We finally got to Zhangjiajie in Hunan province, China.
High adventure with new friends.
We finally got to Zhangjiajie in Hunan province, China.
We finally got to Zhangjiajie in Hunan province, China.
High adventure with new friends.
I should note that this was originally posted in 1998.
It’s good to be home.
Emily had gone to Bali a few days earlier, as she had some business and both my son and I still had school. On Christmas Eve we got to the airport and boarded our flight to Bali.
Like the song goes … “the weather started getting rough. The tiny ship was tossed. If not for the courage of the fearless crew …” We made three passes over the Island of the Gods, but it wasn’t meant to happen.
The rain was buffeting our sturdy craft. It was impossible to see anything, and then the peanuts ran out.
Well, next thing you know … ol’ Wayne’s back in Surabaya. And Boy howdy, was I ever happy about that. I peppered the air with cries of gosh golly and dad burn it. I’m not happy.
Emily is waiting at the airport for me and her handphone is obviously not working. My handphone has previously given up the ghost. Now I’m using a phone card and trying to find a compatible phone. I find one, but unfortunately, it’s sandwiched between two phones occupied by men talking louder than seems necessary.
I can’t hear a bloody thing. I’m trying to explain the situation to my mother-in-law. She’s a nice lady who I communicate quite well with in person, yet her English doesn’t exist, my Indonesian is poor, the connection sucks and the surrounding noise is unbearable.
Well, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas at the top of my lungs, I compliment their country and their courtesy and I wish them on their way. My son thinks dear old Dad is ready for a new sports coat in that lovely wrap-around style.
Finally, I get through. Everybody’s okay on that side. We waited in Surabaya’s Juanda airport for an hour and a half. Finally, the plane boarded again. It was now 10:00 pm. The flight to Bali is about 35 to 45 minutes. Bali is an hour ahead of Surabaya.
We arrive in Bali at 11:40 p.m. Bali time. It’s drizzling. The taxi driver asks for Rp 40,000. I decline. We walk out to the taxi booth and buy a voucher. We pay Rp 26,000. Christmas Eve passes in the back of a taxi. We arrive.
My wife is at work preparing a shipment of fruit to Hong Kong. I am now a fruit packer. By 12:00 p.m. Christmas day the fruit is packed and on its way. We shower, eat and almost everyone sleeps.
Me, … I’m wired. The rest of our merry band has fallen asleep. The nanny and the cook are watching the kids. The next day the lost sleep will catch up with me. I take a long walk. We were in Denpasar, Bali and it’s hot. I walk for an hour and come back drenched in sweat.
Christmas night we head to Jimbaran.
Jimbaran beach is a long strip of seafood restaurants. You order your food fresh. You pick a table. On the beach, if it’s not raining, under the tents if it is. On a clear night the sound of the surf, the smell of barbecued fish and the majesty of a star-filled sky conspire to bewitch even the most cynical traveler.
The day after Christmas I sleep until 11:00 a.m. I’m still tired when my two nephews and my niece wake me. Chinese-Indonesian children do not play outside and are generally spoiled. I’ve brought some cartoons with me. The VCDs keep them occupied for half an hour.
We head to Kuta that afternoon. We don’t go to the bars or the shopping malls. We find a relatively quiet beach and play in the surf. My son, who’s eighteen, seems more interested in the spectacle of topless women frolicking close by. My head may have turned one or two times. The surf-kissed sand has been rendered almost mirror-like. The sky is a rich blue with traces of white clouds. Gradually the blue becomes purple and the sun is a descending red ball. Pale pinks and rich oranges dominate the fading palate. A tropical sunset is beautiful and abbreviated.
In fifteen minutes it is dark. The stars are brilliant. Aside from a few moments of temper, the week passes uneventfully. We watch videos on New Years’ Eve. Two days later we hop in the car and head to Lovina. We’re going to see the Dolphins.
Last episode we left for Lovina to see the dolphins.
Along the way, we pass the site of Gunung Agung’s 1963 eruption. The devastation was massive and thousands died. The Balinese believe that this was because prayers had been interrupted. Now the boulders, once part of Gunung Agung’s crown, are strewn about, but they are covered with lush vegetation. It was another example of nature’s power to repair itself.
I was reminded of a walk through Canada’s Algonquin Park.
Granted, it probably doesn’t need to be said that it certainly wasn’t similar terrain. A picture from the early years of the last century showed a devastated mountain.Trees, and earth torn away to run a rail line through. Then in the fall 0f 1995, I walked down that same path and tall, healthy trees shaded me. Waist high grass surrounded me. I was shaded by mature pines. Nature will right itself, once given a chance.
