Adventure! Following the FBI in Bali

One of the first Indonesian words I learned was petualangan. Trying to wrap my Midwestern American tongue around that one was a challenge. But so worth it. Petualangan means adventure.

I woke up this morning with itchy feet. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the UNESCO rice terraces of Jatiluwih and they were calling. At 7:30, Ketut popped his head around the corner of the veranda where I was journaling. We exchanged the usual pleasantries and when he asked if I had a plan today, which he always does, I said yes, adventure.

“Where?”

“Jatiluwih. Okay with you?

“Ya! What time?

“9:00.”

“Good.”

It was a glorious morning, sunny with breezes. A quick check of the weather app showed a high of 77°F (25°C) in the mountains where we were headed. This would be a much shorter journey than the ridiculous 12-hour bike ride that left me feeling every one of my golden years for weeks afterward. I estimated one hour thirty minutes to get there and a quicker trip coming home, downhill all the way.

As soon as we left Ubud, the landscape opened. I sucked in lungs full of farm-scented air (through my mask, of course) and shed the cloud of gloom that’s enveloped the town since lockdown, March 2020.

It’s impossible not to feel a surge of joyous abandon when flying through the coutryside on the back of Ketut’s motorbike. The wind in my face, the congenial chatter, the comaraderie, the laughter – it’s a higher high than any drug or drink could possibly achieve.

Soon the road narrowed and we began to climb.

First we passed this guy.

Then we followed this guy.

It probably says something obscene below the big letters. I couldn’t make it out. If you can, and it does, don’t think poorly of me. I captured the photo on the fly and it was too good to pass up.

I wanted to have this adventure during Galungan. For ten days every six months, the ancestors return from the spirit world to visit their villages. As if by magic, streets transform overnight and elegant penjors arch and sway gracefully overhead.

Each town has its own style. You can tell how well-off the village is by the grandeur of the penjors.

The moment I set foot on this island, the profusion of artistic detail amazed me. From temples, to ogoh-ogohs, to the massive bulls and cremation towers that carry the deceased to their final farewell, the creative wizardry of the Balinese people is astounding.

And then…

What is it about rice terraces that unravels me? It’s been that way since my first trip to Bali in 2010. The guide stopped the car and said to walk around the curve and maybe I would like to take photos. Around that curve was the most jaw-dropping view I’d ever seen. Sunlight glittered on hundreds of pools of freshly planted paddies cascading down the mountainsides. I clutched my throat so my heart couldn’t escape, then burst into tears.

Today I didn’t cry, but reverent awe is always there.

At approximately thirty minutes in, our walk came to an abrupt halt. Heavy rains had washed out the land beneath the trail. The concrete path was broken and hung precariously over the abyss.

“What do you think, Ketut? Shall we try?”

He looked at me like I had two heads. “Maybe never come back,” he said.

“Good point. Let’s go eat lunch.”

By the time we’d hiked the thirty-minute return, starvation was setting in. My mouth watered thinking of the overflowing buffet at Billy’s Cafe. As soon as we entered, I realized that was a pre-covid memory. There was no buffet. There were no patrons. The menu had shrunk to a single, laminated sheet, drinks on one side, food on the other. But the view remained.

We ordered and chatted, ate and chatted, sat enjoying the perfect weather, the idyllic view, and the empty restaurant – and chatted – for hours. Bliss.

There isn’t much I enjoy more than lingering over a meal in the company of a good friend. But shadows were growing longer. It was time to go.

My favorite photo of today’s grand adventure is this one. Three Indonesian flags, whipping in the wind atop needle-thin poles marked the beginning, or from this perspective the end of the path through the terraces. Gratitude welled up within me for this country that has been home for the past nine years. I’ve been treated with utmost kindness. I never realized how much I needed that.

As I stood rapt, gazing upward, I could almost hear the national anthem of Indonesia. It’s blared from loudspeakers every Independence Day but I’ve never known the lyrics. Today I looked them up. The last stanza speaks my heart’s wish:

Let us pray

For Indonesia’s prosperity:

May her soil be fertile

And spirited

The nation and all the people.

Conscious be her heart

And her mind

For Indonesia the Great.

Now I’m curled in my comfy cushions at home, relaxed, rejuvenated, nurtured, and at peace. What a perfect day and a magnificent adventure. Thank you, Ketut.

14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anonymous
    Apr 22, 2021 @ 00:43:06

    What a delightful day. Thanks for the memories. Sharon

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Kim Armstrong
    Apr 22, 2021 @ 04:18:08

    Fabulous photos – make my heart ache to be there. I loved the rice terraces at Tegallalang, and imagine I would love Jatiluwih as well. Thanks for sharing your wonderful adventure 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. Gail Brown
    Apr 22, 2021 @ 04:40:38

    OMG, Sherry, what are you doing to me?! Your amazing photos and observations have brought me right back to Bali and I would do almost anything to hop on a plane right now. I’m having my first Covid vaccination today so hopefully I’m edging closer!🤞🤞

    Sent from my iPad

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  4. gederedita
    Apr 22, 2021 @ 12:36:03

    Nice picture, thank you for sharing. almost a year i have not been to this place because of covid 19. You are very lucky to be able to enjoy the beauty of Bali.wish you good health always.

    Best Regards

    Gede,Mr
    http://www.inclusivebalitour.com

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. Julie Marshall
    Apr 22, 2021 @ 14:39:56

    Thank you for this post Sherry. Brings back memories! Also, thank you for your book suggestions. I have the Ibis trilogy on the way, also a Gentleman in Moscow! We are experiencing a late wet season here in the Australian tropics so it is a good excuse to curl up with some wonderful reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Apr 22, 2021 @ 16:48:47

      Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoy The Ibis Trilogy as much as I did. It described a time and place in history with which I was totally unfamiliar. I found it fascinating. I’m still on the hunt for A Gentleman!!!

      Like

      Reply

  6. Anne Young
    Apr 22, 2021 @ 18:36:58

    Looks heavenly ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  7. Carol
    May 25, 2021 @ 06:02:43

    Beautiful adventure. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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