Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Summer redux: Snaps from Ubud

We moved from the early morning muezzin calls and pre-Ramadan celebrations on the island of Java to Bali,  where daily rituals are steeped in Hindu culture. A few reasons why I loved Ubud:
  • Hindu culture and art in the daily offerings, which can be found lining the sidewalks
  • Frangipani flowers everywhere - dotted on the sidewalks, on the bed linens, everywhere!
  • Morning cups of tea with a view of the rice paddies and the family shrines below
  • Soursop and cinnamon jam on crepes (so good)
  • The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary (more on that later) and runaway monkeys
And most importantly, Ethan proposed while we were in Ubud, with a ring his late grandfather gave to his grandmother!  I was all tears.  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Summer redux: Java Island

Our summer began on the island of Java, which appears to be dotted with several Asian megacities, one of which was Jakarta.  Jakarta was huge and sprawling, with endless concrete and traffic.

One of my most vivid memories of Jakarta involved taking the commuter train into the central station:  As the train continued to inch forward, people pushed and shoved and jumped into the train compartment - no point waiting until the train is at a stop?  Once inside, you encountered constant movement as the train jostled - all forms of wares (cigarettes, magazines, juice, soda, clothing) were peddled in the aisles.  Meanwhile, a woman, with one child nestled to her bosom and two others trailing behind, swept the floor.  As the train worked its way through the city, young kids would jump up and out of the train compartment to sit on the roof of the train. 

After a few days in Jakarta, we moved east to Yogyakarta, home of Borobudur temple, a town that obviously likes birds because birds and bird cages were everywhere, including in our losmen (guesthouse).  Everyday, we woke to morning muezzin calls to prayer.  During our time there, pre-Ramadan celebrations were under way.   

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Summer redux: What I Ate

Indonesia: Ginger coffee, curries topped with chili and cilantro and other goodness, sate ayam and local delicacies at the corner warung . . .

Singapore: The hawker stands are incredible - Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, Indonesian dishes all under one roof!

India: Rajasthani cuisine, sugary Bengali treats, Nepali momos, Tibetan hearty soups, and too many cups of tea, too many plates of masala dosas and aloo parathas.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Gone, so gone.

Goodbye, summer vacation.  You were lovely. (I already miss you.)

We're in Bangkok, and we're apartment hunting, which means days pounding the pavement. Someone needs to stop me from drinking too many of these Thai iced coffees.  Crack coffee.

I'll report on my summer holiday soon.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Found while walking: Sikkim, India

One: Summer is slipping away.

Two: Sikkim, a tiny province in northern India, sandwiched between Nepal and Bhutan, is so gorgeous!  The Portlander in me is greedily drinking up the clean air and green hilltops - well, "hilltops," but more like mountains by our standards - that reach up and up as if to meet the eastern Himalayans.    

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center

One day in Darjeeling, we visited the Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center, which is a 20 minute walk from the main town, down a road that winds around the hillside.  In addition to a museum, the center houses a school, an infirmary, and various workshops for weaving, carpentry, etc.  A woman there gave me a lesson or two about natural dyes, which the center uses for its many woven goods.  
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