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November 2001




Nov 9 email

Nov 21 email

Nov 22 email

Nov 24 email

November 9

Sorry this update took a while to get out.  But, I've been both busy and sick.  Yes, one can get sick in Paradise.  So, perhaps this is not THE paradise, 'but I think I can see it from here'.
All went well moving into the new place last week.  It is furnished with a huge king size bed upstairs and a wardrobe, plus night stand and 2 tables; downstairs has a queen size bed and coffee table; the front porch has a table and 4 chairs and a lounge chair.  Craig, my next door neighbor will be giving me his computer desk and chair, and a bookcase when he leaves on the 15th to return to the states.  So, I'm set in terms of furniture.  Since last Monday, I've been busy adding the other items I need - some candle holders, nice sheets, towels, a second phone, some lamps, etc.  It's been fun shopping for these things.  Bill Dalton, when he was here, showed me his 'World Radio' (www.worldspace.com).  Pretty neat, it gets stations (CD quality, digital sound) from a satellite, so I purchased one of those and set it up.  Now I can listen to good music while I relax or read or just sit and enjoy the sights and sounds of my new home.  I also found a nice little stereo and have set that up to play my music here.  So those things, along with the DVD player in my laptop are all I need for entertainment.  My housekeeper is a real gem.  She does everything for me - cooks my breakfast (always a huge fruit salad, tea, and then either a fried egg and toast, or french toast and honey, or, today, pineapple and banana pancakes with honey.  This keeps me going through the day.  She also leaves me more cut-up fruit and fresh squeezed juice (orange or lemon) and even makes rice for me to have as a snack.  She also cleans, does my laundry, irons, shops, and is helping me with my Indonesia (I think I have NO ear for this language, but I keep plugging away at it as I really want to get it).  I've visited several of the local eateries and have had some wonderful meals for under $3!  I'm also meeting neighbors, both visitor types and locals.  Everyone is extremely happy and friendly.  I have been really enjoying falling asleep at night to the sound of the rain on the roof; or the chorus of frogs that live in the rice patties that surround the house; or even watching the fire-flies as they flit about in the darkness.  (Two things we don't have in the SF bay area are fire-flies (had them in Texas when I was growing up) and thunder storms, with all the trimmings - lightning flashes and huge claps of thunder.  Very exciting.)  So as my knee slowly heals, I've been staying home and reading or just relaxing and enjoying the sights and sounds of my new place.  Seeing the many birds that visit my beautiful garden or watching all the fish in my pond (they seem to be like my cats in that they love to pretend I have not feed them, so maybe I'll feed them twice - very funny to watch).  (I've attached a panorama photo of my bathroom - enjoy).
I've been resting my knee so it heals completely from my little MC and asphalt adventure.  It's almost healed, so I think I'll be ready for some SCUBA diving this coming week.  My visiting friends Jim & John have just returned from living one of Jim's life long dreams - visiting the Komodo dragons.  They had the time of their lives!  Jim said it was even better than he had imagined it to be - and he's had this dream for more than 30 years.  They spent 5 days and 4 nights visiting Komodo island and an adjacent island.  They met local people, slept 2 nights aboard a boat (they were the ONLY 2 aboard, so they had the entire staff and cook at their disposal.  I think this coming week, after they rest up a little, we'll go to the north coast and do some diving in an area I had not visited before.  It's on the NW tip of Bali and is a national park.  All underwater and is said be some of the best diving on Bali.  Again, while we're gone, I'll be out of internet range, but keep the mails coming.
After I get back from diving I start my rounds again of visiting the nice local hotels with my t-shirts and my little story about helping Bali.  I have an appointment with the owner of one who placed an order and I need to make a second call on another to show him the final product, now that I have them to show.
On the visitor front, my wonderful friend Becky will be visiting in a next week for perhaps 4 weeks.  That'll be fun.  She has never been here before and I know will really enjoy it here and appreciate the Balinese people and sights and sounds here.  She'll be much more into the cultural side of Bali than Jim & John have been, so it'll be fun going to the dances at the Palace with her.  So, the rest of you, please let me know when you think you might be coming, so I can set the time aside and you all won't get here at the same time.  I think my Mom and sister Sandi are planning a visit soon, also my sweet sister Kathy and her husband Joe are planning to arrive soon, as well as some other friends.  So keep me posted as to your thoughts and schedule, please.


