From Bali To Beyond

To say I had a wonderful time in Bali would be a grave understatement. So much so, I haven’t been able to put down in words all the wonderful experiences I had with old friends and new ones, travelers and locals. I’m actually having a problem with words at the moment (yes, it’s true!), unable to find enough value in them to express the feeling of love, gratitude and connectedness I was blessed with during my time there. I met so many beautiful people, enjoyed delicious food and stayed at one of the nicest hotels in Bali with an amazing view of the ocean.  I was truly blessed during my time there.

I will try, however to write (that’s what writer’s do, isn’t it?) of some of those moments, to fish them from my consciousness and catch them in a net of words and pictures (that’s what bloggers do, don’t they?), in a vain attempt to do justice to two weeks where I was blessed to spend time with so many wonderful human beings. Like a butterfly, I flitted between experiences, carried on the winds of fate, buoyed by an energy of connectedness that was most certainly something bigger than me, for I could never have dreamed it up if I tried.

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A man climbs a tree for us, as we stop to take in the vista of rice fields during a cycling tour from Kintamani, near Mt Batur. Children crowd around crying “post card, bracelet, sarong,” trained to have a certain misery in their voice which makes me more determined than ever not to buy.

I distract one small girl with nutmeg coloured curls by singing “twinkle, twinkle, little star,” a song that she has no doubt never heard but bewitches her still, as though children’s songs carry universal joy in their time-honoured melodies. I make twinkling stars out of my hands then raise them into a ‘diamond in the sky’ as her sales cry is paused (thank God!) and replaced by a smile so precious I am forced to lightly pinch her cheeks.

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We ascend the path from Tjampuhan temple, after participating in a Balinese ceremony. With grains of rice stuck to our forehead and flower petals in our hair, my new friend Liese and I follow our hosts away from the intoxicating intense and music-filled air, and into a market filled with trinkets and snacks for sale.

There is no time to process the overwhelmingly magical ceremony we were a part of. A once in a life-time for us, but just another visit to the temple for our hosts, the youngest of which is shrieking for a temple treat. With a colourful balloon quelling his discontent, we proceed to the next stall, where his older brother is pining over little electronic games with flashing screens and digital sounds.

After gaining permission from his Mother, I am able to buy him his heart’s desire for $2, remembering all the times a kind aunt or friend bought me a special treat during a boring family outing.

Back at the house, we feast on rice, fish skewers, cakes and nuts, and all the while the little boy is glued to his beloved toy, an imitation of the real thing he doesn’t even know exists.

 

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I’m invited on a whim to jump on the back of a friend’s scooter for a ride with a group of five other new friends, and I say yes without thinking too much, which is the best way.

We zoom through rice-field flanked narrow roads in a convoy, and I completely give in to the concept of being taken somewhere, for that is exactly what is happening. We lunch, devouring the scene before us along with the food; a jutting peak, a wide blue lake.


We enter Ganung Kawi temple at dusk, and though we think the day cannot get any better, it most certainly does. Our weary, pot-hole jolted bodies are forgotten as we descend the stone steps into the most mystical scene, a cascade of rice terraces and palm trees that plunge into a ravine of rushing water. We take it in with awed silence, for there are no words, except oh my God, and that’s before we raise our gaze to the huge edifices carved from ancient rock.

The only words I think of are “Other Worldly.”

Unfortunately I only had my iPhone with me…

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I meet a good friend from home for coffee in Ubud, and there are more friends and friends of friends, and we are invited to the beautiful Javanese Joglo-style home of one of the women. We are intoduced to Nyoman, the Balinese man who built it, his arms thick and his face softer than melted honey.

We are treated to an impromptu yoga class by yet another amazing woman, on the cool Javanese coloured tiles, gazing up at the intricate carvings of the pitched Joglo roof. In this beautiful home in the rice paddies of Bali, we exhale together and I know we are all meant to be here in this moment, because who could plan something as good as this?

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And all of a sudden, as though a great wave had swept me away from something great to something greater and in spite of my attachment to the people and places of Ubud, I am in the night-market of Gili Trawangan, off the coast of Lombok, with one of my oldest and dearest friends, and I’m crashing her holiday with her university friends.

I swim in the private pool of their deluxe villa before high tailing it to my $15 bungalow at night, thinking isn’t this wonderful, and we share three fleeting days, celebrating her birthday and watching the red sun sink behind Mt Agung on Bali, which ridiculously, feels like a world away.

And now I have my feet firmly planted in the white sands of the neighbouring island of Gili Meno, waking early to send my body into the crystal clear waters that team with fish of so many varieties and colours, weaving and skittering and sometimes lumbering (yes, I saw an emerald green fish today that was so huge, he lumbered) through the depths of liquid glass.

And then there’s the turtles. Yes, five of them that I have seen so far, huge and speckled, and today I plucked up the courage to reach out to one and touch his shell, and couldn’t believe my own boldness, or his, for that matter since he came so close.

And as I relax on Meno’s shores, Lombok presents its highest peak to me through the mist and the miles between us. A tiny amount of dread and slightly more excitement fills my mind as I think, “I’m climbing that next week.”

Life is good


Comments

From Bali To Beyond — 10 Comments

  1. As always Jane, just lovely. I really enjoy your posts, you are a good observer and able to tell us what you see and experience in a charming way.

    Thanks.

  2. Hey Sarah

    It has been one week since I left Ubud and on my way to ‘the Gillies’ I got stuck in Padang Bai, the porttown that you most likely would have crossed on your way there. Due to time – o no, timepressure on Bali! – I have to skip them. Seeing your pictures and reading your blog makes me putting it on my to-see-list for…later. When I went to some temples the other day I was thinking on how you should discribe this on your blog, doing this makes me feel happy because even on Paradise Bali I often have the feeling everything is normal. Anyhow, I had time to read every post of your blog and I think that you make every place you write about beautuful and you put a smile on my face with every single post.

    You stay on my homepage,

    Lies

    • Lies,
      Sorry I spelled your name wrong!!! Thank you so much for your kind words, it was SO lovely to meet you and have that special experience at the temple with you. Enjoy the North and enjoy Java! :)

  3. I love experiencing all these incredible people and places through your emotive writing Sarah, you have such a gift. It is wonderful to hear the gratitude and joy resonating through your words. Good luck conquering the mountain!

    • Thank you so much Hannah! It has been a truly magical experience, I hope we can swim with the turtles on Gili Meno together some day!!! Thanks for the words of encouragement about the trek, I’ll need it!!! :)

  4. It was great catching up with you in Gili Meno one of my favourite places, I haven’t laughed like that for a while,it was fun. Good to hear that yuor trekking went well. I love your blog and have no doubt that you ARE a writer.Keep writing and I will keep reading. Diane

    • Me neither Diane, that was a good laugh, that’s for sure!!! A great way to wrap up our time on that beautiful Island, it was so nice to share it with you!! Thank you for your kind words, I really appreciate it, lots of love xxx

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