We came back on Sunday and I am recovering ever since. Am wearing a blue fluffy morning coat with the pockets stuffed with hankies, both paper and cotton. ‘Crook as Rookwood’ they used to say! Rookwood is one of the largest cemeteries in Australia and even had its own railway station whereby the inhabitants of coffins could be unloaded for an uncertain but cool future below ground level. Another apt expression of feeling below par was ‘ I feel I am ‘on the train to Rookwood.’ They are lovely expressions but are at risk of disappearing when so much of the local Lingua franca gets overtaken by United States terminology.
I have a good cold. A direct hit given by a small child on the plane back. She was coughing all night between Bali and Sydney. Poor little girl.
We flew with Jet-Star. Little did I know what stood ahead of us. No food, no water. Can you imagine? Apparently the latest in economy fares. Soon there will be cheap flights whereby we will just stand up hanging from a strap. I booked ‘on-line.’ I picked direct flights between Sydney and Bali and never even thought to order food and water. I have never been flying anywhere whereby there would not appear (soon after take-off) the familiar little carriages, stooped over by flight attendants, with food and small bottles of wine. ‘Would you like a shiraz or a smooth chardonnay Sir or Madam’, was a common question, soon followed by a tray of all sorts of foods wrapped in cellophane that needed a chainsaw to open. Even a toothpick individually wrapped.
We used to be greatly comforted that everything was done to make the flight bearable with at least including some food and liquid. Not anymore now though. If you thought Isis was tough, try and take a cheap flight somewhere! Avoidance of DVT (Deep vein thrombosis) is greatly helped by staying hydrated during the flight. Well, you try and get water on board a Jet Star flight! I finally managed to get water from a water tumbler in the kitchen at the back of the plane. I was feeling very dizzy by then.
Of course Bali is still Bali with hordes of tourists scampering over everything possible, especially the bars and nightclubs. God, how tourism destroys everything, like locusts.
Of course we were tourists as well. But at least tried to escape. No elephant cave, monkey forests or Hindu temples for us. No tours or trips to rice paddies or local Ikat factories, wood carvings or silver smithing. No trekking or sunset watching, surfing or sampling of dodgy cocktails including the arak laced with kerosene.
We were within 100 metres of the main street in Ubud and elevated above street level catching the cool mountain breeze and waving palms with bits of kites suspended in mid flight. It was lovely and re-vitalising just watching the locals and hordes of tourists. I noticed that many tourists like running around maniacally. Why is that? Perhaps they are so wound up that, having spent money on fares and accommodation, they do not want to risk missing out on anything? They run around frantically like chooks without heads. Their mouths twisted in tenseness and set at twenty past eight o’clock. Chill out, dear European. The end is not nigh.
Ubud is the centre of Balinese culture with music and ceremonies the order of the day. Despite the influx of foreign tourists, Bali’s culture seems to have survived and homage to their Gods is practised everywhere with smoking incense and offerings given at any time of the day.
The togetherness of its people, the smiles and laughter and above all, the inborn desire to make beauty from table settings to wood-carved furniture, tables with marble tops, the lighting and ‘cosiness laced with feelings of intimacy. Schoolchildren with arms around each other, laughing and joking. Cheerfulness in bucket loads.
We are now back in Bowral and it feels all so dreadfully serious. Where is our ‘joie de vivre?’ Perhaps, all on the train to Rookwood!