Tuesday, 1 December 2015

David's 76th birthday

Back in Brunei. Very hot and clammy...
The grandchildren are fascinating, wish I could see more of them as they grow and develop.
I talk and play with them, get to know them...
Nathan drew a Happy Birthday Granddad picture of his (David's) boat and a dolphin and the curling sea...
Judy has baked one of her totally scrumptious chocolate cakes. I guess we should put a few candles on it...
So it's now 36 years since Daniel brought David in off the street on a damp foggy November night.
We've crossed so many seas together since then, in all senses of the words.
Happy Birthday, best of friends!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Remembering the past

We have been here exactly one week. Shedding clothes and culture, as much as possible.
It is hot and humid; I try to wear a sarong if I can. David too.
We stay in the shade of the large open "living room" and only venture into the bright sunlight when it grows dusk.
David works a lot on his laptop, sorting out row upon endless row of equations, and occasionally looking cheerful. Usually he is not to be interrupted.
I read, desultorily, write snippets, look at my email and -- I have to admit -- FB (but I only read the informative articles!).
This island, Bali, is known as the home of the gods (or something like that).
Every house and small dwelling that we pass has its small or large Hindu "temple" at the gateway; each family has its own god who will watch over it.
There is also a mosque nearby in Lovina, and the pleasant sound of the muezzin wafts up to our villa at the appointed times.
And we visited the largest and oldest Buddhist temple in Bali, quite close to Lovina, and wondered at the marriage of Buddhism and Hinduism which it presented. (I have a feeling it's now the only Buddhist temple on the island...)
So much to find out...
Why life continues to be exciting, worth waking up for each morning!

Sunday, 22 November 2015

The road to Xanadu, second take

Decided to write a longish prose-poem about the Bali adventures. Have started, but slow going...
Meanwhile, David and I have discovered the sheer delight of the swimming pool in the garden; the water temperature is perfect. We dip at the end of the day when the sun's heat is not too extreme!
Wish I could swim with the camera, there are some wonderful pictures seen from water level, with the grassy fringes of the pool sharp against the empty sky beyond.
The peaceful air wafts warm across us as we pull ourselves out of the water.
There are times when life approaches the idyllic.
But we do not forget the other side...

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Bali ... where the gods dance at night

Each (Hindu) house has its small shrine, and a god to protect the inhabitants. Our Villa Sarah Nafi has its shrine just inside the main gate. Each morning Juli the housekeeper gives the god a small cup of sweet coffee, maybe some fruit, and sets fresh flower petals in water in the doorway.
When Pastika the gardener arrives, he removes his conical-shaped straw sunhat and stands silently before the shrine. Then he starts work. He is very cheery, as are many of the Balinese we meet. Tomorrow he'll take us on a walk down the steep ravine, over the crunchy leaves that lie deep on the paths, guiding us between boulders and over slippery sandy stretches...
And this morning's delight is a Balinese body massage. Being still somewhat coldy-coughy (too long in Kuala Lumpur airport!) I am really looking forward to this.
So far only two mosquito bites and no sunburn at all.

We are eating Balinese vegetarian (but include eggs and fish). Cooked by Juli and each meal a delight.
Now to plan our expedition to mountains, waterfalls and Buddhist temple: for Monday.
So far no rain, though this is the rainy season. But the world's climate, as we know, is topsy-turvy. That said, it did rumble a little yesterday.

The nights are deep quiet and dark all around. In the distance lights twinkle along the shoreline and car lights move along the coastal road. Then there may be tremendous rustling and noises in the undergrowth, often sounding very close. Sometimes a Hindu ceremony, singing and gamelan, very musically pleasing. At the appointed hour a muezzin calls from a mosque way down on the coast. There is a half-moon now, and from our window looking seawards, the dark sky can be seen filling with stars. I sleep undisturbed by frog or night bird. Inside the klamboe!

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Changing cultures

Yes, it remains exciting, but does fatigue one!! At the same time, I wouldn't give up this itinerant life for a fixed abode.
I guess it's the attempt at combining the two that proves tiring.

So now leaving western Europe ... a culture and history I am very familiar with, have studied in detail, have lived in many years... for the far East.
Traditions and languages I do no know. I try never to make the mistake of thinking: people are basically all the same (like: religions are basically hunkering after the same thing) .. it's not how I see it to be. Of course, as Shylock knew, if you prick us, we bleed. But if a European hears the word 'rose' his mental resonances will be very different from those of a Kelabit Highlander (in Borneo) (for example!).

I watch; I listen. Soon it really will be time to make a poem...
This is written the evening of David's and my departure for Bali (Villa Sarah Nafi -- another story!) and shortly after the killings in Afghanistan, Beirut, Paris, Iraq that have followed each other in daily succession; not to mention the slaughters and plane crashes that have filled the new throughout this year (2015). A shock haze shudders over France, and elsewhere too.

We want to go on hoping, and working with love and grace, for a world where hate and killing are not retaliated with more hatred and killings.

Poor mutilated world. Glorious shining world, that can be full of the splendour of holiness...

A night in the Water Village, Bandar Seri Begawan

The difficult part for me was clambering into the shallow boat (kind of proa shape), no life jackets (!) and off we zoomed with a young Bruneian making the boat speed as fast as possible across the river...
But soon at the other side, Jeti 2, and out welcoming hostess awaiting us to give me a hand off the boat.
Her name is Kem and she is related to the Bruneian royal family, though there's also quite a bit of Chinese mixed in (but she informed us that one of the sultans was Chinese...)
Her house is a traditional simple wooden single-storey building, standing on stilts in the water. It's supplied with electricity and has wifi (very useful) but all fluids/liquids from the house drain straight into the water below... The next morning the tide is out and we see the mud bottom of the river, littered with the cast-offs of years...
The night was very noisy; the small motor launches zoom past at all hours. There's an electricity generator booming nearby. We also experience the most stupendous thunderstorm ever: a truly deafening crash right above us, immediately followed by a huge flash accompanied by the smell of burning. The children were unperturbed. I grabbed Judy's arm!

But it was unforgettable: watching darkness fall across the water, with the dome of the Golden Mosque in the distance and the screeching call of night birds. And dawn the next morning, with the tide run out and small birds and the occasional cat moving across the mud flats which reminded me of a Dali painting: weird stumpy wooden shapes sticking up from the dark grey sludge...

Tried here to attach a pic, but didn't succeed. Ah well, anther day...

Friday, 13 November 2015

Four years a-blogging...

In November 2011, at the suggestion of our good friend Katya from Poland, who was spending a few days on our boat with us, I started this blog.
Of late I haven't written so much, but it has been very interesting to look back and discover a recurring theme:
delight in the wonderful new places and people we have met on our travels; and a ground base of discomfort at the bouncing sea and cramped boatish quarters!

We are once more in Brunei, enjoying being with the grandchildren, and of course, becoming more fully familiar with this unusual culture. We are quite used to the tropical climate, and I love the sound of the rain beating down through the night. And in the daytime, the humid heat and sometimes the steaming pavements after a downpour.

I still find the days too short and it's as if there's never enough time to pause, reflect and write a poem or two...
But I write a lot in my head (for instance, during bumpy sea trips) and hopefully when on stable land can recall the phrases that most pleased me.
I take many photos and am praying for some winter days on land when I can arrange them... My laptop tells me I now have over 14,000.
Still have considerable trouble with the technical world (that is, iPhones, laptops, internet in general ...) but console myself that all this ethereal stuff belongs to a world I was not born into, and considering my age, I suppose I don't manage too badly.

I begin to think it's time to stop blogging and piece together all the many pages I have written dow the years...