Om Swasiastu

May all good come from all directions. "Om Swasiastu" is a simple greeting with a deep meaning. It's what I've learned to say when I greet the local Balinese here. They appreciate it a lot. I always try my best in whatever country I'm in to learn some of the language and be respectful to the local people. It has always been beneficial to me. The locals in turn treat me with great kindness and hook me up with a lot. I've gotten free meals, free rides, free tours, and most importantly great friendships.

A stone carving statue that stood guard at one of the temples Pura Tirtha Empul can I sum up my experiences here in Bali as I sit in the airport waiting to depart for Korea? Well I'll try to begin so this post may be a long one...

A dog standing guard in the doorway to someone's villa with Ganesha in the background. The remover of obstacles has a guard in front of him...

The week following my trip with Dwiki, Robin and I went to Sanur where Ingela works during the week. Sanur is quite a touristy beach town with hordes of local Balinese hassling you for massages or to buy something from their shop. It gets annoying quite quickly, but it's how they make their living so I can't really hate too much. The week in Sanur went by quite quickly. Robin and I taught two martial art classes at the Active Education campus down in Sanur, we we hung out by the beach a lot, I did a little surfing - nothing compared to what I did down south in Uluwatu and Balangan, and ate some good food.

One of the days in Sanur, my friend Dante drove down from Ubud and we all hung out on the beach just chillaxing. That night he said a group of his friends were going out in Kuta. Now Kuta is known as this crazy party city full of Aussies and other foreigners who are just there to get fucked up pretty much. Now all of my friends know that I'm not very much for drinking, clubs, or any of the like. However, I figured since I'm traveling I might as well experience what I can when I have the chance. Yeah...I definitely could have done without the entire Kuta adventure. On the drive down there to start off someone tried to steal my phone out my hand from a passing scooter. It was cute for the guy to try that. I have a pretty strong grip so I didn't have to worry about loosing it, but I wanted to kick the guy off his scooter. Anyways Kuta we went to a reggae club with a live band, which was actually pretty dope. It made me feel like I was back in Florida again, except for the fact that we don't have a bunch of Indonesians and Aussies in the crowd. After that though we went to another place that was your typical night club experience full of drunk assholes. I saw a girl get a bottle smashed on her head and blood quite literally pouring down her face. After leaving that shit hole, walking back to our scooters I saw so many women of the night sitting and waiting to be picked up by the drunk men leaving the clubs. It was at that moment that I said to myself that I didn't come halfway around the world to experience this stupid shit. Going to Kuta simply reaffirmed how much I don't enjoy clubs, drunk assholes, pop music, horrible dancers, cigarette smoke, and that whole atmosphere.

The locals walk up to you on the beach carrying either fruit, snacks, drinks, or trinkets for you to buy. Also a lot of school children come to hangout by the beach when they're out from school.

For me the highlight of Sanur was eating at this little Warung converted out of a person's garage. A local Indonesian that is a classically trained chef who used to work at 5 star hotels.

The pictures were from my phone and I forgot to take a picture of everything because I was so hungry. I ate everybody's leftovers on their plate and since one of my friends (Dante) got sick and couldn't eat, I ate his entire course meal for him. To say the least I was stuffed. This is a special dinner for the teachers and friends of Active Education and since Robin and I taught a class we were invited to join as well. Normally the prices are like 20,000 Rupiah for a decent sized plate of food. The cheapest I found with amazing quality. If you're in Sanur go there!

There's also a place called Malaika's by The Power of Now yoga studio down in Sanur. It's an all organic restaurant run by total mother figure who's name guessed it Malaika. She's reminds me of my friends' funny Asian moms who make you try food and stuff your face. They have a dinner buffet that was 75,000 Rupiah, a little on the pricier side, but when you eat as much as I did you make it worth every last Rupiah. I think I went up about five or six times with a full plate of food every time. I could tell the workers were astonished by my appetite. It's definitely another place to try out.

After spending the week in Sanur I was definitely ready to head back to Ubud. Ubud just felt like home for some reason. It is quieter, calmer, and a lot more relaxed near all those rice fields. I drove back on a scooter while Robin took a driver. I feel like I can drive anywhere on a scooter after driving through all kinds of insane traffic where traffic laws are more of suggestions than anything else. Weaving in and out between cars, scooters, people, and cows makes you almost fearless which is good and bad. Good because you need the confidence when driving on these insane roads, but bad because you can make a rash decision if you're not paying attention.

