Travel Ahh… Temple “Tufts,” “Curls” and Pagoda Points

kyoto pagodas at night

Kyoto, Japan 

Asia (Vietnam, Japan, Indonesia) 

One of the reasons I love Asia so much is because of the architecture — particularly when talking about temples and pagodas. Part of it is the atmosphere created by the devoted, everyday individuals and families who come to worship. I appreciate the sense of calm that pervades along with the burning incense, circling and wafting up to the temple ceilings and then on up to the skies. But also, I really love the tufts, curls and points of the building edges, sides and roofs. I’m sure there are probably more technical terms for these elements of the designs, but the soft, almost dreamy, connotations of “tufts” and “curls” seem quite fitting.

Vietnam (Cham Island, Hoi An)

Indonesia (Bali)

Japan (Kyoto, Osaka)

Vietnam (Hoi An)

Vietnam (Hue) 

Vietnam (Hanoi)

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“We’re with the Princesses”

legong dancers gazing outUbud, Bali, August 2010

disney-blondes-disney-princess-16232127-500-280

Balinese dancers blow Disney princesses out of the water — and I’m not just talking about the Island of the God’s own Indian Ocean. It’s any body of water. No question. I didn’t even have to look at the reaction of my three-year-old daughter Kasey, who before the Legong dance performance began, was partial to the blonde contingency of Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel  and Cinderella.

dancers in unison

My own eyes confirmed that Balinese dancers reigned supreme as we watched them flex their fingers backward, snap their fans, jerk their heads to the side and slide their bare feet at 90 degree angles across the stage in slow-mo unison — not to mention, the Balinese “princesses” displayed more gold than the Magic Kingdom’s reserves. 

more gamelanThe striking sound of the gamelan, a collection of Indonesian percussion instruments, amped up the dramatic presentation. It sounded a bit like an ensemble consisting of a hard core heavy metal xylophone, steel drum and reedy flute. The xylophone, or metallophone, when struck by the musicians’ mallets, prompted the hairs to rise on the back of my neck.

Meanwhile, the dancers’ movements transfixed Kasey and my five-year-old son, Eddie, in addition to securing a second wind for them. Even Kurt, my husband who wasn’t always as exuberant about all the cultural activities I dragged him to see, sat ramrod straight with focus. At the very least, the dancers distracted us from the heinous humidity that still hovered in the stagnant August evening air.

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Travel Oops: Leaving my beach bag at the Market Lady’s stall in Bali

© R. Stacker (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jonasphoto/)

© R. Stacker

Sanur, Bali, 2010.

After taking another tasty, turmericy bite of Nasi Goreng, Indonesia’s version of fried rice, and sipping a semi warm Bintang, I look up and see her. The Market Lady—she is standing, waiting just at the sandy edge of the beach restaurant where we are eating in Sanur, Bali. As I make eye contact, she smiles and waves. Waving back, I look down at my rice.

“Kurt, the Market Lady is staring at us.” I tell my husband, since, from his plastic patio seat, his back is to her. “She’s following us.”

“Well, you told her we’d come back to her store.”

© Kermitz1 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/kermitz/9035768437/)

© Kermitz1

He is right. Earlier in the day, on our way to play in the Indian Ocean, we walked through a marketplace near the beach in Sanur. Despite the lack of customers, it was full of stalls with proprietors selling items, including wind chimes, kites, scarves, batik sarongs, bags, T-shirts, jewelry, straw hats and beach mats. Most of the shopkeepers were middle-aged women.

Sweating, Kurt and I trundled through with our kids, Eddie and Kasey, and lugged all our beach gear as one of the women approached us and gestured toward her store. She wore a turban-like head wrap, button down blue shirt, a gold and black batik printed sarong, as well as faded red plastic flip flops.

© Cameron Adams (https://www.flickr.com/photos/themaninblue/4542887953/)

© Cameron Adams

“Come, I have beautiful things to show you. I will make you a good price,” she announced. Limp tendrils of hair, which had escaped the wrap, stuck to her forehead; her temples glistened. When she smiled, her eyes crinkled and she exuded calm, which wasn’t surprising, really, since the entire island of Bali seemed to project that particular personality trait.

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Signs of the Times: A real travel Oops

© Lottie Nevin

© Lottie Nevin

Bali, Indonesia. How cool is this photo of this restaurant, which I feel compelled to visit!? This pic was given to me by Lottie Nevin, who is a fantastic blogger and photographer. Her hilarious blog is one of my favorites, and I consider Lottie to be a dear friend. She has always encouraged and supported me. Thanks, Lottie!

Travel Oops: Interrupting the Rapture — Roosters in Bali

© Stephanie Glaser 2010

© Stephanie Glaser 2010

While your chi may be in balance, your senses go ballistic in Bali. After all, you’ve got the sweet smell of incense and plumerias wafting while wooden chimes clonk together in the humid, tropical breeze.

© Stephanie Glaser

© Stephanie Glaser

And then, overworking your retina, Technicolor greens of jungle vegetation, rice paddies and terraces pop. Meanwhile, soothing golds of National Geographic sunsets and ornate costumes calm down the pupil palpitations.

