Tirtigangga, Bali, Indonesia: I like people. I like animals and plants and nature well enough, but really, it’s people I care for and choose to be surrounded by. I like big, ugly, dirty, crowded, noisy, exciting cities. I like exotic restaurants and thriving markets and sleazy nightlife. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. It is rare that I want to visit anywhere else.
So what am I doing here?
This is Tirtigangga, Bali. It is the most beautiful, relaxing place I know contrary to everything I know that I love about the world. Maybe it’s because there are still people. I took a walk this morning around the rice terraces and had maybe a dozen conversations with people I passed by. The whole valley is a riot of greens and other natural colors, not a surface anywhere that isn’t in some way natural. Yet it is hacked and hewn and shaped entirely by the actions of people.
The sound of burbling water is everywhere and nearly all of it is because the water that was here naturally has been channeled and directed and contained for the use of the people who live here.
It is the most thoroughly unnatural natural environment I know and I’m spending a week here, hoping to get some writing done and maybe clean some of the filth out of my lungs from Bangkok and Jakarta and some of the filth out of my head from the same.
I’m planning on days spent waking up early for long walks in the rice terraces. A light breakfast, writing for a while, lunch, maybe a nap, maybe a massage, maybe some more writing, drinks on the terrace overlooking the Water Palace then dinner. Some reading then, then bed.
I’ve still got my attendant worries and demons, but this seems like as good a spot as any in which to either exorcise or battle them. At the moment it looks like it might pour rain, just in time to eat lunch, it seems like a good idea to me.
I haven’t really tried a place like this as a writing retreat before. Maybe it will work. I’m stuck on a couple of things and getting away from one’s routine is sometimes good for getting unstuck. We’ll see. Unfortunately if it works really well, it’s a long way to go when I need it again.