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Selamat Datang Sorga

INDONESIA | Friday, 8 August 2008 | Views [2221]

Australia ended with deliciousness. Give me a cone of organic frozen yogurt with blended mango along Mooloolaba’s esplanade and I’m more than happy. A mouthful of refreshment, tantalizing the salty tongue, and the sweetness from the sugars of the finest tropical fruit. Then yogurt’s astringent fermentation underneath a juicy sun. Yum.

For the last ten day’s of our Aussie sojourn, Laura and I spent our time unofficially WWOOFing at our friend Graham’s house. A mere block off the beach, after two hours of household duties we were off like wildfire, pedaling with the wind along Sunshine Beach’s coastal route to the coziest spot for sun. Reading consumed our silent moments, books like The Secret Life of Bees; Sacred Contracts by Caroline Myss; Paul Theroux’s The Mosquito Coast; and Western Body, Eastern Mind. It was luxurious when the sun was out and the breath of wind calm. But to our greatest misfortune, classic for two Seattleites seeking sun after a long winter, rain followed us and brought a wintry cold to our locations. For three days straight weather prohibited us from much outdoor movement. We washed walls, mopped layers of dust, organized moldy closets, and rearranged living spaces for the future’s inevitable renters willing to take part in Graham’s social experiment.

However, the sun shone with brilliance on our final morning with the indoors entirely swept, swiped and spectacular compared to the day of our arrival. So, like two bats out of hell, we packed and flew off to the Maroochydore airport. We couldn’t—and wouldn’t—be late even if it was for another frozen yogurt. There was a plane to catch: the JQ783 bound for Denpasar.

Movements in Haste

Well into midnight, Laura and I entered the heat of the tropics. We were tired, worn; the line at customs dredging forward for the longest hour. Then, a familiar face. Inside the exit hall of Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport amidst new arrivals from Sydney, Japan, Singapore and eastward, someone shouted.

“Cameron!” The voice was highlighted with sweet intonation over the roar of phonetic Indonesian and Balinese.

My face lit up, the weight on my shoulders instantly eased. Lily from the days of high school appeared in the hoard of the crowd. She was a brown-haired, fair-skin speck amidst the swarm of spindly Indonesians with ebony hair and chocolate skin.

“Selamat datang Bali!” Lily exclaimed as I folded into her arms with a mix of elation and surprise. Laura and I were in Bali at last!

The ride northward lasted two hours in the humid darkness. Laura and I feasted on vegan takeaway while we caught up on Lily’s, and her partner Randy’s, travels for the last nine months. Nearing 2AM the van crawled up Bali’s second highest mountain, Gunung Batukaru, and pulled in home. I stepped outside and looked up. This is an instinctual habit of mine when arriving somewhere day or night. It’s as though I’m taking in the space I have above me. And space there was, confirming my existence in paradise like a small affirmation picked from the healer’s cup: a moonless cosmos filled with millions upon millions of portals into the unknown. The night sky was exquisitely beautiful, crisp as the freshest watermelon on a summer’s day. I could touch it. Feel it. Breathe it into my conscience. To the Balinese, the mountains represent the abode of the sacred while the depths of the seas are realms for the evil. Indubitably, I could sense their reasoning for feeling empowered by such great heights.

For the past five months, Lily and Randy have been living at the Bali Mountain Retreat in Sarinbuana, Bali. Every weekday they tutor the local staff as well as the owners’ two children on the necessary English subjects. We stepped into this retreat’s paradise and quickly passed out after a day of flights, queues and customs.

Paradise and/or Heaven

Now fast-forward a couple of days and forget about the frozen yogurt, Queensland, and the nude beach at Alexandria Bay:

I’m lying on a reed lounge chair. The sun is shining and my skin is tan. Temperatures hover above 80 degrees Fahrenheit with a soothing breeze blowing out of the northeast. Below me beneath a wooden deck the Lombok Sea surges with each swell. It crashes into the seawall, sending the crabs in a scurry, until the energy sucks back out into next oncoming push.

For a second, I’m transported back to A-Bay. I think about the first experiences on the isle of Crete. Then back in the present moment, this amount of pleasure and sheer freedom is multiplied infinitely upon itself, launching me onto the Indonesian island of Bali.

The phrase implants itself within my being: Selamat datang sorga.

The Indonesian word selamat refers to “blessing in doing, a sacred welcoming”. Datang means “come” and sorga is representative for the English word “paradise”, or more accurately defined—“heaven”.

Here is my spirit dancing in joy. Here is my innate self splurging and crying out, blessing me in coming to the island of paradise: I am parked at the secluded Pondok Pisang in Mendira just south of Candidasa. I’m with Laura and we have our own hut directly over the ocean. I’m in the tropics and naked once again, but this time my entire body is being rubbed down and caressed.

For a slight sum of US$6, a Balinese woman by the name of Wayana is massaging me with essential oils hinted with what I make out to be the soft fragrance of jasmine. Front and back, up and down, covering just about all areas for an hour’s time. And in the nude, lubricated, tan, sun beating upon me with that ocean breeze of the tropics, Laura naked beside me. All I can think of, besides feeling the sensations coursing through my body: Selamat datang sorga. Blessings in coming to paradise.

Notes on future A'stralia travels:

*Rent van, buy surfboard, and drive around Oz with heaps of petrol money
*WWOOF during mango and avocado season as well as honey bee harvest
*Return only during summer season
*Spend time with Aboriginal communities
*Stir clear of hostels full of drunken college kids
*Go skydiving

For more accounts, please don't forget to visit and subscribe to Laura the Lioness' blog at lauranidra.blogspot.com
Under the Rain Shower

Tags: bali, cam2yogi, cameron karsten, indonesia, laura defreitas

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