2021…….

And just like that, we are into the second week of this brand-new year.  I don’t follow the tradition of a resolution but there is intent ahead.

  • Making a conscious investment in myself because finally, I realise I am worth it.
  • Endeavoring to do more of what I love.
  • To not walk the long path I have often felt obligated to walk.
  • Allowing that space inside me to accommodate more simplicity and joy, and
  • The continued transformation of my garden and this house into my home…..no pressure 😊

Captured in photos, I have just skimmed through the last 12 months.  It was at times, a sweet look back.  The cats, the ocean, local travel opportunities (those posts to come) and my garden.  Ordinary days made good.

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I can’t complain of 2020.  I sincerely cannot complain when so many suffered such tragedy yet perhaps for many, that year also marked a return to home.  In a year filled with sorrow, such uncertainty, lockdowns and isolation, the need for home and family and loved ones was recognised and for me, there was also a greater appreciation of the small things.

I am grateful for Thomas and George who arrived so skittish and fearful but who now are settled.  Sweet, happy, gentle and very much at home and for me, finding home in their very gentle presence. Thankful as always for little Zoe.  For a simple yet beautiful old book which arrived in the post, a blue banded bee on a sage flower, the washed denim blue of the sky, a roof over my head and home-grown food on the table, a fledgling kestrel and snow bird and good people. Small yet significant things.

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Over the past few years my sadness has been vast and deep and there is nothing which can prevent you from feeling lost but life marches on with or without your consent or attendance.  You soon realise though, there is much good out there and even better reasons to move forward.

It is no secret that when I first returned to South Australia I initially found in my come back, a difficulty.  I was leaving behind much which I loved in Newcastle, and I was embarking on the unknown.  And trust me, returning somewhere whence you have been is never easy (#USA2015!!).

The house and yard were both an absolute mess.  An overwhelming chaotic muddle which stole my time, my energy, my patience and at times my sanity.  Some days, I seriously reached my quota!

I very often tend to take far too much on.  There are clearly no margins to this life and when driven by perfectionism, I forget to be kind to myself which in turn leaves me exhausted and shattered.  Yet over time, I have come to slowly love this place again.  I am starting to like the way it is turning out with the investment over the past few months of a new roof, full solar power and a reverse cycle air conditioner to replace the old swampy.

Rusted gutters along with 22 tonne of old brittle and broken terracotta tiles were removed and the house sighed with relief.  New steel beams replaced dry rotten wood, a dark colourbond tin roof chosen for a more elegant and contemporary look, the eaves and chimney painted.  No more leaks.  It looks amazing.  Best investment ever!

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I adore the garden and yard now too, especially my veggie patch.  That ever evolving and growing space called ‘Zoe’s Patch’ after my little gardening companion and where I spend my quiet time has come so far.  As soon as Zoe hears the rattle of my keys in the back door she is at my feet.  The patch is fully enclosed and Zo loves to head out there to either sit on the sugar cane mulch or amongst the plants or perch herself upon one of the compost bins.

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How it looked when I first arrived back……

And in the post came the most beautiful of surprises.  My mothers cherished book.  She and I share a love of books and many of her old childhood books display the evidence of her relationships with them. Well read and much loved, spines rebound, yellowed scotch tape and dog-eared pages and small notes.  I could not love this dear little book more.

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This year is about developing roots yet still having the ability to fly.  It is about being a warrior for and a peacemaker with the past.  It is of simplicity and mindful resilience.  Hugs without restrictions or supervision and all the little things in between.  Nothing is out of reach……….x

Happy New Year…….please stay the f**k home!

It is almost a brand new year and as 2021 stands trembling in the wings, we will be at home indulging in an Old Fashioned…… or three.

This is a lovely cocktail. Not overly-complicated nor pretentious, yet graceful enough to celebrate with.

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Nothing this year has been normal and the ending of 2020 will be no different. No tomfoolery, no hugging, no pash and dash (unless you get a contact number), no travel, no big crowds and no fire works. That’s just how it is so stay the f**k home.

Being apart does not mean we are not connected.  We will always find ways to stay connected.  Always.   We have all had our wings clipped, we have all grieved someone or something and we have all had bad days yet the weight of our grief is made more bearable in the recognition that although we have had empty bowls in front of us, we have also had the opportunity to fill them.

