suddenly I understood what it is about this place that makes so many people (like my friend Marites) find it so alluring.

Blue Balls in Bali

18
Jun
2007

No, not that kind. Jeff and I moved to a cool new (more modern) hotel this morning, then explored the area by foot. I also learned some interesting things about Bali first names. (The Balinese only have four first names. The first child is named Wayan, the second child is Made, the third is Nyoman and the fourth is Ketut. The fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth will be named Wayan, Made, Nyoman, Ketut and Wayan again. As you might imagine, nicknames are very important here.)

Here’s looking at Ubud

17
Jun
2007

Our driver Made arrived at 11am this morning to pick us up and schlep us all over the island. We started at Batur, a really beautiful volcanic (last eruption: 1963) area where we took in a beautiful view, a crappy buffet (oh no! not another buffet!), and a cool pura (temple). After that we made our way to the crafty village of Ubud, which although fairly touristy was quite cute in its way. Next up was the “fire dance” (also known as Kachak. Also known as the Monkey Warrior Dance.) at sunset near the southwestern coast town of Ulu Watu. We finished up the evening with a fair Nasi Minang meal consisting of, among other things, deep fried lung, curry liver and marinated cow skin. The rest of the meal was pretty edible.

Made told me during dinner that he was 48 years old. I said, “No way! You look much younger.” I lied. He looks 58 if he looks a day. But he is a father of 5, a grandfather, and seems very proud of his son the police officer. The others he didn’t want to talk about.


From BaliWood