Postcards: Half A World Away – Ubud, Bali

A smorgasbord of cultural habitation lies hidden within the island’s central keep. A make-shift monopoly marketplace, flogging hand-crafted labours, the pleading natives, pained expressions they wear. Instinctive navigation leads me through the archaic artists’ hub, down some many steps to the contrasting landscape spread out below. I find my footing over steep and narrow trails of muddied rock, weaving through the carefully cultivated layers of long grained rice paddy fields.

I pass-by a make-shift refreshment stand, equally bemused and attracted by the prospect stood before me. Graffitied bark speaks to the soul-searching travellers, in declarations and riddles of transnational love, for the island of which we are navigating. I find myself in agreement, but do not stop with my rupiah and continue to steer my way through the littering of fellow travellers, in the maze of crossing paths.

A local farmer, reaping his harvest, silently observes the scene. I cross his path courteously, and delight at a rickety bridge across a hidden ravine. My smile turns, as I too soon foresee a toll path I’ve been forewarned about and brazenly haggle my passage through. My down payment transferred to the tourist touts, I continue to feel for a practical path through the heighted stems soaring either side, hedging bets on which road I take next.

Wetting my parched tongue, I stop and take a moment to survey my new-found surroundings. I can’t help but smile despite the increasing heat, bound by my own momentary dreamtime haze. I feel as if I’ve found something that I’ve long been searching for, the space becomes familiar, despite only gracing its presence mere hours ago. Or is it minutes, I can no longer tell, it’s like time no longer matters, now that I’ve found this spiritual refuge in my wandering eyes… The moment passes as I soldier on. My solitary journey to someplace I am yet to uncover lingers still.

I may never understand my connection with that land, my contentment on foreign ground, but I will always cherish the dreamtime in that once beguiling scene, when I was taken half a world away.

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