For me, the past few months and the past decade have been a gift regardless of what they served up. And holy cats that decade served up some shit! But for those who boldly and courageously show up despite all that has happened, you are rewarded. You do come back to life, the unbearable ache slowly eases, you begin to try again and you survive.  Things will come to you and they will come when they are good and ready.  It is all just a matter of patience and time. Just bide your time.

So as the curtain drops on the spectacularly weird and at times frightening and uncertain 2020, I send out much love, hope and optimism for 2021. Surround yourself with good people. People who are good and who are good for your soul. These are the ones who deserve a seat at your table. Be kind, courageous and gracious.  Be empathic and stand up when others tell you sit down.  Be proud and do the things which make your heart explode with joy and walk away from those and that which destroys your happiness. Most of all, please stay the fuck home…… 🙂 x

More than just a bank…….

I drove off the Augusta Highway, over the rusted rail lines then turned right into the wide main street.  Subjectively, I could have been in any wheat belt town in any part of South Australia but I wasn’t.  I was in Snowtown.

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With its dark, macabre past set against the lightness of a town with snow in its name, this place will be forever remembered for the bleak, horrific and frightening ‘bodies in the barrels’  murders where eight dismembered bodies were discovered in acid filled barrels in the abandoned bank vault in the town.  Apart from those eight, there were also more victims making this Australia’s worst serial killing.

Snowtown is quiet.  Settled by the first pioneers around 1867 and surrounded by tall heads of golden wheat, sheep and overlooked by the wind farms atop Barunga and Hummocks Ranges, this unassuming town involuntarily wrote itself into the history books for all the wrong reasons.

 I walked Fourth Street, the main street of Snowtown on a warm October day without seeing another soul expect for a farmer driving through with his two red kelpie dogs yipping in the back of the old ute and a camper trailer which pulled up outside the public toilet block.

Not that long ago, due entirely to the notoriety of the murders, people flocked to this small country town swelling its population but those days seem to have gone.  Occasionally, a tourist drops by to photograph a building then they leave as quickly as they arrived.

No doubt this town will forever be stigmatised by those monstrous events but Snowtown is so much more.

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There is the colourfully painted water tower – part of the Silo Art Trail, old buildings, ‘The Big Blade’, charming churches, a weekend community market and a beautiful rose garden where I spent much of my time.

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I had been to Snowtown prior to this trip.  Back then I came to see the bank given my fascination with true Australian crime.  This time however, it was a trip to a simple place of stoic residents and community resilience.  It was the Silo Art Trail, the sweet smell of damask and drying wheat, working dogs and utes.  Most of all though, it was a reminder of gentle snowfall in a place which will never see a snowflake and that big peaceful quiet only a small country town can offer.

You cannot change or deny the past, especially a past so unavoidably real, but like Snowtown, you can manage to live with it…..

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Good morning sunshine….

 

Catching up….

And just like that, spring has gone and in its place the season of bleached skies and scorched earth.  On the last day of spring, Sunday, the aerial water bombers flew low continual circuits over our home as the sirens of CFS trucks wailed.  To the west and just beyond my neighbours natural boundary of grey mallee, stringybarks and pines, verdant towering sentinels planted by the early settlers in the 1800’s, the smoke plumed.  This gives your stomach cause to lurch as I had not, but an hour earlier been outside preparing for this seasons bushfires.

Too soon I thought.  Too soon!  I stood on the deck and watched the planes, so low overhead I could clearly see the pilots.  I raised my hand and waved.  The pilot gave a nod and I knew from that one small gesture everything would be okay.

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Of late, I wake each morning to a day of brilliant sunshine and these days often end with an unseasonable thunderstorm.   They remind of my years of living in Queensland where almost every afternoon, the humid sultry summer days of bare feet, chocolate paddle pops and mangoes gave way to an afternoon storm.   A lone storm bird would signal the tempests impending arrival as the big clouds gathered low and bruising.  They would suddenly burst with so much rain the gutters could do little to hold it.  Fat green tree frogs croaked in the down pipes, steam would rise up from the roads and the air smelt sweet and clean.    

During the last big thunderstorm here in SA, the lovely old Grevillea, planted well before we purchased this home was lost. With sadness I watched its heavy flower laden branches split and drop but in its death keel, I appreciated the shade and the joy this gnarly old tree had offered families of tiny New Holland Honeyeaters, pollinators and myself.   

