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JCE BLOG: BACK FROM BALI, BACK TO BUSINESS

JCE BLOG: BACK FROM BALI, BACK TO BUSINESS

It’s time to get myself back to work.

It begins with a brand new layout for my website: johncarlosestrada.com

The great people at Real Graphics in Lufkin have majorly upgraded my portfolio I made in grad school.

The new JCE website has a cleaner and simple layout.

The upgrade has my resume, anchor/reporter highlight reel, stories and writing (personal and professional).

Lufkin photographer Philip Harbuck took photos at the KTRE studio and downtown Lufkin for the site too. Go check out Philip’s beautiful work!

Go to johncarlosestrada.com to see all my work.

As a learned at Columbia Journalism School, a personal updated website sets you apart from the pack when applying for jobs.

I know this will make me look good for news director but it also hosts all my work. It’s an online scrapbook of all my work from a grad student in NYC to news anchor in East Texas.

The website was created by Real Graphics and photos taken by Philip Harbuck.

I’ve got a contact page on the site that I hope people use to reach out to me for answers and advice.

You’ll also see my newly updated blog — that began with my trip to Bali.

The writing section will host my updated JCE BLOG & professional writing.

You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.

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JCE BLOG: THE BALI GOODBYE

JCE BLOG: THE BALI GOODBYE

It’s time to make our 30 hour journey home to Texas.

“This is going to be the longest Sunday ever!,” said Ainsley.

She’s right we started our travel back in Bali at 5 a.m. on Sunday and land in Houston at 11 p.m. Sunday.

But it’s worth it.

Two weeks we didn’t even know where we were going!

We had to scramble to find a new family vacation after our flight to Istanbul was cancelled because of a military coup.

We found a good flight to Bali — a place none of us had visited before.
The fun adventures, the kind Balinese people — but more importantly the family time — ranks this trip my top one.

On top of that, Bruce and I decided to make things a bit more permanent — and I’m excited for the next few months in a new town and job.

Here are my top memories I’ll take away from this trip.

5. The bright future: My reading with I Nyoman, the son of the popular healer, energized me for the next step in my life. From career to love — I Nyoman said I just have to keep on my path and I’ll be “very, very successful and lucky.”

4. The 10,000 mile reunion: Bali was the last place I’d ever think I’d run into a friend but it happened. After 3 years apart I reconnected with my former NYC roommate Judith on the opposite side of the world. She and I got caught up and she got to meet Bruce and his family. Judith also gave us some amazing food recommendations!

3. The family moments: We might be a “modern family.” I might be the Sofia Vergara to Bruce’s Ed O’Neil — as the kids pointed out while in Bali — but that’s okay. We don’t fit the mold and we’re fine with that. There’s love, respect and pride among our group. And there’s room for more, according to I Nyoman’s palm reading.

2. The heart pounding spiritual pause: There’s only one time I’ve had my heart pound while experiencing a natural phenomenon — Niagara Falls. Swimming in at the Tegenungan Waterfall was a moment when I felt the power of nature. As I looked up at the rushing water I couldn’t catch my breath and thoughts of my mom rushed in my mind. It was a spiritual moment — that I’ll never forget.

1. The lifelong commitment: After two and half years together — Bruce popped the question. I didn’t hesitate to say yes. He came along when I least expected it but it didn’t take long for us to fall in love. Beyond love — we fit well together. Yes, there’s some an age gap but that doesn’t factor when we are together. I feel happy, protected and loved when he’s around me. And I hope I provide the same for him. The next few weeks will be unpredictable but I’m facing it with a man I love — so bring it on!

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JCE BLOG: DAY 5 – SUCCESS, HEALTH AND TWO CHILDREN

JCE BLOG: DAY 5 – SUCCESS, HEALTH AND TWO CHILDREN

The Temple on the Lake.

After the case of the lost wallet was solved — we headed for the Temple on the Lake on Friday morning.

The temple is on the north side of the island and over 1,000 years old.

Family photo by the temple.
We also met our best Bali driver Gusti Rasnayasa. He was 23 years old and drove a Toyota tricked out with green interior (his favorite color). Gusti also had an aux cord — so we got to experience the musical stylings of ‘DJ Carsdaddy.’
A selfie with Gusti.

The driver even took us to his home outside of Ubud. It was a nice higher middle class household where he lived with his parents, older brother, grandparents and his uncle’s family.

After a tour of Gusti’s home we went to lunch at a recommend restaurant by my former NYC roommate Judith. She met up with us on the beach on Wednesday at Finn’s Beach Club. Judith’s pick of the Melting Wok in Ubud solidified herself in my book as my go to foodie.

What are the odds? After 3 years apart, I can’t believe we met again 10,000 miles later.

