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9 Aug

On July 16 I awoke early to chickens and the chattering of birds and monkeys! I had anticipated seeing the dawn on the paradise-type island in the rain forest of Malaysia at a place called Coral Bay Beach on Pangkor island just north of Kuala Lumpur by three and a half hours. I had planned on writing about my peaceful time in Bali this month, but am too distracted by the the happenings here. I sit in my two man tent now, watching the waves as I write. 
The night before last I felt elation as we got out of the cab from the ferry that brought us from Pangkor city. This came after riding on a smallish ferry from the mainland. 
What I saw reminded me of the dream so many people have of relaxing on a tropical island when they retire, white sands, blue sky, blue-green sea in a forest facing the ocean. 
We had brought provisions for camping: a tent, water, rice, snacks, band aids, antiseptic oil, mosquito repellent, and needle and thread. 
We pitched our tent quickly on the smooth sand, just in time before the wind came, bringing with it a fairly strong tropical storm. Luckily some people had left a tarp behind that we ended up using on the top instead of over the tent! The rain pressed upon us so hard that rain came through in places we could not even see. My husband scooped and scooped out the water with his bare hands. We had expected heat to be our main problem, but no, water became our enemy. It hadn’t rained for over two months. I think I must have brought the rain from Oregon. I had read before coming that Malaysia has two seasons, dry-wet and wet-wet. We came in the dry-wet season. 
After out hot and humid night in the tent, we awoke to a beautiful dawn and swam in the warm waters of gentle waves. We returned to monkeys raiding our locked tent! We caught them eating our chocolate cream cookies. 
My husband, unfamiliar with monkeys except for the tame trained monkeys from Marrakesh, being from the desert, wanted to protect me as I collected the scattered cookies from the ground. He raised up a board that rested against a tree, ready to keep the ten or so monkeys that had encircled us away from me. 
I had sat down under the trees to enjoy some potato chips when two of them on branches above me started to pounce! These monkeys surprised us with their aggressive behavior. When we took our food inside they went away. 
The next morning, after spending the night trying to keep the rain out after an even more ferocious storm, we awoke to the waves coming up within maybe ten feet of our front door. We had to move the tent and our luggage to higher ground. 
The monkeys having eating many of our snacks, we had to find dry wood to build a fire. We are still working on that challenge. 
So, goodbye from higher ground. Thank God we woke up before the big wave came!!!!



21 Jul

After spending 9 nights in Istanbul, my husband and I are on our way to Jakarta. Istanbul both shocked and pleased me with the way it has progressed. The Turkish people showed us lots of good-humored friendliness and hospitality. We still laugh at the sales people who called out, “How may I help you spend your money, Madam.”

Strangely, after landing in Istanbul, we read on the net that the day before we left terrorists had targeted police cars killing 6. So we didn’t do a lot. Rested for our camping inJava. 
Things didn’t go as expected.The last two hours at the airport left me breathless!Just as we checked in we discovered that we both needed an onward ticket to someplace to show that we will travel on and leave Indonesia. So we really had to rush. Luckily Turkey had lots of airlines and some travel agents. The language barrier did exist, but we got through it. After walking about four miles to the airport with luggage, we felt exhausted. Our adrenaline flowed even after we stepped onto the plane from the long hot tunnel as we entered what seemed like a safe zone. I worried that there would be another restriction in Saudi Arabia. It took only three hours on the flight. Saudi Arabia Airlines fed us well. We had a choice of beef, chicken, or fish. We chose beef and received beef stroganoff. Just before we

left they fed us a picnic type of lunch in a box with a plastic bag to carry it. When we landed a bus picked us up, taking us miles past private airplanes and small jets. At the airport officials corralled us to a room where we were asked to go. The situation felt tense. Crowds of people waited an extra hour. 15 hours later we landed in peaceful Java. Got onto the Internet to find that there had been a 6. Something earthquake where we had planned to stay off Bali. Traveling always holds its surprises. 


Eating In Morocco

25 May

When you first come to Morocco you will most likely go to the Grand Cafe Central in the middle of the medina in the petit souk. Little shops surround it, a tiny convenience store selling chocolates and nuts, water, and other necessities. Other stores overlook Cafe Central like a shop selling argon oil and offering massages to women on daily tourist buses. Leather and carpet shops also line the little streets, along with brass, copper, and jewelry boutiques. I watch the bustling crowds and enjoy the lack of traffic. I’m losing track of the relaxed days I’ve spent here smelling hashish and spices in the streets. Tonight we enjoy beef livers and a salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, purple onions. Traditional bread accompanies every meal. As an American I crave butter with the fresh unpreserved bread. At breakfast that’s always my request. Later in the day I satisfy my palate with olive oil. 

