Showing posts from March, 2013

Bali, Part 1: In Search of Sand, Sea and Sun

As our plane touched down in Denpasar, Bali, I thought back to the conversation I had with a fellow traveler I met in Dimakya Island, Philippines. I asked that traveler what was her favorite place that she had visited. I had hope that her answer would be in the context of a place of unexplored natural surroundings, no signs, no street lights, pristine waters, breaking waves and white sandy beaches like “Dimakya Island!” But her answer was Bali. That was the reason for my trip. I had to see for myself a place more beautiful than Dimakya Island - a paradise island.     I followed my fellow passengers who seemed to know where to go to pay the $25.00 visa fee before making our way through customs. Are they seasoned travelers or returned vacationers to Bali? I wondered. The area before customs was lined with rows of tour brochure display racks and stands. Immediately outside the customs area I found rows of money exchange stalls with clerks extending their arms through the wi

Photo Essay: Bali, Indonesia - Reflections

I came to Bali with a preconceived notion consistent to those featured in both classical and popular novels - a tropical paradise, mystical, with an amazing unique culture and perfect artistic light.  I found the later to be literally true.  (I'm not a photographer, not even an amateur. I took the following photos using an I-phone4s, thus, leaving the photographic manipulation to Apple's iOS program and Bali's perfect artistic light ). I also observed the strong mystical connection that the Balinese have with nature.  Water, in particular, seems to be central to the Balinese culture.  All the temples I visited were by the sea, by the lake or had man-made ponds. #1 Sunrise Sunrise offers unbelievable colors.   I took a photo once in Puerto Vallarta where a big round bright orange was silhouetted by a palm tree.    I tried to capture a similar scene and to catch the silhouettes of densely packed palm trees at the back of Conrad in Nusa Dua, Bali.   But I was su


CHIANG MAI FLAVORS, PART 1: G O D FOR A DRINK I feel like a stranger feeling at home at the Brown Rice Organic Bistro. In many ways, BROB feels like a perfect expression of Berkeley, California gourmet ghetto. It's a small place, with no fancy d├ęcor, with an open-air patio that faces a busy street. It has 3 medium size tables, and two 'khan toke' (low round tables made of wood to hold a plethora of dishes). It's always filled with tourists who seemed like they just came back from a meditation or yoga class or from walking their dog. It starts being special from the bar chalkboard menu. The smoothie menu on the chalkboard includes catchy labels like GOD (Green Oasis Drink), POT (Pineapple, Orange and Tomato), and CTOP (Carrot, Tomato, Orange and Pineapple). It also describes the type of nutrients that could be found in a serving of a fruit juice. For example, “Gac fruit juice has 12 times the amount of lycopene found in tomatoes or 10x the beta-carotene found in ca