The discounted airfare was a carrot being dangled much too close. Exotic Bali beckoned; could anybody resist?
So it was that we – 10 friends, similarly resistance-challenged, and I – found ourselves walking off a plane at Denpasar one sultry equatorial afternoon. I was south of the equator for the first time in my life and, in one of those weird moments that catch you unawares, I found myself back in Miss Subramanian's physics class in school, making a mental note "to check that out at the first opportunity". Obviously, there is nothing wrong with my long-term memory; that was a good 40 years ago!
But Ubud awaited, an hour- and a-half away via a road that meandered inland through a landscape almost unbelievably verdant. Trees, shrubs, bushes, creepers, climbers, arboreals, ferns, mosses... every imaginable shade of green; flowers almost luminescent under the midday sun soothed the computer weary, pollution-tainted city eyes.
Located amid the undulating central foothills, the town is one of Bali's primary arts and crafts centres. Row upon row of sheds crammed with the most beautiful sculptures and driftwood begged a closer look, the most amazing batik fabric hung in shop windows, finely crafted silver and gold jewelry tempted. But beyond that, the aesthetic sensibility of the people was visible in countless little details: even nondescript little side lanes revealed so much of beauty and whimsical humour.
From there, on to the pristine, manicured resort perfection of Nusa Dua. But the natural in Bali cannot be contained. The exuberance of nature shone through – in the jostling water lilies in a carefully maintained pond, the radiance of sunrise on the sea and sand, the roar of the surf as it washed the coast...
And for those of you wondering what Miss Subramanian's physics class had to do with anything: water does flow down the drain anticlockwise in the southern hemisphere. I checked.