It’s so nice at breakfast having olives and such flavorful olive oil to sprinkle on fried eggs and to sop it up with the bread. which they pan fry, usually small flat rounds a bit like a hamburger bun. Sometimes they’re wheat, sometimes white or with cornbread. 
Tonight we will walk along the the shore and enjoy the sunset. After all, we are honeymooning.  

Tales of Tata

18 Mar

Morocco could be said to assault all of the senses, however, I prefer to think of all of the sights, smells, and sounds as music: colorful, sensations of aromas from musky perfumes and spices to urine in the narrow cobblestone alleys. 
Men, women, and children wear every color combinations of orange, green, yellow, red and purples, sometimes all together. 
Many villages miles apart comprise Tata. I live in the middle village. It’s the largest city in Morocco. Some of its villages are 60 miles apart with only sand and mountains between. 
Adorned with sunglasses and hat, I’m experiencing the opposite of Oregon and the shade of the big maple tree in front of my home. I can still hear the sound of the rain and the river. I’m sitting in a coffee shop where almost every one enjoys their little glass of fine expresso, while I have half coffee and half hot water with steamed milk on the side. The slow pace of Tata suits me. The owner charges my IPhone as I write in my notebook. Most people here take advantage of the free wifi in a handful of coffee shops. Most use smart phones. I see the occasional computer. 
For so many years I have driven instead of walked. Here I can go all over the town and really use my legs. Bicycles stand in front of many shops and don’t need locks! Portlanders would be envious. When people return to their bikes, they are still there! Many people use motorbikes. Some, by far a minority, use cars. What I love seeing is the donkeys pulling a flatbed made of wooden planks with a man holding the reigns. 
Last night I had such fresh chicken for dinner. It came from a chicken store. When I went in the clerk held the legs of a chicken, weighing it while it was still alive. I hadn’t tasted such good chicken since I was a child. Eating vegetables without pesticides reminds me of times past as well. 
Life here makes me think about convenience verses inconvenience and its trade offs, living in America verses traveling. Right now I love my traveling life. Enjoy your conveniences and the beautiful refreshing rain in the forest while I experience the wonders of desert living. 


28 Oct

In last month’s article I skipped ahead to Malaysia to illustrate what happened with the censorship of the commercial my friends and I made in Bali. My husband and I had decided to stay places we loved a maximum of six weeks, then to move on unless we found work. After being so totally spoiled by the food in Bali, we took a train to Jogjakarta, Java. We didn’t care for the food as much in Java and felt bombarded by all of the noise. We stayed only three days. We did a little shopping for brass statues. Then we found out that we could get to Singapore very cheaply on a tramp steamer. I remember it being $50. They offered first class and “other”. We opted for “other”. We had been warned by fellow travelers that we would be packed up against each other. People suggested that we get onto the boat as early as possible in order to stake out an area where we would have room to spread our sleeping bags out and sleep. We heeded all of their suggestions except for one. “Never carry money in your back pocket”. So, it ended up that a pick-pocket took my husband’s loose cash. Fortunately, the bulk of our money stayed in our moneybelts under our clothes. As we embarked onto the ship, crowds of seemingly poor people, all crowded together around us, pushed and pushed toward it. The crowd lifted us as we proceeded on, at times our feet not touching the ground. I’m sure a lot of money changed hands that day without all of the people realizing it.
When we finally got onto the huge human raft, we decided to try to roll our sleeping bags out side-by-side. This took some doing. Soon after we lay down, a large bully of a man came up to my husband and said, “I cut your throat while you sleep!” He made a graphic gesture with his finger as if cutting his own throat. After that my husband couldn’t sleep. We made it through two nights. We ate rice from a large container that looked like a garbage can. They served us tea out of another large container just by dipping a cup into it.
The next morning brought it’s own form of excitement. I really could not believe what I saw. All of us began to disembark, again with much unnecessary shoving. We felt like animals all pressed together headed for a long swinging ladder. It went from our ship to dozens of tiny rowboats coming to pick us up. They took all 500 or so of us to larger powerboats. At first I felt afraid, but swinging down the ladder felt exhilarating and really got my adrenaline pumping. Since the only food the people on the tramp steamer ate was rice, I felt grateful to receive fish heads on this new vessel. I had not realized how delicious they could taste! To think I would never have tried them if I hadn’t been on such a limited diet. Yum yum!
Next stop – Singapore. . . 


