Sunset at the Grand Canyon

Let is be known that if you catch a 5:20 am flight out of Seattle, you can shoot sunset at the Grand Canyon that same day. Even when you have 23 teenagers in tow. That’s what I did last month. I chaperoned a school trip which toured the desert Southwest, including the South Rim.

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Airplane sunrises give such a neat range of color. I havent color touched any of these, really.

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Rest stop number 327… yeah, you try to coordinate 23 kid bladders. This one had cactuses in bloom and a nice vista, anyway.

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Elk showed up at the water spout next to our campground … because it’s the desert, and elk are pretty smart.

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And after we pitched tents (for 30 people) we scampered to this overlook and watched.

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As is the way with this school, the kids are keeping a journal which is graded at the end of the trip. The teacher asks them to use word descriptions to describe the feelings of sunset here, overlooking this Wonder of the World. It was made more effective (to teens who might be a tad distracted from their present moment, by the chattering of their peers) when a Muslim man knelt down right at the edge of the precipice in front of them and said 5 minutes of chanted prayers as the kids were writing. Then the teacher (being as awesome as he is) invited the man to come over and describe what he was doing for the kids. I’ll try to summarize his beautiful words: As a Muslim I am required to pray right as the sun does down, wherever I find myself, to be thankful for all the beauty in the world and realize how small I am, you are, as an individual, but how we are all the same, no matter where we come from, and even through our diversity we can work together. It takes work, trust and kindness, but working all together toward peaceful  lives is the way. And that is what I was saying when I prayed in this beautiful place.

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It was well taken.

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Nepal Update

Still numb. Numb but doing something, and that helps.

Hopefully by now you have an idea of the scale and scope of the destruction in Nepal. To tell you the truth, I’ve probably been revolving around it a bit too much. Yesterday I finally took a deep breath without stutter-catching through it. Lots of tears this week.

On Sunday I was asked to say a few words to my church congregation, about Nepal. You’ve heard most of what I told them here. But the part I’ll reiterate is this: After I heard from most of my friends in the affected area, when they reported sleeping on the ground outside their damaged homes, or in their potato fields to keep rocks and buildings from falling down on them in the aftershocks, they reminded me why I love the people of this tiny country so much. They immediately went to work to help those around them. Homeless or in safe houses by night, they carried supplies to rural villages by day, or unloaded trucks from India, so they could make a difference.

Many of my friends in Nepal are okay. Not only okay, but back online, and elbow-deep in helping the cause that the world seems to be rallying around right now. So rather than the dark photos of the front pages, I want to show you what I am seeing through my Nepal family. Not because it’s all rosey, but because rather than go into the politics of a giant aid project (which is pretty dismal from my view), I’d like to show you what Nepalis do when they’re knocked down this hard.

Many of the musicians (the ones I traveled with in 2011) are in or near their home villages, moving supplies.

Roj

Photo courtesy of Roj Moktan

Roj Moktan is in Sindhupalchowk, unloading a truck. This district had reported over 1000 causalties within 2 days of the quake, and it had not been fully assessed then. 95% of their schools were damaged.

DJ

Photo courtesy of Tenzing Sherpa

DJ Tenzing is doing the same on another truck in another place.

Milan

Photo courtesy of Milan Lama

Milan Lama is in Chitwan. He has been actively posting videos of where he’s been. He visited a hospital, rallied a village with a microphone, and helped unload supplies. He reported with levity that they nick-named him Tent-Lama (Lama, his last name, also roughly translates to ‘teacher’), and he liked it. They’re famous musicians, recognized and revered like Justin Timberlake, Vince Gill or Lady Gaga would be here. Their presence in these areas is uplifting and appreciated. They’re just hefting bags instead of singing. Making the work lighter for everyone.

Milan

Photo courtesy of Milan Lama

Krish, whom I’ve worked with on a couple of website projects, is a great communicator. He is using Facebook and other tools to organize supplies, communicate between distribution groups and districts most in need. He’s also unloading supplies.

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Photo courtesy of Krishna Sunwar

 

Tukti

Photo coursety of 7 Summits Foundation

Tukti (who was in New York with me in January) is on scene with a 7 Summits Foundation shirt.

Lhakpa

Photo courtesy of Lhapka Sherpa VJ

Lhakpa is reporting in areas of Kathmandu…

Including Swayambunath – the Monkey Temple – which sits high on a hill overlooking all of Kathmandu. It’s one of the most stunning places I’ve ever been at sunset.

