Many moons ago, I went to Japan. My friend at the time, Sonja, was living there and I promised to go visit.
Back in those days, blogging wasn’t a thing. Email was just getting traction and I would find an internet café every few days and send off an update to my friends and family so they knew I hadn’t met my demise and could get to have a glimpse into my trip.
I am sad to say the blog starts off after I have made the trek from Canada to Tokyo and got lost at the airport while trying to find Sonja. You will have to just jump right in and take it from where it starts…me in Tokyo and follow my adventure from there. It is a long read, but worth it if you have the time!
Bon Voyage…see you in Japan!
Annie Goes to Asia !
August 24 – October 7, 1998
I have an interview tomorrow at 4:30, however I just got off the phone with another lady who sounds more promising. The pay is twice as much, and the benefits seem greater. I have an interview with her on Wednesday at 3pm.
Things don’t shut down here at any normal time. The time is now 1130 at night, and she returned my call only 1/2 hour ago! Can you imagine being called for a job interview at home at 11pm??? Crazy, eh?
I am going to get a bicycle in the next few days. People recycle them here. In other words, if your bike is not locked up, then someone else takes it and then you take someone else’s. 90 percent of all the bikes here are exactly alike. I also found a stereo in the garbage with a CD player and 2 tape decks that works perfectly!!! Sonja says people would rather throw out last years model of something and buy the latest here, rather than admit not having the latest and greatest of whatever. Cool for me, when I get my digs, I will have my own music box. I also bought a notebook and started to learn Japanese phrases to help out.
Did you know that in a restaurant you have to yell – sue me mas sen – and then the waiter comes over. Otherwise, you sit there forever!!!
I had a shower this morning, and have been wet all day long. It was 32 degrees, and about 78 percent humidity! Ucky feeling!
Anyhoo, I am zonked out now and hope to not receive any more phone calls until morning.
I got pushed into my first subway today! I was in Shinjuku station and I was simply getting in. It was 10:30pm and I was swept into the far side of the train. I guessed my decision to stand on the far side was made by the hundreds of people trying to get in. It was a bit scary, but not as scary as it could have been if I was only 4’0! The people here are still short, but taller than I thought they would be.
I saw a sumo wrestler on the street today. That was neat. I didn’t want to bump HIM with my bicycle, for sure…
I went for my first interview today. The woman was really weird. One of the questions she asked me was how I planned on getting the students to fight with each other! I was a bit puzzled at her logic, and asked why I would want to have them fighting, and she explained that that way when they were in a restaurant, and they didn’t like their meal, they could fight with the waitress! Backwards logic if you ask me, but she was originally from Toronto, so that explains a lot. Ya know?
I go tomorrow for the job I want to get. I will keep you posted.
I am told typhoon season is approaching. Sonja has 1/2 dozen umbrellas on hand for the occasion.
One thing different about here is that there are no park benches for people to sit on as they are walking about. I went exploring today and I wanted to sit down, without buying a $4.00 coffee,, and I had to resort to a back alley, sitting on someone’s lawn chair that was in the garbage area. crazy!
I was at a condom store today as well, and I couldn’t stop laughing. I took a picture of the store’s outside. The people inside must have thought I was a lunatic, but they had the neatest things for sale, with condoms worked in somehow. It was a great 15 minutes….I haven’t laughed that hard in ages.
I was in Tokyo downtown today also. All over the freaking country I am. It really reminded me of Las Vegas. The buildings are all lit up with flashing sign, TV screens, etc. It was neat. I took a picture of that as well. They also have neat cross walks. A policeman stands in the middle of the street, and stops traffic. On the road, there are lines painted from corner to corner, and cross corner as well. When the cop signals, people cross from any corner to any corner. The whole intersection is filled with flesh! Neat.
Another thing I noticed, this may offend small children. Please have them leave the room.
Because it is soooo hot I am drinking 3 gallons of water daily, but only going pee once. I must be sweating the rest out! No lie, I can stand there just dripping down my face, legs, back. Gross. Sonja gave me a hanky to dab myself with.
This is all for now.
I had my other job interview today, and another tomorrow. So many choices…..
I am getting a free haircut tomorrow. Only because I am a gaijin. Foreigner. They want to practice on someone other than a Japanese head. A normal haircut here can be $75.00 – $240.00!!! Nuts.
Sonja is also getting one too.
I didn’t do a whole lot today, but veg. 33oC 84% humidity. Ick.
Bye for now…
I am hotter than I have ever been in my life.
It is worse than I could have ever imagined. Sonja and I are currently entertaining, so this will be quick, with more news tomorrow.
I have a job now, and all I need is a place to live. I can’t stay at Sonja’s cause her place is way too small.
I went to a shrine today in Yoyogi Park. I was in trouble with the police for sitting on the steps.
A strange man came up to me today and asked me if I was a body builder, and then a wrestler, and he was quite disappointed when I told him I was this way by design. He then offered me a job teaching at a school he just started. It was strange.
I also rescued a black man at the train station as he sweated through (literally) finding his correct train. I walked up to him like a seasoned veteran and pulled out my hand-drafted phrase book. I asked how long he had been in town and it was his first day. He asked how long I had been here, and when I replied 4 days, he said, “There is hope then.” I laughed.
Anyhoo, I am bagged.
Talk to all later.
Sonja and I went out for some cocktails tonight at a Reggae bar. We were sitting there, nice and peacefully, when Japanese man at the next table, came over and sat down. He put out his arm as if he wanted to arm wrestle me. I looked over at Sonja, and assessed his size, and determined that I had a pretty good shot at winning. We agreed that the loser would buy drinks for the table.
Well, there wasn’t much of a contest, and needless to say, Sonja and I stayed for more cocktails. in the ensuing conversation, he asked if I was a professional wrestler. I replied that I wasn’t. He then asked quite seriously if I was on the Olympic team. Going along with this in fun, I agreed. He bowed all the way to his knees, and then pulled out a 10,000Y bill with is the equivalent to $100.00. He then got out his pen, and insisted that I autograph his money and wouldn’t put it away. So I did. Sonja and I cracked up laughing, but he was deadly serious. I didn’t want to offend his sense of honor, and have him pull out his samurai sword and commit hari-kari, so I continued with the charade until the bill was paid, and we left.
There you have it folks, be proud to know me now. Anyone wanting to send me their money to sign, I will gladly do it.
We are expecting a typhoon tomorrow or Sunday. It poured all day today. At least it is cooler. Tomorrow is expected to be 32oC with 88% humidity. Nuts.
I toured around Tokyo suburbs today in a woman’s Volvo as I scouted a place to live. I decided on a Gaijin-house one stop down the train line from Sonja’s house. It is like a boarding house where you get a room, and share the kitchen and bath. Unbelievable deal at only equivalent of $560.00 per month for a 6 mat room. It is approximately 12 x 9 feet in total. I kid you not. Your bedroom at home is probably bigger than this. I could have stayed at a cheaper house, but the bugs and decrepit house gave me the willies.
I call my job tomorrow to find out when I start. I decided to go with the job that paid less, because there I can do overtime as much as I want, and when it comes time to leave, I won’t feel badly about it. The job is with a company called Nova. They are like the McDonald’s of English schools. Apparently they go through teachers like underwear. The other job would have been more of an emotional commitment, and would have felt badly leaving them after so short a time.
I am toying with the idea of working like stink for 6 weeks, and then “having to go back to Canada suddenly”, and then going to Thailand for the following month. I would then come back to Tokyo for a few days to revisit with Sonja and then head back West.
Sonja went to Thailand last year, and she lived for $5.00 per day including meals and accommodations. She also scuba dived and toured around on a scooter for only pennies.
As much as I am liking Japan, I don’t think I could make a permanent change here. It is toooo hot and humid, and it is very expensive on the craziest things. The cheap things make me shake my head as well. For example, chicken breast, boneless skinless – you can buy 4-6 of them at the supermarket for under $5.00. Yet steak is $12.00/100g.
Coffee and pop at a restaurant is $3.50 – $7.00.
Things are still up in the air though. Time will speak volumes.
Anyhoo, I am off to Tokyo tomorrow for the day, and meeting Sonja for dinner in Funabashi.
We are going to go to Tokyo Disneyland, and I want to go to Hiroshima next week if things go as planned.
It is her boyfriend’s birthday today, so he has gone out with him now. It was really neat. We left the Reggae pub and were walking down the street of 12 million people, and we ran into him. The world really is a small place to live.
Next, I expect someone I know to bump into me. I can only hope.
Let me know what is going on in your life. I love getting mail.
until next time,
What do you suppose happened today???
I was thrown out of bed by an earthquake! Keep in mind, my bed is two inches from the floor. It was by no means a violent earthquake, but it sure made me wake up very quickly. The doors and windows rattled, the ground shook, but no plates or cups fell on the floor. It was a little unnerving.
Sonja and I have already discussed an emergency meeting plan, so not to worry anyone.
After I settled back into bed, I gave thought to my situation. Here I am in a foreign country, where I cannot speak nor read the language in the most expensive city in the world. I began to get very homesick, very quickly. I laid around feeling sorry for myself for a few hours, and then popped in Beaches. It is a movie with Bette Midler. I watched that, and cried for the characters in the movie, and then cried for myself.
I finally got up, and decided to look at a few more places. I went and looked at places to live yesterday, remember? Well, I looked at another this afternoon. It was nice, but then I experienced huge frustration with the language etc. I almost screamed in exasperation.
