Flying a Kite on a Balinese Beach is Basically Like Getting in a Time Machine

Meet Henri.

Henri the Balinese kite

Henri is a little something we picked up on the Nusa Dua beach in Bali. He’s basically a kite. But he’s oh so much more than that.

Henri is actually a magic wand that takes you back to childhood. You literally cannot hold a kite and not be filled with wonder and joy and peace. Anything that might be bothering you just miraculously…..disappears. This happens for two reasons: 1) your focusing on getting your kite higher and higher without having the string ripped out of your hands, and 2) you’re just staring up at its majestic beauty with your jaw hanging slack.

Flying a kite on a beach in Bali
You cannot see my face, but it is indeed slack-jawed in wonder.

We saw kites flying in the skies all over Bali. In fact, Bali has a very large annual kite festival. In Bali, they believe that kites carry messages for a good harvest to the Hindu gods.

As it was, we saw them every day while we were there, tiny dark specks floating high above the ground. Sometimes we’d get close enough to make out the shape of a ship or a turtle or a fish, but we were never able to see the people holding the invisible string attached to these floating time machines.

Yes, time machine. Because, honestly, when’s the last time you flew a kite? I know for me, it had been a very, very long time. Not since I was a kid. I definitely had forgotten how magical they could be.

I guess I’m not alone in this feeling. In fact, a director who made a documentary about Bali’s kite-flying culture said this in the Jakarta Post:

“We believe that those who fly kites are possessed by the wind,” says Yoka Sara. “And in that blissful state anything they do will be forgiven, in the way that children are forgiven. It is a return to childhood.”…

An architect by trade Yoka Sara produced the film because he believes that people in Indonesia and abroad should learn more about the hard work, meticulous artistry and sacred traditions that are involved in sending kites skyward in Bali.

So when we saw a vendor selling them on the beach, we jumped at the chance to get one.

There’s just something about standing on a warm sunny beach, with a beer nestled in the sand nearby, and leaning your head far back, squinting up at a pretty thing in a bright blue sky that brings on a sense of smallness and tranquility.

Balinese kite up in the sky.

We loved Henri so much that when it came time to leave Bali, I insisted we bring him home. Even though it was in no way practical. Keep in mind that Henri’s around three feet long and made of silk and fragile thin bamboo-type rods. And, our trip home had multiple legs. I took Henri from the St. Regis in Bali, through the airport security, on the plane to Bangkok, off the plane in Bangkok, to the hotel in Bangkok, on our errands the next day, to the Bangkok airport, through the airport security, on the flight to Munich, off the plane in Munich, to the hotel in Munich, through the airport security, and onto the flight to D.C. And then, finally, home.

Nevertheless, he’s the best thing we’ve ever bought on a trip. Hands down.

Flying a kite on a beach in Bali
Very happy Poe. I can’t lie: those beers you see in the foreground there don’t hurt.

We’ve flown him twice since our trip, at a park near the airport here in D.C. And even though it hasn’t been as smooth and carefree as our Bali beach experiences (our fragile little Henri is starting to show some wear and tear, and the wind is a bit inconsistent here this time of year), he still has a way of turning a bad day into a much better one.

Pure magic.

How to Know if You’re a Pretentious Foodie

I’m at a three day work event where I’m sitting right next to my boss, elbow to elbow, in a basically subterranean bunker with practically no cell phone service. So no personal Twitter, no Web surfing for weird blog fodder, not even texting with XFE. This must be what solitary confinement is like. Oh, plus inspirational speaker after motivational speaker.


And, I did not write anything for the blog this past weekend because I was busy not preparing for XFE coming home on Saturday evening. He specifically told me to pick something up for dinner. But I was so paralyzed by my potential to pick the wrong thing that I fell back into my default position: wait until XFE tells me what we should eat. This ineffective dining strategy earned me a well-deserved scolding. However, I did not really detect any element of surprise.

But, I did buy the ingredients for a feast on Sunday night. XFE made homemade pasta with tomatoes, basil, garlic and lobster shrimp, which are, SHOCKINGLY, shrimp that taste just like lobster. I know, right? Crazy! Let’s hear it for science and genetically engineered seafood. There are no pictures because, well, I slurped it down way too fast.

We’ve made this pasta dish before, but it had been a while.

We had actually built up quite the appetite on Sunday….we went and looked at our first house. XFE has decided to dip a toe – potentially – into the housing market. This is, of course, fraught with anxiety and trepidation on my part. I’m pretty lazy and hesitant to change. But, we’re a team and I trust XFE. If he says it’s time to look into buying a house, then it’s time.

We were influenced by this handsome devil. He has a website all about the DC housing industry called the Cribline. He’s become our real estate guru. In return, we buy him dinner once in a while.

Wolf Hammer

We had a dinner guest on Sunday (not our real estate guru, unfortunately). The topic turned to whether XFE and I consider ourselves “foodies.” Now, foodie is one of those terms I don’t think you can really self-proclaim. It seems a bit pretentious to say, “Why yes, Sir Grey Poupon, I am interested in the fine masterpieces of the culinary arts.” So we went through a checklist of endeavors that might indicate that one is a foodie.

Townhouse menu
  • And, if you got genuinely upset when you discovered that said young chefs had left that restaurant before you’d had a chance to eat there again, you might be a foodie.
  • If you own a Big Green Egg and consider it one of your most prized possessions, you might be a foodie.
  • If you’ve roasted a 25-pound suckling pig on your brick patio, you might be a foodie.
Roasting a pig
  • If your boyfriend owns a beginner molecular gastronomy kit, you might be a foodie.
  • If you’ve spent an entire day (6.5 hours to be exact) making Rick Bayless’ mole (Project Mole 2009), which required about 26 ingredients gathered from eight different stores and four pages of instructions, you might be a foodie.
  • If you won’t buy pasta and only eat homemade pasta, you might be a foodie (and a real snob on top of it.)
  • Ditto on barbecue sauce. Actually, anything at all related to barbecue. Double points if you’re best friends with your butcher and ask him not only for fine meat products, but also vacation tips.
Texas style BBQ Ribs
Can you hear the angels singing?
  • If you, while in the throws of a 10-day bout of food poisoning during a vacation in Northern Italy, insist on honoring your lunch reservation at a three Michelin star restaurant for the 12-course tasting menu, even though the price of said lunch is about the same as a hand woven Turkish rug and you go to the bathroom and throw up after every other course, but still insist on tasting everything, you might be a foodie. And, it goes without saying, you might be insane.
Lunch at Le Calandre, Italy
“If I throw up the 3-Michelin star, 12 course luncheon, we don’t have to pay the bill, right?”
  • If the majority of your souvenirs from overseas trips are food-related (ie: ceviz walnuts and sahlep from Turkey; Thai curry and dried lime basil from Bangkok; mustard from Paris; smoked paprika from Spain; wine from Australia. And Italy), you might be a foodie.
  • If you sweat each time you go near Customs because you’re genuinely concerned not that you will get caught with the food items and have to pay the fine, but instead it will get confiscated and you’ll never get to enjoy the item, you might be a foodie.
  • If a chef’s kitchen and a place to store your Big Green Egg and gigantic grill and wine fridge are considered non-negotiable criteria in your house-hunting efforts, you might be a foodie. Or, at least a kitchen with the potential to be turned into XFE’s Stadium Kitchen Headquarters.

So, are we foodies? I don’t know. But we’re definitely crazy. And it tastes so, so good.