Saturday, March 5, 2011

Nyepi!

The day of seclusion, the island of Bali shuts down. This happened on the 5th of March, and on the 4th artworks come alive!

Each local village, starting with the young boys, and moving into adults (we only saw one group of girls) builds a statue of Ogoh-Ogoh, monster demons. The young men usually have a smaller Ogoh Ogoh, compared to the adults, whose bouncy bamboo, paper mache and foam Ogoh Ogohs can be over twenty feet tall. The base of each monster is a bamboo grid where the builders can lift, bounce and make dance the giant statue.

After the parading, these monsters are burnt and destroyed, then the sound cannons begin going off! Wow these bamboo sound bombs are loud, and for us best heard from the comforts of our home while watching fireworks shoot off in every direction.

As the day of silence and seclusion begins, the only noises to be heard are those of animals. Local security guards patrol the streets to ensure people are being quiet and in their homes, and as a whole, the day of seclusion is very calm, and reflective.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Flores, a global role model

Flores.... reccommended!


Labuan Bajo is the launching point for the famed komodo dragons and komodo national park. We flew into LB for the worlds heaviest lizard, and left without visiting the park bound for Kalimutu and the three coloured volcano lakes.

After the lakes we had delicious food, visited and swam in the waterfall that is a three minute walk from the centre of Moni, a township of 1000, and right under Kalimutu national park. After the waterfall we visited one of two hotsprings 3km from town. One in a small farm village, the other in the middle of the village's rice patty. As the mountains are dryer and cooler, the rice patties are perfect. ONe thing about the tropics is sea level may be warm, but the temperature is consistent. As the elevation increases the temperature drops, allowing indonesia to have a glacier, right on the equator!

Cacao!! we drove out to moni with a guide who is interested in helping farmers get higher prices, as he still is a farmer himself. We spoke of fair trade, organic... and get this, the indonesian government is pushing the use of chemicals, most flores farms are chemical free, and deciding whether or not to go organic! On top of that, here on flores the land is owned by the farmers, small land holders, and the difference between wealthy and poor is very small, everyone has food, there are food forests everywhere :)

From Moni to Ende (45000 people) we found a government man to take us out to a cacao farm, where the farmer we spoke with (bahasa only) had a university degree. he showed us cacao, and wow, the sweet white flesh surrounding the bean is sooooooo enak! delicious! and this is what is fermented away...

Cacao prices are 15000 IDR per kg, or about $1.80 Canadian, and it takes 20 to 30 pods to make a kilo. Many places sell organic raw cacao for 40$ per kilo... check out prices at http://www.naturalzing.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=21_48

Farmer direct, just like Saltspring coffee is my goal, and I want to help turn flores into the worlds organic, food forest darling, the global role model. The ground is ripe here, people are deciding whter to use chemical and are currently organic, the people are wealthy is food, love and peace, the land is rich, the children happy and at school.

Stoked on the next chapter, time to find out about shipping and importing!

A little more on flores

Immediately Flores screams wild. The mountainous terrain consists of smoking volcanos and on trans island snake road hugging the steep slopes. All people on Flores have food, there are amazing vast rice patties, yet most of this virgin island is wild land. Everywhere is littered with bananas, corn, coffee, tapioca. We have seen cinnamon, snakefruit, passion fruit oranges and grapefruit in the mountains, vanilla, nutmeg, pepper, papaya everywhere, coconut at low elevation and of course cacao, the main export crop from here.





This island in the province of nusa tengarra is wild and remote. From west to east in indonesia it goes sumatra (largest), Java (most densely populated) bali (wealthiest, and only hindu island) lombok (islam, somewhat conquered by hindu balinese, now 10% wealthy hindu, 90% islam, from poor to wealthy, sumabawa (islam), Flores, (85% catholic, 15% islam).

Flores is and island where muslim and catholic are in the same family, cousins, maybe even brother sister. Here the two religious get along very well, and in my opinion the people are wealthy.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A special dinner

AHHH Southeast Asia. The pollution does attract my attention, on a drive to the beach I saw a bag of garbage get thrown out of a truck as it drove over a bridge, and waste is way easier to throw away than to pay for someone to pick up, so plastic is everywhere. The sky has a perpetual smog, even after it rains, and this is all too reminding of how I remember the sky being bluer as a child.