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It has been a busy time with so much afoot but as summer breaks, I will endeavor to get my shitzen together to catch this blog up 🙂  There are road trips and rich offerings to write of.  The chasing of rainbows, a snowbird, sunrises in silent gratitude, the gift of isolation and a garden update to come.

Until then, take care.  Be strong, be kind, be good to yourself and be good to all others……. x

Footnote:  CFS – Country Fire Service.  A wonderful volunteer based fire fighting service in Australia.

 

It’s only one straw…………said 9 million people!!

Plastic pollution Bali…..

12.7 million tonnes of plastic waste ends up in our oceans every year.

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It is a frightening statistic, but even more frightening, is the fact that one million seabirds and just over 100,000  marine animals including whales, turtles, dolphins and sea lions die each year from plastic pollution and that statistic is steadily climbing.

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Something heartbreakingly difficult to witness yet which is a common sight in Bali, is to see the beaches and surrounding oceans littered with plastics.

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Lazy grubby tourists are some of the worst offenders yet without a plan or the infrastructure in place to deal with this ever growing problem, Bali and its very fragile ecosystem will suffocate under plastic waste.

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Drowning under plastic waste!  We should be so ashamed……

Paradise is being lost under a mountain of rubbish with single use plastics – the most used yet least recycled product on the planet – the biggest contributor.

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It is a sad fact but nearly all of the ‘not so fantastic plastic’ ever created still exists today in some form or another even though some of it was produced almost 70 years ago.

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I hate to preach but I love my oceans and my planet and both are under extreme pressure and totally dependent on us to cut down on our use of plastics.  

There are hundreds of ways to start, some extreme and some not so extreme, but taking even the smallest of steps will lead to a cleaner environment.  Things as simple as:

  • Refusing a plastic straw.
  • Refusing single use plastic bags and utilising reusable bags.
  • Making compost – great for your garden and it reduces landfill. 
  • Avoiding extra plastic packaging on fruit and vegetables and take your own bags for bulk items.
  • Purchasing a reusable water bottle and keep-cup.
  • Sorting your recyclables into glass/plastic/metal/paper.
  • And my absolute favourite……buying and donating pre-loved clothing. 

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Australians alone use 1 billion disposable coffee cups per year with around 2,700,000 paper cups being thrown out every day…..

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You can also be a kinder and more responsible traveller:    

  • DON’T LITTER…….anywhere on the earth!
  • Take your keep-cup and reusable water bottle, your eco-friendly or reusable stainless straw, your bamboo or stainless spork.  They take up little to no room in your luggage.
  • Take reusable bags.
  • Reduce your waste by simply refusing the tiny toiletries in hotel rooms – always take your own.

The state of the planet is our fault entirely and although at times the scale of the challenges our planet and oceans face seem overwhelming and distressing, I truly believe we can all make a difference.   

The oceans and planet don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste to perfection and shaming everyone else.  What they need is 9 million people doing their imperfect best in recycling and cutting down on their use of plastics. 

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Protecting our oceans and planet is everyone’s responsibility. 

  • Be educated and informed.
  • Be political but use your voice constructively.
  • Volunteer for your planet through your local community – clean up days, growing native trees, regenerating bush land and sand dunes, becoming part of a food rescue charity and……
  • refuse that single use plastic straw.

The planet and our oceans will thank you 🙂 

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‘Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  Its not’  –  The Lorax, Dr Seuss.

Footnote – photos of plastic pollution taken at Jimbaran, Kuta and Seminyak in Bali 2020.

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Since drafting this post, South Australia has once again made history by becoming the first state in Australia to ban single use plastics.

Now I love this very progressive and beautiful state and I am so proud (and privileged) to call South Australia home.  SA has always led the way with a proactive approach to introducing laws to protect the environment.  It was the first state in the nation to establish ‘the container deposit scheme’ way back in 1977 and it is also the state which banned the use of plastic bags as far back as 2009.

 

Postcards from Bali…….

Bali Part II – following up from the first Bali post dated May 16, 2020.

Unless I was in togs and a rashie, the order for my days in Bali were shorts paired with vintage embroidered tops and cotton tees, a pony tail and sandals.  If visiting a temple or just taking a walk through the streets of a local village I respectfully donned loose linen trousers and a long sleeved shirt but apart from that, I pretty much lived in my togs.

