June 2020 – IWSG: Tuban, Kuta, Bandung, Bali

I’m posting part two of my trip to Southeast Asia in lieu of answering this month’s question. But before I begin, I’d like to share something.

In 2018, through different methods, I not only succeeded in managing my body pain, I eliminated much of the pain in my back, hips, knees and feet. It was miraculous.

In 2019, I pledged to heal my spirit. When negative thoughts entered my mind, I observed them without prejudice then released them to the sky as if they were balloons. When I couldn’t, I meditated. Life was beautiful and I was happier than I’d ever been.

In March the pandemic struck, and over time, my resolve wore down and I allowed unhealthy thoughts to affect my body and my mind, threatening to undo all the good I’d accomplished in 2018 and 2019. I let fear seep into my life. I let negativity into my bones, onto my skin, and in my gut. When the riots broke out to the north, I sat in silence, glued to the television. I felt sick to my stomach. I felt useless.

Monday night I woke in a sweat, unable to catch my breath; it was as if someone was sitting on my chest. I walked out onto the terrace, shifting the invisible weight onto my shoulders. The air was thick with heat. I could hear waves rumbling to shore; the occasional sound of traffic on Tepic Highway 200. The moon was small. The palm trees silent.

Nothing profound happened, yet, I felt compelled to stand there and wait. Perhaps because in the past if I was still long enough, some revelation would eventually tiptoe across my mind.

Sure enough. One word. A whisper: “Smile.” And I remembered: it starts with me. I may not be able to cure racism or create a vaccine. But there is something I can do.

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

Five years ago, if someone I barely knew said they loved me, I was suspicious. When one of my favourite rockstars shouted from the stage, “I love you guys,” my first thought was you’re stoned. That may well have been true, but I’ve since learned that love is universal. It’s not just a word. Love is in our DNA. You don’t have to know someone to love them. You love them because, whether we like it not, we’re connected. We are “one”.

I’m sending love now as I type. I’m doing it even though I understand that not everyone will feel my sincerity. It’s not for me to question why. I’m here as a work-in-progress to say: I care about you. I hope you sense it. I accept you for who you are. When we’re dead, we will recognize each other, and it won’t be because of the colour of our skin or the words out of our mouths or because of the way we died.

Namaste: The light inside of me sees the light inside of you.

Last month I shared my impressions of Manila in my IWSG post. I hope you get a chance to read it. I shared then and I’m sharing now for three reasons. One: I want to share. Two: I want to record my thoughts for my great-grandchildren and possibly their great-grandchildren. Three: If you’re undecided about ever taking a trip by yourself, I hope you’ll reconsider.


I checked out of The Luneta in Manila, on Saturday, October 5, 2019, at 16:35 (4:35).

If you’re planning a trip to Southeast Asia, please heed the warning to be at the airport four hours prior to take-off. Ninoy Aquino Airport has four terminals. It really does take four hours to get through the checkpoints. Although I’ve been to the United States many times, I have never experienced the stringent security that I witnessed in Manila. I had only a backpack and a small carry-on. At each checkpoint, they were inspected. I had to remove my laptop and I had to have my backpack weighed. While several gate agents let me pass despite my backpack being a pound over, I wasn’t so lucky by the third checkpoint and had to pay a hefty fee of fifty bucks! Ouch.


Novotel Hotel is in the village of Tuban, a subdistrict of Kuta, a subdistrict of Badung Regency. The area is best known for its stunning beaches. After my upcoming retreat in Ubud, I stayed near the beach where the Indian Ocean meets the path flow of the Pacific Ocean. Yes, it was heavenly. Again–a huge thank you! to Noreen Coley at Paull Travel.

Today, the population of Bali is approximately 680,000, covering an area of 5,780 square kilometres. About the size of Lake Winnipegosis, Canada’s 11th largest lake. The population of Kuta is 200K.

Tourism didn’t take hold in Bali until the 60s, thanks to the Hippies. In the 1830s Kuta was an important slave market that attracted much of the world’s “scum”.


