Friday, September 22, 2006

Blog #5 Bali Singapore Mix

Bali Hi to Blog 5 This one will be a Bali/Singapore mix.
The week before my scheduled trip to Singapore I had the Bali version of Cabin fever not getting out much or talking to people, so I needed to break my routines & rented a bicycle for a day. In a trial run down the road the front tire was rubbing on the brake pads, & after a lot of adjustment still was rubbing, so we changed the front wheel,
Biked through Ubud and down to Sukawati, to the market.

I came across a Rattan shop which was making Rattan bicycles complete with rattan chain, Vespas, even Harley Davidson Choppers, so I spent a quite a bit of time, Photographing as well as chatting. I’d been to the Sukawati Market before, always later in the day, seeing this was early and Saturday, I went again, & it was much better this time. It spreads across the road into quite a few other buildings. Spent a fair bit of time wandering taking photos and getting badgered to buy from everyone, I bought some local drink daluman, very sweet, they put it in a little plastic bag & tie a knot in it!(ever tried drinking from a plastic bag?). Leaving Sukawati biking towards Singapadu, I heard the chip chip of carving as I passed a big drum shop and did a u turn to check them out! Here were three carvers working on drum bases, which had been stained a dark colour. The drum skin was on and they were doing nice work, like dragons and elephants. They also were using some of the carving patterns I use in the Fijian style.

I sat and watched them for a while, taking a few photos, then I got one of my brochures out and started showing some of my carving work that I have saved on the digital camera. Then it was all on, I grabbed some of their chisels and started giving them a demo of a few patterns, which excited them, then the head guy started copying one of my carving patterns directly from my brochure onto a spare little drum he had nearby, which was a hoot, he made a fair stab at it, anyway. Back on the road, a policeman, sort of on sentry duty at a busy corner, in his shade hut, enthusiastically called me into his hut, asking “where do I want to go?”, and “what do I want to do there?”. He couldn’t understand that all I wanted was “to see what was there!”, anyway he gave me directions and off I pedalled.
Lots of stone carvers on this road, stopped and took a few photos, biked towards Ubud, with a few wrong roads taken and back tracked, finally getting back, feeling tired & worn out as the day was very hot!

Asking around, regarding transport to the airport seemed expensive to me at around 150,000Rps (one way) so I rented a motorbike for 2 days (60,000Rps) and decided to ride there and back with my very light backpack strapped on the back of the Ojek. On the main road I was watching the filtering traffic coming in from the right, then looked left and saw that I'd just gone thru a red light and two traffic cops were right there! I continued on, one of the cops caught me up and pulled me over, anyway it eventually came down to the old "you need an International drivers license trick". I went through three different blokes, coming in & out of their little road side shed, each one, with the same questions, " where you from, where you staying, how long you staying?" The last guy had two new questions, "what's your Job, & do you have any friends in Bali?" It was the same as the previous traffic cop encounter, the fine is 200,000 to pay the court, I said ok write me out a ticket & I'll go to the court and pay it, I said that a couple of more times, and when he reduced the fine to 100,000 rps I said ok & gave him the money as it wasn't worth digging my heels in like the last time, when I got off scot free. But that’s another good true story!
Consoled myself by getting a MacDonalds icecream cone about 5 km down the road. The Airport was signposted as the "Airport", earlier, then never again, using its local name, missed it and had to double back, eventually getting there around 5.30 pm. I did a Tai Chi set in the waiting corridors, lots of people looking on and admiring my form, still hustling for custom in the restaurants. The flight leaving Bali was uneventful, arriving more or less on time in Singapore. I caught a #24 bus from Changi into town.
Quite a long ride, lots of music everywhere on the bus with TV screens going all the time, people wave their plastic prepaid cards sometimes inside their wallets at the readers either side of the entrance door, some people flashing them on the way out. English is spoken, (with strong accent distortions) and I’m understood by everyone so far. It's interesting to see the change in manner from Bali to Singapore, more polite, very helpful, sort of have that boisterous/subservient Asian energy mix about them. I could see it in their conversations with others at the airport. Getting to Betel Box hostel at midnight along Joo Chiat road through many clubs, pubs. Betel is right in the middle of all the activity, the door has a security intercom and I need to buzz to enter. At the reception desk I'm greeted by Justine a Chinese Singaporean, he sees my Tai Chi Shirt asks if I am a Tai Chi master. After paying for the first night's accommodation S$18 we go to the dorm, where an Indian guy in the next bed says “Taoist Tai chi, I am a Taoist, do you do it every day and can you teach me!” I head back down to the common room which has four free internet computers & check my email. They have a TV going with a very violent action packed movie, with surround sound like in the movies, so loud it's very aggressive to me. Then I realize, I've been living alone with no TV or radios or even newspapers for the last two months, wow this is how society lives, over stimulated. I’m looking forward to a good night's sleep, although don’t feel sleepy! Now well past 1 am.
Day 62 16 Sept Saturday
Well it was a long night, people coming in for quite a while, the hum of the air conditioning & its cool temperature, with only one blanket didn't make for much sleeping. I hunted for the control, but couldn't find it, getting up at 6am to go down stairs to the warmer kitchen to type this recording of my day & current thoughts.