I went to meet Sonja for dinner, and we ended up talking about my experiences so far. I explained my frustration, and she told me it was very natural to experience such culture shock. Really and truly that is what I think is happening. New language, new customs, new money, new routines. I can’t say that I am completely enjoying this experience. For this first week I was mostly a tourist, but now that I am working on getting a job and a place, things seem a whole lot different.
Combine that with the expense of things, and I am a bit discouraged. I have tossed around the idea of going to where it might not be as easy as well, but at least it would be much cheaper to live, and better weather. I haven’t quite decided what to do yet, or what lesson I am in need of learning. But as soon as I know, I will send another update. Not to worry. you won’t be out of the loop.
I am going to bed now.
If you do not want to receive further update, please respond, and I will remove you from the list. If I hear nothing, I will assume you are enjoying the mail in silence. I do however welcome feedback, and personal life experiences you are having.
Here is what has been happening. I tried…tongue. Ugh. My gag reflex kicked in. It took me a few tries to get it down, but I managed. I don’t think it will be something I do again though. But to my credit, I did try it.
I also went to the movies, but it was pretty cheezy. Sonja wanted to see Godzilla, so we went. It cost $18.00 to get into the movie. Ugh.
I went for authentic Japanese food last night as well. We were given a pot of water on our table to boil our dinners as we ate them. They called it fondue, but it was nothing like what I have ever fondued. It ended up pretty tasty, but there was some mystery meat involved that my taste buds questioned. I tried not to think about it, and kept going.
I went sight seeing again today, and saw The Imperial Palace. It was no big deal. Apparently it is quite a thing to know that President Clinton went jogging there. But yippee for him. I took a picture of course, but no big deal.
We also went to Karaoke again tonight. Next Saturday night, we are doing a marathon from Midnight till 5 am. Food and all you can sing included for $25.00.
I can’t shave my head until Wednesday. Sonja has a friend with clippers, but we won’t see him until then. I am quite excited at the thought.
I bought myself a kimono today. It is really nice. Black with gold Kanji writing. It means “eternal life”. It is really striking.
Not much else is new today. I buy my tickets tomorrow for Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.
More later as things progress..
Here is the latest from Asia Central. Or at least Asia Southeast.
I am not going to teach English here. I am not going to get an apartment.
After an incredibly wonderful conversation with my sister, Sara, I made a few decisions.
The thought of teaching makes me want to vomit really. I didn’t want to admit that to myself or anyone else, for fear of looking like a failure. There are jobs a-plenty here, but it is not something I love. If I do what I love, the money will come. And besides the mission of this trip is not a moneymaking excursion, rather it is a life learning adventure.
So, based a few facts, I have started the ball rolling on new travel plans.
Fact #1: I do not love teaching. I love the constant change of motion that comes with travelling. I love the constant new stimulus in my life that accompanies that. I am going to do what I love, not what seems conventionally acceptable.
Fact #2: Tokyo is indeed a very expensive city to visit. It is not so expensive if you live here, make local currency as a paycheck and do without coffee. As I am currently on a shoestring budget, and flying by the seat of my pants, I am off to somewhere that will take my money further. I see the travel agent tomorrow morning. Perhaps Bali, Indonesia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia or Bangkok, Thailand.
Fact #3: This is an adventure. Not a test of endurance to see how much crap I can take in a vacation. Let’s face facts here. I really think it sucks to live in a place with 94% humidity, 35oC, and earthquakes/typhoons to boot. Perhaps if it were only 93%………
Fact #4: Why not?
Also, with the “not having to work right away” thing, I am going to shave my head bald tomorrow morning. I have always wanted to do this, and now I have 9 weeks to grow my hair back before I return to a Calgary fall/winter scenario and a job where hair may be a requirement. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Perhaps I will acquire MORE supermodel type looks than I already have in my portfolio!!!
I was out this afternoon with Sonja and her manfriend Shin, and I was skipping along the sidewalk. I couldn’t figure out why I had so much energy. She remarked it was perhaps I had unshouldered a burden by making an executive decision that I was feeling comfortable with.
This is entirely true. I don’t know 100% how I am going to swing this financially, but my gut feels better than it has all week. I am going to go with it and trust that all is well.
Love to you all. I hope I haven’t rocked your world too much in one note!
Annie Fannie Bannannie in Japannie
Fire flowers here are what firecrackers are called. Sonja and bought 2000Y worth of fireworks and went down to Edogawa River and released our pyromaniacal sides for over an hour this evening. I have painted my nails navy blue. They are finally long enough to paint, so I am going nuts.
I am going to a Sake tasting place tomorrow. Sake is rice wine. Not my favorite, but the tour is free, and hey, wine is wine deep down.
I have noticed that there are no lawns here. Also, no grass along any boardwalks or streets or anywhere but parks, and even then you are not allowed to walk or sit on them at all!
We went to the pet store the other day, and how cow! They were selling regular tabby kittens for $1200.00 Canadian dollars! Can you imagine? no wonder people here don’t have pets. Perhaps my next business should be to breed cats at that price.
Platform shoes here are all the rage. The kids look ridiculous with their matching bellbottoms. I will shave my head, but now wear platforms or bellbottoms.
Speaking of head shaving, a bunch of Sonja’s friends are going to come over tomorrow night for a head shaving party. They are all very excited to watch. FREAK SHOW CENTRAL!
I found a radio station in Los Angeles that broadcasts here…country music!!! A few hours of the day anyway. I was so happy when I stumbled across it.
Nothing else super much to report at the moment. I am going to bed now.
Love to all…
Well kids, here is the more detailed update. Sonja’s friend Chris had clippers. Thank god for the clippers. My mane was difficult to shave after we had clipped it down to ¼ inch, let alone if we had had to shave from scissors length. I had to shave it with a razor 3 times last night to just get it bald. I shaved it again this morning, but it still has a minute stubble. I am going to let it grow now, so that when I return to Canada no one will walk right by in either embarrassment or by not recognizing me. It sure feels neat. I am amazed at the amount of heat that my body is giving off through my head. Perhaps it uses hair to diffuse the heat, and now because there is none, it just sits on top of my head lounging about. Either way, I can put my hand just above my head and feel it radiating off. I made Sonja touch it as well, in case I was dreaming. She too was surprised. I wonder if regular bald people experience this, or if it is a temporary shock thing. Time will tell, but last night I had to sleep with the fan blowing on my scalp so I could sleep.
I had a roll of film developed here, and it cost the equivalent of $14.00/24 roll film. I think I will wait for the rest to do upon my return.
As I explained briefly yesterday, the banking systems here really suck. I thought it was because I was doing foreign transactions, but I find out that it is that way for locals as well. They do however have chairs you can sit on while they dink you around. Small consolation.
I went to the Shishedo makeup mall. They have all of their products available to use, with disposable applicators etc. I painted my fingernails each a different color, and then decided to wipe it off, and I painted them all navy blue. I thought it would look weird, but it looks really nice. (I think)
I didn’t end up going to the sake tasting place because of the bank hoo haa, so I will go tomorrow after I go see the sumo wrestling tomorrow morning. I was going to go today, but they are closed on Thursdays. I am going to an antique flea market today, in hopes of finding some rare bargains, which I can bring back. The market covers 1940-1958 or close to it when Japan was “occupied” by the Americans. Ya know what that means…
Gotta go now and meet Sonja for lunch. More this afternoon upon my return.
I am baaaackkkk!
Well, as the title suggests, I have given up my Olympic status, for a more religious position. Only this morning, Sonja looked at me upon awakening, and remarked that I looked Buddhist. I laughed it off, not thinking anything of it. Well, this afternoon, while shopping I had 3, count them, 3 people ask me if I was Buddhist? Did I come to Japan to study? Study what? I asked. Buddhism was the reply. I said no, and carried on. While looking a jewelry, an Arabic looking shopkeeper asked where I was from, and I told him Canada. He was incredulous. Are most people in Canada Buddhist? was the question. I assured him that was not the case. he asked if it was just me that was Buddhist, and they gave discounts to Buddhist shoppers in his shop. Unfortunately for me, there was nothing of interest there, or I could have gotten a discount!!! Finally a shrunken old Japanese man stared at me like the Calgary Tower, laughing. I asked what for, and he said that he didn’t realize that women were allowed to shave their heads in the Buddhist religion.
It is time to grow my hair back I think…Mind you, with people thinking I am a Buddhist here in Japan, that isn’t so far fetched. It is a primary religion here. I only wonder where the temple will be built in my honor…..Hmmm….
I finally got my tickets for my next trip today. It only took 3 hours to complete with the final banking transactions. I only now need to get my re-entry visa. I tried to do that today, but you know what I learned? Over 80% of Tokyo’s streets in the suburbs aren’t named, let alone on a map. Now they tell me! No wonder I am finding it difficult getting directions. They say things like, turn at the 4th alley past the 2nd intersection. Go down 6 buildings, and enter the red brick shack on the left past the 4th vegetable stand by the fire hydrant. Hello!!!!! Let’s get with the nineties. Hopefully tomorrow after the Sumo wrestling, Sonja can help me out.
Let’s just hope the Sumo’s don’t need a sacrificial Buddhist for their match tomorrow. I will be out of there faster than a 3 day all fruit diet.
Anyhoo, on that note, I am off to bed. I need my rest before such a big day tomorrow.
