A digest of my two-point-five weeks in Bali here follows. All my Bali pics can be learnt over at thee Flickr page.
“Some say the end is near / Some say we’ll see Armageddon soon / Certainly hope we will”…
Goddam Ubud is a motorcycle hellhole like almost none I’ve ever experienced. It’s made all the worse because so many tourists get in on the act, too, and they don’t know their dimpled ass from a hole in the ground. In addition to which, the Coconuts, while plentiful, are expensive and sub-par. So (you can imagine), I was all prepared to compose an outraged torrent of unvarnished vituperative hostility calling total bullshit on Ubud and all it stands for.
But then all of the suddenly, I started meeting all sorts of very cool people (I wasn’t even trying to — I was trying to be fuckin’ righteously indignant). And then I noticed they’ve got bins all over town for compostable material (!). And then I saw these boys playing soccer right in the middle of yon mudpuddle. And I acknowledged that the city’s reputation as a centre of artistic achievement seems merited. And I note, studying the map, that there appear to be some nature trails to escape the bullcrap by.
And, anyhow, I’ve already scheduled an assignation here, so, no choice but to make the best of it. We’ll give it the old college try, I dare say…
“I think the birds can see everything a little sooner than me”…
Ubud second verse same as the first: There are many many supercool places to see around here, but walking through town to arrive at the locations is a most horrific experience. Tip: Bring musik with you when you go walking — loud musik at that!
Heron oblivion all up in here.
Me [Experiencing my first-ever Moment Of Clarity]: They should invent Durian cereal!!
Czech Hostel-Mate: Yeah…maybe they shouldn’t.
Me: [Laughing out loud.]
Argentinian hostel-mate tipped me off to this video, thee most sublimely beautiful seven minutes of footage since they integrated sound into thee moving image.
Fuckin’ Bunuelesque goings-on here in Ubud to-day.
To set the stage a little bit, it’s kind of impossible to find sweet Coconuts here — except for one bro’, “Gusti” by name, whom has a little shack up in the rice fields, and climbs the trees himself to get the harvest. “Seattle Supersonics!” he cried when learning of my provenance, endearing me greatly to him. His are mighty great, but otherwise…it’s not a Coco Mecca, to say the least.
Nevertheless, one has to keep trying, right? When I this very same morning asked a local shopkeep if hers were sweet, she pointed to the tree under which we were standing, and informed me that those ones were. She bade her husband harvest one for me, and they got out a ladder and (rather warily) up he went.
Thinking it a neat scene, I snapped the enclosed photo, but when I looked down to fiddle with the settings and get another shot, the husband lost control of the task at hand, one Coconut bouncing off the ground and smacking me in the balls. When I bent over to see what was going on, another smacked me in the back of the head. A third one rolled into the sewer. And then — I shit you not — a bunny rabbit hopped out from under some bushes. The first bunny rabbit I’ve even seen here, in point of fact.
Though apologetic, the husband and wife couldn’t stop laughing. There was a customer sitting smoking a cigarette watching it all unfold as well, but he took it in stride. Lucky thing it was a dwarf tree and they were the half-pint Cocos you see, otherwise I’d be in a bad way right now!
In (hopefully) unrelated news, the owner of the hostel says that voodoo and black magick are practiced here on the island.
North Bali Durian Retreat day two. In the jungle, with the beatific shaman: We ain’t drink Ayahuasca, but we did get our dimpled asses baptised in the sacred spring. That’s gotta count for something, I dare say…
North Bali Durian Retreat day three. Epically gorgeous jungle hike toward yon epically bodacious waterfall. This weeklong retreat was rather outside my budget range…but it’s utterly impossible to put a pricetag on experiences like these. My advice to you: Sign up early and often for next year’s powwow.
There’s this thing that I do when hiking in Nepal, where I find my dimpled ass in such complete disbelief that it’s seeing what it’s seeing, that I simply throw up my arms in bewildered wonderment. This-here hike is, I believe, the only place outside of Nepal that I have acted in a likewise manner (albeit here I done it once, while in Nepal I do it four or five times a day). In other words, please take into account that the real live experience was about…I dunno, 5,037% more eye-popping that the photos would suggest.
A remarkable day in Bali.
North Bali Durian Retreat day four. Market-hopping followed by another venture into waterfallland. I have no words to describe — nor camera skillz to convey — what we have experienced on this day.
But if you want to know what it is to be truly alive on Planet Bali, cast your lot with Justyna and Simon. They said they would make our dimpled asses work for it, and this they have done. But the rewards have been beyond the threshold.
Another powerfully emotional day in what is turning out to be one of the most satisfying weeks of my life.
North Bali Durian Retreat, days five and six. We got in most of the important ings: Snorkeling, Haggling, Waterfalling, Cliff Jumping, Purchasing 36kgs of Dragonfruits during a GARGANTUAN rainstorm, Jamuing (a traditional Balinese drink made from fresh Turmeric, Ginger, and Coconut water — tastes like Tang, but with a bitter kick), Devouring twenty-five freshly foraged Durians in about fifteen minutes flat. The usual crazy North Bali mayhem, in other words. (Note that my dimpled ass did not participate in any of the cliff jumping “activities”, nor will it ever. And note too that my camera did not participate in any of the underwater scenarios, unfortunately.)
After the week’s nonstop adventures, we’re completely zapped — and completely transformed. It’s a good place to be, in both senses. Plugging back in to city life is not going to be easy, to say the least; but I wouldn’t trade this week for love nor money.
“If you win the rat race / If you come in first place / Then a rat is all you’ll be”
North Bali Durian Retreat, day seven. They weaned us from the teat to-day; kicked our dimpled asses out of thee nest, and vanished without a trace — gone to work their magic in a nebulous place called Fakfak, Papua, Indonesia. And what shall become of us, six wayward ducklings we, left to fend for ourselves on the mean streets of Ubud — the beautiful Eden dream shattered and become horrific waking nightmare? Only time will tell, of course. But, god damn it all, we seen The Light, if only for a week’s time. We really, really did.