Voice of the verb detach, present indicative.
When you land on this earth hexagon, time begins to flow differently: first more hectic, with a thousand faces, a thousand voices of drivers and taxi drivers waiting for signs in hand for the designated tourists, then the deafening sound of the horns on the main roads, swarms of motorbikes like crazy chips and you start to ask where the serenity that you had been promised is. And then, there it was, serenity, after a two-hour car journey, out of the chaos of the city, there it was, in a house in the middle of the jungle, climbing on a dirt road, with sounds you are not familiar with, with faces new, bright smiles. Here it is, the adventure.
Here you understand that only green can be the color of hope, here among these palms, between these swollen leaves and huge shrubs, inside this full color, full of water and vitality you begin to breathe with amazement the emotion that nature deposits in your eyes, making you feel how far we have come from it and if ever we have been so in contact with it. The impact with Bali is strong and light at the same time, you arrive without reference points, without a known odor, in your ear you hear an incomprehensible and rocking tongue in pronunciation, yet with a smile, a kind gesture, and sparkling eyes for the wonder you feel where you wanted to be, exactly there even if you didn’t know how it would have been, because we deliberately loaded ourselves with as few expectations as possible, because we wanted to understand the impact and not prepare for it.
Our journey starts from Ubud, the cultural capital of the island, a chaotic and beautiful city, built in harmony with the surrounding forest, trying not to disrespect it. Cultural capital we said but also spiritual, as in this area there are the most beautiful and majestic monuments and temples. And it is precisely the temples or pure (from Sanskrit: walled city) the other great wonder of this island, a Hindu stronghold in a country, Indonesia, with a Muslim majority. Each village always has three pure ones, and each house always has its own home altar that protects the inhabitants of the house, to which the offerings of flowers and food are brought. Not for nothing, Bali is the Island of the Gods: 20,000 total temples, not counting private altars, the statues of Ganesh at the entrance of each building to protect the tenants. There is a wind of strong spirituality that pervades this northern part of the island, which enters your eyes and spirit without you being able to resist it, a sense of strong respect for what nature has put in for centuries and in which the beings humans had to dig their own place. In the Ubud area there are also the large rice terraces which irrigation systems (subak) are UNESCO heritage: the most important expressions are Tegallaland and Jatiluwih which are among the most important cultural landscapes in the world. The Balinese rice paddies scattered throughout the island follow the cascading topography of the highlands and are well managed by local village cooperatives.
The spiritual places that are in a radius in a few kilometers are innumerable: to name two, the temple of Tirta Empul, with its source of sacred water in which the faithful purify themselves and the temple of Goa Gajah, carved out of the rock for more of 600 years that represents the emblem of how in Bali Buddhism and Hinduism we have always lived together peacefully and have influenced each other.
The soul of Bali is here, in the beating heart of the jungle, where time flows at the rhythm of yoga, between horns and morning roosters, between a plate of nasi goreng and a coconut open on the street and drunk on the spot, wrapped in colorful fabrics and interlacing of wood, carved in the rock and chiselled in wood, lives in the colors of the finely decorated doors and in the local smiles of this people so grateful to life.
It is therefore important to keep Ubud as a center of gravity and then set off to discover the coast and the fantastic Balinese sunsets, windows on a natural spectacle without obstacles on the horizon. The beaches to the south of the island are very long, of fine sand that creates dusty whirlpools, meeting with long and majestic waves ridden by the many surfers that crowd the island in every period of the year. The time here is punctuated by the sound of toasts of fresh beer and fruit juices, and it is possible to experience a holiday and perennial party atmosphere, where young people are the masters and where the sky is dressed in its most saturated and garish colors. An atmosphere and a worldliness perhaps a little detached from the quiet and contact with the previous nature, which tends to satisfy a modern and social aesthetic sense rather than a personal and intimate need but which certainly completes a journey to inside this corner of Indonesia.
Bali is a human and spiritual heritage that must be preserved from the tourist arrogance to which it risks succumbing, which must be subtracted from the concrete flows that start to be more consistent than the wooden trunks of the forests. As guests we owe it to this cultural and social environment that has been preserved and managed to resist the virgin to modern barbarism, where kindness and a smile are the real coins of exchange, where the materials are still vital, raw and true , where one can breathe origins, ancestral smells and experience ancient sensations that perhaps we have not (yet) completely lost.
See you soon, Balè.