Annie Fannie in Japannie – her hair 🙂
I was in McDonald’s today, and a very creepy man sat across from me, and started to make conversation. The first thing out of his mouth was, “Are you Russian?” He then asked if I was in the American Military. He then asked if I was Buddhist. I told him no on all 3 counts. I told him I was Canadian. He asked if I was in the Canadian military. I replied no again. He then asked if I spoke Finnish. I said no. He then started speaking Japanese. I told him, “Look pal, it is either French or English, but not Japanese, Russian or Finnish. Pick one. He then started talking all of them, convinced he could teach me all of them. He asked me all sorts of creepy questions, trying to pump me for info, but I played dumb. He then told me his life story in a reader’s digest version, but I didn’t understand most of it. I was then presented with his phone number and name to call him later. I threw the paper out with my McNugget sauce. It was soooo creepy. Perhaps I don’t do the situation justice.
Anyhoo, Sonja and I went to see the Sumo’s this morning. We were 6 feet from their sweating, heaving, and rubber thonged bodies. I took pictures, so let’s hope they turn out well. It stunk in the “stable” after one and a half-hours. They call it a stable, and they live there as well as train. It was really neat.
I got my re-entry VISA today, so when I leave Japan I can come back in. That only took 3 hours. I must be learning how to work the Japanese system.
I went to go to the Sake center afterwards, but when I got there, they had moved, and I couldn’t read the new address. By that time, I was bagged, so I came home for a bath and a read. It was great. Sonja’s tub is deep up to my neck, but only 3 feet long. So it was more of a squat than a lay down. But it was HOT! AAaaahhhh…. The memory still lingers. It took about 3.1 seconds to wash my hair! I love it!
I am going to do all night Karaoke tomorrow night. Ye haw! It starts at midnight.
I go to Singapore on Tuesday. Then I sleep the night there, and go to Bali, Indonesia on Wednesday. I will be broadcasting from there for the following month. I then return to Singapore for the next month, as I make my way up to Bangkok, Thailand through Malaysia. I will have to find some Internet cafes or something to make my messages your way. Never fear, where there is a will…
Well, that is all for tonight.
Health and love to all…
Annie AKA Baldy, Buddha, and GI JANE 🙂
Hello all my fans…
I just came home this morning (it is 5:07am) from an all night Karaoke marathon. It was amazing.
I am pooped however, so more details tomorrow,,,
Annie Fannie in Japannie – hair of course 🙂
Sonja, Beth, Allison, Akihiko, and I went to all night Karaoke last night. As I mentioned, we didn’t get to bed until 5am. Sonja and I closed all the blinds so as not to be disturbed by the sun, and we ended up sleeping until 4:30 PM today! I think the alcohol had a sleeping affect on us as well. We got up in time to go to dinner at a place called Farm Grill. It was billed as the best place to go for Western Cuisine, and a buffet to die for. It was not worth the money by any stretch of the imagination. We ended up quite disappointed. We went to a place called Rappongi. It is a district in Tokyo where the foreigners go to hang out. While we were there, a Japanese man came over and told me he wanted to buy me and Sonja drinks, so he slapped $20 on the table and walked away. Moments later, a waiter approached me, and said that someone else wanted to buy drinks for me. So I took this one as a drink because the waiter was bringing it over from the bar, and I didn’t have to worry about any Rohipnol being slipped in, so I took it. Here I come to the title bit. A very large black man came over to me, and said, “I really like the way you have shaved your head. You have the right lips to carry off the look.” Does this mean I have a black person’s lips or…..??? I know that my nose sort of looks like a black person’s nose, but I didn’t think I had enough collagen in my lips for that. It was funny, yet in a way flattering I guess.
I bought myself a silver wedding band to wear on my travels. It has been recommended by many sources.
I guess in summary, I could be described as an Olympic, Buddhist, Black, Russian, Military Woman. Whew. I can only wonder what will be added to my title next.
I am getting quite excited at the next leg of my journey.
A note on the hair…now when I am putting on a T-shirt or pulling off my jammies, it is like dragging fabric across Velcro!
I also went to Hard Rock Café here in Tokyo and got myself a famous T-shirt to add to my collection.
That is all for now I think.
I am hoping to find an Internet café on my journeys to keep you all up to date.
Until next time,
I might need a few days to find me a computer in Indonesia that I can use for email, so until I do, there will be some email silence.
I didn’t do much today, we watched Speed 2, it was corny, but amusing.
It rained today, and I basically got ready for my trip tomorrow.
I hope you are all enjoying your weather, low of 5 I understand tonight. Our low tonight was 22. Too bad for you…
Love to you all.
Annie 🙂 with stubble now.
Well kids, I am here in Singapore using the airport’s Internet site.
This has to be the nicest airport I have ever seen in my life, or could have even dreamed up. Calgary and many others could take many, many lessons on how to improve their level of service. There are over 100 stores to shop in, 18 Internet terminals, 4 TV’s with movies or cartoons playing, reclining waiting chairs 24 hour restaurants (not just quickie fry joints) a supermarket…I am completely blown away.
I arrived last night at 12:45am and checked things out a bit. A lot of the stores were closed, but no big deal. I went to the transit hotel to see about getting a room, but they were all full. Not only that, the room rates were for 6 hour stays only. The cost was S$50.00 + 14% tax per 6 hour slot. The Singapore dollar exchange rate is $1.00 Canadian = $1.10 Singapore. The prices are very comparable with Canadian things for food, so I don’t feel ripped off at all.
Anyhoo, the lady at the desk said I could check back in 2 hours and see what had freed up, but my name went on a waiting list behind 4 other people. So, I decided to wander around the airport a bit more. I saw the reclining waiting chairs, so I decided to hunker down, and wrap my stuff up around me, and try and nap. Well, after about 14 minutes of that, I decided that it wasn’t going to work. The chairs were arranged similar to that of park benches. Some people had laced their legs and hips and torso through the armrests of the chairs, and laid down. I didn’t like that thought at all, so instead, I decided to lay UNDER the benches on the floor. The benches were back to back with each other, so there was quite a bit of room underneath.
Some people asked me why, when I was packing, was I taking along my own towel. I detest going to a hotel where their idea of a bath towel is the size of a handkerchief, so I bring my own. I have since learned that in a pinch, a nice towel can double as a blankie. I also had my own pillow on hand, so I was set for the night. I set my alarm for 9:30 am, and went to sleep. I woke up a few times wondering where I was, but in all, it was a pretty good sleep. I woke up and moved about, whereby attracting the attention of the people sitting on the chairs this morning, and gave one woman a sort of scare, sort of incredulous experience when she realized someone was sleeping underneath her. Looking back, I pat my back for my ingenuity and survival skills. All that Junior Forest Warden training paid off!!!
I am also now a millionaire. I went to the money exchange, and I now have R$2,460,000.00 in my money belt. Unfortunately it is in Ruphiah’s, and it is only worth $400.00 Canadian. However, I can say I am a millionaire now, multimillionaire in fact!
Any hoo, my 1/2hour is up on the computer, so I will see what I can find for communications in Bali tomorrow.
Love you all!
P.S. I forgot to say what the prerequisite was for the park bench holidaying…You have to spend 2 weeks prior to your first park bench experience sleeping on the floor of your own house, or someone else’s house, as I have done in order to toughen up your bench muscles! Ha Ha Ha.
Bye for sure this time….
I stayed at a “fancy” hotel last night to get myself sorted out from after the picnic bench incident. The cost was $270,000.00 Rupiah or $43.00 Canadian.
The room had a king size bed, mini fridge and hot water with a telephone and TV, and air conditioning. I realized I couldn’t watch the TV, it was too late to call anyone, and the fridge was not cold. So I had a hot bath (which was installed backwards) and went to bed. And slept.
This morning I dragged myself out of bed at 9:30 so I could case the streets in search of a new location before my check out time ran out and I was charged for another day.
That is when I found Oka. It is $22,400 Rupiah a day. or $4.00 Canadian. Big switch. It has 2 double beds, a bathroom with a broken showerhead and no hot water. However it has no air conditioning, but the room is shaded by leafy palms and is in the corner of the building. I am still going to only sleep there, so the price I cannot bitch about, considering I looked at places 2x the price, for less than what I have. The hot water thing is no big deal, because the cold water is lukewarm. Which is better for cooling down anyways.
So I strolled around and found a much cheaper Internet place, right down the street, so here I am.
I went to the beach this afternoon after settling into my new abode. There were palm trees blowing in the wind and miles of white sandy beach. The water was warm to swim in and no sharks today…
I got lost this morning while looking for new digs, and wandered about for nearly an hour, with no hat. That was dumb. My neck is a bit pink, but not burnt by any stretch. Thank goodness. I stopped and asked some natives where the beach was, (So I could navigate my way home from there, and they asked why. Being a bit brain frazzled, I told them I was lost, and couldn’t remember where I had to go back to.) Perhaps it wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but I was going nuts. They asked me what the hotel name was, and I couldn’t remember that either. The woman suggested I check my room key, as it was probably on that. Hooray! I was saved.. I then negotiated a ride back to the hotel and collapsed on the bed for the remaining 12 minutes I had on my room. It was a good thing I got a drive back, or I would have been late and double charged.
It reminds me a lot like Mazatland here with all the sellers of things, but it is 10x cheaper. Last night I ran into an Aussie and his Indonesian girlfriend and we chatted. He had nodded off while drunk in Jakarta, and was pickpocketed on the bus. Any ways he was broke and waiting for his friend to come back and was hungry as well.
I took out a $20,000.00 bill ($3.25 or so) and fed the three of us dinner and drinks from a foodstand for under $3.00. It was a rice stirfry of sorts, but I couldn’t get over it. All 3 of us! For under $3.00!!! It was nice being able to do it.
I am off to find some dinner now, so see ya later!
