It is my third year living in Bali. And I guess, I am leaving soon… Therefore, I feel the need to write a small note about the place I call home in the last three years.
It’s still fresh to my mind the first time I arrived in Ubud to visit my friend, Azhar, as he played his drone on the second floor of his friend’s house in Jalan Gootama. It was a short reunion after almost 4 years we didn’t meet each other, due to… Eh, long story short, his (thankfully) now-ex-wife wasn’t feeling secure that I hang out with her husband, just for the record, Azhar and I are totally platonic from the beginning.
It was 4pm, the traffic was crowded, I went here with Blue Bird Taxi. The only reliable taxi with a fair price I could get back then. There was no Go-Jek, nor Uber, nor Grab Taxi (although the last two services are banned by the local drivers community now).
I remember I saw Betelnut in front of Museum Puri Lukisan and told myself, ‘this must be a popular place here’. And then I saw Starbucks on the left side of the road. It’s a bizarre contrast to see Starbucks located in a Balinese building. But I could imagine myself ordering peanut butter panini and non-sugar raspberry frappe for breakfast there. (Yes, I was such a city girl trapped in a lifestyle created by those genius marketers. :p)
Now, I just figured it out that I came from Sayan through Tjampuhan to reach Ubud back then. Pura Gunung Lebah wasn’t as breathtaking as it is now, they haven’t done any restoration. I was more lured into the restaurant called Bridge. I could imagine having a dinner in there. ‘Oh my! I like this place already!’ so I told myself. And then I went through the Ubud Palace. This place is chaotically beautiful, I said. The kind of traffic I can bear every day.
Let’s take a note that this place is nowhere near the place I imagined before: a small town with rice fields and jungle all over. Hence, I saw international brand like Pandora, Nike, and Ralph Laurent open their shops here.
Oh, and I said I can bear the traffic, right?
Well, being someone who lived in Jakarta for too long, my patience is thin, so as I reached Oops restaurant, I told the driver that I want to stop there and continue on foot to Jalan Gootama. I miss walking anyway, after a week staying in Kuta, I never had a chance to walk, it was too hot there. I spent most of my time in air-conditioned rooms (read: malls and indoor cafes, restaurants and my friend’s apartment).
I walked pretty fast, I arrived in Azhar’s friend place less than 10 minutes and got irritated to see people walk in slow motion, but then after I realised this is Bali, people are on their holidays. Yeah, it rings the bell… aight.
Jalan Goutama is a unique small road with small shops and small food parlor on both sides of the road. I spotted Balinese small temples with beautiful offerings on top of them, it pleases my eyes, them colors are beautiful. I can imagine myself walking around there in a flowy long dress and thong sandals, big earrings (well, it wasn’t what I wore back then. I wore turquoise tank top, with khaki shorts and flip-flops).
Fast forward to the first evening, Kelly (Azhar’s new girlfriend) took me to Betelnut, exactly the place I mentioned before, and I was right. It’s a cool place where people do movie screening, doing a show, or hold a cool event like Pecha Kucha Night, the one I attended that night.
Kelly and Azhar lived in the outskirt of Ubud, in Payogan. The air there is colder (tropical kind of cold) compared to Ubud center. I stayed there for a night. Then I went back to Kuta to pack my stuff and move to Ubud.
I was sold. I want to live in this town. Especially after Kelly offered me a job in the company where she worked. It’s a combo!
A week later, I worked as a copywriter. I started to write in English constantly since then, and yes, with basic knowledge of English grammar and syntax. Well, with me it’s always: just go for it, do it now! You will know how to fix problems later when you have it. It works like wonder so far. 😉
To sum it up, basically, I left Jakarta to get a dream job, started to write in English, learned how to write a screen script, and learned how to do basic digital marketing. And oh yes, in that office, I met Danny who’s then became my boyfriend (now ex boyfriend), my writing mentor, my family, for two years. It’s nowhere near to Eat Pray Love kind of relationship, but I learned a lot from it.
During my first year in Bali, I didn’t drive a motorbike. Those fellow drivers on the road scared me to death! They are like the apes on the motorcycle, they don’t understand traffic rules. Dividing lines? Huh? Is that grafiti on the asphalt? Frugal drivers who shouldn’t get a driving license, hence they don’t even have it!
Holy cheesus crust…
For that reason, I drove a push bike for a week until the bike got stolen when I stayed in Kuta over the weekend. Sucks, right? It made me being a motorbike hitchhiker with a personal helmet. There were Okta, Kelly, Ignat and Danny who generously gave me a lift every time I needed it. Well yes, it wasn’t a problem, until I moved to Penestanan, 15 minutes drive from Ubud center and 20 minutes to the office.
Not long after I moved to Penestanan, Kelly forced me to bring her motorbike from the office as she drove another bike… to her house. I had to drove through the most chaotic traffic in Ubud with random people across my way, they took my line, ugh! Basically, they are just being assholes on the road. I spent a year long of my cursing quota in that 15 minutes drive. But I do not regret I said yes to Kelly’s idea. It was an important milestone. Now I drive like a frugal Balinese, being one of those assholes I cursed back then, had one accident (and not looking forward to more) when someone took my line on a muddy road. Well, they say, “one does not simply driving around in Bali without having an accident or two.”
I am getting an intense nostalgia as I write this.
It’s amazing to remember how much experience I had during my stay in Ubud. I am no longer the same person who met Azhar in Jalan Gootama. Obviously, I managed to transform myself to be someone I always wanted to become. Through pain, doubts, questions, heartbreaks, and many things else I can not mention here.
But, one thing that everyone who knows enough might have noticed, I was an extremely angry person back then. If my eyes could tell you how I saw the world, it will mention fire, ruins, dark sky, tears, blood, and weaponry. I was angry over every-single-thing and, as an expressive person, I expressed my anger in many ways. Some of the new friends back then, they took a few step backs and sort of blacklisted me from invitation list to hang out session. You know why.
Not that I didn’t have any good reason to be angry. I had all the good reasons, I enjoyed being angry. Until I couldn’t stand myself and decided to tame my personal demons, let go of the grudge, turn on the light in my eyes, and change my perspective. Wasn’t as easy as it might sound. But I made it happens.
Which is good.
Maybe it is true what people say about Ubud, that this town is a place to heal your wound, it is the place to make peace. Yes, I didn’t come here to find asylum. I came here “for a change”, to celibate, to stay away from whatever happened in my life. Little did I know it was my subconscious mind who pulled me here. I am glad I agreed to it and made it happen. Now when I look back, I understand why all those things had to be there, why I had to get through all that. Why those puzzles came in place. Not everything happens for a reason, but, when there is a reason, it must be a good one, despite how much pain you got as you are on it.
Healing is a lifetime process, I think. You can’t force it. You just need to go with it and endure it as it goes. And for sure Ubud’s still giving me its series of an interesting lesson to learn until this day. But in a deeper level, I regret nothing. I forgave myself for making mistakes, I accept the fact that I am on a continuous journey to be a better version of myself. I accept the fact that I can never be perfect, but I will always be enough for whatever circumstance I encounter.
I am looking forward to the new adventure ahead of me. In a new place with new people. It’s always nice to breathe deeply during the dawn, as we wait for the sunrise. Ignore the cold.