Archive for the 'Indonesia' Category
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I like my new Indonesian mobile phone. It’s a sleek little model made by Nokia whose sole feature is a flashlight, in case I get lost at night. (The next most expensive phone advertised an FM radio.) While the phone is devoid of standard extras like a digital camera, it is unlocked, unlike those sold in the United States. So in most countries we visit, we’ll be able to purchase a prepaid SIM card, a small chip placed inside the phone, providing us temporary local service and a number.
We hadn’t planned on buying a mobile for this trip, as it seemed like an unnecessary cost. But we’ve encountered enough frustrating situations in which we’ve sighed, “If we only had a cell phone!” that it finally seemed worth it. What finally pushed us over the edge was spending $5 on a four minute phone call.
We have met a few travelers using their mobile phones outside their countries of residence, but we figured they were paying an arm and a leg in international roaming charges. It wasn’t until our friend Paul explained this SIM card scheme to us. Whether it’s accommodation, transportation, or other areas of travel, I’m continually amazed by the creativity of our fellow travelers to better their lives. If you’d like to contact us while we’re in Australia, our number is 0432269839.No comments
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Maikael and I always take any opportunity to go on outings with other travelers. It’s more fun, it helps our budget, it opens us to new experiences and, most importantly, it keeps us sane. When Paul and Ishara began discussing a trip to Tirta Gangga and Sideman Road, we had no idea where or what these places were, but we said we were on board. Paul set about hiring a driver for the day ($30 for eight hours!), of which there is no shortage in Bali. Everyone you pass on the street calls, “Transport? Taxi?” as you pass by, some even pantomiming turning a steering wheel in case you are deaf or don’t speak English. The lazier ones half-heartedly prop up a sign on their knee as they rest on a stoop. One side reads, “Do you need transport (taxi)?”, and when you invariably say “no,” they flip the sign which reads, “Maybe tomorrow.”
We set off for Tirta Gangga; I had absentmindedly flipped through my Lonely Planet guide the night before and learned that it means “Water of the Ganges,” which I could only pray was cleaner than the real Ganges in India, and that it is a water palace. I didn’t know what a water palace was, but was excited to have two folks in our stead who had visited Bali multiple times between them and would knowledgeably create the itinerary for the day.
On our way we stopped at Goa Lawah, which Ishara kept referring to as The Bat Temple, but which I preferred to called The Bat Cave. As our van pulled into the temple’s parking lot, which was packed, we noticed a line of people, decked out in their Sunday best, snaking their way down the beach towards the sparkling water. A row of Crayola umbrellas bobbed along in the brilliant sunshine. There was obviously something special taking place today.
We wrapped colorful sarongs around our waists, mandatory temple garb, topped off with a bright yellow sash. The scene inside the temple grounds was festive and merry, not at all like the somber affairs that I usually associate with religious occasions. I stood in a shaded doorway watching groups of smiling Balinese gather for family photos. A gaping cave stood at the the front of the courtyard, where lines of people knelt and prayed before the mouth. Bats screeched and hung like coal stalagmites at the edge of the dark abyss. Incense loomed heavy in the air as parades of devotees wound their way around the courtyard, carrying baskets heaving with fruit and other offerings.
As we made our way through the scene, we noticed a woman who must have been the high priestess making blessings under a great thatched roof dais raised high above the crowds. Her scarlet hat was gilded with gold and topped off with a dazzling crystal; more crystals studded her finery, creating epaulets over her shoulder. She looked simply grand. As we admired the scene, the only non-Balinese wedged into the crowd, a woman caught my eye and placed her palms together in prayer. I did the same and nodded to her, preparing to take my leave. Suddenly the mass plopped to the ground, and the woman pulled me down with her. I realized that she had been asking me without words if I’d like to pray with the group.
We knelt on the ground, my batik sarong next to her lovely raspberry one. She smiled and led me through the prayer, the women next to us giggling as I bumbled my way through each step. First she handed me a square cup fashioned out of pale banana leaves and filled with wilting tropical flowers. She plucked a fresh one from the cup and placed it behind my ear, doing the same for Maikael who sat to her right. Spindly sticks of incense were passed through the crowd, and she instructed me to place mine over the flowers. We then grabbed bits of flower from the cup, waving them over the incense, and brought them to the tips of our fingers placed in prayer. The priestess rang a rhythmic bell as the crowd prayed in silence. I asked for peace and purpose, the same things I always do.
