July 31, 2008

old neighbourhood

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:46 pm by changisme

People like to ask me if I miss Beijing. I find it hard to answer. By "missing", one usually means wanting to see what WAS. I went to the neighbourhood of my childhood. Hardly anything physical is left to be "missed". Except for our building, all that is around has changed. Both my elementary school and middle school have changed names. Restaurants have changed and so do the markets. There used to be little green sheds used by hairdressors and shops, but now they are all real buidings. The sidewalks are no longer covered by bikes.
 
Nevertheless, the area I grew up in is still much more "beijing" in terms of the residents than the place I’m living now. My friend says that now Beijing has about 20 million people with more than half from outside of Beijing. I can feel it from taking the bus, but walking around my old neighbourhood, people still have very strong Beijing accent.
 
Before we left, our old neighbour hold us that the government has paid to change all our windows to look the same, to look good for the Olympics. It’s kinda weird, because the building is old, but with brandnew aluminum alloy windows looking exactly the same. Oh well, people are happy to get new windows for free. 
 
In any case, I don’t know what I feel. I can’t recognize anywhere in that neighbourhood anymore. With the cloudy weather, I can hardly see the sun to know North from South. I guess the old isn’t particularly better than the new, it’s just that the new is no longer mine.

July 28, 2008

Made in China, made in Beijing: Absurdities

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:36 am by changisme

These is pretty much just the encounters of a day, and I guess I only find it funny an absurd because I’ve been away for so long.
 
Scene 1:
The new metro stations in Beijing are just like the ones in HK or Singapore or Guangzhou, the equipments that is, but the exchange stations are very convoluted and you need to both go up and down. That’s not too bad, but the signages are not like a list that shows all the places people would want to go and arrows pointing at where they are, but rather, one after another about 20 meters ahead of each other. For example, in a tunnel, I can’t really know where it goes to by the signs from the mounth of the tunnel, I have to go in a bit before I can find the sign that says if it goes to line 1 for transfer. The arrows on the ground shows one way but it’s apparently two ways.
 
Anyways, so to solve that problem, many people are posted everywhere with a huge amplifier in front of their mouths, shouting, to go to xxx, go upstairs and turn right, to go to yyy go downstairs and turn left. They look quite comical, expecially those who actually stand on a little stool.
 
Scene 2:
All the metro stations have security checks, but it’s not a station that blocks your way, so there are people stationed near the stations to block everyone to ask them to put their bag through. There was this woman who walked by and the woman who was stationed their tried blocking her and said, hi miss you have to put your bag through, and the woman said, I just want to cross the tunnel, and kept on walking. The security person walked after her and got a mad, hey you have to do it even of you want to just cross the tunnel, the other woman ust thinks it’s rediculous and kept on walking. It was such a scene.
 
Scene 3:
A blue collar man got onto the bus with a toolbox, the ticket woman asked, hey what’s that in the box. The man went blank for a little and said, oh it’s my tools. the woman says, it’s not allowed these days, to bring these boxes of things ontot he bus. The man didn’t know hat to say, just sat there looking at her. She felt sorry for the man and went over and said, put it under the window, don’t forget to take it away when you get off. next time becauseful, dont’ take it onto busses… I wonder how are they supposed to go to work.

July 25, 2008

vulnerable to the vulnerable

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:51 pm by changisme

Last night before I fell asleep, I heard baba in the next room yellin gin his dream. It sounded like he was scared from a nightmare. My eyes snapped wide open looking intot he dark unknown in the room. It wasn’t that I was sharing a nightmare with him or trying to imagine what he was seeing in this stuffy summer nght. Rather, I realized that it was the first time I ever imagined baba could have nightmares too. Probably I should have realized that long ago, during the years of awakenings of my youth, and yet, his absence, or more my absence fed to a melancholy reminescence. Maybe both of us held on to some sort of unchangable bond, and since I more or less agreed wordlessly that our bond would not change, nothing really made me realize it could be fragile in other universes.
 
Baba could also be vulnerable. He never was the kind that was so strong and heroic, but t a daughter’s eyes, he’s nevertheless the protector agains shards of inpaling forces around this world. It’s usually this sort of emotional homebase that really gave me brave and independent hearts to spur me onto the unknowns. I am usually the vulnerable when around the strong and strong around the weak. I pick my roles foil what is around me. Around bab, is one of the few opportunties that I can feel complete yong and small.
 
