AN ESSAY ON BALI,

INDONESIA

Woke up in Bali. Weather was tremendously warm, met in equal measure by the fervent passion of folks populating the town. Taxi touts who never gave up pestering every passing human opportunity, peddlers who enthusiastically solicited paying customers for temple visits and Balinese dances, bronzed bodies braving the punishing humidity to live it up on the beachfront, lovers locked in full frontal embraces while sharing bites at upscale streetside cafés. Both poor and wealthy lived largely alongside one another, sprawling mansions featuring somewhat oddly in a landscape of sub-rural green and rusting concrete. Clearly this piece of flawed heaven does not discriminate. Time to go all Indiana Jonesy, sans the inclination to kick butt.

Rustic abodes in rural Ubud including Taman Bintang Villas and The Samara © The Luxe Brigade

Ubud. A cultural smorgasbord of traditional and modernity. A harmonization of transience and permanence. Tourists pound the narrow pavements ingesting every nook and cranny of the area’s rustic civilization, while locals went about their daily routines in blissful nonchalance. Night falls and trained beggars assume their positions at various corners. Pitiful eyes of a single parent with a brood of listless, unkempt children huddled all around. Fragile hands reaching out. Shaking. A moderate drizzle of rain hits, and these rag-tag “professionals” scurry off seeking shelter.

Next morning, the sun hung gloriously in the sky. Navigated a few meandering forgotten pathways in the marketplace’s heart, climbed an obscure slope accessible only by scooter and foot. A landscape dotted by an astounding network of padi-fields and scenic cluster of villas begs to be admired. Amazingly fresh air and a pristine sense of tranquillity nourishes the stressed urbanite’s soul.

An exploration of padi-fields and adjoining areas © The Luxe Brigade

Conversed with one of the villas owners at length. Paul, a Canadian who worked for a long period in Hong Kong, decided to uproot and retire in a serene setting. Bought a piece of land here, began constructing his dream property. After 5 years of toiling daily with 90 plus other hired hands, the whole project was finally completed. Spent 48 hours as his guests - marvelous lodging, impeccable service, exquisite food. Luxe Villas is the name.

Legian. A bustling hive of trade especially along the Sunset Road strip. Restaurants, spas, offices, hotels and massage parlours existing between occasional barren plots and decayed structures sprayed with brilliant graffiti. Grand temples also spotted in the unlikeliest of locations. Engage and be engaged. Make new friends. Go with the flow and be pleasantly surprised. Joined the crowds at Blue Ocean beach on another late afternoon. A surfers’ paradise through and through. Did a bout of suntanning whilst watching them boys kick a ball in the sand. State of mind transitioned to a soothing texture of peaceful.

Busy, happy town of Legian © The Luxe Brigade

Seminyak. Infinitely long beaches complemented by scorching temperatures welcomed by every member of the sunshine worshipping hipster community. In fact, this is party central literally. One famous brand says it all: Ku De Ta. Funky music curated by esteemed DJs blaring through amplifiers? Check. Stretches of bars and sexy pools to strut that toned torso around? Check. That lovin’ feeling is strong in the air. Make love, be loved. You only live once.

Endless convenience stores and chic eateries line roads packed with chaotic patterns of traffic thriving on near lawlessness. Witnessed a spectacular confluence of jaywalking, ceaseless sounding of honks anywhere and everywhere, school-going children driving scooters as well as cars weaving in and out of tight corners on unmarked lanes.

Shoppers' paradise @ Seminyak © The Luxe Brigade

Ducked into Seminyak Square and the adjacent Seminyak Village when the heat became too much to bear at times. Surprised by the varied genre of stores in both posh shopping malls, unwittingly blew the holiday budget in a few rash purchases.

And then came the moment to depart from this supremely wondrous holiday destination. Reality is a bitch. Hello once again Monday blues.

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