Between stages of the prayer she tried to talk to me, despite the language barriers. I said I was from America. I pointed towards my wedding ring, and then to Maikael, and everyone sighed a collective, “Ooooh.” Then it was the woman’s turn. She pointing towards my shirt, saying something in Bahasa that I didn’t understand, and another woman down the line leaned over. “Beautiful,” she translated. I was wearing a ratty old T-shirt, and she was wearing a lacy top that looked like delicate pink sherbet.
When the prayer ended, we were swarmed. “Where you from?” everyone wanted to know. Pictures were taken, and I shook the woman’s hand who had pulled us into the prayer. I’m not sure why she decided to include us, but I felt intensely grateful for the experience, and to her.
On the road to Tirta Gangga we encountered numerous processionals in multiple villages as people made their way to temple ceremonies. Traffic crawled to a stop to allow the parade to pass. Women expertly balanced towers of fruit of their head as they power-walked up steep hills, looking nonplussed. “This must be our lucky day,” I said.
We arrived to Tirta Gangga later that afternoon, which felt like stepping into the Garden of Eden. Huge pools of water criss-crossed the courtyard, each containing something beautiful. My favorite was the pool containing large stepping stones, where one can walk amongst ornate stone statues as gigantic koi swim underfoot. When we arrived kids were running on the stones, giggling like mad: can you imagine a water temple as your playground? At the center of the lush gardens sat a lovely emerald fountain, which spouted mist so fine that it looked as if the entire thing was swathed in soft light.
There was another ceremony occurring when we arrived, and a mass of people was crowded around the temple under the shade of an ancient banyan tree. We scurried up to the restaurant and grabbed a table to admire the ceremony from above. “Why all the ceremonies today?” we asked our waiter. “Preparations for the full moon,” he said. Within minutes the ceremony ended and the recessional snaked its way right in front of our table: we couldn’t have picked a better seat or a better time to be there.
On our way back to Ubud we ambled through Sideman Road, where terraced rice fields stretch as far as the eye can see. We traipsed through the rice paddies, forming a processional of our own, picking our way over the narrow green lanes. As the light began to fade, we came upon a field in which they were harvesting the rice. “I’ve never seen that before,” said Paul, a man who has seen his fair share of rice in traveling around the world so many times. We watched this field of workers, letting rice dance through their fingers as the day glowed amber.
The whole day – and my whole experience in Bali – was an exercise in remaining completely open to whatever may happen, and if I could take that back to my everyday life I’d be the better for it. I didn’t know anything about Goa Lawah. Tirta Gangga wasn’t on my agenda. I had no idea that we had planned our outing for such an auspicious day. In short, had I tried to craft such an experience on my own it never would have happened.
I constantly hear people talking about what a special place Bali is. Some call it “vibe.” Others call it “energy.” But whatever it is, there is something that keeps people coming back. It’s not uncommon to meet people who have been here 15 times, who come twice a year, who stay for six months. It’s just the kind of place that casts a spell over you. I’m really sad to be leaving today, to be released from Bali’s magic and all the wonderful people I’ve met here. But more than any place we’ve visited, I know I’ll be back.1 comment
Friday, October 10, 2008
The greatest benefit of our time in Bali has been starting the process of relearning what makes me feel happy. There is no agenda, and my days here are truly simple, guided by one question: what do you feel like doing today? I don’t think I realized until I arrived in Ubud how rote my life had become, how much I was doing out of obligation or mimicry, how out of touch with myself I had become. I feel like an infant who is relearning her way in the world. This trip has been a spiritual bootcamp. a slow breaking-down process that has finally bottomed out. Without any of the cues of my everyday life, I am forced to listen to myself more than I ever have before. I am beginning to see that the struggle of the first three months of this trip has been that daily process of looking to myself only to realize that I don’t know who I am: how can you rely on yourself when you don’t recognize yourself? The result was an overwhelming feeling of helplessness and pessimism. Bali has allowed me to begin filling myself up again, to remember who I am and what I enjoy about this world. I am slowly regaining confidence in myself and my choices through making simple, daily decisions based on what feels right and good.
I quickly decided that I wanted to spend my time in Ubud reconnecting with myself, and the great thing about this town is that it offers so many modalities for tapping into one’s self. Every storefront you pass advertises Balinese detox, herbal remedies, crystals, astrology, meditation, massage, yoga, baths – the possibilities are endless. Most of these treatments, which would cost an arm and a leg in the States, are so inexpensive in Bali that you’re not out much from trying something once. So Maikael and I have been running all over town trying different treatments, seeing what happens and what works best for us.
