Monday, June 1, 2009

Bali Nights

UBUD, Bali, Indonesia--I hope it was just a coincidence that the hotel guy was changing the bulb on our porch when the lights went out.

(Let me back up a step and describe Ubud, a town a bit more than an hour inland from the famous Bali beaches. It bills itself as the artistic and spiritual capital of the island. It's a handful of villages that have more or less blebbed together into a town. From a tourist perspective, there's an east-west main street, and two or three roads that stretch about a kilometer south from that to the Monkey Forest. Those roads are lined with stores, restaurants, etc., as well as plenty of taxi hawkers. I'm sure the calm spiritual place that figures so hugely in the book "Eat, Pray, Love" is here somewhere, but I'm not 100 percent sure where.)

(Those roads are connected by a network of paths, some paved and 4 to 8 feet wide. Those serve as secondary roads for the motor scooters. One of them runs along the Monkey Forest, to the south of it. A 10 minute walk on that unlighted path connects the quiet neighborhood where we're staying to the town center.)

When the lights went out, we figured we would proceed with our plan to walk into town for dinner. (One restaurant promised a Sunday night Indonesian buffet/banquet that I craved.) The town was dark, too--most of the storefronts closed, and even the taxi hawkers were gone. But the restaurant we had in mind (and some of its neighbors) had a generator that provided enough power so that the lights there went out just once. As we ate dinner, the rain storm that had loomed all day let loose.

When the rain stopped, we headed back through the dark town, along the dark path, to the candle-lit hotel.

Only one thing seemed possible, in a Somerset Maugham-ish kind of way. We sat on our porch, looking out over the night-time rice paddies, lit only by the occasional headlights from a faraway motor scooter.

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