I think I'm falling in love with this island. It's hard to explain what's so special about it. It isn't very clean, there's a lot of poverty and just as many tourists. And it's not a spiritual thing for me either (those who know me will tell you that, while I have my moments, spiritual is hardly the word to describe me).
No, Bali doesn't make me believe in a higher power. It makes me believe in people. That people can be good and kind, and that the world can be a peaceful place we are lucky to be a part of. I can see why people never want to leave, Bali is like a giant pot of tiger balm for the soul. So soothing.
I'm sure the Balinese people experience their share of grief and heartbreak and loss. But their default mode seems to be good cheer and generosity. It can't just be a giant marketing ploy. I see them smiling, bursting with laughter, patting each other on the back and generally acting like today is going to be their lucky day. Even when they greet you they say "hello yes" or even just "yes", which is such a lovely way to start things off. Coming from France, where negativity has been elevated to an art form, this can be quite a shock. If I were a candidate in the upcoming presidential elections, I'd recommend that social security cover a two week trip to Bali for every French citizen. It may not solve any problems but maybe it would stop people from complaining about them and just get on with it.
On the drive from Amed to the water palace of Tirta Gangga, we were stopped by people chatting in the street, decorating cars with flowers and generally having a bit of a blast. Turns out it was a wedding because, as my driver explained, "for Hindus, today is a good day for a wedding". I bet it is! The sun is shining, we're in Bali, heck, I'd get married today if I could! (any takers?) (it must really be a very good day for a wedding, as we saw a dozen more on the way to Ubud; I even caught sight of a bride, in a beautiful gold and purple sari and a giant gold head-dress)
|A house decorated for a wedding|
So not so much blissed-out peacefulness in Ubud. I can't believe how crazy this place is, and in off-season! What a change from the fishermen's shacks in the north-east. Still, I feel I'm going to like it here, and I have a full schedule of activities to look forward to. Starting tonight, with some traditional Balinese dancing at the lotus pond temple. There are worse places to be.