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Published: June 25th 2017
My husband and I are often asked by friends at home "What is the favorite place that we have travelled to?" It is a question for which we have only one response: "There is no one special place; every place we have travelled to, particularly in Southeast Asia, has offered something unique, something interesting, something memorable." We frequently return to this question in conversation, and have yet to find an answer, always responding instead with our own question "How do you explain this to someone who has never been here?" This has, in fact, become somewhat of a daily meditation that presents itself every time we are gazing upon, or experiencing, another small miracle or more evidence of the beauty that surrounds us. So, even though it is inexplicable, I will attempt to offer a few recent insights into the magic of Bali, Indonesia, a place on this planet commonly referred to as "the island of the Gods", that we have been most drawn to in our lifetime of travels and has become our "home away from home" over the past five years.
These are some of our daily "meditations":
1. Waking up every day and pondering the beauty of the coconut forest canopy against a background of rice paddies which we have watched evolve from vibrant green, to harvest yellow, to summerfallow brown, to the current pre-planting stage of flooded fields which have turned the paddies to small lakes - temporary homes for the domestic ducks who provide us with entertainment throughout the day.
2. Waking up every day to enjoy our coffee to the cooing of the morning doves on our front lawn.
3. Experiencing the warmth, humour, and numerous kindnesses offered by the gentle Balinese people, throughout each and every day, in all the little things they do for us, displaying monumental patience always.
4. Experiencing insights into this very special, sacred culture through learning the language: discovering a language which does not, for example, have a word for "expectation", "homelessness" or "road rage"; a language in which the name for the sun translates literally to "the eye of the day", and to build something is literally "to wake up the earth".
5. Witnessing first hand a culture which practices daily gestures of gratitude to the gods in the form of home made offerings of fruits and seeds, delivered to the universe with fragrant incense; in which the entire province known as Bali shuts down entirely for a day of silence once every year (including closing its international airport and all roads) to encourage reflection upon gratitude and forgiveness; and celebrates the concept of balance.
6. Witnessing the small delights of a family of five out for a ride on one motor scooter; the happy chatter of women side by side, each side straddling on the back of a motor scooter, or the joyful singing of another biker as he passes by you on your scooter; or turning a corner and witnessing a procession of women in colourful ceremonial garb, each elegantly and effortlessly carrying a huge basket of fruit on their head for offering; or turning another corner and witnessing four or five huge five ton trucks, the boxes filled with villagers all in dressed in ceremonial white as entire villages travel to a beach for a ceremony.
7. Enjoying the wind, the sun, or the warm rain on your face while biking through the beautiful countryside, collecting the ever present smiles freely offered by the Balinese along the way.
8. Enjoying the sounds of the night, the cacaphony of frogs, crickets, geckoes, tiny lizards, and of course the ever present, usually out of tune, early morning screeching of our neighbouring roosters, set against the calmness of a warm night or a brilliant full moon.
9. Learning new ways to look at the world through these little things, these daily miracles.
10. Appreciating this beautiful world, and all the opportunities we have had to live this life. Wherever we travel here, we are constantly "here now" - in the present moment. We are surrounded by so much life, so much vibrancy. There are unexpected delights arising constantly. These are only a few of our daily meditations, only a few of the snapshots, offered in an attempt to explain why we simply cannot answer the question "What is your favorite place you have ever travelled to?" as several of these snapshots - and so many more - have been experienced in many of our travel destinations. These are just our most recent recollections. But all of our travel experiences can be summarized best in perhaps these words: waking up, experiencing, witnessing, enjoying, learning, and appreciating.
Although it is true that some days travel can be exhausting, difficult, and very challenging, it is still all good. Even the part about loosing my camera a few weeks ago. It reminded me, first of all, of how to be more careful looking after my personal belongings, but far more importantly, how to let go when something happens that I do not like. It was, after all, only a camera. The real travel experiences, the real pictures, are seared in consciousness, awareness, and gratitude - being in the present moment - waking up, experiencing, witnessing, enjoying, learning, and appreciating. Therein lie the real reasons why we travel, why we continue to chase our dreams.
Thank you for your interest in our adventures.
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