Bali

Bali is for lovers and loners, for misfits and mermaids, for the carefree and the catastrophes, but mostly it is for everything you could ever want. There is no right or wrong thing to do in Bali, the famous island of soul searchers and wave-runners alike. From north to south, there is something your heart has been yearning to dive into. If Bali is for something, it is the place to try new things. You've already done everything? That's perfect, you can try doing nothing. Bali welcomes that too.

 "What do you need, child?" Bali asks. I answered with "I want to explore." So I took off on a scooter down a snake road of vines and palms. It was the kind of road that was opposite in direction and  elevation than my intended destination, but through no other source but magic and luck, we rode that snake till it ended and a sheer cliff met my eyes. 

My legs, eager to run after the hour scoot ride, met the fluid grass with familiar joy. I hiked down to a secluded beach where not a word could be heard for the wind would carry it off as soon as it left someones lips. It was just me and the edge of the world on my beach (and luckily some washed up debris good for sandcastle making). Jacques Cousteau could not have been happier than I as I explored countless sea caves and wondered at all the crabs scuttling to their crustacean parties. But it was time for me to go to my human party, where we dined on those partying crabs.

Jimbaran beach is where everyone goes at night to feast, drink and watch the sun set on their inhibitions. It is a party every night and even writers need to keep some things a secret. But use the mood and the lighting and the liquid courage to talk to everyone. Learn their stories and lives and you'll get to see a side of humanity reserved for the daring. Then stumble into your bed of mosquito netting with your feet still covered in sand (it's the authentic Bali way).

Feeling a bit hungover and sun-burnt from the day before? No worries, Bali has the cure to what ails you. Just hop on that old familiar scooter, which by now you've taken a tumble on a few times, and head to the northern part of Bali. There you will find a spring of life that trickles at times and roars at others. Traipse through the water on stones made smooth by the river's influence until you find that waterfall of renewal. The water rushes down from it's home on a high up ledge surrounded by the forest of green life. It's cool water takes the sting from your burns, internally and externally. You have been baptized by the jungle. Arise from the water a saint of the weary and hungover. 

Now that you have found religion, it is time to congregate and hear the story of the ancients. Uluwatu is a temple high on a cliff face that overlooks the setting sun. A dramatic backdrop to the performance you are about to see.

Instead of an orchestra, there are 70 men chanting in unison to accompany the drama of the Ramayana, a holy text of Hinduism. Sit, gasp, ohh and aww at this timeless story that has been retold for generations.  You become part of the story, part of the show, part of something bigger than yourself. It has been a Holy day full of connections to the earth and to the sky, one you will not forget for years to come. 

Yogyakarta

 I am sitting in my hidden temple as the sun has made its big debut. All the lizards and chickens and people are awake and have been for some time. At 6 am, I am the late riser. The markets have already been plundered, the rice fields have been tended to, and your noodle breakfast is currently simmering in the pot.

If Yogyakarta is too hard to say, feel free to call it Jogja. That is the name that easily falls from the mouths of school kids and vendors who are eager to tell you about the city. Jogja is like a faulty transmission. The city races off at high speeds only to be slowed down to a halt to get some juice or see if the Martabak is fresh. The constant ebb and flow keeps everyone in the moment, lest the city zoom off again and there you are left wondering if this chicken is going to have you for breakfast or the other way around.

When you do come to a stop in Yogyakarta, make sure you look up. You are sure to be nestled in the middle of some monument or another. Mt. Merapi hangs back in the distance, his puffs of smoke reminding you of his presence. Pranbanan sits to the north, waiting for you to get lost in its many temples. And Boroudur is nestled an early scooter rides distance away to the south, waiting for your yawns and starry eyes. It is the largest Buddhist temple in the world, but Borobudur is also a little known time machine. All you have to do is walk around the entrance 3 times, enter from the east, and voila! it is the 8th century. 

Jogja isn't all about the ancient buildings human hands have made. Deep down in the depths there is a place with a surprisingly lack of raptors and long necks. Jomblang cave is a 60 meter repel down to a prehistoric forest and a misty view. A timeless river lives there, creating limestone pillars and carving out new caves to fill its droplets with. If Borobudur is Buddhism's biggest temple, Jomblang cave if Nature's biggest temple. You will feel the same amount of reverence, awe, and a desire to shave your head for fear the humidity might kill you.

You don't even have to leave the room of your hotel to experience Yogyakarta (though it is the  author's expressed intent that you do). The call to prayer from the local Mosque will seep through the woodwork and lull you into a rhythm you didn't know you had. Chilies will crawl onto your taste buds although you were quite sure you weren't eating anything. And the sweet smell of cloves and sweat will surround your persona and never let you forget where you are.

Like everything else in Yogyakarta, you should leave in a cloud of smoke. Cigarette and scooter clouds should follow you wherever you go, so that everyone is sitting in anticipation on what will be there when the smoke clears. 

The Beginning

My story begins in the middle. It starts at the point where I have seen enough of the world to know that I have not seen enough of the world. This blog may not always be pretty, it might not always strike the right rhythm to your soul, but it will be authentic. I am placing an intention for this blog. It will hold my soul, unfiltered. It will embody my dreams and goals without fear of failure. It will capture my moments of ecstasy as a reminder that I am a happy thing. I hope it inspires you, I really do, but I will not fake it to get to that end goal. 

 

This the story of me and my travels...

with all the virtues and vices it holds.