Katja and Arne's travel stories

Smoking sticks Tuesday

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Last night I wrote about the stick production and the labor intensity of it. This morning we made our own sticks and went through the process.

We got up at 7 after 11 hours of sleep. The training yesterday took all I got and when the darkness and silence settle in around 20:00 I blinked one last time before waking from the alarm.
After breakfast we went down to the stick production as we had an appointment to make our own stick this morning. We started out by cutting them from the long rattan sticks to desired length. Then we used a knife for taking away the sharp edges in the parts where the “stick elements” are grown together. Then we moved over to the grinder where we took of the roughness of then ends and made the end rounder, before grinding down the parts that we used the knife on first.
Then we burned the sticks. First we made sure what’s the grip end of the stick. It’s always the lowest part in regard to its direction of growth. We marked it, and then we fired up the flamethrower. This part of the process is both for making them more cool and for heating them to be able to straighten each stick.

The straightening was hardest. It takes a trained eye to see where it should be changed and to know how to do it correctly.
After a cool down periods we washed the sticks. First in water then with a metal scrub. This is to take of all excess material and the first part of shining the stick. The second part was using a finer sandpaper. To and from, twist and rub. Now it was art-time. To make the pattern of GM you need some practice, which we do not have. Getchin helped us out on this and made beautiful pattern on each stick. Then finally we added varnish to make the sticks shine. Not too much, not too little, just the right speed when applying and two rounds for each stick. Now they’re ready, but they are so nice we really don’t want to destroy them by hitting them together.
All this is done all day to produce the number of sticks that are in constant demand around the world. If you think that any stick can be used, or that the finish is not important, you’re wrong.
Buy good products and support the people making it their livelihood.
We finish with the sticks five to nine and rushes back to start training at nine.
We made repetitions from yesterday and added moves and techniques to what we already know. And discovered what and what not we remembered from yesterday. After another two hours we were pretty beat and just sat down breathing.
We talked to GM before the class and asked to prolong our stay. We are turning down the rice terraces in the north to keep training here instead. He was okay with this and we will stay here until Saturday or Sunday depending on when and when our flight will depart for Palawan.
We got the motorcycle and headed into town. We did lunch at another eatery today and Katja had Goat. Probably for the first time. It tasted good, and we went into the kitchen area to see their production, and there we found the coming dishes to be served tied out in the back. Talk about short traveled food. Me on the other hand, had something that looked like it was drenched in motor oil. Edible, but barely.

After getting the supply’s for today’s dinner and more water and sports drink we went by the coffee place, where this is written. Right now there is a clear lack of management in the place and a bunch of young employees are playing loud music and singing along. And none of them can carry a tune between ’em. It’s awful and would have made me react harshly in Norway. Here I just shrug my shoulders, enjoy my coffee and think about how grand life is.
As we sit here we get wonderful news! Our trip just got another sponsor: The Peaceful Warrior camp in Bali has made it possible for us to be with them in March next year. It just made us whoop and cheer here in the coffee place. Not that anyone noticed because of the music, but to us this is huge. We made the commitment of doing this trip on our first Bali camp in 2010. To be able to visit the camp during this trip is in many ways a dream come true. Getting to meet old and good friends, making new ones, get great instructions and training hard – what more can a simple man want in life?Balicamp
Now we’re heading back to the gym to chill and relax and rehydrate before next session at 15:00.
From 15-17 we did more repetition and more adding. We focused on double stick the first hour and fifteen minutes before we did single stick the last 45. Sweat and varnish goes well together to provide blisters, but so far I’m only red and sore, no real blisters. Still it’s sore enough to feel raw when I wringed the washed training outfit afterwards. First to empty it from sweat, then after washing it in the sink.

Being just the two of us with GM and Getchin is just awesome. We get correction every time it’s needed and we have the source of the knowledge to ask for answers. Every training start formal with salutation and respect. When we start to work it’s always room for question, wether it be about the technique itself, or how it translates to the other part of the system. We love these trainings and have a great time here.
After the training we spent about 45 minutes just catching our breath and stop sweating. We went outside in search of Balut (will come back to that one), but none close had any for sale. We had a nice talk with some of the locals that thinks it fun with us in the neighborhood. So far we’ve seen no other tourists in the area.
We cooked dinner for the first time in a while. Pasta with a sauce of tomato, tuna, peas and cabbage. The tuna was “Hot and spicy” and really good. Most cooking in this country seems to be done outdoors, even though there are fully functional kitchen indoor as well. I can relate to that since the temperature is nice in the evening and you don’t get any cooking smell in the house. We had to do a little handy work to get the gas connected in the indoor (guest) kitchen here at GM’s. When GM and I had it all under control making the food was a breeze.

We are now relaxing, have posted a few here on the blog and are now looking at flights and hotel in Coron. We are going to and island called Palawan next to spend some time at the beach.

You don’t stop playing because you get old. You get old because you stop playing.

– George Bernard Shaw

Author: arnber

Humongen! The big guy! The man, the myth, the legend! And then theres' me. The nice guy in the house. The man without cooking skills, but with five stars on the Playstation. Boss at work, relaxed at home. What you see is what you get. Life is good. I choose it to be.

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