I left UK on May 19th for 10 months of freedom and exploration with a Round the World ticket. Will I find New Zealand as perfect as it was fifteen years ago? How has Australia changed? Will I learn any Spanish in S America?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Dukun - Trip to the Doctor - Balinese style

I was in Arie's Warung and had just finished consuming my 12 hour smoked duck, and with little else to distract me I couldn't help overhearing the conversation going on behind me - from a group of people staying at the Sayong bungalow including a big contingent of Steiner school teachers from Australia on a "training" trip. It was very intersting listening to them discuss Steiner school methods v traditional with a conventional methods. teacher from Germany. I didn't know that the Steiner philosophy doesn't encourage children to read until 7 years old - if they start doing it by themselves that's fine but the idea is that there is so much else to focus on and learn before reading and focussing so intently on this skill is to the detriment of other areas of brain development. I thought it got harder to learn things like language after 7 - but perhaps reading isn't in that bracket.
Anyway th epoint of all this was that my ears really pricked up when April one of the Steiner school teachers said she was feeling a little worried about an arranged visit to see a traditional Balinese healer in the morning. Others in her party had been already and reported that it was not always apainless experience. However Someone with a sprained ankle had been 'cured '. So, intrigued,and with my foot and growing collection of musculo skeletal problems, I apologised for interupting and asked April if she knew how I could contact this healer. April promptly invited me to come too - she didnt know much more about it other than that people sometimes cried their eyes out or screamed in pain.
So next day I joined 5 Steiner school teachers and some Dutch women and we were driven out to Nogari village about half hour out of Ubud to the home of Cok(pronounced chok) Rai, the healer.
We sat around arranged in a semi circle on the raised platform facing the Dukun, an old thin wiry man in his 60s who satin a wooden chair andlooked into the eyesof each of us one by one nodding and smiling to himself. He didnt seem very scary - just a sweet old man. He invited us up one by one . Aopril went first- she sat with legs outstretched in front of his knees whilst he ran his hands over her head shouders and arms and from that correctly identified a chest/breathing problem. He got up and wandered around the compound garden then pickd some leaves from a tree , chewed them up in his mouth raised two fingers to his lips and then blew the saliva and leaf mixture onto April's chest - we were all a bit taken aback - but this was the cure!
Next the young Dutch girl, who had been very friendly and happy in the car , went up- the Dukun felt around her shoulders and then pushed a spot somewhere near her neck and she burst into floods of tears. He spoke softlyto her - turns out she has been feeling very fearful and he told her that she needs to realise these things are outside of her and she doesnt need to hold in so much fear (or something along those lines). Another Steiner school teacher went next- this time she lay down horizontal on the mat and he sat by her feet and needled the little toe hard with what looked like a twig from a frangipani tree- she was soon writhing in agony and I cringed in empathy and knew this was what my treatment would probably consist of - yup sure enough, after finding problems all down my right arm (tendonitis) I was laid down prone too and got the horrible stick screwed into the sideof my toes - I was rolling and writhing in agonyand yelled out 'is this pain really good for me?' Everyone laughed - and he said yes!
I didnt go expecting a miracle and I felt better immediately as soon as the pain stopped - well you would wouldnt you? We all pressed palms together and said our matur sook samurs - and left our 'donations' in the little bowl.
I'm glad I went but wasnt rusing back for more unlike some of the others. My treatment I'm sure was a kind of primitive acupuncture/relexology - but it did seem as if he knew what he was doing - so no, no miracle cures for my foot and poor old muscles and nerves - just plain old rest!


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