844 days, 20,256 hours, 1,215,360 minutes, or 72,921,600 seconds. That is the approximate duration of my world tour. I never wanted it to end and now, in a manner of speaking, I suppose it never has to. If you wish to go by country do so by clicking on one above. They are numbered in the order I visited them, more or less. If you enjoy reading about it even a tenth as much as I enjoyed living it then you will not have wasted your time. Grab a refreshing beverage, settle in a comfortable chair, and make a journey across the world, experiencing it as I did. Then get off your ass and check it out for yourself. You're not getting any younger.

Galungan-Kuningan (Bali, Indonesia)*

*Photos by Dhemy
For an updated version of this post, go here

May 1oth, 2009 - I want him to die. I want to wring his neck and turn his annoying ass into satay. You are the bane of my existence Mr. Rooster outside my window. Come closer and you die. You are driving me insane.

I’ve found the most annoying rooster on the planet. It can only manage some demented bastardization of the ‘cock-a-doodle-doo’. It started at 5:30 am. I do not want a gun. I want a rocket launcher and I want to blow that son of a bitch to smithereens.

And I want to do it in front of all his pals so they get the message. Normally, it does not bother me but there is something special about this rooster. Perhaps, Satan has sent a messenger from the bowels of hell to torment me. Never have I wished a slow painful death on a bird. That is until now. For a while it was like a recording going off every 45 seconds, like an evil robot bird that needs to be destroyed. I tried to snap a photo of the little monster but he slipped away. If only my camera were a shotgun. I could turn Mr. Rooster into a pile of chicken confetti.

So what have I been doing? Not much. I am back in the rice fields of Ubud trying to relax a bit (no thanks to Satan’s feathery minion). Had a little maintenance done on my bike and a little done on my body. Other than that I’ve been spending some quality time with my Indonesian pals. The other day I found myself inside a mall, more specifically inside a karaoke room inside a mall. Asians love their karaoke. Basically, you rent a small room (containing a couch or two, disco lights, and the karaoke apparatus (tTV, speakers, etc)) for a set period of time and sing until your heart is content. Not really my cup of tea but I was more than happy to spectate. They tried to convince me to participate but without the requisite number of beers I remain an undiscovered phenom. Maybe next time.

Yesterday was one of those days that started off one way and ended somewhere else entirely. I knew I was meeting my Balinese friend, that I was going to his home, and that there was some type of ceremony he was going to show me. I did not realize that I was going to Pura Semuan Tiga (the second most important temple in Bali according to my friend) and that it was the beginning of a week-long ceremony. I was also unaware that I would be donning traditional dress and skipping off to the temple to watch the beginning of the ceremony unfold. I blame my oblivious nature and the language barrier. Often it is the unexpected nature of an experience that makes it memorable I suppose.

It was not until I arrived at his home that I realized what the night had in store. We spent the first 45 minutes getting Cinderella ready for the ball. My Balinese friend lent me and our other friend (originally from Java) some of his traditional garb. We got dolled up and headed to the temple. For once I was not the photographer. I let my friend Dhemy have at it. He worked as a photographer in the past and was more than willing to play around with my camera. I was more than willing to let him. It felt nice to just sit back and enjoy the moment.

This temple is the one associated with my friend’s village. If I am not mistaken this ceremony is part of Galungan-Kuningan, a 10-day festival held in many Balinese temples during full moon periods from April to May. Groups from many parts of the island come to make offerings and pay their respects to the ancestral spirits that descend from heaven during this time to visit the devotees.

During festival times temples are lively and animated. There are processions through the temple area, people paying their respects to the spirits, dancing, music, and a myriad of other kinds of activity. I was fortunate to have a local connection and I was happy my friend shared the experience with me. All the tourists there were decked out in the local threads and I must say most of us looked pretty ridiculous.

The Balinese people clearly enjoy these festivals and I can understand why. It is good fun. There was something altogether familiar about the experience and then it dawned on me: it was a little (emphasis on little) like going to a state or local fair in upstate New York where I grew up, minus the religious aspect. Fortunately, there were no carnies at this festival. Those I can do without. But it had the same kind of ‘fair’ or ‘field day’ feel to it. They had concession stands, all kinds of goods for sale, and even a key chain guy handcrafting personalized key chains right before your very eyes. There was even gambling. Gambling is illegal but you know how that goes. If you are going to ignore 95% of the traffic laws you might as well throw some dice now and again. 

I was surprised to find that the games of chance were rather simplistic. So easy a child could play. And, in fact, children were playing. I would say about half the gamblers were under the age of ten. The game consists of nothing more than a plastic mat and a set of three dice. There are six cartoon-like figures on the mat that correspond to identical pictures on the dice. You throw your rupiahs on the mat and hope your picture turns up on the dice. It requires slightly less strategy than the card game ‘War’ or with a game of 'Tag'.

Admittedly, I was a bit taken aback at the prospect of children going Vegas, not only because of their age but also because I have serious doubts about the quantity of disposable income they possess. But then again that is no different than my neck of the woods. I distinctly remember playing a game at a local fair that involved a board with the numbers 1 through 10 and a car that moved along a track when pushed which came to a stop on one of the numbers. Put money on a number and if your number comes up you double your money. I was no older than 12. It was illegal. Same shit different country. 

Although I did not see it I know that cockfighting is also very popular. Nothing like two roosters with knives attached to their claws to spice up a Balinese festival. I was more than happy to skip that extravaganza.

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