Already one week back in Canada! Time for a little catchup before my last notes fade into oblivion :)
Our last week has been full. We have spent a happy chunk of time gathering gifts and souvenirs. And Ubud has been buzzing with two major events. The 17th was Indonesia's independence day; marking 66 yrs of freedom from Dutch rule. The football field in the centre of town was packed with marching bands, children squirming in school uniforms, and officials saluting. Later in the day, it became the site of a traditional game of panjat pinang; whereby shirtless men struggled to climb oil-slicked betel tree poles to grab prizes at the top. Great fun to watch, but extremely hard and not at all tempting to try. The following day was very important for Bali and Ubud specifically. The mother of a royal regent had passed away in May, and a 9 level, 24ft tower had been built to carry her body to the cremation site. So on the 18th, the tower housing the corpse was hefted by 100 men and paraded through the streets...led by an equally large statue of a black and gold bull that was to meet a similar fate. Hoards of people came from all over Bali and jampacked the streets. We were warned that it was likely going to be a crazy scene. Nevertheless, we thought we'd set out and see what we could see. We didn't get far. The day was hot and oppressive, and crowds got increasingly thicker the closer you got to the parade route. Abbey was not a fan. So while Mike trooped Abbey back to the hotel, I fought my way in to the outskirts of the crowd and managed to catch a small glimpse of the tower.
I took a couple of pictures, but they don't show much. It's worth checking out the pictures online (google "Bali royal cremation 2011").
The rest of our time here has been spent relaxing on our balcony, catching up on Abbey's journal, eating in practically all the local restaurants, and musing on the next chapter of our lives.
The trip has been amazing, of course. Impossible to sum up, especially when reflections are still trickling in...and when looking to the future is demanding more attention.
But if there's any question about the effect this trip has had on Abbey, you need only look at her play. Throughout the entire trip she has incorporated the things she has seen around her in her imaginary games. She manages restaurants, performs massages, drives tuk tuks, places offerings, demands entrance fees, and barters for goods. She poses for pictures in meditative poses, and is always watching, listening to see how we interact with people we meet. Lately she has taken on the role of waving down the waitress and motioning for the cheque. Which of course, they love. The other morning in the taxi, on our way to our next hotel, she asked if the room had air con, if it included breakfast and if it was a good price.
On the whole, she has been so much more embracing and curious than we could possibly have imagined. We are incredibly proud.
And now it's time to leave. We are ready. As amazing as it's been, four months has been just about the right amount of time. And now we are all quite excited to be going home.
I'm writing now from our 3 hr layover in Hong Kong. The flight from Bali was 4 hours. The next leg is 12. Bah piece of cake :) It's 11 o'clock at night. My eyes are blurry. Abbey is whizzing around the kids' play area like a mad thing. Soon to crash, we hope. Oop plane is boarding. No time to post!
Wow. This is pretty surreal. What was our day-to-day in another world has now become an entity - encapsulated into two words: The Trip.
For now at least, life at home feels like the dream, and the trip the reality. I walk through places so familiar and feel like I'm watching them through glass. Houses and lawns are so neat and tidy. Coffee costs 40,000 rupiah! I'm still translating back. I know it will only be a few more days before this passes and Bali feels like another lifetime.
Life at Grandma Bungalows is pretty cushy. The bed is luxuriously soft and the towels are new and big and fluffy. No more putting up with musty towels! Hooray! The staff are wonderful. They all speak excellent English. They also babysit for hours at a time! Our first babysitting in four months. Also our first driving a car and cooking and washing dishes. Abbey is over the moon with the owners and often can be found playing games with them on the living room floor and shooing us away if we get close :)
One week back in Canada and now indeed it all feels very long ago and very far away. But it's great to be back, to see everybody...and just kind of...stop.
So this is the end of the chapter!
We have been asked a couple of times if it was everything we'd hoped. Impossible to answer. But...probably :) Suffice it to say, it was amazing. Life in concentrate. Totally unforgettable.
And now? Good question. Time to start a new chapter.
Of course, this marks the end of JAMblog.
Thankyou for reading. I very much enjoyed writing it all down.
Lots of love!