Some places I visited were dirty, noisy and chaotic.  Others, serene and quiet.  My skin darkened under the hot gold Indonesian sun and the days, like any good day, passed far too quickly.

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Socially distant……….before there was such a thing

My Bali days were spent diving amongst brilliant coral shelves, awaiting the appearance of the elusive and gentle manta rays – they did not come, seeking a perfectly beautiful wave, island hopping and feeling the strong ocean currents pull at my body.  In moments such as these, I cling to a peace I could never shatter.  The ocean, without fail, continually renders me present and it allows me to discover tiny corners of my heart I do not know to exist.

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Every morning, I watched the same sun rising over the same part of the ocean but always under a very different sky.  Early mornings filled with colours not expected are so good for the soul.

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I rode in vessels at best not sea worthy.  On a day where the sky continually darkened, straining toward storms, the dive boat was swamped by huge ocean waves.  As the increasing swell crashed against the hull, the floor panels began to separate allowing the sea water to flood in and swirl about my ankles.  Nothing however, could have dampened my spirit for more adventure.

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I often walked to temples and through markets.  I watched as small lean squirrels stole offerings left by local worshippers, butterflies beat their wings against the heavy air and I people watched.

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Other days I gave myself permission to just be.  It is a rare thing for me to  relax and relax without guilt.  I read and beachcombed, I wrote a little, found joy in the mundane and drank beer on the beach when water no longer cut it.

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Eat Bali – Ostentatious food and the equally annoying self professed ‘foodies’ do little for me.  Give me the smell of char grilling satays, sambal frying in a hot wok, the rich cloying smell of dried shrimp, the damp scent of steaming rice and the sweet aroma of bananas frying in batter any day.  Places to eat where tiny cats mew around your legs and hawker markets where locals gather perched on low plastic stools.  No pretense, nothing perfectly styled, non-touristy and no fancy photos.

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This is the face of someone in their happy place.  Please note, it is also the face toddlers make when they fart 🙂

I tend to eat much more fruit when in Asian or Indonesian regions.  Mangosteens, snake fruit, jambu air (rose apples) and boni are readily available and great favourites of mine.

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Drink Bali – An ice cold Bintang is a sure fire way to beat the heat in Bali.  Meaning ‘star’ in Indonesian, this pale refreshing lager is available everywhere on the island.

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Meeting up for cocktails – tick.  Tea tasting – tick.  Kopi Selem – tick, tick, tickety tick.

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Stay Bali – We stayed at the Sofitel in Nusa Dua for this Bali visit.  With its blend of French sophistication and elegant Balinese culture, dedicated and friendly staff, lush gardens and a clean private and quiet beach bordering the Indian Ocean, this is a beautiful and luxurious place to stay.  Definitely 5 star without the conceited price tag.  I highly recommend a stay.

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I’m not a pool person but if I was……..

It was lovely to return to Bali after so many years.  Much has changed however there are some things which will always remain eternally Bali.  Those dramatic and dominating volcanoes, the petal offerings, the locals so beautifully radiant and generous, a spirituality and culture which is unsurpassed and that surrounding wild and unpredictable ocean.

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There is much to love and some small things to loath but that is and always will be Bali…….x

Footnote: 

Togs – swimwear/swimmers  Rashie – rash shirt: a shirt worn by suffers to protect against sunburn/heat rash etc.

Kopi Selem – Indonesian style coffee of course coffee grounds boiled with solid sugar.  Very similar to my adored Turkish coffee. YUM 🙂

The need for the invention of an alarm clock called ‘A Rude Awakening’ and Story Time……..

My favorite Aunty died last Thursday.  There were an awful lot of 'Aunties and Uncles' where I came from in Queensland.  It is a term of respect and endearment used for an elder whether you be related to them by blood or not.  Some I have loved dearly and some have barely received a second thought.  I had been thinking of her the day before she died.  I thought of her often.  I had a trip to Queensland planned during June (de-railed by Covid 19) and I had arranged to spend time with her.  She turned 93 in April and she was still bright and JOYful and beautiful.  Beautiful in the way some who age with spirit and grace are.  I have felt intense sadness in her passing and the aftermath of that sadness lingers. 