Now I stood in the lushness of Gunung Agung’s revival. Gunung is the Indonesian word for mountain, and the center of Bali is a spine of mountains. Many of them are still active volcanoes. As late as 1994 there have been eruptions. They don’t call the Indonesian archipelago the Ring of Fire because of the hot food. We arrived in Lovina. We looked at one place. They wanted RP 300,000 a night. That’s the price of a luxury hotel in Surabaya.
We found the Hotel Padma. We paid Rp 120,000 for each of two rooms, barely enough for myself, Emily, her sister Suzy, our son Adryan, Suzy’s three kids and a family friend. So, it’s guys in one room, and women in the other. The pool was clean large and warmed by the sun. We ate a large dinner and turned in. At 5:00 a.m. we were up and by six o’clock, we were in two traditional boats heading out to see the dolphins. We were about 20 minutes out when the first small pod appeared.
They surfaced, played about and were gone – only to reappear in another area. This went on for half an hour or so. Then a larger group appeared. The two groups surfaced, dived, disappeared, raced the boats and delighted their audience. It is impossible not to feel a little like an alien watcher, privileged to witness a very personal kinship with nature.
The surrounding mountains were mist-cloaked shadows at the water’s edge. The water was black in the pale early morning light, briefly disturbed by our bright-coloured boats and the sleek gray bodies that danced and dived around us.
Then it ended. We had spent almost two hours watching. It was impossible to tell who was more excited, the adults or the children.
After breakfast, Adryan and I went snorkelling. A reef lay about halfway between the shore and where we watched the dolphins. Again, we were in a traditional boat. A narrow canoe like craft with twin outriggers, a small (5.5 horsepower) outboard motor and an inverted, triangular-shaped, lanteen sail that also serves to shade our driver/guide as he naps. We don masks and flippers and enter the now blue waters. Colors explode around us. Angelfish, rainbow-hued fish, blue neon tetras and unfortunately a few too many jelly fish. We moved location twice. Adryan managed to find a French coin. Once cleaned, it was revealed as a 1995 coin, but still a find. I had to rescue it from the pool bottom later that evening, so the excitement of discovery was obviously short-lived. We stayed two days then headed back to Denpasar.
We flew home that Saturday.
Happy New Year.
May the year ahead offer health, happiness, prosperity, purpose and fulfillment.
All the best, Wayne, Emily, Adryan and Wyatt
Health and fitness
Being healthy is often our goal, but just as often our well-being is one of those many things that are put aside. We prioritize ourselves to distraction and to our detriment. Our health, physical, mental and emotional often fluctuates on the smallest upsets. We skipped breakfast; we stayed up late to finish work; or the lady at the counter was snarky. We cannot change the world around us, but we can modulate our reaction to life’s little hiccups. More often than not we don’t need to make drastic changes, as the small changes can have dramatic benefits.
Adding small routines like a morning stretch or an evening walk. There are benefits to having a glass of water with lemon before the coffee, or getting up a bit early so you can enjoy the solitude of a quiet living room. Just walking around your office/workplace/school periodically is helpful. Change up your routine from time to time by choosing a new restaurant, going to a foreign film, or visiting a new area of the city.
Take a dance class.
Shake your cares away and sweat off a few pounds with salsa, pole-dancing, ballroom dance or even hip-hop.
Soup kitchens, food banks, the Red Cross, the hospital, veterans homes, retirement communities, Boys and Girls Clubs. Get out and pitch in.
Read a book. Lead an aerobics group, or a Tai Chi Chuan class. Deliver mail and smiles around a hospital ward, or serve sandwiches and split pea soup. Run or walk a couple of 10K charity events. Walk with seniors, or help to organize a morning mall walk. If one doesn’t exist, create it. Your hours of dedication will brighten a life. It will most likely make your day as well.
Join a Martial Arts class
It takes a certain kind of person to walk willingly into a Muay Thai ring, but kickboxing, Tae Kwon Do, Karate or Judo instruction are all within a more prosaic range. If you aspire to be Bruce Lee or Batman after a few classes you can always hop a plane east.
Get out to the movies. There are still good movies being made, and the smell of fresh popcorn can be a tonic for a tired soul. Lose yourself in a movie for a couple of hours. Go with friends or people from the office. Discuss the film over dinner.
Books offer whole worlds of new insights and explorations. Reality and imagination in-between a couple of thick cardboard slices. Get out of whatever space your head is stuck in and explore biography, science-fiction, horror, travel, or even a good detective story. Pick up the Narnia or Harry Potter series. Perhaps you’re into female archers or sparkly vampires? Rediscover a few classics at your local library. Amazon might be a good place to explore. Start a book club. Share the book with children, seniors or veterans.