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img_0978_std And the ancient buildings of Swayambunath took damage. They’ve stood there for centuries, through countless earthquakes, but this one sent them tumbling.

Swayambu before

Its damage hurts me to see. I sat with DJ and Mary Beth right there last time we were in Kathmandu. Note, the foreground in the photo below is where we were sitting in the photo above (2013). The temple and structures date to the 5th century. Yes, really.

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Photo courtesy of Lhakpa Sherpa VJ

But it will eventually be rebuilt. It wasn’t the only historic or UNESCO site to be damaged. Some were completely razed.

Some of you know that I curate a photo site called Everyday Nepal. Its purpose (along with photo sites from other countries) is to dispell the stereotypes of developing countries that front page news and mass media promote. We’d been posting photos several times a day. So think about that for a minute. Its purpose is to show daily life, office workers, weddings, family picnics, instead of war and famine and disaster. And then 7.8 at less than 2 km deep. So I let the photos site rest in the days following the earthquake. I didn’t really feel it was my place to put anything up at all. So without words, I waited and let the other contributors (all of whom are in Nepal) decide when it was time to post again, and what they would show. I thought the people who were living it should decide.  A few days ago, this is what went up.

#hope #workfornepal #helpnepal #staystrong #everydaynepal Picture: @aveenas.thokar

A photo posted by @everydaynepal on

Now to share a couple of my favorite mass media pieces. This one, by  Jonah Kessel, I could watch over and over. Beautifully done.

And I ran across this video today and thought I’d share it because the sentiment of the narrator matches mine so well. NEPAL EARTHQUAKE APPEAL FOR HELP – Australian Himalayan Foundation-HD. To paraphrase Peter Hillary, most people go to Nepal to see Everest and the mighty Himalaya, but leave in love with the people, thinking about the people, and want to come back to see the people.

The question I’ve been asked most is, am I going over there. It’s hard for me not to, but I am of more use here right now. The huge orgs are over there are doing their thing. Red Cross, USAID, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, UNICEF, CARE, Oxfam, World Vision et al won’t be helped by me taking up space on the one international airport that Nepal has. Once the initial emergency aid orgs have done what they can and most of the world is printing other things in their headlines, that’s when I’ll be more useful over there. Ask me again then.

Posted in Earthquake, Nepal | Leave a comment

Nepal Donation Avenues

I am truly humbled that so many of you have asked me for this advice. It’s important, if you’re going to send funds through an organization to a group in need, that you know the money will show up on the other side and do its intended job. There is no failsafe recipe for figuring out how best to donate, but the following are suggestions with reasons why I chose them. Thanks for caring enough to help the people of Nepal.

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Personal connections:

7 Summits Foundation – I have worked along side AC, the foundation CEO, for 4 years and find the organization honest, dedicated and very sensitive to reporting properly (501C3 paperwork is solid) and using funds through proper channels to its end. This organization is both a Seattle local org and a Nepal based org, run by a Nepali-American who is invested in improving Nepal. As of today, AC and his wife have donated $15,000 US of their own money to the foundation specifically for earthquake victims. They’ve also ordered all 100 of the tents from his trekking and climbing company (currently in Nepal) be sent to people for use now. 7SF will focus mostly on rebuilding and long-term solutions in the coming months. There is a button on the front page to donate directly to earthquake victims. Paypal or credit/debit card.

Crooked Trails – I have also done work for this org. One of the two founders has been working on human trafficking and other projects in Nepal for a decade. They are Seattle local, ear to the ground, in the trenches, and don’t mess around. Their current push is collecting supplies in the Seattle area to ship (in conjunction with Sherpa Adventure Gear) directly to Nepal this Monday. Chris MacKay loved Nepal like I do and is rallying everyone to send just $3, and hoping for 100,000 people to do so. So her goal is $300,000 in very small increments. Getting everyone involved is a great aim. #Give3Nepal. They’re also doing a Mt Si solidarity climb this Saturday May 2, and doing a 3 week rebuilding trip to Nepal. A sweet org to donate to.

Besides those, if you want to provide immediate assistance:

Matt Skousen is a friend of mine who runs a small hat shop in Missoula MT. His wife (Ang Choti Sherpa) is AC’s cousin. Their shop is supplied handmade hats by workers in Bhaktapur, Nepal, a historic district about 10 miles east of Kathmandu. It is one of the most quake-ravaged areas, so he is setting off himself to affect the area with his huge heart and whatever funds he can gather. He’s hoping for $10,000 US. Read the rest of his Go Fund Me campaign if you want to donate to a kind-hearted guy with a small Nepal-based business who just wants to help. He is on his way there now with hope that they’ll hit their funding mark, and will get it to an area very much in need.