And yet, now, in the dark night, where my suit case sprawled out like entangled octopi, I prayed that I could still emain soft and raw with the man who is also raw. Maybe it will come a day, when I need to end this little daughter repetoire, but let that be ever so far in the future.

July 21, 2008

singapore and hong kong

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:11 am by changisme

So now that I have some time, I can elaborate a little more on Singapore. The orderliness of the country is definitely pronounced, though it’s probably just like Vancouver, which is one of the easiest place to survive in terms of getting the information you need in order to get to where you need to go or what you need to do. The road signs are not as clair as the US, but then.. US highways are incredible, what can you say?
 
Anyhow, Singapore which its all emcompassing MRT and bus syustem as well as the signages that shows you where to go, really is  easy to commute. The streets are not grid like though, so I guess in that sense it’s not as easy as Vancouver, but if I had spent a little longer in the place, I would have no problem knowing where I am. The place also seems to be dominated by shopping malls and food junctions. Weekend is definitely when the roads are most packed. I was surprised and wondered where all the people all of a sudden came from, from the earth or the sky? They seem to pack the escalators (which by the way, seems to run twice the peed as in Vancouver!), and the road crossings. Well, in a sense, it’s definitely something special to see asians in an asian country actually waiting for the lights to change before crossing the streets. These people are usually shopping or eating, latter more than the former. Near the durian stands, it’s a little more chaotic, people with their green addicted eyes crowd around the seller who cells a durian ffrom 50 cents to 10 sing dollars. The $5 or $10 ones are usually yellow or red meat, and very thick and creamy, the chaaper ones are not as good, thinner flesh and usually white. the $2 ones are good enough for me, but I had to control mself not to eat too much.  There are big buckets full of durian shells and buckets to wash your hands afterwards. We squat or sittle on the curb eating with our hands sticky and slimy, definitely not a pretty scene.
 
The national theater which also havea  big food junction, looks just like a big durian, in fact that’s wha tthey call the place. The building has two round sections, and are spiky. I saw some new graduates in their gowns walking out of the place. It reminds me of when we got out of the Chan Centre. People all over the world are doing the same thing…
 
I visited the Night Safari, it’s definitely one of a kind. It’s basically the Singpapore zoo at night. The leopards, the zebras, the civets, the rhinos… wow, so many. The coolest thing si that they are seen at night, really the feel of their natural awakenings. I guess it’s bit fake still, because we still have lights over them so we can see… but afterall, it’s a zoo, not a jungle… Oh, did you know that the zebras that are black and white stripes and white with black stripes are actually differen species??
 
Today, I’m in HK living with my cousins. They live in this very old building, with relatively big rooms and high ceilings, but the elevator was tiny. We had 2 people in the elevator, and we couldn’t turn. It’s also an ancient piece of mechanism. I think it’s gotta be antique. It’s a wooden door that opens with a knob, and inside, the elevator itself is cased in with mettle fenses, and you push that open and get in. Throuhgout the ride, you can almost touch the doors through the fense, until when you are at your right floor, you’d push aside the clinking metal fense and push open the wooden door. I can’t believe I can actualy be in an elevator like this. It’s so cool.
 
It’s also quite amazing that |I live really close to Merian! I’ll see her on Wednesday. We are probably 2 minutes away, from each other. Aye… I miss my friends I’m familiar with… wherever they are.

July 17, 2008

Back to Malaysia, and Singapore

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:55 am by changisme

Finally back to Malaysia! This time around I have Bena, Konrad and Bena’s brother Daniel to hang out with. Malaysia is nice and finally out of the pit hole of Indonesia. JB is different from Borneo though, it’s very Chinese, I guess it’s close to Singapore. No wonder Bena and her mom don’t even speak Malay. When I first landed, they took me to a nice restaurant like a treehouse, very good food with ice redbean mounted in a gigantic tall glass. Who says Asians don’t know how to make desert? There’s also wooden instrument making music on the background. It was so great to eat with friends I can identify with so much. Then we went to the Panga Bay, and walked around, it’s not much of an attraction, but they had this 4 person tendon cycle, quite cool!!!

