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Photos of Bali, Singapore, and Shanghai www.flickr.com/photos/globalyouthspeakout/
Go to sets.

Bali was influenced by Indian traders in the 7th century to become the only Hindu island in Indonesia, including caste. The people are warm, smile a lot, have a lot of soul. We landed in the south, where all the Aussie and American tourists go to surf and party. Lots of scooters and loud music. Got a lovely $20 massage, drove through Dempesar, the big city. Every home compound has multiple shrines and daily offerings of flowers in little bamboo baskets, lovely reminder of tuning in to the divine. Personal space is different; we went to the city market and a woman came up to us to sell us jewlry, commenting on our bodies. We drove north through the rice fields, kept green with frequent rain. I was told it rained every day last year, even during the supposed dry season. Oh climate change.

Our retreat center was in the central mountain area near a small village. They served us red rice, veggies, tofu and tempe and occasional chicken. A few times fried bananas for desert. Wonderful fresh fruit for breakfast. The retreat started with meditation at 7, and yoga at 10. We took a trip to a hot springs, saw the rice fields worked by man and a water buffalo, the rice winowed by hand. Walked around the village being greeted with “hallo.” One old woman touched the breast of one of the women in our group two different times, smiled. Different sense of personal space.

I visited the local school and asked them questions which the English teacher translated. Their parents are rice farmers but none of the two classes want to farm when they grow up. They mentioned jobs like teacher (guru), doctor, and the boys mentioned police. What bothers them is the narrow roads (built by the Dutch colonialists) and the accidents caused by all the scooters and trucks. I asked if a woman could do a good job as head of Indonesia and they said yes, of course, there’s no difference. The kids in the elementary school didn’t know the concept of global warming, but the middle school students did. I was able to talk with some of the English students directly. A girl, 14, said she’d like to be a business woman to make money to help combat global warming.

People are much more communal and less individualist than Americans. Everyone belongs to an association–for girls, boys, men and women. The major decisions are made by the men of the local bajong, planning important temple festivals, etc. People live with extended family in compounds with shrines for daily offerings. The one I visited belong to the English teacher. She and her husband have a small room with a wardrobe, and their two sons share the room next door with a TV. Another structure is for studying. The biggest one is for guests and to house a dead person before cremation. They had a washing machine, a squat toilet and outdoor shower room next door. Lots of trash around–something the kids complained about. The Javanese come and buy some of the used water bottles but a lot of trash gets burned. Something good is the village where we stayed has no caste, the caste of human I was told.

Now we’re on the NW coast to snorkel. I went in the bay by the hotel but got stung by invisible little jelly fish so it wasn’t a primo experience. Tomorrow we take a boat to the island nature reserve. Lots of German tourists here. Little bungalows with the typical outdoor shower and ferns.

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