Eating right isn’t just a good idea, it’s a necessity. The balance of calories, proteins, carbohydrates and fats determines how well you feel, how well you think, and how quickly you can deal, or even bounce back, from an emergency. Apples, bananas, pears, peppers, and grapes are easy enough to find and easy to pack for lunch. Many fruits are natural antioxidants and refreshing, tasty snacks.
Antioxidants are essential to optimizing health by helping to combat the free radicals that can damage cellular structures as well as DNA.
The deep taste and sticky, chewy texture of this dried fruit is high in antioxidants, as it is considered a cancer protector and a good source of vitamins. Prunes can effectively lower your cholesterol and boost your bone health.
These fruits are loaded with antioxidants and help you lose weight. They’re also very beneficial to maintaining cardiovascular health. “While all fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, the so-called “superfoods” with the higher amounts include berries (wild blueberries, goji berries, acai berries, red berries),” Alissa Rumsey, according to registered dietician and spokesperson for the New York State Dietetic Association.
Cloves are known to be a great antibacterial and anti-fungal medicine. They are typically used in spices, but they are effective in reducing inflammation, toothache, and even improve our sexual health. Foods in the brown family like cacao and cinnamon are also excellent sources of antioxidants.
It comes as no surprise, strawberries make the top 10 best antioxidant-rich foods list, especially since they can be very health to eye health and maintaining healthy skin. This fruit reduces the bad cholesterol and can contribute to heart health. Strawberries boost blood antioxidant levels and can help prevent chronic diseases. Strawberries have a large concentration of phenolic compounds, such as flavonoids known to have antioxidant properties. At a cellular level, they fight free radical production, and therefore, lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and dementia.
This super fruit can help boost the immune system. They are most known for their effectiveness in treating urinary tract infections, and kidney stones. Cranberry products have the highest level of phenols — a disease-fighting antioxidant — and can even reduce the risk of heart disease.
This super nut is known to deliver a powerful dose of cancer-fighting antioxidants. The American Cancer Society has noted ellagic acid — found in walnuts — may have anti-cancer benefits. These nuts have been known help in the treatment of type 2 diabetes as well as important for healthy hearts.
This fruit is packed with antioxidants and can, like walnuts, be extremely helpful when it comes to heart health. They can balance blood sugar levels and are considered a diabetic medicine.
Although they may seem unlikely to make the list, pinto beans are actually full of antioxidants and very high in fiber. In the U.S., it is estimated 8 lbs. of beans are consumed each year per person, as pinto beans and navy beans are the most popular. They are very beneficial to our digestive health.
Blackberries are considered to have one of the highest levels of antioxidant compared to other fruits.
Being abundant in vitamins and minerals, soursop offers several health benefits. It is often recommended by the practitioners of herbal medicine to cure various ailments.
Not just for warding off unclean spirits anymore. Garlic may be the wonder cure for all sorts of ailments, but the jury is out on how much is good for you, and how much is too much.
Small red beans are known to be very beneficial to bones and teeth, and even lower the risk of heart attacks.
Sorry to put the tomato all the way down the list. They are very good for skin health. Like a lot of the wetter fruits and vegetables, tomatoes can help to keep the body hydrated.
Mix fruits and vegetables into your meals. Do not skip meals. Breakfast remains important.
Add supplements whenever possible.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.
Often vitamins are available in fresh foods, but a few can be supplemented, such as A,B and Omega 3. Zinc is important for the bodies’ immune system and while zinc is available in pumpkins, it can be easily supplemented.
Get at least seven hours. Take a nap if possible. If you can’t focus, or you’re ready to kill every time the phone rings, nap. You aren’t helping anyone by trying to tough it out. Sleep is a restorative and it is the time the body and mind need to heal. The early morning hours between two and four are when the body is detoxifying. It’s the reason you stumble to the bathroom in the morning. Your mind is also clearing the detritus of the day, psychically at least. No wonder you’re groggy and irritable in the morning, your biological hard drive hasn’t been defragged.
Prepare yourself to sleep. Turn off the phone. Turn down the lights. Don’t bring work into the bedroom. Lie down and stretch a little. Close your eyes and feel yourself breathe. Do that for a few minutes. It may feel silly at first, just ignore that. Imagine a white light at your feet and imagine as it moves up your legs, over your thighs, up your stomach. It’s at your fingers and hands. As the light passes over, at least in your mind’s eye, allow that part of your body to completely relax. The light moves up your shoulders and chest and up to your neck.
