DC with Katrinka in Asia
Late 2013 through September 2014
Saunters 2 - from October 2014
Keep up with us in Asia by friending Katrinka on FaceBook. She take photos - Tell her cuke sent you.
See dc-misc-4 for other recent posts
Arrived in Singapore December 5th, Bali the 11th. Since then Kuala Lumpur on March 12th, Thailand the 15th, Japan April 2nd. Thailand till July 2nd then back to Bali where we can better afford to live. Details below.
9-30-14 - Best to use ATMs at a nearby bank when it's open. Going to Mandiri bank to get an ATM card that a machine ate on Sunday. Back. Just had to show ID. This is the 2nd time this has happened to us. First to Katrinka our 2nd day in Bali. That was a lot more trouble and worry. Now we know what to do and live closer to the bank's headquarters and didn't sweat it. Same bank: Mandiri which means "stand alone." I have a policy of keeping my eye on the card slot and my hand ready to grab the bit that sticks out but I got used to the BNI bank ATM which asks if you want to do another transaction. If I'd had my eye on the slot I'd have seen that the card was already out, but I had my eye on the screen waiting for the prompt that didn't come. Instead it just terminated and I heard the sound of the card being sucked back in. I hit Cancel to no avail. There's a number on machines to call and after talking to a few people was told to call the main Mandiri in Denpasar the next day, Monday, which I did and was told to call the next day at noon and now all is well. And while we were in the big town went to the big shopping center for locals, Tiara Dewata (Goddess? crown) I got some children's books in Indonesian to try to read. Too hard but interesting. Gotta go a few steps down toward infant reading material. Went there and back in Nyoman's clunky old bemo (like a VW bus with open side). This Nyoman, unlike the one mentioned yesterday, doesn't speak any English and we have fun communicating. Another day in paradise.
9-29-14 - An Aussie and Brit term for drunk is "blind." Phillip, the blind Brit next door, drinks Bintang, the local beer, rather continuously with his assistant Nyoman. Nyoman's main job it seems is to talk and drink with Phillip. The other day I expressed disbelief that Nyoman didn't know where RIMO was when Phillip had a computer problem. I said it's THE place in Denpasar for all thing computereque. Phillip said Nyoman only knew where to buy beer. They had me convinced it wasn't illegal to drive drunk till I looked into it. "OK," said Phillip. "It's not legal but you can take care of it on the spot. I don't think they pay the constables here." Phillip is married to a Bali lass and has been spending a few months or so a year here for a while and Nyoman's been helping him since the first. Nyoman's English has gotten so good I sometimes think that, from the sound of the banter coming from their side of the porch, another Brit is visiting Phillip. Nyoman helps me with Indonesian sometimes. Like the other day I couldn't get across to a driver named Gede the concept "looking forward to." He kept saying it was mencari which is "looking for." I told him my pocket dictionary said looking forward was mengnantikan but he said that means waiting for. Nyoman confirmed it also meant "looking forward to" before he knew that's what was in the dictionary. I told Phillip, "See, he's good for more than buying beer." Rebecca is a friend from Australia. She was on our porch and Phillip called through the wall of plants we've put up between us. She said, "Hi, I'm Beka." He said, "Good to meet you. I'm blind." She said, "Well maybe you should stop drinking for today." He said, "No, I'm really blind as in can't see." "Oh, I'm sorry," she said. "He'll be blind the way you meant it later," said Nyoman. "Me too."
9-28-14 - Mitsu Suzuki, Shunryu's widow, with DC back in April when Katrinka and I visited with her. This was a couple of weeks before her 100th birthday. That's her daughter Harumi in the background. Photo by Katrinka McKay.
click on thumbnail to enlarge or just go to her cuke page.
See this page for April 7th and 8th for report on that visit with Mitsu Suzuki, AKA Mrs. Suzuki, Suzuki Sensei, Okusan.
9-27-14 - Continuing from yesterday, Seth also noted that women here still can be seen carrying large loads on their heads - departing the market or just going down a sidewalk. Also - families on motorbikes like yesterday a daddy driving with mommy behind with baby and daughter behind her.
9-26-14 - Katrinka's son Seth leaving today after two weeks climbed Mt. Agung (not easy), loved the surfing, body-boarding, snorkeling (especially in Lombongan), loved how friendly and polite the people were, noticed the beautiful beach accented by the shiny, fit people from the personal trainers conference, empty restaurants that somehow stay open, the dense traffic flows well close together crossing passing etc harmonious where in America that density in such small an infrastructure would have jams and gunfights, says venders would do better if they didn't hassle people as much, some could make a good living selling beach sun chairs in a vender free zone, wonders why there are so few sea birds.
9-25-14 - The Rehearsal Room - Ran into Richard and a friend of his in line at a store and turned them on to Warung Kayu Api where they invited us out and then we turned them on to a driver we like whom they were quite pleased with, commenting on what a good driver he is. We agree, but to me that's the norm around here. It's also the norm for bule or foreigners to get stopped if they're driving a car or motorbike as mentioned several times before. Yesterday Seth was going surfing with Scott who got pulled over by a cop for stopping at a red light before turning left - they don't stop here. Cop wanted a million rupia ($84) but settled for 200,000 cause that's all they had. Scott called it getting a DWW - driving while white.
9-24-14 - I'm not a soda drinker but found it interesting to hear that some soda drinkers here preferred the Cokes here to those in the US because in the US they use corn syrup and here it's sugar. And then the conversation went to how diet drinks are far worse than sugar sodas - cause more weight gain and diabetes. We drink fruit juice here with no sugar both fresh and packaged and the latter, even though it's all natural isn't supposed to be that good an idea. Mainly eating the whole fruit is the thing to do. Plenty of that around here.
9-23-14 - Water rafting today with Katrinka and her son Seth - class three, not scary, lots of fun, and beautiful jungle. Here's the site for the folks who do it. One thing I thought about was how non-authoritarian our raft captain was and same in other endeavors in SE Asia - gentle reminders, no drama, smiles.
9-22-14 - Looking at a kids book with maps of the provinces and islands of Indonesia. - posted in dc misc 4
9-21-14 - It's getting warmer.
9-20-14 - When we were departing Malaysia last time (where we went because we have to leave Indonesia every two months) there was no one else in line so there were two immigration officers to take care of us. I made some comment about us being the only ones there and one of them said that's because all the planes were grounded and none could take off till later that day. I said, "Really?" He said, "No Just kidding," and laughed. I told him he was the only immigration officer from any country that I'd ever heard crack a joke.
9-19-14 - Talking to old-timers here and people who've lived in third world countries there are those who contend not only that people were happier before progress, but that they were wealthier. Our driver Ketut tells me sometimes how troubled he is. He's got three properties to make payments and build on, three vehicles to keep up, children to educate. Seems to me that the world economic system tends to emphasize short term profit for investors and maximum growth rather than emphasizing the welfare and happiness of human beings or even the survival of the human race.
9-18-14 - Heard some good paranormal stories today.
Katrinka's son is visiting. He worked in a restaurant in Bend, OR, for years as a chef. There were stories of a ghost in the basement that he discounted but he noted that a senior employee refused to go there alone. He kept finding the door to the walk-in freezer open and kept telling employees not to do that. Then one day he asked who'd left if open and no one confessed so he said he was going to check the security video and fire whoever did it if they don't confess now. No one did. He checked the video which was from a motion sensitive camera. He saw employees come and go, opening and closing it and then to him approaching the door which was open - the camera didn't catch it being opened. I asked him if he kept the video. Nope. I think it would have been worth something.
Bali Bill who's lived here most the time for 43 years, married to a Bali woman for 39 of that, said that when someone dies, the family goes to a balian or shaman. He said he never believed in life after death before but now he's used to experiences such as the following. His Bali brother-in-law died and before the cremation, the balian, a woman who didn't know the deceased, went into a trance and, speaking in the voice of the brother-in-law sent a consoling message and described how he wanted to be dressed for the cremation. I remember a yellow sash around his waist. Bill's son died last year. He was only 37 but had a weak heart from rheumatoid fever. Bill had noted a short life-line on his son's palm when he was born. Drawing from the Tibetan Book of Liberation through Hearing (book of the dead), Bill had told his son to go toward the white light or white cloud. After his son's death Bill went to a balian who went into a trance, grabbed Bill's arm just as his son had, and said, "It's just like what you told me, Dad." Bill felt it was his son holding his arm.
9-17-14 - Going to play tennis again tomorrow morning. One court on the top floor of swank Hotel Paradise Plaza a pleasant walk from our place. Mainly played in teen years, then some in the late eighties, and hit a bit with Clay when he was ten or so. Had said I'd hobble over after putting my knee brace on. Four of us just hit and could keep the ball in play okay. Didn't totally disgrace myself. Wasn't crippled afterwards which is a good sign. Was amazed every time got a ball over the net.
9-16-14 - Two marriages.
Played tennis Monday morning with three men who've been around here a while, one of them for 43 years. His name is Bill and he's sometimes called Bali Bill. He's from England. He's been married for 39 years to a woman from the Bali royal line. They had to elope and get hitched before they were caught for it to work. Her mother had tried to get married outside of caste and she and her husband to be were caught by her uncle just before a Hindu priest did the rites. As a result the groom was banished and the bride had to marry another man she didn't know. Both marriages lasted the test of time.
9-15-14 - There are taxis, SUV size transport, and run-down old VW bus-like bemo with a large open double door that operate like buses picking people up and dropping them off up and down a well-traveled street. Yesterday Nyoman, an older guy we like a lot who doesn't speak English which is good for learning more Indonesian, drove Katrinka and me to the big, fancy mall - Matahari Galleria (Sun Gallery) in Kuta. We'd never been there. It's super posh like KL but more beautiful with a spacious garden courtyard. I got some Nike walking shoes there at ouch American prices - the most expensive thing I've bought in a long time. She got some too. On the way home we dropped by a place at the other end of the spectrum - pemulang as Nyoman called it - from pulang meaning to return. It's a recycling place with a handful of people working and it was full of giant bundles of paper and cardboard. Nyoman gave them a box of bottles and cans. He took plastic containers and butane cans. I told the guy I was a recycling fanatic, had started a recycling center in San Francisco, hated to just throw stuff out and he said good - give it all to me. He said he'd take anything including plastic bags. Nyoman said there are many such places and he'd take whatever we came up with. I find that hard to believe and will wait to see if it's just positive talk which is quite possible. Nobody much seems to think about this. In the place we were last (northern hemisphere) winter we put stuff like this out on the street but where we are now it's all thrown out together and the help there didn't register when I asked about recycling including aluminum cans which are valuable. I guess the trash gets gone through. I read an article back then and posted to it that gave me the impression there was only one little operation going but I guess that's just one that goes to hotels and picks it up and so forth - and they charge so that won't go far. Must learn more about this.
9-13-14 - We don't worry about things getting stolen here like some countries. It can happen though. Shane who's been in Indonesia for decades as a forester lost a new Mac in his locked room. Suspected an inside job. We are friends with our landlords and cleaners whom we feel are on our side. We returned from a morning walk the other day to learn we'd left the door wide open. Wayang who works here had locked it for us. Still we didn't feel like we'd take a big chance. I feel as in Japan that people are basically honest. But in some of the more swinging tourist places we read there are pickpockets and one has to be more careful. I noticed that Krishna, a 22 year old local half-Aussie who lives here and helps run the new family restaurant Annapurna, lect his laptop on a table for hours by the sidewalk where a passer-by could snatch it. Mentioned on 7-21 a Ukrainian woman left her iPhone on the table of a restaurant. Didn't follow up by telling that when she went back the next day the manager had it for her. Don't worry about people seeing money. Put the biggest bills on the outside and hide the smallest as am more worried about running low on small bills than someone wanting the big ones. (see post of 8-07 below). Still, we're careful - Trust in Allah but tie your camel.
9-12-14 - Another Bali film from 1932.
9-11-14 - Was reminded in the Bali Advertiser today how good the weather is here. It's been perfect for months. Going to get a little hot now but never too hot for too long I hear. I didn't expect it to be so good. An American who's been here since the seventies said this is an unusually cool dry season. They don't say winter and other seasons here - just wet and dry.
Another plus is being able to swim every day which I do quickly in ten laps after yoga in the hotel pool next door which we can use. And a real plus is not experiencing the excess of chlorine we get in the States due, I'm sure, to overzealous health departments. No eye burn or even irritating odor - just enough to keep it clear. And then there's the ocean which is always just right.
But I spend a lot more time at this computer than anything else. Just did days of maintenance. Nice place to do it though.
9-10-14 - One product Katrinka has noticed in Asian countries is all the skin lighteners, whitening creams, in the pharmacies and health and beauty emporiums. Many dark women from Asia want to be lighter and many light women from the West want to be darker.
9-09-14 - A note from Katrinka to DC sister Susan who just returned to US from visiting us.
Yes, Seth (Katrinka's son) arrives this coming Sunday and I am quite excited about it. Its been nearly a year since I have seen him so this is an event! And so much has happened in that time for both of us.
David [our landlords are Widya and David] has finally been able to fix the toilet in your apartment where Seth will also stay. It took him days, very Bali. Apparently the seal or some such had corroded hence the leak. The smell has gone, of course. Lingley has gone as well, back to Australia to address her medical issues, alleviating the cigarette smoke smell coming through the vents. Milky the Dog still hangs around looking for her, but Milky does have a home. The mangy dog guy no longer comes by but I do see him strutting down Jalan Tamblingan, hair growing back and looking fit. The antibiotics and food L gave him quite worked. Sometimes he follows me for a bit, either from memory or detecting the sucker, but moves on after our greeting and my subsequent admonishments!
Our daily routine has somewhat returned. Wish I had not been so absorbed [with a fundraising event for the Lighthouse Bali] when you were here but it did give you and D lots of time together. I am cooking more again and enjoying that. I have discovered fresh dill from the Sunday Organic Farmers' Market so am using that in everything. Fortunately we like it and it perks up the vegs, fish etc. Usually only only use it in one thing for one meal though so as to not over amp.
Bought a few traditional textiles from Jeny's and have placed them about the apartment on a chair and couch, moving the Thai silk elephant cover to the bed. Gave one to Ben at Annapurna which he proudly uses on the dinner buffet table for music nights. D says he will get up and perform there one evening....a few of his 1400 original songs!
Just started "The Art Forger". Am up for a page turner now. The Bali book, "Earth Dance", was intriguing [lots of info on women in Bali culture] but strangely lacking in cohesion. Will walk, swim, do yoga and go uptown to meet friends.
Give our love to Don and Camille, and especially to you
DC comment: I told Katrinka that to the Bali woman's book "strangely lacking in cohesion" is a typical Western reaction to a lot of Asian writing. We have that programming for logical formulas like beginning, middle, end - thesis, antithesis, synthesis, 1,4,5 in the music - expecting resolution. Editorials in Japan used to drive me nuts - I sometimes felt like they just trailed off in the middle.
9-08-14 - Check out this wonderful film by Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead
Trance and Dance in Bali - thanks Michael Katz (who worked with Gregory Bateson and brought him to the SFZC where he spent a lot of time and passed on)
9-07-14 - I'm no good at bargaining. Remember back in 88 in Thailand would walk into store, choose what I wanted, indicate it to Kelly who was 14 then, walk out and let him haggle. I remember saying I was looking for "pants" and creating giggles because that's used for underwear in a lot of places with trousers the English for what we call pants in US. Here in Bali to keep in bartering shape I force myself to insist on a low price say with a driver - and then after they agree, give more, maybe even what they wanted. To get rid of mounting change today I asked if a cashier would give me bills for it which they won't always do and when he did so, left it as the tip. - DC
Bamboo homes and the Green School - CBS report - thanks Susan
9-06-14 - If you liked yesterday's link to the 1944 Bali film, try out the 20s. Wonder why they don't film men? Bali women, incidentally, aren't so available for dating like in Thailand. I hear that if you see an unmarried Indonesian woman and Western man here, it's likely she's from Java or another part of Indonesia. This is a place for the women to date the local men and there is that. That's definitely the way it was 22 years ago. And now since Eat, Pray, Love, I understand the number of available Western women has increased.
9-05-14 - It's dangerous to generalize and to compare. I just know what I experience and comparing my experience here in Bali now with 22 years ago and generalizing, everyone seems more sophisticated. Back then a young employee named Ketut would come sit in my lap to talk to me. Employees would nap in the open when there was nothing to do. They crowded before the TV to watch a Hindu drama in the afternoon. It's like we're a little more the same now. Obviously the life here is speeding up due to Western influence. Same in other countries around here too. Of course I mainly deal with people who deal with foreigners so that has to be taken into account.
Bali before the Japanese occupation - a year before - on Youtube - Even back then the roads looked good. They're pretty good now too.
9-04-14 - Open mike at Annapurna in Sanur with buffet pay what you want. We've eaten there a number of times recently. They call it soul food but that's Bali soul food, not US. High quality eats and music. Cool people. Here's their Facebook page.
Talked with a Swede there last night who does some import export. He mentioned getting about four thousand dollars worth of something shipped to Bali. It was late so he went to the port at Surabaya about 400 kilometers away. The first person he asked about it said that it would be hard to find. He kept getting answers like that so he talked to the dock captain who said he remembered that shipment and that the Swede could have it for a 100 million rupiahs (about twice what it cost). He gave up, said you have to go through a local company that will guarantee - that shipping a container on your own is not a good idea. He said they see it as a gift. Wherever you are, gotta learn the rules of the road.
9-03-14 - We're back in Bali with new visas so we can stay here for sixty days - with a pesky renewal after thirty. Just more ways for them to squeeze money out of us. When you arrive you have to pay $35 (just up from 25) entrance fee - that's in US dollars. It's hard to get the thirty day renewal for less than $60 and not worth the trouble usually to try to save on that. Our Aussie friend Rosemary went to East Timor cause she has in-laws there and immigration there wanted a US dollar entrance fee and she had none but they had an ATM that had them and it ate her card. It took her the rest of the day to get in. Monday in KL (Kuala Lumpur) we went to high tea at a woman' house. She was giving an air conditioner to the school where we stay. The couple who run the school and their kids were there as was Wai who started the school and her young son. I wish I could describe the treats. Mainly Chinese but some Malay and rose apple slices from Australia that were so sweet and fragrant. And no tea - water and fruit juice. Yum.