Baldy in Bali 🙂
Here is what is happening on this side of the world today….
I decided to sleep in today, so I didn’t get up until 1:00 PM. I felt sorry for all those who had to rise at 6-am etc. Life is rough here, don’t you feel for me?
I then strolled around for a while and decided to go to the beach. Upon my arrival, I was treated to a manicure and a back massage for $3.00 total. I then commandeered myself a beach chair and umbrella where I spent the rest of the afternoon sunbathing, reading and eating mangos. It was amazing. I watched the sunsetting over the ocean and then gather my things.
I went back to my room and sloughed the sand out of places I would rather not mention.
Dinner was at a husker, which is a roadside stall that was nasi goreng. Rice with veggies, crackers and a pop for 85c. I strolled around and there were Indonesian dancers putting on a performance at…McDonalds. Of all places! I am trying to decided if I want to get a custom-made leather outfit or not. They are asking over a million dollars. I have a few days, perhaps they will come down. I am not in a rush at all.
My tan is coming along nicely. I have decided to not stray too far from Kuta, the area in Bali I am in, for I have heard from many people who have arrived here from other parts of the province? and other parts of Indonesia where they say the political unrest is a bit scary at the moment. Nothing to fear here though.
Anyhoo, bye for now…
Well, I am thoroughly enjoying my time here, but I feel all bottled up because I am travelling alone, and not having a whole lot of conversations with people. Sure I have met people, but they are different people all the time, so the conversations always start the same, where are you from, how long have you been here etc. I crave the meaningful conversations with the people who know me well, and I can base a conversation on something deeper than, “Wow, this is a beautiful spot…” ya know?? Thank goodness for email, but it still isn’t the same.
Before I left, I bought a copy of “What color is your parachute ” Which I am working through, so when I return, I will have some concrete plans for my next few steps.
One lady I met today, asked me if I shaved my head because of a lice problem. That has to be the worst question so far…
Some advice to anyone thinking of travelling abroad soon, get an international driver’s license before you go. It makes it so much easier to rent a vehicle of sorts. Trust me.
Nothing earth shattering today, I am happy to veg on the beach and wander the streets.
Bye for now..
Annie in Bali 🙂
Yesterday was spent at the beach, remember, well, I am a little pinker than I had planned on, so today I didn’t go in the sun at all.
I slept until 2:30, and then went for a bite to eat. On the way back to the hotel, I stopped and continued my bartering with a guy for a CD rack. It has been going on now for 3 days. Each day, I stop in and we barter back and forth. today, I made the purchase. This thing, I say thing for a reason, is unlike anything I have ever seen before. It is hand carved out of wood, and holy shit! it is just crazy! It is a CD holder, like I mentioned, but it is 7 feet tall, and carved in the shape of a man, with crazy woolish type hair, and weighs about 25 pounds! I have no idea how I am going to get it back to Canada, but just looking at it, I knew I needed to have it. It is now my roommate in my hotel,, until Sonja comes, and then there will be three! I shake my head and laugh at what I have just bought. I think you all will too, but it is just Soooooo me, you will understand when you see it.
I also got some perfume for $12.00 today, three of them in fact. I purchased Elizabeth Arden – Red Door, Calvin Klein – Be, and Chanel #5. All three for $12.00! Nuts!
I think I have found my niche now, with the bartering, as things are coming easier. I have never had a problem with it in Mexico, but it is slightly different here. I am not able to put my finger on it, but I have it down pat now.
I met a woman today in the restaurant, and we are going out for drinks tomorrow night. Her mom is with her, and she isn’t much into the night life scene, and being alone, I don’t want a huge part of it either for safety’s sake, so we are going to pair up tomorrow for some looting and pillaging.
I was a bit grumpy yesterday, but I am in fine fettle today!
I went to a cargo place today to see how much it would cost to ship my friend over and it was a good thing I was sitting down. By boat it was $220.00 and by air it was $364.00 and those prices are in American dollars!!! It only goes as far as Vancouver, and then I would need to get it shipped to Calgary from there. I am going to phone the airline tomorrow and see how much it will cost me as extra baggage on the plane. Yikes!
I learned how to ride a scooter today. It was quite the experience let me tell you! First off, they drive on the other side of the road here, and there are no real traffic lights of sorts, and they drive like bats out of hell!!! There were a few times where I nearly filled my shorts! But all in all, it was really cool. I went with a guy whose friend was the one who sold me the CD guy. He was really different, with dreadlocks in his hair and everything. The bunch of them were neat. They find it hard to say my name correctly, so the one guy asked if he could call me cranberry. I wondered why, until he told me that I look like one of the members of the group The Cranberries. I laughed and said, ok.
I am going out tonight with my new New Zealand friend I met yesterday, so I need a shower after my bike ride. We cruised around for nearly 2 hours, and the dreadlocks guy showed me rice fields and all sorts of neat things.
I might see about renting one, and touring the island. Time will tell.
Gotta fly now,
I spent over 3 hours today on the workbook, and was it ever neat. I am not yet finished, but it sure makes things simplified as to what I want to do. I can’t wait until it is finished.
I had a full hour massage today, only $6.00. I think I might need one every day….food for thought.
I found a part of the beach today that was supporting topless bathing….you guessed it, I joined the ranks. How liberating! It was really neat, being that there were so many women doing it, I didn’t feel out of place at all. There may be no tan lines on me when I return. Yeehoo!
The guy who runs this joint right now, is looking at me intently as he wants to close up shop, so bye for now….
Annie AKA Cranberry! 🙂
Food for thought: There is not much point in clearing away cobwebs, if you don’t bother to find the spider…
I am sad to say that there are some unsavory characters here. Here are the sordid details.
Yesterday afternoon, I was sunning myself at the beach. I met a guy, can’t remember his name, and I rented a boogie board (it is about 2.5 feet long, and 2 feet wide, like a mini surfboard) and he taught me the finer points of body surfing. It was great fun, and mega exercise. When was finished, I returned to my umbrella and had a cold drink. Life was good. The surfer dude came over and yakked with me for about an hour. He is the 2nd best surfer in Bali, as he was in the national competition a few weeks ago, and was second. I can believe it too. I digress.
When I was going to leave, I was gathering my things, and I was approached by an older (read: 52 yr. old) gentleman who had overheard some of my conversations with surfer boy. Anyways, he asked if I was from England originally. I said, “Nope, Canada.” He asked if I had English heritage because of some of the pronunciations and expressions. Anyways, he was from North Wales and we had a good old chat. He invited me for dinner, and so I said sure. He seemed harmless enough.
We agreed to meet at the Matahari in Kuta Square at 8pm. I went back to the hotel, showered, changed and made my way down the streets. By this time it was dark, however only 6:30 at night, and still lots of people out and about. I wasn’t worried at all. I was walking along the boardwalk, when this woman approached me with a handful of leather bracelets she was trying to pawn off onto me. She was a VERY aggressive woman, practically trying to tie one on my wrist.
Moments later, a friend of hers with similar bracelets was accosting my wrists as well. I was polite with my refusal, until I couldn’t handle her anymore, and I am sad to say, I to her to F— O–. I had had enough, and so I quickened my stride to outpace her. I just happened to look down at my leather waist pouch, and noticed my zipper was undone. I chastised myself for not zipping it up before I left the hotel, and carried on. Not more than 5 steps later, an Aussie man came up to me, and asked me if I had just been pickpocketed. I said, “No” and then it dawned on me the reason my zipper was undone. In the course of “bracelet sales” the woman had unzipped my pouch and was feeling me up for money!!! Duh! I rechecked my pouch then, realized I still had all my faculties…and money etc. and was quite shaken up. The Aussie man galloped after the two women, shouting, and they hopped aboard two scooters with waiting accomplices and sped away.
I stopped the Aussie as he returned, and asked him what had prompted him to stop me, and he replied that he had been ripped off by them only days earlier, and that they were thieves.
It was scary how easily it could have happened. They were smooth, and I didn’t notice a thing. But all is well that ends well. I was not out anything, and I think the Aussie scared them. I can’t say it will deter them from their life of petty crime though.
We ended up at the Hard Rock Café for dinner, and it was a pleasant evening nonetheless.
Love ya all!
Must work on my boob lines now!
You better have a drink and a sandwich for this one, and a comfy chair. All of the facts below are yea incredible, yet they are completely true. Ready???
It all started yesterday afternoon. I was on the beach, chatting with my umbrella supplier, sipping a cold one. He mentioned that his grandfather had died 7 days ago, and there was to be a ceremonial cremation, and did I want to go. I said yes, and got the name of his village where the cremation was to be held.
I was at my hotel that night, reading, and I was struck with hunger pangs like never before, so I thought I had better sate the beast that had taken up residence and evicted my stomach. I went for some…you got it…nasi goreng. ( I tried the gadoo gadoo once instead, and nearly hurled. It is a completely separate story with it’s own merit.) I digress. I apologize.
Anyways, I was eating my nasi goreng from a different vendor than normal. The other woman, wench that she is, decided to take her one day off per month, and was absent. I had to find an alternate fix. The woman I connected with asked me if I wanted the chilies, and I motioned only a little bit. I guess her sign language is dyslexic, and I ended up sweating like I had just done the Boston Marathon in record time. My god, a few chilies, and I was at the mercy of the beverage giant, Coca Cola. Unbelievable! My clothes were drenched at the end of it. The sadist that I am, I finished the whole bowl.
