The good, bad, ugly and the island Gods
As I step out of the plane at 9.00am Bali Time, December 31st 2005, I realize something good... maybe even something great about this place. The Bali sun embraces you with the warmth of a thousand Gods. You almost don't have to see the hundred of temples built a thousand years ago to know why this place is called the island of Gods. You just know the moment you breath the air out here. The moment you feel the sun gently touches your skin.. especially after spending a couple days in a place like Jakarta where you don't know of you are breathing O2 or CO2. A couple of days in Jakarta is enough for me. Being here, not a hundred meters from the plane, I know one hundred days may not be enough.
As I get into the car with my favorite Balinese driver, Mr. Wayan Bandem, I immediately noticed something bad is going on in Bali. It is too quiet and it is entirely too empty for being December 31st. At first I thought.. well.. It is 9 am after all. It may be too early for people to get up after being too drunk last night. But at 12.30 pm as I was on my way out to lunch with some friends, it is still the same. Empty. This is bad.
Where are all those people who usually flock the market, the stores and the main roads like Legian and Kuta. Where are these people?
In the evening, I went and had a romantic dinner with my boyfriend before meeting up with my cousins and friends later. We had dinner in an Italian restaurant called Fabio. It is a lovely restaurant with great atmosphere not to mentioned great food. Yet once more I am stunned with how empty the place was. I can literary count with my hands how many people enjoying new year's eve dinner there. This is bad.
We left the place around 11.00 to catch up with my cousins and friends to a place called Buddha Belly. The road on the way there was usually pretty dense especially this close to midnight. Well not tonite. We arrived at Buddha Belly in no time.
This place is new. It is a great place with very cool design. The reason we went there was the fact that my cousin's boyfriend was the DJ for the nite. There weren't really that many people there. It is more than enough to have a lot of fun though. And it was fun. I had a blast there. It certainly feels like we were having a small private party in a really big place.
Even though I had fun, I wish there are more people. Not necessarily for me.. but I am getting a bit concern with my brothers and sisters who live and work in Bali. I have spent new years in Bali before and I don't remember ever being this empty. I am sad to see this fact. I think this is beyond bad. It is ugly.
You see, Bali is a great place with nice, friendly people in every corner of the island. They don't deserve this.
I can't help but noticed that there weren't many people from Europe or North America the way it used to be. If you are reading this and you are from those regions of the world... I have a message for you: Screw your government's Travel Warning and come here. Get yourself a ticket and fly here where the smile of a thousand Gods awaits you. Call me simple minded, but there is no war happening here. It was an act of a few people stupid enough to ruin an entire population. Besides, haven't you heard the saying "Lighting don't strike twice in the same place"?
I am simply saying that Bali is not like any other place in the world. And if you're not here.. you are missing out. Period. These people here deserve to have their livelihood back to where it was before the stupid bombs. And you, my European and American friends, deserve to be here. A place where a thousand year old temple exists happily side by side with fast food restaurants and the first Hard Rock hotel in the world. Where pop culture meets old culture with such ease that they do actually live happily ever after.
Most people in Bali are Hindus. It is my understanding that in Hinduism there is God whose sole job is to guard specific parts of nature. Whether it is rain, or sun or life itself. I am here in Bali enjoying every minute of my time here. I pray that their Gods and my God protects this island and its people. I also pray that the same Gods opens the eyes of the world that Bali is still one of a kind in the world and everyone should be here. At least once in their life. Trust me.
Happy New Year 2006!