9-02-14 - There is much variety of dress for Muslim women from casual with no indication they're Muslim to full burka which I've only seen in airports a few times. What's the difference between a hijab, niqab and burka? - BBC. One thing I do notice is the contrast when a woman in Muslim swim wear which covers most of the body and a man in swim trunks are on the beach and in the water, frequently with children, a baby. And then there's a scene like seen at Bali airport two women covered but for the eyes in beautiful attire, both the same, light brown with dark brown accents, with two men in tee shirts and Bermuda shorts.
9-01-14 - Kuala Lumpur - Here for a few days to renew Indonesian visa. All I know is the great food, endless multistory shining malls with almost everything imaginable - cool and good for walking around in, lots of traffic on endless freeways, wonderful hosts. The radio station we're listening to emphasizes promoting a moderate Malaysia. Compared to Bali it's like being in Europe. It's also humid and never cool so get out early to stroll around. Eleven years ago stayed in a backpacker place, went to the Reggie Bar, and played pool with Africans, walked around the Petronas Towers, then the tallest buildings in the world. It's so cool this time can use Indonesian here if they don't speak English which most do. Today needed an ATM and was told to go to Petronas. Thought they meant the tall buildings far away but that's the name of an oil company and they just meant a nearby service station. At the station laughed at the sign above where cars park to get water and air (for free). It reads Angin & Air. The Angin means air and the Air means water. I think they should call air Water to make it even.
8-31-14 - Selamat Hari Merdeka – Malaysia Independence Day 2014
As they did with Indonesian Independence day recently, Google featured a Malay artist to recognize this day.
Susan my sister flew back to Oakland after a great two weeks visiting us in Bali and we flew to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for a few days. Have to leave Bali every sixty days. We return Tuesday and get new Visas on arrival. A savvy driver friend told us he knew someone who would fix it so we didn't have to leave next time. I'll do that if immigration says it's okay but not if it's a sneaky thing. In 2003 I had lunch one day in a little corner Bangkok restaurant and was joined by a US guy from another table who said he'd just gotten out of three days in jail for doing that there and was being kicked out of the country. Didn't matter that the place that stamped his passport was one of many that advertise prominently. He said that there was no room to lie down in the jail cell which was full of people of all ages including little children, unsanitary conditions, food and water below his standards. Anyway, we're in KL now staying in our engaged Buddhist friends' school in a suburb. It's Independence day. We missed the parade. Had a great dim sum breakfast a few blocks away though.
8-30-14 - A couple of days ago mentioned the ubiquitous bribe scene with motorbikes and cops here in Bali. Lovely landlady Widya said that foreigners come here and drive without licenses and disregard laws and sure it's wrong for a motorcycle cop to take a bribe but it's a lot easier than having to go pay a fine or meet a judge. She and her hubby David had an English school. She said that it took them six months to get all the permits, that nine different government agencies came to inspect, that immigration carefully checked the teachers. There was too much bureaucracy but never a hint of a bribe. And on the other other hand, a large new large local hotel was built despite the ban (which I'm not at all clear on) on new hotels (which are junking the place up). A newspaper report said that the police chief went there to see what's up and said something like What can I do? They had all the right permits. They also had a petition approving of the construction signed by neighbors who said they never signed anything. Adding up all the clues here.
8-29-14 - Just re-read this story named Loosing Balance cut from Thank You and OK! which means it was written over twenty years ago. I'm not sure if the names in it are the same as the ones used in the book.
It's interesting to me now that the strongest memory I have of that accident is in the line "Angels assisted my automatic pilot." The normal self disappeared, time slowed down so incredibly, and a more reliable and skillful mind took over seemingly calculating the exact best position for landing. I was amazed I hadn't broken any bones. It was surely at least a six foot fall onto concrete only padded with a thin film of slime.
That was 1991. In 2004 I did a number of long days of high weed mowing after which my left shoulder arched and I couldn't lift it far or sleep on it. I'd been walking behind a hefty mower with power to the wheels going counter clockwise and every time I came to a corner I had to use a lot of left shoulder muscle to turn the thing to the left. Eleven years later the shoulder is much better thanks to yoga but it's still limited. John Tarrant told me not long after it happened that it's common for people not to identify the root cause of a disability. I thought about that now and then and came to see source of my shoulder problem being that fall in Japan.
I looked for this story in the deep recesses of my little Zenbook because of a bicycle trip I took recently in Bali. Toward the end we went through some rice fields and the guide warned us that if we fell over we'd get muddy. I recalled the accident in Japan and told myself to stay alert. The path was cement and about a foot and a half wide and it winded around here and there. I noted that to fall in some places might do more harm than just getting muddy. It got a little hairy a couple of times and then it happened - going rather slowly around a corner - oh no, not again - I fell over to the left side. I didn't know what was going to happen - there was no rice field below. It was heavily covered in foliage shoulder high. Was I going to fall through it into mud or what? Yes there was time for those thoughts and more. My shoulder entered the greenery and immediately pressed up against and embankment. I pushed my arm against the solid earth there, righted myself, and rode on. It was the only place like that on the rice field path, the only safe place to fall over.
8-28-14 - Hear that doctor's can buy licenses here. Not corroberated. We wonder about the new doctor who's set up shop nearby and stands out looking for customers like shopkeepers and taxi drivers. He seems like a nice guy though.
8-27-14 - On the bicycle trip yesterday passed some motorbiking tourists who'd been stopped by police. That's a sort of tax on riding motorbikes here. People I've talked to who ride those things around in the countryside or anywhere say they carry 50,000 rupiah bills ($4.25) to give to the cops who stop them so they can ride on. Doesn't matter what they did, usually nothing. Also rode by rice drying on tarps on the roads. These were not heavily traveled roads but there were some cars, motorbikes, trucks, and where there was rice drying the road was reduced to one lane. Only a few dogs barked at us which was good. 22 years ago I think there would have been lots.
8-26-14 - Went with my sister Susan today on a bicycle trip today from Kintamani to Ubud, almost all downhill past beautiful scenes, rice field terraces, orange groves, small villages on small roads. Susan road in the follow-up vehicle part of the way and was fascinated talking to the driver. He stopped briefly at his home and rice field - in the family for generations - and introduced her to his wife and baby. He told her Bali people pay land and vehicle tax but no income tax. School is not free. The majority of people still support themselves with agriculture. They eat rice three times a day and grow it all - three crops a year. He's studying English to get a better job. Here's one company that does these tours. Here's another with a good view of Kintamani.volcano, last eruption 1994.
8-25-14 - Looking for a small low table to sit on the floor and work at, went into a little furniture shop. The proprietress wore a head scarf. One can address all Balinese the same but sometimes I like to use the universal Muslim greeting so I said, "Assalamu Alaikum" (May peace be upon you). She responded with the customary, "Wa Alaikum Assalaam" (May peace be upon you too) and gasshoed (bowed, hands together). I reciprocated. I was glad to see that. I'd heard from a Java man that different Muslims use different gestures and that Bali Muslims bow hands together but people just bow sometimes here so I wasn't sure if I'd seen Muslims do it. Where I'd been in India they definitely don't gassho - there it's for Hindus. That reinforces my sense of Bali as fairly easy going. You can gassho anytime here to anyone and it's natural and good vibes. You can put your hand over your heart here in greeting with anyone too. Come to think of it I recall doing that with anyone in India too but I'm not completely sure. It's one of those topics I'll bring up with more experienced people. A lot of things depend on exactly where you are and who you're with. There's also some hand shaking and two hand holding, a warm greeting I guess from the West. I think it may be best for people not to touch each other in greeting though as a way not to spread unwanted bugs in an overcrowded world.
8-24-14 - Visited a traditional pre-Hindu village here in Bali. Guide pointed out tubes in a tower to be hit to call people or to announce. Might have been large bamboo sections. Later we heard five hits. He said that means someone just died in this village.
8-23-14 - Should I even mention that my sister Susan, Katrinka, and I went to the White Sand Beach yesterday - Pantai Pasir Putih - a short bit after Candidasa (remember c is pronounced ch). It's a pristine beach of a couple hundred yards I estimate with little development and nice not very challenging waves. Never too many people. Best to park up top and walk down as the road is a bit rocky. Candidasa once had nice beaches but locals took all the coral away from the reef and the beaches washed away.
8-22-14 - Indonesia backs president-elect amid protests - Many of the demonstrators are paid rent-crowd groups or professional protestors, bussed in to give the appearance of a public outcry (This observation from Australia News).Everyone I've talked to in Bali who is happy populist Joko Widodo won and were apprehensive about the bad loser, Prabowo Subianto, a former general with a record of human rights abuses from the Suharto dictatorship. A good day for Indonesia.
8-21-14 - Seeking noble beings who want Verizon accounts. We've got three we want to transfer to others. Verizon Crisis. Katrinka, son Clay, and I are all three in a Verizon contract that we can't get out of and none of us are using the accounts at all. Katrinka and I are in Asia for an undetermined while and Clay uses a phone he buys minutes on and his iPhone for music and wireless. We're at the end of how much we can suspend service. They gave us 30 more days today for the three lines after which time we can start paying about $200 a month or terminate the contract for $780 or find people who want Verizon accounts whom we could then transfer our accounts to (not the phone numbers). I've also thought of writing a letter to a top exec expressing our desire to keep our Verizon accounts and wishing they were more flexible so we could use them when we're in the US and suspend when we're out, pointing out we're long time customers. If you can help with this please email dchad at cuke dot com. Thanks. DC
8-20-14 - Four day Sanur Village Festival in the field across the tiny street opening ceremony tonight. The rehearsal music for the last couple of days has sometimes seemed to be coming from inside our place. Here we go.
8-19-14 - Satvika Bhoga is a small food store on Jalan Hantua in
Sanur with a big ORGANIC sign out front. We've gone there now and then to
get brown and red rice, almond milk, and other stuff. The owner, Depak, is
from Java. His parents were Hindus who fled what is now Pakistan when it
split off from India. They went to another Muslim country, but one where
they weren't in danger. His brand of Hinduism is Advaita Vedanta. I said I
revered Ramana and Nisargadatta, two great 20th century Advaita gurus. He
taught me how to pronounce Advaita - with the V sounding like our W and
introduced me to the guru he followed, Shri Adi Shankaracharya, and to
There are of course lots of other links for Shri Adi and Chinmaya
- posted in Saunters
8-18-14 - My sister Susan is in the air, on her way to Hong Kong and from there to Bali. After eleven days here she returns to Gulag America and we go to Kuala Lumpur for a few days before returning here as bule (foreigners) on tourist visas can only stay for sixty days. Gonna be pretty busy till that return on the 2nd of September but will valiantly continue posting as well as eye can.
8-17-14 - Selemat Hari Kemerdekaan! Happy Indonesian Independence Day! - from the Japanese who immediately turned over their swords - a thousand or more staying to fight with the Indonesians against the Dutch which took another four years. Google recognizes it today.
8-16-14 - The Bali wife of the Englishman has moved in next door. Hubby not here yet. She's on the porch been going on in Balinese with a Bali man who I think is their assistant here or maybe a driver they use sometimes. Katrinka commented on how she likes to hear Balinese which sounds much different from Indonesian which is the trade language used to speak to non Balinese speakers, mainly other Indonesians.
8-15-14 - Moved today from our two bedroom to a one bedroom place next door - for two months till we move back and get to keep it for longer. A blind Englishman and his Bali I think wife are coming for her to get invitro fertilization. Also hear he drinks a lot and gets loud. We'll see. Here there's only one burner, the fridge is smaller, and there's less hanging space and so forth. David the landlord, another Brit, put in a bum spray by the toilet god bless him. Anyway, sort of busy putting stuff up. The art on the walls is modern not all to our liking so we got some traditional ikat runners for a few bucks each to cover some of them and will continue along those lines little by little. Hope he's not offended.
8-14-14 - Is it the tropics? I rubbed myself wrong below both knees and elbows from doing yoga for sure when we were in Thailand and doing it on our yoga towels but not with the mats which we'd left in Bali. I had four sours then four scabs and now after about two months they've just about gone away. I started using aloe vera less than a week ago and that seems to have sped up the healing. Should have started doing that long ago. I don't think I've ever had anythings that minor took so long to heal.
8-12-14 - Favorite word in Indonesian: jendela (accent on the 2nd syllable). It means window.
Much the same as "cellar door" has been regarded for over a century in English. Check it out.
There also happen to be some pretty windows here.
My favorite thing in Bali is
the flowers that don't stop falling.
8-10-14 - MK just suggested Movie Joe even good with Nick Cage. I wrote: OK. I imagine we can own one for - wait - let me do the math - 13 for 100,000 (IDR - Indonesian Rupiah) and a 100,000 is now 8.50 = 65 cents. And we insist on "from DVD" not filmed in a theater. They can tell by looking at them. I should ask them what to look for to tell. I don't know if there's a way to legally buy movies here. Does that mean I might get five years and a $250,000 fine in all or that much for each infraction?
8-09-14 - As mentioned on the 4th, Katrinka's been volunteering for The Lighthouse Bali and is putting together a fundraiser, so we got a printer/scanner/copier (Canon - even cheaper than the US and ink cheaper too). Just translated a sticker on the side with help from Tuttle's Compact Indonesian Dictionary. It reads "Don't duplicate money" all around the edge and prominently in the center, Organization Fighting to Eliminate Counterfeit Money with a QR code. Darn. OK. Won't do.
8-08-14 - Poisonous Snakes in Bali
8-07-14 - One thing that differs from country to country is how bills and change flow. In some countries coins build up in your purse or pocket faster than others and same with small bills. There are coins here in Bali up to 1000 rupiah (8 cents) but you hardly need them. Small bills though do not amass well, tend to be in short supply. If you try to pay with exact change here every time you'll end up with no small bills dealing with taxis, stores, even restaurants that don't have enough either. I always give the biggest bill I can. Here I put the biggest bill on the outside for others to see whereas many places of course I'd do the opposite. Landlady Widya and I lamented that both our spouses politely try to pay the exact amount, using up their small bills. So if we buy something for 32,000 we give a 100,000 bill and if that's a problem we try a 50,000. Then only if they really can't make the change do we find, as necessary, the 20s, 10s, 5s, 2s, and sometimes 1s that we have hoarded. Katrinka and I also tend to round off to the other's advantage and tell them to keep the rest. The biggest bill here, the 100,000 is worth over $8 now. Japan's biggest coin is worth about $5. In Japan change is not a problem. You can buy gum with the equivalent of a hundred dollar bill. America is in-between. Lot of places don't want 100s. Change builds up in America pretty fast.
8-06-14 - It's windy. I love it. July and August are the windy months in Bali.
8-05-14 - I was walking a ways one night in Bangkok - past a lot of sidewalk action - all these little food and trinket stands and items for sale spread on cloth, people sleeping, gambling, chatting, through areas without all that, then crossing busy streets, back to our hotel by the river. I remembered once suggesting to my niece that she check out Asia and mentioned Bangkok and she said it seemed too dangerous. Then she moved to Washington DC. I remembered that walking through a dark area that night and thought that I'd feel safer there with money taped to the outside of my shirt in Bangkok than walking just about anywhere in cities back home. On the other hand it's always best for a woman not to walk alone in a lot of places in Asia. Katrinka feels safe walking alone here in Bali but I wouldn't let her walk alone in the daytime in India in places where there weren't a lot of people - like around the mountain, Arunachula, in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu. I'd stop what I was doing and join her. So after sending that note to my niece I started doing some research, and found lots of scary stuff about Thailand and Bali. Bangkok was listed as #7 on most dangerous cities and Washington DC as #8. Didn't make sense to me but obviously I only know so much.
Fugly Bali - lots of heavy stuff here
8-04-14 - Katrinka's been volunteering for The Lighthouse Bali, a drug and alcohol rehab center, doing a fundraising party for later this month. I'm giving a talk there today at 1pm on Zen. May they wash their ears in the sound of birds in trees and motor scooters on the streets. - dc
8-03-14 - Our landlady, Widya, was out yesterday to attend the 36th day ceremony for her newborn niece her husband, Brit David told me. He emphasized how deeply Bali culture gets ingrained in people here from the very start with no letup. I remember attending the tooth filing of our nanny in 1992. Had just picked up Kelly from the airport so he joined me as guests. Tooth filing now is sort of pretend, not sharpening the front teeth down to points like in the old days. Here's one article on tooth filing. Here's another. One article mentions that it may be symbolic but we think it's mainly symbolic now - that's what locals have told us. The one I saw 22 years ago only lightly scraped the girl's teeth. It's an important tradition but we don't see people with sharp teeth though I'm sure there are some, especially older ones.
8-02-14 - My favorite oil to use here is the indigenous coconut oil - that's what they call it - minyak (oil) kelapa (coconut) asli (original or indigenous). I used coconut oil at home and coconut butter but could find neither in either of the commercial markets we go to. So I buy it reused plastic drinking water bottles at the morning market. The one I liked best bought on the black sand beach in Lovina on the north side. Was talking as best I could to a couple of fishermen and an old woman came by with a bottle of it in her hand. She asked for about half of what I pay in the market here. Was in a home there talking to a man about how a possible home stay. Asked him what he did and he made a gesture like he was cranking a handle and said made coconut oil at his mother's. Haven't seen coconut butter but we get coconut cream which is great on fruit and anything.
8-01-14 - Katrinka McKay and DC on roof of Yasuyoshi Morimoto's building in Kyoto.
See Saunters posts below for 6-19, 6-23, and 7-06-14 for posts on
7-31-14 - Looking at kites in the sky. So many, some so big. Yesterday sitting in Japanese restaurant by sidewalk four guys walked by holding one. Lying in the pool looking at the sky usually see five or six, some so high Katrinka wondered if a plane might hit them and commented that kites probably don't have flight plans. Check out Bali Kite Festival and Google images for Bali kites.
7-30-14 - Ate too many candlenuts without first reading that it has to be thoroughly cooked to remove the poison and that even then it's a laxative. They look like macadamia nuts but have a slightly bitter taste. I was told at the market they were ground up to mix with spices, herbs for curries and thickening and wondered about eating them like other nuts. There were about a dozen of them in a cellophane envelope. Katrinka pan roasted them and I ate most at lunch. Good I don't like raw nuts. Felt a bit tight stomached later,insides not happy, a few trips to the toilet in the night and a couple today. The effect is gradually going away. I didn't know what it was called till last night when Katrinka returned from another upscale market with labels. Should have read this about it first.
