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The 40+ Travel Club and the Ubud Healer ofEat, Pray, Love Fame

I have a confession to make…

I love hanging out with old people. Really, I do. And not to brag about it or anything, I think old people thoroughly enjoy my company as well. While traveling, Dies and I have found that we are in this weird demo:

1) We are older than most of the backpackers who are either “going to uni” or have just finished it, and therefore, enjoy drinking, going out and all other sorts of debauchery. These are also the same people that have a budget of like $5 for their hotel (yes, it’s insane!) and like to buy t-shirts that have beer logos on them.

2) We are much younger than semi and retired couples who vacation for several weeks/months at a time. These people are usually pretty well-off, stay at the nice hotels and frequent the restaurants with the nice Western food. They also never bargain and wear nice clothes and shoes even when everybody around them have raggedy clothes on and walk barefoot.

But we do fit in this smaller category of older travelers that are semi-backpacking. I say semi because we do have a couple of expensive North Face, Marmot, and other hi-performance travel outfits, but we also carry our own backpacks instead of using bellhops, take public transportation (as inefficient and ancient as it may be), and will pay a few extra dollars to have our own bathroom and hot water to shower with.

We have had our fair share of sleeping in rooms with walls dotted with mold and peeling off (pretty much everywhere), bathrooms that house real anthills (this did happen to us in Tad Lo), rooms that can only been reached after you climb 131 steps in the scorching sun (this place was on Phi Phi island and I DID count how many steps we had to go up and down), shady wiring that causes you to get shocked when you try to turn on any of the faucets in the bathroom, and the more common bathroom where you have to use a bucket to flush down your stuff, and blankets that shower you with dirt and rocks when you unfurl them on your bed. However, when Kelly starts crying, Diesel can always console her by saying we can actually afford to have a room that has clean sheets and a real toilet! I mean, we do have the money to splurge every once in a while.

So it’s the people that can withstand accommodations with questionable hygiene standards and eat at places where cats are standing around to catch (and eat) cockroaches that are running around the eating venue (this was in Cambodia), but yet, have the means to stay at a hotel with A/C and TV sometimes and go to the Four Seasons buffet brunch for a great meal, these are the people that are traveling like us. We have met several of them. They are usually in their late 40s all the way up to their 70s. Most have grown-kids and have traveled extensively before. Old people are wise and just chill.

So far, my favorite older couple has been Gypsy and Hejo, the German couple that we met during our first week in Thailand and saw again in Phuket, 2 months after we had all started our SE Asia journey.

Anyhow, so my current favorite old person now is Jacques. Jacques is from Baltimore, he tells me, but I pick up a slight French accent with something else. As it turns out, Jacques is the product of the marriage between a German and a Frenchman, so he’s lived in Germany, France and Italy growing up. He also taught in China for a year with his wife. He has a daughter who is actually doing a documentary on a couple of the Bali healers/medicine man/medicine woman. Jacques is cool like that. He tells me he had sushi (sushi here in Bali!) with a Japanese writer, talked extensively to a famous German camerawoman vacationing here (who made 2 famous documentaries, one of which won some sorta of German award or Oscar, I don’t remember), brought some croissants to the paraplegic women that live up the street from our hotel and visited the “medicine man.”

“The medicine man?” I ask. “THE medicine man?” I look for clarification.

“Yes,” he says.

For those of you who have no idea whom we talking about, we are ta are referring to Ketut Liyer, Ubud’s healer who became famous after the book Eat, Pray, Love came out. The book was a NY Times bestseller for a very long time, an Oprah Book Club pick and apparently, is being made into a movie. And I just heard today that somebody was scouting the island and that Julia Roberts is being considered for the main role of Elizabeth Gilbert, who travels to Italy, India and finally, Bali to find herself and learn to eat, pray and love.

Anyhow, so Jacques tells me that his daughter is actually coming this weekend and he visited with Ketut to make an appointment for an interview she will be doing with him. He said I could go too.

“Really?” I was getting very excited. Actually, everybody who is willing to pay $25 to have their palm read by this man is welcome to meet him, he explains it to me. The man has apparently become “filthy rich,” and enjoys his status as a world celebrity as tourists who’ve read the book  go to seek his healing and clairvoyant powers, having

And before Jess and I go and make plans to see him in a couple of days, Jacques warns us:

“Don’t ask him about your love life. He will go on and all about sexual stuff for a while. If he does, just ignore him…he’s a little ga-ga, you see.”

We will be going tomorrow. I’ll report more after my visit!

My friends and me sharing a typical Balinese feast

My friends and me sharing a typical Balinese feast




3 Responses

  1. Jacques is French? Noooo. (tim)

  2. oooh. I’d love to hear what Ketut says about you! sounds like such a great adventure.

  3. Some of the best people in my life are “old”. Remember K age is simply a state of mind: maybe older retired people realize that relationships are more important than getting a bigger house or running the company? One of my closest friends up here is 74, and I could never put into words how much Bill has taught me. Also he learned how to surf at age 70! How is that for an open mind?

    Not sure why Americans push older people aside; history will prove that as a mistake……………MTT

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