I was strolling home, and I stopped in at my local hangout where I got the wood carving – 7 foot friend, as Cool Moe Dee (his nickname from me), offered me a game of chess. I said sure, but the board was occupied. So, instead he and his rasta(farian) friend Jaya, pulled out a guitar, lap drum and sand shaker, and we be jamming mon… It was cool. Bob Marley would have been proud. We sang all sorts of songs, Patsy Cline, the Beatles, Kenny Rogers, you name it.
I got all sorts of looks from other tourists, as if to ask if I was in need of police assistance, but I had a blast! I can now say I jammed for the public in Indonesia. We had a crowd happening and all sorts of applause. It was tremendous fun.
Jaya then asked me if I knew how to play Yahtzee, so we played three games in the street till midnight. I was neat living(for a few hours anyways) as a native, with bare feet on the pavement, peddling goods and just hanging.
It was a lot of fun. I mentioned to the guys about the cremation, and Jaya said that if I came today at 10am, he would take me.
10am, I go to their store down the street. I am informed that they did some investigations, and the ceremony was to start at noon. So we bullshitted for a while, and then we were off. I rented a motorbike (scooter) and away we went. We filled up for 50c, literally, and we were off. By this time, I had forgotten the name of where it was, as all the places start to sound the same after a while, so Jaya and I cruised along as he thought he knew where some might be.
Well, we cruised and cruised and cruised. Every place we went to, there was nothing. We ended up in a city called Ubud, and he took me to the monkey forest. Literally, a forest crawling with monkeys. I was ashamed to be a tourist for a few moments. They had bananas for sale, for people to give the monkeys, and some people were teasing the animals with them. They got their just deserts let me tell you. I witnessed not 1, not 2, but 3! count them 3! monkey attacks. It was wild, literally and figuratively. One man, while filming on his camcorder, his wife/girlfriend was feeding (read: taunting) the monkey, only to have the wild animal (I think people forget that) climb up her bare legs, along her back around to her front and grab the banana from her hand. She was screaming as the monkey kept trying to bite her and get the rest of the bunch. Like a person being mugged, she threw her booty in hopes of distracting her assailant, but he wouldn’t have it. A native Balinese man finally grabbed a stick and threatened the monkey, and he dropped from her shoulders. This was not a small monkey. It was about the size of two 10lb potato sacks. Can you believe this though, her boyfriend encouraged her to reclaim their bunch of banana’s from the monkey with her bare feet (with little rubber sandals!!!) The stupid thing was, she did try! After baring his teeth, 2-inch fangs, hissing and looking indeed very scary, she reconsidered.
I saw 3 similar attacks as people were trying to be cute and pose for pictures with their family, endangering their kids, themselves, and teaching the monkeys to be aggressive. I wholeheartedly disagree with the whole ability to feed the wildlife concept anyways, but this was incredulous. I might have some action shots as I was snapping away at the woman was being rescued.
This is not everything, either!
Who would have thought that a glass of water, yea a glass of water and a silver factory, could have saved me from jail? Interested??
After the monkey forest, we were walking along the path to the scooter, and I heard a commotion at the top of the hill. I asked what was going on, and Jaya said a ceremony, so I went to check it out. It was indeed a ceremony, a cock fighting ceremony. Did you know that they tie knives to the chicken’s ankles, and tease them until they freak out, and kill each other? It was gross to say the least. I was the only woman present, and I think it was perhaps because I was not advertising my femininity, and snuck in. There were supposed to be no women allowed, so this is good dirt. All the other Balinese women had to wait outside the gates until the men were finished. In my disguised state, I witnessed things that need not be repeated from these typing fingers. The pictures I have will say it all.
Well, ok, for those of you who won’t see the pictures due to distance, I will continue. Those of you who will, please skip this part, and read on afterwards.
The money swapped at this thing was mind-blowing! Chickens! Just like track betting, the money flew as the chickens valiantly defended their cock titles, and pecked, slashed and flapped their opponent until they were slotted for tomorrow’s stew. If they chicken that was losing, ran quicker than the stronger chicken, they would grab them both, and out them into a bird cage, not more than 18 inches in diameter, so the weaker chicken could not escape. It was worse than Mike Tyson biting off Evander Holyfield’s ear, let me tell you. I have photos of the aftermath. Uggh…
Literally translated from Indonesian to English, it is not Cock Fighting, it is Crazy Chicken with Knife in the Legs. Seriously, my Balinese friend Jaya told me so.
Well, after the chickens and monkeys, you would think my day was full, but oh no, the best was yet to come.
We stopped at a silversmith’s on the way home, where the savior glass of water entered stage left. I had mentioned that I wanted to get a drink after we left the silver shop, but they gave me a glass of water there, in hopes of me purchasing some goodies. It is a good thing I bought neither goodies of a silver variety, nor a beverage, for as the story unfolds, all my money in my wallet was to be used to keep me from going to prison!
We left the silversmiths, and it was my turn to drive. We had been switching as the numb bum syndrome was slightly alleviated with a change of position on the bike. We motored along, still weaving through the election extremists on our way back to Kuta. Oh, did I forget to mention the election extremists? Let me fill you in. There is an election here every 5 years, and this year the democratic candidate is projected to win, so there are motorcycle GANGS that were riding the streets in bunches of 75-100 bikes, cars, van you name it, waving red flags, bulls on their shirts, honking, tying up traffic like nothing all throughout our day. That in itself was worth a picture or three.
Anyways, we were on our way back to town, when I was navigating the traffic. They don’t have traffic lights as a rule, they use round a bouts like England. They are traffic circles, but these ones are riddled with blind spots created by voodoo statues and buddha’s etc, like the one I came upon.
I didn’t see the light, until I was past the stop line, so I (yes, I admit it) I panicked and screeched the motorbike to stop about 5 feet into the intersection. I then tried to push the bike back to where the rest of the people were waiting, but not before a policeman saw me. Now, as I mentioned, one needs an international driver’s license to operate a bike legally here. Insurance is covered by the motorbike rental company. Not an issue.
Anyways, the cop pulls me off the road, and to the side. I was scared like never before.
Jaya and I are taken to the police station, which just my luck was on the opposite corner of the intersection. I am interrogated in a language I cannot understand, and Jaya is trying to translate for me, but at the same time trying to calm the officer down. I am demanded to show my driver’s license, my international driver’s license no less (did I mention that I don’t have one???) , and I pretend to not know what is going on, even with the understood translation from Jaya. I am asked where I live, how old I am, my name, passport number etc…
The cop asks me in broken English, how much longer I intend to stay in the country. I tell him only a week but it is really 11 days. I figure this way the shorter time frame the better-less of an international threat you see… I am then given a chance to confer with Jaya in private, and he suggests to me that I better give him my money. A little naive, I wonder what for. Jaya explains that if I can’t produce at least 20,000 Rupiah for the cop to have for his own private collection, I will face a judge tomorrow morning, who could keep me in jail until I my plane ticket says I am to leave, and I will not be allowed to come back to the country, as well as face a fine of up to 150,000 Rupiah.
I have only one remaining 20,000 Rupiah bill, and I hand it over folded between the sheets of the cop’s arrest book and pray he wants no more. I have no more money on my person. Luckily, that is enough, and we escape out the door while the cop’s back is turned. I guess that is how the bribe system here works. You hand over the money, and make a break for it as the cop turns his back, that way he can say you escaped before he had a chance to book you. If I had bought drinks, I would now be in the drink, as I wouldn’t have had enough bribe money!
What color is fear, I ask? Probably brown, judging by my shorts. We sped home, Jaya driving, in record time.
Let’s just say, that is the last of my motorbike rentals in a foreign country with no license and no extra bribe money on me.
I hope to have many more exciting days like today, just with no police or rabid monkeys to speak of.
I am now going to bed, even though it is only 8:45 for I am physically and emotionally spent.
Not only did all this happen, but while riding the bike today, I got tan lines from my shorts on my thighs that will take some blending let me tell you. It is going to look ridiculous on the beach tomorrow. I think that will be the extend of my adventures…what to choose to drink, Sprite or Coca-Cola while laying in the sand reading my book.
Annie, The Escaped 🙂
Good Day Kids!
I spent the day trying to even out my motorcycle tan. It is a tough job, but someone has to make the sacrifice.
I failed to mention two things yesterday, yet nay so exciting as the previous entry. I also picked up my custom sewn leathers, Jacket, Skirt and Pants in Navy Suede. Nice!
I also never got to see the cremation after all, oh well. I think burning bodies would not have fazed me at all.
Sonja arrives tomorrow! Yeah, can you imagine the trouble I can get into then??
Sorry I missed a day. I was waiting until tonight to give you the details of our big day today, only it never transpired.
Yesterday was Sonja’s first day on the beach, and while I was out getting a drink, she decided to self apply her tan lotion, only she missed quite a few spots, and subsequently, burnt her back and legs quite badly. We were scheduled to go scuba diving today, but she was in a lot of pain, so we postponed it until Thursday so she could heal. We took a taxi into Dempasar (the capital city here) and went to two movies for $1.00 each. The first was 6 Days & 7 Nights, it was ok, but predictable. The second one I can’t remember the title, but it had Matt Dillon, Neve Campbell, Kevin Bacon and Bill Murray. What a weird, intricate yet dumb movie. I don’t recommend it at all.
I have been wrestling with a doozie of a cold today as well. My head is stuffed, runny nose and sneezing. Not a whole lot of fun at all.
I have taken some pills, and it has made a world of difference.