7-29-14 - It rained this morning. It's not rainy season so it was especially welcome. As soon as it started I moved out to the porch to be near the sound, the smell, the sight of it. It cleans me like the air though I'm not in it. I check my urge to wish it continued all day out of sympathy for the many post Ramadan tourists.
7-28-14 - We have small geckos, an inch and two and three but last night amazed to see a gecko about ten or more inches on the wall when we got back. Wonder where it is now. Had a professor in Thailand in 88 show Kelly and me one about two feet long behind his stove on the wall. Said they're considered good luck. The small ones go geck geck geck and the big ones I've heard make eerie sounds. Here's a Q with a bunch of A about Bali gecko. Here are some gecko sounds - I've heard them louder and eerier than any of these but the first one is as loud as I've heard that type. Read on that page there are 65 species of geckos
7-27-14 - Ketut and I took a walk along a road a ways from here today while Katrinka was in a meeting nearby. Peeked into a family temple and a village temple - both more like courtyards with structures for sitting and offering. Walked by a village meeting hall, high roof, one wall. Came upon a rice processing place or maybe a rice drying place. Lots of flat cement area, one spot with rice still in husk spread out and raked into ridges like some Japanese sand garden. We said hi to the solitary worker washing some equipment. I went to the back wall and peered over it at rice fields and palm trees. Ketut was talking to an old man and woman who were sitting in a weighing area. As we walked off he said that they were talking about why all the workers are gone. It's Sunday but that doesn't mean anything to most people here. It's because of the Muslim holiday. Laughing, Ketut said that the owner hires workers from Java because Balinese are mostly Hindus and they get off at least once a month for a ceremony whereas with Muslims it's just once a year.
7-26-14 - Tomorrow's the last day of Ramadan. Bali is about 12% Muslim. We're near a mosque. There were a lot of Muslims at the beach down near the mosque about an hour after sunrise - walking into the water to get on boats. That's how one gets on boats around here - like to get to the nearest island, Lombongon. From what we've read it gets real busy after Ramadan and it's better not to get too adventurous. Indonesia expects 500 road deaths. We weren't planning to go far anyway. Katrinka got the lowdown on different greeting gestures for Muslims from different parts of Indonesia. In a lot of India they put their hand on their heart she learned. I've done that with Hindus too. I like that. She was told in Bali they put their palms together. I wondered about that. In India I was careful not to bow like that to people who might be Muslims. But this is gassho paradise. Japan isn't. Thailand a little. At ZC it can be sort of forced. Here it's natural, ubiquitous.
7-25-14 - Sending this to my sister Susan who's coming next month and Katrinka's son Seth who's coming in September.
The main words that I've found are helpful in Indonesia are:
Selamat pagi, siang, sore, and malam (Good morning, mid-day, later day, and eveing.
Terima kasih - thanks (receive love)
Tidak - no
Tidak terima kasih - no thanks - to those offering you massage, transport, look my shop?
Jalan jalan - taking a walk - as you're offered transport or sometimes they say taxi.
Apa kabar? How are you? [literally: What's the news?]
Baik - Good. or, in response, Baik, dan anda? - Good, and you?
7-24-13 - This sentence from the article in the NY Times linked to yesterday caught my attention:
That's so misleading. Of course there's lots of poverty, especially in other parts of Indonesia, but without factoring in the cost of living - and that's the cost of living for poor people - it's no more useful than saying 25,000 IDR a day. I tried to see what the cost of living was but everything I found on the Internet was for well-off people and tourists. I recall a rickshaw runner in Kokatta saying in 2003 if he could just make 150 rupies a day he could get by. That's about 2.5 dollars back then. I've mentioned this before - Ketut Artana here in Bali gets about $4 a day and sometimes more when he gets more customers as a driver. He's planning for a second home near Singaraja where he comes from and aims to move from his present one in Denpasar when the ten year lease is up to another he hopes to own with a bank loan. His 15 year old daughter goes to the school next door and wants to be a doctor. He brought her over on his motorbike before he went to run on the beach. He said he could drive our friend in a couple of days when his SUV gets out of the shop. Homeless in America seem to have it worse to me than those I've seen in Asia who usually have culture, religion, families. But of course poverty and the wealth gap is an enormous problem world wide. It can be seen as a crime.
Here's the Consumer Price Index by country. This looks better than the other sites I went to. The US in not near the top and Indonesia is near the bottom. Hmm. India's on the bottom. Maybe we should go back there next for a long while to stretch the bucks and keep on cuking.
7-23-14 - A Child of the Slum Rises as President of Indonesia - NY Times
Indonesia's final election results confirmed Joko Widodo is president. That's an enormous event here - first new president in ten years. It's like Obama being elected in the US and probably about as helpful as he'll have to deal with a coalition and a country like everywhere controlled by the rich and entrenched power. But he's the first not from the ruling elite or military. The word today is Selamat presiden terpilih baru! Congratulations on the new president elect. People I talk to are happy. He looks a little like Obama too. - posted alo in Engaged Buddhism/Current Events
7-22-14 - So many kites in the sky here in Sanur. Kids playing soccer on the beach. Sounds of older kids in the courtyard from the school next door. Went over there on a ceremonial day. All the boys in white with white turbans, all the girls in colorful saris. I walked around like an invisible person. They also paid no attention to the awful traditional singing coming from the cheap loudspeakers. I thought that might be the principal.
7-21-14 - Ukranian family next door for a week. They were gone for a few days to the nearby island of Lebongon when the Malaysian flight over the Ukraine crashed. First thing I thought of was them. Woman lost her iPhone. She'd put it down on a table in a restaurant. I lost a pocket dictionary from putting it down on a table last February and I was saying back then never put anything down that you want to keep. Many other examples have been sited and will be forthcoming. Visiting friend forgot his debit card - left it in the machine. I'd told him not to take his eye off it and have his hand ready to grab it every time so he couldn't forget. Katrinka did that first day she was here. Took her two days to get it back from a bank across the city.
7-20-14 - At 11am yesterday we joined our landlords, David from England and his wife Widya from Kuta near here for a drive to a fish market near Jimbaran about thirty minutes away. Jimbaran is famous as a place to eat fish in restaurants on the beach. This market is on the beach but it's full of fishing boats and fishers. There weren't many foreigners where we were but there were lots of fish. I can't imagine the ocean has that many fish and that they're going to get eaten and this is only one of many fish markets. We bought some for lunch and some to take home. They cleaned the fish for us. David put the take home fish in an ice chest in the back of his SUV and then we went down a narrow alley about fifty feet to a restaurant where they will cook the fish you just bought. Katrinka and I had prawns and mahi mahi, rice, and spinach cooked with peanuts with sambal (chile-shrimp-etc paste) on the side. Then we came back and got manicures after a quick dip in the pool. It's a great place around the corner run by a single mother - quiet, soft Indonesian music, incense, serve you cold tea before and after. One might think this is indulgent but it's the norm here and would seem that not to do it would be to deny locals a living so that one could bask in imagined purity and hoard a small amount money, a good amount to them.
7-19-14 - It's interesting technology with some practical applications but whenever I see one I think I'd rather be walking. There are Segway tours here. Sanur has a five kilometer very nice brick walkway by the beach and every now and then I see a bunch of people going by on Segways. I guess it would be fun to try one but it's so nice to walk. Do you know about the ironic death of the owner of the Segway company four years ago? He was riding a rugged-country version on his Northern Yorkshire estate and went off a cliff. The Segways here might be that version, they have off-road like tires. The owners of an electric vehicle company in Santa Rosa loaned me a scooter to go to an environmental demonstration a few years back and it was fun. Just enough juice to get back to return it. But walking is our #1 thing. We've got a pool now though, not big, and I'm getting into swimming a few laps front and back stokes every day. I think that sort of low impact exercise might be in our future. There are 18 steps on the other side to the 2nd floor of the hotel for the balcony rooms. I go up and down those a bunch of times. That does a lot more for the bod in a lot less time than walking. Look at this link I posted last September: The Truth about Exercise. It was with a PBS series. The doctor whose show it is visited an exercise research lab in England that had found, with confirmation from other research in the US, that a very brief extremely intense workout three times a week was optimum to give the body the right signals for aerobic and insulin health. But the show also emphasizes not to stay seated for over an hour at a time with the line, "The chair kills."
7-18-14 - Someone wrote: Tell me - where in Bali do you stay? What's the name of the town? Do you travel around at all? Do you ever go to the inland hilly area?
We're in Sanur which is a coastal stretch on the southeastern edge of Denpasar, the big city, From Wikitravel Sanur page:
Wikpedia on Sanur - another brief bit (Much more on Internet of course)
Much has been written on this page about Sanur and Bali. To go to where the word Sanur is used (16 times) do a page search (CNTRL F or CMND F fo Mac).
Bali is a fairly small island. We've spent time in Ubud several times, Lovina to the north, Amed on the East, Candidasa on the way to Amed, especially the White Sand Beach beyond and the bat cave temple on the way. We've made short jaunts to enjoy Barong, Kacak, and Legong dance and music and see some temples. We don't know the inland hilly country well but we've passed through it making stops. Mainly we stay put, take walks, swim, meditate, do yoga, and get work done.
Extensive elaboration below starting with 12-11-13 and progressing upwards to 3-12-14 then from 7-02-14 to today.
Be sure to check out Katrinka's Facebook posts - lots of photos and videos. Tell her cuke sent you.
7-15-14 - I just gave Ketut from Lovina 400,000 rupiah. That ended the confusion. Have mentioned there are many people here in Bali with the same name. Names are often note gender specific and indicate caste which isn't as big a deal here as India. At the hotel next door there are two or three Agung, two Nyomon - all male. Wayan, first born in the largest caste are the most common. Next come Made, 2nd born, Nyoman 3rd and Ketut 4th. There are many of all of them. The driver we use for half or all day driving is Ketut. In my notes I write Ketut Artana. Katrinka thought she'd texted him to meet us at the airport when we arrived. When we didn't see him we called him. He didn't sound too eager to come, said do you really need me? We didn't. It's easier to get a taxi assigned to you here, quick and set price. We just wanted to see him cause we're close. Later she got texts asking where were we when he went to the airport and I assured her that isn't what he meant, that he didn't want to come and we agreed he'd come over the next day to say hello. The next morning I called and asked when he was coming and if he could drive us to a friends to get a bag we'd stored there. He said he was in Lovina. I said never mind. I'd see him later. About an hour later he rode over on his motorbike and didn't seem to remember our talk about getting our stuff. That puzzled me but I didn't ask anything. We just visited. Then a few days ago I called him to ask if he could drive Barbara and Scotty to Ahmed and he got the info and brought up that we weren't at the airport and that he'd waited there four hours for us. That's when I figured out that we were communicating with two Ketuts. We'd just written down Ketut and a phone number for him when we should have written Ketut Lovina to indicate which he was. Lovina is on the other side of the island. I explained the mixup to him and told him to come over next time he's in the area and I'd compensate him for his trouble. It was about $32. And I assured him we'd get hold of him when next we went to Lovina. He was happy. We were glad to get that straight.
7-14-14 - Up in the dark. As light emerged the amplified male voice came from the school next door and continued for a good deal of the morning. He went on longer than usual today and started earlier. Toward the end there was anthem singing, maybe national, by young voices and cheering. Don't know how much of that will happen but I am grateful to him because that may be one reason the hotel here is so empty - that and its generally run down condition. We're in a two bedroom unit on the side that's leased and separately maintained by Widya Homestay, owned by a couple that lives down the street that has more units behind their house, leased for ten years along with the one bedroom next door and two studios facing the street. It's a dead end street with a field across and the dead end leading to a pleasant walk through undeveloped land on the edge of the vast government owned Inna Grand Bali Beach Hotel, villas, golf course. Here, the barely kept up but clean hotel pool is about fifty feet beyond our porch up some steps. It's good for some daily laps. Every once and a while someone else uses it. On the other side leading up to the 2nd floor of the balcony rooms are 18 steps. They're good for up and down and up and down between computer sessions. The open air dining area is usually empty. No food served there anymore. The semicircular bar with stools I suppose has some supplies. Haven't had the chance to notice. I went up there for a couple of hours of typing and reading yesterday. The employee asleep at the desk woke up and welcomed me. There's a run down cottage next to us that's been closed for a couple of years. Want to look inside. Brit landlord David (been here decades married to local Widya) says the hotel used to be full and lively, a popular spot, in tip top shape. He says the owner has too much money, moved out of that cottage, and lost interest. It keeps running almost on empty. Trip Advisor gives the place a 0 rating. That's hard to find. Check it out. Bali Warma Hotel in Sanur. On the other hand the staff are all friendly and agreeable. A modern ruin, sort of like our ruin. For a while. How fortunate.
7-13-14 - Friends Barbara and Scotty around for a couple of weeks. We passed some stray dogs on our way out from the beach through a hotel's property. One of them barked at us. I told it to be careful or we'd sell it to an RW restaurant (designating it serves dog meat). A couple of guys were just arrested for stealing people's dogs and selling them. I mentioned that government is starting a new campaign not just to vaccinate but to round them up. When I was here in 92 staying in the countryside of Ubud dogs were a major problem. Elsewhere too. I'd have to pass through a bunch of them barking and snarling and was even surrounded by a dozen or more at times and had to call for help. Haven't had that sort of problem this time but still it's a problem I read about. Here's an article on it from earlier this year. Rabies is the big worry. Surprised to see it's new since 2007 and by February 146 people had died. Elsewhere read that they mainly died because they didn't want to spend the money on the vaccine which works after a bite. Barbara said she'd read to be careful of dogs and holes in the sidewalks. Said she had a friend couple who came last year and first day the guy fell in a hole and an ambulance took him to a hospital. There aren't any holes where we usually walk now but last summer (winter in Northern Hemisphere) there were many along the bypass - big enough for one to fall in. There's sizable drainage under a lot of sidewalks with periodic cement access covers which deteriorate and cave in. Gotta keep aware and walk around them making sure not to get in the way of a motorbike. At night sometimes they're obscured. Went that way they other day and most all of those had been covered with slabs - not too skillfully. Jepun flowers fall every day.
7-12 -14 - A little under the weather. Got up late. Drank hot water with lime. Sat for a minute then lay down. Watched the 5th Estate. As I do with historical movies checked on it afterwards. Regardless of Assange's weaknesses, he's exposing great crimes and think it's interesting so many focus on his shortcomings. The movie has many too but he's wrong when he calls it an anti-Wikileaks movie. We get daily cleaning with our place leased for a few months. Ketut today. I offered him some DVDs we'd seen. He only wanted the action ones. Zombie movies his favorite. Gave him some granola we'd made to pass on to the landlord, David, who likes Muesli. I suggested he get it well roasted before eating and gave this as an example. Studied some Indonesian. Back to sleep.
7-11-14 - Sanur. There's a school over the wall. High school maybe. Maybe private. Looks sort of nice. Hear band practice that sounds like it could be in Kansas. The other day youth singing what sounded like a school song that also could be anywhere - clapping and yeas! after just like it was Texas. Sometimes especially in the morning an amplified man's voice. Further away more enticing sounds from the mosque - calling and music.
7-10-14 - Everywhere ants are part of our life, more so here in Sanur. We pass big ones walking but it's always the small and smaller and teeny tiny ones that are around where we're sitting at home or out. They don't really bother. The ones in Bangkok on our sixth floor room balcony were a little more trouble but learned to deal with it. Bought some ant chalk there which they tend not to cross. Told the room cleaner to leave them alone, that they were our guests. I recall Bill Shurtleff saying that when he was working at Albert Schweitzer's hospital in Gabon that occasionally army ants would come through devouring everything. I had an image of great danger and horror but he said they were helpful, that he might notice them coming across the floor in his hut and that he'd go out the window. He said they left the village clean of fleas and one could walk around them. Ants rule.
Lafcadio Hearn on Ants
Lafcadio Hearn Wikipedia page (An early and prominent Nipponophile)
7-09-14 - A while back posted Getting Celsius and Fahrenheit straight. Since then have worked out a new system to remember. The chart I made for myself goes from 10 to 40 Celsius or centigrade for Asia progressing in steps of 5 Celsius degrees. All I have to do is remember any point and add or subtract 9 to/from Fahrenheit for every 5 Celsius. Anything in between I estimate based on 1.8 Fahrenheit for ever degree Celsius, mainly using 2. It's easy to memorize the basic list but if I forget, 10 is 50 I always can remember. So 30 is 86 (4 X 9 + 50) - a more likely temperature. After a while of course one tends to get a feel for Celsius without the comparison. Oh - one sad note. When I went to update the chart ( adding the highest and lowest temperatures ever recorded, and the meeting point of -40) I found there to be glaring errors in the numbers. And that's been there for five and a half years. Wonder how that happened. Surely some gremlin got into it and screwed it up.
7-08-14 - Early morning it's raining. Sitting on the porch. I love rain. Makes me feel cozy. Encourages work and reading. It hasn't been particularly hot in Sanur so far. Southern winds from Australia I hear. Pleasant walks. Wasn't too hot the three weeks in Thailand also. Lot of overcast and some rain. It's rainy season there but not here. Someone forgot to tell the rain to wait till October
Made a few changes to the post from yesterday on the book Shingon
7-06-14 - A couple of weeks ago was mentioning the book Shingon, Japanese Esoteric Buddhism by Taiko Yamasaki, David Kidd and Yasuyoshi Morimoto edited the translation into English by Richard and Cynthia Peterson. It's published by Shambhala only available in hard back. An ebook is forthcoming. There's a pirated PDF on the net. Read Saunters June 19th to 23rd for comments on the book and our visits with Morimoto. Fortuitous.
7-05-14 - #2 Think twice, don't be a hurry with money (as in yesterday's post). Wanted to exchange some Japanese yen for Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). Asked our landlords if all exchange places the same. I mentioned the place nearby. They thought so. The woman there had to ride off in her scooter to get the money for the 30,000 yen, about $300. When she put down my IDR, 3 million plus some smaller bills, I counted then looked at the rate - 114.5 - and started doing the math in my notebook. She took the small bills back and put down four 100,000s plus some smaller bills. What was that? I muttered. She smiled. I calculated. Still wrong. She showed me on her calculator 114 x 30,000 and I pointed out it's 114.5. She looked back and saw the 114.5 then reached over and erased the point five and nodded as in "Now it's right". Oh well, I thought, that's just like $1.20. "I'm a good person," she said in Indonesian. Later walking further away passing money exchange places they ranged from 116.5 to 121.5. Ouch. Later I saw her and told her she had the worst exchange rate and wrote down what the others were. "Commission," she said. Even later the landlord said he thought I meant the place nearby to the right - "He's completely trustworthy, not the left." I said I didn't know there was a place to the right. I went to the left. "Oh yeah - that's a seedy place."
