Admittedly I didn’t know much about Bali before I got here. The extent of knowledge is basically from Eat, Pray Love and honestly that movie sucked so I might as well know nothing.
After spending just over 2 days here, I know a little bit more. Firstly and most notably, my God is it ever a breathtaking place. Bali, if you don’t know, is one of the major islands/provinces of Indonesia. It’s roughly the size of Newfoundland, or about 5700 square km if you don’t know how big Newfoundland is. It’s got a population of 5 milli and it is humid as fuck. So far I’ve been to Sanur (Denpasar), Tabanan, and Munduk, each having it’s own very distinct landscape. For an island so small, it certainly loves drama, which is exactly how I like to describe myself. For example, this morning I woke up to the sound of roosters cock-a-doodle-dooing and watched the goddamn sunrise over a mountain. I watched the sky go from night, to pink, to blue with the fluffyiest clouds. Honestly, what the goddamn fuck did I do in my life to deserve this wake up call. That’s a common thought that pops up: What am I doing here?
The second thing you notice is how humid it is. This is technically the first thing you notice. It’s hard not to when you’ve got beads of sweat racing down your face like a shitty, stinky Grand Prix. I don’t know who wins, but I know who loses: me.
The third thing you quickly figure out is that the Balinese are an incredibly kind, friendly, warm people. This was a bit of a shock to my system. Not that I expected anything less, how could you be an asshole if you live in literally one of the most beautiful places in the goddamn world. What was shocking was that my reaction to people saying hi on the street is immediate hostility. And that’s a product of being a fat, woman of colour in North America, I guess. Not to say the world is less fat-shamey or less racist, but I’ve endured my fair share of real shitty behaviour on the streets of Toronto, and it’s made me into the grown-ass, strong, resilient woman I am today. But what happens when you’re in a place where people talk to you… Because they just want to talk to you? Not because they want anything from you, but because they’re just curious. You look like an asshole, mostly, when you put your head down and ignore them. So I’m gonna stop that. Because it’s fucking rude as hell and also you miss out on meeting new people, and isn’t that the whole point of traveling?
The fourth thing that struck me, and frankly in a very, very visceral way, is that Bali is like the Philippines. Which is weird because I don’t really remember the Philippines… Until I look at anything and everything from here. The landscape, the faces, the tastes, even that language, is so so familiar to me. I have a terrible memory, and the last time I was back home was in 1993, and I definitely don’t remember most of the 3 week period spent there. But here, in a place I’ve never been and know little about, there is so much that I feel a connection to, which is a super new feeling to me. Being an immigrant in Canada, I’ve always felt like it was my real “home” but that it wasn’t and isn’t truly mine. It’s borrowed. But after spending a few hours in Bali, I feel the most at home I have in a really long time. And this FOR SURE isn’t my home. I’m constantly on the verge of tears or straight up crying behind my sunglasses because of all the foreign yet inherently familiar sights and sounds. This doesn’t bode well for when I get to Philippines. Or maybe it’ll be the best thing to happen to me (spoiler alert: YEAH OBVO IT WILL).
In Bali, the main religion observed is Hindu, and Hindu believes in reincarnation. Your currently life is a reflection of your past ones. If you’re living easy, you did good. If it’s shit… Maybe you wronged a big wrong in a previous life. I’ve always believed myself to be very fortunate and my life has been a goddamn breeze, all things considered. So according to Balinese standards, I must’ve done something pretty dece in a past life.