Monday, March 28, 2005

even more photos!

even more photos!

more and more from Thailand!

"Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy"
---anonymous

www.rbaba.blogspot.com (my ranting blog)
www.robbibaba.blogspot.com (our travel blog)

even more photos!

even more photos!

more and more from Thailand!

"Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy"
---anonymous

www.rbaba.blogspot.com (my ranting blog)
www.robbibaba.blogspot.com (our travel blog)

even more photos!

even more photos!

more and more from Thailand!

"Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy"
---anonymous

www.rbaba.blogspot.com (my ranting blog)
www.robbibaba.blogspot.com (our travel blog)

even more photos!

even more photos!

more and more from Thailand!

"Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy"
---anonymous

www.rbaba.blogspot.com (my ranting blog)
www.robbibaba.blogspot.com (our travel blog)

thai photos

thai photos

more thai photos

thai photos

thai photos

more thai photos

thai photos

thai photos

more thai photos

thai photos

thai photos

more thai photos

thai photos

thai photos

more thai photos

Bali high

You just can't believe everything you read--like the sign on this business advertising the fastest connection in Ubud. Well, maybe...I'm trying to do a massive photo upload. It seems to be slower than ever...
Sorry for that last post. Actually things got a little better after some more weirdness (we hired a driver for the day and he ended up taking us only to places where he'd get a kickback--this became quite obvious after a bit and really sucked. He took us way the hell out of town to this touristy area overlooking a volcano but it started pouring rain. Turned out his funky suv leaked like a sieve and had no defrosters! I had to keep mopping the windshield with India's sorong. Even so we almost died on the windy crazy congested little Bali roads that we got kindof used to it. We were just so glad to get back alive! Joyce, I must say, remained amazingly upbeat all throughout. I was embarrassed for choosing such a lousy driver). We moved to another guesthouse, the prettiest one yet, with lots and lots of carvings and sculpture everywhere and the nicest pool I think I've ever been in. It's also in a great location to walk, close to our favorite resturaunt too. Like most Bali guesthouses we've seen (all really) it has a skanky bathroom. And noisy chainsmoking neighbors. But it's set back in the rice paddys and since Krista is feeling ill again, we're staying put for now. It's only $10 a night! Incredible.
I had a wonderful massage at a funky little spa for 30,000rp. I gave the gal a 50,000rp tip! She was awesome. I'd like to be going there daily. But somehow the days have been taken up.
Actually, now that Joyce is winging home (or just about landed I hope) I feel it's time to change gears and just hunker down--no more sightseeing for a bit, no more trying to shop. Swim, eat, read, play with the kids and recover from Bali Belly is our new agenda. For a bit.
A nice German couple staying next door is in the import business. They told us where to go to buy wholesale. It's so tempting to buy a load of beautiful handcrafted stuff and have it shipped home! The people here are just amazing artists and craftsmen. But we don't have a house! And we don't have any room left in our storage locker!
They also told us about some tiny islands off of Lombok where we could just hang out on white sand beaches while Krista writes her children's book and all. We'll see.
We've just met a friend from the OCF! Lynzee Deva, who has been here since December getting clothes made to sell back home. She's leaving Thursday but we hope to connect enough for her to bring us somewhat up to speed!

photos from thailand

photos from thailand

India's feet with the buddha's.