Some profess the passing of time to be the greatest of healers and that eventually, some form of closure will come but I really don't follow that line.  I believe death just as grief (and grief shows itself in many ways) is never finite and nor do we ever fully recover from it.  It stays on with us simply because we adjust our lives to slowly become accustom to bearing its weight.  

I know people have said she had a good life but that is not entirely true.  Just because your life is long, that does not equate to it being good. She had a bloody harsh life yet she of all people deserved so very much more.  Her husband was a violent, snake mean drunk.  One night, after many years of abuse, he beat her so badly she was barely able to flee.  She did however, manage to put a few good miles on foot between her and her abuser.  Unable to go any further, she collapsed and hid in a patch of pumpkins.     

So badly beaten, the farmer who owned the patch did not realise she was human, let alone a small woman when he found her huddled there the next morning.  And so good and kind was this man, he refused to let her return to her home.  Instead, she lived on at the farm with her remaining children in possibly the greatest happiness and gentleness she had ever known with this dear man and his equally dear brother right up until their deaths. 

This happened in the 70's.  A time when domestic violence was a more neglected, silent and hidden pandemic.  We would go to the farm for holidays and often on long weekends.  I remember the farm house was a big old Queenslander sitting on thick wood poles.  It was white and it always looked as though it needed a coat of paint but it was a home and it felt really, really good to be there.  

In the middle of the kitchen, which always smelt of sunlight soap and lamb fat, was a huge scrubbed wood table.  A big enamel tea pot and china cups and saucers permanently placed there in its centre.  From the wood beams underneath the house, small calico bags filled with a wad of what I do not know and the colour of deep violet hung.  These small magical bags somehow eased the sting and itch on our feet and legs from the wild stinging nettles which grew in lush profusion around the farm. 

My Aunts husband had taken to living in a small shed of sorts made of corrugated iron.  We would pass by it to go to the river and my eldest cousin would always make us stop there.  She would go in and clean up, make him tea and oftentimes leave food.  We would always wait outside, probably whining and impatiently shifting from foot to foot because all we, my other two cousins and my elder sister wanted to do during summer was to get to the river.

I went inside only once.  It was dark but there were tiny beams of light coming through from the rust holes in the tin.  I remember the floor was dirt and the place smelt of stale piss and that the sheets on the metal bed were stained a light amber.  I could never understand why she swept the floor just as I could not back then, understand why she wanted to care for him.  When I last saw him he was sitting on a chair in the mottled dark, his head in his hand while hawking up phlegm. After a while he looked up at me and I saw that the  whites of his eyes had yellowed.  I think he died not long after.

When 'the boys', as they were affectionately known sadly died, my Aunty moved to a little low-set weatherboard house on the outskirts of the town. Surrounded by scrubby bush, she lived there with her beloved fox terrier named Lady.  She always had a black and white foxie.  The house was located along the road from a place called Goodluck Farm.  My Nan had pointed out the direction of the farm many times as this was the place she and her only beloved brother and another sister were sent to live and work when they were very, very young.  

When Nana had too much to drink, which was often, she would sometimes speak of Goodluck and of the events that happened there.  On one occasion, my beautiful Great Uncle was bullwhipped by the owner of the farm and my Nana and her sister witnessed the horror of it all.  Huddled together crying they tore up rags to make bandages for him.  Once I said that my Great Grandmother must have been a terrible person to have sent them away especially when they were so young but my Nan defended her saying her mother was a wonderful woman and she had loved her children very much.  My Aunty also dearly loved my Great Grandmother.

When my Aunty moved out of town, and although she was deeply loved and respected by most in the town, a hateful and vindictive gossip of her previous 'living arrangements' followed her.  And I think we all know it only takes one but usually two miserable and very nasty calumniators to destroy another!  

I haven't been on my laptop for a good while and by 'a good while', I mean since my last post about Bali well over a month ago.  I've just been a bit overwhelmed by things.  Things which are designed to wound which you have no control over and nor are you able to change.  Matters such as these will often consume me and sit like a stone weight upon my chest.  Injustice, inequality, racism, animal cruelty, bullying and that ill perceived belief of entitlement and privilege some have which is bred through sheer stupidity and ignorance. But hate speech fuelled by malicious gossip, well that one always has me buggered.  

For some reason, the voice of maligned hate has the ability to travel far too well.  Over land and sea from one big mouth to bigger ears and from there, more mouths to ears and so on and so on. With each discreditable telling, gossipy hate speech gathers speed as fast as a fart all while growing with poisonous ferocity.

