Virtual Vacation: After I Was Sprung From the Clinic… Day 14

After a lonely night sleeping in the clinic in my sundress, with a grungy mouth and no toothbrush in sight, I woke at 4:30 AM, still hooked up to my IV, to the sound of roosters. I couldn’t get the wifi to work, I had finished reading my 400-page novel, so I took some time to go over my teaching notes for the retreat, to review our itinerary, and otherwise put my teaching hat on.

I prayed that I’d get sprung from the clinic first thing in the morning. I felt good, just stiff and sore from lying in bed for 24 hours. I no longer had stomach cramps or diarrhea. If anything, I had the opposite problem. With all the plug-up drugs they gave me, now nothing was coming out and I had that uncomfortably full feeling in my belly. I hoped this wasn’t going to be like hospitalizations after surgery at home—where you have to poop before they let you out of the hospital.

I was downing another breakfast of (you guessed it—white bread toast and bananas), when I got an email from my student, Tawnya, who arrived late the night before. She’d read my post and asked if she could come visit me in the clinic. I told her to come right over.

I was feeing fine, but they weren’t going to let me go until the whole bag dripped into my arm. They’d set the drip at such an infinitesimal speed that I would have been in there for another half a day.

Tawnya is a trauma nurse and she told me there was really no need for the saline drip to be that slow, not by U.S. standards. So with a conspiratorial glance between us, she closed the door and pulled the window shade. Then Tawnya expertly scooted up the pole to increase the gravity and the little drops in the IV started coming faster. Forty-five minutes (rather than three hours) later, the IV was empty and Deyani came in to discharge me. She gave me a variety of pills to keep taking and had me fill out a one page evaluation form for the clinic. And that was it—I was on my way.

My bill by the way, had not been resolved. They’d tried to contact my insurance company and had been given the run-around and they told me the whole thing might take a few days. They took my email address and they know where I’m staying for the next few days—and that was good enough. I still have no idea how much my little stay in the hospital is going to cost, but I’m sure it will be nothing like the 30 grand or more a night in a US hospital would cost.

This was my last look at the clinic:

After lunch, Tawnya and I hired two scooter drivers to take us around for the afternoon. It was Tawnya’s first day in Bali and she was eager to see some local villages and some rice fields. “I’ll have to get past my training as a trauma nurse,” she said, as she climbed on the back of her scooter.

My driver, Made Bolot, spoke excellent English and we chatted about all kinds of things as we tooled up and down tiny roads, through villages, past avocado groves, peanut fields, corn crops, hot chili fields, a door factory, and all kinds of construction projects along the road. Made told me was 25 years old and had graduated from college in business and entrepreneurship. He wants to be a businessman.

Made told me he hadn’t taken a rupiah from his parents for college; he’d worked two jobs to put himself through college. “I did it all by myself,” he said, and now, he gives his parents 200,000 to 300,000 rupiah a month. The filial loyalty thing is very big in Bali.

When I asked if he was married, he said, “I’m not married yet because I can’t afford it yet.” He said he needed 20 to 25 million rupiah to get married and that he also needed money saved up to pay for the ceremonies for his children. He said, “Without money, it’s hard to get a girlfriend. No money, no honey.”

“Is 25 late to get married here?” I asked.

“Not really, “ he answered. “I want to find myself first.”

“You sound like a westerner,” I replied.

Made told me a lot of Balinese people marry young because they’re pregnant and that sex between teenagers is accepted. He said a lot of married people have affairs, but stay together. I asked if women had affairs too, and he said yes.

At one point we passed what looked to me like a temple, but it didn’t look permanent like all the others. Made said it was built temporarily tor a cremation ritual and that several people from that particular village were probably going to be cremated at the same time. Cremations are too expensive for most families to have their own. Often the Balinese will bury their dead until they can take part in a communal cremation. Then they dig up the bodies and burn the remains. I wished I could have taken a picture of that, but we were moving too fast.

Made was, however, an excellent driver. At one point I told him, “You’re a very good driver. I feel very safe with you.”

“My mother always chooses me when she needs someone to drive her. It’s because I have a woman’s soul,” he said.

“What do you mean?”

“I like it more quiet, more peaceful.”

We rode easily through small village after small village. A woman carried a huge load of bricks on her head. There were chickens and roosters, dogs and pigs in the rutted narrow roads. Small warangs sold drinks and cheap looking goods by the side of the road. Rice was drying on large tarps at the roadside. People were out everywhere living their lives. Women were carrying outrageous loads on top of their heads. I saw a girl, no more than 5, carrying a huge bundle of grain that twice as long as she was tall. We were definitely not in tourist Bali anymore.

