Our Last Day in Bali: Mixed Emotions
Our last day in Bali is one of mixed emotion.
We are sorry to be leaving but also happy to move on. The last 24 hours have been clouded with bad “taksi” rides and average restaurant service (see John’s review of La Luciolla) but nonetheless, Bali has been as visually beautiful as its people are kind and gentle. I have not witnessed any Balinese angry, upset or displaying any form of temper while we have been on their island. Which poses the question: Why were such a beautiful and unassuming people targeted with a bomb that continues to affect their daily lives? Having spoken to some westerners who have been coming to Bali for over 10 years and have earned the right to call themselves Balinese, we discover that the bombings have allowed the Balinese to focus their energies back to their religious and spiritual lives. Re-focusing on their families, their religion, the rituals and the sensibilities that define them as a beautiful, warm and caring people. We have been lucky to see, meet and share time with some of them.
A Pilgrimage to the Father Temple
Gadeh our driver picks us up at the Bali Agung Village at about 12 o’clock. We are packed, checked out and ready to head to the airport. But before we do so we want to make a pilgrimage to the Father Temple, Uluwatu, which is about a 45 minute drive south on the island. We catch up on how Gadeh’s wife and two sons are and he tells us that they will be leaving this afternoon for the three-hour drive north to his family’s temple in Sringrajah for a special get together.
We head south with the AC blazing. We walk into the temple, past the usual touts and hawkers and are given our requisite sarongs and sashes for the entrance. The temple itself is situated on a beautiful, sheer cliff and is very popular at sunset. We are happy to be here mid-day, despite the heat, avoiding the tourists. We do our quick tour, stopping to gape at the views, chat with the aggressive monkeys and strike out for the airport. On our way, we stop at a major Balinese Arts and Cultural centre called the Garuda Vishnu or GWK complex that is somewhat of a white elephant locally. Work started years ago and continues at a snails pace to this day. It is a bizarre complex of open plazas and little shade, to be presided over by a gigantic statue of Vishna on Garuda (the Eagle). This bronze statue, when and if it will be finished, will rival the Statue of Liberty in height and majesty. Again, when and if it is finished. At the moment, the faces of Vishnu and Garuda have been assembled and are on display, but there is little sign of ongoing activity.
Bye Bye Bali
We set our sights on the airport and drive down the hills surrounding Jimbaran Bay. Easy check-in, easy flight on Thai Airlines and we cross the equator for the 4th time in 2004. We touch down in the crazy city of Bangkok, singing songs from the King and I the whole way.
Bye-bye Bali. We will be back!
Reading: various issues of The New Yorker and The Economist; The DaVinci Code, by Dan Brown, Life of Pi, by Yann Martel, The Five People You Meet In Heaven, by Mitch Albom