Yesterday was the best yet. We went to this water fall park, where we got into the water and climbed down from high to low. We didn’t really climb in the really high drops, but the smaller series of drops were fun enough. the water was pulling us down and we had to resist to be safe. The water was cold, but definitely warmer than those in BC. The rocks on the bottom were also not as sharp, so we stepped everywhere without much of a problem. At the very bottom, there was a bigger fall, which we didn’t really climb down, just detoured. When we swam underneath the fall though, it was grand!!! Water fell on my head like fists punching. I guess I should know that it’s this forceful, but … somehow I didn’t realize it’s that strong!!

We didn’t go on a holiday or weekend, so there was hardly nnyone else. Also I guess it’s not in any guide books for tourists, but it’s definitely fun and unique.

Today I’m in Singapore, had my Durian fix and had some interesting pastry and indian Kanbing soup, wow, I guess my pallet became too mild after Indonesia, the woup was sooo strong.

Bena’s house is very nice. It’s ust full of home. It makes me feel very much at home, maybe the whole mandarin household also helps. 🙂

July 11, 2008

struggle towards enlightenment

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:29 pm by changisme

So the largest Buddhist monument in Borobudur. It was an impressive sight. There were many levels and each symbolizes a stage of enlightenment. The bottom has engravings telling of all the most primative desires, and the top is nirvana, where there is no engravings, not even walls, but open view to see all the earthly world beneath, and a gorgeous view around. There are stupas of the gods. The interesting thing was that I went with an Irish girl called Lisa, and we walked from the bottom up taking our journey of enlightenment. We talked and talked, about our travels and when we reached the top, we sat among those gods who have reached their total abandonment of the world’s stupidity, by that time, we were talking about how both of us are so annoyed with being seen as exotic animals. It seems like being caucassian is a bit different from my annoyance. I think it’s probably worse. People always ask you to take pictures because you look like a barbie. I don’t get that sort of thing, I just get the really piercing stares as if they can tear your clothes apart and see you naked. One thing in common is those peopel who try to pick you up fromt he street. I felt better after talking to someone about it though, otherwise I just ranted on and on in my blog which isn’t really fare to those who want to read it for the interesting parts buried somewhere amongst the endless complaints. In a way, these things we talked about were all the earthly things, but sitting with someone as the sun rose to enlighten the stones, I felt light too. It’s really nott he absence of human beings around me that enlightens me like some of the meditators retreat into, it’s the encounters. I guess even in buddhism, it’s sort of like that. When someone is walking the wrong path, some certain god woud take shape of an old man, or old woman, or some begger or child, and come to review some allegorical truth. Irt doensn’t really take a god to do that does it?

In a way, I really look forward to malaysia and Singapore now, because those were the places I didn’t feel like a minority, but really in other places like in Guatemala, I was a minority too, and I was called Japanese also, but it’s nowhere nearly as bad as here. I first off have to say, I’m really glad I came, because I would never have been able to imagined what things are like with any kind of description or photos, but really, I hated Indonesia so bad that I think it’s one place I will never live in. I felt men had no sense of dignity untill I walked into some normal neighbourhood, and later on this mornig to a local market both of which reminded me that men who are not working in the tourist industry are not liek that. they still stare at you, but they don’t keep on pestering you like dogs and when you almost spit in their face, and they just fall into a shrick of laughter. It’s just the kind of people this sort of work attract I guess. I’m quite mad that all the hostels are concentrated in the touristy spots though.

I really wonder if in China, men in tourist industry are also like this, certainly not in Malaysia. or Guatemala. I asked some foreigners here who has also been to China. They said China is not liek this, but I’m not sure if they were just being polite with me. I do know that some guys could enjoy it more though, they liked being the center of attention, because Chinese really becomes very smiley and nice when it comes to foreigners, because it’s the patriotic thing to do.

I used to have this really naive notion that tourism is a really good field because it brings the money around from the richer country to the poorer ones and it allows people to understand each other, but when I see Indonesia, and how I can no longer say hi to people along the streets and just have to keep a very angry face and rush through the street and around people who tries to stop you, I really started to wonder. Especially when what you see is not really what the people really are like, an old woman who sold me some mango this morning had such a content smile, and she was just in the local market, pestering no one, and charged everyone in cluding me the same price, and neither would one wants to bargain with her either. Oh by the way, bargain has become such a touristy thing, foreigners like to bargain so much, even in China I know, people don’t usually bargaint hat much, it’s the travellers who do. So annoying.