After a wonderful Asian fusion lunch we parted ways from Carson and Ainsley. They went shopping and we went to look for the ‘Julia Roberts fortune teller.’

Our cabbie knew where to find him and told us it was a “good time” to see him.

For 250,000 RID ($25), I got to meet with Nyoman Lantra, the son of the popular fortune teller, Ketut Liyer.

Ketut Liyer and Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love. (Source: Google)

Ketut died in June at 100 years old. “We was very old — but wise,” his son said.

Nyoman began our session with a big warm smile. He asked for my name and looked me up and down.

Ketut Liyer’s son had taken over his dad’s business. (Source: Google)

“You strong man,” he said. “You very successful.”

I was wearing a red tank top with Ganesh, the human elephant God, and a sarong.

“You have good heart, good mind and very handsome.”

He reached for my palm and began the reading.

“You have big hands — very successful. You have long lines — very good.”

Nyoman added that I would live to about 90 years old. I’d have one long successful career.

We asked what I did.

I said, “I’m on TV and I tell people what’s going on.”

He said very good — you successful like my friend Elizabeth Gilbert, the famed author of the book Eat Pray Love.

I replied, “I hope so.” He assured me I would be successful. “No worries John.”

Nyoman added I’d have a long career with side jobs. He asked if I already had one. I told him I was a professor at a university.

“You very smart John.”

When it came to money — I’d be very wealthy. “You will enough money to help others.”

According to him, I’ll be married once time and have two kids.

My session with Nyoman was wonderful and brought me peace.

Nyoman noticed my new ring. He smiled and said, “you have good person in your life.”

He left me with some advice, “stay strong and good. And much success will keep coming.”

I can’t wait to see if Nyoman’s predictions come true

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JCE BLOG: DAY 4 – THE BALI BIKE RIDE & CASE OF THE MISSING WALLET

JCE BLOG: DAY 4 – THE BALI BIKE RIDE & CASE OF THE MISSING WALLET

We began half the day driving to Bail’s volcano, which erupted in the early 2000’s. Our tour guide said monkeys live at the top — if you see them run down to the village you better run too. Luckily no eruptions occurred.

Next stop, we got to see how Luwok coffee is made. A small cat-like animal, named a Luwok, eats a coffee berry.

Then their digestive system ferments the berry. The poop reveals the coffee bean, which is then roasted and grounded for coffee.

Luwok coffee is one of the most expensive coffees in the world. The reason? The Luwok only “makes” 500 grams per secretion. Needless to say — it wasn’t my cup of coffee!

We finally got to our bike tour. All down hill — luckily. In the 15 miles we saw rural Bali — including rice fields, a Balinese family home and an old temple.
Oh — and our group got to see a banana spider. I took pictures of it from far, far away.

After a lunch, we got back to Ubud and did some shopping before we headed back to the hotel.

We made reservations at a nice restaurant, 3 Monkeys. Amazing food, okay service.

That’s when the case of the missing wallet began.

Cards were cancelled — only for the wallet to reappear on our pool deck in the morning.

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JCE BLOG: DAY 3 – THE BALI PROPOSAL

JCE BLOG: DAY 3 – THE BALI PROPOSAL

Bruce got me a beautiful ring from his jewler in Victoria.

“You make me whole,” he said as we sat poolside alone early Wednesday morning in Bali.

I met Bruce in March 2014 — about 6 months into my time in Victoria, Texas.

I had moved back to Texas after a decade on the East Coast getting my schooling and experience in journalism.

I had met many friends but no love interest in South Texas.

“I don’t have time for that stuff — I’m here to get my experience and move on”… I’d tell myself.

It was a Friday night after anchoring the 6 & 10 p.m. newscasts. I went over to his house – not expecting much – just a chance to meet a nice guy. And 5 hours of talking on his couch still in my suit – I knew he was someone special. He talked about family, travel, politics and more interest.

The Bali International airport was busy with the last flights of the day.

We began dating the moment I returned from a weekend in Dallas.

My friends has mentioned to me that I should prepare for a ring in Bali. “It’s Bali of all places — so romantic,” they told me. And Bruce and I had talked about the next step — but with so many moving pieces in the coming months I wasn’t sure if it was the right time.

But the moment he told me to get up from the pool lounge chair because he had something to tell me — I knew it was the moment.

I’m ready for our next adventure.

We made each other whole.

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JCE BLOG: DAY 2 – WALKING WITH ELEPHANTS

JCE BLOG: DAY 2 – WALKING WITH ELEPHANTS

The Elephant Safari and Lodge is home to 33 elephants.

It was another early start for the four Texans in Bali for a week. We had one thing on our agenda today: the Elephant Safari Park & Lodge.

“I want to hug an elephant, tell them a secret and kiss an elephant,” Ainsley told us during ourbreakfast.