I wasn’t sure where to begin this so-called spiritual journey that I have decided to embark upon, so I started with massage, something I knew I enjoyed. Over the last week we’ve been poked, prodded, pummeled, washed, dried, fluffed, and perfumed before being sent back into the world. We’ve had a massage nearly every day while we’ve been in Ubud, ranging from $4 to $16. At Nur Salon we received treatments in small bungalows set amongst the greenery of a lovely family compound. As the cares of the world melted away I listened to, instead of a CD, nature’s soundtrack: chickens clucking outside, birds twittering on the branches above, the roll of thunder in the distance. I reclined in the stone tub, filled with tropical flowers and heavenly scents, and looked skyward through the fringe of the thatched roof and gazed on gathering storm clouds and ragged tree limbs. I was filled to the brim with pure contentment.
Maikael has always been interested in meditation, and had his first opportunity to join a class at the Yoga Barn. Of everything he tried this week, he felt this was the most effective treatment for him, and wants to continue with it when we return home. I have always been a devotee of massage, but am beginning to recognize the need for something more in my everyday life. I have visited astrologers and mediums three times in my life, and all three have stressed the importance of adopting a spiritual practice. (Two have specifically mentioned Kundalini yoga, something I would like to investigate when we return to Albuquerque.)
Shortly after we arrived, Ishara suggested a massage at Bodyworks and a session at Light Spirit with Tibetan bowls, both of which were guaranteed to get my blocked energies flowing. We were skeptical – particularly about the latter – but willing to give it a try. The massage at Bodyworks focused on triggering points down the body’s energy meridians, and when I emerged an hour later, I felt simultaneously relaxed and energized.
The next day we dipped into Light Spirit as dark descended over the slick streets, licked clean after the late afternoon downpour. Two young Balinese men lounged on great cushions, springing to action when the bells tinkled as we passed through the front door. We were placed on large divans set before a gigantic gong. A series of hand-hammered bronze bowls, looking as old as the world itself, were placed on various point on our body: hands, feet, stomach, back. A soft felt mallet struck the bowls, sending vibrations throughout our body as sound reverberated all around us. At first I didn’t feel much of anything, but I soon noticed a familiar, dull ache in my forearms. When have I felt this sensation before? I asked myself. When I used to do acupuncture, I realized, and I suddenly recognized this feeling as energy flowing through my body. As I lay quietly at the end of the session I felt a gentle tap on my forehead, and assuming it was the therapist, I flicked open my eyes. No one was there.
The next day I was sitting at Kafe, enjoying a particularly good panini, when my stomach started to toss, turn, and rumble. “Not Bali Belly,” I thought to myself. But then I remembered what Ishara had told me a few days earlier about the Tibetan bowls, that they release energy quickly and in sometimes unexpected ways. A friend of hers had been sick as a dog for three days after a session, and I couldn’t help by wonder if the same thing was happening to me. After one sick night I’m still not sure whether to blame it on suspect lettuce or those bowls, but I emerged from the whole ordeal feeling renewed and a little more in awe of the power of Bali.1 comment
Friday, October 10, 2008
I can’t remember how long I’ve been in Ubud, or when I’m leaving. I’m not even quite sure what day it is, unless I happen to glance at my watch – if I remember to wear it at all. I’ve never felt so out of touch with the ordinary patterns of life; and yet, our days here have quickly fallen into a comfortable routine.
We found Ubud Bungalows purely by chance, a miraculous feat given the sheer volume of accommodations here. We emailed seven hotels, and they were the first to respond, but it’s ended up to be the most fortuitous part of our trip to Bali. We quickly learned that the Bungalows, nestled amongst lovely tropical gardens, are home to countless longer-term guests. First we met Ishara, the dreadlocked-Australian who I am convinced is here to teach me something about my spiritual self. She’s already been to Bali twice this year, and usually stays in two-month stretches, splitting her time between multiple locations (including Hawaii and Vanuatu) as she continues on her spiritual journey, with Australia as her vague homebase. “But I’m homeless,” she says, simply and with a smile.