November 21

Things are going well here.  My wonderful friend Becky arrived last Thursday and is having a ball :-)   She's a 'shop till I drop' sorta gal and is really having fun. 
I am close to buying a car.  Today I actually DROVE A CAR ON BALI!  Wow, it wasn't too bad. No one killed and no one injured and no property damage!  'So I got that goin for me, which is nice'.  I should actually purchase one in the next day or so, soooo 'look out Bali, Bruce is on the road'.
I'm getting ready to send out an email to my friends in the Bay Area and family in So. Calif.  Becky said she would be kind enough to bring back some 'UBUD On The Island Of BALI' tees.  These are really well made with very high quality material.  They come in Maroon or Teal and sizes S, M, L, XL, XXL.  So if you are interested email me with how many of which color and size you want and I'll start putting it together.  Everyone who has seen them here really loves them.. The material, the workmanship, and the logo design.  Unfortunately, there just aren't too many tourists right now, so places are reluctant to purchase ANYTHING.  I think (and hope) that everything will pick up by summer.  So in the mean time, I really only need 10 or so tees of the 100 I purchased to show people.  So please help me by letting me know that you want to buy some.  They are really pretty and your purchase will help the Balinese people, the Balinese schools, and Big Bali Bruce :-)  So please email me.  I need to charge only $12 per. 
I'm still losing weight.  I've attached two photos to this email, both taken at the same place, wearing the same clothes.  One was taken when Jim and Kelly were here in late September, the other taken today.  You might notice 'less Bruce' in the later one.  I think I've lost about 25 lbs :-)  So I think I'm on track for my 1/4 to 1/2 lb per day schedule.
My sweet Mom sent me some cookies that arrived on Saturday.  Everyone has been enjoying my 'Home Made By Mom' cookies (thanks again Mom).


November 22

It was close to dusk and I was sitting in the only Mexican Restaurant in Ubud, perhaps in Bali.  It's called Kura Kura.  The restaurant sits at a "Y" shaped intersection that was also under construction (or repair).  The left portion of the "Y" is one-way going up, the right portion is one-way coming down, while the bottom is two-way.  So it was very interesting to watch the tourist pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists - some with whole families on them, cars, vans, small trucks, Air Conditioned tour buses, and huge gravel trucks make it through this intersection. A real 'study' in Balinese cooperative driving techniques.  Everything was going very well, no accidents, not even the squeal of brakes.  Then I heard them.  The 'honk, honk, honk', of a family of ducks coming down the edge of the road. The mother and 6 little ducklings.   I thought "oh, oh".  I was hoping they would just continue down the road on their side of the road, but no such luck.  Prior to their arrival, a beautiful Balinese woman had placed an offering in the very middle of the intersection.  It consisted of a small square of banana leaf with some grains of cooked rice and some flowers on it.  So, of course, the ducks thought this was an ideal snack for them.  Here they slowly came into the middle of the intersection, honking the whole time.  I'm thinking "oh boy, this should make for some excitement, AND some Duck Sate, as well."  As I watched in horror I was amazed at what I saw.  Not only did the little family of ducks make it slowly into the center of things and slowly eat the rice; but afterwards, they continued on their journey down the road.  ALL the vehicles saw them, slowed down, and went around them or waited for them to get across.  It was another very sweet example of how things are so different here than other places in the world I had been.  You can imagine what would have happened in your neck of the woods.  Screeching brakes, much swearing, much honking of horns, and several dead ducks.  It was so sweet to watch the reactions here  :-)
After the ducks successfully had their snack and continued on their journey it occurred to me that I was in Bali, sitting and having dinner at a Mexican Restaurant that had very good food.  Then I realized that really ALL the ingredients for the fajitas grow in Bali.  The corn for the tortillas, the hot peppers, the onions, the chicken, the beans, the rice; it all grows locally.  Even the cheese was local.  
So life sometimes presents interesting sites AND great food.   Ah, life is good here.