Now do nothing. Float for a few moments. Then get up. Fold the covers down. Get into bed, and enjoy a good night’s sleep.
If you can’t tune out the world for a few moments every few hours then burnout is a very real possibility. This is not just true of people in high-stress jobs, but anyone who is meeting deadlines, dealing with children or just getting back and forth to meetings. This could be a time for meditation, yoga or relaxing with scented candles.
Know your limits
Set boundaries. Know what your comfort zone is and stay within reach of it. That doesn’t mean you don’t stretch yourself from time to time. It does mean you don’t stretch so far that you can’t function or return to a place of comparative safety.
Regular exercise is tough. It takes time, dedication and special shoes, doesn’t it? In fact, it only needs a bit of time each day and the dedication to do it three of four times a week. You only need shoes if you intend to run, or take up parkour. A bit of planking, stretching, push ups and some quality time with dumbbells will do wonders for your mood, your waistline, and your appetite.
Start simply with a simple goal to do five push-ups, 20 crunches and a few curls with dumbbells. Yes, you probably will need to buy them. Add some stretches. Within a few days, you’ll be past the initial aches and pains and you can add five more push-ups and 10 more crunches. Increase your repetitions. Go swimming. Don’t join a gym, unless you want to socialize. Gyms exist on the basic premise that people will sign up, and for the most part, never attend. Imagine the fun if everyone who bought a membership turned up on the same day. It would be like a scene from the Producers.
Speaking of theatre, go see a play. Or better yet, join a community group and get involved in acting, stage management, or set design.
There are real benefits to reflexology, shiatsu, and the other forms of manipulation. Whether it’s deep tissue punishment you seek, or a more relaxing sleep-inducing pampering, there are many schools and styles of massage.
Yoga is a mental, physical and often spiritual pursuit. This is not about religion, but about connections. You are pushing past your comfort zones in a safe place. You are making a connection with the deeper and more quiet parts of your mind.
Everyone has advice on this. Drink a lot of water, but not too much. Drink mineral, or filtered, squeeze a cactus or straight from the tap(the cactus might be safer). Often we feel hungry or tired when we’re actually thirsty. An amazing number of people walk about in a state of mild dehydration. Avoid the sugary drinks. Avoid juices, unless they’re actually squeezed and without sugar. All of this is a matter of routine. One can of soft drink is unlikely to cause major damage; unless it’s thrown at your head. Water is always the default and a few glasses in the morning, after lunch and then at home will help. Get a refillable sports bottle to take with you. People will think you’re an athlete. Clean it or people will think you’re unsanitary.
Certain teas have natural healing properties and can aid hydration.
Kombucha tea is a fermented drink made with tea, sugar, bacteria, and yeast. Although it’s sometimes referred to as Kombucha mushroom tea, Kombucha is not a mushroom — it’s a colony of bacteria and yeast. Kombucha tea is made by adding the colony to sugar and tea, and allowing the mix to ferment.
Matcha is a finely milled or fine powder green tea. The health benefits of matcha tea are supposed to increase as when drinking matcha you ingest the whole leaf, not just the brewed water.
As with good tea, good relationships take time. Relationships begin with contact. Get out and move around. Join a club. Fitness and bars are fine if you’re the type that can interact with strangers, if not a hobby group or a college course may expand your social network. Spend some time with family. Get out in the yard, or the park. Get out of the city and hike. Explore the city. Go to a farmer’s market. Grab a camera and take shots of sunsets and sunrises, or the cityscape from different locations. Just don’t do this alone. If someone is around, engage them. If not, make an effort to meet people.
None of these ideas are revolutionary. The secret is that it only takes small changes to have dramatic results. Some of these will work, some won’t. Try the next one. None of these ideas take any great investment in money or time, but they need a commitment. Make an appointment with yourself to spend a few moments each day enjoying life. That’s perhaps the true secret; allowing yourself to enjoy your life.
Fitness and other ludicrous fantasies
Saturday, May 10, 2008 2:57 PM
I’m trying to get back to some semblance of fitness.
My little guy is a bit young for organized sports, although the older son did play basketball and football in school.
Myself, the occasional hike and a light workout.
We have a rowing cycle and some dumbbells. amazingly enough, they do get used.
We were in the mountains last weekend. Still sporting a nasty bruise. A sudden rain hit and I went sliding off the side of the mountain and bounced off a couple of trees. I think the local foliage came off worse than me.
All the best,Wayne,Emily and Wyatt