I didn’t mean to alarm anyone with my last post. Indeed, the fact that I haven’t posted much lately means that I’m busy and happy. I just figured that in writing this blog, I’m recording the entire experience, which includes both the ups and downs, but I don’t want anyone to worry just because I have a bad day or two. One of the things about traveling is that it is not always good, you are not always happy. Indeed, at this particular moment, my stomach is a little unhappy, but that doesn’t mean that overall I’m not doing well.
I last wrote right before going to yoga. That yoga class proved to be a turning point in my stay here, as it proved to be the medium for meeting a whole group of friends, a group that has continued to expand as we all bring in more people as we meet them. There are a wide range of people – Americans, Aussies, Brits, Germans, Argentinians, and I meet new people daily. With them, I’ve gone to some amazing restaurants (we love our food, and it’s so good and cheap here!), gone shopping (however fruitlessly), listened to live jazz, done yoga, wandered the rice patties, chilled by the pool, and tonight there’s a big festival that we intend to somehow experience after we check out a new place for dinner.
I confess I was somewhat stressed out the first few days, and I’m still not completely relaxed because I don’t yet have my ticket to Singapore for next week. But, one of the things I have learned from my wonderful new friends is that I don’t have to rush myself. I got here thinking I had to experience all this local culture and tried to figure out how I was going to get it all done, being latently afraid of taking a taxi to various places around the island, and overtly overwhelmed by being in a place so different from what I’d anticipated. My friends, experienced travelers and all somewhat older than me, helped calm me down and make me realize that it’s still early in my trip, I don’t need to rush, I’m still adjusting, I can take my time and just do things for myself, because I really have no obligation to anyone. This is finally starting to sink in.
I was quite stressed the other day because I didn’t have housing arrangements after the first two nights, and couldn’t find anywhere I liked or that I could afford, so I ultimately convinced myself to take the least stressful route and stay at my original place longer, even though it was slightly more expensive than I’d originally planned for the duration of my stay here. I have it until tomorrow, now, and haven’t figured out how much longer I want to stay here in Ubud, so have to do something about that. But the point is that I’m slowly learning to stop worrying and take care of myself.
I would like to write a little about the culture here, but I don’t feel I have the time now. It would require more thought than I feel like, at the moment, given my somewhat uncomfortable stomach. However, you should appreciate that I did a cooking class on Wednesday, through Casa Luna, and it was awesome. We learned all about various spices and herbs used here, and I can now officially make a Balinese ceremonial meal. Someday, when I’m set up somewhere, you can all bug me for a Balinese feast. We also learned something interesting about the Balinese philosophy about food: eat solely when you are hungry. They make one meal in the morning, and it is the same food that is used for the rest of the day, which each member of the family eats whenever he or she feels like it, meaning that meals are not typically family-oriented, a departure from Western – and, indeed, even many Eastern – cultures.
Before I go, there are a few of you who will appreciate the following information: over the course of my time in Asia thus far, I have eaten tapioca (bubble tea), pineapple, coconut, nand other foods that at home I can’t eat because of my thing about bizarre textures. If you didn’t know this before and accompany my father in making fun of me, you probably don’t find this quite as amusing, but I had to share. My philosophy tends to be, if they can eat it, I can eat it, so I figured I ought to try it all at least.
Off to go lie by the pool and hope it doesn’t rain, as it has been on and off for a few days (rainy season here).