Category Archives: Fun Stuff

Trees on Fire: A Brief and Somewhat Dour History of the Christmas Tree

I’m not getting a Christmas tree. Not because I’m secular, or because I’m weary of Judeo- Christian holiday rituals, but because I don’t get it. Why do we drag trees into our homes, spend an inequitable amount of time and money hanging tin and glass bits on them, only to drag them out to the sidewalk a few weeks later, collectively contributing to a miserable, brown, dendrologic graveyard? As a kid I never questioned tree trimming because Christmas trees meant cash and shiny stuff was coming my way, and if sacrificing a Douglas Fur was the collateral damage, so shall it be; I was getting my Lite Bright set, dammit. But now, in this foggy San Francisco dawn, I question the practice. Ever-seeking knowledge, and being horribly lazy, I go to Google for answers.

Turns out we’ve been slaughtering trees for centuries. In 15th century Estonia, a group of unmarried merchants known as the Brotherhood of Blackheads would place large trees in the town square, light them on fire and dance around them, a la Burning Man. Later chronicles depict the Christmas tree as being decorated with fruits and goodies for the local kids to eat during the Christmas season. But the tree-burning dance party was exclusive to the Rhineland until the 18th and 19th centuries, when it caught on in other parts of Europe, the UK, and Canada.

America didn’t catch tree fever until just before the Civil War, when an image of the Christmas tree at Windsor Castle was pirated by Godey’s Lady Book* in 1850. Like most cultural traditions, and not to be outdone by the motherland, Americans quickly adopted the ritual through its pervasiveness in early print culture. As seen in Wikipedia: “Folk-culture historian Alfred Lewis Shoemaker states, ‘In all of America there was no more important medium in spreading the Christmas tree in the decade 1850-60 than Godey’s Lady’s Book‘. The image was reprinted in 1860, and by the 1870s, putting up a Christmas tree had become common in America.”

Granted, there are a lot of areas surrounding the holiday season that don’t make much sense upon first glance**, but a little reading usually uncovers their historical symbolism. Despite the backstory of the Christmas tree in the twenty minutes of arduous research I performed for this post, I can’t seem to find the actual significance of the tree. Is it a fertility thing? An emblem of statehood? Or does the Western world simply have an especial affinity for the scent of cut pine? And what about the evolution of these symbols? Why does having a scrawny, half-bare tree echo a sentiment of tree sympathy? Is it the American yearning to root for the underdog? If we really felt for the little guy, wouldn’t we just pardon it and leave in in the ground?

Instead of spending fifty bucks on a tree, lighting it, and decorating it for a month, and throwing it out, I’ve decided to take that money and donate it to a local tree charity. It’s hard to argue with what makes sense, despite running the risk of being a seasonal wet blanket. I can live with it.

* A personal favorite antebellum publication…drool. Must find this issue for my collection.

** stay tuned, I’ll be researching all sorts of Christmas woo ha :)

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Sunday Quote: Checking in with Walt

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Eulogy for My Vaio

Vaio was a good laptop. Unpretentious, quick-thinking, always had a get-the-job-done attitude. Back in ‘08 when I first got her she was so patient with me, sitting quietly as I scrolled through her settings and fumbled with her camera configurations. She guided me gently though her setup and made our transition an easy one, with her calm and slightly teasing, “Are you sure you want to delete this program?” She knew I was naive and insecure, so she backed me up, just in case.
Our early years were so productive together. She helped me write my Master’s thesis on Edgar Allan Poe and the scandalous business that was antebellum publishing, even though she didn’t know what antebellum meant. I added it to her dictionary, as I did with so many words, mostly ones I had made up. Vaio was a picky speller, which could be annoying sometimes, with her passive aggressive red underlines. I just clicked and we moved on. We never talked about it, but now I kind of wish we had.
She was pretty too, in those days: her slim, sleek profile always made me proud to have her on my table at the corner cafe or at the library. But as the years wore on, I have to admit, I started to notice thinner models, with their cute little apples and teeny depths you couldn’t even use the word thickness to describe them… but my Vaio, well, she was starting to look a little thick. I know it’s horrible to say, but it’s true. And if one thing Vaio and I always shared, it was honesty. She respected that.

you will not be forgotten

She knew everything about me, holding all of my secrets and compromising photos tucked away in discreet folders, within folders, deep inside her C drive. That time in Mexico City? Ella sabe. The bachelorette party in Vegas, the one where none of us were actually getting married? She never judged. She just popped open her window, asked me firmly, but politely, if I wanted to save the images. She already knew the answer, but wanted to hear me say it. We had an understanding, and I owed her that much.