Post note: I am not sorry about all this. I rather relish it. A worthy investment. A cautionary tale. I got a little angry at her later though. Always best not to do that. Anger leads to the worst mistakes.
7-04-14 - Taxi from Denpasar airport is set price depending on destination - 125,000 for the ride to anywhere in Sanur- $10 for a half hour ride.. They assign a driver. I asked for small money, wanted to break a 100,000 rupiah bill so I could pay that. The driver said no need, that he had change. Upon arrival I gave him a 100,000 and a 50,000 which I had leftover from when we left. "I don't have any change," he said going through his pockets innocently.
7-03-14 - Back in Bali after 23 days in Thailand. Good place, good people. Just wrote this to Katrinka's son, Seth, who's coming to visit and wanted to learn a bit of Indonesian.
Indonesian is the easiest language I know of to learn enough to get by. And of course everyone appreciates a tourist who can say even one thing in their language. And Bali people are friendly and love to say hello and they're polite - though they tend to overdo asking if you want to buy something. Go to http://www.learningindonesian.com/ and you can download for free lessons step by step. Get the PDFs and the audio. I have them all and can send them to you as well if that's a hassle.
I didn't mention that there's also a Bali language that's difficult and that Indonesian is so the people of that country of 650 languages can have a common language as well. Only 10% speak Indonesian as their first tongue.
And yes, we'll miss being able to walk down streets without so many drivers calling, "Transport?" and storekeepers calling, "You look my shop?"
Plan to hunker down and get more work done. Reviewing Indonesian.
7-02-13 - Ten hours from New Siam Bangkok (recommended) to Widya Homestay in Sanur, Bali. No connection till tomorrow.
7-01-14 - Even more notes from our time in Japan
We told Tom Kirchner that we'd sat at the home zendo of the Sanbo Kyodan in Kamakura started by Yasutani. A lot of lineages came out of there including that of John Tarrant mentioned yesterday. Tom said that people from that lineage did well when they went to other koan practice and he especially praised the German Jesuit Lassalle.
When we parted I mentioned to Tom I wanted to write some about him, especially his practice of bringing food from field to fork. I promised I wouldn't advertise how to find him, might hide his whereabouts in a mist of misleading. He said something he'd read, forgot where, and liked, is that there are three characteristics of right speech or writing. It must be- true, kind, necessary - or at least two out of the three.
Now we're somewhere where I know only a few words. Tomorrow we to Bali where I know many. We came from Japan where I know many many. In watching the thing called me function there, I noticed a spurt of pride or satisfaction every time I could say or read something - like after hitting small flush when it was only indicated on a remote button on the wall by the basic kanji for small. And a flicker of shame or humiliation every time I fell short - like all the time.
"Shakai no mado," I heard a kid say to a friend - Society's window meaning Your zipper's down.
Shunryu Suzuki wanted us, at least some of us, to get to know Japanese culture and how Zen done there. Want to elaborate on that later.
6-30-14 - Yet another bunch of notes from our time in Japan
Rear left taxi doors open and close automatically. Have never seen this anywhere else.
Don't bring Vics or any inhalers that have speed type drugs in them to Japan or risk it being confiscated and being interrogated by customs officials. It happens.
Katrinka said it was her first time to experience spring to summer without daylight savings time - the dark early mornings. Can go to Arizona for that too.
Please use a toilet finely - sign on wall of public restroom. They also have signs with the old word lavatory.
Many people wear white masks covering the nose and mouth - to not spread a cold or flu and not to inhale pollution. Mainly the first I think. Just was reading of the use of a similar item in old Shingon ceremonies. Here's a good article on the greatly increased use of surgical masks in Japan.
Neat to pass by homes and shops with old-fashioned exterior walls of charred black wood.
Another bus note. Many bus drivers call out the names of the stops adding a few nearby destinations of note, some saying "arigato gozailmasu" to each passanger as they leave. Different types of voices. Nasal, manly, and my favorite, the driver with the smokey voice.
Dead cat floating in the mizo near Sogenji we'd pass on our way to the bus stop. Mizo are canals of various sizes carrying drainage water. Looking for a link on them, found this: Mizo ga aru originally referred to a long narrow canal. Here it is used to describe a gap between people in the way they relate to each other. This term also appears in the expressions Mizo ga dekiru (A gap begins to appear),
6-29-14 - Another Batch of Japan Notes
Beautiful traditional buildings and more unbeautiful modern ones. What happened? Like at some point function and cost without consideration of appearance clicked in. Sue could use some Gaudi touches. Throw on some color, designs, attach earthquake safe artistic stuff like Japanese gargoyles, balconies. Katrinka says it's an extention of emphasis on inner.
In the garden of Shisendo, occasional, evenly spaced sounds like like a han, temple sounding board. Sought out the source. It was a bamboo bucket slowly filling with water which weighted one end down like a seesaw, the other snapping up to strike - I forget what it struck but then it made that sound.
If a Japanese person asks if I've done tokudo, I say yes, a long time ago, but that I'm a paper monk. They get it because they use the term "paper driver" for someone who has a driver's license and doesn't drive - with their excellent mass transit there's a lot of that. And a few paper monks here and there.
There's a standard way to hand over money I've seen everywhere. You put the yen in a dish on the counter, the clerks calls out how much you gave and gives you change in your hand. Also, they do bills first, smartly counting them out in the same way, keeping them held in one hand and counting out the bills as they expose them with the other.
There are many rest rooms with Women on one door (indicated in various ways including various English ways) and Men/Women on the other - an intelligent way to deal with the fact that women take longer.
There are no bus transfers and a bus ride costs at least a dollar and a half, usually over two - which means if you have to transfer you don't get any credit for the first bus. It can get expensive. They've really got traveling down - but it's expensive.
But takyubin, sending your bags ahead, is quite reasonable and so very convenient and dependable. One sees foreigners toting heavy luggage and locals walking to a train with little. We arrived in Japan, pushed our baggage cart to the Takyubin desk. Shipped ahead the big bag and went our way much lighter. Before the flight out, we picked up two heavy bags (thanks to shopping) and wheeled them to check in. In 1990, Elin and I shipped two bicycles in bags to Hokkaido and back. Some Ainu (indigenous people) we hung out with there shipped us a box of Hokkaido potatoes that we received upon our return to Okayama.
6-28-14 - A bunch of notes from our time in Japan.
Lots more chuko, 2nd hand, stuff and stores. One close to our apartment. Appliances and furniture. Katrinka bought a lacquer box. I got kimono and hakata to send as gifts for ten bucks each. A used clothing store even closer, Jumble - great stuff. I got some Birkenstocks and a cap. Katrinka got a bunch of stuff. I'd joke that we were becoming like travelers in movies from before the fifties needing their giant trunks and standing trunks for hanging clothes and porters to bring them. I kept telling people she'd bought a large stone lantern. Actually, when we left we didn't even have more bags than Malaysian Airlines allowed without having to pay more, but more weight than we came in with.
The buses were getting new display screens that were helpful but the new audio was terrible at least in the English version. A woman's voice with a British accent and terrible pronunciation of some of the bus stop names. Maybe it was computerized. Grated on my nerves.
Saw an unusually animated couple laughing on a bus. Looked like locals. Turned to a Japanese friend. "Korean?" "Probably," he agreed.
Was so stoked I learned how to maneuver the 7-11 website to upload documents to print then to the store copy-printers - all in Japanese. Needed to because the Kinkos was too far away. Not a lot of places to print and copy, a problem there. Would have had to get help except a nice young woman had put up step by step instructions on her web site. It looks hard but once you learn it it's easy. I used to read junk mail and appliance instructions even whole pamphlets in Japanese - words start repeating and the more I'd read the less to look up. What's hard is conversation. Busts my pride down to shame. The worst is dealing as a customer with people who are programmed to use only super polite language which is hard for me to follow. I'd say, please can you just answer yes or no and stuff like that. If I was there longer I'd get that stuff down too. Used to get it. It's been a while. It happens to them too. I read that when the emperor informed the public via that famous recording played on the radio that Japan would have to surrender at the end of WWII, that most people listening couldn't understand the old formal language he used and that an announcer had to follow explaining what the emperor had just said. Sometimes I wish that announcer was with me to explain in plain Japanese what a shop clerk had just said.
6-26-14 - Told Stewart Wachs about Tom Kirchner's pancreatic cancer, his facing death, then finding out after the operation that there was no sign of cancer. He said it baffled everyone. Stuart came up with a new explanation. He had a diabetes misdiagnosis from mixed up records. Luckily his wife is a nurse. She did a home test and found no indication of it. Turned out they'd screwed up the records. He said they make mistakes on non Japanese records now and then because our names don't fit into their sound and writing system all that well. He said the treatment could have killed him and that the hospital nurse in charge did dogeza, bowing before him in contrite apology. - For more on Stewart and Tom do a page search on the Saunters page (Cntrl F, Mac-Cmnd F). -
6-25-14 - One problem with Asia I've found is that somebody stole most of the towel racks. There could also be more hooks and shelves and so forth.
6-24-14 - Two things noticed that are similar in Japan, Thailand, and Bali: wrapping trees in cloth, sometimes with rope and hanging stuff as well, as a sign that they are holy or out of respect to spirits in them - and in temples and theater the sequence of sounds of bells, clackers, wooden mallets on wooden boards - spaced strikes after some hits becoming closer and closer in a roll down.
And posted about trip to Koyasan below 5-28 to 5-31. I always make a point that I'm not into holy places, that to me every place is holy, but I did have a profound experience in Koyasan like Morimoto said I would - standing looking across the massive gravel and stone Banryutei garden at Kongobuji, the head Shingon temple at Koyasan. Check it out here.
Somewhere in all this read that Kukai was into the Middle Way, Madyamika, which was defined differently than I've seen before, and in a way most relevant to me - as the middle way between seeing the phenomenal world as real and unreal. At times I read about the voidness of all or about how it's all consciousness only - sort of the two schools of thought at the heart of Shingon, but also there's such an affirmation of life, self, humanness, phenomena - all the same as buddha, each thing and being of the universe destined to realize its buddhahood, the universe moving toward total awakening, reminiscent of the message from the Evolutionaries. Kukai taught that all is perfect and all people good, some just misguided, confused, etc.
Reading about the history of Shingon impressed on me the central importance of magic, mantras, ceremonies for mundane purposes in establishing Buddhism. People of power would embrace these new religions to protect their power, kingdom, avert disaster and so forth. The primary purpose, enlightenment, followed along almost as an incidental, the real hidden secret magic of esoteric Buddhism being awakening.
I forget the name of the quiet woman there who served us coffee and tea. Ian said she'd been with Morimoto and Kidd forever. We spent time with Morimoto and Ian on three floors in various rooms, each adorned with Buddhist art of breathtaking quality. Some rooms are lined with shelves holding smaller pieces ceramic, jade, and bronze. Tankas from Tibet, some quite large, that he's intent on returning there. Some already have been. The tanka over his bed was the classic tantric nine mandalas each in a square, each with many buddhas and bodhisattvas. Statues, mainly of wood, a thousand and more years old. He says that the wood ones survived as they couldn't be melted down for other use. He told Katrinka then me to touch the face of a life-size 9th century Tang Dynasty wooden Kannon. We walked among pieces throughout what used to be David's Cafe on the first floor, one piece he said from the very beginnings of Buddhist sculpture. I wish I could take Philip Whalen there. He would swoon and then be able to authoritatively describe what he saw. I look forward to returning there to be among this art but mainly to visit again with Yasuyoshi Morimoto who generously shared his world with us.
6-22-14 - Continued from yesterday's Saunters post. Toward the end of our first visit with Morimoto, he gave us a copy of Shingon, Japanese Esoteric Buddhism by Taiko Yamasaki, saying that it revealed more about Shingon than any book before it. He and David Kidd (see prior three Saunters posts) edited the translation into English by Richard and Cynthia Peterson. It's published by Shambhala. Morimoto says that their translation is excellent. I was surprised to find the book easy and fun to read and informative. I'm not a good reader and if stuff gets too technical or complicated I can loose interest. My experience of the book has been that its message keeps returning to the simple, clear, fundamental. I've always heard about Kukai and Koyasan but had experienced neither. We loved our trip to Koyasan and I've gained great respect for Kukai. Early in the 9th century he introduced Shingon to Japan a couple of years after Saicho brought the other esoteric school, Tendai. This was as revolutionary as the introduction of Zen in the late 12th and early 13th century. They both emphasized meditation and that enlightenment is something that can be accomplished in this lifetime rather than the requisite countless lifetimes being taught in the Nara dominated Buddhism back then. Kukai started a school that was for everyone, not just nobility. He was into the Prajna Parimita sutras, the unity of form and emptiness, of nirvana and samsara, of the passions and buddhahood. And a lot more of course, but that's enough. - to be continued
6-21-14 -We call Yasuyoshi Morimoto just Morimoto
which is rude without the San but he's so fluid with Westerness that it
seems appropriate. I mean if we're talking about him as in, "Let's go say
hi to Morimoto." If I were calling to him I'd say, "Morimoto-san!" or the
more polite "Morimoto-sama!" but in his case, the later would be more like
an affectionate use, not necessary. He combines dignity with informality,
authority with a touch of humor. I told Katrinka he didn't seem entirely
Japanese. She said yes, like someone whom we'd have met in San Francisco's
North Beach in the sixties. He was most pleased we were on our way the
next day for our three day stay at Koyasan, the mountain home of Shingon
founded by the great Kukai also known by his posthumous title bestowed by
an emperor, Kobo Daishi. Morimoto asked us to return after that visit and
tell him what we experienced.
6-20-14 - David Kidd (see yesterday's post) wrote Peking Story. It's said he regretted that his friend David Bowie didn't fulfill their mutual dream for Bowie to play the role of Kidd. Kidd was one of the great characters of the Kyoto scene up to his death. His vast collection of Asian art is still intact in the three story home of his former student and partner, Yasuyoshi Morimoto, a surviving great character of Kyoto. Thanks to Ian Shortreed, and the kindly openness of Morimoto, Katrinka and I spent two most engrossing evenings there. Here's a snippet in which Morimoto plays a role and it gives a hint of who he is. - to be continued
6-19-14 - David Kidd, Lover of Asian Art, Dies at 69 - NY Times, Nov. 27, 1996. - to be continued
6-18-14 - On the train, bus, car rides in the country or on the outskirts of cities, even inside cities here and there passing endless rice, barley fields, and vegetable gardens, greenhouses, even in small yards, tiny plots in front of houses. So much farming on a small scale, giving Japan high points for survival in times of disaster or breakdown of distribution system. Lots of decorative plants and flowers as well. Always a pleasure to admire.
6-17-14 - In my opinion they need to make bike ringer use mandatory in Kyoto. They swoop by on the sidewalk chillingly close and without warning, making one aware that a casual side step might have been a catastrophe. While on the subject of bikes, they get stolen in Japan. John Einarsen returned from dinner with us to find his locked bike gone. Don't know if he got it back. It could have been the police picked it up for it was in a no bike parking zone. In that case a fine would have sufficed to insure its return. While on the subject of pilfering - watch out for umbrellas as well. I recall stepping into a convenience store in the early morning dark while waiting for a bus in a downpour. When I stepped back out, my umbrella was gone. Not an isolated instance. On the other side, once while walking down a country road in Obama (where there are two monasteries that cater to Western enlightenment seekers), a few drops of rain began to fall and an old woman ran from a distant farm house to hand me an umbrella. And recently saw many clear and white cheap umbrellas here and there that seemed to be communal, up for grabs.
6-16-14 - Which are harder to find in Kyoto's main train station? Trash receptacles or seats to rest on for a while? Ian asked a policeman why no trash containers and was told terrorism. They're not that easy to find anywhere. Sometimes there are recycling containers by vending machines that tempt one to sneak a gum wrapper in. Seats in stations, parks, stores - not easy to come by. Keep busy.
6-15-14 - Riding on the #5 bus in Kyoto, talked to a woman from Wisconsin who has been there 58 years. I told her that I could tell by the way she waited for the bus that she wasn't a tourist, seemed at home. Said we were on our way to the Baptist Hospital. She said her daughter was born there. She came as a missionary. Katrinka figured she'd been at the small church in our neighborhood. I asked if she planned to go back. She shook her head, said she went to the US 2 years ago. Said, "It has changed but I haven't changed with it. Japan has changed but I've changed with it."
6-13-14 - Pride in work - Example # 82. The way the jokaso, septic tank cleaning man, would cheerfully announce his arrival at our home in Okayama over two decades ago. He wore white gloves, had a little mixer with a long extender, walked to the septic access behind the house, added something that helped to break down the fecal matter I guess. He would close the lid and bid us farewell. I'd jump out and thank him. He'd bow, say something polite and be off with a spirit akin to a superhero off to the next.
6-12-14 - We're both generous tippers in America and abroad to the extent that it's appropriate. We're both worked in restaurants, especially Katrinka, and thus are tip conscious. One thing we all appreciate about Japan is not tipping. This is better than not having to tip. In many other places one doesn't have to tip but a small tip is appreciated, and often a small amount means a great deal to a waiter or cab driver in a third world country. In Japan tips are not expected, not wished for, not thought of. Maybe in some instances it is but don't know what they are. Service is almost always extremely good, delivered with seeming pleasure. Payment is received with effusive arigato gozaimashita! - DC
6-11-14 - Won't drink non alcoholic beer in US because it has half a percent alcohol. I never was a big fan of beer but now both Katrinka and I have become fans of zero percent alcohol beer we found to be quite popular in Japan, and a bit expensive. We're careful to look for the 0.0% but also we could taste it if there was 0.5%. I know because tasting it is how I discovered that alcohol free beer often just means almost alcohol free. Teresa in Okayama said that alcohol consumption is way down in Japan, especially with young people. But have seen a lot of people drinking the 0.0%.
