Monday, 7 May 2012


My first task after my recovery was to get back on my bike to regain my confidence,so decide to ride into Kuta. I had only ridden out of the grounds of the resort and riding through Seminyak village when a dog jumped in front of me. In that split second i had to decide do I drive straight over the top or swerve and end up on the side walk and possibly side swipe  some obstacle. I accelerated the bike, and hit the dog dead centre in his rib cage with the front wheel of the bike, keeping the handle bars firm I rode over him with a bump, landing on the other side I turned the bike around and drove the bike back to the Kayu Aya,  I have never  got on a motor bike since.

I had been negotiating with some Australians to buy a collection of antique ceremonial Ikats from the island of Sumba,  I  purchased fifteen, of varying sizes for twelve hundred dollars, my intentions was to sell them to galleries specialising in Indonesian art and artifacts, in Paris or Amsterdam.

Then I organised my trip, flying to Kathmandu, then to Delhi,Paris Amsterdam and London.Kathmandu was like a medieval time warp the buildings ancient and dilapidated, the streets dusty, dirty and treeless, the air thin and toxic from ancient motor vehicles and motor bikes. I had a contact to stay with, Kevin Denlay who lived twenty miles east from Kathmandu in a town called Boddha.Here I stayed for a week, Kevin and family lived in a rented compound which was my base for trekking through the surrounding foothills and visiting Boudhanath which was the largest spherical stupa in Nepal.  This stupa has been for centuries the most important landmark along the Tibetan - Katmandu trade route and was my first contact with the Tibetans.

The stupa was a mecca for pilgrims who do circumambulations of the stupa and is a Buddhist practise done morning and afternoon. Some prostrating themselves on the the ground, getting up walking a pace, and doing the same again, others running their hands over the hundreds of prayer wheels at the base of the stupa, murmuring the prayers simultaneously.

The Tibetans pilgrims who visited Boudhanath fascinated my curiosity they were a striking lot, both men and women. They had a very independent air of "don't mess with me" and yet they were not unfriendly, they stood out  from everyone else due to the way they dressed.  Maroon shawls and  thigh high yak skin hide boots and the ubiquitous strings of silver,coral and turquoise beads around their necks, prominent against their dark weathered skins.They looked as if they belonged,comfortable in their environment, their smiling moon shaped faces, the women carrying the young  babies on sling around their backs.They had a presence, though not tall in stature they stood out from the rest with a resolute calm , not dissimilar to the Masai of Kenya.

The "Chung Houses" of Boddha are worth a mention, these are our equivalents of a bar or pub.The structure is a high eight foot circular  mud wall, with a basic iron roof anchored into the perimeter of the the wall. The centre  is open to the heavens, in the middle is a fire to keep all warm,  around the edge of the circular structure on the ground is a raised mound like a gutter that your squat on.

A women brings you a stone cup about half the size of a tea cup and on her back she has a large pottery urn which she fills your stone cup with "Chung" .Chung is a mix of rice wine and  herbs, milky in appearance and nearly tasteless,with a kick of a mule, similar to Kava - what the Fijians drink. The locals sip it, the westerners throw it down like a shot glass. Once your finished you put the stone cup in front of you and the women fills it again, if you don't want anymore you hold onto it.
The fun starts when someone falls of their perch and they go straight back onto their back, this generates great mirth, especially as the westerners are the first to go, as the evening progresses, the locals start to go which brings more laughter.By this time the place is full to bursting point and people are falling all over the place, everyone is cacking themselves laughing,others have passed out where they have fallen over, the moon is on its descent and it's time to go home.

No comments:

Post a Comment