A 50 minute drive dodging Balinese on scooters, stray dogs and tour buses got us to the massive safari park that’s home to 33 elephants in Bali.

The day trip to see the elephants began with a walk through a garden. Through the trees and garden we saw our first gimplse of the glorious animals.

The Bali International airport was busy with the last flights of the day.

The closes any of us had been to an elephant was a zoo. So, it’s a bit startling to get so close to it. Especially one that’s bathing tossing water around before giving rides to their visitors.

The elephant didn’t seem to mind is taking selfies as it prepared for the day spaying water on itself.

The elephant didn’t mind as we took selfies.

‘Wow’ and nervous laughing was the only thing we could say as we passed by the garden into a pond filled with koi — as a herd of a elephants enjoyed one-on-one time with vistors.

As we got closer, we saw you could buy for 50,000 RDI a basket filled with fruit and vegetables for the elephant. They also had a giant trash can with sticks of sugar cane for free.

We brought two baskets and got close shots with the elephants.

Carson had a kick at feeding the elephants. We ended up giving them 3 treat baskets.

I marveled at their use of their trunks. It was their nose, arm and hand all in one. The elephants quickly ate everything we had in our two baskets.

They’d extend their trucks grab the treat with the top of the trunk and fold their trunks underneath them to put the food in their mouth. Seems like a long process but they had the moment down.

One of the elephants wore a flowe crown. How adorable!

We snapped as many photos as we could before they realized we had no more food.

Ainsley didn’t have time to tell the elephant a secret!

Gigi and Tiamarie posing for us while in the water.

The elephant ride was the coolest part of the experience. We got to ride on Gigi, a 33 years old female. She had a bit of an attitude — as she walked us around her home.

The ride ended with a dip in their pond. And we got a great photo of Gigi blowing water out of her trunk.

Thank you Gigi for the ride.

We gave Gigi a treat for her hospitality and left their safari.

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JCE BLOG: BALI DAY 1 – CHASED A WATERFALL & PLAYED WITH SOME MONKEYS

JCE BLOG: BALI DAY 1 – CHASED A WATERFALL & PLAYED WITH SOME MONKEYS

We snapped a photo with the Barong dancers.

It was a busy first day in Bali. We arranged a hit of all the major Balinese highlights with our driver, Rai.

He picked us up after breakfast at 8:30 a.m.

Rai made it a point to learn all of our names. He had a tough time with Ainsley’s name — but he tired.

Our first stop was a cultural dance center to watch the Barong dance, the “tiger dance.” It tells the story of good versus evil.

The Bali International airport was busy with the last flights of the day.

​​​We made stops to a basket/weaving and then a silver center. Two activities that have a rich tradition in Bali.

We saw the detailed work of a weaver.

Rai drove us to a one of the 40,000 temples in Bali.

A traditional Balinese dance, Barong, about good vs evil.

The Batuan temple is one of the biggest Balinese Hindu temples near Ubud.

This temple had some elaborate carvings and a koi pond.

The temple is one of the 40,000 in the island of Bali.

We did get caught in a rain storm during our temple visit — but that didn’t take away from the experience.

But one thing that’s required when visiting a temple is a sarong — to cover your legs.

Sarongs never looked so good.
My favorite part of the visit came with a trip to the Tegenungan Waterfall.
A wideshot of the beautiful Tegenungan Waterfall.

We had to descend down some steep stairs to get down to the waterfall. I had prepared for the visit. I had my swimsuit in my bag. I read to come prepare if you wanted to see the Tegenungan Waterfall up close.

The moment I got to the waterfall area I covered up with my towel, dropped trout, put my trucks on and jumped into the waterfall.

‘Don’t worry be sexy’ — sure waterfall sign!

I know it sounds trite to say but it was breathtaking.

My heart was pounding as I got closer and closer to this natural phenomenon.

It reminded me of the time I saw Niagara Falls.

A visit like the one to Tegenungan Waterfall — reminds you of all the wonderful things in nature that are beyond words.

I tried to get underneath it but my heart was pounding to much. I guess my body was telling me it wasn’t a good idea.

Enjoying the waterfall after walking down alot of steps.

I had Bruce snap a photo — and you can tell on my face I was loving this moment.

After the waterfall, we ended our tour with a stop at the Monkey Santuary in Ubud. Another wonderful experience.

The monkey ate his banana while on my shoulder — leaving behind a mess
For 50,000 RID, you can buy a batch of bananas to feed the monkeys. They gladly jump on you for the treat.
Three baby monkeys playing.

The santuary has over 600 monkeys around the entire area. Visitors aren’t allowed to feed them anything other than bananas and you’re also told to not show your teeth — it’s a show of aggression.

Luckily, no bad monkeys were around us.

A first day in Bali filled with adventure and new experiences.

We retreated to our hotel for the night only to go back into Ubud for dinner.

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