 

Larger NGOs

If you’re more interested in a larger org, MSN has vetted these for you, which may or may not mean anything. But you’ll recognize the names, and that is a comfort to some.

Deep gratitude and thanks. Please ask if you have questions.

-Erika

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A Window In

-Have you heard?
-Yes, but I’m traveling without regular internet for one more day. Don’t know details until I get home. Thanks.

Arrive at SEA. Airport news I try to ignore with 23 kids I’m chaperoning…
Facebook notification:

Safety check graphic

 

27 of your friends are listed in the affected area.
Marked as safe when I got there: Lakpa, Krishna, Tsering, Sonam… 15 not marked as safe.
Read 3 articles on the devastation. Death toll at 1200.
~

-Namaste all, I am ok, but me and family are sleeping on the ground by our home because of aftershocks.
-Thank you for checking in. I am glad you are ok. Hug your family for me.

~

Yards of friends posting on Facebook. God forbid that tool ever go away. Or the friends.

~

-Have you heard?
-Yes, thanks.

~

-Heart’s with you. Hope you’re ok.
-Hanging in there. Thanks for checking in.

~
2000 death toll.

-Erika, I’m sure you’ve seen this but, I am thinking of you…
-Thanks, yeah. Still waiting for some to report in that they are safe. Appreciate you checking with me.

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More articles.
Death toll at 2500.
Eight left to check in of 27.

~
Facebook message: I am ok. Family is ok. We sleep on ground because home is bad.

~
-Hello dear, I am so happy you are safe. Thanks for checking in.
-Yap, my family is too.
-Good!
-But now I am at the airport in Qatar and I want to go home to see my family. Plane is delayed.
-Aw, sorry. because of unsafe landing in KTM?
-Maybe. I don’t know.
-Please be safe. I am sorry for all the losses.
-Ya ya.
-Did you have good concerts in Qatar and Swiss?
-Qatar is nice Swiss is ok.
-That is great perspective. Most Americans would like Swiss more than Qatar.
-Yes I know. Nepali too.
-Do you like Qatar better?
-I like dollor and petrol both ha ha.
-Lala. Ha! you are funny.

Leave it to Nepalis to make me laugh when I need it most. And when they do.

~
-Namaste brother, I hope you are ok from Earthquake. Please let me know, ok.
No reply.

~
Hi AC, are you ok?
Yeah, but I have not heard from my sister.
The one in Tapting?
No, she is ok, but wounded. Her house is destroyed. My younger sister I have not heard from. But my brother is there. I hope he is finding things out.
-Oh no, your family house in Tapting? The one we stayed in?
-Yeah, and the house my parents were staying in as well. Now my parents are staying elsewhere.

That’s the house where we stayed with all the musicians the night before our largest concert in 2011. The house we revisited in 2013. It’s where Little Mingma lived. Devastating.

~

List of places to get food and shelter in and around KTM, Kupondole Gurudwar/Mohinder Singh-9851069570 Bhaisipati, (Relief Chaudhary Group) Free noodles distribution/Bhushab Gurung-9851077802, Watet distribution whole KTM/Samir Poudel-9802065311, Around Chakrapth/Ambulance/Anish Shakya-9851090730, 9841024771, Around KTM/World Food Programme for Food and Water-5260607, Around KTM/Prasist Kandel-9851133822, Sailesh Sharma-9851017553 Dasharath Stadium Botteled Water, Around KTM/Food Water-97715260607, Free medicine delivery-9851017553, 9851133822 If blood needed contact/Youth For Blood numbers: KTM-9843552882, Biratnagar-9862005225, Chitwan-9855065135, Jhapa-9817976211, Butwal-9812900905 #prayfornepal #nepalearthquake #nepal #staystrong #hope #helpnepal

A photo posted by Aveenas Thokar (@aveenas.thokar) on

~
Meanwhile, on Everest…
A film team I have been following was poised to make a movie about a US climber who planned to climb 6 of the world’s highest peaks to raise awareness for global child trafficking. The film maker, Elia Saikaly ended up with this footage instead.

~

Lakpa Rita spends a second climbing season rescuing victims instead of climbing Mt Everest for his clients.

Lakpa Rita spends a second climbing season rescuing victims instead of climbing Mt Everest for his clients.

The number dead on Everest this year surpasses last year’s Sherpa avalanche disaster. Most are Sherpas.