Friday, March 25, 2005

bali blues

Warning!!!! This entry is one long complaint. I'm going to whine and you should feel free to skip this one. Really.
It's 9:37 pm and next door is a temple with a song and dance/gamelon performance going on. It's loud and weird sounding, so I came down from our room where I was looking at an early bedtime. The performance is not a tourist thing. A few of us 'farang' (not a Balinese word, or even concept from what I can gather) were standing on tiptoe looking in. There are hundreds of locals in temple garb watching, walking around, chatting, zooming off on motorbikes.
Joyce, India and I tried to attend a temple event last night--something about the full moon. We got real authentic bali sarongs and I even got the funny hat thing the men seem to all wear to temple, but we were turned away. We couldn't figure out why. It's all very strange. Unlike the straight forward and inclusive Buddhism of Thailand, the Balinese religion seems bizare and unapproachable. I don't get it.
I've been avoiding writing due to a negative head space. To my great surprise I have not been enjoying Bali much, and have been really missing gritty old Thailand. I shouldn't compare the two, but I can't seem to help it.
Part of this is surely due to being ill. My guts have been all messed up and my energy very low ever since we got here. I also have a horrible cramp in my neck from carrying too much luggage through too many airports. But there's something else. All through Thailand, with a few exceptions, I felt capable as the family guide and agent. And it was relatively easy to handle the money, the transportation, the accomodations, the shopping, the sightseeing. Bali has me flummoxed (sp?).
We met lots of people in Thailand who would ask top dollar for a tuk tuk ride, or a shirt. But top dollar doesn't mean cheating someone. Here people are out for blood. They mjght ask 10 times what something is 'worth'. Not everyone, but many many people here seem to see us as moving targets.
The staff at our first guesthouse pulled every trick in the book to get our money. They lied and cheated all the while smiling warmly at us. I was too weak and ill to battle them. It really only came out to a small amount of money, but the spirit of the exchange sickened us all. Yuk.
As a result we've hardly bought anything. It's really weird! Our first full day we went out for a long walk to 'go shopping' but ended up marching past most of the stores. It was really weird! India got very frustrated, and I didn't get it at first. But Krista explained--until you know roughly what something should cost you can't make an initial offer. And their initial offers are too often outrageous. It's too confusing. If we buy something we end up feeling cheated again. And almost every shopkeeper jumps on us, trying to aggressively make a sale. We just get the hell out!
Same with transportation, which is confusing and unmarked anyway. The two times we've actually used a 'taxi' we were grossly overcharged! We didn't know how to bargain. To avoid being cheated we've just walked everywhere, which is very tiring because the sun is so very strong here. God it's hot. How I miss the tuk tuks and songtheaws!
We've have met a few nice people, mostly resturaunt workers. There are many beautiful cafes and resturaunts here. and since the prices are (apparently) fixed we can relax a bit. One of the guys who works in our new guesthouse is really nice too.
But Ubud is not really what I expected. As Joyce put it 'it's the Carmel (or Beverly Hills) of Bali. The main streets are lined with beautifully appointed shops, chic cafes, internet dives, guest houses, temples, funky shops, funky resturaunts, guest houses, internet cafes, etc...in an endlessly repeating pattern. It's mostly very pretty, and kindof exotic, but it feels like one big strip mall.
Today we got off the main streets looking for a better guest house, and there really is a village, or town, here. Sort of. But we seem to be about 15 years too late. I think most of the people are just sick of tourists, or maybe resentful for being so dependent on their whims and dollars. Also, it seems that there are more people struggling here, to get by. I'm not really sure about that, but it feels that way. Maybe there's not much middle class?
Another weird thing is that so much of the stuff in the stores is also endlessly repeated. Much of it crap, some beautiful things, but the same stuff over and over. The great majority of it having nothing at all to do with Balinese culture. I read that the Balinese craftspeople are mostly all poor and can't afford to take risks. So Western designers come in and have a bunch of cats holding fishing poles made, or fake aboriginal stuff, and whammo, it's in every store. Of course it can't really work for long. Who the hell's going to buy a cat with a fishing pole anymore? It's kind of a shame.
Especially since the Balinese do make things very well. Nearly every guesthouse we've seen is, on some level, gorgeous. Some are spectacular. Of course from the outside they mostly all look exactly the same, as do most of the temples! Repetition is our theme here.
Our place now has orchids and hibiscus and all sorts of green plants and flowering shrubs. It has big tiled porches, carvings, wonderful stone work and pathways. Our room is only 50,ooo rp (about $6 a night). Unfortunately last night the temple noise went till about 11pm, then scooters roaring, then dogs barking and barking, then this horrible horrible frog that sounds exactly like a bleating goat! The frog went on ALL night till I was nearly frantic. Especially with Eden flopping her hot sticky leg on me. We hardly slept at all.
But I will say, there don't seem to be mosquitoes here! Not many anyway, which none of us can figure out. Sure there are bats swooping all over (one parked on our porch ceiling) and millions of geckos. But there are flooded rice paddys all over the place.
Oh well, sorry to waste your time. I'll try to gave a good day tomorrow and some exotic experience to entertain you with next time.
love
rob

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Ubud

We made it. The landing was much softer in Bali. An official airport taxi (fixed price) whisked us up to Ubud and dropped us off at some friend's guesthouse. At first glance it seemed magnificent! Beautiful gardens and the building is architecturally beautiful. Big porches, a gorgeous pool, carved furniture. Just a little grungy around the edges and the upstairs room was HOT with a weak fan and no ac. We were too tired to fret (except for the two humongous cockroaches in the downstairs room). I set up a mosquitoe net for eden and we crashed.
Our last meal in Thailand, alas, was at a Burger King! They had vege burgers. I got sick. Not too bad, but I had a rough morning today. We took a very long walk into Ubud proper and while the gals had lunch I found us a beautiful new homestay. No pool, but CLEAN and more centrally located. We are staying a second night at the pool place and getting reamed I might add---it's 200,000 rp plus tax, although breakfast is include. Our new place is 50,000 rp and 90,000 for Joyce's penthouse suite, complete with outdoor tub. From her patio we can see into the temple across the street and the proprietor says there will be a big festival tomorrow night. He's cooking for it.
One big difference here is that it's really beautiful. Green and lush, with almost none of the urban grime and ugliness that plauged Thailand. And temples everywhere. And almost every resturaunt and homestay has some fantastic stone facade. I think we'll like it here, once we get our bearings. We've been stuck on kind of a busy road so far. Too tired to explore very far. Also, the money has us a bit flumoxed. It's about 9100rp to the dollar. So our new digs will be about $5.00 and $9.00 respectively (including breakfast!). Our pizzas tonight cost about $2.50. But it's still confusing. People tend not to give exact change--they round up in their own favor. When it's 750rp that seems wrong to us, but then it's only about seven and a half cents! Weird.
Sorry this is so dull, but I spent most of the day laying on our bed.
more later.
love
rob

Temple hopping in Chiang Mai.


photos
Originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

The girls dug it.

The mahoot was singing to the elephant.


photos
Originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Actually, not as comfortable as it looks.

Breakfast at the Chiang Dao Nest


photos
Originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Out in the middle of nowhere...gourmet crepes!

India in a hill tribe crown


photos
Originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

India is all set to get married now, at least in an Akha village.

Monday, March 21, 2005

photos