Note: at the beginning of July 2013, I went for a holiday with my parents, brother and sister. We braved Asia for the first time, explored but did it all in -more or less- style. The age of the group varied between 48 and 17.
It’s strange to think about the fact that our journey is almost over. Just three days (and a half) and we’ll be back on the plane, making our way back to Europe. I can’t say I haven’t missed Belgium (and more specifically The Boyfriend), but Indonesia has been very welcoming. I will definitely think back on these days with warm feelings. But enough nostalgia, when it isn’t over yet!
This morning we could sleep a bit longer than normal, an opportunity which we grabbed with both hands. At breakfast, we met Marc, our guide for the day and one of the persons responsable for designing our holiday planning. He took us to an Aga village, a village inhabited by the first real Bali people. Apparently, the Balinese aren’t really Balinese. They came from Java, not wanting to succumb to the more oppressive regime in Java itself (Java is muslim, Bali is hindu), and the Aga fled for a valley, where they’ve stayed ever since (If this is incorrect, this is how I understood it from the guides. My apologies for any wrong understandings.).
The Aga are real craftsmen. We saw old ladies creating beautiful tapestries and clothing, we saw wonderful baskets being woven right under our nose, we bought souvenirs made of palm leaves (if The Boyfriend is reading this: I’m not giving away your present just yet. Meh.) and met one of the coolest musicians I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Everyone is so friendly and open here, even when they’re trying to push you to buy something. It’s amazing how kind these people are, especially when you realise that basically, this is largely due to propaganda. The Indonesian government decided a while back that Bali should be the tourist location in Indonesia, even though they had long been known to be the biggest and best fighters in the whole of Indonesia (the Dutch famously conquered them last, because they were too afraid to try and beat them earlier). So they spread the story of the Balinese being the most gentle and friendly of folks and repeated it so often, that even the Balinese started to believe it. Even today, they will try to avoid any and all conflict as much as possible. Amazing what the mind can and will do.
Anyway, we were in the village, surrounded by chicken, dog and cock (the avian kind – mind out of gutter please). You can imagine my joy in seeing all those feathers and beaks around – happy days. And then… we went into the jungle. With a humidity of 100% (no kidding), you can guess there was a lot of sweating going on, combined with cursing when trying to fight our way through pineapple leaves (they’re no fun to walk past, let me and my legs tell you). After about an hour of climbing, we reached the summit, where we were capable of seeing the entire valley and being astonished by our own prowess. Then we decided to go for a walk through the rice fields, being the good sports we are. Honestly, we have a huge amount of respect for these Indonesians: they carry astonishingly big weights every day of their life, work in the fields almost daily, work for a small amount of money and/or reward and always have a smile ready for you.
When the walk through the fields was over, we crawled into a van which had two couches (well, not really. But we didn’t have to sit on the ground, at least) and were brought back to the hotel. There, we just had a very relaxing evening, with good food, wonderful surroundings and the sense of time slipping away from us.
Tomorrow: a speedboat to Gili Island and our stay in paradise (hopefully)!