She traveled with me everywhere: India, Hong Kong, Europe. Quick to adapt, Vaio always found a safe Wifi and could translate in any language without much fuss. She never complained when I accidentally left her at the ski lodge in Innsbruck, or hid her in the closet in Dubai. Sure, she bitched when I installed a German hotspot program in her, then couldn’t get it out when we returned to the States… (but really, who wouldn’t?). She sighed and just learned to live with it. If there’s one thing I can say about her, Vaio always sucked it up. She was tough.

But this year, things really changed. Our communication slowed way down, sometimes to the point where she’d just shut down. I knew she was fighting a virus, but what did that have to do with us? Mac Air was so  thin and fast, I… well, I couldn’t resist. Air and I had been having an emotional affair for weeks, and I sensed Vaio knew, but again–we never discussed it. Then, when the box came, she just started at me, monitor agape, for what felt like an eternity. Then before I could say anything, she just went black. That was it.

she knows I love Chai. all day with the flirting...

I’ll miss you Vaio. Sure, Air is sexy, and fun to have around, but she’s no you. Know that you meant so much to me and I’ll make sure your death was not in vain. You’ll be recycled into your next life, go to a better place, and you can start over again, as I am doing right now.

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Dragonballz and Runaway Trains: The Engaging Classroom

A classroom irony: when it’s time for students to drill down and complete assignments, they want to chat, but when discussion time hits, they clam up. Often the silence is not for lack of doing the work, but kids, when asked an evocative question, find themselves fearful of getting the answer wrong, so rather than risk looking “stupid” in front of their peers, they say nothing.

In defense of language arts, English teachers do try to mix it up. We dutifully put desks in circles instead of rows to encourage kids to share ideas and insights, not just dispense “the right answer” to the teacher. In literature, there’s really no right answer, no sum of all the parts. My old thinking was that language is an interdisciplinary subject, taking into account history, architecture, politics, human experiences. But really, all subjects are this interdisciplinary. “A train track is 300 miles long. On one end of the track, Train A leaves the station at 4 p.m. On the opposite end of the track, Train B leaves leaves at 6 p.m.. If Train A travels 45 mph and Train B travels 60 mph, when will they meet?” I have absolutely no clue what the answer is, but it seems to me that math, science, finance… all of the subjects we teach, we teach under the guise of allowing kids to engage with each other, but somehow, they still aren’t engaged. So what are we doing wrong?

Every morning in my Book Club class, a group of boys would gather together in the back of the room around a tiny screen before I arrived. Once I began class, everyone would settle in, but I always wondered what they were up to. Finally one morning, I came in a bit early and asked.

“It’s this virtual world game,” one boy explained, “you set up a world and create characters and basically have control over this whole universe of stuff.”

“Yeah,” said another kid “it’s pretty awesome. I play about eight hours a day.”

I then collected their essays. The boys weren’t writing at grade level. They both were“calling it in” on creative assignments, where again, there’s no wrong answer, but the lack of imagination and use of vocabulary was obvious. How could boys—smart boys—have so much imagination as to spend their days creating universes on their computers, but couldn’t muster a fraction of that inspiration onto a piece of paper?

The next day I asked the two boys to write a short essay on why each of their game “worlds” was better than the others’. I also told the boys they could share their work with each other… sort of like writing partners. This was a bit of a competition for the two of them (they got loud), but more importantly, an exercise in writing the persuasive essay. I asked them to use the structures I had provided that week, but instead of writing about our curriculum topics, I wanted to see if they could work on their own terms. They did the assignment together. That night I went home, made some tea, and graded papers for the following morning.

The results were staggering. Sure, some spelling and grammar errors remained, and it was clear where they shared ideas, but the imagination and use of language blew my mind. I could experience these worlds and the dwellers within, the pineapple-rough skin of the dragon, the crunch of the sugar in the bubble gum pie… these kids were brilliant writers. Sitting in my living room I felt my eyes well up, not because I had succeeded with these kids, but because for so long, I really hadn’t.

If we don’t allow students to drive education, to tell us how to engage them in real ways to inspire their imaginations and growth, teachers will continue to pass out exams with foregone results, to a wary classroom, still afraid to speak up.

