When in Bali (1)
The young Customs officer quickly opens my passport and looks up to see my face; within a second, I have noticed that one of his eyes is bigger than the other:
“What bring you here, miss?” he says
“Who do you travel with?” he further enquirers
“I go by myself”
“Oh, don’t worry, you are never alone in Bali, “everyone has a little love affair in Bali””
He gives the passport back to me with a friendly smile which is making the subtle difference in his eyes clearer. I’m surprised that after such a long time, the movie “eat pray love” still has such an effect on this place, or maybe just the young customs officer is a big fan of the movie.
I am greeted in the colorful arrivals lounge by many local people dressed in their beautiful sarongs and many travelling girls adorned with bohemian dresses.
Forty five minutes later and I am in Ubud. It is 9pm and the street is too dark for me to see my surroundings. I pass through a gate which is guarded by two ageing, moss covered statues and finds myself in the center of a large garden. I drop my bags and take a deep inhale. I try to find the ocean smell and imagine that maybe the beach is nearby, but all I can take in is the smell of plumeria flowers and fresh air. Tired after a long journey, I go to bed straight away.
The sound from birds in the garden wakes me up; it is daybreak, the sky is already bright but the sun hasn’t yet appeared; the world is still sleeping. One idea passes through my mind - from today, every day I will wake up in a new place, in a new country that will make me want to get out of bed upon waking. Only needing another second to decide; I take a large scarf and step out into the garden.
The young woman, dressed in a colorful sarong, carrying a doko of flowers and some bowls of rice and water, passes by me at the entrance gate. I ask “Can I follow you” and she just smiles, bows her head, and acknowledges me. I follow her around the garden as she carries out her morning prayer; starting from the temple in the central of the house, putting down flowers chain, bowing her head and standing on her knee, chanting something in her own language before doing some dance-like movements with her hands, and ending by throwing rice around the statue.
I decide to leave the homestay as I notice a small sign directing me to a temple which is just five minutes away. It is Pura Taman Saraswati Temple - a Hindu temple; the entrance gate is a road which divides the big beautiful lotus pond into two parts with many grey statues on the sides. The crooked steps are covered in moss, some in green, others already black. The temple is decorated with so many fine carvings included Padmasana located in the northeast; there is also a bale barong, monster masks, sculptures and statues of the Goddess Saraswati which is as high as 3 meters in front of the temple.
I decide to sit beside the lotus pond and collect my thoughts. Lotus flowers blooming on the pond makes the scenery around the temple look very beautiful and attractive. As I become aware of where I am, I notice a small stone by my foot. I pick it up without thinking and feel it in my hand, before lightly throwing it into the pond. I listen for the sound of the stone meeting the surface of the water, but I hear nothing. The stone easily falls down to the bottom of the pond without resistance or concern. This is the first time in recent memory where I feel myself letting go.