~

Hi Erika,

I know it’s been awhile since we’ve talked, but I’ve been thinking about you all weekend while reading through the newspaper articles about this tragic earthquake in Nepal. I’ll never forget the awesome presentations you and AC gave to us about Nepal and its amazing people and places.

A few of us have been talking about organizing some sort of benefit project – a concert, an art project, etc. We’ve got an army of empathetic kids who want to do something to help.

Are you still in contact with the 7 Summits Foundtion? Do you have any ideas regarding people or organizations we could get in contact with to make sure our efforts are helpful and not a hindrance?

Thank you for any direction you can point us in.

~

-Hi K, I hope you are doing ok. I am thinking of you all over there.
-Hi Erika, thanks for reaching. I am safe, all my families and relatives also safe. We living in safe house.
-Wow! Please share that the whole world is rallying to help Nepal right now. So many have reached out to me and asked how they can help.
-Yup this is something Nepal need. People are living in street.
-Did Boudhanath fall down?
-Nope
-Swayambhu cracked… A lot lot places…
-I saw a photo of Boudha’s gold top on the ground in rubble?
-Yeah.

~
6am this morning
Death toll 5000+ over 8 million affected (one fourth of Nepal’s population).
My phone dings just before my alarm:

-I’m ok sister. Thanks.
-Oh, that is good! I am glad you are ok.
-Thanks, sis.
-Is your family ok?
-Yes
-S is only one I have not heard from. Do you know of he is ok?
-No contact sis
-Ok, thank you. Where are you?

Chat Conversation End

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Nepal New Year

I visited Nepal in 2011, just before their New Year celebrations in April. The signs said they were celebrating 2068. If you think back to 2011, that’s when small bands of creative cyber maniacs were threatening us with the Mayan calendar exploding… the world ending. Remember those memes? The Mayans only planned the calendar to 2011, so after 2011, the whole world was going to end. But Nepal was celebrating 2068. They’d been over it for half a century already, right? No worries there.

The Sherpa New Year happened over a month ago (it rolls for 2-4 weeks, depending on  your village). But today is the Nepali New Year. And as it happens, this is when crops begin reaching toward the sun, the land wakes up, and things really come alive. When I was there two years ago in April, we walked through forests of wild rhododendron trees the size of oaks in New England. It felt like a new beginning. Not just because a number flipped over from 99 to 00, but because the world was beginning anew.

Happy New Year, my Nepali friends and family. Happy 2072.

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Location, Location, Size

I am fascinated with a little Asian country. Most of you know which one by now. Consider that Nepal is about the size and shape of Tennessee. It contains the population of California (33 million) and is sandwiched between the two largest countries in the world: India on three sides and China (Tibet) on the north. Nepal’s borders with India are open, allowing floods of Indians into the tiny country where they scrape out an existence only slightly less meager than the one they had in India. Much to the chagrin of the Nepalis, who are left to wrestle them for jobs, resources, space. They’d rather the border be closed, or regulated much the way Bhutan and India have done.

The China-Nepal relationship is insteresting as well, from the 1700s when Nepal was forced to sign agreements of neutrality towart Tibet. Which carried into 1955 when China held Nepal to that neutrality. Which takes me to this article, reporting that Beijing has announced plans to build a train and tunnel under Mt Everest, through to Nepal. You might have to take that news with a grain of Himalayan rock salt about this size…

Him Salt

 

Because apparently (according the the same article) Beijing also announced that is was building a rail to the US across Siberia and Canada. Ahem. At least that’s what they’re reporting to their people.

But the thing I return to is the idea of being a tiny, neutral country in the midst of all the gigantic nationalism they’re surrounded by. That’s an interesting thing to think about. Because it’s easy to be the biggest, to assert your might and force those you’ve defeated to do things. It’s quite another to be able to live between those mighty behemoths and cut your own unique path.Map

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Traveling with Record Holders

Occasionally I stop and marvel at the turns I’ve traveled on life’s path, at the amazing people I have run across and worked with. Two years ago today I was in a car with five other people for eight hours on a thin and curvy Nepal road. The company wasn’t unremarkable. In 2012 Chhurim Sherpa became the first woman to summit Mt Everest twice in a single season. There was an Indian woman on her heels going for the same record, but, with a little support, in the way of supplies, Chhurim pulled it off and stood on the summit of Everest twice inside of a week. When I returned to Nepal I not only met her, but traveled with her for several days. We did some NGO work together at a school in rural Chitwan. And we had some fun, too. The combination of Diamox and malaria meds made us a little loopy. Thanks to Mary Beth for being my trusty travel partner and comedian all along the way.

