Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Bali, baby!

Bali, Bali, Bali. This place and its people are at such peace with themselves and with life. There is something so incredibly relaxing about walking through rice terraces and coffee plantations, or sitting on the beach with the sun burning through your skin as you watch approaching dark clouds and start to hear the thunder rolling in the distance. In fact, for the first three days, I came to terms with and accepted that Balinese people don't know where Egypt is, because they're just in another world. Whenever someone asked me where I'm from, and I'd say "Egypt", the reactions were "sorry? Egyp? Egip? Egit? This is where, Europe?". So I'd give up and say "I live in Dubai." "Aaaah, Dubai, yes, very nice place Dubai."


BUT! The mystery was solved on day four, when my waiter Widi at Bumbu Bali restaurant in Tenjang Benoa enlightened me. "Egypt! Ah in Balinese we say Misir". DUH! Now why didn't I think of that? I'd tried everything to explain what Egypt was. Pharoahs, pyramids, the river Nile. Nothing rang any bells. But I never thought to try the Arabic. So from this point on it was "Misir" every time I was asked :)

The simplicity of Balinese life is beautiful. For a place that survives on tourism revenue, and is just filled with an inquisitive bunch of people that turns up with backpacks and maps, it's amazing how welcoming, pleasant and open they still are. The set up of the Balinese compound consists of five main 'buildings': 1) the north building, which is the parents' room, and also where any family 'valuables' are safely stored, 2) the south building: kitchen, 3) the east builidng: children's room, 4) the ceremonial building - used for weddings & religious celebrations and 5) the family temple. In addition to a family temple within each family compound (this one is dedicated to the ancestors), every village has at least three main temples. Religion plays a pivotal role in Balinese life. The beliefs, the values, the stories -- it drives everything they do. They make an offering to the gods at least twice a day. It felt like the entire island smells of incense all the time.

Maybe it's the peace of heart and mind that inspires the creativity of the Balinese, and gives them the talent to make some of the most stunning handicraft work in the world: wood carving, painting, lace. And not to mention the Balinese art of food. Their use of the natural resources around them from spices to banana leaves, lemongrass and incredible exotic fruit like salak. One of the funniest moments I had was on a visit to Gulung village, where we cooked and ate traditional foods. There was an old English couple from Manchester who, bless 'em, couldn't stand the taste - too much flavour for them, they said.

He's clearly not impressed.

But I was. Will be going back soon. Oh, and guess what? I don't need a visa!!!


  1. wow it sounds amazing. when're we going back then? :D

    Spot On Bali in the works?

  2. Dear, don't think for a second that I didn't have that idea 8 years ago and CJ something like 5 years ago. There's a queue for SOB!!!

  3. ooh do it do it! With so much comms work going online and meetings going teleconferenced, a large local presence is probably not even necessary.

    I'm sure it wouldn't be difficult to drum up support among the SO masses!

  4. http://villacasis.com/ great place to stay if you ever go back.. we spent a week there totally awesome.

  5. Wow looks lovely - it didn't come up at all in my research. Thx will certainly keep it in mind.

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