24 Aug

Of all of the places I traveled in 1974, Bali seems to have changed the most. When I lived there for six weeks on the western side of the island, an isthmus where Kuta beach lies, I saw one high rise hotel only! Now, I don’t even recognize Bali with all its skyscrapers. I loved living in the losman with its ultra friendly owners and their children. I prefer the streets with long-haired pigs running around rather than cars. I feel so fortunate to have traveled at a time when for nine moths of traveling slowly through Asia, I never paid more than $.50. That cover my half, one dollar for a room!!! Some places, like Nepal, I paid twenty-five cents!!!!
While in Bali we decided to visit the famous artist colony called Ubud in the mountains. 
First we rented a moped. We carried our shoulder packs and started out journey. The dramatic scenery startled me. The beautiful pristine rice paddies seemed to go on forever. We travelled A ribbon of road up and up seeing endless rice fields speckled with conical straw hats of the workers. Phenomenally beautiful meadows of green rose in the distance up and up. 
On the way we stopped at an overly populated famous monkey temple. Steps led us up intricately carved steps to the shrine. I felt surprised that the monkeys didn’t fear us. Some even approached us, one biting my husband! Our first thought, “Could have the monkey be carrying rabies?” Somehow he found a doctor. My husband jumped around pretending to be a monkey biting himself. The doctor laughed before administering a Band-Aid. He’s undisturbed attitude would have to pacify us. 
We headed out again. My husband’s eyeglasses fell onto the cement is Lee Road. Since they broke I drove the remainder of the way, feeling free with the wind in my hair.
When we reached the top we came to a place that look like a house. All of the homes that are like the little like huts. We were surprised that they offered us a double bed. Really all the room had in it was the bed. We felt thrilled. Night fell very quickly there in the mountains. And with the night brought what felt to me like freezing cold weather. Luckily we brought something that we usually used below our sleeping bags to keep them clean. It was a popular item in 1969 called a space blanket. It was blue on one side and like aluminum foil on the other. It was created to keep a person warm and freezing cold temperatures. So my husband and I zipped our sleeping bags together and wrapped ourselves inside the space blanket close together. We finally had a double bed and all we could do was try to keep each other warm. We had to laugh about this later.
The next days spent on Kuta Beach remain a blur of stunning sunsets, great food, and palm trees swaying in the breeze.
One event stands out. Usually when we went to the beach we would see no people or maybe one or two wandering around. We hadn’t seen any Westerners. Then one day is reset on the beach we saw a couple sitting nearby.

They came to join us telling us a strange story from their night camping on the beach in a tiny hut. As they slept, Jon, from Australia woke up when a light flashed in his eyes. Someone had attached a flashlight too long pole and inserted it through the window which had no glass. They were trying to put the pole into the handles of the bags Louise and John were carrying. They didn’t get away with it though. And this time taught me a very good lesson. From that night on I slept with my bag under my hand whenever there were any people around. However our room had windows closed.
The next day we met Louise and Jon again. Louise had come from England to Australia where she had met Jon. Now they were returning. Three men approach us. They had come to Bali to make a jean commercial. The jeans were knock-offs. They asked us if we would be in their commercial! We felt happy about that. 


13 Aug

Next Stop Bali

The captain stayed in his quarters sulking and grieving after losing his mistress to George, as I described in last month’s story. 
When we left the yacht at Denpesar, Bali, we felt happy to leave the drama of our small quarters behind. All of us who were left got off the boat and started on our own separate adventures. Many “bemos” and “bemo” drivers met us at the dock when we arrived. I think people in Thailand call these little vehicles “tuk tuks”. It’s a three wheel motorized vehicle with no sides or back windows, and with a canopy on the top. These tiny taxis flew around while their passengers clung to a long bar, a rail to keep us safe? It was always a wild ride. The two benches, one on either side, held three passengers each. Amazingly we arrived at our “Losman”, a motel,after 