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A Writer’s Guide to Procrastination

I’m not sure why certain things inspire me to write. Often it seems the things that inspire me the most haven’t much to do with writing, or anything else really. Client work is one thing— as a hired pen working on someone else’s movement, I’ve been known to get more fired up than the client. But when it’s my own stuff, my creative work, well, it’s a different story. Kind of like giving great advice to your friend about her love life, while wondering why you’re still single. So, on those days when the words just won’t come out, I usually just get outside and look around.

Some days it might be walking through Chinatown, passing all the colorful tourist shops and little alleyway tea houses…

… other days it could be seeing a new  statue,


… and still others, it could be something totally off-kilter, like shopping at Daiso. Have I mentioned how much I love Daiso? I love Daiso. All the colorful notebooks and bizarre beauty products and seemingly silly but somehow useful products (all less than three bucks, mind you—danger!). I know it’s weird, but Daiso makes me want to write.

(These are banana holders.)

The one common thread I find in the things, or places, or moments that make me hit the keyboard is usually aesthetic. Color, paper, texture, nature… they all nudge me in some direction. And roaming around the city in places I don’t normally go does the trick too, when I’m especially fidgety.

It’s funny, because when I teach, I tell my students—exhort them—to just write, write about anything. Write about the boy who broke your heart last week, write about how you’re the only twelve-year-old who knows how to jailbreak an Iphone, write about how much you love to play violin, hate your P.E. class, enjoy playing chess even though you know it makes you, in certain high school circles, a nerd. Just write. And yet when I sit down to do the very thing I insist my kids do, I go crazy. I can’t insist myself into writing creatively… try to make something happen when it clearly doesn’t want to. So, usually, I’ll find something to do until the words decide to line up and situate themselves onto a page. It can take a while, but somehow, they always seem to find their way.

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Free Me, Courtesy of Coffee & Power

No not free me as in “Free Winona” free me, but actually my services are free to you. Silly.

One of my favorite new social products (and yes… a stellar client of mine, I’m not going to lie), Coffee & Power is making you an offer you can’t refuse. (Sorry, I’ve had the Godfather on my mind all week for some reason. Just go with it.)

For those not in the know, Coffee & Power is this very cool work/exchange site where you can buy and sell services, (called Missions). You need cupcakes delivered for an office party? Coffee & Power has someone. Someone to build software? They have someone. Organization help? You get the idea.

Coffee & Power has started a program where certain members have Gift Missions. And guess who has two…count’em… two Gift Missions? That means you can get an hour of my services and Coffee & Power will pick up the tab.

Here’s what you do:

Send yours truly a note with your email. (Don’t worry I’m friendly. Hi! ).

I then send you a gift credit. Register at C&P (takes two seconds) and you’re good to go.

Besides my Missions, there’s a bunch of cool stuff up, so go on and check out their offerings. They change daily and there’s always something. Oh! And put your own Missions up too, so you can earn some moola.

Coffee, Power, and Free Stuff,


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Grammar Fails and Crowded Cubicles

Sad but true: As a writer, grammar fails always make me giggle. It’s lexical Schadenfreude and I’m super guilty of it. Now there are some considered moderately passable, given the general state of the English language in the U.S. (word choice or subject-verb agreement boo-boos). Yes I may wince, but I let it go because no one else will notice and I look like a prissy nerd. Okay okay. I get it.

For sports, clearly. English? Not so much.

But when high-ranking universities have advertisements soliciting M.B.A. students have these kinds of errors, I take photos. Blurry photos, but yes. Photos. I take them (sorry the BART was moving…).

Now I know it’s hard to see, so let me transcribe the last sentence for you:

“All business programs are part-time and designed for busy working professionals who seek the knowledge and skills to accelerate their career.”

I read this the other night and winced so hard. Really, Top-Ranking-University-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless? Their career? All busy working professionals share a single career? That’s one crowded cubicle.

Um, excuse me. Have you seen my Swingline stapler?

Somebody over there needs a lesson in number agreement, and possibly, a proofreader.

I know what you’re thinking. “Cyn– no one is going to notice that. It’s a small error…  not a grammar fail. RELAX Popper.”

No. I will not relax. This is not victorious scribe plastered onto a windshield for a tailgate party by a Zima-infused* frat boy. This is an ad campaign–an expensive ad campaign– for a top-ranking M.B.A. program by a UNIVERSITY.  Big difference. I’ll write about grammar fails and context another time because that is a topic altogether different.

I know what your thinking. “Cyn– everyone makes typos. YOU make typos in this silly blog, and you’re a writer!”

