I wake up as the sun does. It breaks through the horizon – a beautiful mess of burnt orange and pink tones dance in my vision.
The shadow of a distant volcano pierces through the sky, proud and mysterious. An Indonesian chant softly plays while crickets chime in, harmoniously.
The air is fresh but I sit comfortably in my shorts and lousy top. My legs are perched up – knees close to my chest. I just sit here and watch the sky do her thing, cradling my hot coffee between my palms.
“Good morning,” my friend says, popping her head out of our door. We exchange stories of interesting dreams from the night and get ready to head to our favourite local café, just down the road.
Weaving our way through side streets to the main road, Jalan Pantai Berawa, I feel refreshed, as the gentle morning sun beams down on my skin. “I still can’t believe how warm it is in the morning here,” I say. I’ve always loved that about Asian countries – the warm mornings and balmy nights.
We walk down this street every morning. A fluffy black dog runs past me, as a Balinese man sits cross-legged on the pavement, with a few friends. He says hello and his posse all join in, like one big inside joke.
A young Indonesian boy, maybe 13 years old, rides his bicycle past us – with his friend trailing behind, trying to race him. An old man drives past on a black scooter, balancing a three-metre bamboo stick with his left hand. His ingenuity makes me giggle.
We wave at an Aussie guy we met the night before cruises by on his scooter – his long sandy coloured hair tossing in the wind, and his surfboard strapped on the side. In Canggu, two worlds mix.
Sidewalks are coloured by morning offerings and fallen frangipanis. The incense enters my nostrils and calms my body and mind, almost instantly. For the Balinese, this tradition is how they start their day. They give back what’s been given to them by the Gods. It’s a sharing based upon gratitude to the richness of life.
Deep, dark green rice fields surround us, as we follow the thin paved street a little further. We reach Cinta Café, our morning ritual. Hardly two feet in the door and we’re greeted by Kadek, our new friend. We’ve been here that many times now, we’re locals.
Kadek welcomes us with an infectious smile. The kind of smile that you can see on your entire face. The lines around his eyes crease. He extends out his right hand to shake ours. He plants a kiss on each of my cheeks. “It’s how friends welcome friends”, he tells us.
Wandering over to our regular table, playfully saying to each other they should reserve it for us. We sit here for hours. I don’t even know what the time is, until my stomach starts to tell me it’s lunchtime.
“You should visit my hometown, up in north east Bali,” Kadek shares as we’re walking out. He sits down, pulls out a pen from his pocket and grabs an order book. Turning it over to a blank page, he writes down a list of places for us to see.
“Waterfalls, people riding bicycles, volcanos… you have to see it,” he says. We thank him, and tell him we’ll be back tomorrow.
Walking back down the main street, back to our home, I’m lost in thought. Here in Bali, money isn’t a measure of happiness. And neither is time. There’s no race. No pressure. No rushing. Time just seems to slow down here. You get so much more, for less. Everyone seems to be a teacher – with a lesson to teach, a story to tell. I’m learning to live outdoors again.
I watch a man hunched over, working hard spraying his rice fields. He’s wearing no shoes. Sensing me, he looks up and smiles. In the distance, there’s a big concrete wall, with “choose life” marked in baby blue and black graffiti.
And I think to myself, this is exactly what they’ve done. They’ve chosen life. Being here, it’s challenged me to live minimally. The TVs. The phones. The expensive cars. We just don’t need it. Here, a luxury is having an air conditioner.
Battling the heat, we walk past a little shop that’s attached to a home. Exchanging 10,000 rupiah ($1) for 2 big bottles of water, I can feel the lady is thankful for our business. This is how they make their money.
They don’t make much, but they live within their means. They keep things simple. And I think that’s what makes Bali so special. There’s a lot we can learn from the way they live here.
Every day is a blessing – celebrate it. Always be friendly. Acknowledge people. Live in today.
My eyes are drawn up to the blue sky. I see a kite fly. Kites are everywhere in Bali. There’s something symbolic about them. I think kites are a representation of how we choose to live our lives – flying safely, or free at liberty with the wind.
Every time I see a kite now, I’ll be reminded to let go of that string.