The three of us were lounging around the pool one day when a guy looking like Michael J. Fox approached. “American and Australian, right?” he asked. The four of us were soon in the thick of conversation, forming a circle in the pool as we debated life’s big questions. Paul has also been to Bali twice this year – Ishara and Paul missed each other by mere weeks, and began discussing all the mutual long-term guests they knew. Originally from California, Paul worked in Munich for eight years before giving it all up to travel around the world. That was 10 years and seven round-the-world trips ago. While Paul and Ishara are both “homeless,” Paul has structured his life quite differently. He travels in three-month blocks, returning to San Diego for a month before setting off again. He has been to nearly every corner of the globe, and if I ever had a question about getting to or traveling within a location, he’d be the first person I’d call. Paul is not a millionaire – through savvy travel, he lives a great standard of life abroad at what would be considered poverty-level in the US.
Our next-door neighbor is Andreas, a German man who left his engineering job behind 15 years ago to travel around the world. Before he stopped working, though, he took two months off every winter to travel. He now splits his time between India and Indonesia, his favorite places on the globe. He is a passionate supporter of India, but recommends you leave Calcutta after 10 days, lest you develop a permanent cough from the pervasive pollution.
I find it remarkable that we have met three such interesting people, who are each leading unconventional lives in three completely different ways, purely by chance (or is there such a thing?). They represent a subset of the ex-patriot community whom I had never considered: people who call nowhere in particular home. They are the ultimate global nomads. Prior to this trip I divided the world into two groups: people who live domestically and people who live abroad. I never considered the range of possibilities that existed on the spectrum between these two poles, and it has sparked all sorts of interesting possibilities as to how I might wish to structure my life.
We are a motley crew, with plenty of differences between us. Paul and Ishara could star in a new television version of The Odd Couple. “I’ve got great angels, tons of them,” said Paul to Ishara. “I just don’t believe in any of them!” And yet we all seem to be human magnets, unwittingly drawn to one another. I know there are other guests staying at Ubud Bungalows, but we all seem to miraculously converge upon one another at multiple points throughout the day. Most mornings begin over breakfast with Ishara and/or Paul, and can easily stretch into the early afternoon. The day often continues into the pool – we’re pretty sure there’s a vortex centered squarely over the water — where we trade everything from stock tips to travel advice, while debating world economies and spiritual philosophies in the next breath. If the world would bring its problems to the Ubud Bungalows Think Tank, I’m pretty sure we could bring about world peace within the week.
Despite the fact that there are dozens of restaurants in Ubud, we all somehow manage to end up in the same eateries at least once a day without planning to do so. Yesterday we lingered at Sagittarius for seven hours, as day drifted into night. Our radius of exploring Ubud grows smaller by the day: I have never been so busy doing nothing. But it’s been ages since I’ve felt so engaged, interested, stimulated, and, well, happy. The last time I remember feeling this free was when I lived in the dorms in college, where I had few obligations and nowhere in particular to be. I remember passionate, impromptu discussions springing up in the most unlikely of places, with the most unlikely of people, and I loved every minute of it. I feel a bit like I’m at Big Kids’ Summer Camp. Sometimes we’re so focused on having a local experience that we forget how much we can learn from fellow travelers; indeed, fellow humans. This is the joy of extended travel; having the luxury of time to engage with all sorts of interesting people without feeling riddled by guilt. It makes no difference that I have seen so little of Bali. I am getting exactly what I need out of each day.3 comments
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
I came to Bali – and to Ubud, for that matter – for all the wrong reasons.
When most people think of Bali they conjure images of expansive beaches, boozy iced beverages, swaying palm trees, and South Pacific views. While this is most people’s idea of paradise, I didn’t have much interest in this part of Bali which, while beautiful and relaxing, gets a little boring after a few days.
I was really after the cultural aspects of life here, which are rich and vibrant. Hindu-Bali temples greet visitors around every corner – even the smallest towns seem to boast multiple temples, and most family “compounds” have a personal altar in which the family can worship. Imposing statues of religious icons grin ferociously at you through gnashing, stone teeth, their bottom halves swathed in black and white gingham, looking more like something out of the Scottish Highlands than the tropics. Every household and shop readies small offerings of rice, placed on delicate banana leaves, throughout the day, a seemingly never ending task.
Spirituality is everywhere. There are temple ceremonies constantly, and we happen to be in Ubud for one of the biggest ceremonies of the year. We caught a temple procession our first evening in town; parades of women in traditional clothing balanced towering pyramids of rich fruit on their head on their way to the temple. Their ankle-length sarongs swished below their lacy off-the-shoulder tops as long, colorful sashes perched askew on their waists. Lines of men, wearing the typical gingham sarongs and breezy white tops, the cotton headdress tied neatly around their skulls, balanced large red umbrellas and banged ceremonial drums. All of this in the midst of rush-hour traffic.