Happy birthday, Chhurim! Climb on!

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Aerial Views of Shanghai and Stuff

Of all the places your stuff could be from, Shanghai ranks at the top. It’s the place where new things are packed into innumerable colored boxes bigger than your living room. Those suburban living room sized boxes are stacked by the thousands like Legos and sent floating on the great blue, half way around the world to your local box store.

I am a Story of Stuff person. Meaning, I subscribe to the thoughts they promote about mass production and the way we buy things. You should definitely watch the video above if you haven’t seen it, but I’ll Cliff Notes it for you as well: Make things better rather than make things more. You can’t make stuff (the stuff we buy, from running shoes to iPhones to TVs and party favors) the way we currently do and continue to survive on our Earth. It’s a linear system of production that relies on our planet’s resources too heavily to continue doing it indefinitely. We’ll mine, chop and harvest all our resources, leaving a barren, polluted world if we keep doing what we’re currently doing. So The Story of Stuff enlightens us to this and suggests that we buy less, buy smarter, reuse and quit thorwing things in the trash. Then be active about making manufacturers change the way they build things so we aren’t throwing out an iPhone every 13 months. Make things better rather than make things more. That’s the basic message. Because you’re wrecking the planet if you don’t. Ok, now back to photos of Shanghai and a few statistics that might explode your mind.

The first time I went to Nepal we flew over Shanghai just after sunrise. I wanted to see China from the air, specifically, the largest city in the world. Shanghai was estimated in 2013 to be just short of 24 million people. Population density of the city proper is 9,700 people per square mile (3,700 per square km). Kind of makes you wonder how many people would live in your house if it was in Shanghai, huh? The city proper contains more people than all of Taiwan. So while I didn’t know any of these numbers while I was flying over it, I knew it was huge, dense and intriguing. Why not see that with my own eyes, right? Here’s a photo I shot from 38,000 feet. [Click photos for larger view.]

Pretty stunning: a handful of towers on the lower left, factories on the right. Factories making stuff. My mind often thinks about what is being made in factories with white plumes coming out the stacks. I hope it’s really useful, reusable, green stuff, because while I’d like to believe that the photo quality is due to the airplane window, it’s more a result of the air quality. It’s seven miles of air we’re looking through here.

Here’s a photo I took a moment later of another section of Shanghai.

I was drawn to the colors (highly exaggerated here, they were pretty grayed out through the smog) and shapes, particularly the oil refineries – one on each river inlet – and the row of freighter docks in the upper right. There’s a park, too, and blocks and blocks of highrise dwellings. I studied the details of this photo for a while once I brought it home.

Tonight while I was perusing my old photos I ran across these pictures again and I wondered if this section of Shanghai was identifiable enough that I could find it on a map. Google Earth didn’t let me down. I found it immediately – the same section of the city that I’d photographed four years before.

The oil refineries made it easy (lower left and upper left). Then I noticed the water. Look what’s in the water in the upper right. Freighters. In this little clip below…

I counted 13 freighters in this little rectangle of water that Google captured. So I began to wonder about China exports and I looked up some numbers. Scale quickly becomes unimaginable, but I like to ponder my place in the world and the creation of stuff, so follow with me while I wrap my head around the scale of shipping in Shanghai…

Imagine for a minute a single box of size 8 shoes, fresh out of one of those factories in the first photo. It sits on a pallet, shrinkwrapped with stacks 10 boxes high by 10 wide by 10 deep of its identical neighbors. That’s one pallet of 1000 pairs of shoes. Now load the pallets a couple high and a couple wide in a cargo shipping container twenty feet long. You’ve probably seen these metal boxes even if you don’t live in a port city. They are the universal unit that massive quantities of stuff is shipped in. This metal box is known in the cargo industry as one TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit).

Now stack 10,000 to 18,000 TEU on a single cargo ship and push it into the Pacific, bound for the USA. Imagine all the stuff that lives in just one of those boxes, or just one of those ships. Seattle accepted 900,000 TEU in 2010 and shipped out just over half that number. (LA received almost 4 million TEU in 2010 and exported just short of 2 million.) Shanghai became the first port to ship out over 30 million TEU, which it first did in 2011. Singapore is a half million TEU behind, in second place.

If you want more statistics, there are about 17 million container boxes in the world and five to six million are in transit at any time. I get stuck on little things sometimes, so I also thought, if Seattle, LA and the rest of American ports accept twice as many full containers as they send (because we are the best. consumers. ever.), then we ship out half a million empty containers every year out of Seattle alone. Sending boats around the planet with nothing in them? What a waste!

