Monday, 13 April 2015

Why I Love Bali





Bali has a little bit of everything.  Want to climb a volcano?  Go to Kintamani and see the sunrise from the top of Gunung Batur.  Want to snorkel pristine coral reefs in crystal clear water? Head north to Permuteran.  Want to eat lunch over looking terraced rice fields?  Jatiluwih is for you.  Want a week of yoga and raw food?  Ubud.  Flashy resort? Nusa Dua.  Prefer a villa? Seminyak.  Want to party like it's 1999?  Kuta, baby.  Rather a more upmarket evening with boutique cocktails?  Go further north to Kude Ta or Potato Head.  Want to escape the rifraf and have a quieter beach holiday?  Sanur is your place.  Watch the sunset behind Bali's Mother Mountain, Gunung Agung?  Amed.  Dophins?  Lovina.  Hotsprings and waterfalls?  Singaraja.  Surfing?  The Bukit peninsular. Dining, shopping, you name it, we have it.  But that's not why I love Bali.  At least, it's not the whole reason.  For the almost 2 years that I've called this "Island of the Gods" home, there are many things that I have come to love about life here.

1. Art is sacred

While the wood and stone carvings can become repetitive and the silver over abundant after days perusing endless markets and handicraft stalls, there is magic in the art here.  Everything on the island is hand crafted.  Watching artisans at the side of the road fashion wood into flowers and sea treasures into jewels is a daily reminder of the craftmanship that has been passed down through generations. Your purchases have been made with loving, skilled human hands.

2. Friendliness is easy

Just down the road from luxury resorts, spas and restaurants, local families live in comparable poverty.  Generations of families live together in one bedroom, cooking meals on a single burner gas stove, and bathing in the sea.  The young lady giving you your $6 mani pedi can hardly afford to buy her lunch. Yet the balinese are some of the happiest, smiliest people I have ever met. A visiting friend and I were walking from home to the markets one morning, waving and smiling at all the locals who waved, nodded, smiled or called our their hello's to us.  My friend commented, quite pleased, that I seemed to know everyone.  I had to tell her that actually, no, I didn't know any of these people.  It's just that people are really friendly here.  Everywhere you go you see the locals gathered together, sharing food or a game of chess or a conversation or just a good laugh.  The vibe of community is palpable. 

3. Time is Flexible

The concept of Jam karet, translated into "rubber time" has taught me alot about patience and slowing down.  While “Bali Time” can be frustrating, it has taught me to let go.  A lot. Taking time to just sit and soak it all in is not only ok, but necessary.  The pace of life here easily lends itself to slowing down and taking time to be.  To be with nature, to be with loved ones or to be with yourself.  Never underestimate the powerful effects of stillness on the heart and soul.

4. Self care is cool

I have a maid.  She comes just two days a week and cleans the floors and the bathrooms.  She takes the laundry to be done.  She does my dishes and tidies cupboards and cleans windows. She has changed my life.  I get regular massages, facials and mani-pedi's.  Taking the time out for myself feels really good.  My body feels nurtured.  And I'm contributing to the economy without filling my house with "stuff".

5. Trying new things makes you feel alive

Making small changes, and trying new things, gives you renewed energy.  Whether it's visiting a new place (beaches and temples abound), learning a new skill (cooking class or jewelry making anyone?), experiencing the outdoors in a new way (free diving, cycling, stand-up paddle boarding) or simply sampling a strange looking fruit at the market that you've never eaten before, a new experience adds adventure to your life and makes you feel alive.

6. You can't be sad by the sea

The beaches here are special.  They are lined with restaurants so you can eat a meal with your feet in the sand, or enjoy a beverage while you listen to the murmur of the sea.  The island is lined with reef so you can snorkel directly off the beach, and the water temperature is divine.  There is always surf somewhere, and inside the reef breaks is calm water perfect for paddle boarding or kayaking.

Salt water really does cure everything.  Bare feet in the sand, breathing in the salty air, submerging yourself beneath the waves, or staring out over the expansive ocean, you can't help but feel connected to infinity.  At once strong and oh so very small.

7. Everything should be celebrated

From offerings placed at doorways, temples and roadsides daily, to the annual closing of the airport at Nyepi, Bali has a spiritual element that permeates the island.  They literally celebrate everything here.  There are ceremonies for the full moon and the dark moon.  Ceremonies for religious deities, name days , a day for trees, even a day to celebrate motorised vehicles. The people dress in sarongs and Kabaya, carry elaborate offerings on their heads, parade and play music through the streets, and adorn everything with bamboo and banana leaf decorations and flowers.  It is a constant reminder of connection, to give thanks and gratitude, and to always celebrate.


***

I know that different places reach people in different ways.  Bali has touched me in a way no other place that I have lived has touched me.  It's going to be a difficult place to leave!

How does the place you live reach you?  I'd love to hear!


No comments:

Post a Comment