Well, Sonja had just gotten off the plane on Sunday night, and she had a run in with the law. In order to enter the country, you have to have 6 months remaining on your passport. She had 5. I tried to tell her that before she came, but she was convinced it wouldn’t be a problem. Well, the custom’s guy spotted her faux pas, and denied her entry into the country. Fortunately, I was on the other side of the glass and saw what was going on. As she was being dragged away, I rubbed my fingers together giving her the money sign.
The official was going to send her back along with 5 other people, but she was able to bribe him into letting her stay. It ended up costing her $50.00, but she got in. She was quite shaken up and very pale when they released her. Considering my bribe was only the equivalent of $3.00, I did very well.
The problem is now, Japan has the same rule! I don’t know how successful she will be in getting back to Japan, where she lives! I don’t know if the custom’s people there can be bribed! Perhaps she will end up having to fly to Canada until she can get a new passport sorted out! That would suck for her!
We had a pretty quiet day today, just shopping and movies until we both feel better. I am taking her to the monkey forest tomorrow, so she can see things. Let’s hope there are no further incidents.
Bye for now!
Alright kiddies, I am back after many days away from a computer. I am sure lots of you are going through daily update withdrawal, so I will be sure to make it a good one.
Ok, where to start. The last place I left of with was Sonja and I on our way to the Reggae bar on Thursday night I believe. Well we went to the bar, and I discovered how much I like reggae music. It was really neat. They have a drink in Indonesia called an Arak Attack, with stuff make from coconut wine. Was it ever yummy! They served them in plastic chickens wearing flower wreaths. It was cute!
I ended up on the beach with “The Gang” at 3am, and Sonja continued off to the hotel. “The Gang” is the group of Indonesian men that I hooked up with who made my stay better than it ever could be without them. The learning was staggering. More about that later.
We sat up and ate Nasi Goreng (fried rice with an egg and a cracker) and drank glass bottled Pepsi until the wee hours of the morn’.
The next day, it was decided that we were going to go on a real trip. Not like the one we had done with Yum Yum. This time, Sonja and I were going to rent a car, and one of the guys was going to drive. Ok. I get up on Saturday morning, and meet Jaya to go and get a car. We searched for over and hour, and we were only able to find a Jeep YJ equivalent. Not good enough. As we sat there trying to exercise our thinking caps, Chookie came along, and said he had just seen his friend, and mentioned what we were doing, and he had a car coming in shortly. Well, Chookie and I take off on his motorbike to go to the car rental place. The plan was to have him drive the car back, and I would take the motorcycle. I know, I know. Me and motorcycles are not the greatest match with Policemen. Well, really it was only a few blocks. What could happen??? Ha I say! What indeed! Anyways, back to the story. We drove to the rental place and we were waiting for the car to arrive, when I remembered a store just down the street that sold surfboard bags. I went down there, and haggled for an 8-foot bag. Why for you ask? I am not a surfer, however my 7-foot friend needed a sleeping bag to make the trek home in, so here was my solution presented in a nutshell. Or a surfbag as the case may be.
I go back to the rental place after eating lunch at McDonald’s and Chookie and I are able to get a Land Rover (no pushing up the hills now!) and we are off like a herd of turtles. There was a traffic jam, so we weren’t going anywhere fast. I burned my leg on the exhaust pipe in the process, and was not a very happy camper at all. Anyways, were are merely seconds, seconds I say, from the store, and what do I run into as I round the corner??? A police check stop! Ugh, my heart dropped to my burn in my leg. It reminded me that I was yet again, (Haven’t I learned my lesson yet???) driving when I shouldn’t be. The cop pulls me over, and asked to see my license. I tell him it is in my hotel room. Thank goodness I had the insurance papers on me. No need to complicate things further. He tells me that he is going to have to confiscate the bike etc and I am now wise to the situation. I pulled out my wallet, and assure him that there is something that can be done to rectify the situation. (Wink wink Nudge nudge) He tells me that the “fine” is $30,000 Rupiah. I, in my infinite wisdom, start to barter with him. It is like I am shopping for a watch or something. It was pretty arrogant looking back now. I tell him that, “No, I cannot possibly pay that much. Do you think I am rich or something.” Hindsight being 20/20, perhaps he might have taken offence, but luckily he didn’t. I then show him that I only have $18,000 Rupiah, and matter of factly, it was going to have to do. If he didn’t like it, I could go to my room and get more, but what are the odds of me returning, eh? He conferred with his partner, and I am on my way, breathing slightly easier now.
Whew, now I have definitely learned. For sure. Honest engine. Cross my fingers. Do you believe me? You should. All those climactic words were there simply to lead you on to another conclusion. However I did learn, and I did not drive again.
Well, Sonja and I load up the car with our stuff, and so does the gang. Originally, it was only going to be 4 of us going, but as soon as they saw the car sat 7, there were 7 passengers. I asked why everyone was suddenly going, and the reply was that “All for one, and one for all – whenever possible”. Ok, so we are off, this time like rabbits.
We are cruising down the road en route to Batur Mountain when we pass an accident. Sonja remarked, “Let’s make sure we are careful, we don’t want an accident.”
OK, can you see where this is going? Can you? I can.
Not more than 5 minutes later, we are involved in an accident. Based on my previous portrayals of their driving, we were cruising along 3 abreast when a motorcycle edged to close, so Edy moved left behind another van a few inches into his bumper, when the same motorcycle cut off the van, forcing him to slam on his brakes. Well, as I saw everything happening in slo’ mo’, we rear-ended the van. No one was injured, however the clause on the rental contract kept flashing before my eyes. Renter is responsible for up to US$500.00 worth of damage to the vehicle. I was filled with dread.
Things turned out not so bad for the car though. We, can you guess, BRIBED the other driver for his damages, and we continued up to the Mountain. It was a beautiful drive through winding forest roads, tropical palms lining the streets. Sonja and I both remarked it was like something out of a Indiana Jones movie.
After climbing and descending the other side of the mountain on roads rough enough to dislodge any possible kidney stones, we arrived at a wee little village and checked into a losmen. It is like a hotel. I wandered around, and it was then that I decided to stop eating all meat while I was in Indonesia. It was absolutely disgusting. They had cows tied with leashes (through their nose no less) grazing on what was a garbage dump. Chickens and pigs doing the same. All I could think of was…whatever they eat, is in their meat. I didn’t like the thought of eating garbage fed meat. I have pictures to validate my story, I was shocked. I was so desperate to maintain my non-meat eating decision, on one day here, sick to death of vegetables, I ate fish. For those of you who know me well, you can well imagine the level of desperation. My kingdom and fief for a T-bone Alberta Beef steak!
We went to the hotsprings after dinner, and signed up for the mountain trek leaving the following morning. When I say mountain trek, it was actually a dawn climb of Mount Batur, a live, currently active volcano. It’s most recent devastating eruption was in April of this year. We were wakened at 3:45am, and left 15 minutes later. We climbed the volcano in the dark with the aid of candles and flashlights. It was sometimes quite challenging. I am relatively fit, not at my peak, however not a complete sloth, and for 2 days afterwards my muscles reminded me of their presence. The climb up took nearly 2 hours. We were at the top in time for the sunrise, however on that morning, the war raged between the sun and the clouds was won by the clouds. I was quite disappointed, however I soon recovered as the trek progressed. Sonja chose to do the short trek, and descended the way she came up. Just recently she climbed Mount Fuji in Japan, and was not up to the task of another large trip.
I continued along for the long trek, and I am sure glad that I did. After eating steamed eggs, and hot banana sandwiches, we were off. They cooked the food in the steam vents from the lava in only 3-4 minutes. I was taken aback when I investigated the steam holes. A very serious burn indeed was possible.
Right away, after breakfast, we set off to traverse three more mountains to get to the open volcano mouth. Some parts of the trail were only 2 feet wide, with a drop of 1770 meters down. That was the height of the mountain. It was not for the faint of heart, that is for sure. I was not even wanting to drop my concentration long enough to capture the trail on film, as I was wanting to complete the journey in one piece. For the next few hours, I climbed, slid and grappled along cold lava rocks and volcanic ash piled high all around. We arrived at the live mouth about 8:30 am. I was able to stand less than 10 feet from the hole as is spewed hot gasses, smoke and steam every 15 seconds or so. The mountain would rumble beneath my feet and there would be an audible boom as each breath was exhaled. I laid about 50 feet from the mouth for nearly an hour reveling in the power of the mountain, the sight of the smoke billowing from it’s angry mouth, and the feel of the rocks beneath me. I took some rocks to remind me of the trip. It was one of the most respectful times in my life for nature.
I arrived back in the camp about 10 am, and practically ran to the hotsprings for a soak. We packed up, and continued on our trip. I tried to sleep on the way up the mountain, however it was very challenging as the roads did not cooperate at all.
I am going to take a break now until tomorrow, and finish the story then, as I have been typing for over an hour, and I need a break in order to really give you complete details, not compromising details to exhaustion.
Until tomorrow my friends…
I know I promised the rest of the message, and I will deliver, I would like to edit the content tomorrow before I send it. I want to make sure that what comes across has the impact I want it to. It was literally a life changing experience, and I want to capture the experience with the reverence it deserves.
Here we go kids…I hope it is all I led it up to be. Enjoy.
We continued up the mountain the morning following the climb, on the windy, narrow treacherous roads. As a rule they drive on the left there, as long as it suits them. If there are too many people in front of them, and the opportunity presents itself, they will simply drive in the oncoming lane playing chicken with the other cars or motorcycles. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep on the ride back. I have never seen drivers like this, even in Toronto or Vancouver. The roads are barely wide enough for one lane traffic; yet times there are 3 or more vehicles jockeying for position.
