After nearly a month in some fairly remote parts of Indonesia, where my internet access was either extremely limited or nonexistent, I am finally back online. I have more than a dozen posts ready to go, most of them handwritten in a borderline indecipherable journal that looks like it (barely) survived a trip through the “none-too-gentle” cycle in your mom’s Maytag. I filled up two two-gig SD memory cards with photos while I was gone, and most of a third one as well. So tune in over the next couple of weeks, and I will try to load at least one blog post per day, some about Bali and the out islands, some about Japan in the wake of the quake, as well as some other random stuff that crossed my idle mind as I whiled away hours and days in the tropics.
I got back to Tokyo yesterday after a trip comprised of Trains, Planes, and Automobiles, as well as Boats and Buses (I offer this title for free to the producers of the Steve Martin / John Candy flick in case they ever decide to undertake a sequel). The ANA flight arrived at Narita at oh-dark-thirty in the morning, having departed Jakarta around 10pm on Friday night. As you might imagine, not too many people are heading for Japan nowadays, and as a result, I was able to score an entire three-across bank of seats to myself. I managed to stay awake until the first pass by the food-bringers, and then stretched out and dropped off into as sound a sleep as could be expected with seat belt moorings poking me in the lower rib cage and thigh. Please understand, I am not complaining; if you have to be sitting up in an economy airline seat, ANA offers some of the best; it was my choice to lie down, and the onus of the protruding seat belt moorings is mine alone to bear.
I came very close to not making the flight, as it happened. Thursday morning started well enough, with a swift and smooth speedboat trip from the island of Nusa Lembongan back to Sanur, on the south coast of Bali. From Sanur, I took the shuttle to the inland tourist mecca of Ubud, the name of which will be familiar to those who have read Eat, Pray, Love (known to the locals as “that damn book”, about which I shall write more in an upcoming post). So far, so good. Then, virtually without warning, I managed to get massively sick. Oppressively, three-dimensionally, gastro-geyser sick. Apparently, without my foreknowledge or permission, my lunch had purchased a round-trip ticket, and was not about to be dissuaded from using the return portion thereof. I’ll spare you the grisly details except to mention that Indonesian food is richly textured and exceptionally vibrant of hue, and that chilies and South Asian spices intensify remarkably after having cured in one’s digestive juices for a while. I think it is safe to say that I won’t be eating green curry again anytime soon.
My trials and tribulations lasted throughout the night; when Friday morning rolled around, I was thoroughly wrung out, but at least I didn’t feel like I was going to die imminently, a marked improvement over the night before. The lady who ran the guesthouse was kind enough to let me stay in my room well past checkout time, and I was feeling almost human by the time the taxi arrived at 12:30. I figured that if I could survive the two-hour taxi ride, I’d be okay to do the two-hour airplane trip from Bali to Jakarta. If I was too thrashed after that, I could always postpone the Japan leg of the flight, and go a day or two later. In the event, though, several hours’ wait in an air-conditioned terminal helped out, and by the time I got on the ANA flight, the notion of food actually held some small appeal. I decided to play it safe, however, and had only a buttered roll and a couple of bites of fruit before retiring. If the food cart ever went through again, I must have missed it, because the next thing I remember was the flight attendant gently shaking me awake for the landing.
Tokyo must have been happy to see me, as it gave a small shudder of joy shortly after my arrival. Three-point-something on the Richter scale, but enough to let me know it had not forgotten me. Then again today, another little three-pointer, just to keep me alert, I guess.