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I finally made it to the adventure of a lifetime and now I'm a citizen of the World. Indy author, blogger, in love with being an author - Mom of two grown children and widow of the most wonderful man to ever live - Devon "Pete" Hall.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The End of the Line – Bali

One of my favorite Lovina eateries
I arrived in Bali on April 6th and bounced around for two weeks until I finally found a comfortable spot in Lovina, a small tourist town on the northern coast of the Indonesian island. Although geared to tourism, it is quiet and the people are laid-back. I’ve been here a week now, with another to go before I head back to the US. So, Bali truly is the end of the line for this, my first foray into international travel – an eight month quest.

Lovina schoolboys
Bali has the misfortune, in my travels, of following Melaka, Malaysia – a place I shall always regard as a second home and where I found myself again as a writer.  It has also suffered from overblown expectations.

I don’t know how much of that to blame on Eat, Pray, Love – the book and movie which I happily consumed – and how much to shell out to the urgings of those who have absolutely loved their Bali experiences. 
Seminyak Beach - surfers and vendors

My experience of the first two weeks was deeply disappointing. I found the beach towns over-crowded, filled with aggressive vendors and hampered in one by a filthy beach. Ubud, a tiny artsy town in the hills of central Bali, was a nice relief from that and after four days there and an unfortunate two-day return to another southern beach town, I asked my driver to take me to Lovina. Here I found the peace and quiet I sought from Bali.

Rice terraces - Ubud

It took me a couple of days to nestle in and find my stride again, especially in writing, but I’ve done that and found simple pleasures: poolside and at the area restaurants – eight within a few meters of my hotel.

The Monkey Forest - Ubud

So, while I cannot actually recommend Bali in total, I can tell you that if you’re looking for relaxation, a quiet space to enjoy island beauty but still have lots of dining options and with plenty of water-related activities available, head towards Lovina.

One of the many temples in Bali

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A Love Letter to Malaysia

From the river in Melaka

Kuala Lumpur intersection
I have loved so many places on this long journey of mine. Chiang Mai, Thailand was my first love, then Hanoi, Vietnam and now Melaka, Malaysia. I’m off to Bali in a couple of days and who knows if I’ll lose my heart yet again.

I’ve been in Malaysia almost three months, since Jan 11th to be precise and it’s funny but so many people asked me what in the heck I would do for three months in Malaysia? 

Penang from the ferry
Here’s what:

From Butterworth (the mainland jump off to Penang Island) – to Ipoh, a city of 700,000 people, which feels like a small town – to Kuala Lumpur, easily the most beautiful big city I’ve seen in SE Asia and finally, to Melaka, where I’ve stayed for two months and regained myself – I have loved them all.

This is a lovely country, very different from my own, and peopled with a wonderful mix of nationalities and cultures.

Limestone temple cave in Ipoh
In Penang, I had my first prolonged interaction with someone, actually two ladies, who I knew to be Muslim and guess what, they were wonderful. Of course, they were but I am a Westerner after all, and unduly influenced by fear mongers at times, whether I realize it or not. Since then I’ve collected these exchanges, with women and men, and I have felt so grateful for the gentleness I’ve encountered.

In Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown, I experienced a little family-owned Chinese bakery with the most wonderful buns tucked behind the vendors hawking everything from knock-off designers to t-shirts with Snoop Dog or Angelina Jolie on the fronts. Additionally, I turned a corner, two blocks from Chinatown, and stumbled on a gorgeous Hindu temple.

Chinatown  Kuala Lumpur
Ipoh housed stunning murals and limestone caves to numb your senses and a very kind man who showed me his city with pride.
Hindu temple just around the corner - KL

I’ve seen a colorful stream of Indian Hindus, the women dressed in saris of amazing colors, on their way to temple here in Melaka.

Melaka has been a mixture of Chinatown, gorgeous river walks and historical sights, not to mention the haven I found in the suburb to write the first book I’ve written in years – the Sunflower Hotel. 

Today, as I contemplate leaving Malaysia and Melaka, in particular, I am sad, pensive and secretly vowing to come back someday.

I deeply wish I could just give a giant group hug to all I’ve met here, and thank them for accepting the crazy white lady who chatted with them when they couldn’t understand her. And more than accepting, they’ve embraced me and I’ve felt at home here.

I love you, Malaysia. I will miss you and yours desperately and remember all fondly. Goodbye for now. I hope I’ll be back someday, perhaps to share you with someone I love.

Stay sweet.

Melaka riverside

My favorite shot of Sunrise Cafe - Melaka