We continued along until we got to another temple with majestic gardens and a lake. There was a monkey their tied to pole with his ears pierced; that I thought was photogenic. I approached him for a picture, however I think the monkey was getting resentful of having his picture taken, for as I tried he lunged at me. Even though he was on a chain, I didn’t relish the thought of being clawed, so I jumped back. I wonder what the picture will reveal. I ended up snapping as I distanced myself. I also photographed an owl. His eyes were so piercing, it was like they were sharp enough to pierce thoughts. It was very unnerving to have an animal, an animal no less, able to enter my mind’s private sanctuary. Not often has that happened with me before.
We snapped a few shots there, and then moved West to Tanah Lot. It is famous for it’s temple with it’s own natural moat. After years of oceanic abuse, the sea has eaten away at the rocks. Now, when the tide is in, the temple is completely surrounded by water, and impenetrable to outside influence. Boats cannot dock due to triangular rocks keeping outsiders at bay. It was amazing. We watched the sun go down over the rocks, and visited the Holy Snake living with the Monks in the rocks.
The guys wanted to cook us a traditional Roasted Chicken dinner, Balinese style, so we took off for the market. I know that I had already shunned the meat situation, however, I didn’t want to insult their feelings, and the chicken was bought at the grocery store. (Read: rationalized by the fact the grocery store must buy the chicken in bulk, so it had to come from a mass production facility, not a garbage field fed flock.) We went back to their dwelling, and as the meal was prepared, I crashed on the ground from sheer exhaustion. Remembering I had climbed the volcano that day, and traversed 3 other peaks before lunch.
Dinner was served around 10:30 PM. It was great. We accompanied the chicken with barbecued corn, rice and beer. It was delicious. I called my Mom and Dad that night regarding the car accident, as I was not sure how I was going to cover the cost of the repairs.
I was informed a few days later of their efforts to raise the capital. They even tried to sell my dog Wiener, but all they could get was 0.50c for him. I think the most success they had was raffling off zucchini’s from their garden. I knew then I was in good hands.
The next morning, we all piled into the Rover, and went to the body shop. Just walking by, I never would have known there was one there. A sliding aluminum gate disguised the entrance. The guys got out and negotiated with the body shop man, and a short while later, we were on our way. I think they must have known the guy, as they seemed pretty happy with the cost of it. We were informed that we were going to go for breakfast, and discuss the car situation. I was a little apprehensive of what the total was going to be, but it was unavoidable. Chookie and Coell pulled out a pen and paper, and began adding the total for the accident. The cost of the repair on our car, the extra rental days, the other driver etc.
The grand total was $1,600,000.00 Rupiah. One million, six hundred thousand. The amount was staggering, for everyone. The guys were floored at how expensive it was. I was staggered at how little it was. This difference of perspective was further amplified later that day in my discussions with Sonja. There was similar damage done to my car in my second accident, and the total for my car alone was over $3,000.00. Here, we were talking only $250.00 for all of it!
I said to Coell in disbelief, “What now?” He replied, “We will all share the bill. It works out to $271,000.00 each.” I was stunned in disbelief. Shocked actually. There haven’t been many times in my life where I was rendered speechless, however this was one of them, and until hours later, I was not able to pinpoint the reason why. I was more thinking about how long it would take to get the car repaired, and how to deal with the rental company, not the payment of such. I think however his misunderstood my question when he replied. We continued our breakfast in silence, each of us absorbed in our own thoughts. When the bill came, I paid for breakfast much to their amazement. The total for all 6 of us was only $5.00.
Sonja and I retired to the Bali Padma Hotel, where we would sneak in to swim when we wanted to. The hotel we were staying at did not have a shower, let alone a pool! We would pretend to be guests at the resort, and swim there, but in the end, we went back to the room where Sonja’s bed was infected with bugs. She ended up with quite a number of bites. My bed was fine! Yay!
After being alone with our own thoughts for a few hours under the sun, sipping cocktails, and hobnobbing with the truly rich people, we turned towards each other, and resumed our conversation regarding the accident. $271,000.00 Rupiah each: The equivalent of $40.00 Canadian dollars. I remembered my discussion with the lifeguard on the beach. His take home salary, working 8 hours a day, 7 days a week was only $250,000.00. So in essence, the repair bill was going to set back each man a full month’s salary. One full month! I thought about that in my terms: One accident costing me a full month’s salary. All of a sudden there is $2,500.00 or $3,000.00 bill waiting for not only me, but for each of my friends also. In Canada that would have really hit me hard. For us though, the total for the accident in Canadian dollars was only $250.00. Only $125.00 each. Or the equivalents of one day’s pay not one month’s pay.
We then put ourselves in their shoes. They meet a woman, and her friend comes a few weeks later. They volunteer to show us around. A car is rented, and there is an accident. All of a sudden a full month’s salary is gone, which wouldn’t be if they hadn’t come on vacation and asked us to be the tour guide for them. Resentment starts to creep in. They can afford this vacation, they can afford to go to the restaurants, but I am expected to pay a full month’s salary just because I am in the car. This is not fair. Then the conscience creeps in. Well, our friends always take care of each other. They are our friends. Our motto is, “All for one, and one for all.” It is my duty to help out in times of trouble. OK. Resignation sets in. The bill will be paid somehow.
Well, after playing that scenario out in our heads, calculating what sort of impact it would have on our lives, (not huge), we decided that in no uncertain terms, we would pay the complete bill. Because after all, if it weren’t for us, they wouldn’t be facing a bill of that magnitude.
We were quite aware of how it might go over if it were presented without tact and dignity. What do you think the reaction would be, if we came across in a condescending manner? We would appear snobbish, and acting like we were better than they were, just because we were ‘rich’ and they weren’t. Especially as foreign WOMEN. In their culture, the men are the dominant ones, the breadwinners. In no way did we want to insult their self-esteem or egos. It would indeed be a delicate situation.
Once the decision was made, Sonja and I could sunbathe with a clear conscience. As I lay there basking in the warmth of the sun, I couldn’t help but notice the niggly, icky feeling had left the pit of my stomach. I wasn’t able to pinpoint the cause of it earlier, however I then drew the conclusion it was my conscience that was bothering me. It then dawned on me that these guys, who had only known me a few weeks, were willing to keep up with their motto of all for one and one for all. They were so supportive, so giving of themselves and her I was, only concerned with my own impending inconvenience and how it was going to affect my own little world. I hadn’t really stopped to consider the flip side of the coin. I then thought of how willing I would have been in Canada to do that for someone I had only known for a few short weeks. Someone who could afford it better than I, someone who I may never see again in my life. Needless to say, once the whole decision had been made, I felt much better. I couldn’t believe how ashamed of myself I was. Ashamed that it had taken me even a day to realize what the right thing to do was. Ashamed at my thoughtlessness and selfishness.
They only relief to this shame was to come when I acknowledged my errors, stepped back to realize that I was only human, had grown up in a completely different world, where dependence on friends and family was not a life or death issue for the most part. Some of these guys left their homes when they were still in the single digits, lived on the streets when times dictated such close loyalty and ties to friends for survival. I was also consoled by the fact that I had recognized my lack of judgement, yet was big enough to admit it to myself and make amends. I swallowed my feelings of shame, hung my head and did what I needed to do to make the necessary changes.
I am telling you, it was like a 40 pound weight was lifted from my shoulders once the right thing was done.
That afternoon, as I was waiting for Sonja to come by, I was talking with the guys. They had no idea that we were going to pay the bill, as I wanted to wait until Sonja was with me. In the interim, Jay was drawing a gecko on my shoulder, and then suddenly exclaimed, “Hey, let me give you a tattoo, free of charge.” I protested, but the next thing you know I have a tattoo on my right upper arm of a Laughing Sunshine. Meanwhile, Edy is sketching up the drawing of a gecko, in greater detail than Jaya’s pen, and goes to work on my left arm. The sunshine tattoo is only 1.5 inch by 1.5 inch. It is not too big. The gecko however is about 2.5 inches by 4.5 inches. They are all done in black. I decided to give it a try myself after watching the guys, and tattooed a heart on my right big toe. I figured that way if it is not a good job, the odds of anyone seeing it are slim to none. It is a good thing I took that line of reasoning. It is not the greatest heart, but it is self-art. Dadeet came by and showed me his tattoo on his left hip of a safety pin, and for some reason, it resonated with me… I now have two safety pins as well on each inner knee. Total – 5 tattoos in one afternoon. I can’t believe it still. I met Sonja later that afternoon, and she saw my gecko and squealed, “You got a tattoo!” She examined it, and much to my surprise, she wanted to get one as well. Shortly thereafter, she had sat down, and agreed to have the tiger done that I had selected for her. She is now sporting a much larger tattoo of a tiger on her right arm…It is about 6.5 inches by 3.5 inches. Unbelievable. I still shake my head.
We went the cargo-shipping place across the street from the hotel and inquired about packing material. They indeed had some paper grass I could purchase. I told the guy I would go back and get the bag to hold the paper and be right back. No sooner was I back, but the guy had packed up his lunchbox and had hit the road for the day. Apparently, according to the other guy, he didn’t think I was coming back. So he left. Sonja and I continued on our way to see about sourcing another cargo place with packing material. We came upon a post office that had some for sale, just it wouldn’t be in until the next morning. I would return the next day. This packing paper was to insulate my 7-foot friend in the surf bag for his trip on the plane.
