BEYOND THE BALI CLICHÉ

I’ve heard Bali described many ways, tropical paradise, island of the gods, exotic, enchanted, magical, the whole package. I’ve used the same or similar words myself, and believed them. I still do. But after an almost four year love-affair, my perspective has broadened. Infatuation has matured into a riper relationship, and the dalliance has become a committed bond.

I used to be blind to the warts, like an awestruck lover. As in marriage, some of the things that wowed and inspired me when I first set foot on this island, are now an accepted part of daily life. I remember wondering back then if living in Ubud would ever feel ordinary. Would I some day stop being amazed every time I woke up to the sound of roosters and the holy man’s prayers?

If ordinary means comfortable and familiar, the answer is yes. I know how to navigate the strange machinations of Indonesian culture. I co-exist with the lack of privacy and the communal assumptions inherent in this society. I know when someone calls me mbak (older sister) it’s a compliment, and that dadong (grandmother) is probably the more fitting endearment for my age group. I’ve discovered where to get the things I need and I’ve realized that I don’t need what I can’t get. I’m learning the language and that goes a long way toward feeling a part of things.

But if ordinary equals mundane, or dull, the answer is no, not ever. Each day I’m inspired or wowed by something new. Sometimes it’s as simple as a neon blue butterfly in the garden. And other times its bigger. For example, I had never walked the Campuhan Ridge. Laziness is the only explanation, as it’s 20 minutes from my house. But when I finally did, it was one of those special moments, like looking into your old love’s eyes and remembering why.

PHOTOS FROM THE CAMPUHAN RIDGE WALK

P1100349Steps down to the bridge at the beginning of the trail

P1100301The path passes along the wall of the Pura Gunung Lebah Temple

P1100339Beautifully paved, the trail is flat and even, though at times hilly

P1100341Sweeping views on both sides kept my camera clicking

P1100343A farmer harvests the mountainside

P1100335After the long hike in full sun, the Karsa Kafe is a welcome sight

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