Made took us to Budakeeling, the silversmithing village. They jewelers worked at eight outdoor tables, doing incredibly fine hand work.

photo by Tawnya Sargent


photo by Tawnya Sargent


photo by Tawnya Sargent

A shop next door featured some of the most exquisite silver jewelry I’ve ever seen. Made said that the workers work on commission—they get 10% of the price of each piece they make.

photo by Tawnya Sargent

This gorgeous bonsai banyan tree was in the courtyard outside the shop:

We rode up one very long road that was full of construction materials. There was one open-air workshop where men were sawing huge pieces of black rock with a power saw. Made said the rock there was almost all used to build temples.

Further up that same road were a number of vast quarries where they were mining black sand. This region, Butus, provides the raw materials for all the cement and concrete in Bali.

As we rode to our next destination, I told Made that I’d been with my daughter when I came here last year. “But she didn’t want to come this year,” I said.

“Is she with her boyfriend?” he asked.

“She doesn’t have a boyfriend,” I said.

“Maybe she is hiding it from you,” he said. “When I was fifteen and I had a girlfriend, I hid it from my parents. They would have said, ‘No! No!’” We both laughed.

Just about then, the gorgeous sunny day we were having gave way to a huge rainstorm that drenched us from head to toe. I was sorry I hadn’t thought to bring my poncho, but I was glad I had my phone in a plastic baggie. My little writing notebook got soggy. The rain was cold and wet and we were totally exposed, but once you’re soaked, what difference does it make? You can’t get more wet.

Whenever we stopped the bikes, Made would jump up and down to try to get warm. “Cold, cold!” he’d say. And then we’d get back on the wet motorbike seat and set off again.

Our destination was Revolusi Fisik, a memorial commemorating Lieutenant Colonel I Gusti Ngurah Rai, the national hero who commanded Indonesian forces in Bali against the Dutch during the Indonesian War of Independence. He was killed in the Battle of Margarana. This monument is in tribute to him and the 21 soldiers who died with him. By the time we got there, the sun had come out again.

According to Wikipedia, “On 20 November 1946, the Dutch launched a large scale attack on Marga with the assistance of troops from Lombok and supported by aircraft. Lt. Col Ngurah Rai ordered a Puputan, or fight to the death. He died along with all of his troops. The battle is now known as the Battle of Margarana.” His image is also found on the 50,000 rupiah note.

As we traveled to our final stop, the fields owned by Bugbug Village, here are some of things we saw along the way:

That’s a rooster in the basket!

photo by Tawnya Sargent

You see young kids like this working all over Bali:

photo by Tawnya Sargent

When we first hired him, I told Made Bolot that we wanted to walk around a rice field. The fields he brought us to were a huge verdant wonderland.

photo by Tawnya Sargent

photo by Tawnya Sargent

photo by Tawnya Sargent

photo by Tawnya Sargent

This is the path we were walking on:

photo by Tawnya Sargent

photo by Tawnya Sargent

I felt stoned just from the brilliance of the green everywhere. It was the first community rice field I’d seen that had so many crops besides rice. There were long beans, hot chilis. This is water spinach, which I’ve been eating daily for the past week:

This is what rice looks like when it’s growing:

These are flowers cultivated especially for offerings. Children, like this boy, pick them and are paid by the kilo.

The cement pathway we walked on was part of the subak irrigation system. Water to any one area could be shut off and diverted to another.

photo by Tawnya Sargent

These bags of rice hulls were piled by the side of a field. They’re used for compost and fertilizer:

Here are some of the other things we saw:

And near the exit to the field was this little shop, where we stopped and bought four bottles of water for thirty cents each:


We had a fantastic afternoon.

After we got home, I got fitted for some scuba gear (I decided I had to have one last dive before the rest of the students arrive tomorrow) and had a massage by another Made. Massage is taught in her family and she and her sister-in-law give most of the massages here at Lotus Bungalows. I paid $15 plus a tip for a fantastic, strong massage. It was in a bale (an open walled pavilion) right on the ocean, with billowing white curtains and the sound of the waves all around me.

After that I had dinner with Tawnya and Linne and then turned in early to write this post.

I do have to warn you—I will definitely not have as much time starting tomorrow as I have had up till now. I’ll be working again! But I do hope to keep the blog going, even if it can’t be as detailed or elaborate.

P. S. I’m organizing things for the group—and feel ready to let go of the adventure/vacation part of my trip to facilitating the experience for others. Our group will arrive in two waves tomorrow—one at 3 in the afternoon and the other quite late at night.


  1. Mel says

    hope you are feeling better. Wanted to tell you how much I’m enjoying the photos as well. Simply gorgeous.
    Write On!

