Monday, July 30, 2007
Teatime by the Kokokan's rushing river. Got a deeper understanding of cultivation on our paddy trek today, particularly when I slipped and fell into sopping rice mud. Ania, who had felt harassed and unhappy during the hot afternoon, burst into laughter.
She'd been charmed by a bubble plant our guide showed us on the way to the paddies -- when you blow on it, its stem makes bubbles. He took us into a Balinese kitchen, equipped with a coconut milk churner, various crushing utensils, and an open stove.
The paddies appeared as a glorious opening out of a broad emerald valley. They glistened under the heavy sun. The channels held eels, roaches, ducks, and a pig carcass.
Every day dawns mild and bright. The climate calms. At Three Monkeys restaurant, they prepare an elaborate chai -- it takes ages to make, and comes with shaved brown sugar and honey so you can sweeten it even more.
I love the Kokokan Hotel. But when I return to Bali, it's Waka di Ume all the way.
The sweetness of Bali lies in a mix of warmth, softness, tranquility, landscape and skyscape that adds up to spiritual bliss. The soul is lighter here. It's distracted from its own weight by the profuse life of the place, the sheer number of things to notice. Bali takes hold of you, compels your attention, and produces a kind of selflessness. The island's fluid rhythms transcend you.
On the way to an elephant ride a couple of days ago (the elephants played harmonica) we encountered a cremation procession - men in black robes, women in blue with white sashes, a body held aloft on a pyre. After lengthy fussing (lotions, holy water), attendants rolled two black gas cylinders with long beige hoses under the pyre and the thing instantly flared. A small explosion broke around the corpse's head. Firecracker.