I had planned to spend my time in Ubud taking all of this in, to understand the ins and outs of temple ceremonies, to visit countless religious sites, but upon arriving here I felt my interest diverted to the numerous spas and healing centers that line Ubud’s narrow avenues. I found myself pouring over lists of spa menus, wondering where I should go, what I should do, and how much I could cram into 10 days. Where was this coming from, I asked myself?
This trip has caused me to spend a lot of time with myself, and I’m sad to say that I don’t often like what I see. The Indian astrologer hit the nail on the head when he said, “You feel empty inside. People think you are fulfilled, but you are empty.” He kept saying it over and over again, empty, and the word reverberated and hung in the air like a loud bell that wouldn’t stop ringing. I am empty, and I’m not quite sure how to fill the hole.
I have tried for years to improve myself and my life in any way I knew how – from career changes to geographical moves – and still I feel empty. I can’t even remember what makes me happy anymore, and I am far enough into this trip and out of my everyday routines to see that most of what I do is out of habit, not choice. But not quite sure what I should do differently now, I find myself beset by a certain sense of helplessness. What’s the point of being here? What’s the point of going home? How will my life be any different then?
Maikael and I sat down yesterday on the lovely veranda at Ubud Bungalows where breakfast is served each morning. A few wooden tables were scattered under a great portico, lending a view down the tumbling hillside. Birds chirped happily, and small vases of tropical flowers, which would cost a fortune at your local florist, lounged casually in simple glass jars atop each table. We were surrounded my mossy stone walls and lush tropical plants, and yet I found myself slumped at the table.
A woman approached, dreadlocks piled atop her head, some of which were streaked electric blue, shocking pink, glaring lime, and bright purple. She was barefoot and beaming, and immediately began talking with us. I felt an instant connection to her. We learned that, after having worked in corporate Australia for most of her adult life, she decided to leave it all behind when she had a spiritual awakening. It took her five years to leave her job, but she eventually became a Reiki master and has been traveling on a spiritual journey the past three years.
We spent the next two hours talking about all manner of things, spiritual and otherwise, and I had a sneaking suspicion that I needed to hear what she had to say, that I had met her for a reason. Her message boiled down to this: you can keep striving towards discovering your true self, or you can give up and go back to the way things were. I suddenly realized that I had all but given up on myself and my life, given up any promise or hope that things could be different. I asked her what she was doing in Ubud for two months, which essentially amounted to spiritual healing. She suggested a number of different spas and treatments which she felt were beneficial for quickly becoming unblocked, and I immediately felt a surge of energy and excitement race through me.
It was then that I realized why I had come to Ubud. It had nothing to do with temples and everything to do with beginning my own healing process. I know I won’t be able to accomplish everything in the week I have left here, but I feel that it’s going to set me on the right path to at least begin the journey. For years I’ve followed someone else’s successful path in the hopes that I would garner the same results for myself, and growing defeated when it didn’t. I’m ready to make my own roadmap and embark on my own journey.
For those of you who are reading this and rolling your eyes and wondering if I’ve gone completely mad, New Age, or Santa Fe, don’t worry – deep down, I’ll always the slightly neurotic Elizabeth you know and love.2 comments
Monday, October 6, 2008
As some of you know, I am slightly obsessed with Eat, Pray, Love, and find myself on the Elizabeth Gilbert Pilgrimage Tour. For those of you have been hiding under a rock the past year, EPL was a publishing phenomenon that rocketed Elizabeth Gilbert to literary fame, a chronicle of one woman’s journey to find herself over one year and three countries: Italy, India, and Indonesia. As I meet other women travelers all over the world, the conversation inevitably veers at some point to EPL. “Have you read it?” we eagerly ask one another, the next question naturally being, “Did you like it?” More times than not, I find that people disliked the book. Specifically, it made them want to gag.
I freely admit that I am in Bali as a direct result of reading EPL. It’s a place that never crossed my radar screen until reading Gilbert’s enchanting descriptions of a country that seemed lost in time, maintaining its traditions even against the incursion of ever-reaching Western influence. (I am learning on this trip that these are the places that captivate me most, and I wonder why I ever gave up pursuing studies in folklore, my favorite courses in college.) Gilbert spent four months in Ubud, and I knew that when I came to Bali I had to spend a chunk of time there.
