by: Katherine Neuman
by: Katherine Neuman
When I remember Bali, my thoughts will settle on that first sensation of heaviness. The heat, the scents, the quiet. Far from being oppressive or draining, it was a heaviness that made me breath deeper, move more deliberately and surrender the tension that I’d packed to Asia along with a totally inappropriate wardrobe.
The heat. We were told it was hot for mid-October. The rainy season was starting and one day we watched some amazing lightening storms and rainfall roll in from the Indian Ocean in the early hours of morning. But the days were hot and humid and made for cotton and linen and silk, not the spandex and lycra that seemed to be stitched in small percentages into just about every piece of clothing I own. Ryshia has promised to counsel me on adding to my new “tropic travel” wardrobe.
The scents. If there was one thing that signalled foreign and exotic above all others it was the smells. Incense and frangipani – they say that smell is a memory trigger and that will be my Bali prompt – the smell of incense and frangipani. Incense burning in every offering at the entrance to every door. Frangipani flowers falling from above and infused in the cold towels offered before every meal.
The quiet. The tourist areas we visited were bustling and loud. The traffic (which I’ll speak more about later) was chaotic. But everything seemed muted and I think much of that had to do with the gentleness of the Balinese people. The Hindu religion that the vast majority of the people of Bali practice revolves around the eternal, daily and everpresent need for balance between good and evil. The symbols of this quest for balance – peace – are everywhere – you literally need to watch every step or you’ll walk over them. Everyone we met was grounded in their spirituality in a way that you don’t come across often in Canada – and the gentleness in voice and manner of the people was memorable.
I miss it already and I can see why people return again and again to Bali. There is a heaviness but it is such a welcome weight.