Bali: Outward Bound: Dispatch One

Bali: Outward Bound: Dispatch One

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.

Aircraft Waste Collection
EVA Taipei Departure

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.

Departure. LAX.

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

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.

Aloha oe.

Congrats, you made it back to Bali! My shooting partner on my first morning shoot on Bali.
Congrats, you made it back to Bali! My shooting partner on my first morning shoot on Bali.

4 Responses to Bali: Outward Bound: Dispatch One

  1. Thanks for sharing your insights and views into your Bali travels with Donna. Hope you get to enjoy pleasurable times along with business 😉

  2. To me, this post really mirrors the Seth Godin post on reality that you shared. To me, being realistic means to understand that nature trumps all, and to forcibly block the metaphors from our perception. Aloha!

  3. Aloha, David, from Malibu, where we are still not wearing wetsuits! Hoping that you are immersed in Balinese beauty with your beloved. We have friends in common, my family having deep roots in Kauai, and my work now with the Chumash tribe and Wishtoyo Foundation in Malibu. Beau Bridges is on our board and asked about you: if you might grace us with your presence at our Benefit Celebration in Malibu at the site of an 8,000 year old Chumash village… your brilliant eye, native sensibilities and unique perspective were the subject of a Board meeting conversation Sunday, and Beau asked me to reach out to you. So if you and Donna are back in the states on November 8th, we would love to welcome you into the arms of our beautiful Village, where we will honor Johnny Mandel on his 90th birthday and several Chumash elders.
    Aloha nui loa,
    310 924-0591

    • Wow, thanks for the note Jennifer. It is funny because the water temp difference between Bali and Malibu is not to vast. Going to be an interesting winter in Ca! Beau is awesome. One of my fave people. Sounds like a great event and one I would love to attend. It looks like we are in Costa Rica that week visiting the Havassys though. We are in the midst of a really hectic travel-shoot schedule till March. After that it should be normal again. Many mahalos for the generous invitation. Aloha nui loa!

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