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Balancing Like The Balinese #2

When the Picton Castle crew described their stories to me they all expressed a similar awe that they were able to find peace in the midst of chaos. Kuta, for example, is absolute insanity. It is a mecca for tourists and partygoers and shopaholics and surfers. During the day the shops regurgitate their wares onto the sidewalk and crowds of people gather to find a bargain. Hawkers hawk and hustlers hustle and shoppers shop. The white noise is almost deafening. Taxi cab drivers yell “Transport” and scooters whiz by on their way to wherever they are going and shop owners entice you and fellow tourists jostle you in their search for sunglasses or a silk scarf or a DVD or a gigantic zippo lighter. As the evening sets in the bars and dance clubs begin to crank their music and the florescent lights come on and the crowds become louder and pushier. Among others, Josh found this energetic atmosphere stimulating – and it is incredibly interesting.

Yet, perhaps you desire solitude for a time. No problem. Simply step down a side alley (any side alley will do) and inevitably, Lorraine noticed, you will find yourself in another world. This world is one of peace and serenity. A world where the smells of diesel engines, burning rubber and street vendors selling kabobs or suckling pig is replaced by the smells of hibiscus and jasmine and incense honouring family ancestors. Where the only sound you hear is the sound of water trickling into a fountain at the edge of a lush garden. Perhaps you have found yourself in the courtyard of a home-stay or a cheap hotel and they have a room available. Why not stay for the night and rest up? Tomorrow is bound to be a busy day.

Once aware of this balance in Balinese culture it comes as no surprise that one can spend an afternoon as an adrenaline junkie bungee jumping and then hike to the top of a volcanic crater for a serene and sacred sunrise experience – as Dan did. Or spend the day visiting some of the most sacred shrines and temples (including the Goa Gajah and the Lake temple) in Bali (with Made Alon, the Captain’s good friend and tour guide extraordinaire) and then dance the night away at a raucous night club in Kuta – as many of the crew did. Or spend the day sipping palm and rice based cocktails in beautiful UluWatu – literally next door to the most famous of sacred temples in Bali. After all, most dualities in life overlap within and co-exist in some sort of chaotic harmony. Even the Hindu deities Shiva and Pavati have destructive and creative sides – equally honoured and respected.

*Thank you to Joani, Taia and Brad for the use of their photographs.

Dancing up a storm in Kuta
Downtown Kuta
Joani and Tiina at a temple
Megan shopping
View of UluWatu

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