The last week in Ubud was super chill for Robin and I. It was her last couple days and all we did was a lot of nothing. A lot of lounging, reading books, yoga, the occasional trip to the market, and to the little shopping district to bargain/haggle your ass off and hopefully get the best price. I've done a lot of bargaining/haggling before when I was in Korea and got stuff from NamDaeMun, so it is nothing new to me. I picked up 7 sarongs for my family back home for a little less than 50,000 Rupiah a piece which is less than $3.80 a piece for a sarong. I probably could have gotten them even cheaper if I wanted but I figured it was a happy median for both parties involved.

On Robin's final day in Ubud, we met up with Dante and headed to the Pura Saraswati which is a temple in the middle of Ubud.

Well I bid Robin a farewell at the airport and continued on my journey. I wasn't sad at all. I felt happy that she got to experience something so amazing. Thanks to her even more amazing husband, who happens to be my martial arts master, who made it all possible. We secretly planned for her 40th birthday to send her to Bali and since I was already planning to travel Southeast Asia I would simply make Bali my first stop. I know she loved being in Bali and gained so much from it. Bali has a spirit and you can feel it if you allow it to, or you can shut off your senses and only take in the superficial. Like a local Balinese said to me, "Bali has a spirit, a lot of people come here and just take, take, take and eat the skin of the fruit...They stay inside their villas with high walls and don't interact and experience what Bali truly is...wearing away at the energy of the land."

Bathing in the sacred spring water and praying for many blessings.

The following day after Robin left I moved into the Vusundhara which is a special place built with the help of many people to be a place of spiritual awareness. As for me, I'm not an overly spiritual person or spiritual at all to begin with but I respect what Vusundhara is trying to accomplish. Therefore I was respectful of the place when I moved in for my last week. Not to mention that the place is simply amazing. It is "A home with no walls and no fears."

On one of the outings that Dante and I had together we went to the rice fields in Ubud and ate at a restaurant Sari Organic. To get there you have to drive on this tiny 1.5 meter wide gravel road with a stream on either side and hope there's not another scooter coming the opposite direction or else you'll be playing chicken.

The view from Sari Organic in the rice fields of Ubud.

After eating we decided to hang around the area and eat desert at another little warung. We ended up just sitting around for almost 4 hours till the sunset and the mosquitoes came out to attack.

Having a coconut pana cotta next to a pretty nice view.

Now, Bali is known as a place for many things, one of them is having amazing surfing. So I decided to head down to Uluwata and Balangan with Dante to hit up some serious swells. My friend Ingela was like...uhh you know pros surf down there right? I was like yeah I know. I didn't know what I was in for. The wave at Uluwata break right on the reef and if you crash you can be thrown right into the reef and get cut up pretty bad. So we went to Balangan where the waves were a little less intense but still about 2-3 meters.

Padang Padang Beach. It was almost completely empty save for one or two fishermen.

On my second to last day in Bali I went back down south to Sanur to meet up Ingela for a sunrise photoshoot and to meet up with the mountain school children again. The drive down from Ubud so super smooth considering the roads were almost completely empty at 4AM.

One of the great shots I got with Ingela that morning in Sanur.

So Ingela organized a trip for the mountain children to come down to Sanur and experience the beach, for some it was the first time seeing the ocean in person. Even though Bali is not a big island it can be difficult for poor Balinese locals to travel outside of their village. The kids had a great time. They had a big water fight and swam in the beach. Really an incredible time.

Well I started writing this blog post in Bali and didn't finish until I got to Korea. So now as I sit in a cafe, back in civilization I sit wondering how to end this post. It was a great first time in Bali, but it won't be my last that's for sure. I am still amazed by its beauty, the people I met, and the experiences I had. I know when I come back it'll be a even better. Till then I have my photos, videos, and these posts to reminisce on. I hope you enjoyed reading the Bali section of my adventures. Since I'm here in Korea I'll be easing back on the craziness as I adjust to civilization and fast internet. I'll keep up with my posts but they'll be more spread apart until I get back on the grind again. Hopefully I'll be able to pick up a couple quick photo shoots to make some dinero and not drain my bank account too quickly.


Till the next post adios amigos.