Bali and Musings

It was a trip that marked the end and the beginning.

The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land. — G. K. Chesterton

I had the idea of logging my time here in Bali after the second day I got here. It struck me that this was a transition moment in my life where upon my return to Malaysia, a new chapter begins. Obviously, despite knowing full well that this was coming — the reality of it hasn’t quite sunk in for me yet.

Andrew and I had planned this trip for a long time, way before I even thought to resign from my job as an environmental consultant after 2.4 years. There are many things to write about my tenure with this company, or rather — in this role, but suffice to say that after overcoming numerous learning curves (and still trying with some), it is but a job at the end of the day. It wasn’t a career. And most of all, it wasn’t my aspiration.

While I am truly grateful for the experiences and the opportunities that I was given, as well as for the people I’ve met and made friends along the way — I can’t help but to take heed of what really drives me , the very thing that gets me waking up excited in the morning and knowing at the end of the day, the work that I’m doing will bring about a positive difference to the public.

Coming back to the trip in Bali, I was hopeful to somehow receive my muse from this mystical yet beautiful place where spirituality is the axis of the local community. I embrace Christianity, but over the years I’ve allowed myself to see God beyond the confines of the church walls ; especially in nature (since I’m an environmentalist by training). And because certain parts of Bali still preserve and respect the balance between man and nature, it is refreshing to soak all the experience in before I return to the hectic city life.

So, what has being in Bali taught me so far?

First: that it’s okay to end the day early.

Yes. By that, I mean sleeping early (and also waking up early). Back home, I have difficulty sleeping before 1am. And because of that, I only get about 5 hours of sleep everyday which I feel somehow is gradually wrecking my body. My mind is no longer sharp and I often get this never-ending fatigue even during weekends. No good.

But yesterday I managed to shut my eye by 11pm, woke up at 6:30am feeling refreshed and writing this log at the veranda facing a beautiful green landscape.

Second: Life can be good, despite the crappy things that are happening around us every day. Especially when you’re physically relocated to a new, peaceful and unexplored environment. It’s no wonder people often save up to go for a holiday, where they can escape the mundane reality of life and just be without care and worry.

Is there a third lesson? Not that I could think of at the moment — except the constant reminder to treat myself better and not let circumstances or people to define me.

Well, at the time of writing — I’ve arrived at my fourth day in Bali and there are only a day or so left before we fly back to Kuala Lumpur. So far we’ve we’ve spent most of the time walking the streets of Ubud under the scorching sun, trying out the food at local eateries (which are not as cheap as Malaysia) and attending movie screenings (among other events) at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (UWRF). We did however managed to do squeeze in some touristy activities at Seminyak on our first day here (i.e. renting a scooter, going to Potato Head Beach Club and Tanah Lot).

Potato Head Beach Club, Seminyak
Tanah Lot, Tabanan

On the fifth day (a day before we return home), we thought it would have been a shame if we just spend all the time we had here in the center of Ubud, so we arranged for a trip up north of Bali where we visited various old temples such as the famous Goa Gajah..

Goa Gajah, Ubud

… the ancient stone mural at Yeh Pulu..

Yeh Pulu, Ubud

..scaled the many staircases to reach the relics at Gunung Kawi;

Gunung Kawi, Tampaksiring

..and then we witnessed hundreds of devotees lining up in the pool for their spiritual water cleansing at Tirta Empul Temple in Tampak Siring…

… had a scrumptious lunch with the breathtaking view of Mount Batur volcano and its lake..

Danau Batur

..and ended the trip at the famed Tegallalang paddy terrace of Ubud.

Tegallalang Rice Terrace, Ubud

It was quite tiring at the end of the day but since it was going to be our final day in Bali, we decided to go all out and attend the closing party of the UWRF at Blanco Museum.

Don Antonio Blanco Museum

We were treated to a nice concert of world music and great performances, and while some of the crowd were up from their seats and dancing away, I thought to myself: this is it…. after tonight, my life is going to change when I return to Malaysia. I suppose all good things eventually comes to an end, and I am truly grateful that I’m able to spend time with my husband on this holiday before the next chapter begins.

The past 6 years of my life in KL / Selangor has been one which is filled bittersweet experiences. I’m very proud to say that this place has taught me so much on what being an adult is. Not only in my personal life (i.e. finance, career, marriage and other domestic up keepings) but also in my interaction with people and my outlook in life. Suffice to say , it’s a great milestone of maturity when you are constantly aware that you are not the center of the earth and that other people’s needs, thoughts and feelings matter as well. My humble opinion is, half or most of the problems in this world is caused by people who are too self-entitled to care about the bigger picture.

It has been a long while also since l last wrote for myself. I’ve been churning out reports, assignments, dissertations and all the dry technical writings. I’m still trying to catch the flow of writing without ‘guidelines’, ‘assessment’ or ‘summary’ and while without those, it does feel liberating but it is daunting at the same time.

One wonders how a post which was intended to be a travelogue ended up being a contemplative musing. Perhaps that is what travel does to you. Getting away from the usual scene and routine of things helps to re-calibrate oneself. I suppose until next change of scene arrives (which is real soon), that’s probably all there is to write on this post.