Tag Archives: Asia

Tenganan Village- East Bali

4 Dec

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As I mentioned in my previous post Brian and I ventured away from the grounds of our hotel, Alila Manggis only once during our five-day stay. It was too damn pretty to leave! Our one big cultural outing was a guided tour through Tenganan Village, an isolated community located in East Bali. At one time it was even referred to as one of the most secluded societies of the archipelago.

The people of Tenganan are called Bali Aga— “the original Balinese”. They are descendants from the pre-Majapahit kingdom of Pegeng. They have strict rules as to who is allowed to live in the village- only those born in the village can stay and become full members of the community. There are also strict rules regarding marriage- anyone who marries outside of the village….must leave the community immediately. Ouch! The Bali Aga also speak a dialect of the Balinese language that is entirely their own, dating back from thousands of years- supposedly it varies from village to village.

Tenganan Village is separated both socially and economically from the rest of Bali, shut off by a solid wall that surrounds the entire village- the wall is meant to keep outsiders away. There are four gates that you can access the village from, one facing north, south, east and west. Due to the inclusive nature of the village I was surprised that they were open to having tourists come in. Our guide explained that due to the entrance fee (two dollars per person) as well as the opportunity to sell their art; beautiful wovens, Ikat textiles & wood carvings, they make an exception. Tourists flock to the area due to the fact that the village still holds to the original Balinese traditions, ceremonies and rules.

It’s like walking into another world when you pass through the gates.

Roosters, dogs and even cows roam free in the village, although some of the roosters are also in bamboo-cages, some spray-painted in different colors for cockfights. When I first saw the brightly colored roosters (hot pink!) I was amused….until I learned about the cockfighting. Then I wanted run around and free them all. Our guide explained that cockfighting is over thousand-year-old Balinese tradition in Balinese Hinduism, and part of religious rituals to expel evil spirits. I found learning about the details of cockfights both fascinating and terribly disturbing at the same time.

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The houses of Tenganan are arranged in rows on each side of stone paved avenues. In the central place is the council house where the elders meet. This council house is some seventy feet long, strongly built and very old.

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It was an amazing few hours- there is nothing I love more (other than Brian and Frank) then learning about other cultures.

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All photos by Brian Glodney photography 

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Ho Chi Minh- day two

28 Jul

With our wretched first day in Ho Chi Minh behind us and a good nights sleep under our belts, we awoke in much better moods and excited to explore the city. First up on our itinerary was a stop at the Ho Chi Minh Museum. It was relatively close to our hotel so we decided to walk. The minute we stepped out of the hotel doors the thick hot and humid air enveloped us. It felt even hotter than the day before. How was that even possible? While I am not a huge fan of humidity, I quickly learned that my husband reallllllly doesn’t enjoy it. I won’t go as far as calling him a baby but I will say that there was some serious complaining going on.

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can you see the pain in his eyes?

After a twenty-minute walk, we arrived at the museum looking as if we had just showered. This weather was definitely going to take some getting used to! The museum was interesting (despite not being air-conditioned)- we both learned so much about Ho Chi Minh’s life before he became the president of Vietnam- I never knew he lived in France for a period of time working in kitchens or that he traveled many other countries in Europe working on a boat from 1911 to 1917. I’d say the museum is a must stop when in Ho Chi Minh…I mean the city is named after him and all.

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After the museum we headed over to Pham Ngu Lao, which is the backpacker district. It is made up of two parallel streets- Bui Vien and Pham Ngu Lao and a handful of tiny connecting alleys. I am a fan of exploring the backpacker district whenever I’m in a new city- they always feel more alive than the ritzy tourist areas. We wandered through the maze-like alleys taking in the sights (I could easily see into the locals homes from the narrow alleys, which was very exciting for a nosy person like me!) and smells (considering, nobody has air-conditioning and it was lunch time, the fragrant smell of food wafted out of the open doors…making me very hungry).

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With intense hunger pains now occupying both of our brains we decided it was time to break for lunch and picked a restaurant named Tiny’s at random. Well, maybe it wasn’t so random- it was the cleanest. We grabbed a table in the corner, luckily by a fan and quickly ordered two large Bintang beers to combat the heat. While I am not much of a beer drinker in my everyday life, it is pretty much all I ever order when I’m in Asia. Mostly because, my normal glass of chardonnay costs more than a meal for six and well, it just seems more authentic. You can safely say I wouldn’t be ordering a Bintang beer if I was in the south of France.

