“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 Ahh…Silhouettes

© Stephanie Glaser

© Stephanie Glaser 2010

Silhouettes not only capture definite outlines, edges and angles of a subject, but they offer a bit of mystery, too.  That’s what I like so much about them. I also like silhouettes because they seem a bit more forgiving when you’re taking a photo. The above photo of the boat I took after a stunning sunset in Kalbarri, Western Australia. 

© Stephanie Glaser 2010

© Stephanie Glaser 2010

Kalbarri, Western Australia. 

© Stephanie Glaser 2010

© Stephanie Glaser 2010

Bali, Indonesia. It’s impossible not to take a good photo of Tanah Lot, one of the sacred Hindu temples on Bali.

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Travel Ahh….Palm Trees

© Stephanie Glaser 2010

© Stephanie Glaser 2010

Palm trees immediately make me feel at ease — like the ocean. Perhaps it’s because they are such an iconic symbol of tropical islands or, at least, warm weather. I took the above photo in Bali, Indonesia. 

© Stephanie Glaser

© Stephanie Glaser 2011

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

© Stephanie Glaser

© Stephanie Glaser 2010

Adelaide, South Australia.

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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 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…A Lasting Impression

© Stephanie Glaser

When traveling with kids, you hope they will appreciate culture as much as you do. You also, when they are young, hope they will remember what they have experienced. In 2010, the beautiful dances of Bali, in particular, Legong Dancing, definitely made an impression on my daughter Kasey.

We went to a show in Ubud that was spectacular. Then, little did we know, we would see more Legong dancing in several restaurants (geared for tourists). The striking music always caught our attention — especially Kasey’s. She would look around and wait for the princesses to come out.

For her, these beautiful princesses, who were unlike the Disney princesses that she loves, captivated her even more. The music that complements the dancing so well also stuck with her.

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The Travel Ahh…Walking

© Stephanie Glaser 1989

On the move. Many of my travel photos share a theme of walking.  It’s such an ordinary action. However, I love scenes of people walking in towns, villages and cities. It shows people in motion and conveys a feeling of a vibrant place. Walking photos also can show a casual, laid back environment.

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Gimme Shelter — The “Bonsai Tree” Temple in Bali

© Stephanie Glaser

Pura Taman Ayun Temple — or the Royal Temple of Mengwi in Bali, has structures that remind me of neatly groomed bonsai trees. I realize that does not sound technical, but who wants to sound technical when talking about such a spiritual and serene place? Balinese Hindu Temples have a calming effect — especially since the settings for many of these religious sites involve water. This beautiful open-air temple complex includes a moat, garden, terraced courtyards and holy shrines.

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