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Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Nows

What is Forever?
According to a lovely blogger, Forever are a bunch of nows. Or from the exact words of Emily Dickinson: Forever is composed of nows. How true it is.

For two people like me and my boyfriend who are affectionate to the point of insanity, going through a long distance relationship is not an easy feat. Let alone one with so many challenges, from distance to government's bureaucracy. There were times when I can feel his frustration with how far we are from each other and how badly he wants me by his side; as well as times when I silently cry for not able to be with him and is helpless to ease his burden. And the thought sometimes came, what is it really for? What's the effort is for? And the whole long-distance relationship itself? We're both jaded enough, cynical enough to not really believe in Happily Ever After. Sh*t happens, and there's a chance we wont be what we say we will. We both realize that. Then what is it for?

It is for the nows. 

It is for the rush of pride I feel when receiving his photo in my text message
It is for the warmth he felt when viewing my photos in his text message
It is for the laughter we share, the joke we tell
It is for the new silly dates we planned and commend from different part of the globe
It is for the feeling of being accepted, being taken care of, being loved
It is for knowing that come what may, our phone will rang and we both have each other still
It is for the pleasure of knowing we are deeply appreciated by each other, and held in highest respect
It is for the small love smileys that warm my heart
It is for the random facts that I happen to know which he finds so interesting
It is about sharing our lives in a remote way, yet still so close with each other
It is about sending a "Good morning Love!", and receive a "Good morning baby :)" shortly even with 15 hours time difference
It is for being with each other, having each other
It is for the nows: the laughter and tears, the hope and desperation, all that happens, all that we share and experience

We're living our nows with Facebook, with text messages and phone calls, with e-mails and snail mails. And yes, I am very much looking forward to the day where I can feel him and we can hold each other close. But I know we cherish what we have now still. These are our nows. This is our Forever.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My sLOVEnia Birthday (photo) Date

My boyfriend takes me to Slovenia for my birthday. Well, sort of.

As if the 14000 km distance between Bali and San Diego is not enough, he got to go and sent to work at Slovenia on my birthday. There goes my planned birthday date. In his birthday we went on an intercontinental Birthday date. Candle, [cup]cakes and all, I'm in Bali and he's in San Diego. The 16 hours time difference was no obstacle for us. But Slovenia, oh my.

Days prior to my birthday were frustrating. His carefully planned gift was being held by Indonesian custom during the shipment, and I spent days calling back and fro to the delivery service he use to send the gift, both the US and Indonesia offices. I couldn't let go, I want whatever he sent me. It was not until he firmly set his foot down two days before my birthday and tell me to just sit quiet and let him take care of me, let him deal with the shipping, that I oblige to sit still. That alone is enough birthday present for me. Knowing the man I love so much is willing to deal with the frustration with customs and bureaucracy of 2 different country when he was in another foreign country altogether just to send me a birthday gift makes me all teary indeed.

He called me in the morning of my birthday. He said happy birthday in Facebook. He send me text messages to make me feel happy. I feel spoiled. It's the best birthday ever, for me. Then he takes me to Slovenia.

It was a surprise for me. He took some pictures of where he was that time, and post it plus tag me in Facebook. In a way, we were walking together through the field in Slovenia, where we play with butterfly and he picked some wild flowers to be made as my birthday bouquet. I thought I could cry. I actually did, no man can be sweeter. He made me felt so loved. Then he walked me through the forest where the sun shines softly between the leaves. It was dazing, just like a fairytale forest in the books that I so enjoy imagine. Our little date. And he made a remembrance too, with hopes that he can take me there someday to see it.

I don't think any woman has ever been so loved, so cared, so spoilt as I was in my birthday. Nor so fortunate I am to have my wonderful man. Thank you love, it has been an awesome day indeed!!!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bali Kite Festival: Soar High and Rule the Sky!

Forget the bull race in Spain, forget La Tomatina, and get your dose of excitement from the annual Bali Kite Festival. This, dear readers, is THE place to be.

If you associate kites with child's play, by all means there's nothing childish with flying a kite 5m long, or one with tails as long as 200m. It's a tug-of-war game against the wind, it's a skill contest to flew it right AND land it right, it's a team effort to make it soar without trampling (or get trampled by) another team. Excitement can't get any better.