  2. Annette Naber says

    So glad you are doing well again. I almost sent Henriette an e-mail to inquire whether you were still at the clinic!

  3. Dolores says

    Glad you’re back on the mend…big time! Love this virtual vacation and the many surprises you’re encountering and sharing with us.

  4. Eileene Tejada says

    So glad you recovered from the intestinal bug. So the Universe brought you a trauma nurse to save you from the slow drip. Too funny and right on time. As I was admiring your pictures, you look great by the way, I had to
    pause at the rice hull sacks. I felt at ‘one with,’ given the agricultural adventures at our house this summer. You see, Enoch has a huge pile of horse manure mixed with rice hulls in the driveway. It is for the two gardens at our house. Instead of stirring crap, these days he is shoveling it. The neighborhood flies are worshiping him at the moment. The neighbors, not so much.

    Love the posts and you.

  5. Julia says

    In the airport in taipei to catch the second leg of the journey…the pilgramage has begun with several chance meetings already…
    Glad to hear you are okay…and back out having adventures…
    See you tonight.
    I would love to have a massage tonight when I arrive if possible…don’t know the schedule or possibility…but keeping my fingers crossed it can happen…I am puffed up like a swollen toad…

  6. Carolina Evans-Roman says

    I am so glad your recovery was quick. I was holding my breath until we heard from you again. You are a very strong woman, strong of will, strong of mind and heart and strong of body. You don’t even look as if you were ill the day before in your photos. I am so envious of all your students who will get the benefit of your teaching in such a beautiful place.
    I suppose being a good tourist one needs to suspend moral judgement on the customs once sees, done out of a need for survival, such as children working as hard and long as the adults, or people working such long hours for a pittance of the cost of an article, such as the jewelry. I guess it was not so long ago that this country did the same until laws were passed and the economy grew to a point where children are not made to work and fair labor laws went into effect. There is so much to learn about the world and how we fit into it. And seeing it first hand as a traveler vs. reading about it in a book gives one a much deeper appreciation of how other people live their lives. Thank you for all of the rich description of not only what you are seeing but what you are learning. Now, off to do the thing you do best, teaching writing.

  7. Kimlinrn says

    Hey Laura- all these posts (including the grace you’ve handled this latest travail with) are more reasons to be inspired by you. May your in and out be perfectly balanced!
    And I do believe that Tawnya was one of my favorite nursing students! Please give her a hug from me-

    • says

      I’ll tell Tawyna (Sargent) and let her know we know each other. Can I tell her how?

      love you…glad you’re reading along. it’s nice to know you’re out there.

      I feel really out of touch with Temme…that’s hard, but someone at SV is reading her at least some of my blog posts, I think.


  8. beverly Boyd says

    Hi Laura,
    Glad you are feeling so much better. I have to admit I was worried when there wasn’t a new post in my email this morning. I’m enjoying your posts and pictures and finally the swelling and pain in my left hand is endurable and I can type again.

    I have the feeling you are ready to shift into teacher/mentor mode as some of your students are arriving.

    Your pictures of the Banyan trees reminds me of the huge Banyan in the park beside the Honolulu Zoo when we lived there in the 60’s. Somewhere I have a picture of Robb, the only one of the five kids who were playing hide and seek in the trunk. (Actually the tree puts down sprouts from its spreading branches that take root and become multiple trunks. I went on line and thank goodness they are still there. Sometimes we went just to play in the trees.

    Be well and enjoy!

  9. Bobbie Anne says


    I’m glad you left the Clinic and are feeling better. I am glad you are still keeping us informed and you look happy!

    I can’t wait to hear more about your adventures. Even if you don’t post as much, It will be good to find out what happens next

  10. June Radicchi says

    Great tour we’re having so far, thanks. It all looks hauntingly familiar and I wondered about that until I realized this is my 2nd virtual trip to Bali with you.
    Five beautiful sailboats rode high out on the water off West Cliff today.
    Fine, fine weather although a bit off shore one could see lots of “white geese”, a Swedish term for whitecaps caught in the wind.
    Happy you seem back on track, a healthy, cool Laura.

  11. Hollye Dexter says

    What an amazing experience you’ve had, Laura. You’ve tempted me, I have to make my way there at some point in my life. The pictures are amazing.
    I am so sorry you were sick!

  12. Fran Stekoll says

    Blessings Laura; sounds like you had quite an ordeal at the clinic.
    So glad all is well and you can now continue on your pilgrimage.
    Love all your writings and pictures. My friend recently went to Bali and I didn’t get an in depth description like yours. Thanks so much for sharing this awesome trip. I feel like I’m right there with you, even at the clinic.
    Keep on keeping on

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