As our world folds in upon itself, I cannot help but wonder why some do not have the mindfulness to be kinder.  Why compassion, tolerance and basic human decency is always such a hard fought commodity. 

In spite of all this, or perhaps simply because of it, I remain eternally optimistic that the alarm bells, which should ring so shrilly to some, will finally awake them from their blissfully ignorant slumber. 

I have been thinking a lot lately.  Thinking of those no longer with me, of those still living who I care about and miss because I have lost touch and thinking of so very much of that which has come to pass.  It's okay to say you are not okay. It's okay to say you are hurting and it is perfectly okay to be solitary when hermited by grief just as it is okay not to bake homemade sourdough.  To love someone be they human or animal and to pick your battles well is one of the small joys of humanity and for the moment, that may well be enough.  

Story Time.......

Once, there was a small hateful group.  So unhappy and unfulfilled with their lives they did nothing but complain, cause trouble, criticise and gossip.   They found no happiness and no beauty in the world and they lived their lives in a thankless and ungrateful manner.  One day, the group received the gift of a beautiful horse.  This horse was the most magnificent animal ever imaginable but the women complained and complained and complained of the gift. 

Another woman, ostracised by the group but who lived by believing in kindness, grace and optimism received the gift of horse shit!  There was enough horse shit to fill a football field twice over.  But instead of whinging and complaining this woman grabbed herself a shovel and she began to dig.  She dug and dug and dug.  She dug because she knew beneath all that horse shit there had to be a beautiful majestic horse in there somewhere......x

Bali Ha’i may call you. Any night, any day. In your heart, you’ll hear it call you “come away, come away”…….

Bali was heat, tropical forests, lotus flowers and the most expensive coffee on earth.  It was eating Bebek Bengil, char-smoked satays and Mangosteens with skins coloured a  deep royal purple.  It was dive boat rides, every shade of green imaginable, volcanoes, muddy roads, offerings and gods.

There were days where my hair knotted and curled with salt because I didn’t leave the ocean from sun up to sun set.  On these days, I just let things go.  Things which can suffocate or fell your soul slowly begin their unfurling in the way they should when you give way to it.  Late afternoons were made for uncomplicated cocktails and watching thunderheads build then explode leaving rain puddles big enough to swim in.

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When out on my wanderings, I photographed temples and tiny street cats.  There are always cats to be photographed.  I visited markets, labyrinths of small shop spaces crammed into dark narrow lane-ways, all strangely quiet.  Most of the goods were out-dated and dust covered.  On one occasion, I came away with a kite and two beautiful hand-printed batik sarongs.  Another day, natural soaps scented with fragrant champaka.

I walked along the beaches of Nusa Dua, finding shells and tiny pieces of broken coral and watched local fishermen cast their nets.  All of these days were good and they were enough.  They were more than enough. They were everything………

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Not everything I experienced in Bali was of beauty.  Kuta for example, Bali’s most notorious hotspot, will eat you alive if you let it.  It is not a pretty place but it is by no means dull with its noise, grime and endless strips of cheap bars and nightclubs.  Kuta’s often congested streets are filled with a frenetic joyless tide of aggressive hawkers, touts and the ‘very ugly tourist’. Here it seems, the gentle Balinese culture barely hangs on by a thread.

We headed to Kuta one afternoon.  My husband had wanted to return to see how much change there was in the absence of 26 years.  He also likes Kuta where I do not but it is a fascinating place to ‘people watch’.  While there, a young backpacking Brit said to me ‘man, Kuta has the best beach ever‘ (huge emphasis on ever).  He was drunk or stoned or possibly both.  I fear he was living the last gasp of all that had been promised him by his travel agent for this is Kuta Surf Beach…….

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2020 and people still boast this is the best beach in Bali!  What despicable things as humans we have done to this planet!

We had beers at a bar on Legian Street.  Weary from the constant harassment of touts, I happily watched a fearless mouse expertly navigate his way around the bar before I took a walk across the road to the Bali Memorial.

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This deeply moving site, an intricately carved stone monument, is built on the site of the destroyed Paddy’s Pub and is across from the site where the once famous Sari Club sat.  In 2002, terrorists detonated three bombs in the heart of Kuta killing 202 people, including 88 Australians, with a further 209 people being seriously injured.