6-09-14- Speaking, rather writing of Jay and Kyoko, affectionately known as Kyokes, yesterday, we are compelled by loyalty and admiration to share with you, dear reader, that they've got Kyoto Art and Antiques in Seattle where they announce periodic warehouse sales. Robbie Pellett took Hoitsu Suzuki there a while back and he spent a lot of time looking around. Jay said his presence increased sales and that people were buying items just to give to him. Before we left we heard Jay's magic fiddle evoking the heart of Ireland at the Gael.
If, however, one finds oneself in Nevada City rather than Seattle, we advise to peruse the wonders of Kodo Arts ---[Kyoto link] where Jake will assist. Katrinka and I visited Jake and Yuko at their country estate outside of the village of Shuzan after a scenic hour and twenty-five minute bus ride past thickly forested steep mountainsides and grass thatch roofed homes. We ate handmade on site soba noodles while gazing over wet rice fields, soaked in hot spring, and walked through a private rose garden on the side of the road home, a treat for eyes and nose, the farmer, working his adjoining fields, most appreciative of our visit. Farewell fond friends.
6-08-14 - Robert Yellin Yakimono Gallery - met this cool dude and high end ceramics maker through best Kyoto buds Jay and Kyoko. He's been in Japan for over 30 years. Katrinka and I are vacating our Kyoto apartment today. Off to an airport hotel in Osaka. Fly off tomorrow to parts unknown. How great it's been to spend these last ten weeks in Japan. What a wonderful city Kyoto is. There are seemingly endless fascinating people and places. One can be in a mountainous forest in any direction including inside the city That's true of a great deal of Japan. They almost nuked Kyoto in WWII. [Read the 3rd paragraph here.]
6-07-14 - Katrinka, Kyoko Maeda and I DC visited with Mayumi Oda (Mayumi Oda Fine Art) who is doing a workshop at the Kyoto Impact Hub with Silvia Nakkach. Silvia teaches sound and music at CIIS in SF, CA, has a long history with the Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael, CA and created The Vox Mundi Project.
Sylvia played the harmonium and sang improvisationally. We had a lot of friends in common. Mayumi had returned to Kyoto from Tokyo last night late. She'd fallen asleep on the Shinkansen and awakened at the end of the line in Osaka. She had to return in a slow train as she couldn't take the Shinkansen back because someone had jumped in front of one and the track was shut down for the evening.
6-06-14 - Met Damien Douxchamps at the zazenkai (zazen gathering) at nearby Shisendo last Sunday morning. He's from Belgium and has obviously been here a while. After zazen with about twenty Japanese and him facing the beautiful garden, we had tea with Ishikawa Roshi, the head priest, who knows the SF Bay area and, as mentioned earlier, is friends of Gengo and Yoshi Akiba who have the Oakland Zen Center. He also mentioned Daigaku Rumme and Issho Fujita. When it was over, Nonomura San, a layman who works there, pushed open a fusuma, pulled back a reed door and Damien led me up to a small tatami room like a loft over the temple and gardens. While we surveyed the scene he shot photos. He's got a company called Augumenta. ----- Here's the page on his site about Shisendo with text and photos. The photos from the loft are at the bottom. You can click on the links about to see photos of his from other parts of Japan and the world to his work and resume.
6-05-14 - More on Jonathan Watts posted in Engaged Buddhism/Current Events
6-04-14 - With friend Kyoko Maeda, Katrinka and I hiked up Daimonji yesterday, the big kanji "dai (freat)" on the eastern mountainside way up overlooking Kyoto.
Here's a good page for it with photos in Open Kyoto
6-03-14 - Women with umbrellas for the sun which is getting hotter every day.
On 5-16-14 wrote that the buses no longer were giving change but I saw a woman getting change and guessed they'd just take the change machine out later. Katrinka solved the bus change problem. I just didn't listen or read far enough and closely enough. The busses do still give change. The message just confused me. It said to use exact change and that the bus driver didn't have change and then said to get change from the change box. Another in an endless series of mistakes called my life.
Also - yesterday wasn't the day we missed our return flight. That's tomorrow. Singapore Airlines said I had to talk to the booking agent (Cheap Tickets) to get a refund or credit and Cheap Tickets said I had to talk to the airlines.
Saw Shunko Mike Jamvold yesterday. He's been in Japan for 20 years, now living at a Kyoto temple called Fukujoji with the German abbot.
That was after visiting Toji. Here's their cool site. It's the old massive Shingon temple in Kyoto. Kukai lived there. Great buildings The pagoda is the tallest wooden structure in Japan. Wikipedia on Toji. Shunko says that it's getting hotter sooner.
Kukai statement about suffering picked up at Toji in Kyoto.
Jonathan Watts has worked with shut-ins and suicide prevention in Japan. Check out this link on that.
He says he suggested to Larissa MacFarquhar, staff writer for the New Yorker, that she write about Ittetsu Nemoto's work with Japanese shut-ins.
posted in Engaged Buddhism/Current Events
6-02-14 - Let our return flight to America go unused today.
Noh theater outdoors among the stately roofs at the Heian Shrine arrived 4:30pm, started an hour later. As it got dark, the fire ceremony. Four plays - first two slow, long, minimal, eerie. Third one more for common people it seemed - like a comedy, lots of talking. Fourth one great costumes. Out at nine.
Takigi Noh - shows great costumes - page for show we saw
Takigi O-Noh (Bonfire Noh performance) - on Japan Official Guide
Mentioned when we first got here had dinner with Jonathan Watts in Kamakura
posted in Engaged Buddhism/Current Events - more later.
6-01-14 - Had a great visit with CEO Toru Shimakage and his chief editor Eisaku Kawashima at Samgha Publishing (Japanese site) in Tokyo yesterday which I mentioned earlier published the new translation of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind and Zen Is Right Here (Zen Wa Ima Koko). They've published Thich Nat Hahn and have got a translation ready to go of Alan Watts' The Book: on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are. Also they're working on something to come out in English from A Sri Lankan Theravadan teacher who's been in Tokyo a long time. They're planning a US visit with him. More on this later when we know more.
Naturally I encouraged them to publish Crooked Cucumber. A few Japanese in the book biz have urged publishers to do it for over a decade without success. It's too long is one reason - Toru said that going from English to Japanese adds 50% to book length - and not wanting to read a book by an American on Zen is another. Shunryu Suzuki's lack of prominence in the Japanese Buddhist world might be a third. I suggested an abridged version, possibly with new material deemed appropriate for the Japanese audience. I told them what translator, Japan expert, and friend, Fred Harriman had suggested I convey to them. Fred says that someday Shunryu Suzuki will be recognized in Japan for having brought something from the core of Japanese culture to the West and successfully planted it there. Fred says, looking at it from a marketing point of view, that despite Japan's many successes in exporting products abroad, that they have a tendency to specialize for their own market. He wrote:
I always find Fred's point of view interesting.
5-31-14 - Koyasan mascot like something out of Peanuts everywhere as little statues and on posters and billboards.
Okunoin is the name of the ashes internment area - beautiful hours walking amid cedars and grave stone sotoba, stupas, small and huge - over 200,000 of them. Kukai's place of eternal meditation, a tea room with large pots of hot green tea, ladles, cups, trays, serve yourself, clean up yourself, people coming and going, no one in attendance.
Reihokan hakubutsukan, the museum with so many great Buddha, Fudo, Kukai, and other statues and scrolls some huge that once were not grouped. The museum made a big point of temples that have burned - lots and lots of them, old photo of one giant great old building before and during the fire, showing fire suppression techniques that can now cover a building in heavy spray.
There I learned Kobo Daishi is Kukai's posthumous name from Emperor. He went for one year to China and brought back the magic in sutras, scrolls, art, ritual objects. Saisho who founded Tendai brought back lots of it too about the same time. Made me realize how significant was Dogen's bringing nothing but nose vertical eyes horizontal.
We watched a hall of monks chanting, one a woman with long hair. On posts inside written in English: Universal Reverence, Universal Assistance
At Kukais' Kongobuji - Sanscrit symbol instead of a figure in the center of the altar. Priest told me it is ah - un is also important. Magnificent stone, gravel, and green gardens. Huge wooden buckets atop the main hall roof show ancient surely often futile fire fighting system.
Danjo Garan - more huge, wondrous buildings walked around at night and again before leaving.
Benzaiten - the goddess atop the mountain that Mayumi Oda said to visit. It got too dark and we had to turn back.
One last look at the Dharma Hall of Yochi-in where we stayed. I remarked to monk Honen how beautifully subdued the colors were - the gold of the altars "heavenly decorations" bronzed, the reds somewhat earthen. He said it's from decades and decades of incense smoke. He pointed to one of the many lamps hanging from the ceiling saying it was for his father. Memorial tablets all around. He showed us one of a famous samurai from a few hundred years ago.
In the men's room a stall marked "Western Toilet" with a toilet I've only seen in Japan - a seat yes, but it's heated with a bottom sprayer and a bidet option with five levels of stream strength, a big flush, a small flush, and a remote control.
Back to the cog train down the mountain to the express train. The conductor announced himself upon arriving in the car, walked to the other end, turned and bowed before leaving each time.
We moved down past lush mountainsids thick with green cedars Katrinka called a fairyland
5-29 and 30-14 - Loading late again today. Almost time to upload tomorrow's so let's let it count for both cause pretty busy these days. Today's the third and last day in Koyasan, tomorrow early go to Tokyo to meet the CEO of Samgha, publisher of the new translation of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind and Zen Is Right Here (Zen Wa Ima Koko). Zip there on the Shinkansen - over 500 kilometers in a little over two hours. Will put more on Koyasan here in less than an hour. It's 12:51 noon now Japan time 5-30. OK, here it is. More on Koyasan: Only 4000 people live here. There are 117 temples for them. In 1832 there there were 1812 - down from that from fires and consolidation. 52 provide lodging. Yochi-in, the temple where we stayed is centrally located, beautiful rock and gravel garden and plants too and trees and old building. Service in the morning two monks chanting. We lodgers were given chant cards to join in with Heart Sutra. Abbot gave brief meditation instruction, using that word - meso, not zazen. He suggested we meditate 15 minutes a day, said he did for 40. Praised meditation. I thought it interesting that in this sect known for esoteric complexity, he only mentioned that and said a few words about Kukai, the founder. More on Koyasan later.
5-28-14 - Katrinka and I are in Koyasan (search Internet for images). Always wanted to come here. It's the heart of Shingon, tantric Buddhism. Kukai came here 1200 years ago fresh from China. Famous for its massive ohaka [graveyard but no graves, just ashes and memorial stones] and many temples on the mountain. It's not that far from Kyoto but it took us two buses, five trains, and five hours to get from our apartment to the temple where we're staying in this sleepy mountain village. We were hungry when we arrived. Took a while finding a place to eat a little after 5pm. Hardly anything open. A monk walking down the street came over to our side and said we could walk about a kilometer to a temple where we could eat. Talked to some old guys at a service station who suggested we see if a sushi place was open down a side street. We walked down there and then to a narrow street off it. So strange to be somewhere in Japan where there's hardly anyone around. We found the sushi place. Just us there. Got the moriawase (sp?) [nigiri sushi assortment] and akadashi [red miso soup], a large bowl with lots of mushrooms and fish. Talked with the husband and wife who ran it. Kerosene heater, samurai TV show from the seventies. Not much daylight left. They sent us to the Dai Mon, great gate, at the nearby entrance to town. Saw it and took some walks into the woods till it got dark. Great hot, bubbling, swirling communal hot tub then early to bed. The next day after lunch finally found a place with wifi. Ordered coffee her tea me deserts and will now upload late. More tomorrow.
5-27-14 - Had a fascinating evening with Ian Shortreed. Check out his website, Kyoto Gardens. Twenty-three years ago he gave me a CD Rom that is now this web site. As we walked by the Gosho, the Imperial Palace ground, he said that the vast public park in there is the best garden in Kyoto and always open.
5-26-14 - Eiheiji day two.
Yesterday Sunday Katrinka and I walked to Fumi's and from there walked to Ikebana teacher Yasuko's very slowly because Fumi had sprained an ankle. Yasuko's husband drove us to their home in Oyake where we admired their garden with huge overhanging cherry tree and flowering and not now flowering plants, drank tea, ate really good goodies, chatted, and learned she had a mukade in her hair a couple of weeks ago. Didn't bite.
When Ryoju was showing us around Eiheji (see entry of 5-23), he pointed out a mukade, centipede, on the tatami by the base of a jumbo taiko drum. It wasn't moving. When he started to move on, I said you're not going to leave it there are you? and he went behind a curtain on the side of the altar, talked to someone and we moved on.
I noticed when we passed someone and Ryoju bowed, gasshoed, how they just slowed, put their hands together, and moved on so that it flowed. I thought about how there has frequently been awkwardness at Tassajara when two students meet with one person wanting to do it that way and the other wishing to stop and do a careful bow. Suzuki Roshi wanted us to bow in passing but he also had a natural flow in how he did it. So I was thinking about that when we came upon two other monks and they stopped and bowed deeply while Ryoju just bowed like before and kept moving. Ah - depends on seniority I realized. Ryoju had been there for four years. He pointed out monks in indoor zori with white straps. They were the newest.
Morning service at 4am - first a ceremony for Dogen, the founder which was about 15 minutes and then a 40 minute or so regular service. There were about 100 monks, most in black robes but a number in yellow, brown, and a couple in a greyish green. One of them Ryoju pointed out is Hiro Matsuno, husband of Harumi, son-in-law of Hoitsu Suzuki. I asked if I could meet him and was told he's too busy - monks here are always busy. I knew some of the chants and could join in - Sandokai, Shosaimyokichjijo Dharani, Daihishin Dharani, Shiseigan - the four Bodhisattva vows - oh yes - that was at evening service the night before. They did a lot of others including another chapter from the Lotus Sutra. During one chant the monks read folding sutra books and walked in snaking rows so each row would be going in the opposite direction from the ones next to it. A few monks had the duty of passing out and collecting different sutra books and they did so gliding with feet moving rapidly in short steps which made it look like they were on wheels. There were about a hundred junior high school students watching plus a few other lay people. We walked before the standing monks and offered incense at the main altar. I noted there was no Heart Sutra, Hannya Shingyo which is the main sutra chanted in most Zen temples in America and, in my experience, in Japan.. Ryoju said they do it about twice a month and said it's included in the other chants (the meaning, the intent).
After morning service we were served another shojin ryori meal in our room, took a nap, checked out at nine, left our minimal bags at the guide desk, got our outside sandals back from their lockers, and walked up the road in a drizzle amidst towering ceders, visiting tombstones, a waterfall, a sign warning of mamushi - Japan's poisonous snake with the round coin marks on its side.
On the train back I remembered that prior train ride away from Eiheiji 23 years ago when the train used to come near the temple. I'd talked with a monk who'd known Jean Ross who was there in 1962, but not Grahame Petchey, Philip Wilson, Ron Browning, and Richard Baker - Suzuki students who'd been there during later practice periods. Except for Jean, they'd all had a hard time.
5-25-14 - Eiheiji 2nd day. Tomorrow..
5-24-14 - Eiheiji 2nd day. Just couldn't get time to write it today.
5-23-14 - Eiheiji. We had a great time. My negative expectations were unfounded. Took the Sandabaado train to Fukui. It's a JR (Japan Railways) limited express but what's that name about I wondered. At Fukui station walked next door and took the Eichizen trolly up to Eiheiji Guchi (entrance) in Eiheiji Machi (town). Then took a brief bus ride to the actual entrance. Four hours door to door. Got some handmade soba noodles and gomadofu (sesame tofu which actually has no tofu - sesame and kuzu) while listening to Japanese rap music. Just after 2pm checked in. I was pleased because they didn't bring someone over to communicate in English. They knew who we were right away. I handed over our permission letter, filled out a form, answered a few questions, nodded to a few conditions, agreed we'd leave at nine the next morning, gave the monk 16,000 yen, and received the receipt in an Eiheiji envelope. Then we met Ryoju san, a monk who'd be helping us. He was friendly and fairly easygoing, spoke pretty good English for someone who'd not lived in an English speaking country - but little enough so we could use Japanese at times too. He took us to our room - rooms - very nice - futons laid out in one and a large living area with tea cups and tea, a sitting area by glass doors with shoji opened revealing tall ceders, those great temple roofs, mist. Ryoju gave us a thorough tour of the main buildings. We met the tenzo (head cook). Ryoju had a copy of Zen wa Ima Koko (Zen Is Right Here in Japanese) he showed I saw to help get us in to look at the kuin, kitchen. We couldn't enter the inner prep area but we got to hit with a long pole the giant wooden fish hanging from the ceiling. Ryoju explained what the serving vessels were for. One was for gomashio, sesame salt. I told the tenzo I made gomashio but much different than theirs which I knew would be half salt. Mine is 16 parts sesame to one part salt. I love the sesame. Katrinka told him she'd read Dogen's Tenzo Kyokan (instructions to the Cook) It's an honor to meet the tenzo. He didn't put on any airs, was amiable. As we walked away, Ryoju said he could be fierce at times too. We walked up lots of steps, all indoors, to the buddha hall, dharma hall, founders hall - ryoshu's usual role is to be in charge of the latter. Inside were Dogen's ashes. I noted the imperial seal on the large incense stand outside. The kitchen was the only place we went inside on this tour. We had a break and then watched evening service at five from outside the Buddha Hall, offering powdered incense from a table brought before us. They chanted from the Kannon chapter of the Lotus Sutra. Then bathtime. Our room is in the hotel - on the 4th floor. Ryoju took us in an elevator to the basement and showed us where the men's and women's baths were. Loved it. I was alone. Lay down on the tile bench inside the hot tub to measure it as 8 ft x 7ft. When we returned, dinner was waiting in our room - shojin ryori, temple vegetarian. About nine little dishes. Whit rice of course, miso soup, gomadofu, vegies. Six thirty zazen in the guest zendo. Just Ryoju and us. Forty minutes. Then he showed us a DVD of a film on Eiheiji made by Eiheji. In one special ceremony in the film there were horns like Tibetans use making those eerie sounds. We got to sleep at 8:30.
Tomorrow - waking at 3:15.
5-21-14 - Off with Katrinka to Fukui Ken tomorrow then to Eiheiji for a night, Eternal Peace Temple - one of the two main training temples of the Soto sect where Shunryu Suzuki practiced after college and where some of his early students went like Jean Ross, Grahame Petchey, and Philip Wilson. Not bringing my Zenbook so no post tomorrow. Hoitsu Suzuki arranged it. We are to be Sanrosha.
