Quiet in Kuta, Ubud is a Mood

Foreword: As many of you may have noticed, my site was down for about 5 days! I’ve never had that happen, but there was a ‘miscommunication’ with my web host. I won’t vent my frustrations now, but I apologize for that happening. In three years time, that’s never happened. It should be fine now.

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Well after one of the worst landings of my life (on Adam Air), we arrived in Bali. When the plane hit the ground, I literally thought the landing gear was going to pop up between my legs – we hit that hard. The pilot had to throw on the reverse thrusters at a higher rate than I’ve ever experienced. It’s funny, but my first reaction wasn’t fear – it was anger. I wanted to drag that pilot out on the runway and have a few ‘words’ with him. I think I’ll be using a different airline on the way home.

Kuta:

We stayed a few days in Kuta after arrival – I’ve never seen it that quiet. Walking by the Raja’s place that was bombed was eerie. It almost feels as if there’s an air of depression around Kuta and Legian. Tourism has definitely taken a big hit. Most of the tourists I see are Japanese or European, whereas usually the majority would be Aussies. It’s odd being in a place where you have to walk into a bar or club wondering how likely it’d be labeled as a target to be bombed. My buddy and I went to the Hard Rock – somehow it was hard to clear those thoughts from your mind.

Ubud:

Three nights there was enough. We moved up to Ubud, where the slower pace is the norm, not a result of the bombings. As most of you know, I love this area. The cool nights, the endless rice fields, and the overall atmosphere is more my style. We rented a shoebox to get us around for $10/day and managed to venture up to the volcanic lake of Lake Batur.

Some more friends will be arriving today and this weekend; it’ll be nice to have some people around for Christmas. I’ll check back in soon. If you don’t hear from me before the 25th, Merry Christmas!

Off to Bali!

balinese dancer Off to Bali!

Yet again, I’m off to the island of Bali. It feels as if it’s becoming a bit of a third ‘home’ in some sense. I’ll be there for three weeks, so my posting may be rather sporadic for a while. I’ll still be checking email and posting (hopefully) a few times a week.

I really hope to focus on capturing even more of this magical island and its vibrant culture through the lens. Wish me luck!

And in response to Carl’s request of more posts related to my ‘personal life’ – I’ll make it a New Year’s resolution to satisfy your curiosity! I have a few surprises up my sleeve, and on that note, I’ll leave you in suspense. icon wink Off to Bali!

Descending

Well, we’ve decided to use our 3 weeks of vacation in Bali – yet again. We’ll leave this Saturday, the 17th. After much thought and discussion, I think it makes the most sense this time. As I mentioned last month, we were thinking of trying to get to Cambodia, Vietnam, and/or Thailand, but I just feel that three weeks isn’t quite long enough for such an undertaking – plus, it makes more sense to wait until I’m ready to leave Indonesia (enjoying a period of unemployment and freedom to travel a bit) – when I’ll also have plenty of $$ to make it happen the right way.

Why Bali? As you may have noticed, I’ve been posting images lately from our trip in July to Bali – (yeah, the time when I crashed my motorcycle head-on with another guy). Unfortunately, I focused so much on seeing some of the less-discovered parts of Bali (while watching the road) – I didn’t take nearly as many pics as I’d hoped. Therefore, I’m making a pact with myself to really put forth the effort to make use of my new equipment. Since the trip in July, I upgraded my camera from the Canon 300D (digital rebel) to the Canon 350D (digital rebel xt) and added the amazing 10-22mm ultra-wide angle beauty to my arsenal. This lens should provide for some sweeping landscapes of the volcanoes and rice fields so notorious to Bali. I also have a much better idea of where to go, what to see, and how to get around.

It also appears that half of our staff will be in Bali over the break – it’s always fun to meet up on non-work terms. One of my previous co-workers who now lives in Pakistan will be making it down as well.

Instead of devoting three solid weeks to staying in Ubud, I think we’ll break up the trip into a few sections:

      Kuta/Legian/Uluwatu
      Ubud
      East Bali – Candidasa, etc

If anyone has any recommended stops, hotels, homestays, etc – I’m all ears!

