I Recommend Visiting Bali! (Before the Jet Stream Turns Its Back on America)
I left Kuta about two weeks ago—for Ubud. In the morning, I stood by the humble forebodings of some Hindu god sweating through the artifice of an altar placed in the center of an awning stretched out for infinity, I guess. I wasn't thinking about it too much.
The shuttle came. Well, a guy walked into the area where I was standing, staring at the face of god ... "Is your name Bryan?" he asked me.
Yeh. Who are you?
We rode through the side streets of Kuta, picking up other solo travelers who also were dudes riding to Ubud with only their bags and suitcases. Two of them, eventually, realized they were both from Spain. Or at least they spoke Spanish collectively enough to make me wanna put my earphones in my black holes leading to the center of the Milky Way galaxy.
The scenery was good. All green, pure, some trash too, and sculptures that were large, impending like some other force was spiritualized in the whole land. I guess it was hot, too. I liked the heat. I liked the way Bali made me sweat. It reflected my skin...
I got to Ubud, the shuttle dropping us off in the parking lot of a large shopping center ... a large, what? It was a big grocery store crawling with tourists. Dudes in dreadlocks feigning concern about the drowning Earth and all its contents leaking to and fro for the next millennia.
Heading down the street staring at my phone, I was hassled and accosted by numerous taxi drivers. Repeatedly, I said, "No." I was hot and terse because I wanted to walk, didn't want to get ripped off. A guy asked me if I wanted a ride ... I kept walking ... he rode by on a scooter ... then he went high up into the sky as it folded into tiny specs of infinitesimal dreams ... he returned, still—FUCK OFF, DUDE.
I had realized that one of the wheels on my suitcase was destroyed by the ugliness of the carpet moving underneath my feet. Sweating, mercilessly. I cried out: "OH, WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS?"
God came outta the sky with a harelip. "Bro, it's like a twenty-minute walk. Suck it up. It's Bali.”
Then he disappeared with thirty-five cataracts on the backseat of a Balinese waitress riding to work.
I dragged my suitcase the whole way to the place where I'd be staying for a week, rumbling like cancer and liver cirrhosis. Cautiously, I switched arms so as to alleviate the burning of my heart, head, sides, nuts, elbows, and crooked shins. "The devil is everywhere," said somebody in the bushes. The banana leaves were speaking to me. A little kitten came out from behind me and just as quickly disappeared into the dreamworld, just beyond our eyes for all time.
The noise was horrendous. Dragging behind, as ever. Sweating, sweating. I looked up and saw a Yoga Central Command Center—it said: We Adore, Here, Peace & Quiet!
I laughed at myself. Everything around me was quiet, save me...
I got lost before I spent an entire week in Ubud. I enjoyed blending in with the local scenery, motorbikes, hot sunshine, open air restaurants where I ate bowls of pasta, chicken, chilies, and rhododendrons. The contrast of the bright light and the green leaves made my brain jump outta my skull. There were stray dogs, and cats—white and black—peeking outta alleyways and standing, astutely, in the entrances to where people lived in something that resembled a house but felt more like home to me than Italy. There seemed to be heart and soul (and cock fights) all around the local areas. And if you walked toward the main drag, you came across restaurants where Balinese women stood in traditional dress: yellow, purple, red, etc. They refrained from wearing deodorant, they smiled anyway. They were so polite and full of grace that it was almost embarrassing, I laughed. Their smile could melt 30,000 ice cubes in the blink of an eye. I sweated.
"Get out into the open areas!" god spoke from behind his eyes, I felt entranced. Where'd he get a pair of Gucci shades like that from?
Spent most of the week working, especially out on the patio in the mornings, smoking cigarettes ... and add another habit I picked up during the week: playing chess. I was feeling like a distant foreigner, finally. Just pissing away his time, smoking, using my brain, enjoying the hot sunshine. Why worry? Why rush? Why develop a life mantra? Why not Be. Live. Exist. Walk. Piss. Rope in those bad thoughts, give 'em to a kitty for rice cakes. There were lovely mermaids in the sky, splitting the seams of 10,000 years of evolution, brandishing their scars from all of Humanity's unkind wave of malice, misfortune and greed. I put my cigarette out in the ashtray on the table and felt like Bali was doing me some good, this remote place of French, Russian, English, African, Asian, earth-bound souls. And what soul did we really have left?
A girl came outta her room, freshly showered. She looked right over at me and smiled, from her eyes, from head to toe. Then she nearly waltzed over to a dangling branch that held at the end of it a flower of mauve, glistening and naked under the sunlight. She placed her nose against the petals, then stepping back to take a picture of it.
I watched her carrying her large purple suitcase up these thick steps and I thought: "Should I help her?" I kept looking, smiling, laughing.
Okay, Bali. Everybody loves you. But why?
I wrote a short book for my heart's desire, her birthday. She was far away...
I paid for another shuttle back to Kuta. The drive up from Ubud was about two hours, with traffic. On the way back south, it only took about an hour. The driver would use a major highway, the only one from Kuta Beach up to Ubud.
Before that, I waited at the corner for the shuttle with a woman from the home-stay. She was one of the many women throughout southeast Asia whom have decided, maybe, to dedicate themselves to serving others. I studied them and wondered about their lives. When they smiled, it was true. That got stuck inside my head and my heart, truthfully.
A lady came up to my side, lighting some incense sticking out of a statue. "Sorry," said I. I had my suitcase leaning up against it.
"It's fine," she said, smiling. I felt that she meant it. She saluted her statue with a lily white flower.
Sweating, I got on the shuttle heading for Kuta, southbound. All the Earth flashed before my eyes and I settled in my seat, knowing that I'd have some time for daydreaming. The only thing, one of the only things, that ever feels eternal, gold. And true.