July 9, 2008

up and down the mystical Merapi

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:53 am by changisme

So I climbed another volcano this morning! It is of a total different landscape from the one in Guatemala though. This is the famous Merapi with all its spiritual power. I’ve read it numerous times before, but didn’t really decide to climb it until a few days ago. There’s another volcano called Bromo in east Java, and it’s an easier climb. I personally is not into hardcore hiking. I just don’t usually do things to challenge myself, but this time, the mystical power of Merapi sort of captured me, and as hard as it was, I don’t regret it at all.

Another thing aside from its diffficulty was that it was a night hike. I had done night hikes before, but thinks it too stressful on my nerves and can’t see anything along the way, but it’s not impossible. This time, I didi it because almost all the tour groups here for Merapi is night hike to see the sunrise. For practicality, I just joined a group of people. Besides, the day hike probably would also be really hot, unlike hikes in BC.

We started some time after midnight (during this trip I have naturally stopped keeping track of time unless necessary, and it was nice), we were given some black tea before taking off, for warmth and for clearing our minds. The stars were so beautiful. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them so bright, not on Thetis Island, nor ion the farm in Manitoba. It was a clear day an the milky way just flowed with the torrents of brighter starts over our heads. I wanted to stand there and watch the stars forever, they really looked like they would last forever.

Soon after we started, the tracks became hard to keep foothold, because the trails were covered with sand and small lose rocks, very slipery, especially for my not-so-gripping-shoes. The roads weighed my eyes down from the splendour of the upper dome. What was the worst was the new pack of batteries I bought. They weren’t even cheap, but none of them lasted longer than 10 minutes in my small flashlight. It made me stumble in the dark for most of the time until my guide became quite worried ans started sharing the flashlight with me, but the kind of trails we were on didn’t really give much plausibility for such kindness. He at times held my hand just so I won’t roll down the mountain. Later on when I came back down in daylight, I understood his worries! Anyway, I was quite physically happy at the time in my blissful ignorance.

After ahile, as if the world has turned around when I looked down hill, the stars retreated into the fog, but the large village of Solom splattered the foot of the hill. LIght  were like the stars fallen to the ground seeen all the way to Solo. My guide said the village has 10,000 people. I think that’s not small at all for one that thrives half way up on the most active volcano in the entire archapelogos.  God keep them safe… The local guides certainly knows the mountain well, even in this darkness. At times I just have to totally give up my control and trust my guide to lead my hand.  Let go Karen, let go to hold on.

The upper half of the hike was the hardest. It was entirely lose rock, no path whatso ever. The guides know where has easy to climb rocks I guess, but I think they also just sort of go up, as each of them went somewhat different ways. We were at a 45 degree angle and rocks were rolling down from people up above. The good thing is that these are not the sharpest volcanic rocks Ive encountered in the crator in Guatemala. In fact, for Merapi, we can’t really get into the Crator, it’s too active. There’s a big waft of sulferic steam rolling out of the top. After the 2006 eruption, a whole new hill top eracted out of the original crator. The guide said that before, one can see the crator and beyond which was Yogyakarta where we came from. Now we there’s the big hill in the way.

We got to the top just before sunrise. The sky was so clear that the horizon looked like a bare belly without a flemish. A few mountain tops from far away distorted the landscape from a long slit. Around us, the fumes of sulfer skirted all the volcanic rocks giving them the most mystical appearance. It reminds me of the kind of heavenly palace the Monkey King must have fought in. After awhile, the sun took a peek off of the eastern sky, and its redness flooded the eastern side of the rocks making a strange contrast with the yellowish green colours of the sulfer on the same rocks. It makes me think of all the green and pink indonesian and malaysian cities. I guess it must be a coincidence, but somehow the thought that high up here the architechture resonates with that down below where all the hussle and bussles are made me smile. We are not that out of His hand.

The sun rose very quickly after that, a powerful golden globe that seem to have awoken the Merapi. Rather, it has awoken my vision. I could see the grandeur of the large mysty sulferic rocks and crator, and I could see he plantations down below, as wel as the nearby mountains that are just as high, though may not be as active. Along our way down, there we found some steamy hot rocks I could sit on for only a little while in order not to burn my butt.

The way down was not very pleasant, aside from the gorgious view. For one, I was starting to get sleepy, and also the lose rocks really made it feel like walking downhill on little balls. I guess I could have made it better if there was a clear path and I just ran down it, but I had to follow the guide and be slow, so I couldn’t run and hence slipped all the time. The guide was really really patient and nice though, he kept close to me and held my hands as I came down a lot of times.

