November 24, 2014
30 in Bali
There is a poetic moment upon waking in a foreign land when the distinction between dreaming and reality is as light and subtle as the difference between a damselfly and a dragonfly. Perched on the edge of perception, one’s wings are open and the other’s are pressed together in prayer.
The distant gongs summoned my consciousness… gamelan gong kebyar… gamelan music without the chanting and only the conjuring effect of the gongs… Kebyar: “The process of flowering.” I opened my eyes. I woke up in Bali on my thirtieth birthday.
Yes, I suppose it requires a certain amount of fire in the gut, but I would not call it Courage. I shall reserve that word for those who are assailed with numerous troubles in life but still press on; for those who have lost almost everything and yet hang on to hope; for those who have gone where no one else has gone before, or for those who have done what no one else has done before.
This little girl has only traveled without a companion and without prior reservations for lodgings to somewhere she has never gone before, and all because I still possess the faith that I had as a child. As much as I would like to be credited with Courage for doing that, I call it Faith.
Perhaps this trip is my reply to that article that said “nothing magical happens when you turn 30,” and it is my way of saying that it is really up to us whether we settle for the magical or the un-magical in our lives.
Maybe it is also because of the travel partner who cultivated the seeds of wanderlust in my head, and him being an unselfish traveler by showing me that I could do it, too.
An 8-day trip cannot be considered “long” by long-term travelers, but it was enough for me to experience the place in a leisurely pace and not feel as if I was just rushing through to have my pictures taken at the famous spots. It is also possible that I am trying to prove that the real question about traveling in this era is not whether one can afford it moneywise, but whether one can afford it timewise. It could also be all those things put together.
But there is no doubt that my mind has always been a gypsy, and I have discovered that traveling is the only way my feet can keep in time with it.
Bali is the kind of place that is reluctant to transform itself into words. A very good writer went there once to write about it and ended up writing about chickens.
It must be mentioned, however, that if there is one thing the Filipinos can learn from the Balinese, it’s how they find creative ways to build around rice paddies or amidst them without giving them up, and even using them to aggrandize new structures aesthetically. In the Philippines, we condemn our rice fields and construct buildings over them in the name of so-called progress. But I shall not begin talking about the beaches for nothing truly compares to ours!
Bali also presents the traveler with more than rice terraces and beaches, it has mystical Hindu temples dating back to the 10th century, colossal volcanoes, romantic sunsets, cultural feasts, empyrean sanctuaries where one may sometimes find Faith, Peace, or Love, but there is also that sorry portion of it corrupted by tourism.
That is the thing about Utopia (etymology: ou – not, topos – place), it is not a place. If you go to Bali, do not expect to find Utopia, Faith, Peace, or Love. If you go to Bali, travel with these things within yourself and it is certain that you will find beauty… so much beauty!
Related Entry: Souvenirs from Bali