Sonja and I went over there the next night, and gathered the guys up. Earlier on in the day, we had toyed with giving the money to whoever was there, much decided against it. Not to say that the money wouldn’t have made it to the right places, but it would have been a huge temptation. It would have been like someone handing us a lump of cash worth $20,000.00. We had found out earlier that the guys as a group had only been friends as they are for 8 months or so. The longest friendship there was between Rio and Jaya at 1 year. Who knows if one of them would have skipped out with it, as there were no really long ties that would bind them with honor. Neither of us wanted to give that chance an opportunity to grow. This way, it was not really an option, and we didn’t have to spend any time analyzing the strengths of the group’s ties and the end result was a done deal.
They were overwhelmed when we sat them down, and told them of our intentions. I must say, I was a master presenter, for no one’s nose got out of joint, they graciously accepted after discussing it amongst themselves for a few minutes. I acknowledged their motto, all for one and one for all, yet we couldn’t allow it in this case. Initially they protested, yet Sonja and I knew deep down, we were not going to entertain any other options.
After accepting, and putting the whole thing behind us, the guys mentioned it was our last night in Bali, and they had wanted to throw us a going away party. Sonja and I were pleased with the thought. I returned to the hotel with her, and helped her pack, and then we were picked up and taken to a restaurant named GOA. While we were sitting there, we had an earthquake. It wasn’t major, or nearly as strong as the one I was witness to in Japan, yet we felt it nonetheless. There ended up being 15 of us there, and Chookie needed to make two trips to get us all there, but it was fabulous! They bought us drinks, we all had a great time. It was amazing. They were so generous, so kind and so sad to see us go. Afterwards, we took Sonja to the airport and we had another going away party there. There was a bench there that we all sat around eating Danishes, having drinks and chatting. There was not enough room on the bench to sit without me having my back to the group, so I took a plastic bag that the Danishes came in, and sat on the floor. I didn’t think anything of it, but Chookie looked down, and started to laugh and talk to the guys in Indonesian. I could sense that they were talking about me, yet I could not understand. I simply asked Chookie what he had said, and what he replied with floored me. “You ask what I am saying, and I tell you this…You don’t seem to care what people think, do you?” I replied, “There is nothing I have done, that matters to me what people are thinking. Why? Does it matter to you?” He continued with, “Well, as you sit on the floor here in the airport, you are not aware of people watching you. Sitting on the ground doesn’t bother you at all. We were discussing how amazing you are. It is neat. You are willing to spend time with us, a bunch of guys who are locals here. Guys that most tourists would be suspicious of, yet you are willing to overlook those judgements. You are not only willing to sit on the floor with us here in the airport, but you were willing to sit on the street with us back at home. Just like you were one of us. Spending time with us in our environment. And really be one of us. Nobody has ever done that before. Yeah we have met tourists before, and become friendly with them, but nothing like the way you have treated us. Ever. We have so much respect for you as a result.” I was dumbstruck.
Sonja was then called to board her plane, of which she was bumped to business class due to the flight being overbooked, and she left the island.
After Sonja had left, the discussion continued. Chookie and Edy went on to elaborate how special they had felt by having me as their friend. They said that never had a foreigner, let alone a white woman treated them as equals. They were always looked down upon, as lesser humans because they didn’t have money, or fancy places or designer clothes. I had been the first foreigner, EVER, to treat them with a shred of dignity, respect and equality. I was shocked. I didn’t think I had done anything different to them that what was a basic human relationship. Apparently that is not the norm for them in their lifestyle. Respect and love are not ideals that are shown to them even on an irregular basis. It ended up quite emotional for me as well as for them.
Chookie went on to say that I wasn’t a friend to them at all really. I was a bit taken aback at those words, until he went on to clarify that they had discussed the situation earlier, and they had all wanted to welcome me into their “family” as one of their sisters. None of the guys had an immediate family in Bali, and they had come to regard themselves as brothers. I was honored to be included in that close knit ring of people.
Many years earlier, Chookie had been in a relationship with a woman named Franzi. They were together for 5 years, and had decided to commit themselves to each other in marriage. There seemed to be nothing in their way as they really loved each other, their families were happy, they could afford to do so. Everything seemed perfect, until one day everything changed. In order to keep his confidence, you must simply accept the fact that they could no longer be together. In their time together, she had given him a ring with an inscription on the inside. Many people had asked to have the ring as they admired it, and figured it would only act as a painful reminder to Chookie. He had never wanted to give it up. Until now.
As Chookie and I sat and talked the night Sonja left, he took off the ring and gave it to me. He said that the ring would always be important to him, however he wanted it to be a gift to me, to remember him by. To remember the times I had in Bali, and to remind me of what a gift I had given them, by treating them as an equal…as a human.
I don’t know if I am able to convey the depth of emotions I felt in that moment. I then decided to give him a ring of mine. It was the black, navy and silver ring I had purchased several years ago in Mexico. I had purchased it with the intent of keeping it for years and years to come. It had come to represent happiness and longevity of tradition for me. I had wanted to keep it in my family for years and years as a symbol of freedom. At the time of my purchase, I had just begun to travel the world, and it was key in reminding me of that power.
I gave the ring to Chookie. It was no co-incidence that the rings were exactly the same size, and when worn, they would occupy the same place the other ring had. Chookie’s ring now lives where my ring symbolizing freedom had. And my ring, now lives where his ring symbolizing humanity once did. A part of each other will remain forever joined across the world. Can you imagine the power created with humanity and freedom united together?
When we were exchanging rings, that I felt as I did in Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal. The feeling was one of love. There have only been a few times in my life where a moment in time has taken my breath away. Times when I could actually sense a higher presence, and experience feeling spiritually surrounded. That place was one of those times, one other was in Notre Dame. Both times the air was thick with something indescribable. Perhaps one could say there was indeed a God like presence, it is hard to say. However, notwithstanding that, it was hard to breathe normally. By no means was there a lack of oxygen, just a skin tingling heaviness about the moment. It was like it commanded reverence, and we were given proper perspective in the scheme of things.
It was then that I was able to identify what the room was filled with: love. Pure and simple love for each other as humans, and for the gifts we had given each other. My heartbeat was stilled, my breath came in only large enough amounts to sustain life. Time stopped long enough for our souls to dance, and the fire in our eyes to connect on a level not common to this plane. I am still in awe of what happened on a soul level. Differences in age, race, color nor location would ever matter. I will always have him with me in my heart, and I will forever be with him.
I am not saying I was IN LOVE with him, in a sense of husband and wife, but the love that was shared in that moment between us, has forever altered the way I see things now.
Sonja and I discussed it yesterday, and we both felt the same thing when looking back over the trip. There was so much that we both learned from the experience, we are both glad to have shared it together. So that we can know that it did happen, and in no way could time tarnish the memory, for there was another witness to it. It can never be denied. Nor would I want to ever deny it. It was not one of the most powerful moments in my life, it was THE most powerful one EVER. I had thought I had many such experiences before, where my life had changed. Fire walking was one of them. Without diminishing the energy and force behind such times, they were pale by comparison now. I still can’t get over the impact it had on me.
When Sonja first came to Bali, and I was introducing her to my new friends, I was a bit nervous. Dark and foreboding questions reared their ugly heads…What if she doesn’t like any of them, and is uncomfortable? What if she doesn’t want to spend any time with them? Is it going to be awkward at all? What if they don’t like her? Will I have to choose?
Yet, I was amazed at how deeply I was affected by them in such a short period of time, that I would feel any angst over choices between them and Sonja. Sonja and I have been friends for over 8 years. Yikes, I had only known them 3 weeks and I would rather spend time with them, than with some people I have known for years! I am still floored at how quickly they rose in my circle of influence. Sonja’s level of importance in my life was never in jeopardy by any means, I was just surprised to have them mean so much to me after only a short, short while: Where her friendship was even rivaled.
The next day I was due to leave, and so I packed up my 7-foot friend up in the surf bag with the paper grass I purchased at the post office. Again, all the guys came to the airport to see me off, laden with fruit and cookies to keep me going until I was home. It was so touching their support when the plane was taking off, I couldn’t help but get emotional. It was sad to leave, not knowing whether or not I would ever see those guys again, yet knowing they would be with me forever.
I have come back to Tokyo for a week or so, until I can regroup and make further plans. I lugged my friend home, so delicately avoiding excess baggage tax, which was good, for they wanted to stick me with $195US tax.
If all goes well here in Japan, I will go to Disneyland on Sunday, weather permitting. It has been pouring cats and dogs for the last few weeks apparently, and the thought of going to an amusement park in the pouring rain does nothing for me. Even though it is Tokyo Disneyland, I could do without. Time will tell.
It has taken me over 6 hours to compile this daily update, so I will sign off now, and rest for a while.
I hope that this has given you some insight as to how powerful my trip to Bali was. It has indeed been a profoundly moving experience.
Love to all,
I know what you are probably thinking…you are home early. Actually, I
am home in just the right time.
I wanted to surprise as many of my loyal followers with my return home
as I could, but I am finding it difficult to do so in a timely fashion.
I wanted to do a group broadcast just to be fair.
I also had a number of emails wondering where their daily fix was, and I
didn’t want to outright lie about my location.
I am off to Kelowna for the weekend, but upon my return I will continue
to make contact in person with as many of you as I can, and to fill you
in on the final days of my trip. Disneyland etc…
I must catch a plane now, so I will continue this correspondence at a
Thanks for all your support while I was overseas, as it contributed as
much to me there, as I am told my communications here were appreciated.
Thanks again, and I look forward to seeing you all again!
P.S. Please ask me upon our initial contact to see my folder I have put
together of the trip. I am hoping you will enjoy it. There are
pictures as well to check out!