When we reached the point where locals were growing tobaccos, the fottings a little easier, but still, I can’t imagine having to carry big loads up and down this slippery thing. Looking back up the steamy mountain top, I couldn’t have imagined what it was like up there if I didn’t go up. It was truely a differet spiritual realm.

We came down and had banana and chocolate pancake, which induced our sleepworms despite the tea that went with it. The guys came down faster than us girls, and by the time we came back, they were already done eating and dozed into the morning stupor. I just felt strange, felt like I was once again pulled out of something … else, like I went to where Krishna made his special strolls and just stood there for awhile.

July 7, 2008

upset!

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:53 am by changisme

Yogyakarta seems to be a big shoppers’ haven. It’s not big, radiating from the main street Jalan Malioboro which is absolutely packed with stalls, shops and shoppers. From morning till night, you literally have to be carried by the current ALL THE TIME. They all sort of seel the same kind of thing though, T-shirts, batiks (an art of dying silk or cotton), and bags and belts. On the other side of the street, it’s mosly food stands. I have to say the Javanese are better cooks than Balinese, but not that much better. They at least seem to put in more flavour in things. There are also lots of ice durian stalls, and just durian nuts soaked in ice, so nice on a hot summer day. I think it’s much better than ice cream or just durian themselves. I don’t particular like the texture of durians, so slimy, but the flavour is nice.

I was also really upset today because at least 50 or 60 people have said to me "Hey, Japanese!" or "Hey, japanese?" It didn’t start here, it started when I was in Bali. I endured and endured and endured, even when I said, no I’m Chinese, some would say, ah, you look like Japanese. What d f*ck. I mean I was good humoured about it, but after the 30th time, I really have no humour left. in he evening, finally someone lit the last straw. I ignored him at first, then he chased after me and went "japanese japanese? hey!" I turned around with a expression full of hatred and bellowed with a low but audible voice, "No." Immediately I felt bad for the guy, I thought, what a scapegoat. But he did just the wrong thing, and went after me and asked again, "not Japanese?!" I span around and stalked away. I mean, I didn’t feel bad for the guy anymore, but felt bad about being so inpatient and… so nasty. I wanted to cry. Anyway, it was such a small thing though, not like people here don’t like Japanese, they probably like them better than Chinese? Who knows. Inevitably, I became a very nice to everyone else I met afterwards and for some magical reason, nobody else called me japanese so far tonight. I hope it’s some psychological knots being untied rather than just a fluke.

I actually wonder. I know that there are Chinese Indonesians around. Do they all look Hokkian? How can someone live with such annoyance? Maybe it’s just me looking like a tourist? What if my grandma has stayed and had children? She definitely doesn’t look Hokkian.

Anyway, I shopped a bit too, and almost everyone there were indonesians, or maybe Malays too, I cannot tell. It’s much different from the Balinese shopping scene for sure, but I like here, only if people wouldn’t call me Japanese!!! Please oh please…. one of these days, I’ll start to develop some kind of negative feelings towards the Nihon Jins…

So there.. that’s why I"m upset.

July 6, 2008

Bali to java, the lone ranger

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:57 pm by changisme

On the night of the 5th, I was walking along the main street of Ubud, and started chatting with this young man. He is from a rice farmer’s family and though I forgot to ask, he’s name was probably Wayang (first born) as half of the people I’ve met there. It’s a Hindu tradition, first born Wayang, second born Made… I met a group of kids on the street, and all of them were Wayangs, and one was Made.. wonder how they tell each other apart, maybe not by name?

Anyway, the young man was nice and said he liked painting and so on. Aparently, the many artists in Ubud are given books of pictures designed or selected by foreigners and they paint those pictures and sell them to local shops which are also owned by foreigners. Yoni says it’s the same situation for the many silver and goldsmiths here too. i suppose it’s not necessarily the worst situation. I saw that he was nice, so I asked him to motorbike me to the Ubung bus terminal the next day. I thought though it might cost me a little extra, it’s not bad. Plus I’ll have a local with me in the terminal where scams saturate the soil.

The next morning, we left at 6:30am (he wanted even earlier). The road from ubud to the capital of the province Dempasar was very hilly. many times I couldn’t believe he could bike down such steep hills with a big bike and me on the back, in addition to the 10lb backpack in front of him.

