Thursday, June 16, 2016

Scouting New Locations for the Drama

A few rotations around the sun later I found myself in Thailand with my Candle in the Wind, Norma Jean. Somehow the stars and the schedules and the money aligned and we picked a place "in the middle", and by middle I mean financially, for us to meet.

Our lives are so different from the days we met on the mean streets of Anjung and NJ has become a force to be reckoned with. She's found a direction even without a North Star. Bali, Australia and New Zealand knocked off corners and built up foundations. It's a beautiful sight to see.

As for me, I'm not so sure as too if I'm more found or more lost in the past few years. There are things that have moved forward and things that have fallen off. After a few years of struggling to getup and walk, literally, there is a certain, unattractive, sedentary nature to my life that needs cleaned out. Like a stopped up drain.

The trip to Thailand to connect and to refresh was my Liquid Drain-o. The hard reboot to a life that's, unfortunately, been lived from the sidelines a bit too much lately. I think it worked. More thoughts are flowing like the yoga I've returned to the last few months.

It feels like it might be time for this drama to scout out some new locations, sometimes it's time to let the old things go and look at a spin-off. Part of me wonders if maybe it's time to start thinking about Until We Meet Again: The Uruguay Tales.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Chasing My Tail Around the Sun

For the first time in over three years, I'm going home.

It's been so long that I don't even know what to expect. Outside of life with my sisters, I've mostly forgotten what it was like to exist in the US. Plus, I'd imagine that it's changed from what I remember.

The last time I went home the Harri-bou-bou still lived there and I wasn't as set in my ways here. We didn't have dogs, I didn't have commitments and I felt that I might somehow go for a visit and get stuck there.  Something I desperately didn't want. My entire being vibrated with the fear that I'd be forced to give up before I'd really even begun.

Three years later it's a very different situation. My drama has found it's stride. I'm settled into a comfortable life with substantial friendships, some semblance of a career, side projects, puppies, a passable grasp on the language, and I'm content in it all. So content I'm not even worried about losing it. It's just something that is right now and someday may not be anymore. Either way it's alright because I've done it right. My goals have been accomplished, my questions have been answered.

After this trip things will change. I doubt I'm moving back the the US anytime soon, but I will be going home more and I will be spending more time with friends and family. From here my world gets bigger again and I'm excited about that.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Jogja on my mind

Yogyakarta, or Jogja as it's widely known, is a city in central Java.  A few days after I made it to Bali (which I'll get to in another post soon!), I jumped over to Yogyakarta for a friend's wedding.
Much different than Bali, the major religion here is Islam and there's fewer foreigners - tourism isn't their bread and butter so to speak. It's a much bigger city than my little town in Bali; things move faster, the traffic is heavier, it's urban in a uniquely Indonesian way.  This is evident through everything from style, food, clothes, prices (it's delightfully cheaper here) and even sounds as you can hear the call to prayer from the mosques drifting through the equatorial heat and buzz of motorbikes.
Jogja is also home to most of Indonesia's art universities and the energy here reflects that. Street art abounds with the smells of delicious street food making for a colorful, sensory experience.
Here are some snaps from my trip so far:

Well hello there!

Soto Sapi - Lamb soup with rice
Es Jeruk - Iced orange drink

Driver on a break
Irises on the street

Show your colors
Picked up this jumpsuit for $8US

Street food

Waiting for the green light
Gelato cappuccino shake 

Motorbike passenger selfie

Java Sawa - Rice Fields


Ibu is always watching

All the fruits

Sate Ayam - Grilled Chicken
This man grills skewers of chicken on an open charcoal flame 
Change the ordinary

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Buy the ticket, take the ride or One Night Only

I started seeing posts and getting messages on my facebook last night.. Rinjani's erupting again, flights are being cancelled.  Friends and acquaintances waylayed at airports around the world.

So I call Virgin Australia when I got home for work and they confirm, some flights have been cancelled, but mine's still a go.  I'm flying from Christchurch to Brisbane to Bali.  I think, OK, this ash cloud is going to blow over, I'll be there tomorrow night, Bintang beer in hand.  

I called again at 4am before my 6:30AM flight.  No they said, my flights still a go.  So I take my bags and my wonderful flatmate, and we haul out to the airport.  Upon arrival I'm told my flight's still a go, but the leg from Christchurch to Brisbane has been bumped to an afternoon flight run not by Virgin Australia, but Air NZ (of which I conveniently received an official email from Virgin Australia stating this change when we return from the airport at 6:00AM.)

I also call the travel agent I've booked with, Escape Travel, and am told to wait until we hear from Brisbane, where "ash cloud meetings" are held to determine whether flying conditions are OK.   Additionally they inform me that not only can they generally only notify of changes during their business hours, but my Bali flight is still a go and I should WAIT UNTIL WE HEAR AFTER THE MEETING TO CHANGE MY FLIGHT. 

