off the record
Curiosity, our greatest ally
“Dear Juan and Marta, I’ll pick you up from the airport and then we’ll go to my house.” This message from our host, dancer Cok Ratih, was our first clue to the hospitable nature of the Balinese people. Thanks to her, we quickly learned the island’s customs, from buying all types of exotic fruit at a market, to making an offering in her garden. She even helped us buy a ceremonial suit for a visit to the mother temple Besakih, a place that becomes even more special when you are taken there by a Balinese princess. When we bid her goodbye, we felt we had the necessary tools to continue our journey.
A message from our host was our first clue to the hospitable nature of the Balinese people.
They say the best things happen when you don’t plan everything, but to achieve this, you have to be curious and open to the unexpected. That is what happened at our first dinner in Ubud, the city of art. Just before asking for the bill, a Balinese man, who was dining next to us, came over and struck up a conversation with a line that never fails: “Where are you from?” When we asked him if there were any ceremonies taking place over the coming days, he told us “One is happening today, in the town where I live, and it’ll last until dawn. I’m going now. Have you got a moped?” Fortunately we did. After he showed us how to get there on our mobile phone, we changed clothes. Dressed in our sarongs, we drove to a small temple where we attended one of the best dance and theatre performances we saw during our stay. The audience, children and adults alike, laughed and cried at the stories performed by local companies. If they thought we looked serious, a young person would come over and explain the jokes in English, even though you didn’t need to understand everything. Curiosity is the best interpreter.
“You can’t separate art from life”
A member of the Balinese royal family, Cok Ratih opened the doors of her home to us, to show us the complex cultural and spiritual worlds of this paradise on Earth.
Read the interview >