This blue marble

– and yet it spins

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Chilling in Ubud

restaurantUbud is a bustling town. Bygones are the times of donkey carts and topless women carrying baskets. Today, scooters and motorbikes rule. And cars. And us tourists. Ubud may be a shock for a day tripper, but the trick is to find the escapes in the back yards and side streets. For those who write or read, favorite cafés are escapes into tranquility. Like Café Wayan on Monkey Forest road, serving traditional Indonesian fare in a seemingly endless maze of a garden.

Or like Clear Café, the place that burned down on Jalan Hanoman and has found a temporary escape by the bridge to Penestanan village. Up at Clear it is cool and tranquil. And the frosted drinks and smoothies and juices make anybody’s day much better. Clear is a favorite of yogis and writers and readers.

In the hot mid-afternoon, it is highly likely that I end up at Atman Café on Hanoman. The highlight of any day is to settle down on a bunch of pillows, drinking ayurvedic teas, and reading a good book or writing a blog post. This is low profile living, seeking for contentment and letting go of the desire for more – if just for a moment. clear(Photos from Wayan’s and Clear; Ubud, Bali, Indonesia; August 2016)

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Good morning, Ubud

ricepaddybungalow-2Good morning, Ubud! I did miss banana pancakes with syrup and fresh fruit for breakfast, after yoga practice. And I missed how everybody is up with the sun. Before sunrise, housewives are bustling about the marketplace to purchase morning offerings that must be in place and blessed before anyone in the household may have breakfast. Husbands sweep the yard clean – but not of garbage or dead leaves, but of flowers shed during the night. Kids play soccer at 7 am, when the air is cool. At 7 am the market is busy with locals buying and selling eggs, meat, and fruit.

Because the Balinese rise with the sun, so do many tourists. And so do I. For yoga of course, but it feels natural nonetheless. Perhaps our bodies really are meant to go to sleep at 9.30 pm and rise at 6 am. And how far from reality have we come, sitting at a blue-light television or computer screen until midnight, and waking up in the morning, whether it is after 6 hours or 10 hours, exhausted.

I have a feeling I will make many changes during this trip. One will be to rise earlier, which means going to bed much earlier than 11 pm. Banana pancakes or not.ricepaddybungalow-1(Ubud, Bali, Indonesia; August 2016)

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Interlude: above Russia

businessclassLovely ones, please rewind to mid-August with me. We are about 11 kilometers up in the air, flying over Nizhny Novgorod, skirting past thunder clouds scattered on both sides. Thunderbolts light up the dark above Russia. The time is 1.30 am. I am sipping a glass of ice wine and thinking about my flight out to Bali one year ago. I was in a low mood, pondering about pain and loss and the hardships of staying alive.

This year I indulged by upgrading to business class and stepping out in Singapore for a night. I am probably not going to need to mix melatonin with a martini like I did last year. And at least today I will not write about pain and losses and the hardships of living. Because life is so hard, I have become selfish. Because we all must put our own health and wellbeing first, we must also consider our own happiness first. There are few people in this world who put our own happiness first, so better not take the chance they are going to do it forever. longbarSo I do as I choose. I do as I please. I have been forced to trade off a huge chunk of my life, which definitely justifies some indulgence. And so I allow myself, without shame, to fly business to Bali to practise yoga, eat delicious raw food, spend time with myself and friends, and to be pampered by a luxurious spa in the jungle. And I will begin with having a Singapore Sling in the Raffles Long Bar with a couple of long-lost friends.

You should try it some time, too. longbar-2
(Above Russia and in Singapore; August 2016)