When we arrive at the kite site at Padang Galak Beach we were greeted by the many Bebean (fish kite) up above and the grand flags of each group contestant [see pic 1], and the group contestants themselves, sheltering under their huge kite [see pic 2 for kite size] chatting or playing Balinese music. Why yes, in terms with Balinese tradition of music almost all group brings their own musician. The fast beat music become a powerful stimulant for the kite handlers. You can feel the raw energy from the kite handlers as they manouvred their kites to fly, soar gracefully, and land.

Dust was everywhere and the instrumental music was loud. It was almost a mystical experience to see the kite gracefully move in the sky [see pic 3 of Pecukan/ two corner kites] and then avert your eyes to see the humans toiling on the harsh land. It was "divine" and "humane" being descripted at once.

Just when we think we seen enough, the dragons flew. The Janggan (dragon kite) competition was held after the Bebean's. It was as if the fishes on the sky were scared away by the mighty dragons [see pic 4]. Oh how their tails float and dance around in the sky! We just stood there dumbstruck and in awe for their majestic and beauty (and also very nearly trampled twice, apparently this kite type is more difficult to handle).

Kudos to the very well prepared officials of the kite festival. They gave proper warnings, disclaimer, information; all for the safety of the viewers, the kite handlers, and of course the kites. The event is usually held around July. Make sure to bring lots of sun lotion, sandals/shoes you can dash with, hat and/or umbrella, camera, and a friend. Cooperation is the key to ensure you dont get trampled or entangled with the kite's rope when you are just too busy looking up or taking pictures. Trust me. Or should I say, trust your kite companion ;)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Freaks


To most, it was a perfect world. Where people think alike, look alike, obey the harsh rules that they set themselves. A world of steel silver white, sinfully clean, unbearably cold. To a handful, it was the death of humanity.

"The Normals", which is what they call themselves, pursue their prey or "The Freaks" relentlessly. Their sheer number is enough to scare The Freaks to gave in and become one of them, their bright colors turn into dull silvery white, their shapes and size turn into average and, ah, normal. No longer the prey remember the lush of life, the joy of living free, they have become The Normals and thus a prisoner of themselves and their so-called society.

Those who were not willing to give up were overcome, got broken or got killed or killed themselves. The Normals have a no survivor rule, and apply it ruthlessly. Either the prey become one of them, or eliminate them. The victims did not lose their color and size and shape, but they just lay there dead like a group of butterfly after the storm. Beautifully strewn on the ground, but totally dead.

Even so, there are groups of people that can withheld the attack. These Freaks have better immunity, better strength, and equipped better. Their love for life and for themselves work as a talisman against the Normals. Their acceptance for differences and variety of all things in life were their weapon against the Normals, turning some of them into the Freaks. The hunted became the hunter.

It was one of the immune group of Freaks that was being cornered that afternoon. The lady boy, the fat chick, the womanish man, the lewd girl, the shy geek, 7 or 9 of them surrounded by hundreds of the Normals. Some of the Normals already got streak of colors or shape/size distortion thanks to the Freaks, they really put up a good fight. But the Normals swarm like ant, and closing in on them really fast after disposing their tainted. Soon they close all the gaps. The Freaks are trapped. They look at their surrounding. It was a sea of dull silver white. They look at each other and smile. Their color shines brighter, as well as the sparkle in their eyes and confident in their smiles, it was dazzling and outshine the dull color of the Normals. One of the Freaks grin mischievously and say, "Life is fun, love. Let's roll!"

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Why Didn't They Ask Evans a.k.a A Rubbish Issue

Why didn't they ask Evans?

These were the words coined by Agatha Christie for her book (also titled the same) in 1980s. Although it was originally about a murder/detective story, it was aptly suitable to summarize my thoughts about rubbish issue in Bali. Why didn't they ask?