November 24

Well I am now a DRIVER on Bali.  After seeing 5 different cars and test driving 3 of them, I finally purchased the very first car I had seen.  The man who has the company that makes my t-shirts had a '95 Suzuki Katana for sale.  However, he was asking $5500 for it and I didn't want to spend more than $5000 and was really hoping to get something closer to $4000.  But, in the processes of looking, I discovered that the '94s and later, all had power steering and brakes.  This makes them more valuable AND easier to drive AND safer AND better at keeping their resale value AND easier to sell when I'm done.  The Katana is the smallest car around, both in width and length, so it's the safest for me to drive on these narrow roads.  Since there aren't any freeways here AND I'm never in a hurry, I feel real safe in this car.  It's a beautiful maroon color, with A/C, a great stereo, and several upgrades like a metal 'cow catcher' in the front, side steps, and more.  It turns out that Darta (the t-shirt guy) had been offered $5250 several times but was holding out for $5500.  Then he (or his wife, who really runs the show) decided to buy some land, which is a good investment here right now.  He had put down $200 (2,000,000 rps which sounds huge) that was non-refundable.  And, of course, no one was making any offers on his car.  So he called me and I said that $5000 was the highest I could go.  So we settled for 50,500,000 rp.  which is actually $4800!!  I had searched the internet and downloaded a 'Automobile Bill Of Sale'.  I customized it and we both signed it at the Post Office where it was notarized.   (I've attached a picture of the car and myself....that's me on the left)
The A/C was a little weak, so I took it to an AC place and they dis-assembled the AC, cleaned it really well, checked for fluid leaks and recharged the system....wow, you could keep ice cream cold in this thing now; hmmmm, there's an idea.  Next, I wanted to see about moving the rear speakers.  They are really good Boston Acoustics speakers that had been put in an enclosure and placed behind the 2 front seats.  This worked great for short Balinese folks, but I needed more leg room.  So I had a place move them to above the rear door (this car has a HUGE amount of headroom).  Oh boy, they sound fab.  AND I have enough leg room and the passenger seat even reclines now.  The cost for the A/C work was $19 and for the speaker work it was $14.  Wayan, my driver, had accompanied me to both places, as he had used them both before AND I wanted him to critique my driving, offer suggestions, etc.  (He (and I) was amazed at how well I drove.  But, I had been trying to absorb the local 'rules of the road' since I had my MC).  While we were waiting for the speaker guy to get all done, I said let's grab a bite.  We walked up to the local outdoor market, about 3 blocks, and had some chicken sate and coconut milk.  We each had about 15 sticks of delicious sate with rice and some fresh coconut milk drink.  I watched the woman as she cut open the coconut, poured the liquid into a large glass jar and then scraped the inside of the coconut and added the meat to the jar.  She then stirred the whole thing up and poured us each a glass.  Total cost ...... $1.10 for us both!  AND it was really good!
Today, I took the car back to the local mechanic who had looked it over before I bought it.  I had him do a complete tune-up, change fluids, filters, etc.  Then tomorrow, Becky and I are off to Menjangan Island on the NW corner of Bali.  We hope to be joined by two other visiting friends, John & Jim for some great diving and snorkeling.  It should be fun.  We'll only be there for 3 days.  Then John & Jim will get transport back to Ubud as they are planning on leaving for Thailand by the end of the week.  They've been fun to be with.  Both are VERY outgoing and really good people.  Yesterday was Jim's birthday and the entire staff at Oka Wati's (where they've been staying for a month) gave them a beautiful flower arrangement and a little party.  They had only meant to stay on Bali for 3 weeks, then spend 3 weeks in Thailand.  But, the folks at Oka Wati's have been soooo nice (of course) to them, and they have enjoyed the shopping here soooo much, that they just kept staying.  I think they'll end up being here for 5 weeks!
The four of us had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal at a place called 'The Dirty Duck'.  It's one of the best and oldest places in Ubud.  Just a beautiful setting overlooking the rice fields.  Very attentive staff and great food.  Becky & I had the roast Duck, which must be ordered 24 hours in advance.  It was very tender and not greasy at all.


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Click on the Image for full size!

My bathroom

Before and After (20 days)
After 20 days!

94 Suzuki Katana
New car(94 Suzuki)

Well, it's there somewhere above Australia and below Singapore...

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