When at the terminal, we were immediately surrounded by people trying to get us to take their transport. Wayang ignored lots of them and took me to a bus where the driver was not so enthusiastic like the others. He says the bus only goes directly to Java, which was not excatly what i had in mind. The price was also a little expensive, but I saw that the locals were paying the same, and thought… maybe i should do it, with the trust of this young man. So i took a small discount and went on. Indeed the bus was mostly what it promised. i didn’t expect food though they said there was, because of all the stories i hear and my own bad experience in Guatemala. however, I did get a buffet styled muslim lunch, which was a pleasant surprise. in the evening though, from Sorabaya to yogya, we were transferred to a local bus, not touristy. That was very slow. I was told I could get to Yogya at 10, but didn’t get here until the next mroning!! I guess the only good thing was that I saved a night’s accommodation fee. >_<

As we headed west from east Java, there was lots of farmland. people dressed much more conservatively in there, and then we hit the group of big city where people are very modern looking. Very few women wear hajid, even though 80-90% are muslims. On the city bus, I met a school teacher and his son. he was very keen on speaking English with me and tried to encourage his son to do the same, but obviously, like any child, the more he tried, the shier the son became. I also met a young woman who looked really young, and spoke very good English  i asked her if she were a student, she says, noooo i’m married, and showed me her ring. i guess people don’t get marrieed before they finish all their schooling.

When i finally got off the bus, another young man, a student this time, took me to a taxi avoiding the other treansport offerers, and got a fixed price for me with the driver. i thanked him and headed for the area with all the hostels and hotels. All the hostels here have no hot shower though, only one or two hotels do. it’s a strange thing, because the people here don’t seem to mind the hot and wear long pants and jeans everywhere.

i’m yet to see the city. So far, the people here seem to be a little different from Bali, how so, I still can’t find the word to describe.

July 4, 2008

better impressions on Bali

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:38 pm by changisme

I like walking away from the touristy regions. During my last day and a half in Kuta, I got up early and took a long walk in the opposite direction from the beach and Aussie area. There was where real people lived. Parents were having children on their bikes and women were shopping in large and crowded open markets. It was quite interesting. The food was much better also, and much more creative than just chicken or fish on rice.

The city was still very dirty and crowded though. How should I describe my feeling towards it… you know for a lot of people who sometimes get up enough courage to ask God to make us channels of his peace, but when our wishes are granted we cry out, oh man not that?!!! I think here would be one of those things for me. If God ever stations me here, I think I’d go nuts. There are very few places in the world that could do that to me. I think here is probably the only place as far as I’ve visited. Maybe there are more, I just haven’t been there yet.

On the last night, we went to a couple clubs. They weren’t very good. The setting was nice, but the people were very young, half of the people there were 19 or under and 99% were Aussies. They were either really young and confused, or really young and wasn’t old enough to just relax and dance with anybody. It would be a good place if you were in a group you already know. Just dance with your friends kinda thing.

The good news was that we finally left Kut and came to Ubud. It’s also very touristy. In fact, more people here speak English than Kuta. It’s famous for art and crafts. I find it also very wealthy and religious. People are all preparing for the once every 5 years mass cremation that is going to happen in 10 days. I don’t think I will be here for that. It’s really too bad!

I don’t know if it’s just Bali, or it’s Hinduism in general. The statues of gods are very humourous compared to other religions. They seem to take on more personalities too. I watched some dances and Wayang Kulit, the shadow puppet show. They were very funny also. I don’t know if it’s just catering to the tourists. There are also temple version, but they are longer and only during the ceremonies. They also would be hard to understand as there usually aren’t English print outs.

I think in general, I like Ubud a lot more. It’s so much more laid back, and I can actually say hi to people and chat with them without worrying about having to buy anything from them. There are still lots of scams and things though, but it is the case in most places, sometimes I just have to allow myself to be tricked, it’s just part of being a tourist. I think as long as I have an idea of how much more I’m paying, I don’t have a big problem with it.

I also saw lots of rice fields outside of Ubud. It’s not as organized and flat as those in China, but it’s also very beautiful. A lot of time in Indonesia, you can plant 4 times in a year, especially near the volcanic areas. That’s even more than the 3 times year areas in China, which would be the richest soil in China I’ve ever heard of. The fruits I’ve tried are not that good other than green mango and bananas. The pineapple, oranges and other stuff are not so nice. I don’t know if it’s just this year or it’s that I’ve been spoiled by california fruits. The way they cook their veggies are also horrible. I think Indonesians are definitely not very good cooks.

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