I was in one of my rare visit to Kuta beach this afternoon when I noticed they had this big clean-up events. I stayed and lingered. The core idea is how to reduce the garbage in the beach by raising awareness and fund to get beach cleaners and tractors. The culprit: Bali (tourists+locals), and yes, Java. Since it is said that the garbage from Java was carried by ocean current to Bali beaches. As logic as it sounds, I can't help but throwing glances to the monstrous hotel that was being built right behind the stage, in which the MC called as *proof of interest in investment*; and also to the newly built hideous mall/shopping centre/lifestyle hubbub/whatever their tag line is. Where would their waste go, build so close to the beach?

I find it funny that the rubbish issue always comes down to "cleaning up" and "awareness for not littering". How about awareness of the whole situation itself?
- Was the place that they are staying has a good waste management system?
- Was it built in a proper place where the waste can go and the structure itself is not damaging the environment?
- Was the employees happy and well taken care off? Because good employee is more trainable and willing to go the extra mile, thus a much better candidate to rubbish-awareness then their unhappy counterparts

These can be easily asked or browsed upon booking an accommodation. Do people asked this? No. Was looking for a hotel myself for my boyfriend's vacation, and I was so overwhelmed with the number of hotels and accommodation available that I end up just picking a newly-built-reasonably-priced-conveniently-distanced tablet hotels although I were much prefer a cozy guesthouse run by locals (what cozy guesthouse anyway? I think they are extinct already.)

Albeit the obvious drawbacks and clear difficulties, I do think it is still applicable. Bali Buddha provide clear information about where the leftover will be sent (their organic pig farm), and when I attend a delicious culinary seminar held by Bali Tourism Board I was introduced to the concept of "happy ducks" and "happy pigs" by the owner of Casa Luna and Bumbu Bali, a new way of thinking and raising meat for food. If these food places willing to go far for their product, I failed to see why accommodations are not willing to do the same. I held beliefs that tourists visiting Bali must be somewhat well-off or at least educated enough to understand the importance of waste issue, thus a totally green accommodation will be held high enough to ensure an all-year booking.

Will it be expensive? Probably. I would haphazardly guess a waste management system (including to break the dirty water) will cost a fortune. But for the common litter issue, of choosing which to be recycled, which to be used as compost or pig/duck food, which and where to throw the remaining, this doesn't take time nor energy. It only takes willingness and discipline.

Hotels can easily prepare such informations (rubbish recycling and removal), and you, dear valued customer, can ask them to prepare it. Like a certain accommodation in Bali? Nag them, e-mail them, talk to the manager upon arrival. Be curious on where your garbage will go. As annoying as it may sound, it will helps everyone in the long run. Clean hotel has better chance to live longer and get more customer, it will reduce the garbage burden of the environment, and you can always return to this beautiful island. Allow me to re-phrase: Let's ask.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Let Me Kneel Down and Pray

What is it like to pray in a very old church? My boyfriend went for a job assignment at a foreign country, one that has many old churches, and I am excited for him yet also envious at the same time.

I have long developed a fascination with old buildings/structure, especially those which still used and/or well taken care of. Their architecture tell us what and how their maker think, their ambition and the current trend when it was built; it tells us about the past, it shows us the past. With praying sites it's even better. Temples, churches, mosques, just name your praying site. Not only the architecture tells us about the past, there are certain feeling that lingers there: hopes, faith, submission, dreams.

"Cogito ergo sum", Descartes said. "I think, therefore I am." This sentence was to proof the existence of human conciousness. It is aptly believed by many people. It's the era's mantra: if you believe it, you can achieve it. From curing the canker to a coveted job position, you can do it if you believe it. If this is so, won't it make sense that such strong thought will leave its marks? In an old praying site all the hopes and dreams and faith stay well after the person who feel it left. It's the believe that their God will help them. And after numerous years the feeling still lingers, an echo of the past.

A secluded Balinese temple, a church used by many generations, a mosque built in the 18th century, a buddhist monastery hidden in the mountain since years ago, the places where their worshippers can bend their weary head, kneel [in front of the altar], and pray. Where they can tell their woes and whisper their hopes and feel safe and protected once again. Wouldn't it be wonderful to visit such places? To have the past spoken to us, and to know the true strength of humans' faith.

And let me bow my head humbly, let me kneel down and pray. It will be my date with God.

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