After breakfast I went out to the post office very hot & sticky weather, found the fancy building and after some discovery about parcels, finally posting a parcel back to NZ for about half the posting cost in Bali. Deviated through the local market which was very interesting & bought a Muslim hat for only $4, & back to the Betel Box Hostel for a shower, now 11.30 am with most of the people still in bed and here's me with no sleep bubbling and bursting to go! I hit the train into Orchard road, with my sax slung across my shoulder heading for the Yamaha Shop to test out Saxophone mouthpieces. What an interesting experience I had on the train, seeing a 9 or 10 year old boy, with a huge empty bag slung over his shoulder. He was reading while standing on the train, & I was right next to him looking over his shoulder, sort of picking up on his vibe as it were! The book was wrapped in one of those old style school covers, I remember from my school days. The book was Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. In one hand, the book, the other has one of those kanji electronic dictionaries, he was looking up words from the book, I thought what 10 year old kid is going to have that level of focus in New Zealand? Much walking and window shopping, & many strange looks at my saxophone case & starting to feel my energy draining, now about 8 pm, I wonder back to the Betel box hostel via Burgis Market and caught the MRT back to Paya Lemar, after a shower I went out for a nibble and returned to the hostel after 11pm. Having made sure I had an extra blanket, I had no trouble falling to sleep.
Day 63 17 Sept Sunday
Awake at 7.30am, had a shower and stretched out the Yoga mat and did salute to the sun, eagle, triangle, headstand.

I went to the local Malay Market, bought another Muslim hat another $4 and bought nice shirt for S$15 from a Muslim who also teaches Aikido, we had a great chat about Muslims, Gods, Tai Chi & Yoga. He told me the Namaste equivalent in Muslim is "Malam Moli Kum" & the answer to that is, "Walli Kum Salam" (Islam brothers)

Left Betel getting to the Airport Terminal 1 with plenty of time, interesting floor on the MRT train to Changi, (which also has the Expo site on the same line) advertising to Join the Army their slogan is "LIVE TO BE YOUR BEST".

Been wondering why they don't recycle the plastic cards that are used for the MRT & have been throwing them away. I asked someone if they recycle those cards & was told you feed them back into the same machine as you got them from & receive a S$1 refund. Even though I was aware of this there are no machines available once you’ve used it for the last time heading for the Terminal. The plane left on time @ 4.30pm. On arrival in Bali they were handing out forms to fill out for Visa applications as we marched into the customs zone, which all took a while, the whole plane virtually all had to do the same thing, at the same time & then go through customs etc. I was pretty much the last to go through, once again I turned out to be the star turn, as the customs guy spoke some Balinese to me, then I realized it was that Muslim greeting I had been told about at the Malay market, and hadn’t learnt the reply yet, he asked if I was a Muslim, I said “no I just like the hat” all the customs men were laughing about the Saxophone pin/badge I have on the front of this Muslim hat!

Oh how I love picking my pack up from the carousel & unzipping the straps cover & slinging it on my back. However as I knew I was going home on the Ojek I left the straps covered, however this meant everybody wanted to carry my bag! Getting back to my parked Ojek the same guy who I spoke to last Friday comes up to help me tie on the pack. Motoring home through Sanur, managing to avoid stopping at MacDonald’s arriving at Teblin just before 9pm, made myself some tea after a nice hot shower, unpacked & jumped into bed, with no air conditioning to take into account and fresh sheets on the bed……ahhhh…..paradisimo!

Well playing the sax here at Teblin I can watch what’s happening down the way towards the ravine, where they had the Cock fighting today & watched all the activity down their, this afternoon things had quieted down. While playing sax I watched a woman with child on her arm walk around the rice field looking up at me, so I started playing, some tunes that I know kids relate to like Pink Panther, etc. She paused in the shade. I played on for another 5minutes while this mother allowed her child to listen to me. She looked up at my window, I waved & got a wave back. I can see she’s telling her child the man is waving…. and I play on realizing this is a gift from god or the universe. That’s the sort of connections that are the juice of life for me!

Coming to the end of this Bali Hi it’s a high 5. Next week I attend the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, which has international writers from America, UK, Australia, Indonesia, India, Singapore and even NZ attending & have booked 4 workshops. Should be a busy week, therefore at least one more Blog from Bali before the homeward journey through Singapore, these last two Photo’s showing some of the Diversity that is Singapore.