Aussies…pick your battles

Australians are people. I’ll have to admit, my first encounters with that unique breed left me unconvinced. All I knew about Australia I learned in 9th grade history class, and I wasn’t impressed then either. When I came to Bali they were everywhere, loud, behaving badly, at frightful odds with my Victorian morality and Scandinavian reticence.

A lot of things got shaken up when I moved to Bali, and any people group clumped together and referred to as they, tend to bring surprises when they grow individual faces with real names. It wasn’t long before I met Steve, the organizer of the Ubud Writers Group, an Aussie. Suddenly one of them had a face, and even though he was loud, behaved badly, twirled my moral compass and trampled my Norwegian sensitivities, I LIKED him. Then I met Janet, his sister, a milder version, and I knew there was hope.

It’s a process, warming up to these undiluted characters who seem to revel in the discomfort of others. It’s all in good fun and harmless if you have serious rhino skin and know how to pick your battles. But underneath the gruff and bluster, there’s generosity and a loyalty that forms deep attachments.

So when Steve and Janet invited me to accompany them, and Steve’s poodle, Princess Rina, for a pre New Year’s getaway to Sidemen, I was equal parts surprised and delighted.

From the moment we arrived and settled in, conversation flowed around and through every conceivable topic. I alternated between straining to bridge the language barrier and blushing crimson when I did. There were many occasions when I had to stop them and beg a translation of their repurposed English!

Fluffy clouds lazed across the sky all afternoon as we moved from the pool to Janet’s terrace, to the dining area, and back to Janet’s terrace accompanied by attentive staff bearing trays of alcohol. That’s another thing I noted: these Aussies can out drink me five to one, and it’s a little sad because they’re not the ones who need loosening up!

At first there was no hint of Mt. Agung, just the sweeping view of rice terraces. But as cooler air pushed up over the ridge it appeared, the highest holiest peak in Bali, through a necklace of clouds.

Somehow I’d snagged a deluxe upstairs room with an unobstructed panorama from a deck larger than my entire Ubud apartment!

Although slightly less sticky than the lower altitudes of Ubud, the refreshing gurgle of the infinity pool beckoned so we stationed ourselves for deep relaxation and more liquid refreshments.

After cocktails, liquors, and nighttime chocolates (we did eat dinner at some point) it was lights out with the plan to meet for breakfast at no specified time.

I’m an early riser. Catching the view of sunrise over Mt. Agung was ample inspiration to set my alarm for 5 a.m. just to make certain I was fully awake by showtime. I’m also directionally challenged, so as I fixated on the emerging purple outline of the giant mountain, the sun quietly rose somewhere to my right. Orientation miscalculations aside, the reverence and awe inspired by the early morning vigil stuck to me for hours.

It would be easy to develop an obsessive fascination with Mt. Agung. At six in the morning it was crystal clear. By midday the clouds so enshrouded it there was no hint it ever existed.

Sometime later we hiked through the village seeking a more palatable lunch than the options available at our place. Our stroll produced new photo ops and a group of schoolboys who showered the Princess with proper devotion.

Like homing pigeons with a bead on eats, my Australian friends sussed out an exquisite site for dining pleasure at Sawah Indah Villa.

I might add at this juncture that Australian dogs, unlike their owners, adopt the cultural norms that resonate with my comfort level. They’re seen but not heard and speak only when spoken to. Princess Rina excels in the social graces and her dining etiquette epitomizes perfection. That’s why she’s allowed a seat at most establishments and we don’t patronize those that fail to appreciate her advanced evolution.

The walk back was blistering. As a hint of chlorine tickled our noses, Steve shed his shirt and shoes leaving a trail of cast off clothing on the path to the pool and plunged. Janet and I weren’t far behind. Oh delicious clear blue water!

A little nap sparked renewed appetites and we ended the day at a pizza warung. I didn’t have high hopes. The tablecloths had seen more meals than ours and were still wearing some of them. The neon green walls did nothing for our aging complexions. But hailmaryfullofgrace – omg – the PIZZA! It was far and away the best I’ve ever eaten anywhere. A N Y W H E R E !!! Three very happy bellies said good-night and sweet dreams as we trundled off to our beds.

Next morning, packed and ready to return to the crazy bustle of Ubud, I bid goodbye to the magic mountain and the peace and pleasure of a unique escape with my outrageous Aussie friends. Thanks, Steve, Janet, and Princess Rina for this stimulating cross-cultural experience in a setting of unparalleled splendor.

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And a very Happy New Year to family, friends, and all the other beautiful Australians I’ve met and learned to love here in the paradise down under!

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11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lynda O'Flaherty
    Jan 03, 2016 @ 01:28:59

    Loved your writing and thanks for the laughs, just be glad me, Lynda, their sister wasn’t with you, may have been too much. Lynda 💙

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  2. dibrandt030diana
    Jan 03, 2016 @ 02:29:55

    Thankyou. Where did you stay in Sideman? I love that place and would go there again in a heartbeat

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  3. healingpilgrim
    Jan 03, 2016 @ 04:01:51

    I guess I just missed seeing you there 🙂 Was it your first visit to Sidemen?

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  4. gerard oosterman
    Jan 03, 2016 @ 04:10:20

    A very entertaining read with glorious photos. Yes, the Aussies are generally great company and are not easily fazed by convention or tied down by habit. The really obnoxious ones are probably in Kuta.

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  5. Alexsandra Trevor
    Jan 03, 2016 @ 06:38:52

    I so enjoyed the details and photos of your getaway with the Aussies. Sounds like so much fun!

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  6. sageblessings
    Jan 03, 2016 @ 10:09:42

    What a glorious way to begin the New Year!! The photos made me yearn to be there and enhanced your super well-written story. “A necklace of clouds”…..Love it!!
    A reminder we all like to get out of the rat race and back to nature where miracles happen.

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