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After a decent lunch (nothing fancy at Tiny’s) of chicken hotpots (chicken, veggies & rice) we decided it was time for us to take break from the heat and headed back to the hotel. This became our daily routine – explore the city until around 3pm and then scurry back to the hotel for a few hours to read, write, shower (I showered three times a day in Ho Chi Minh) and nap in the cool air before heading back out for the evening. After our break we went to a Moroccan themed rooftop bar named Casbah that overlooked Notre Dame Cathedral for sunset cocktails (more bingtangs please!) and then had a truly amazing dinner at Thai restaurant named Golden Elephant.

Day three up next!

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find me elsewhere: instagram @kate365 / facebook / twitter 

the toe

26 Nov

A few days (5!) before we left for our trip to Asia, I was carrying laundry down the stairs in the dark (because why shed light on the situation, right?) and missed the last step. In my graceful fall to the ground I rolled over my big toe. It hurt. I laid there for a moment thinking SHIT. I got up and tried to walk it off. When I told Brian what happened, I downplayed the whole thing and acted as if it didn’t hurt that bad because I didn’t want to worry him but I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I iced it that night and tried to go to sleep, but the pain was so intense it was hard to sleep.The bad feeling in the pit of my stomach grew. When I woke up in the morning, it felt worse. I couldn’t put any weight on it and it was a huge swollen mess. Not the best situation when you’re about to leave for a three-week trip that involves TREKKING in Nepal. As you can imagine use of a foot is a big part of the equation.

I mean, seriously fucked, right?

I spent the whole day lying on the couch following a treatment plan I found on the internet- R.I.C.E, which stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. I also did some praying and bargaining with God to restore my foot to good condition. Despite my best efforts, by nightfall I still couldn’t walk and my foot was still a huge swollen mess. SHIT. When my mom caught wind of the situation, she insisted I get x-rays so I could know what I was working with. I told her I had already diagnosed myself online with a sprained toe and was going to be just fine; there was no point in wasting time and money by going to the doctor. But she can be very bossy in situations like this and she pretty much forced me against my will into the car. As I was incapacitated, I wasn’t able to fight back. So off to the orthopedic doctor we went.

Enter in Dr. Irwin, a sweet old man, who took one look at my swollen mess of a toe and said, “there’s blood in there and that usually means you have a break.” I fought back tears and told him that I was leaving for Nepal in four days for a trek through the Himalayas and that I really hoped he was wrong because I needed my toe.

He raised his bushy grey eyebrows to this and said, “Oh I see. Why Nepal?”

“Well, my fiance and I found a great deal online and we decided to take the leap and book it. We’ve been planning it for months”, I said

“That’s a shame. Can I ask you a personal question?”, he asked.

“Sure”, I said a bit confused

“How did you and your fiance meet?”

“We went to high school together and reconnected ten years later”, I said.

“Ahhh I see. I only ask because I have a daughter and she’s twenty-seven and she’s not married. I’m not sure where she’s supposed to meet a husband. Where do people meet husbands anymore? Twenty-seven and she’s not even dating anyone!”

Thankfully, before I had to engage in the conversation further, the x-ray technician walked in to take me to take me to another room. I hobbled down the hallway while I bargained with God some more.

Please God don’t let it be broken…I can’t cancel this trip…Brian would be soooo disappointed…pleaseeeeee don’t let it be broken….I’ll do anything…I’ll even help Dr. Irwin find his daughter a husband! Just don’t let my toe be broken. Pleaaaaasssseee.

Five minutes later, Dr. Irwin had my x-rays in hand and said with a sense of accomplishment, “I was right, there’s the break!” and circled a spot on the x-ray. I squinted and said, “You mean that miniscule rice shaped piece of bone next to my big toe?”

“Yep!”, he said

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. It was just SO ridiculous. It was such a ridiculous looking break! Of course that’s how I’d go down.

Dr. Irwin went through my options-

1. Cancel my trip to Nepal

or

2. Trek with the broken toe and hope that I had a high pain threshold.

I went with option 2, asked for a vicodin prescription (helps take the edge off) and boarded a plane to Asia!