dodging pigs all along the way. Tourism being the main source of income, many people had places that look like a tiny motel with three or four rooms. Ours consisted of two twin beds, mattresses with no sheets, and a sink. The bathroom outside had a big marble pedestal with two big footprints to step into. It looked like an ancient sculpture. Then squatting became the norm for nine months to come. This Losman with its sweet family housed us comfortably for six weeks.
Looking back, I wish we had stayed longer. This was the very beginning of our trip and we didn’t realize that it was one of the most perfect paradises we would ever see. I have never eaten such delectable food before or since. Gado-gado became a staple. I discovered that Gado in Balinese means salad, so my favorite meal became salad salad. So many veggies lay smothered by roasted soy beans and bean sprouts. The thing about it was that was everything was so so indescribably fresh.
Most days we went back to the same restaurant at least once. Everyone called it the garden restaurant, although I don’t remember seeing a sign. Everyone sat outside at picnic-like tables inside a lush tropical jungle. A leashed mongoose paced back-and-forth along the top of the concrete wall, eying all of us. He allowed minimal petting. Someone brought their pet monkey to breakfast as well. I usually had a fruit drink with my salad. They had a blender and combined one avocado, one banana, about a third of a cup of sweetened condensed milk, and a lot of ice. I still consider that to be my favorite drink. It brings back fond memories.
One day we bought breakfast on the street. Recyclers will love this. I did. The vendors served coconut and honey balls cradled in palm leaves. No plate; the leaves served that purpose. I didn’t see trash around Bali. Maybe it could have been that the cute long-haired pigs that roamed the streets ate all of the garbage. I felt embarrassed as an American that the only litter I saw in Asia was Coke bottles. I’m not exaggerating. That was 1974. 
We spent idyllic days on less than five dollars a day. We would eat gourmet food while little children would bring us things to buy, mainly beautiful wooden carvings done by their parents. They also sold silver jewelry with beautiful workmanship. The people there crafted silver into intricate designs, using no molds. 
Other than eating and looking in the cute huts that were shops, we spent time on the immaculate Kuta Beach. Generally we found ourselves alone there. Next month I’ll tell you what happenened when we met Jon and Louise. 
On a typical morning we would wake up then go outside and sit in the chairs out in front of our room. As soon as we sat down, a women, dressed in a colorful flowered sarong, bananas in a basket on her head, would serve us sweet tea and bananas. This was included in our one dollar a night room!
Then we would write for a time, then walk to the huts that were the shops. 
One day I remember walking by a smallish hut with bars on the windows. A man peered out and spoke to us and English. He said he was in jail and had been for three months for smoking marijuana. (So strange that we could just talk with him anytime. It reminded me of a Wild West movie.) This seemed a little crazy considering what happened next. 
We went to the garden hotel and ordered their special, a “magic” mushroom omelette. The legality of this seemed absurd. I didn’t believe that this could be real, that a restaurant would serve up psychedelic food!
So we ate. Fifteen minutes passed. Nothing. “I don’t feel anything,” I told my husband. Then the laughter began, uncontrollable crazy laughter. We could barely pay the bill. Then I started running back to the room yelling, “They’re coming; they’re coming,” while my husband trail behind me a little asking, “Who’s coming?” We got back to our room about four short blocks away. We went in and I started telling my husband that they were coming through the window to get us. He calmed me down. That was when I started seeing monkeys and elephants swinging in the trees on the walls of our room. Then things became very pleasant for me as I transformed myself into a red zebra. It all felt rather bizarre. 
After a nice nap we got up to bathe. The sunlight sparkled on every blade of grass vividly. I got into the concrete walled box that was the shower. It stood in the grassy, tropical backyard of the motel, banana trees all around. There was one hole in the wall where a hose came through. Since no ceiling covered it, I could totally enjoy nature. When my husband would pull down the six-foot lever, water would hit my chest. “A Shower in Paradise” would be the title to that vignette. 
By then the pending sunset drew us to Kuta Beach. These spectacular creations made our days different and special. We usually had the show to ourselves. Amazing. I’m wondering how anyone can really describe the beautiful ripples in the sand as the breeze blew different patterns into it. Splashes of orange across the sky led our eyes upward. The stunning beauty no doubt made non-believers believe. These paintings, different each evening, kept us coming back each dusk to be renewed. Life felt phenomenal, no magic mushrooms necessary. 
(To be continued. . . .)