A woman who's wearing a beautiful earth-colored sarong is putting things on a little offering plate. She carefully arranges dried flowers, biscuits and some money, and puts the woven shell on the floor in front of her shop. But not only stores, also at homes and temples, at warongs and restaurants, every morning people are starting the day by appeasing the demons. It's a Hinduistic ritual for every new day. Perhaps that's one of the reasons why the people here seem so peaceful.
Soon the driver will drop me off. After a ninety minute ride through several small villages, I've arrived at a little town called Ubud. It's about forty kilometers north of Denpasar and is considered the cultural center of Bali. It's famous for its arts and crafts, which the thirty thousand locals are probably very proud of. But in the streets there are other people, too, people from all over the globe, maybe even some like me, who came to just spend a thoughtful day by themselves.
Little kids in colorful uniforms come running down the street, happy and excited because school is over. The day is still young. Many hours full of sunshine and happiness are left, yet waiting to be filled with excitement. Especially in summer, after a morning full of mathematics, sociology and physics, when the sun has just passed its highest point and the bell rings, everyone storms out into the free. It's probably one of those few things that you learn to appreciate only when it's too late.
In a bistro called Bendi's I had a traditional Indonesian lunch, something chickeny with fried sweet potatoes and a leafless salad. It was quite tasty, but I had coffee somewhere else. What I like most about Ubud is the streets. They're not too numerous and they go up and down like a roller coaster. It's fun to walk through the narrow Jalans which always lead to some place new. I walked past a few stores I thought I'd like to be the owner of and imagined a future life in this town far away from home.
Another reason for people to visit Ubud is the famous monkey temple. I put my hat and glasses inside my backpack and emptied all my pockets, because I knew that the hairy little bastards would grab whatever they would find inside them. Mentally prepared I walked in and at first they seemed very calm, cute even, running around freely, eating food, playing games. Later I found out that when you tease them, they stop being nice, too. One of the monkeys made a scary noise at me and I quickly approached the exit.
Outside I looked for a spot to find some peace again. I chose a coffee shop a few hundred meters away from the park and ordered an Iced Tea. The place was nice and quiet, the drink was lemony, and I could relax again. I started thinking. Two thousand and eleven. May twenty-fourth. More than anything I thought of my parents and my brother. The four members of a family, today in four different parts of the world: Germany, Korea, the Netherlands and Bali.
I drank up and went out to grab a taxi. I told the driver I had to work on some writing and that I'd prefer sitting in the back. He said okay, and played a tape with quiet Balinese temple music. It was a very nice ride, with enough time to think about some stuff, to plan some things and scribble down a few thoughts. From time to time I looked out the window and saw fields full of rice, towns full of people, homes full of laughter. I couldn't wait to see the others.