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Reflections from Bali – Part II

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Bali has always held a special place in my heart.  It was the place where I took my first overseas trip with my family at the age of 17.  I had studied Bahasa Indonesian at High School and it was so close to Australia that it seemed like the obvious choice for our last family holiday before I left the nest and moved to the ‘big smoke’, (Melbourne), from the sheltered safety of my childhood in a small country town on the coast in Victoria.  I fell in love with it the moment I stepped off the plane and suffice to say that love affair has continued now for almost 25 years.  It was the first place my husband and I traveled to together and then continued to visit as often as we could.

In 2008 we sailed from Australia in our 44ft cruising Catamaran, Makani Kai, stopping for a few weeks in our second home before traveling through South East Asia for nearly 3 years.  On our slow cruise home we lived on our boat in Serangan Harbour near Sanur for almost 6 months, we conceived our daughter there.  At just over 3 months pregnant and with a heavy heart, I left the Makani Kai to head home to Australia and wait while my husband battled the elements in an effort to bring the boat home before the birth of our first and only child.

Since then we have returned with our daughter to Bali every year.  She loves it and often we have to trick her into boarding the plane home as she doesn’t want to leave.  We have often discussed the idea of spending 6 months of the year there and the other 6 months here in Australia.  A dream that hopefully one day will become a reality.

This year I was worried I wasn’t going to get my Bali fix but the universe smiled upon us and made it possible.  It was a timely intervention of fate as I REALLY needed this trip.  Of course, once we had arrived and dropped our bags in our little piece of paradise I immediately fell into my old routine of trying to organise a million activities for us to do.  My husband just smiled at me and said, ‘How about we just relax and see what happens?’  What?  Relax?  I am the organiser of activities, I am always looking for the next thing to do after the next thing!  I like lists, I like itinerary’s!  And so began a holiday that took a little bit of an adjustment for me.

The first few days I felt a bit strange, I couldn’t relax, I kept thinking, ‘But we should be doing this or we should be doing that!’  I came up with a list of activities, just in case.  We fell into a routine.  My husband went for a surf while I looked after my daughter.  When he came home I would be out the door, walking like a woman with a mission but with no destination in mind.  But by about the 3rd or 4th day something changed, my body relaxed, my mind relaxed and that day when my husband came home from the surf I was lying in a bean bag chair beside the pool book in hand while my daughter splashed around happily.  He got himself organised and told me he was right if I wanted to get out and do something but I was happy where I was.  I was happy, I didn’t need to go and do anything.  There was no knot in my stomach telling me I needed to go and do something.  I was, dare I say it, completely and utterly relaxed!

I spent my days eating, swimming, reading, having spa treatments, playing with my daughter and talking with my husband about our plans for the future.  We did small activities as we found them instead of me dragging us around for entire days from one spot to the other.  I took my daughter to an art class, I browsed the shops taking my time which meant I stumbled across a lovely little book store where I was able to purchase a beautiful book written by a local writer as well as picking up a unique doll created to help support Bali street kids.

I did however end up organising two day trips during our stay.  One to Ubud where we showed our daughter some monkeys and I browsed the art shops settling on a beautiful painting to take home and the other to East Bali with the end destination being Tirta Gangga.  But the pace and flow of these trips were far different to how I had experienced before.  I have a tendency to choose a destination and we rush to it.  This time we cruised along the coast road, stopping at places that looked interesting, checking out other places we might stay in the future, stopping at small restaurants for sustenance and chatting lazily with the locals.

So what is the moral of this story?  Well, this is what I gained from this trip.  Life is too short to rush through it without seeing anything.  We need to slow down, look around us and spend time with people who matter to us.  Taking the time to breathe is important and at the end of the day, when I am taking my last one I won’t be thinking, ‘Gee I’m glad we saw all those things that I don’t remember the name of for 5 minutes!’ but I will be thinking, ‘I’m so glad I spent so much time enjoying the company of my little family.’  So while I do look to the future, I’m not in that much of a hurry to get there, I know I will get there eventually and in the meantime I’m just going to enjoy the hell out of the ride!

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