Today we took a walk along green terraced rice paddies bordered by coconut palms and the sound of trickling water. Birds chirping for the ten minute walk out to sari organic farms, where you can pick your own dinner and they’ll cook it for you. We perched on our patio corner table with pillowed floor seating, drank kombucha tea and pineapple wine while basking in the evening sun. The most memorable meal yet

The fresh green papaya salad was amazing, and as we cam to finish our meal the sun was setting, first pink then red. Overlooking three dozen levels of rice terraces, bordered by palms with villas and giant banyen trees off in the distance, our dinner is one easily remembered.

I really do love being surrounded by food growing everywhere. It just makes sense!

This evening we had a friend come over to talk about making some jewelry pieces, and I’m looking forward to the potential of creating a business friendship here on Bali!

A cute tidbit about Bali is seeing young kids, around the age of ten, driving scooters down the road. Being automatic motorcycles, there are no gears, only hand controls, so seeing a youngster being the wheel is pretty common and always cute!

The full moon is so bright! Silhouette palms, fireflies and crickets, bats flying around and frogs chirping in the rice patties that are literally an arms length away is a lovely way to go to sleep and wake up.

We’ve booked tickets to Flores island, about 800km east of Bali. Just west of where we land lie the komodo islands, home of the dragons, and a national park with world class snorkeling! Woohooo!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Turtle

Padangbai, snorkeling was lovely. En route, there was a lovely procession of semi-trucks packed with people. We caught some of it on video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBtNPG4imNY and thought the whole situation was lovely.

In Padangbai, we went out snorkeling and soon saw a sea turtle. The fish were so lovely and voraciously ate the bread we gave them.

Green school tour was equally amazing. The tour started out with our guide saying how strong bamboo is, then the bamboo railing broke, as too many people were leaning on it. Really it was the wooden nails that snapped, for good reason. The three story high "heart of school" is the bamboo structure that has been winning awards. The floor shakes when walking on the second story, and it feels kinda nice.

It certainly is nice to see the next generation of kids are growing up in an environment that melds the best of modern and ecological worlds.

I'm off to bed. And Flores soon!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A nice party

Party with Alex and Alison Grey was great fun! people throw down here! And the palaces people build, three pools, outdoor kitchen gazebo on a deck overlooking jungle!

After the Alex Grey party was sleep. The next day was a small road trip. Traffic was funny/crazy… apparently it’s backed up since buses have been coming into town. The roads are wide enough for one bus, traffic piles up when two lines of twenty busses with cars in between with bikes filling in the gaps like a school of fish are passing each other. Driving on the sidewalks dodging pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists is the only way to get through traffic when it jams. Creative driving we call it.

“Big box” stores, hire private traffic guards to make way for anyone turning into or out of their stores. Tour buses on these small roads make for long parking times, and these are what back up traffic. Fortunately most days traffic is calmer and less busy.


Green School, we went there for breakfast, and are keen to go back for a tour. Spent the morning chatting with a parent and enjoying “Green Warung”, the food joint where the ‘rents hang out, operated by the school.

The school itself is a gorgeous giant bamboo building, the green school is a great marvel of engineering and construction, and the drive to the school was lovely, a one lane motorcycle bridge over a river that green school hopes to make 8 kW of power from. It sure felt like a world class education center. Jean, the dude we chatted with, said his kid loves being there, of course why not? He’s in paradise getting treated like a king at school (Jean's words)

Jiwa Damai was enjoyable, and I’m looking forward to contacting Margret again. The center is in the bottom of a wide ravine, where it is damp and the air is still. The cacao pods were rotted on the trees ☹. On the plus side there is a beautiful stilted house for wwoofers to stay in. Margret said wwoofers get to do just about whatever they want there, such as count coconut trees. We learned about compost and water treatment. Interacted with the head gardener from Ubud and enjoyed soaking up the experience as a whole. Wwooffers apply three months in advance.

