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Welcome to Bali – said the geckos

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It took almost 3 hours to reach this property, surrounded by endless rice fields, palms laden with coconuts, as well as banana, papaya and avocado trees, just to name a few. As I eagerly stepped out of the car, anticipating the sweet embrace of frangipani blossoms that I could see all around, I was hit by a burning smell coming from the neighbour’s yard. Giving me no time to locate the culprit, a short, robust, dark-haired lady emerged in front of the car and gave her best shot at pronouncing my name.

It was evident that the perception of time was relatively different there, as there was no rush to check me in. While her English wasn’t great, the lady was extremely keen to talk, asking questions about where I was coming from and telling me all about the surroundings. I stood there for a while nodding politely, navigating the delightful riddles she presented in our conversation until I couldn’t help my Western mind, which values clarity and efficiency, and was getting slightly irritated, anticipating a 2-night stay disaster.

“You can sit here” – Komang suggested pointing at an old sofa, which I guess originally was pink, surely noticing some sort of discontent on my, unfortunately, very expressive face. The lobby area itself was pretty much a wooden tent with a few columns and a roof, it had only one wall keeping sofa’s back.
The smell of smoke was becoming unbearable and as I unconsciously demonstratively sniffed the air, Komang apologised explaining that:
‘I tell my neighbour – stop, smell bad for guest and guest complain, but he say yes yes and do again’.
I later learned it wasn’t an unfortunate coincidence or a remote event, but sadly a rather common daily practise in Bali, where household rubbish are just set of fire.

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Walking into my bungalow felt like dejavú since it resembled the overnight safari experience I once had in wilderness of Sri Lanka. Half of the bathroom sat outside, supposedly protected by a questionable net instead of windows, with large gaps in between signalling that I might not be the only one making this place home for the next couple of nights.

After spending the afternoon exploring Komang’s garden full of massive aubergines, winged beans and chillies among other plants I recognised, I had the free ‘traditional Balinese massage’ at the ‘spa’. At least, that’s what it was supposed to be – both the massage and the spa. The latter was a squeaky massage bed under a banana tree, where DJ roosters & crickets took charge of background music.

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With almost no sleep in the previous 24 hours it didn’t take me long to disconnect, all I remember was watching the masseuse’s feet moving elegantly in light blue socks and red flip flops. Being as polite as I am but very bad at lying, I nodded ‘good’ when, after proclaiming ‘finis’ (the ‘sh’ is often non existent in Bali) with the biggest possible smile on her face, she asked me how it was.

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I then sleepwalked back to my bungalow, battled for a while with a door handle that at first didn’t want to acknowledge my hands soaked in jasmine oil, then greeted all the geckos in the room and changed into pijamas to eat dinner in style on my porch.
The home made food was beyond delicious, especially after starving for a day: roast chicken, rice, veggies and fruit platter for dessert. I emptied the plates in no time and sat there in the terrace listening to geckos pondering if I was:

Happy and full

Happy but full

Fully happy

Happily full

Full but happy

All of the above?