A little intimidating. Was there in 91 with Katagiri's widow, Tomoe. We were special guests. I called it jidai geki (period theater). It's like going back in time. We'll see how it is this time. Pray for us. - DC
Here are some photos or just do a Google photo search for Eiheiji
5-20-14 - On signing. When Katrinka and I were walking in Arashiyama the other day, there were signs that indicated such and such temple or shrine or garden was so many meters away and signs that indicated how many minutes. Leaving Tenryuji for Okochisanso there were signs indicating minutes - 2 for Okochisanso. After walking uphill to the entrance of that garden with historical buildings I figured that the person who'd made the sign was one of those walking racers. I thought about how subjective the minute signs were. Two minutes for somebody maybe Then I thought about how the distance signs were lacking in a key factor - altitude change. 200 meters is quite different depending on the grade. To my body it's further the more uphill it is. I do like uphill for its invigorating quality, but now I was thinking about other factors. I devised a formula for calculating a more meaningful message of how much energy it's going to take to go from here to there. D x G = WEC or Distance times Grade equals Walking Energy Coefficient. A way to represent this would be with the WEC figure which would require people to learn that scale. "Here to Bobo-ji 13WEC." Another way to represent the Walking Energy Coefficient would be to write the distance with the grade change indicated in the changing height of the message.
Blahblah-ji - 200 M. - Here one can see distance and grade in the sign.
Beautiful Garden 150 Meters - Indicates changes in grade.
Someday for sure, all signs will be like this.
Deep Kyoto - much here on our current place
Have photos with and of the later two from dinner the other night. And incriminating evidence.
A little bummed out this morning. Got some bug or something yesterday and slept a good deal of it then slept till almost seven this morning missing the zazenkai at Shisendo nearby. I had told them I'd come. If I'd checked calendar yesterday or remembered I'd have gone even though I was weak this morning. So I sat alone as usual. I'll go over in a few days, tell them I was sick, and apologize. There's a good chance they only have it once a month so I won't get another chance if that's the case. No big deal - just something I wanted to do. When I'm down my clinging to an idea of self is down too so it's a little liberating as long as I don't cling to the down. I hadn't met the priest, just his wife. And they're friends of Gengo and Yoshi Akiba who have a zendo in Oakland - the Oakland Zen Center. Check them out - they're building an International Soto Zen training monastery in Lake County, CA.
5-16-14 - I've always bragged about how Japan vending machines and busses give change and now I'm starting to experience buses that don't give change. - that announce it on the readout up front that says what bus stop is next. It seems like I happen to be here when they're going through a transition because I'm experiencing it more and more. Tonight coming home from a great dinner more on that later the bus screen up front said no change and then the lady up front put a bill in and got change and paid with it. That was weird. Maybe they're going to take the change machine out next and until then they'll give change. Always so many things to figure out.
On 6-03 posting that Katrinka solved this problem.
5-15-14 - Our practice - Katrinka and I both meditate first thing in the morning. We do so separately. I know couples and people living together who sit together and that's clearly a good practice, but our rhythms are different. She stays up later and I get up earlier and need less sleep. Also I like sitting separately because there's no pressure on either of us that way. When I moved in with John Tarrant in 2003 he suggested we sit together in the mornings and we did that some but then I opted out and the reason was that I thought in the long run it would be best for me to be as invisible as possible, impose as little as possible. I lived there for nine years and John and I got along very well, had no major arguments or disagreements - much to his credit for my son Clay and I did present problems at times. He was so good natured, patient, and easy-going. For years I woke up and sat on my pillow right away or right after taking a pee. Katrinka moved in after a year and she'd do the same and since our pillows were next to each other we sometimes were sitting at the same time but according to different clocks. I loved sitting at the Ramana Ashram in Tamil Nadu, India, because one could enter and leave as they pleased. Katrinka and I do yoga together though. It's rather strenuous and there the encouragement and sometimes pressure is helpful in doing it regularly. And we walk, eat, sleep, and do some other really nice private things together. But we sit apart and that's our practice - or some of it.
5-14-14 - When we rode the local train to Nara from Kyoto yesterday, I looked down on all the tracks and train cars sitting on side tracks, spare parts, lots of heavy iron. I add all of that which extends from this and which I've seen before and haven't seen in this country and others. I wonder how could there be so much? How did this come about? I think this too about the houses and roofs, the walls, the streets - all the asphalt and cement, cement lining the creeks - here and elsewhere. How could the earth have come up with all of this? I can accept all the trees and water, the people and insects, clouds. But all these things - the pencils and towers, the chairs, the vehicles. When I'm on the road I think, I know why I'm here. I have a good reason. But what about all of them? How can that many people need to be moving about? And then there's the rest of the universe, the one we know, inconceivably huge, a goliath which, according to modern physics, was more tiny than an atom before the big bang. And Neil deGrasse Tyson was saying on Inexplicable Universe that since the universe is 0 net energy, it actually came out of nothing. I can see that. I think we've imagined it. Mind is the nothing. But how could there be so many wheels and wires?
5-13-14 - Today Nara - Kofukuji with the towering pagoda, hondo covered for restoration till Heisei 30 (2018), National Museum where drunk on statues, Todaiji first blown back by sight of the huge hall, reputedly the largest wooden structure in the world, housing the Dai Butsu with accompanying Kannons and guardians impressively large as well. A giant 1000 year old cypress at Kasuga shrine. Walk walk walk.
Returned to Tuesday night samba jam at local dive - dreamy, rhythmic Latin hours rolled by.
5-12-14 - Smells not so pleasant come up through the drains in our Kyoto apartment so we keep them plugged when not in use. Wonder if this means they don't have U-shaped drain pipe. Sometimes the toilet room smells like tobacco smoke surely coming from the room below. Can slide a fusuma door to block off the bath, sink, and toilet roomettes. The bathroom though has a great tub. I never want to live without one. And I'd rather not live without a toilet with a sprayer for ones bottom.
5-10-14 - Katrinka just commented on how surprising it was to see how quickly the monks and students at Sogenji did things. We ate oryoki (wrapped bowls) breakfast with them them and it was hard to keep up. Chisan told Katrinka it's Shinkansen (bullet train). They took their seats quickly in the hondo (main hall) for service. After service they returned their mats and walked out as fast as they could, moved quickly to the next short service, quickly to the zendo. When the bell (or was it clackers?) was hit for for sanzen they jumped up and ran back to the main building to sit and wait for their turn to meet Shodo Harada. It's not just Rinzai Zen it's typical of how things are done in Buddhist temples and in daily life. At Rinsoin when I sat with Hoitsu and Shungo Suzuki and a few others, the others moved quickly from the zendo to the hondo for service, picked up the mats quickly, afterwards returned them quickly, walked quickly to the spot to say morning greeting. I've been in temples doing morning cleaning as fast as possible, running along with damp cloth in hand down floor boards. There's a time for fast and a time for slow here. Could give endless examples of slow too - like tea ceremony, ikebana, lacquer brushing, gardening and raking leaves, sand, gravel. The slow is expected but not the fast. Westerners tend to be surprised at this hurried activity. Here I'd say it shows sincerity, that you're throwing yourself into it.
5-09-14 - Heard drums and voices chanting on the street on Monday. It was a neighborhood matsuri, fesitval. Here's a good example of that on YouTube. All guys doing the lifting and procession, ours all in white and our omikoshi (portable shrine) was larger and it and the drums were wrapped in clear plastic because it was drizzling some. Sake was being handed out and tidbits on trays when they stopped at a local mini-park. Met some Americans, one named Tad who lives in the neighborhood and has been here twenty years - in proper matsuri attire and helping to carry the shrine which was hard to do - and there were like ten guys on each side. I asked him how they carry the big big omikoshis, house size, on festival days, down the streets. He thought those were lighter in build and theirs had a large stone in it. Carried it around to different streets. We're next to the mountain and discovered a temple and a shrine further up following them. Tad told us to go further down a block and you can keep going up. We did so yesterday and discovered a Soto Zen temple that was closed but looks promising, Shisendo, a large stone Fudomyo statue in an old stone enclosure, a huge shrine way way up in the woods - lots of steps, and an historic regular sized one lower down famous for a sword fight. Everything was open and only saw a few people the whole time. Sounds of birds calling through the pine and bamboo.
5-08-14 - Teresa Koboyashi mentioned in several recent posts has some art on the Celeste Prize site.
5-07-14 - Just saw an impressive documentary on urushi, Japanese lacquer, on Core Kyoto, a production of NHK - it's the one named Kyo-shikki. It got well into varieties and details of the art and craft of ancient and current masters. Katrinka's ikebana teacher, Yasuko Nishimura gave her the DVD. She's in it talking about why she uses shikki, lacquer ware, to serve meals to her family. The film also featured her use of stacked old lacquer food boxes for ikebana flower arrangements - so that these works of artistry could be used and appreciated another thirty years. We met Yasuko through Fumi, mother of the young woman whose apartment we're in. We had told her that Katrinka wanted to study some ikebana while here and in a few days there was a note on the door which led to all of us going to Yasuko's studio which is near Fumi's home. Fumi had never met Yasuko, had just noticed the sign on the door offering a one time free Ikebana class. Katrinka did that last week. Yasuko not only makes flower and plant arrangements, she makes containers and her garden and her artful hand reaches everywhere. She's nice too and asy to communicate with which is good because Katrinka only speaks a few words of Japanese and Yasuko knows little English.
This is what I love about Japan - Fumi going out of her way to bring us to this wonderful exemplar of Japanese culture. Like I told translator Fred, "What great nooks and crannies." And like he answered, "Yeah, that's what's great. The rest is all Velveeta."
5-06-14 - Visited with sculptor Yoshitada Ihara and wife Maki on the way home from Okayama and they sent these photos.
Eating at Okabe tofu restaurant was nostalgic and walking the old streets of Kurashiki and getting a rickshaw ride was fun. Chi-san calls it the Williamsburg of Japan.
Great seeing Teresa and walking with her through the grand park, Korakuen, and meeting her hubby Hiroshi as mentioned yesterday.
Dinner with old friends Kenji and Fukiko Numoto and their son whose name I forget. I told them that the koinobori they'd given Elin and me when Clay was born had been used every spring until three years ago, maybe the most used gift I've ever received. They'd given us one that was too big to handle and I'd returned it to the store back in 91. Kenji drove me but stayed in the car because people don't return things there. I talked them, bullied them really, into taking it back but couldn't get a refund for the difference. What a dinner. The squid was unusually tender and I'd forgotten about goma-dofu (sesame tofu)! Everybody's surprised when I don't drink booze - some of the men are disappointed but most people here who remember me are pleased - like my friends and family.
5-04-14 - Had a great time yesterday at Teresa and Hiroshi's cafe in Ushimado named Tereya Cafe after her. Super cool place. Hundred year old building. Her aizome material rounds in square frames. A partition of spools of thread of many colors. It used to be her studio and she left it there. She said people photograph it a lot. Her pet rabbit in a cage outside. Ordered rabbit. Excellent unique coconut curry. Nothing typical.
To get there took a bus from to Saidaiji to the fishing and resort village in the countryside by the Inland Sea. Told the bus driver, looking at my notes, we wanted to get off at Ayaura. He didn't recognize it. "Ayaura basu tei," I repeated (Ayaura bus stop). Nope. I tried saying it carefully with no emphasis on any syllable. He didn't know it. I thought I had it written right because Teresa had emailed me the name of the stop to get off at. He tried some other bus stop names. No I told him, "Ayaura." He shook his head. I tried once more to say "Ayaura." Nothing. Looked at my notes. It's the one after the police station I told him. After a few tries with that he understood. It was a long way to the stop with the police station. The driver said here we are at the police station. "What's the next stop," I asked. "Ayaura," he said.
5-03-14 - I was wrong. They've been chanting the Heart Sutra in English here at Sogenji in Okayama, Japan, since before when I arrived in 1988.
5-02-14 - Morning service at Sogenji starts at 4am. About 40 of us from all over the world. Shodo Harada Roshi entered wearing only black robes and sat facing the altar. Students and monks seated on both sides facing each other. No bowing before chanting, only three at the end. Service went on for an hour. First came the Heart Sutra in English - the version Peter Schneider created for Tassajara it seemed. I don't think I've ever heard English chanted in Japan before - or heard of it being chanted in Japan. The rest was in the old Sino Japanese - strong, fast, Harada's voice low, gravely, with frequent vigorously punched syllables adding a fierce rhythm. Impressive.
5-01-14 - Off to Okayama to stay at Sogenji which Elin and I lived next door to for three and a half years. Looking forward to seeing Shodo Harada Roshi, Priscilla, the monks and students, and old friend artist Teresa.
4-30-14 - Pedestrian safety in Kyoto - Bicycles on the sidewalks - cannot step to the side without looking back. Always should look both ways before crossing a street because there could be a bike though I don't recall seeing that but mainly because one might inadvertently look the wrong direction, the one from home. And always look both ways before entering a sidewalk.
4-29-14 - It's raining lightly. When it started to rain, Fumi called it potsu-potsu. Found this YouTube explanation of that word.
4-28-14 - The cream puff or whatever it was that Katrinka bought at a local (Kyoto) bakery was so good, that as I was eating it I realized it would soon be gone and experienced the tragedy of loss, like having a loved one die in my arms. Good whole wheat bread as well. Katrinka should make a bunch of mini video shots of some of the places where we get food. Like the place we got most of our dinner tonight - homemade food placed around in serving dishes one chooses from, places in to go containers to get weighed - like Whole Foods but the store about the size of a one car garage.
4-27-14 - Nuts are expensive here except for peanuts, a legume. But sesame seeds are reasonable - tan or black - and there are both types of sesame butter and you can get the seeds roasted and roasted and ground. In the morning I eat a banana with sesame butter and we love gomashio, sesame salt, which I quickly make by combining roasted sesame seeds with the roasted, ground sesame. Excellent on brown rice or vegetables.
A response to this posted in ZC Stories, gomashio
4-26-14 - To yesterday's post Part Two of and Evening with Brian Victoria, today included an addition he sent to the part about Japanese soldiers in Vietnam and Indonesia - a bit of history he calls "a fascinating and little known story, especially in the US."
Picnic with Fumi mother and Maki sister of woman who's apartment we're renting and a few of the latter's nice young female friends - on the banks of the Kamo River off Marutamachi in Kyoto on a sunny Saturday. Walk from Sanjo station to there and there to home about eight kilometers. So many neat little places on the side streets. One tiny store featured posters with Zappa, Beefheart, and Subgenious. Saw old building being demolished.
4-25-14 - On Watching the film Zen and War - an evening with Brian Victoria Part Two
4-22-14 - Included Brian's corrections and additions to yesterday's evening with Amy (sp) and Brian Victoria.
I remember having a bit of trouble getting aspirin here before. Now there's one choice we've found so far: 30 500 mg tablets for about nine dollars. No cardio aspirin. Hard to lecture them on the importance of it when they have the lowest heart disease rate in the industrial world. But still it's the 2nd leading cause of death. Talking to Brian and Aimee about it, she brings it in when they go to the states, said you can bring it in but can't have any medicine sent - or vitamins. Customs won't allow - scans packages. Could be bad drugs. Get a friend in the US military - can get everything on their bases here. We bought the 500 mg tablets and are cutting them in quarters which is easy.
4-21-14 - Part One - an evening with Amy (sp) and Brian Victoria. Spent yesterday late afternoon and Evening with Zen at War author Brian Victoria and his partner of twenty-seven years, Amy (sp?) who for years has been giving public talks on the imminent threat of radioactivity from Fukushima and other nuclear power plants. Wow. I think I'll write down what I can remember today. In the meantime, check out the Brian Victoria link on cuke. He's controversial - search the web - you won't have time to read it all.
4-20-14 - Adultery site big in Japan - thanks Gregory (Not that it has anything to do with our being here)
4-19-14 - Japanese tooth picks, at least the ones I've used, are the good design with a sharp end and a handle end, but are soft wood like in the US and don't hold the point well unlike the excellent hardwood toothpicks in Bali and I think in Thailand they were hard too but will have to double-check.
4-18-14 - Visited with Jim Morton today. He was a Shunryu Suzuki student who went to Japan in 72. He's a calligrapher, artists, and sculptor. He's doing well.
Interview with Jim Morton from September 2012.
He lives near Sanjusangendo which we visited first. Do an image search on it.
4-17-14 - We're in an Air BnB rented apartment in Kyoto for two months. Here's the link to our particular place. Before Air BnB I don't know how this would have been possible. Japanese people are extremely helpful but Japan makes everything difficult and expensive, especially for foreigners, and Air BnB cut through all of that.
4-16-14 - We're going soon to the Kyoto International Community House of KCIF, the Kyoto City International Foundation (Kyoto Kokai Koryu Kikan), for Japanese class. Katrinka will join a group class with multiple teachers who can deal with anyone at any level and I will meet with a woman in the coffee shop just to chat and ask questions. Going to concentrate on restaurant types and food kanji and such that I'm pretty weak on. Some questions on a vitamin bottle box kanji. A few miscellaneous notes. She calls it a "one coin private lesson" - an hour and a half for a 500 yen coin ($5 - nominal). The website is Nihongo no Ie (Japanese House). Now that I'm into Japanese, other material has been pushed off the edge. When I came to KCIF last Sunday there were food stands out front. One of them was for Indonesian food. I wanted to say something in Indonesian to the women there. A little over a month ago I was getting by pretty well with Indonesian, was using it frequently. On Sunday I could not remember one word - really, not hello or thanks or anything.
That reminded me of when I was staying with Peruvians in Yaizu, rather than at Rinsoin, while doing research for Crooked Cucumber - 1994. I sat up drinking and talking in Spanish till late as they spoke little English or Japanese, and then the next day went with the guy to his place of work - he was loaning me his car (I still had my Japanese driver's license). When I tried to speak with his Japanese fellow workers only Spanish came out. I couldn't find Japanese, none. I'd met the owner the day before and we'd gotten along talking in Japanese. I ran to his office and said to him in English, "Please speak to me in Japanese." He didn't know enough English for me to explain why. It took a minute but finally he did so. I asked for more. It was like being primed. The Japanese kicked in. The Spanish was gone. I drove to Rinsoin and sat around with the family telling them what had happened. One of the girls finally said to me, "David, I think you're speaking in Spanish." Horrors.