But wait! (Insert 2 am tv sales voice here.) There’s more waste! Also, 90% of the world’s goods are transported by ship and about 10,000 container boxes are lost at sea and according to this article, occasionally one of these lost containers has toxic chemicals (pesticides, industrial cleaners) end up in the world’s oceans and poison the fish you probably eat. And so, as I think through statistics, which are way more interesting to me than RBIs and OBP (due respect to baseball) I wish for less stuff. I hope you do too.

I still like the view of Shanghai from 37,000 feet, though and I hope to pass over it again some day soon. And I hope the air is cleaner next time. Until then, Here are my initial reflections of the first time I saw Asia from the air.

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Pigeons and Buddha

How many pigeons?
How long did it take you?
Did your eyes deceive you? 
(answer below)
(Don’t count the tiny chunk of a tail on the far left)
Did you count ten?

There are eleven pigeons. I looked at this image (it shows up on my computer desktop frequently) for about a year before I saw the eleventh pigeon. Maybe because I was busy looking at the marvelous instead of the mundane. But the other day my 9-year old told me, “I wish people could fly.” He meant like a bird, not in a machine. Like a pigeon. Not like a million pound jet airplane. Because it seemed more marvelous to him. And I love double checks like that because then I have to go back and decide what is mundane and what isn’t. Nothing in this photo is mundane, as far as I’m concerned. Neither is the million pound jet that takes me there.

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Water (Garden) Park

The first full day in Bali, we toured a tropical botanical water gardens. I tiptoed through acres of flora I’d never met before. Glorious mists permeated the warm air. There were waterfalls and sweet little rattan tables with umbrellas, tons of food (we had someone crack open a fresh coconut for us) and fruity drinks and… and… waterslides. Okay, so we were at a waterpark. (It’s a family vacation after all.) But I preferred to think of it as a botanical garden, which was easy since the place was bursting with colors and giant leaves and butterflies. I was a fan of just laying in a tube on the lazy river. It passed under real banyan trees and palms and banana trees in climates that actually allowed them to flourish naturally. Novel for the waterparks I’m familiar with. The flora was covered in this post, so on to my people-watching escapades. 

Aussies make up the lions share of Westerners here (Darwin is just a two-hour flight), and based on today’s survey, they aren’t far from Americans for girth. Often found over-baking in direct sun (Aussie lobsters, anyone?) in scant swimwear a few sizes too small. Their general tourist antics included hovering at the edge of the swim-up bar for a few too many and seeing how much of the path they could coat in the contents of their stomachs. I think it was their spring break week or something. Or one can hope. On the flip side, about half of the attendees were locals, or at least Indonesian/Islanders. So many petite, gorgeous, golden bodies in swimwear. Not far off of my perfect (Magnum PI) vision of Hawaii, really. Thinner, with more tattoos. And quite possibly the ultimate human contrast to the specimens of Australia we saw. I’m not a tat person, but one Balinese man, bronzed and sinewy, had Hindu gods inked all over – Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesh. All in monochrome except hints of red. It covered his chest, shoulders, upper arms and back in incredible detail. And on his shin: Jerry Garcia smoking a joint (to match?). Yes, I was staring, but I was on the lazy river and, well, he was nice to look at. As Indonesia is a Muslim country, (Bali holds its ground as the only Hindu island of the archipelago), I also learned what a Muslim swimsuit looks like: Full coverage, much like full rain gear, but closer fitting… and it works. And was interesting enough that I took it in with my eyes rather than from behind my camera.

I spent most of the day floating on the lazy river under giant fig trees, hibiscus, plumeria and so many flowers I’d never seen before. There were even giant bees to match – about 2 inches long. But the sheer numbers of new flora was beaten out (narrowly) by the plethora of new foods I ate for the first time that day: fresh passion fruit, mangosteens (man, those are heaven!), Indonesian fried rice, traditional Balinese chicken something, achars, chutneys and salsas that I can’t even begin to describe effectively, spicy avocado gazpacho, Indonesian curried lamb, two bitter veggies I couldn’t identify, and, get this, beef bacon. Who knew you had to travel to a Hindu island (where cows are sacred?) to be offered beef bacon.

The little guy with a fresh passionfruit

But I still perfer to think of it as a tropical water garden. With food and tattoos.

Posted in Bali, gardens, travel, tropical, vacation, Water park | Leave a comment