Yes. That’s true. I do. Because  I’m fallible and this is a work/life blog. Mistakes get made. Commas, occasionally, get spliced.  But when a client is creating a thousands-of-dollars campaign, and I’m in charge of the copy, it’s a different story. If after a series of rewrites and revisions I’m not sure about a grammar bit or a style choice, I look it up or consult a fellow editor. For large projects I might even bring in a second proofreader. Whatever it takes to make sure that the client’s image is congruent with the branding. That might not even require a “carping grammarian”... but if it does, I become one. (Bonus geek points if you know who came up with “carping grammarian”).

Hint: It was this guy.


And for an academic client… really. What else can I say? Students pay a huge tuition to ensure they get a good education. Tee hee.

Okay I’m done. ;)

* Does Zima still exist?

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Moments of Clarity and A New Use for Durian

Why hello there Kind Reader (how Miss Manners of me),

On my recent journey to Southeast Asia, I spent a few days wandering around the island of Lombok, mostly in the tiny town of Kuta. No, not the Hard Rock Cafe/Tijuana night club/Mecca for Drunken Aussies Kuta (that’s Bali). But Kuta Lombok: a quiet, mini-village nestled on the coast of the Indian Ocean.

The beach beauty defines language, but I’ll give it a shot. Powdery white sand meets cobalt waters…really, it’s almost stupid to try and describe it. The feeling of serenity and quiet that came over me was surprising–almost jarring. I became hyper-aware: my eyes couldn’t process what they were seeing fast enough to tell my brain what to think. I sat, quite dumbstruck, looking at this vast, pure expanse of exquisite nature and thinking: wahhhh? What is this? Where am I? It’s quiet, lovely, relaxing, and aside from a handful of other foreign gawkers, undiscovered.

The rest of Kuta? Not much is going on, really. My partner, Martin* and I hopped on a scooter and promptly got lost, meandering the hillsides where we found tiny villages, little enclaves of community living in the same way they have for centuries. Most are weavers, some are farmers, and some have little boys who, upon seeing a Western female, will promptly whip out their baby manhood and display it in all its tiny glory, straight up in the middle of the dirt road. Martin laughed and scolded the proto-deviant, which of course, the little perv couldn’t understand. I was somewhere between shocked, amused, and mildly flattered. I mean… what do you say? “Thanks Little Perv, for the creepy-bizarro greeting. Just gonna go over here now, and gouge my eyes out with a Durian.” But I digress.

My smelly, tasty weapon of choice.

Back in the village– well it’s technically a village but really just one dirt road with a few shops and hotels– I noticed a faded blue building with lots of Muslim girls and boys shuffling about out front. The sign was in Indonesian but I was sure it had to be a school. After a couple of hours I decided to walk by and sure enough, in traditional Indo-friendly fashion, I got my in.

“Hello!” It was a local man, possibly in his late twenties, sitting in the school courtyard with a few head-scarved female students.

“Hello!” I shouted back. “Is this a school?”

“Yes, please come talk to us.” So I did. Turned out he was the Math teacher, who spoke decent English. After a bit of chatting, well… I couldn’t help myself.

“Would it be alright if I came tomorrow and sat with the English class?” The girls mumbled to each other. Only one girl spoke enough English to understand my question.

His face beamed. “Yes of course! Please come and talk with the students! Yes yes yes!”

I was thrilled. So the next day I stopped by, and Martin, being bored, came along with his Iphone. The video is brief but you get the idea. Later (not shown) even the Math teacher sat in as student!

Sigh. I’ve been so fortunate to make a life with words. Writing, marketing, heck– I’ll even throw in acting. But nothing, nothing comes close to the feeling I get when I teach kids who are this excited to learn. Sort of like Kuta Beach: indescribable, beyond a physical beauty ever thought possible, effortless as air,  filling me in a way nothing else ever could.

Note: If you have trouble with the links… check out Popper Creative on Facebook where I’ve also embedded them.

* Thanks for the clips, Martin. (He still insists on Martin. One day I’ll get him to come out…)

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Will Work For Compressed Air: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Reluctant Relaxation

I’m wrapping up my Southeast Asia adventure… but had to share my latest article about a new client, PicThatWord, and the Founder’s misadventures in relaxation. Enjoy!

Article first published as <a href=’‘>Will Work For Compressed Air: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Reluctant Relaxation</a> on Technorati.