At 2pm, when I hadn't heard, I called Virgin Australia.  They confirmed that Rinjani's still going, and the second leg of my flight, from Brisbane to Bali was cancelled, but that my flight from Christchurch to Brisbane was still all systems go.  

Thinking this was pretty weird, I asked why they wouldn't just postpone the whole thing and I could stay in Christchurch until it's all sorted.  

This is where a very fun little game of "buck passing" comes into play...

I was told yes, that is odd, but the travel agent booked the flight so any changes had to come through them.  

I then called the Escape Travel again and they informed me that it was too late to pay to change the date of the first leg of my flight, and if I DIDN'T GET ON THE PLANE TO BRISBANE I would be treated a s a no-show, and forfeit the cost of my entire booking.  

At this point, I thought, this is some sort of bureaucratic loop, it does't logically make sense.  Why would Virgin Australia fly me to Brisbane only to make me wait indefinitely (LITERALLY DAYS) for an ash cloud to move instead of just changing my booking?

So I head to the airport again thinking this is ludicrous, I don't know very many people in Brisbane.  Why would they waylay me in transit without support?   

Low and behold, when I check-in for my first flight (it was operated by Air NZ but Virgin did officially book me on it from a Virgin flight with a forwarding itinerary to Bali!) the Bali flight was cancelled, and I was told they couldn't check my bags through to Bali, but Brisbane should know more about the whole situation, they're closer to the action, etc...

Virgin Australia even KNEW ABOUT THIS as the agent from AIr NZ couldn't fine the additional baggage I added to my ticket, so went over to the Virgin Australia counter to confirm the booking.  

I thought, OK, this could make a little sense!  Maybe they've sorted it, or have a system in place, or are grouping people together from streamlined destinations to reduce the disruption to service.

Unfortunately, that is not the case, and the Brisbane branch of Virgin Australia were somewhat horrified to find that I'd been put on a flight at the risk of either losing my entire booking or being in limbo until a volcano stops erupting.  

Logically, it would seem that you either change the flight, or accommodate those that are in Brisbane until this whole thing blows over (literally) and yet I was told they could either fly me back where I came from and further delay my arrival at my destination, or cover my accommodation for ONE NIGHT ONLY when I've been booked on a forwarding flight 3 DAYS FROM NOW!  

As tempting as it was to hop on another 3 1/2 hour flight back to exactly where I came from, I opted for the hotel, and will be in Brisbane for the next few days.

I'm lucky enough that a bunch of people stepped up via a facebook post I put up, and I have friends and places to stay until I leave.

It's really mind-boggling that I was forced to choose between either losing my entire flight or showing up to a place without plans, without knowing if I had any people here, only to be told that I wasn't supposed to be here in the first place and that I'd only have a guaranteed place to stay for a night (when they re-booked me for 3 days later!)

Between Escape Travel and Virgin Australia, it looks like I just can't win, and that's a shame because when these things happen that's when a company really has the opportunity to be flexible, accommodating and at least cover a girl's hotel when she's told by literally every company representative to get on a flight to limbo!  


Norma Jean 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Let's Go Home Together

There is always a bee in my bonnet about something, lately it's been about riding my bike, which happens to be a 10 year rusty old cruiser handed down to me by Norma Jean before she ran off to be the lead in her own drama in the Southern Hemisphere. 

With Korean classes finished I decided to get my butt back in the seat and start riding home from work. Kind of ease myself back into it. A great idea on all accounts, except that I forgot the important of science in daily life.  Like, when air changes temperature it changes pressure... which meant I faced my first ride home with bike tires that were dramatically under inflated... dramatically.

It was as if I was peddling backwards, I had it is first gear and could hardly propel it forward.  Huffing and puffing with all my might, I thought, "Oh, my god! What has happened to me? I can't even ride a bike." At which point I asked myself, "Why am I kicking myself in my own butt when I peddle?" Thus jogging my memory that I had recently loaned my bike to someone a great deal shorter than myself and they had lowered my seat. Since this was one thing I could fix in the moment, I did and the ride went from feeling like I was going backwards, to just feeling like I was pedaling through think mud.  A drastic improvement. 

Once I was on the road I was elbows out, head down, huffing and puffing like the wicked witch of the west except my outfit wasn't black enough.  With my knitted pink and brown wrist warmers, fuzzy ear muffs, and big puffy navy and orange jacket - I was a red clown nose away from the circus. 

In the end, the trip took 1.5 hours due to the tire situation.  The next day, with tires fixed and seats raised, it only took 50 minutes.  Which really isn't bad on an old beater. It looks like this will be my new mode of transportation until the roads ice up in a few months.  Here is a bit of what it looks like on the road home.