I think of my friend and colleague, Fred Harriman, who translates professionally at the highest level (Olympics, government, companies) Japanese, Spanish, English in any direction. Wow (shaking my head in apparent disbelief).
4-15-14 - There is so much more recycling now in Japan than when I was here over twenty years ago when there was no official recycling that I can remember and shocking waste. I've got to take the trash in a designated bag out to the designated spot across the street now. That's done Tuesday and Friday mornings. Can't put it out at night. Isn't much and I bet we can figure out how to reduce it more because there are official and private recycling, more than in the US. Here's some recent history on recycling in Japan. They're taking all plastic now it seems. I noticed that at Rinsoin. And there's Styrofoam collection at some stores. That's rare but growing in the US in places like Portland. There's monthly collection of random metal items like spray cans and frying pans. And there's appliance recycling which I got into here years ago meeting guys who shipped discarded items to Vietnam and so forth, but nothing official. The local department store in Okayama used to have unsold appliances picked up and crushed so no one could use them. Old folks told me Japan had turned into a use and throw away society. I wonder if there's any place in the world that can turn around as quickly as Japan - once a decision is made on high. Japan is now committed to move toward zero waste. I'll be learning more.
4-14-14 - We got plenty of cherry blossoms in Tokyo, Kamakura, and Gifu, but were warned that they'd be gone when we got to Kyoto. First day in Kyoto we walked in Cherry blossom snow down the Tetsugaku no Michi, the Philosopher's Path. But yesterday there were still trees at the Imperial Palace and elsewhere whose blooms hadn't fallen. Weather is mild. We arrived at the perfect time.
4-13-14 - Happened to learn about and get into the Kyoto Imperial Palace on the last of five open to the public free days. Never been there. There's so much to see here could take Katrinka for two months only to places I've never been.
4-12-14 - Bought some excellent cue tip type ear swabs in Kamakura, just what I've always wished they were like - fatter at the end and not on a sharp stick that the end comes off of. The rest of Asia so far I've only seen them with tips smaller that the US though those tips don't come off. Most pleased.
4-11-14 - First night in Kyoto we walked around the corner down Shirakawa from Kitaoji, shopped at the Life Supa (supermarket). Don't remember anything that big from before. Then on the way home walked up to an organic vegan restaurant called Village. It's a little expensive but we'll be back for more of their exotic, sumptuous dishes.
There we talked with three cool dudes (and the waitress was nice).
Sheyen Ikeda who handmakes wooden eyeglass rims with no metal parts. Here's his site: Cycle Co. He's an architect, designing and building the stage for Japan Ted talks. Seems like a Westerner (appearance and no accent) but he's Japanese, born here.
Keith Hills who's got a music gig coming up that we plan to attend. He's been here twelve years. Is a percussionist. The music's on the 26th, flier in Japanese kanji with some English - bass, tabla, two sitars, and darbuka (dumbec) at the Village, 19:00 (7pm).
ichi jyo ji tsuki da cho dai ichi mezon shira kawa
京都市左京区 一 乗 寺 築 田 町 95 第 一 メゾン 白 川 202
4-10-14 - Japan update - Arrived her with Katrinka April 2nd late. A bag was still in Singapore (see 4-03 entry below).
On April 3rd visited with Junyu Kuroda at Kirigayaji. He's the brother of Taizan Maezumi and Bushi Kuroda of Zenkoji in Yokohama, both of whom have passed away.
Stayed in Kamakura at a hotel nights of 3,4,5. Great walking town, compact, great temples and shrines. We visited and sat zazen with Sanbo Zen friends (See 4-04). Attended get-together in Hayama with Issho Fujita who taught in Massachusetts for 17.5 years and who was an editor on the recently published Japanese translation of Zen Is Right Here. More on Issho Fujita. Had dinner with engaged Buddhist Jonathan Watts. More on him later.
Paid a quick visit to Shoganj, the temple where Shunryu was born, arriving on the 6th. [more to come on this]. Spent the evening and next morning with Hoitsu Suzuki and family at Rinsoin. Visited with Mitsu Suzuki, Shunryu's widow on the 7th. See posts on the 7th and 8th below.
Spent the nights of the 7th and 8th with Toshi Inui in Gifu Ken (prefecture). See yesterday.
Arrived in Kyoto yesterday, the 9th, and are in an apartment we rented for two months through Air BnB. Plan to walk down the Tetsugaku no Michi, Philosopher's Path today to Nanzenji and then to the Kyoto International Community House to meet with Shunko Mike Jamvold who flies to the US tomorrow.
Will be elaborating on some of this in the coming days.
4-09-14 - Wrote a note to Kelly about his painful sting from a stonefish in 1988 in Japan.
Kelly - I'm with Toshi and family in their home in the Gifu countryside. When you went to Mihama to the beach with them in 1988 and I was dropped off in Fukui and took the train to Obama to check out practice temples, you were stung by some fish and taken to the hospital. That's all I learned when we met back in Gifu. This morning, 26 years later, after breakfast, going over Toshi's photo albums, I asked about that. He remembered it well. He says you were bitten by an okoze, a stonefish. I didn't know what that was then but I do now. They can kill you. They're the most poisonous fish. Also their sting is listed as one of the most painful that a person can get. Later that year when we were later in Thailand in Chiang Mai and went to the Texas Bar owner's "ranch," an Aussie with us talked about how he survived a stonefish sting. We didn't know then that there were two of you in that club. When I'm in the water in Bali, I try not to touch the bottom too much and that's why.
Kelly wrote back that he thinks it was a "Good story below, but I’m not convinced. I think it was some type of Sculpin."
Toshi said, no, that he caught it and knows them and eats them and knows what they taste like and that Sculpins, kajika, are fresh water and stone fish, okoze, are salt water. He says that the stonefish was in a net with some other fish and that Kelly, feet in the water, inadvertently kicked it. He says that the doctor frightened Kelly when he jokinly said he'd have to amputate.
Toshi Inui is a car dealer who, among other things, imports Starcraft RVs to Japan. Here's his site for that. Here he is on that site. The name of his car dealership is Auto Hause 2010 and it's located in Hachiman, Mugegawa Cho, Gifu Ken, Japan. Please buy your next car or RV from Toshi. Thanks.
4-08-14 - Shunryu Suzuki's widow, Mitsu Suzuki, showed me how she could see Mt. Fuji, Fuji San, from her window. She said she bowed to it every morning. I said it's the heart of Japan isn't it and she said yes. She had a small piece of paper taped to the wall there with yukkuri yukkuri written in hiragana - slowly, slowly - like take it easy. She said (in Japanese), "You know how I was always running around doing things in a hurry. This is what Suzuki Roshi would say to me." I commented on how lovely her kimono was she told me something I was surprised to hear. She said that when she arrived in America to join Shunryu (and live together for the first time), that she was wearing a hat, high heels, and a western dress. But he only wore his robes and kimono so she threw all her western clothes away. She showed Katrinka and me a thick album with photos of many people from Zen Center, one being a photo of Dianne (Daya) Goldschlag and me at our wedding. Then she brought over an envelope with a letter from Daya. She held her hands out to indicate how big I'd gotten. That was a memory from the sixties and seventies. I weigh less than I have since then. I gave her a tiny old Buddha carved from stone, bought in Thailand. She wrote some reminders on the little blue paper envelope I'd kept it in and put it on her alter with various mementos and photos of Shunryu, Kobun Chino among others.
4-07-14 - Spent the night at Rinsoin, Shunryu Suzuki's home temple, and sat zazen this morning with his son the present abbot, Hoitsu, and Hoitsu's son Shungo, also a priest and next in line, and some men from Yaizu. After breakfast and laundry, Katrinka and I visited with Mitsu Suzuki, Shunryu's widow, and she gave me a copy of her new collection of haiku, A White Tea Bowl: 100 Haiku from 100 Years of Life - edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi, translated by Kate McCandless, introduction by Norman Fischer. - Amazon link
Mitsu's 100th birthday is coming up on the 26th of this month and she's doing great, quite energetic, walking well, was quite affectionate, hugging me repeatedly. Most touching.
Hoitsu's wife Chitose drove us to Mitsu's. Also there were Mitsu's daughter Harumi and Hoitsu's sister-in-law, Mitsuyo, who is visiting from San Francisco.
Hoitsu is now the Seido of a practice temple in Okayama where he's leading a one week sesshin this month and going there for a week every month. He'll also spend a week at Eiheiji later this month.
4-06-14 - Lots of cherry blossoms. Clear view of snow covered Mt. Fuji snow covered, clear sky.
4-05-15 - Check out Sudo Yuko dot com, the website for the professional photography of a kind young woman named Yuko who helped me find an ATM in Kamamkura where my debit card would work. She saw I was having trouble and went way out of her way for Katrinka and me. We went to a few different banks and the post office which has ATMs and which the banks sent us to. None of them would take an international card, at least not mine which has worked in every little backwoods place I've tried it in India, Indonesia, and Southeast Asia. Finally one bank ATM did work. Now I hear that 7-11 is the best place to go for that. This problem with finding an ATM I could use was not surprising to me. I'd warned Katrinka that Japan is for Japanese and others fit in as best we can. So far we can't figure out how to have phones here except by paying two dollars a minute for American iPhone roaming. We've talked to hip Japanese and one American who lives here and so far doesn't seem there are pre paid phones - just long term contracts. It's a definite change after being in Bali and Thailand which are totally geared to tourists and foreigners doing business or who work or live there, where everything is convenient and cheap. There's an article in the Japan Times today about how there are meetings going on now about how to make Japan more tourist friendly for the 2020 Olympics. It will be interesting to see how far they can get beyond just talking about the problem. I'm sitting in a chair writing this in front of the front desk to our hotel with one Ethernet cord and no desk. There's no wireless. This is a hotel by the train station in one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan. Two Brits came in. I told them to knock at the window at the desk. The nice older woman working here came out. The man said, "I have a reservation." She said in Japanese, "Please excuse me but I don't speak English."
I think, "Ah, I'm back in Japan." I love it.
4-04-14 - Met with Ursula Okle and Rainer Holdt of Sanbo Zen (formerly Sanbo Kyodan but Kyodan became a bad word because the group that poisoned people on the subways ten years ago were a kyodan which is just a word for group). Walked with them from the Kamakura train station to the beach and then to the zendo where we joined others for the evening sitting. This is the zendo where Yasutani Haku'un and his heir Yamada Koun sat and taught and from which so much Zen in the west has sprung including more than what they include on their website.
4-03-14 - Landed at Haneda, the old Tokyo airport last night, to learn that one of our three bags didn't make it from Singapore where we'd changed planes. It was Katrinka's. It arrived this morning at the funky hostel type yet clean place where we stayed but we didn't know it because I'd walked out to the big street to meet the delivery van thinking they'd never find the little out of the way place were we were. Meanwhile the delivery vehicle came in behind me. For a while we thought it was lost but found it in the caretaker's office. He didn't know whom it was for. I had to climb in through a window to get it. For about an hour we thought it had been handed to "a foreign woman" who'd run off with it. A nice Indian woman who lives there said oh that's the young long-haired Chinese man who lives in the room marked office. So after an hour of confused drama we made our noon appointment which I'll mention tomorrow.
4-02-14 - People in the West frequently mention sex, sex tours, illegal sex, sex biz when they think of Thailand. That only came up a few times obliquely on our three weeks there. The other night a tuk tuk driver wanted to drive us to Pat Pong or Soi Cowboy, sex streets for tourists. The first hint was when he asked if we wanted to see a ping pong show. When we declined he asked if we'd rather see an all male sex show. We couldn't fit it in our busy schedule. Then yesterday, our last day before going to Japan, we were off to take advantage of Thai prices. Katrinka got her hair done and I got hands and feet manicured at her insistence (which I've never paid for before this trip). The first place I checked was dark with a curtain, a pretty young woman, mats on the floor of an adjoining room for massages. I ditched it for a more comfortable atmosphere of older women in a beauty parlor chatting and going in and out of a backroom. Katrinka went there later and said she enjoyed the neighborhood feeling. Eating noodles at a tiny table on the sidewalk rubbed shoulders with two Thai at the next table - a lady boy (ubiquitous in Thai culture) and what turned out to be the lady boy's high school chum. He said that he too was a woman trapped in a man's body but he said he didn't have to do anything differently from normal men since his trapped woman was a lesbian.
4-01-14 - We just got a lot of dental work done in Thailand far cheaper than the US. Recommend the Seventh Day Adventist Mission Hospital for that and other medical needs. India was good too and much cheaper. When I write good, I mean excellent - both countries - but not all experiences are as good as ours. My dentist in Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu India had digital ex-rays which I'm sorry Mission Hospital doesn't have. Dr. Goffman warned us.
3-31-14 - Learned something new the other day while looking at what I thought was a banana tree. It's only that in popular parlance. Technically it's an herb, an herbaceous plant - the biggest one in the world that can grow up to 36 feet high.
I read this on a sign in front of some banana trees in a tropical jungle. Checked it out today. See this.
3-30-14 - We saw a Gibbon family in the wild yesterday swinging around in trees. They don't have tails. Wow.
3-28-14 - Arrive in Japan in a few days and will be in contact with some folks knowledgeable about what's happening with Fukushima. Kaz Tanahashi told me not to go to Tokyo. I said I'd be in Kyoto. He said that's okay then asked for how long. I said a couple of months. He said, "It's been good to know you." Pray for us.
Check out the recent and past posts on Fukushima at Taigen's Peace and Justice Page
3-26-14 - A bit busy here. Where am I?
3-15-14 - Photos of our friends Vidya and Wai and others and us including the kids and the school in Kuala Lumpur. Info about it all below. Leaving soon. Thanks to Vidyananda Soon and Chong Wai Leng, our wonderful hosts in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - for the friendship, puer tea, dim sum and den some.
3-14-14 - Yesterday at the CLIC (Cooperative Learning Initiative Community) where Katrinka and I are staying in Kuala Lumpur, we spent the afternoon with ten great little kids ages six to eleven and a couple of babies and some mommies and daddies. Some of the kids watched as it took a little eternity to get to Pluto on the tediously accurate map of our solar system as featured yesterday on cuke. We talked about all that celestial scale stuff as featured here before. I pointed out that Einstein said physicists know all time is simultaneous and that space and time are inseparable so that all space and time exists in each spot too so that it's all inside us as well. Then we sang Row Row Row Your Boat as a round, a song that I feel perfectly expresses the nature of reality. Then a parent asked about Zen. I think everyone was Chinese Malay so I said it was Japanese for Chan which comes from dhyana which means meditation. It turns out that they meditate for five minutes a couple of times a week so we did that sitting in a circle. Not a kid made a sound. When it was over I asked where does all this space and time come from? I pointed out that none of the three great traditions in China - Daoism, Buddhism, Confucianism have a theistic creator myth. I didn't bring up all the superstition and other tangles they get into. Buddha was asked where it all came from and he said there was no creator other than mind itself. And this doesn't mean brain or individual mind, but the awareness we all share. Then we sang happy birthday and had cake.
Wai,our host along with Vidya, is in charge of the school. Here's her website for the school and education: Learning Beyond Schooling
3-13-14 - We're in Kuala Lumpur now staying at CLIC (Cooperative Learning Initiative Community) that's in a residential area. It's also a school run by Wai. Her husband is Vidya. I met them through Alan Senauke. They are engaged Buddhists of Chinese Christian background. Everyone grew up speaking English. Laura, "Christian name (from Little House on the Prairie)," is here with three darling children three days a week. Katrinka was still sleeping and I was out front sitting watching the day start and Laura took me through the neighborhood, around a park to a stand with folding table set up and Muslim family serving up food in waxy brown paper wrapped to go. The air is filled with smoke reminding me of Tassajara when there's a forest fire somewhere in the woods, not smog or at least the smog is overwhelmed. On the way from the airport in hosts Vidya and Wai's old Mercedes we saw smoldering peat from dry swamps, stands of trees dead from fire, fire trucks and fighters keeping creeping fire from buildings and roads. There's a drought and they can't stop the fires. Most of KL but not this nice neighborhood on water rationing - two days on, two days off. Rain predicted for a week starting tomorrow Friday. Hope so. I can use Indonesian here to communicate and they say oh, you speak Malaysian (which Indonesian is based on). But seems everyone speaks at least a little English. This was party of the English Empire.
Vidya's website - Samma-ajiva (right livelihood) dot net - Beyond Buddhism - transcending self, transforming society
Alan Senauke cuke page - wanted to link to something for Alan but there's so much decided to make a cuke link page for him. - dc
3-12-14 - BBC had a story about children in Syria featuring a photo of a young girl with the tagline that she earns $4 a day. News media frequently mentions a figure a person or persons earn in some foreign country without stating what the earning power of $1 is there compared to the US or Europe. Our driver friend Ketut gets 50,000 rupiah, a little over $4 a day from his boss. He adds to that with private driving like for us and he says it's not enough, but as I wrote about the other day, he owns property and home. Four dollars a day to a Balinese is worth more than ten time that to an American. Ketut was getting 5000 rupiah a day 23years ago when he started driving. Back then the average civil servant made $20 a month. Elin and I were here and had a full time nanny for Clay for a month and were supposed to give her $20 but gave her 50 which angered Anglos here who said we were adding to the destabilization of the economy.
Ketut was just here to say goodbye because we're leaving Bali in a few hours. He just did some errands for us that saved us a lot of time. He got a lamp and a microwave fixed so we could leave Rosemary's place in better shape than we found it. He wouldn't let me give him anything for his time then. This morning I had to force him to take what to him was an overly generous 100,000 rupiah ($8.40) by telling him it's not for him but for his children. I told him we'd see him in July and that I'd try to help his wife get some cleaning work. She sure is a nice person. So pretty and sweet too. And he's a good guy.
3-11-14 - Leaving Bali tomorrow morning for Kuala Lumpur then Thailand then Japan. Back in July. Best place we can afford to live it seems. To errands and packing!
