It seems crazy now that I felt at all reluctant to return to Bali. It's so beautiful and unique. It's really nice to come back and reorient ourselves. Find familiarity and comfort in the things that haven't changed. Back to our favourite dishes - the Cap Cays and Gado Gados; back to Bintang beers and Crispy Crackers; back to roosters everywhere and swimming pools, frangipani, incense, offerings; back to bargaining and politely waving off taxi and vendor touts. We grasp for the words we know and regrapple with the currency. When we left Bali, I found myself translating Malaysian and Thai funds back to Indonesian rupiah even before Canadian dollars...'oh 60 Baht, that's about 20,000 rupiah...$2'.
It's a lot cooler here, thank god. We've come back to Bali's cool season. A hotel with A/C would be a waste of money here. Our first few nights were spent in the beach town of Sanur. After a wee bit of trouble locating the hotel we'd booked (our taxi driver didn't know where it was and theatrically stomped and swore and mumbled incomprehensibles when we said we didn't either - very unbalinese actually)...we collapsed on the bed and recovered from our 3am wakeup. Two hours later, sitting at a beachside cafe sipping a beer, I get the sudden feeling of being on holiday. Ironic...and telling. I guess we had been busier than I'd realized. And now it's time to move slowly again. So in Sanur we played on the beach and swam in the pool and rode rented bikes along the beach walk. Sanur is nice enough...especially if you have a beachside villa. But tourism has clearly suffered lately. It's hard to walk down the street without being honked at by taxi drivers or waved down by shop owners. This aspect of Bali is interesting. There are so many 'taxis' - mostly individuals with cars - and shops selling the same array of sarongs, clothing, wooden bowls etc, that you can't help wondering why someone would choose to start yet another similar venture. A teacher we met at the preschool in Ubud told us that the Balinese think kids going to preschool is a waste of time. She believes that children here don't get enough stimulation and therefore grow up somewhat aimless. If this is true, then it fits with what we've seen - bored and almost desperate people struggling with little demand and excess supply. And yet, the teacher noted, we in first world countries have the opposite problem of overstimulating our children. True enough.
And now we're back in Ubud. We will likely spend our last week here. We have a nice little room with a balcony overlooking roofs and greenery. There are distant sounds of birds chirping and a child playing a flute, and the hammering of workers building more guesthouses. I'm writing this from my hammock :) We have finally begun real talks about the future, but have nothing yet to report. I have also started pinching myself to ensure I take in everything around me...because I know it will all soon feel like a dream.