Catch up time!
Wow! Such a brilliantly, synchronistic circle of life we have found ourselves in here! And though I have been experiencing an enlightening journey, full of new friends, and rekindled relationships with old ones, learning about cultures, their similarities and differences, I have not been near a computer or internet frequently and now have the seemingly, gargantuan task of writing about the last week all at once!
So here we go! =)
Batur and Beyond
Our last day in Bali before we wandered East to the magnificent mountainous island of Flores, and Russ and I opted to mission towards the nearest volcano, Mt. Batur, for another attempt to see it, hopefully without the clouds of smog. The heavens broke open and gifted us a little shower the day before, so we were covered in grins of optimism and motivation.
The motorbike ride itself had been marvelous and rather adventurous! Winding back roads, and isolated farmland for much of the journey. Exploring what we “think” are roads, but end up turning into foot-wide paved paths down steep jungle ravines, edged by treacherous cliffs. However, popping out the other side, we stumbled upon terraced rice paddies as far as the eye could see. Emerald green blades dancing to a soft warm breeze, the sound of rushing water down the irrigation ways, and the odd silhouette of a farmer doing their rounds. It was like barreling through a time machine, and finding your self suddenly imposed in someone else’s life. A life where the daylight barely meanders in passing, and the sound of rushing waterways will always move far quicker. I would say breath-taking moments, but in fact it feels as if your breath simply slows. And you feel no rush to enjoy every last molecule of oxygen in that deep, drawn-out inhale.
The volcano and its crater lake, glistening at its base, guarded by jagged peaks, is encircled by a nice little highway that reaches its arms nearly all the way around the looming peaks.
The trip itself was interesting escapade, to say the least. Our last venture to see the peaks, ended with us turning around due to the thick layer of heavy pollution and smog engulfing the mountain. It was agreed that it would fulfill our hearts a great deal more if we were to wait for a day when the peaks weren’t leaden with the dense, grey haze. This day, the sky hung high with fluffy cumulus clouds that lazily drifted far above our heads. The summits rose, unbounded by any murky fog, from the topography.
Our sights focused in on tracking down some steaming, hot springs that we might melt in. Absolutely necessary in the relatively cold alpine climate up there! But on arrival to the Kintamani Highway (that’s the one encircling the mountain) we were met with the strange vibe of a tourist town that was pretty much empty. It felt a little bit reminiscent of a zombie movie. Show up to an inhabited place and suddenly every living thing starts speedily swarming, running and shouting at you.
“EAT HERE!! EAT HERE!!! JUST LOOK THE MENU!! ........ POSTCARDS ! Please Mr! Just ONE POstCARD!.......... Stay at my hotel? Please sir? Just one night?”
Desperate pleas from a whole mountainside of people who have geared their lives around tourism, and quite possibly have left what they were doing before to cash in on the foreign visitors, but find themselves with no one to sell their wears to during the low season.
All of this has been leading me to take in some rather serious contemplation into what it is exactly I’m feeding and supporting as a “tourist” here.
This contemplation has germinated a seed of confusion in myself. As I’m not sure how to feel about where helping others have a better life ends through economy ends and when feeding greed and corruption through money begins….
Perhaps they’re the same thing, and it’s up to my own being to make the call. The bottom lone there was that I’m not sure how to feel about being a tourist right now.