When Iphone game developer Scott McCarthy set off on a six-week sabbatical to Indonesia, his intentions were in the right place. Knowing that his photo/word association game, PicThatWord, would be launching worldwide on both the Iphone and Facebook in a few short weeks, McCarthy carved out some personal time before PicThatWord’s launch to travel through Indonesia with his girlfriend. He knew there would be work to do while he was on the road: check in with engineers, build out marketing, tweak screen shots, but ultimately, the Bay Area game-maker knew that it was now or never for a long-haul journey. The couple decided there was no better place to relax than Bali, Indonesia. And for the most part, they were spot on. For the most part, that is, until the pair stumbled onto a small village in northeast Bali called Tulamben.

McCarthy had been happily working for weeks at odd hours during his journey (what entrepreneur completely logs off during vacation?), but decided to unplug the laptop and spend a few days honing one of his many water-sport pastimes, SCUBA diving. Tulamben Bay is home to some of the most spectacular underwater scenery on the planet, featuring the staggeringly beautiful USAT Liberty Shipwreck.

Tulamben, like much of north Bali, is also terrifically low key: there are no banks, no ATMs, and only a handful of restaurants, resorts, and homestays. Upon arriving, while having lunch, McCarthy met Kedek Suteja of Aqua Dive Paradise, and soon found himself scooter-bound to Kedek’s dive center and homestay, and the relaxing reprieve quickly became a working partnership for both divers.

“I generally don’t make reservations, or plan much ahead when I travel,” said McCarthy, “I find the best and most exciting things happen when I don’t map everything out in detail.” This was true for his stay at Aqua Dive, and after getting to know Kedek and his staff, the entrepreneur soon realized he had found something special: a dive center just off the coast of world-class diving at about half of the cost of the resort-style dive centers flanking it. “Most divers [in Bali] don’t want to spend a lot of money on fancy rooms or homogenized Western fare. They want a local experience. They want to spend their money on amazing diving with local pros, not designer bath products and over-priced Nasi Goreng.”

After a chat with Kedek, McCarthy discovered that Aqua Dive had no web presence of any kind: no website, no Trip Advisor listing, no Facebook page. The resorts in town were capturing a huge portion of the market share simply because tourists couldn’t book ahead by researching Aqua Dive online. Ever the negotiator, and finding relaxation “a serious challenge,” McCarthy and Kedek struck a deal: McCarthy would build out Aqua Dive’s web marketing, and Kedek would arrange the dives.

Luckily for McCarthy, his girlfriend was busy getting her PADI certification at the center, so he had plenty of time to stay out of the afternoon sun to work, and within a few days, was born, complete with all of the traveler trimmings: maps, local history, email contacts—the works. Almost immediately Aqua Dive was found by Facebook fans and tourists, and McCarthy was paid with some of the best dives and equipment available, while feeding his addiction for business development.

“It’s a complete win-win,” said McCarthy, while gearing up for his last night dive at USAT Liberty, “Aqua Dive now has the web presence they need to grow, and I get to both consult and, yes, take some serious dive-time, which helps me grow too.”

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A Little Somethin’ for Technorati

Article first published as <a href=''>Bali Off-Track: Nusa Lembongan</a> on Technorati.

Salamat Pagi!

So I’m still on the road in Indonesia and thought I’d do some cross-blogging for Technorati… here’s where I was last week. More to come!

Bali Off-Track: Nusa Lembongan

Just 12 kilometers off the coast of Bali, not far from the pounding nightclubs and pandering shopkeepers of Kuta, sits an island called Nusa Lembongan. This drowsy little mound hosts no cars, no post offices, no banks, and save for the morning cacophony of rooster calls, no distractions. Lembongan is home to some popular local surf breaks, as well as some of the best diving in the region, but for those who seek a break from the coastal action of Bali, this island retreat is the perfect spot to do as little as possible.

Part of the Balinese region of Indonesia, Lembongan is primarily Hindu; you’ll spot remanent offerings to the Hindu gods littering the dirt roads: sandwich-sized leaf baskets filled with flowers, rice, crackers, and incense. These offerings are made in the morning and at night to show Hindu deities gratitude and respect (which deities in particular, I’m told by a local hotel worker, can be quite complicated). Basket offerings are performed throughout Bali, but seem be more plentiful on Lembongan.