3-09-14 - Ketut, the driver, told us about his sister on the way back to Sanur from Amed yesterday. He said that she was experienced in cleaning and doing housework as she'd done that for twenty-five years. Her leg had been broken in the Bali earthquake of 1976 when she was seven. Her father took her to a doctor who set her leg. The father had no money to pay so he borrowed it from his cousin with the agreement that the daughter would work for the cousin to pay it off. No time limit was set. From the age of ten till thirty-five she worked for the cousin with no pay except food and I guess board. Ketut says his father had no sense of what the debt and the work were worth, just made an agreement in desperation. She's forty-five now, has no job, her husband left her after their five year old son choked to death last year on a mangosteen seed and she failed to get pregnant again. She came with us last week when we went up to northern Bali and left her at their family home. She's sad.
3-08-14 - Saturday - Ketut is here to pick us up in Amed where we've been for four days. It's a snorkeling, scuba diving (which we won't do) village on the East Coast. We can see the island of Lombok rising up to the East. Katrinka wants to move here. It's drier and cheaper than Sanur where we return today to focus on flying to Kuala Lumpur Wednesday. From there Thailand for three weeks then Japan till mid June then we're planning to not take our return flights to SFO and expensive America but return to Bali for a longer stay. Getting a bag on the way home to pack stuff in to leave here. Want to leave as much as we can. I've got a lot of cuke work to get done before we leave. The squeeze is on.
3-06-14 - Ketut our driver friend is not a big fan of Bali Hinduism. He says it's mainly not religion, it's social and cultural obligation. He doesn't make much money and neither does his wife who makes little packs of cassava chips to sell on the street. But somehow they have to have multiple homes. They have a home in the capital and big city Denpasar that they'll have to leave in a couple of years having leased it and put money into it for ten years. He took out a big loan and bought a plot nearby to build on and is struggling to be able to do that. He comes from a village up North near Lovina. There's no room for him in his family home so he had to buy land there to build a home which he's starting soon. He doesn't really want to but he's got to have a home there for ceremonies. Certain ceremonies you have to go back to your home village. There are other frequent financial obligations related to being a Bali Hindu. I can see why he likes the Hari Krishna with their single minded devotion and chanting and surely other obligations but not the ones he's tied down by. He says that Bali used to be 80% Hindu but now it's just 67% because so many people have switched to Christianity or just dropped out in order to escape the financial requirements.
3-02-14 - Early morning in Puputan Park in Denpasar with several thousand others walking around its periphery, listening to piped music. Driver Ketut took me as a friend, no charge. We paused by Hari Krishna chanter singers for a while eating the bubur women in India Sari were handing out in plastic cups. I took seconds - like a sweet thin pea soup. The singers and soup were coming from canopied enclosures sporting Go Green and Food for Life in large letters. On the side a couple of Muslim women ordered from the Japanese Tako Yaki stand. There were hundreds of young people with red tee shirts from the bank where they worked. In the middle of all this rose the giant Bajra Sandhi monument. I bought us some pork sate from a couple sitting in the grass and he bought us gado gado - mixed cabbage, egg, tofu, chewy fish in glutton thing, potato, peanut sauce - and a lemon and coconut drink. A little like being in SF's Golden Gate park on Sunday.
2-26-14 - How they say Sunday night in Bali. This one threw me off for a while. Malam is night. Minggu is Sunday and it also means week. That wasn't what threw me off though. We were with our driver Ketut coming back from Tanah Lot and I corrected him when I thought he said it was Saturday night when it was Sunday night. Took a while for me to get it but turns out that Minggu malam is indeed Sunday night but that malam Minggu is Saturday night. It's like if we said, "Sunday night" it would be that but if we said, "Night Sunday" it would be the night before Sunday, Saturday night. I don't know if they capitalize days of the week or anything about capitalization either. It's sort of like if they say seven thirty in Indonesian it's six thirty - they subtract the thirty from the hour number. And Katrinka and I waded over to the Tanah Lot temple, drank the holy water, got blessed, and talked to a priest who hoped we might buy some real estate nearby.
2-24-14 - I do not like to ride or ride on motorbikes. I never have. This is motorbike kingdom. There are a lot of cars and SUVs and trucks too but so many motorbikes. It's really the best way to get around here.
A lot of the foreigners who lives here ride motorbikes and every one of them I've talked to says they get stopped by police who want money. A Holland couple were telling me that and I said that yeah, an Aussie guy I know just paid 750 thousand rupees to a cop - 250 for unbuckled helmet, 250 for no license, and 250 for the cop. [250 is $20] They said, "That wasn't necessary. Just give them 50 and say that's all you've got. That's what we always do." That's what they always do? Jake said he and Yuko get a motorbike here and they always get stopped and give the cop some money. They're used to it. Makes me feel safer now as I walk knowing the police have plenty of people on motorbikes to hassle.
And then there's the danger. I've been on the back of one once for a few blocks when it was convenient and that was helpful but I couldn't help but be super aware of how unprotected I was. I remember when over the phone Elin said maybe we should get Clay a motorbike. It would save so much money. I had a computer in front of me and after a few keystrokes could respond, "Thirty times the accident rate of cars - thirty times the death rate." "Nevermind."
About fifteen years ago I was with Kelly in Spokane going somewhere he was driving and he said, "Dad, if there's anything you don't want me to do, what would it be?" I told him he made very good decisions and that I wouldn't advice him to not do anything. "Yeah but there must be something you'd like to advise me to stay away from." Look, I said. You've got really good judgment, better than mine. "But if you had to list something I really should not do, what would it be?" OK, I said, Don't ride a motorcycle. He smiled. Turned out he was driving me to a motorcycle shop to pay for one he was buying. He rode it five years, never had an accident which is rare, and sold it.
Oh yeah. Jake also said that they and a few American and some Japanese biz associates took a vacation here in Bali and that one of the Japanese men died in a motorbike accident and they had a Bali funeral for him.
Mob of locals on the beach this morning. Rain stopped an hour before, then Matahari, the sun, came out. Drank hot tea with condensed sweet milk and talked with Fera, a young Java woman who's little beach shed is open 6am to 10pm every day. She teaches me new words and grills me on pronunciation.
Katrinka and I had three hour lunch with Jake yesterday in Ubud overlooking large green grown high rice field. He and his wife Yuko do Goenka Vipassana daily plus long retreats. Like us they also dig Mooji whom we'd all done Satsang with in Tiruvanamalai, Tamil Nadu. Jake said the whole Satsang scene in Tiru had been run out of town due to a female Indian guru self immolating and leaving a note that blamed three foreigners. Yes - here is a link about that with a lot of comments expressing strong feelings about the Tiru scene and gurus. What I found useful in Tiru was Ramana Ashram and Mooji and I loved visiting the vast temple downtown and walking around Anuranchala the mountain in the middle - though I didn't worship it. See India Trip Notes on cuke. So Mooji's going to Rishikesh now for his India stint instead of Tiru. Made me want to return to India. Jake said Mooji's people have a large plot in Portugal. Jake and Yuko were just in India. They go there, mainly to Jaipur, Rajasthan, to do retreats and buy stuff to sell in Nevada City. He's shipping a bunch out now from here. Mainly though he markets Japanese. See an ad Posted for him here in 2007.
Jake painted a dire picture of Asia's future: Pollution is so bad in Delhi he's vowed never go there again. Like Beijing it has a PM 2.5 count or particulate matter 2.5 times what the World Health Organization deems safe. Beijing's PM makes it to Kyoto where they live just outside of. Gobi dessert sand blinds one in Kyoto some days. Japanese not doing anything serious about the massive amounts of radiation pouring out of Fukushima and feel obligated to eat radioactive or not to support their nation. Fish and apples especially suspect. Jake and Yuko grow own vegetables. He says Asia is dying and urged me to write about it. We're going there for April and May, mainly Kyoto. He said we'll love it and have a great time.
2-21-14 - We go to see Jake tomorrow in Ubud. We were supposed to see him Tuesday with Yuko who'd changed flights to meet us. I'd never met her. Katrinka's never met him or her. They had a posh villa with pool and catered lunch but then she got sick and he took her to the hospital and then to a plane. I was most disappointed and so was our driver who said he'd already rented the SUV and bought gas so we headed out for didn't know where and tried this ashram I wanted to check on but it was closed, not a live-in place. The web weather said it was going to rain but he thought not for a long time and turned out he knew where the white sand beach past Candidasa was - it's pretty obscure and was great. Best beach we'd been. Then he took us to the an original Bali village, Tenganan with people there before the Hindus came from Java. They only marry within their village or leave. Beautiful art and crafts. Read more about that. Then we went to the Goa Lewah - bat temple, saw bats clinging to the ceiling of the cave with no space in-between - and a python up there too waiting for one to fly by when it got dark. Our guide said there were many pythons up there. Saw a dead mommy bat who'd fallen with a dying baby still clinging. We ate in a cheap little place across the street (cheapest food here is good - dinner was about a dollar and a half each) and came back to see them flying out at dark by the zillions. Katrinka thanked me for insisting we stay for that. The cost of the driver for twelve hours plus tip was less than $40. So I thought that was all a good trade off for not seeing Jake's villa and we're going to pick him up at his hotel in Ubud with the same driver at noon. Now that Yuko's gone he's out of the villa. I haven't seen him in since 92 I don't think.
See Katrinka's photos of the beach and bats and bat night video on Facebook.
The White Sand Beach isn't that big a secret. See this. Maybe there are restrictions on what can go there. can't stay there. There are no new type buildings. Narrow road with potholes on the way. Got so bad we parked and walked. Bali roads are good. I told Katut our driver it was like we'd entered India.
2-1614 - Hope we don't get in trouble here. Check out this example of Bali justice.
2-15-14 - Heard some great Latin music tonight done by local group, Elsavadore (not misspelled), with locals dancing Salsa beautifully then from Sammy Blues Man One Man Band from the Maluca Islands playing Presley, Robert Johnson roughly, unevenly, bass e string flat, but very cool, singing well too though most words unintelligible which was fine with us. The Maluca Islands, also the Maluccas, incidentally, were once called the Spice Islands. We were walking by on a breezy eve after rain and happened on this quite enjoyable music.
2-14-14 - Selemat Hari Kashih Sayang which is Indonesian for Happy Valentines Day!
Go to Katrinka's FB page to see our Valentines gifts to each other. - dc
2-13-14 - Locals fish as well as swim in the calm, shallow water within the reef here in Sanur. I swam into a net today. No big deal. Just went around it. One fisherman was out there standing with a pole and line for hours. Katrinka wondered if he was there because he was catching fish or because he hadn't caught any. I wondered if he was barefoot or not. I don't like walking barefoot too far out cause there are loose coral, starfish, and the dreaded stonefish. The surfers wear aqua socks to go out beyond the reef. Later sitting by the brick walk along the beach, he came by, shorts and shirtless, dark chocolate skin, thin, muscular, pole in hand. He stopped. One leg went up perpendicular to the other and water poured out from the heel of a black loafer. The other shoe was next - like street shoes - and water poured out of it. Like a dancer he was off having answered my question. I didn't notice if he had any fish with him.
2-12-14 - Leaving KL today to return to Bali. We enjoyed it. Wai (see yesterday) and her daughter Sam went to the acupuncturist in Chinatown, Katrinka and I tagged along, and I got a treatment too for my shoulder (and a nap on the table).
And here's Amrita
Soon, Vidya and Wai's daughter
2-11-14 - Looking from the dining room window down on traffic on a freeway and first thought there were no motorbikes here in Kuala Lumpur till I noticed special lanes for them to the sides and off the freeway they're in with the cars as usual.. Still not near as many as Bali where they rule. Where are all the people going in those cars? I frequently wonder that. English here is as common and fluent as LA. And they understand Indonesian which is mainly based on Malaysian. We're here because we could only stay 60 days in Indonesia. Three nights here then back to Bali for another month then back here. Alan Senauke connected us to Vidyananda Soon here via Buddhist Peace Fellowship work. Vidya's in Mauritas. Met wonderful people we're going to see more of. We spent the afternoon with his wife Wai and young woman friend Vienna, engaged Buddhist activist. Later met young woman Lim Wei of Engineers without Borders - engineering solutions for sustainable communities. Mai's brother paul joined us and them at (Pullman) hotel for tea and warm water. He's an exec with Pullman. We're being treated like royalty. Costs a fraction of what it would in US or Singapore or even Thailand.
2-08-14 - Subud - A local product. - thanks MK
2-07-14 - Experiencing life in shards. We went to Ubud the other day. Previously mentioned that the day in December we spent a little time there I couldn't recognize it from my 1992 memories it's grown so. But it's also the cultural center of Bali so we wanted to go back. We inherited from Rosemary a really nice guy driver named Made who's from Lembongan Island. Island is Nusa. So he's Made Nusa. He took us to a Barong dance in the morning then to Ubud. He drove around trying to help me locate where we stayed in 92 but I couldn't find it. We went to the King's Palace in the center of town and yes I vaguely remembered it. We were walking toward the bridge over the river gorge and I flashed on the restaurant across the street. Murni's! Yes! Elin and I used to eat there. So we three went in and had lunch overlooking the river and lush stone cliff across. Of all the places to eat it must have been the coolest. Hostess said Murni's had been there more than thirty years. Thanks flash. As for particulars inside, forget it, my memories are so fragmented. It's like a picture of what happened had dropped and been shattered into pieces and all I could come up with was occasional fragments and even these pieces are always changing. Rather than seek them out I'll enjoy them when they happen. Everything's always new anyway. Later that night another hit of recognition when we entered the King's Palace again to see the Legong dance. Seating had been brought out to surround the performing area for the dancers and musicians in the courtyard Katrinka and I sat I realized in the same spot where Elin, Clay, and I had sat twenty two years ago April to see Barong. Clay had just turned one. When the Barong lion dragon like creature with two humans inside came out he was amazed, leaned forward, pointed his finger, went "Dah!" and stayed in that position entranced for a long time as the colorful show continued. Never had I seen him respond so strongly. But this night it was Legong and it was mesmerizing. Has I seen a full Legong before? I guess, but as for memories, didn't have a shard.
2-06-14 - It's hard not to look when someone's having sex right in front of me. Two thin blond dogs were doing that off and on for an hour the other day. The male was so enthusiastic. The female seemed to enjoy it but when she got enough she'd sit down and he'd wait. Made me think of the time in Poona when Dolano, a young woman Advaita teacher from Germany was giving darshan. She was asking if we wanted to be seekers forever and I was watching two pigeons having sex on the edge of a roof not far behind her. Maybe that's why I remember what she said as a good point. Check her out.
2-05-14 - People here are so helpful with language study, more than anywhere in my limited experience. And helpful in a helpful way. As soon as they hear I'm trying to speak Indonesian they nudge me along and obviously enjoy it, appreciate that I try, are ready to show me more. I've found this to be true with pretty much everyone - restaurant staff who will hang out for a while, taxi drivers who try out different phrases on me and joke. I won't compare to other countries because I'd have to be critical. Like I'd have to point out that in some places they'll get hung up on details, correcting pronunciation and every tiny grammatical error so it's hard to get anywhere with them. in some they'll try to ignore you, refuse to recognize you're speaking their language or insist they don't speak English when you're speaking their language because it's only for them. In others I've heard they'll scoff at you. Most will be generally helpful like Mexico - almost everyone appreciates a foreigner trying to speak their language - but here they're over the top nice about it. Makes it fun.
2-04-14 - One thing I keep coming back to is something an American therapist in Bangkok said ten years ago. He'd been working with different Asians for years and he said that at first we notice the differences between each other but in time what he has learned is that we all are so much the same. I think of that when I watch little kids, hear babies cry, interact with adults from various backgrounds. Mooji said we share the same fundamental with every living being - the sense of I am.
2-03-13 - Went to a sort of sports bar this morning arriving before 7am to see Super Bowl illegally captured from Aussie Satellite. I think that was my only American football game of the season - only game of any kind. About twenty of us. Only talked to Aussies. Don't meet many Americans here. I remember hype during Superbowl game announcers saying a billion people were watching and talking about it like it was the biggest deal in the world. I've seen five or six in Asia and never noticed more than a handful of people paying attention. My team so to speak, the 49ers, are the most popular team abroad it seems but mainly just because of the name. In Japan they care about baseball, sumo, anything with Japanese in it. Most of the world is into soccer which is called football. People in India and Australia are zonkers over Cricket when I've never comprehended. I saw the Rugby World Cup in Agra ten years ago in a room full of Aussies and Brits watching the later have a rare win. One of the most exciting parts was when the electricity went out. I can remember Elin and me jumping up and down screaming in front of a TV in a hotel lobby in Okayama as the 49ers scored (Montana to Taylor) to pull ahead with 34 seconds left to go. No one else knew what we were so excited about.
2-02-14 - At the beach in water for fifteen minutes then use the outside shower, dry with a tie-dye scarf, and write in a notebook as Kat snorkels. The water is not deep till out past the reef where the big waves break on the surfers. Have to deal with an occasional ant crawling on me or the notebook. Doesn't matter much they never bite. There aren't any big ones there - there are elsewhere - but the medium ones I can blow or shake off. The tiny ones are so tenacious. It would be like a person who can hold on to a flat surface in a two hundred mph wind. Dragon flies dance and tiny birds swoop around like bats - really like bats. I've never seen one stop.
2-01-14 - We were on the Island of Lembongan a thirty minute speed boat ride away. Went there for the day to check it out. It's said to be like the old Bali - not many cars, two lane bumpy roads, The best snorkling we're told which we hope to get to another time. Got a pickup truck with canopy and seats in the back to drive us around the island. Katrinka nudged me. Two young tourists behind us on a motorbike riding close trying to get our attention. The driver was holding something out. Ah! My retractable umbrella had slipped out of it's outer pocket on my mini-pack. I reached my hand out and he sped up... closer... our driver sped up... further away... closer.. and... I got it. They pulled back. I took a guess and called out, "Xie xie!" as they grew smaller behind us.
1-31-14 - Sometimes we hear Hindu chanting that's melodic, sort of haunting. Last night from a temple we passed. Today at the beach a young man sitting on a shaded platform with an older woman was practicing chanting while reading from a text. Katrinka filmed him and will post it soon. The chanting frequently reminds me of the warbling ups and downs of Ryaku Fusatsu at the SFZC. The opening of the Kecak also nudged Zen memories when the ceremony was initiated with a mallet hitting a wooden board leading to a staccato conclusion reminiscent of Zen temples' han. Then a priest came out and sprinkled water around as a blessing, again as is done in some Zen ceremonies - and other Buddhist and Christian. The women and men in the family we live with attend to altars, shrines at home and at a nearby temple. Offerings in small palm leaf trays ar