The political/economic turbulence in Indonesia has had a powerful impact on the journey, MacroSun shipments, and on me personally. The situation is much more complex than the “sound byte” snippets presented in the Western media, I believe. The long patient, fun-loving, deeply spiritual people of Indonesia deserve a responsive, democratic government.
Time with my dear friends in Indonesia was colored dramatically by everyone’s concern over the political situation. MacroSun shipments moving from Bali were substantially delayed and threatened by frustrated crowds rioting and burning after Indonesia representatives did not vote for the overwhelming choice of the people, Megawati, but quieted a bit after she was given the vice-presidency, and the shipments finally left. The Indonesia currency (the Rupiah) was all over the map, changing dramatically from one day and even hour to the next making business quite tricky, and forcing me into a kind of high stakes currency exchange gamble, like it or not. . . . Tooling around the islands to the outlying villages on a motorbike is definitely not for the feint of heart. But it is somewhat exhilarating to have so many near-death experiences in a short jaunt across town, and it is certainly a different groove than USA rules of the road.
Made it to a number of markets including the Kumbasari, Sukawati, and various villages around Mas and Ubud; one must look much more closely these days in Bali, the beautiful pieces are still there, but there are many cheaply made copies; some villages these days specialize in various pieces, for example one area might do nothing butcarve wooden ducks or ‘special yogis’. Sign on several small family shops “Antiques – custom made to your order.” Burmese-Thai border closed due to friction over the recent storming of the Burmese embassy in Bangkok by Burmese freedom fighters, and their subsequent successful escape – thus impacting trade with the Karen and various other hilltribes and Burmese handicrafts.
Chiangmai Night Market changing and the city growing. The usual drugs, gem scams, and prostitution (and undoubtedly AIDS also) are all offered just walking down the street in some areas. Everywhere there are more and more Pizza Huts, even in places you wouldn’t believe. Stay at simple, but friendly, and extremely basic huts/guest houses usually at around $2-3 a night, all you really need but not much more, or with local friends. Keep balanced with morning meditation and 1 hour exercise or run everyday. Keep healthy with an incredible variety of inexpensive delicious, fresh tropical fruits – mango, papaya, guava, custard apple, jujube, green “oranges,” mangosteen, rambutan, jackfruit, even
gooseberry and my personal favorite, the pomelo (like grapefruit, but tastier).