It was strange leaving California in the midst of a heat wave and unique Ocean and shooting conditions, which had kept me happily in the water for weeks sans wetsuit. Hard to walk away from that,
But in the wee hours of a Tuesday morning, Donna and I departed LAX for Bali where we would once more touch base with friends who comprise the melange of talented artists, business people and change agents who base their lives around Bali.
This is the first in a series of dispatches I will post on these few weeks we get to spend in this very complex and magical place.
After a relaxing dinner at an upstairs sushi bar in the glitzy new Tom Bradley Intnl terminal, we boarded our EVA 777 flight, where 14 hours later it would land us in Taipei. Donna and I both enjoy EVA, they are a class act carrier with a high level of service and great safety record.
Travel by jet is really a mind fok in many ways. I have always viewed it as a supreme luxury and adventure, no matter how many laps I make around this blue marble. Just the thought of climbing into an aluminum can with two rockets strapped to it, and blasting to other parts of the globe at an altitude of 36 K feet is truly bizarre when one steps back and considers the complexity.
Our pal Eric Skaar sent us this link from the global warming folks and the hilarious comment: “You guys just Chernobyled your carbon footprint”. Much as that entire conversation is one I would prefer not to engage for a lot of reasons, it does serve to underscore that air travel is super expensive, in a vast number of ways.
It utilizes a huge amount of resources yet creates a tableau that allows for a connectedness to occur for Humanity which confers a lot of pleasure, joy, education, and diverse other benefits.
As we taxied out into the darkness I held the little Samsung NX1 in my hand along with a suction cup lens skirt for shooting through windows without reflection. In no time the pleasure of acceleration had us rocketing into the night sky above the warm velvet darkness of the Pacific.
Oddly enough, fourteen hours passed rapidly, and we woke to find ourselves descending at dawn’s first light into Taipei.
This image is the entrance hall at the Taipei airport (attached). This is what people see as they pass through Taipei security. I am shooting from above the very typical western themed fashion mall type facility. The funny thing to me about it, is that the imagery you see put up in the large translight displays, is an Americanized version of Western Eu fashion. Very Cosmo-Vogue.
This juxtaposition of mall surreality with Chinese security, and the highly polished facade, said a lot to me. Wish I could have had more time to shoot.
Airport security is VERY different there and in Bali as well. Much less obvious. You can locate all manner of embedded staff quietly observing. Cams everywhere too if you know where to look.
It contrasts strongly with the US, where security is far heavier handed, and more obtrusive in every way. The oversight is subtle in Taipei.
As we passed through Customs on Bali, my wife got pulled for additional screening. She brings seaglass and some surfboard resin waste for her upcycled jewelry program with her, along with as many gifts as we can carry for her staff and our friends here.
As the agent was going through all of her stuff, another rather inconspicuous guy sidled up to me and began a conversation. He actually was the security lead, but you would need to know that. In a highly skilled manner he walked me through all of the basic intelligence questions and I told him what he needed to know.
At the end of it, he quietly looked at the customs agent who was questioning Donna, and the customs session ended, they welcomed us both to Bali and we were on our way to the greeting area outside.
Bali has really upped it’s game at the airport. New facility. The entry hall is massive with high ceilings and AC. The old chalked x system which marked tourists for search with a white x on their baggage and a tout, (bribe) is now gone. Another big change is that tourists from countries with favored Nation status no longer need pay the approx 35.00 US, visa entry fee. The US is on that list, along with Australia and a few others. There is some more info here at Bali.com.
This is what Bali looked like the last time we were here. A happy piece for a beautiful place.
That is it for dispatch one. We are already deep into our adventure here, carried along on the warm breath of the Gods of Bali. I look forward to sharing more of this with you all.