As the last resting point of Monicofamilytravels, we strangely took a while to settle in to Bali, mostly because I think we all had ‘the end’ hovering in our minds. However the spirituality, lushness and warmth of the country and its people soon overtook any hesitation in our embracing its culture and impact on the culmination of our travel adventure.
Our list of Bali blessings is bountifully long, so here are just a few that resonate for all of us:
- Arriving at the start of the rice-growing cycle, and being immersed in the local paddy way of life
- Ducks crossing the road
- Crazy beautiful Hindu statues at all the road crossings (even the small ones)
- The neighbourhood we ended up living in – it was genuinely untouched and unspoiled by tourism, and we were so welcomed by all within it as well as by Wayan, Agus and Gade, the rotating staff in our villa that became more like family friends over the 7 weeks we stayed together.
- A great supermarket: the girls were hugely relived to be able to buy some ‘normal’ ingredients for us to cook them some ‘normal’ food. We didn’t quite manage a Sunday roast, but lots of stirfrys, and stuffed wraps made for happy meal times.
- Eating outside by the pool – for me al fresco dining is the epitome of freedom and the ultimate happy holiday vibe.
- Enjoying the beautiful view of the pool by night – it speaks for itself!
- Finally getting some time to read and relax. Having expected to have boundless free time to read/meditate etc, throughout the trip it really didn’t happen. Planning the trip took hours of each day with both of us going at it whenever the girls were in school. As the last stop we only had the day-to-day to plan and book.
- But of course there WAS planning to do for our homeward mission (finding a nanny, getting our house back), but at least we got to do it in a beautiful setting!
- And some great escapes for James and I to get away for a bit of couple time before our reinsertion into ‘normal’ life back in the UK.
Some curiosities we appreciated:
- Everyone had the same name! Well, not quite, but nearly…. In general, Balinese people name their children depending on the order they are born, and the names are the same for both males and females. The firstborn child is named Wayan, Putu, or Gede, the second is named Made of Kadek, the third child goes by Nyoman or Komang, and the fourth is named Ketut. If a family has more than four children, the cycle repeats itself, and the next ‘Wayan’ may be called Wayan Balik, which loosely translates to ‘another Wayan’!
- Sickness remedies: we all fell down with a horrendous bird-flu type illness over our final weeks. Emily raged a temperature and sweated it out for days, Bella hacked and hacked and James retreated to our bedroom for a 3-days of man-flu sympathy bid. Our yoga teacher Theo recommended Jamu to us – a Javanese remedy with turmeric, ginger and other herbs and spices. Agus massaged James with a technique he had learned from his grandfather to heal the sickness that comes with the change in the weather as winter ensues. Between these 2 remedies James got well! By that time I was necking Jamu like it was going out of fashion, so when I finally lost the battle to fend of the lergy it was mercifully mild.
- The rules of the road, or rather the lack of them! It took a little while to get used to what I would describe as ‘the slow merge’ which occurs at all junctions great and small. Essentially when you arrive at a junction, you wait a bit while other people go past, and when you feel ready/justified to take your turn, you gently insert yourself into/across the traffic……..and it lets you! Occasionally there are ‘human traffic lights’ in the form of polite men who create some order in the chaos of rush hour. There are also nice men that stop the traffic to let you out of car parks. There is under-taking and over-taking, and much playing chicken. The chicken game actually takes on new levels of freakishness, as drivers typically adopt the middle of the road for the majority of their journey, and just swerve to the left when an oncoming vehicle renders that necessary. I would occasionally just close my eyes and hope for the best! In an effort to improve my road safety I google searched ‘rules of the road in Bali’, and the below came up as the second search result!
Bali’s Spiritual Traffic Principles
- Don’t get angry
- Don’t get offended
- Don’t take yourself too seriously
- No need to rush things
- Nothing is what it seems
- Anything can happen anytime
- Let things flow naturally
- Don’t insist
- Accept others how they are
- Feel, sense, anticipate
- Stay respectful
- Always be alert, aware and fully conscious
I would have to say that these spiritual rules describe far better than I could the way locals actually DO behave on the road. It was humbling to behold, generally a joy to partake in, and a far cry from road-rage infested London!
One thing we were happy to say farewell to:
This post more or less wraps up our Monicofamilytravels blog. I will poll the family in about a months time to see what reflections we have on the whole crazy adventure in its entirety, and if there is anything worth sharing, I’ll pen a last last post. For now I thank all of you who have followed us and taken the time to read all about our shenanigans!