That night we went to a kecak dance. Kecak dance was 65000 rupiah or about eight dollars, which is good money here. The temple was well lit and chairs were nicely set out for the thirty or so tourists to watch. The temple itself reminded me of Mayan architecture, with two grandfather trees on either side of the entrance gate to temple compound, and a giant parrot built of bricks on the temple wall.

Update again soon!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Phone

My # here is 087860131422

Endangered Feathers

Birds of paradise, empirial pheasant, komodo dragon, Kopi luwak.  Upon arrival of the Bali Bird Park there was hesitation, 23 US dollars is alot, given our motorcycle was $130 for the month.  Whatever, we wanted to see birds.

The first was a peacock.  Then macaws and cockatoo, a sulfur crested cockatoo.  Then the rare and exquisite balinese ducks! Quack Quack.  Rare, well, they are everywhere in Bali, exquisite, well they look like farm ducks, but these ones were very orderly, once the duck sheperd showed up, and the ducks ate with gusto!

I found an emerald winged macaw feather, and thus started the feather collecting. Golden crowned crane, crowned pigeon, peacock and so many others.  I stuck the big one's down my pants.  For real.  We did see some of the most sought after birds in the world.  The feathers from birds of paradise were worth more than their weight in gold, and the myna bird can repeat almost any noise it hears.  Harrrow Harrrrow.

Komodo... after the birds we went to check out komodo dragons, also in captivity.  The komodo had a happy aura, and he was very intimidating.  He looked happy, like how a hungry football player would be happy looking at a delicious pizza.  The four foot fence between me and an eight foot carnivorous lizard called a dragon was.... worrisome, possibly intimidating as well.  Needless to say after hanging with dragon all we wanted to do was get some poo coffee.

Poo coffee.. oh i mean Kopi Luwak... comes from a critter that eats the coffee cherries, shits out the beans which are then (apparently) washed and roasted.  20$ for about 50g.  I bought ganja for less than that in Cali :).  Good stuff.

Today sexy yoshi bought imperial pheasant feathers.  The bird comes from Borneo, one of the wild rain forest of Indo, and the feather were a great deal.  About 10$ each.  While she was buying the most beautiful feathers, I walked around the corner to see twenty men making fifteen foot tall bulls to be used in a funeral procession.  The dead are carried in the bulls, which are then burnt.  Hmm bullriding seems different in bali than dawson creek. :)

over and out

haddow

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Upon Arrival

It is the wee hours of day three on Bali, the second dawn is slowly being pulled up in the sky and the roosters have been quielty being heard over the sound of the crickets since it was still completely dark outside.

The first night we arrived three friends picked us up at the airport, where teh bathrooms had fresh flowers and there was a fish tank, with lovely fishes, above each urinal.

Our villa is a short walk from the road down a motorcycle accesible path, and is bordered by rice patties on three sides and another villa on the fourth.  Completely open air and with a pool, carvings and ceremonial offering sculptures, this casa is straight out of a lovely dream.  THe first thing I did was jump into the pool, clothes on and smiling.

We're up in the mountains a little above sea level, and it is cooler here.  The people inhabiting bali (many balinese as well as Javanese) are very wealthy south east asians, and lovely to interact with.  There are BMW's and mercedes here, most everyone gets around on a scooter or motorbike.  Ours is a 250 cc liquid cooled with only 5400 kms on it.  we paid 1.1 million rupiah for the month, which is about $130, and bought two helmets for a total of $35.

Driving reminds me of a school of fish, big fish surrounded moslty by little ones, we fill up all parts of the road and sidewalks with road rules that are unwritten yet easy to follow.

Arts ooze out of the cracks, with the most beautiful 20 ft god and goddess sculptures at big intersections, and crafting shops everywhere.

Our first night consisted of a sativa hash clove and tobacco cigarette. Wow. punishable by death, i don't think I'll be smoking much of that. Besides, I like being clear and clean.

This morning I hear a crowd with some lovely music off in the distance since before dawn.
I think I'll ho pon my bike and go for a little ride.

This one's for you sis.  I love you.