I’ll do my best to post some writing from a ‘net cafe while in Bali, but the images won’t likely be uploaded till my return in January (sold my laptop and my 20″ iMac just won’t travel well).

descending Descending

Dance competition, Ubud, Bali

Giving Back to the Community

As I mentioned last week, I�d like to get involved in helping out by giving back to a local orphanage. There are millions of Indonesians living in sheer poverty in conditions most Westerners cannot begin to fathom � where do you start?

I�ve decided that if I can focus on helping one particular orphanage, I can help make a difference without facing the feeling of being utterly overwhelmed by a large charity organization. I support their efforts, but would prefer to start on a personal level, rather than simply donating money to a charity.

A bit of history � a few weeks ago, I was out taking photos on the streets of Jakarta when a young guy approached me. As foreigners are regularly approached by locals hoping to practice their English, I assumed that was his purpose. It turns out he was searching for a young autistic girl who had wandered away from an orphanage. At first, I�ll admit I was a bit skeptical � unsure if I was being asked to help �donate� money or something else to a cause I was completely unknown to. It�s natural to be a bit cautious while out on your own here � you never really know people�s intentions.

It turns out he was one of the good guys. From my broken Indonesian and his basic English, I managed to grasp that he was a university student, studying computer science and volunteering at a local orphanage. He invited me back to the community, unfortunately I had to get home, but gave him my email address and told him I promised I�d stop by soon.

About 10 days ago I decided to take him up on the offer of dropping by. So with some help of my Indonesian friends, I purchased some rice and eggs to bring to the orphanage. After a harrowing drive through the narrowest of streets, we found the place. Immediately we were welcomed inside with smiles and greetings. The community consists of around 100 children and a couple of families, all living together. The majority of the children are orphans; the others being from disadvantaged families, or with learning disabilities. The ages range from newborn to teenagers. The community also serves as soup kitchen for the homeless.

There is a wonderful courtyard that serves as a playground / park area surrounded by the dormitory, classrooms, and facilities. They have an outdoor swimming pool, and some other basic activity areas. I�ll provide photos as soon as I download them from my handphone. All in all, it was a clean and friendly environment for the children, and a place where compassion was evident in all aspects. Edit: Just found a photo gallery on their website. See it here, listed under “Foto Gallery”.

After touring the grounds, I asked what areas they need the most assistance with. I was shown to their �computer lab� � which consisted of 6 or 7 pieces of equipment that once upon a time may have resembled a computer, but are now non-working save for one. Their printers don�t work, and I believe the fastest working computer (in the administration office) was only a Pentium II. Since technology is a bit of my specialty, my mind started churning with some ideas of how to help them.

As great as it felt to donate some food to the orphanage, I realize it�s simply not enough. They�re in need of regular contributions on a larger scale than I can provide on my own. As I said, I feel that you have to start somewhere � so I�ve decided to make this particular cause my focus.

A few ideas I�ve started working on:

� Collecting food and clothing donations from the expat community
� Selling prints of my work to purchase items for the orphanage
� Finding older but working computers for their lab � local businesses?
� Utilizing the readers of this blog for help, ideas, contributions, or collaborations

I�m completely open to suggestions and creative ways of giving back to community. If anyone is interested in visiting or contacting the orphanage, I�ll gladly post their contact information and directions. I think it�d be great to pool our resources to help these children in any way possible.

Edit: Here’s the contact info:

Yayasan Amal Mulia
Proyek Pelayanan Penyantunan

Jl. Mesjid Al-Mubarok No. 16, Cipulir
Jakarta, Indonesia 12230
Tel: 62.21.723.9778
www.amal-mulia.com

Contact the secretary at:
Dani Dharyani
Tel: 0812.932.7187
Email: danidharyani@hotmail.com

Bank Account (for donations)
Bank BNI – 0015022994

Lippo Bank Melawai – 50230402822

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