worldwide walkabout the tiniest bird takes a walk.


baliness: amed, mt. batur, ubud

snorkeling in amed was neat because i was able to just walk a few steps to the beach and hop into the ocean. the place that i stayed though, was mosquito ridden and amazingly hot! i had to leave via private car.

my driver, nomankoraya, took me to the mt. batur area and i got a nice view of the lake. it rained though and therefore the vista didn't match postcard images...

i stayed in a beautiful hotel in ubud right near the monkey forest. i know this may be a bit paranoid, but i had these ideas that the monkeys would leave their sacred forest and come raid my hotel room for sweets. i went to see an amazing gamelon music and dance performance and also saw a shadow puppet show. wow!


monkey forest, ubud, bali

do not feed the birds. do not feed wildlife. do not feed the fish...this is the usual verbatum when it comes to wild animals right? not in ubud's monkey forest where it is not only allowed but also encouraged to feed the monkeys. they sell bananas at the gate. sometimes the little buggers come by and steal a few, that is, if the vendor isn't watching for a split second. i don't know how they manage to stay slim given how much they eat!

given my previous experiences with monkeys, i decided wearily to visit the sacred monkey forest. because i thought it possible that the monkeys would mess with people, i took off my earrings, removed my watch, and considered leaving my camera at the hotel so that a monkey couldn't smash it for kicks.

actually, aside from a monkey being nearly successful to pee on me from a tree, these monkeys were really well behaved. it was more so the humans who were not: a couple was petting them and it wasn't until the man pat the monkey on the head that it bared its teeth, one man had food in his hands and didn't open his hand until the monkey decided to use its teeth instead, and many people stuck their cameras straight into a monkey face and popped off a flash. i was shocked that the monkeys didn't react.

man, were these monkeys well behaved.


underwater in bali

my first snorkel-time was off the coast of menjangan island in the northwest pocket of bali. we saw dolphins from the boat, they leaped out of the water and swam next to the boat for a few seconds. snorkeling in this part of the world is amazing: blue tranquil water, great visibility, and loads of beautiful fish and coral. because i forgot to put sunscreen on my back, i got a terrible sunburn from this day and it's currently bubbling and peeling. eeks!

the second snorkel-time was off the coast of amed in the east. the water wasn't as clear but i was able to just walk a few steps to the beach, hop into the ocean, and be on my own time. here i was really able to hear the parrot fish munching on coral (sounded like potato chips being eaten) and even saw some parrot fish pooping sand! this is apparently the natural course of the world. i dig.


baliness: kuta to lovina

i was in for a surprise when i arrived from quite some time in brisk or downright freezing weather-bali was hot and humid which meant i could finally use my swimsuit for the first time this trip! hooray for swimmytime!!!!

one thing about bali is that there's no lack of private transportation. walking down the street, one may hear "yes, hello transport?" or "taxi taxi?" and then subsequently "ok, maybe tomorrow?" the only thing is, there isn't always public transportation in bus form for lonesome souls like me. i even had to hire a private car because there was no buses out of amed.

bali has been a very easy place to visit-many people in the tourist industry speak quite fluent english, and everyone in general is quite friendly and funny.


hong kong, hong kong

had a short but sweet visit to hong kong and enjoyed the fantastically tall buildings of the condensed city. the cable car to victoria point was exciting and during the ride up it felt as if we were sitting at a 45 degree angle! the peak tower and vista of hong kong at night was dreamy.

was also able to get a glimpse of the gorgeous coastline from the bus ride to see the giant buddha. there were backpackers on their way to do some trekking and backcountry camping which made me wish i had a bit more time...


festival in asakusa, tokyo

an annual festival held this year on the 12th and the 24th of november gives people the chance to bring good luck for the upcoming year. i was so lucky to have caught a day! good luck 'bouquets' are sold at the festival; apparently it takes several days to construct one and therefore they are sold for a high price.

also available at the festival-tons of amazing looking food! this was the first time that i had seen japanese people eating in public! apparently it's not usually polite to do so and street food has pretty much been non-existent from what i can tell.


museumness and miscellany

i was able to visit some museums that were close to each other on an overcast day. the weather has been very comfortable with only one day of rain and one day of wind.

my favorite museum was the mitsui memorial museum which is featuring ukiyo-e woodblock masterpieces from the takahashi seiichiro collection. it was amazing to see the detail and color of the actual prints; i had seen reproductions of these famous images before but they don't do the images justice! no photos were allowed though.

i also was able to visit the currency museum and the communications museum. it was really neat to see a few of the hundreds of thousands of post stamps they had in files. they had organized the stamps by continent, country, and era. drool...they also had on display many communications antiques-so cool!

i have also included a few miscellaneous images that didn't seem to fit in anywhere else. went to see a kabuki show one day-amazing costumes and great music.


tokyo tower and wax museum

woah, man. this place was crazy.


ueno and akihabara, tokyo

i really enjoy the ueno area-there is yet another frenetic ameyoko shopping area, along with ueno onshi park, the home of many museums, temples, a market, and a zoo. the tokyo national museum is comprised of five different gallery buildings and was full of treasures.

ahkihabara area is known for its electronics and 'electric city.' there seem to be so much neon in tokyo!

i love that there are so many food models in tokyo-not only is it very fun to look at, but also it makes for easier ordering of food. invariably i have been eating noodle bowls for meals because they're cheap and yummy. snacktime has gone out of the window, mostly.


fish market, tokyo

i don't think i was prepared for this one.

first, most japanese people are very polite-such is not the case at the fish market. it was the first time i was physically pushed out of the way in japan. i felt like i was a nuisance and in the way of vendors, shoppers, and those crazy fast moving merch-mobiles of the frenetic market. i would have never expected to get my butt touched in japan but it happened. i turned to see who violated me and it turned out to be a 60 year old man with grey hair.

second, i was very disturbed by all of the carnage: blood, band saws to cut the giant tunas apart, gaping open mouths of fish, and the still twitchy nature of a few fish missing half of their bodies. i was curiously watching a man at work-it turned out he was putting a wire up a fish nostril in order to kill it. i have been eating meat and fish as sparingly as i can but being here made me feel sick.