Tuesday, November 23, 2010

And then in Bali it was about the people

So then in early Oct I went on a long planned, week long trip to Ubud in Bali.  Some friends had been there for the better part of a year, volunteering in an organisation dedicated to preserving traditional textile crafts across the eastern Indonesian islands.   I was to be their 26th guest, and their last.  As well, I had put my name down as a volunteer at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival .  I was looking forward to returning to Indonesia having spent a month cycling on the island of Sulawesi in early 2009.  And I wasn't disappointed.

Soon after arriving I discovered I had been invited to a royal wedding - by virtue of the fact I was staying at a hotel owned by the royal family.  I invited my friends to join me, and had a lovely day and night.  There was Balinese dancing and gamelan playing and wayang kulit.  The palace, a collage of outdoor rooms and balconies, was decorated with fruit and flowers, and garudas and statues and offerings.  The prince had Australia in his face, having spent much of his childhood in Sydney with his family.  His new wife was an actress from Jakarta who had converted from Islam to Hindu the day before the wedding.  There were lots of family and friends and staff and others from the community present, and it was a great privilege to be introduced to Bali in that way.

The year of the lotus continued

After spring arrived, and as I continued to unpack boxes and slowly settle into the new home, my year of the lotus continued.

In late September I volunteered at a Japanese candle festival.  There were a number of us trying to combat the wind in the late afternoon to light a sea of candles.  It was frustrating and not very sucessful.  Then as dusk arrived the wind dropped, and the candles were lit easily.  And the plastic cups filled with tea light candles became a magical river of light.  Families gathered around the candles and gazed in, relaxed.  It was a lovely evening.