Monday, November 15, 2010

Bali, Indonesia

   Admittedly, Bali didn't grab ahold of me right away. The charm was not immediately apparent. Something seemed missing as we drove in past the American based hotel chains and luxury resorts. I thought this was supposed to be a mystical island with magic powers, village aboriginals, witch doctors,  and above all, a retreat from such drives of consumerism. A place where people went to escape from the world. But this?? This could have been florida. As my friend advised. Get away from Kuta beach ASAP.

   My mind was quickly put at ease as we sat down to attend a dance performance in Ubud on one of our early nights on the island. Mystical? You better believe it. A daze of engulfing hypnosis fell over me as the passionate music flew into my ears. The dance was stunning. Entrancing. Haunting. Chilling. Shudders swept across my skin. It was, without a doubt, one of the most impressive performances I have ever seen. The beauty of the act brought tears to my eyes.  It's rare to find such passion, precision, dedication, and beauty in the performing arts. I would fly all the way across the world to see this dance again.

   We retreated to the north of the island to a beautiful home-stay on the coast of the Bali Sea where we met a local tour guide. We took an sunrise trip on an outrigger boat to go dolphin watching. I expected to see a few dolphins. There were hundreds. Curses of regret filled my mind for deciding not to bring my 300mm lens on the boat. The sunrise was perfect, the morning brisk and brilliant. Snorkeling above a vibrant reef filled the afternoon

   The next day took us to a massive waterfall. The experience was incredibly overwhelming. The hike to get to the bottom left feelings of incredible regret that we would have to climb back up. The titillating water refreshed and cleansed the spirit. While hordes of people sat by the bathwater swimming pool at the hard rock cafe and ate chicken pasta and sipped overpriced sugar water, we were the only people anywhere near this masterpiece of mother natures epic design.

   We took a boat to Gili Trawangan, a small island off the east coast of Bali. A postcard perfect way to spend a birthday. Truly paradise. The charm of Bali was more than apparent by the time I left, my heart and soul replenished. No wonder my co-worker quit  and moved there after a two week trip.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Philippines 3, Palawan

   Palawan is the embodiment of everything I have ever loved in life. I fully expect it to be a wonderful place to spend my retirement years. I know I have a lot of world left to see, and it's a bit early to decide on a place to retire. And if something ever comes up that tops it, i'm willing to change my mind. But for now, it acts as a placeholder, the last thing on my seemingly never ending to do list.  # ∞: Move to Palawan. Open a homestay. Get in the kitchen. Hang the harness up for good. Sell the land, sell the car, sell the house. Put the shoes in the trash can. Trade in the winter jackets for sunscreen. Grab a mango. Enjoy.

   I have been to a lot of wonderful places. Places that have grabbed onto my heart, squeezed it, sucked it dry, made me question why I would ever leave. People that have filled my heart with joy. That have made me question why trivial things get me down or matter to me at all.  This place was a little better than all of that. Palawan calls my name at night, like a Siren that I will never escape. I'm afraid to go back before i'm ready to settle down for my last great ride. I'm not quite sure that I could leave it again. This is where I learned what falling in love means. This is where every human should want to retire, but hardly any actually do. Fine by me.

   So what if my house is an hour from the nearest grocery? What else was I going to do anyway? Maybe I should knock some other things off my to do list and move this one up...