So here I am in Ubud, and it is much bigger than Gilbert’s description. What I imagined to be a Podunk town is actually a collection of villages that stretch for miles, disappearing into spring green rice paddies. After three days I still haven’t even grasped beyond central Ubud, which is bursting at the seams with more spas and spiritual centers than I have ever seen. There is even a place called The Yoga Barn, which sounds more like the Walmart of the wellness world than the chic facility that it is.
I love the whole spiritual vibe here and couldn’t wait to begin getting daily massages, most of which run between $10-15. But not forgetting my pilgrimage, my first order of business was to visit Wayan, one of the starring “characters” in Gilbert’s book. As a third generation traditional healer, she is the Balinese woman who Gilbert befriended during her stay in Ubud, and on her website Gilbert encourages readers to pay Wayan a visit at her healing center. “Her vitamin lunch is still the best deal on Bali.”
Using Gilbert’s directions, I located Wayan’s place on my Lonely Planet map and set out for lunch. My heart leapt when I saw the post office and Bali Buddha — “It’s supposed to be really close to here!” I yelled to Maikael over my shoulder as I raced ahead. Then I saw the hand-lettered sign in robin’s egg blue, “Traditional Balinese Healing. ” We had arrived at Mecca.
I’m not quite sure what I expected, but a small storefront opened onto a collection of medicinal plants: it felt more like a flower nursery than a healing center. A faded board in the front showed a picture of Wayan smiling, explaining her services, next to a menu for the vitamin lunch. There were only two tables inside, and we took a seat next to another American couple about our age. Maikael and I exchanged a knowing look. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one on the Elizabeth Gilbert Pilgrimage Tour.
I ordered lunch, and a woman brought out tiny dishes in courses. I studied her face carefully. It definitely wasn’t Wayan. At least, I didn’t think it was. A smorgasboard of healthy-looking plates were placed before us, each bearing a sign that explained the predominant vitamin found in the dish and its healing properties. A sign boasting “No MSG Fresh Organic” was wedged into a thick slice of cucumber. Maikael frowned, especially when he saw the ivory seaweed. “I think the idea is that you get all your daily vitamins, all in one lunch!” I exclaimed, cheerfully.
The Americans were playing cards and sipping amber tea, clearly biding their time until the woman herself made her grand appearance. I always imagined that Wayan ran her shop independently, and that I would find her scurrying about and mixing concoctions when we sat down for her famous lunch. Instead, a staff of three clanked around the kitchen. Suddenly, a teenage girl bounded down the stairs. “Oh my god,” I urgently whispered under my breath to Maikael, barely moving my lips, “it’s Tutti.” Wayan’s daughter. I smiled and said, “hello,” quickly returning to my steamed water spinach. The Americans pounced on this opportunity like white on rice. “Hello!!” they cried enthusiastically, pretending like they were meeting a perfect stranger. Tutti asked what game they were playing. “Would you like to play with us? Maybe you can teach us a new game. Do you know any card games?”
Maikael and I ate in silence as we listened to them butter Tutti up. “What’s your name?” they finally asked, acting completely surprised when she responded, “Tutti.” The card game continued. “So, Tutti,” they asked, nonchalantly, “when’s your mom gonna get here?” Maikael and I looked at each other, and I rolled my eyes. “Actually, maybe in like one hour?” She was engrossed in her card hand. “Oh, okay!!” They were in for the long haul.
I wasn’t going to wait an hour for Wayan, and I certainly wasn’t going to compete for an audience. What would I say to her, anyhow? “So, you’re Liz Gilbert’s friend, huh?” I had a sneaking suspicion that the Americans felt like they knew Wayan, that they would try to have a conversation like old school chums, even though they – nor I — didn’t know a thing about her.
When the bill came, we were shocked: $12 for lunch, our smallest and most expensive Balinese lunch yet. Most meals are twice as big for half the price. It was obvious what had happened; the onslaught of pilgrims had precipitously raised prices. “Best deal on Bali,” I muttered. “I’m famished.” I took a final look at the Americans, still fawning over poor little Tutti. They would go home and report what an amAzing experience they had meeting Wayan. This wasn’t a race I wanted to compete in. The whole thing made me want to gag.
As we walked down the street, a flyer stopped me in my tracks. “Do you want to meet Medicine Man from Eat Pray Love Ketut Liyer?” Some enterprising soul had started a tour that brought pilgrims like myself to meet Gilbert’s other Balinese “character,” the one who had given her spiritual guidance and direction. Suddenly, I was so over EPL. Wild horses couldn’t drag me to Ketut’s place, if for no other reason than the fact that I knew the Americans would probably be there having their amAzing experience.3 comments