The first part of my journey was to Ubud, Bali to look after my delightful nieces while the parents went to Melbourne for a wedding. I arrived in very poor state barely able to walk due to my accident in the Sayan valley at Christmas when I had fractured my fibula, plus an added affliction of gout in the right knee which had hobbled me mercilessly.
But the ministrations of Cara with her jamus and silver antioxidant, both local concoctions and our visit to The Healer, all saw me on the plane to Bangkok in good shape.
This morning Cara and I rode 25 mins south of Ubud to visit 90 year old healer Cokorda Rai at the temple. He is thin and wiry with veins down his arms like string, in a sarong with silvery hair swept back, finely featured with sharp smiling eyes, except when a couple were talking and he sternly reminded them that they should show respect and listen. The consultation is all out in the open temple.
There are many healers in Ubud and some deal in the effects of black magic by a purification ceremony. Why had we gone there? Well this ole body has taken a few knocks lately with the broken ankle, the almighty gout and to put it bluntly, I've been disregarding my body as a temple, and a chakra realignment could only help, Cara said. Realignment? Well I'm not sure my chakras have been lined up at all. And to be truthful I only found out about them a couple of days ago. Chakras? Percussion with Santana, yeah??
So, I sat with my back to him and he used his strong needling, searching fingers in pressure points around the head and shoulders. Some pain here and there. Then he told me to lay down on the mat and proceeded to investigate my feet. A brave man. I think I've mentioned before that these Scottish feet must have been an afterthought when handed out. Och they'll do him, bung 'em on, Jock.
On the foot, my broken one, he used an acupuncture instrument like a pen around the toes which reached 9 on the painometer. 'This will be painful' he said, jabbing the instrument again into one of my wee toes. Holy Faaarking Hinduus Batman. So then he said hormones and blood. My problems. I need to take Omega 3 tablets and B12. He whispered to me that after 15 days my sperm will flow freely. Just thought I'd let you all know. Watch out. I didn't mention my vasectomy.
He did some chakra alignment with the wand/pointed instrument and some prayers while I was prostrate. I 'donated' 100,000 RP (AUD10) for the 15 mins - I'd been told that this was the standard donation. He told me it was 300,000RP. Fame incurs a higher figure.
Cara had the same treatment and yes we both felt calmer, as distinct from karma. But I thought well... a large bottle of Bintang is AUD3... and the Tai Chi I do in the morning and my daily walk on Cooleman Ridge are free. I'm not a sceptic, on the contrary, i welcome any sort of spiritual incursion into this thirsty ragged temple, and hey, my ankle feels good!
On the bike this morning easing
through Ubud from Penestanan;
So I travelled from leafy, rice green Penestanan Bali to hot, steamy chaotic Bangkok to meet with Denise, Brendan and our friend Carol. Also we met up with my ex colleague and good friend Kirsten; it was great to see her and enjoy her lively and always amusing chat.
Then over the jagged ice capped mountains of Iran to reach our destination - South Wales.
Post: Here winter still clutches the throat of Wales. Bleak fog bound countryside with skeletal trees, and an old Druid wind curls around yer Brindabellas, boyo. This is no country for the faint hearted. Apart from that errr... wonderful atmosphere, our swap house is warm, spacious and comfortable. I'm slow cooking a lamb shoulder, with a head of garlic, thyme and some sauvignon blanc and the bread making machine is loaded and on a timer. The aromas pervade, wonderful weather for home comforts.
This morning we walked through Thomas Chapel
along the hedgerowed and sheltered laneway,
past tall rook nested trees, past house dogs barking in duty
past a field of those pretty sheep, white with black faces
so cute ('not like ours'), past the giraffes,
yes, two giraffes leaning together
for warmth and comfort in this Welsh wintry day.
Cruel you'd think. And onwards to the shop at Begelly.
A South East Asian face greeted us with a Welsh
'Hello'. I almost said 'G'day mate' to this bloke from home.
The Welsh landscape at this time of the year, early March, entertains a hardy, bleak forebodence, in fact a dragon or druid lurking around a bend is easily imagined, and I heard the dragon more than once. But there is a bullish magnificence also, a permanence which still holds its secrets and strongholds against the intruder despite the civilisations of towns and suburban sprawled cities. There is always a castle and cathedral going back to Norman times when the foreign English tried to assert superiority. By contrast, the Arts are big in Wales as they always have been with their music, spoken and written word in poetry, stories and song, and their visual art.
We revisited Laugharne, went to Dylan Thomas's boatshed and Brown's Hotel which accommodated his thirst ahhh for local interaction. Denise and I had visited in 1975, slept in a one midget tent under the brightest star glittered sky after a night at Brown's. The locals had celebrated our presence by singing en masse 'Come Back To Wales' and those Welsh voices were magnificent! Not many traveled there at that time - certainly not from Oz. The boatshed back then was still cobwebbed with his ruminations. It has been spruced up now. My reflection in the photo is intentional.
Here in South Wales
the wrong footed sun stepped out two days ago
and quickly retreated, chased back by the roar of the gale
which stirred and clotted the clouds in its wrath.
Merlin was born in a cave in Carmarthen.
You can see him now as he was back then
outside the Conwy Castle walls
with his falcon strapped to his leathered arm.
He engages old lladies from Llandovery
with expansive displays of trajectory
and speed on the stoop.
His eys pierce like llaser
His hooked nose q-quivers, his nostrils dilate
as he looks to the sky.
He rarely smiles.
'Moira, how is your chill and vigour dahl?
The sun jumped back into winter today.
Did you see it? Did you feel its warmth?
That was my sunbeam Moira.
Have I made you smile?'
The standard of produce in Wales is fabulous. The pork and leek sausage, the pork and black pudding sausage, the cheeses, hams, smallgoods are all excellent. Nearby in Narberth are two excellent butchers, one of whom sells fish. Also a Spanish deli where the best coffee can be enjoyed with breakfast, and you can take home a Spaniard or Spanish ham or cheeses. All this in a small Welsh town. I haven't mentioned the people. We all found the Welsh to be very friendly, if a little bemused by Aussies coming there at the end of Winter. Why had we come at that time? We had a house swap with Roy and Angela. Oh, and the fish and chips. We had a number of scrumptious fish and chips.