Fave experience 3: The Balinese people know how to smile and go with the flow
Being a jaded Sydneysider who's used to passing people in the street without any acknowledgment of their existence (and vice versa), I was initially shattered to learn that in Bali everyone greets you with a huge smile. My jaw was aching after my first day on the island.
"Hello. How are you? Selamat malam, sama sama, terima kasih." Arrgghhh. Too much genuine niceness does my head in.
But after a couple of days I got into the swing of things and even ended up pressing my palms together in the customary 'prayer' greeting pose. I know - what a wanker. But man, it helped me find my inner-Zen friend.
Arriving back in Sydney was a rude shock. Today I beamed like friggin' car headlights at a fellow supermarket shopper who looked right through me before pretending to study the ingredients list on a packet of two-minute noodles. I guess it's back to no more 'Mrs Nice Guy'.
Fave experience 4: The massage, rose petal bath and funny undies
This is what one does in Bali. Ms Fivestar and I had a massage on our first afternoon in Ubud. It was pouring outside the day spa that overlooked a river. We were left to get almost naked, except for these funny undies that we initially mistook for shower caps (with big eye holes in them).
Next, we lay across from each other on two massage tables while our masseusses wove their finger ballet magic in perfect synchronisation. I almost forgot Ms Fivestar was there until it was over and we were asked if we would like to share a bath filled with rose petals. I looked at Ms Fivestar who wore a mortified expression (and the funny undies).
She let me have the bath. For the next 20 minutes I lay in a blissful state, the heady fragrance of the petals seducing my senses. Crikey, where's Spanner when you need him?
Fave experience 5: The colours, smells and hustle and bustle of Ubud
For me, the colours were their most vibrant in Ubud in central Bali. Red hibiscus and pure white frangipani, cinematic green ricefields, statues of Vishna draped in golden cloth, women in white lace tops and intricately patterned sarongs, intense blue skies, bunched grey clouds, muddy brown water.
Smells: jasmine, clove cigarettes, frangipani, incense, spices such as cloves and cinnamon and herbs like lemongrass and galangal.
Despite the millions of tourists that visit each year, Ubud maintains its culture and traditions. Although it's crammed with people and traffic and dogs and chickens, it still runs on 'Bali time'. No one is fussed when a procession to a ceremony stops the traffic for 10 minutes. There's no road rage here. Nor resignation. It's more about acceptance. There's a reason for everything. A calmness. No tug. Just give and take and live and learn.
These are the things I love about Bali (you can read about my fave 1 and 2 things in the two posts prior to this one). But it's not all beer and skittles. Watch out for my next post in which I will document the five things no one tells you about Bali.