My first sight once I got off the plane. The hotel is somewhere inside the airport.

I’m not an excitable person by nature, but I was excited standing in line at midnight, waiting to get through customs. It had been a 3 and a half-hour flight, so my back and my feet felt pretty good.

It was fascinating to see and hear all the different nationalities. I counted 10 different languages in my immediate area.  I didn’t take any photos because by then my battery was dead.

I spent only one night at the Novotel Bali Airport Hotel (Bali Denpasar International Airport) and was so impressed, I’m giving it its own post.

Hotel Novotel, rear entrance


I finished with customs shortly before one in the morning. The hotel was there somewhere. I looked for signs. By then I was exhausted and my eyesight was blurry. A young, uniformed gentleman approached and offered assistance. I asked if he could please point me in the direction of the Novotel Hotel. He grabbed my carry-on and my backpack and said he would take me there.

The gardens outside


During our ten minute walk, we chatted. He was born in Bali, his family lived in the north, and he saw his mother at least once a month. He worked 6 days a week. I sensed a dedicated, gentle, and kind young man. When we reached the desk, I offered him a tip. Had I been alone, I would have gotten lost; there weren’t a lot of people around at that time in the morning. He thanked me but politely refused. Apparently, security guards aren’t allowed to accept gratuities.


Because I was staying for only one night, I’d purchased a standard room. I’ve no idea why, but the staff upgraded my room to an Executive. I followed my bellhop past the pool. He rolled my carry-on and wore my backpack on his back, and assured me I was going to have a wonderful night’s sleep. He was sweet.

My room! These photos don’t do it justice. I was immediately soothed by the atmosphere. It felt like entering a gaijin house.

He was correct; I had a wonderful sleep. The sheets were OMG!

In the morning, I went for breakfast before most of the other guests were awake.

No, I didn’t eat the pastry. I wanted to!

The food counters just went on and on and on. Most of what was offered, I can’t pronounce. I tried a little of most everything. Where I recognized it might possibly be raw fish, I kept walking. The entire dining area was a wonderful introduction to the delicious world of Bali cuisine.

As for the hotel, I had a lovely time. It’s a beautiful and restful atmosphere. After breakfast, I went outside and took photos. The flowers were spectacular. Monkey statues were everywhere. I learned later why that is. The people believe that many souls are temporarily reincarnated into monkeys on their way somewhere else; so just in case, the monkey temples are there to remind us that there is a spiritual connection them and us. I did see a monkey in Ubud who looked familiar. He strongly resembled my big brother — who I must add is alive and kicking in the Yukon.

All and all, it was a nice day, around 25 Celcius. My driver picked me at noon in a new SUV; I can’t remember what make. The drive to Ubud was fascinating. While there are similarities to Nayarit, I saw architecture, flowers, and landscape like nothing I’ve seen in North America.


Next month I’ll post about the drive, my stay at the Blooming Lotus Bliss Yoga retreat in Ubud, and all the wonderful people I met. There were 26 of us from all walks of life. I may have to make two posts. Lots happened.


Happy IWSG Wednesday, Everyone! Please be sure to visit our hosts Pat, Janet, and Natalie. Thanks.


IWSG was created by Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh — because Alex understands we need a safe place to congregate, insecurity is part of our creative nature, and together we’re stronger.

On the first Wednesday of each month, you can write on any subject related to your writing journey or adopt the option of answering the month’s question. Either way, you’re in safe territory.

If this sounds like a good place to be, sign up here.

IWSG’s Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

Every month, a question is announced that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Remember, the question is optional!

June 3 question – Writers have secrets! What are one or two of yours, something readers would never know from your work?
The awesome co-hosts for the June 3 posting of the IWSG are Pat Garcia, J.Q. Rose, and Natalie Aguirre!



Comments 24

  1. This year has been an ugly kind of difficult in so many ways. I hope you will be able to find some measure of inner peace to cope with the madness around us and restore your health and wellbeing. I wish we all saw the light inside of one another.