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This very graceful memorial site, with its huge marble plaque bearing the names and nationalities of those killed and its delicate water feature, is clean and well maintained.  Flood-lit at night, I found it to be a simple yet beautiful dedication.

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Kuta is what it is and that will never change.  It slowly recovered from the bombings not wiser but definitely a little stronger so I cannot help but wonder where it is headed.  No doubt it has a sense of belonging which is significant and necessary to the economy of Bali, suffering so badly in this pandemic, and it certainly would not be the place it is had it not lived the very big and colourful life it has……..

 

Blog title:  Lyrics from Bali Ha’i – South Pacific – by Rodgers and Hammerstein.

More Bali to come…….

Gratitude and The Sacred Monkey Forest…….

Before the world shut down, we travelled to Bali.  Time had flown quicker than a whisper, as we had not been back to Bali in just over 26 years!  Luckily, we spent eight days there and by grace of circumstance, we left a week or so before the pandemic took hold.

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Most of my time spent in Bali was in, on, under or near the ocean.  For the most part, it was a beautiful blue.  Blue in the way one hopes the sea will always be.

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please don’t hate me, we had a private beach……..

Almost every day was spent diving, swimming, snorkeling and beachcombing.  Being in places I could not have dreamt to be more perfect and eating the local food……. but more on that later.

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I suffer varying degrees of confidence – mostly lacking –  and find navigating some tasks more difficult than others but I have always found great certitude in the ability to go it alone.  Happy in quiet solitude, I took a few solo trips and wanderings during our time in Bali and one was to the Sacred Monkey Forest.

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We based ourselves at the southern end of the island of Bali.  At the quieter and more secluded Nusa Dua.  The Monkey Forest is located in Ubud, just over an hour and a half’s drive away.

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Ubud is a lovely destination.  Surrounded by lush green rice fields, temples, small farms and steep rocky ravines it is a place you can easily spend a day, a week or longer. Its streets and markets are gloriously colourful and it is not only home to the Monkey Forest, it is also the epicenter of arts and culture in Bali.

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Home to around 1,050 Balinese long-tailed Monkeys, this flourishing and secluded forest is protected and owned by the village of Padangtegal.

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monkey considers career as official taster……..nails it!

I am forever charmed by this dense, beautifully green space of natural forest and its endearing yet often obstreperous inhabitants.  Along with its huge moss covered statues, shrines and temples, soft foliaged plants, walking tracks and trails it is an enchanting way to while away a few hours.

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I have been to the Monkey Forest before.  The last time being 26 years ago and it was during that visit, I had an unnerving encounter with a large alpha male.   The memories of that experience remain but it certainly did not deter me from returning.

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monkey comfort food – sweet potato, bananas, corn, local tropical fruit, coconuts, leaves and flowers which are bought in by the local villagers

Although I prefer a life well lived I am, to a fault, a perfectionist.  And trust me.  I can torture myself with the fixation of that perfection and that can be especially true of photos I take.  I often want to capture a perfect moment but to the credit of these delightful rascals, so quick and lithe and cheekily charming, they do not much care for the prosaic.  They will scamper and climb and they will not sit still so although I had many blurred and fuzzy photos, I did not care a dot.  I was just happily grateful to be lost in their world.

The not so blurred…….

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Tips while you are there…….
  • Do not take any food or water bottles into the sanctuary and secure all other items
  • Respect their natural behavior – they are wild animals not pets
  • Do not attempt to feed the monkeys
  • Do not make eye contact
  • Do not attempt to touch the monkeys especially the babies – the monkeys are very protective and will attack
  • Allow yourself plenty of time
  • Wear respectful clothing
  • ENJOY!!
  • ENJOY!!!

I loved revisiting the sanctuary which is open daily from 8:30am till 6pm and costs 80,000 Rupiah (Indonesian), which is equivalent to a little over $8 Australian……best investment ever!

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Truly human in my imperfections and in spite of my many flaws, I am still ever grateful.  We are all living in a world which is currently hurting and although not able to stem the flow of that hurt or end the suffering for some, the very least any of us can do is not take what we have or have experienced for granted.

No doubt we have all had moments where we have come undone, taken a brutal fall or found ourselves just trying to hang on yet somehow, even as physical distancing prevails and we await the world to return to some semblance of normality, everything still feels strangely alright……..x