You may experience the wet brush bristles that a Hindu priest gently dabs on your skin before he places rice grains on your forehead to deliver a blessing. At the end of the day, with a semi-warm Bintang, swallow down all of those sensory details along with the lingering taste of turmeric and chili peppers from Nasi Goreng, Indonesia’s national dish.

© Muhammad Mahdi Karim

© Muhammad Mahdi Karim

It’s enough to keep you completely zenned out for life. However, a specific sound on the Island of the Gods easily shatters that inner peace and jars your senses into consciousness. A rooster. At 4 a.m. Every morning. On the dot. (Aren’t they supposed to wait until sunrise?)

For centuries, roosters have strutted their stuff as part of the scene in Southeast Asia, where they were originally domesticated. In fact, today, these cocks are like scooters in Southeast Asia — persistent, aggressive often competing and always demanding attention. In Bali, cockfights are sacred and have always been part of “Tabuh Rah,” an important Balinese Hindu ritual.

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Travel Ahh….Rivers

© Stephanie Glaser 1989

© Stephanie Glaser 1989

Rivers are compelling — whether they’re slow and meandering or fast and furious. With a dual personality, rivers represent both nature and civilization. Regardless, they take you on a journey that metaphorical and literal. The above photo is the Amo River running through Florence, Italy.

© Stephanie Glaser 2006

© Stephanie Glaser 2006

The Danube River is particularly beautiful. In Visegrád, Hungary, its “S” curve is almost always in view.

© Stephanie Glaser 2006

© Stephanie Glaser 2006

The Danube, Budapest, Hungary.

© Stephanie Glaser 2006

© Stephanie Glaser 2006

The Dnieper, Kiev, Ukraine.

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Travel Oops: The Unfortunate Photo — All Templed Out

© Stephanie Glaser

© Stephanie Glaser 2010

Bali, Indonesia. My kids Eddie (5) and Kasey (3) actually loved Bali. But you wouldn’t know it from these photos. In fact, they look pretty pissed off. “Not another temple, Mom!” Eddie exclaimed when we arrived at the Pura Taman Ayun Temple — or the Royal Temple of Mengwi. In all fairness, to visit Pura Taman Ayun, we had dragged the kids away from the water slide at our hotel.

Enamored with Bali’s temples, I couldn’t get enough, so nearly every day we were on the island we saw a new spiritual site. In the above photo, we had met an artist who was painting a piece at Pura Taman Ayun. Kasey was mildly curious, so I wanted to snap a photo — one of those feel good travel photos of your kids interacting with locals and absorbing the culture. When I asked her to smile for the camera, Kasey instantly scowled at me.

Royal Temple kids looking pissed

Kurt and I with our bitter kids.

The Travel Ahh…Alleyways and Side Streets

© Stephanie Glaser 2010

© Stephanie Glaser 2010

Side streets and alleyways often exude mystery. What’s around the corner or what will I find? Danger? Intrigue? Side streets and alleys often have a negative, managing connotation and are associated with dodgy activities. Perhaps, that’s the appeal. The photo collection of alleyways and side streets here is not particularly threatening — especially since the photos were taken in the daytime. However, each alleyway and street offered something interesting.

The shot above and the following two pictures I took in Melbourne, Australia. I was lucky to be traveling with Amy, a dear friend of mine who is an excellent photographer, and she inspired me to appreciate beauty in even the smallest detail.

© Stephanie Glaser

© Stephanie Glaser

© Stephanie Glaser 2010

© Stephanie Glaser 2010

I really like this shot above because you can see Federation Square — perhaps the opposite of an alleyway — A cheery meeting place with heaps of activity.

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The Travel Ahh…Bridges

© Stephanie Glaser

© Stephanie Glaser 2011

I love bridges. They are artistic, functional and symbolic.  Just the idea of connecting two places along with a way to further travel is enough reason for me to appreciate bridges. It must have started for me at an early age because grew up in Eden Prairie, MN, USA. It was the town with the Graffiti Bridge, after which rocker Prince named his 1990 movie and album. The following are photos from my travels, and the majority are pictures of structures found in the United States, Europe and Australia. One of my travel goals is to take photos of bridges in Africa, South America and more from Asia.

Above is the Hood River Bridge that spans over the Columbia River from Hood River Oregon and White Salmon, Washington.

© Edward Schuck

© Edward Schuck 2004

Prague, Czech Republic. Prague has the bridges — here’s the Charles Bridge, which is sort of sandwiched in between two other bridges. It is a very recognizable landmark.

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Travel Ahh…Children

© Stephanie Glaser 1989

© Stephanie Glaser 1989

Because of the recent unthinkable tragedy in the United States, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about my own kids and children in general. I want this Travel Ahh…to be a celebration of children and their innocence. The photo above is of a child in East Berlin, East Germany feeding pigeons in a mall area. I love how kids can be captivated by a bird adults think of as a dirty pest.

© Stephanie Glaser 2010

© Stephanie Glaser 2010

Exouth, Western Australia. Putting your hands in mud or dirt is a universal joy. This is my daughter, Kasey, who was fascinated with the red dirt.

© Stephanie Glaser 2010

© Stephanie Glaser 2010

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. These shy girls were coming home from school and they kindly agreed to have their photo taken.

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