    Wonderful photos of your trip! It looks like a lovely, fascinating place to visit. And such a beautiful hotel room. I have to say, though, that I would have eaten the pastry. 🙂

  2. It’s hard to keep out negative thoughts during these times. Breathe. Talk to friends. Walk. Eat healthy.

    I liked your pictures and recap of your adventures to Bali. I don’t know if I could travel that far alone.

  3. I hope you can get back to your helpful routines and pain control. I also went off the rails, but am working my way back. What gorgeous photos! Love the statues. I had to laugh about the monkey that looked like your brother. That room looks so comfy.

  4. Wow they pulled out all stops on that breakfast buffet … makes you wish you’d starved yourself for a few days just to do it justice. I still have fond memories of a breakfast buffet at a 5 Star hotel we stayed at during a stop over in Istanbul a few years ago. It was greatly discounted, and I decided we deserved a treat after flying all the way from LA, and although the hotel was lovely, and the bed sounds as comfortable as your one, what blew us away was the breakfast buffet. It went on and on — the only downside was that there was a power cut and the generators had a hitch, so we couldn’t have coffee. But the rest of the breakfast was so memorable.

  5. Thanks for sharing about your trip! These new experiences must be great inspiration. I’ve toyed with the idea of doing a yoga retreat in the past as well, so I’ll be curious to read further about your experience. I understand what you mean about feeling useless. So many terrible things keep happening: mass shootings, hate crimes, people killed due to a vague suspicion about their appearance… More and more people recognize that there are massive systemic problems, and passionately give voice to these problems, but it’s often hard to tell who, if anyone, is listening. It’s hard to tell what one person can do. I liked what you said about starting with yourself and influencing what it’s possible for you to influence in your own life.

  6. I can feel your love and your sincerity, Joylene! And I believe in the power of a smile. I’m glad that you felt compelled to stand and wait. It’s so hard right now, because so much is out of our control. My family in Canada is aghast at what is happening here in the USA. Spreading love and smiles is a good way to go right now. Thank you, my friend. btw, I loved all the photos you shared today. Asia is an amazing place. It’s eyeopening for sure! Hugs to you!

  7. I’ve had similar issues with body pain and am using techniques as you’ve described. It does make a difference. Today is a good day to have a good day – and yes, smile!

    I love your photos! But wait – you DIDN”T eat the pastry?

    Wishing you love and peace. Namaste.

  8. The photos are amazing! I would love to travel outside the US. Thanks for sharing your adventures!

  9. Your journey has been awesome — finding so much beauty existing in a world that too often takes it all for granted. Your internal journey has been remarkable as well. I’m so glad it’s brought you enlightenment and peace.

    In this time of pandemic and unrest I’m hoping you and your community in Bucerias will stay safe.

  10. Knowing you as a close friend, I was aware of a struggle somewhere. I’m grateful you heard the whisper.

    Your beautiful personal journey touched me deeply. It helped see how important it is to smile even in these incredibility challenging times. I better understand love is the energy that sustains and fills our soul.

    Your journey to Bali is a joy to read. The pictures suggest you stayed in some very fine digs. I especially enjoyed reading your personal experiences. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us.

  11. Thank you for another lovely visual treat. Amazing pictures. Made me “smile” and that’s a rarity nowadays. I do hear you about all the lost love in the world right now. But I hope that we shall all heal and soon.

  12. Hi,
    There is something about being at peace with yourself that makes all that is happening right now in our world bearable. It doesn’t mean that we don’ t hurt or feel the pain of others but that we have discovered the peace that surpasses all understanding. We know what love really is because we have plunged into the deepest depths of dissatisfaction and darkness and have discovered the light that shines hope regardless of the situation.
    Thank you for sharing your testimony and also for sharing the pics of your amazing trip.
    Wishing you all the best and thanks also for being a part of the IWSG.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

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