Life here is simple, but the people work hard. You’ll see petite, sun-hardened women walking down the dirt roads, barefoot, and with over-stuffed rice bags on their heads. Children, maybe as young as eleven, driving mopeds, with boxes of fruit precariously balanced on their foot-wide floor boards. Straw brooms briskly grooming simple storefronts. Lembongan is a step back in time, a quiet reprieve from the hectic woofer-thump of Kuta and the frenetic hustle of big-cities like Suryabaya and Jakarta.

A place perfect for a short-stay, Lembongan is not the typical resort island overrun with pasty-burned tourists and hordes of tchotchke shops. But there are some tasty local eateries, terrific water sports tours, and quaint bungalow homestays just off of the beach for less than 30.00 dollars a day.

From Bali, the fast boat drops you off at the main beach area, not far from the infamous Playgrounds and Lacerations surf breaks. North from there, you’ll find a smattering of hotels and homestays fitting all budgets and travel styles. We had no reservation at the Secret Garden, a budget-friendly retreat highly-rated on the travel sites, so with a nine-room occupancy, we weren’t terrifically surprised when we were immediately—but ever so sweetly– turned away. The Secret Garden boasts a two-minute walk to the beach, great diving tours, and the Yoga Shack, which offers twice-daily drop in sessions of Ashtanga and Hatha yoga, as well as Pilates. Eminently homeless and mildly concerned, we asked the friendly hotel-keeper for other options similar to Secret Gardens. He suggested taking a stroll down the beach to see what the other bungalows had available. It sounded dubious, but as it turns out, due to the supremely low-key profile of Lembongan, there are dozens of pretty, well-equipped, beach-adjacent properties not listed on any travel site. We walked no further than across the road when a older gentleman with that beaming Bali smile greeted us. “You need room? Come look.” That’s how we found Jepun Lembongan Villas.

Just fifty meters from the beach (literally a one-minute walk) Jepun has everything the off-track traveler needs. The property is just six months old, and the rooms have fresh teak furniture and the cleanest, most newly-appointed bathrooms I’ve experienced in Indonesia. 200,000 rupiah (about 24.00 USD) gets you a simply-decorated room with fresh beach and bath towels and a private outdoor veranda with a view of the lapis-tiled, heated swimming pool. Breakfast is also included, which consists of a fresh tropical fruit plate, fresh juice, toast, and coffee. There’s no WiFi, but internet is accessible through the various restaurants and cafes.

With a new home base, we toured the island to get the lay of the land. Often tourists rent scooters to tour the island, but wanting a slower, more physically-fit experience, we opted to hike around a bit south to Mushroom Bay. It’s about a 2.5 mile walk from Jepun, but the roads are clearly marked and easy to navigate, with lots of little watering holes and shops along the way. Take caution while walking, as you’ll share the road with scooters, cows, chickens, and the occasional tourist shuttle. Again by accident, we followed signs to The Beach Club at Sandy Bay, a perfect slice of paradise with all of the modern conveniences of the commercial mega-resort without the crowds, noise, or prices. A stunning cliff-framed oceanscape greets you as you walk to the back terrace, where you can flop down on a canvas beach bed next to the small but pristine infinity pool. The Beach Club offers a simple menu of sandwiches, smoothies, and fresh-squeezed juices, as well as a fully-stocked bar. Relax, check email (I know, it’s sounds wrong, but the connection at Sandy Beach is better than most), and soak up the sounds of crashing waves and gurgling local birdlife. Finish the visit with a healthy scoop of mint-choco ice cream (you’ll have earned it after trekking back to Lembongan Villas—it’s about a five-mile trek, roundtrip.)

The northeast side of the island isn’t widely accessible, being covered with a Mangrove forest and seaweed harvesters, so we trekked through Lembongan Village toward the center of the island, taking a slight shortcut back. We stopped periodically to snap shots of the gorgeous Hindu temples and statuary, which are sprinkled liberally through the island.

Once back, it was close to dinner time, so we strolled up the road to the local Warung Made,( “warungs” are cheap, outdoor, traditional restaurants found everywhere in Bali). The fried noodles with prawns are sweet, spicy, and utterly delicious, topped with a fried egg and fresh vegis. At 1.80 U.S., this was one of the most satisyfing and budget-friendly meals during our stay. Finish with a cold Tehbottle (Indonesian sweet tea) and maybe a sweet dutch pancake topped with ice cream and chocolate sauce.

We walked off our dinner and headed back to our private, pool-side villa for a quiet night of gurgling birdlife and the faint night buzz of mopeds. Sleep comes easy in Lembogan, far from the shopkeepers’ calls and pulsing nightlife just beyond the island’s shore.

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