Bali, a land of Komodo dragons, smoking volcanoes, wisps of incense on the warm breeze and the distant hum of hippies chanting. It's an enchanted place and I'm looking forward to spending more time there this year.
It was quite an adventure boarding a flight to The Other Side of The World where I knew no-one, knew very little about the culture but was certain that they made EXCELLENT parasols. I liked the flight very much, the plane was pink and purple and filled with Australians, I felt as if I'd catapulted into the opening credits of 1990's Home and Away.
I sat next to a very interesting man who had just written a new theory on Jack the Ripper and by the end of the flight he may have convinced me he solved the crime.
The Balinese people I met were utterly lovely. So gentle, careful and respectful. I really liked them. But South Bali was not like the photos, it was full of swaying, sweating crowds of tourists swigging beer, wearing not very much and spiritual warriors with arm tattoos, covered in feathers with wood sticking through their ears.
An oil and water societal mix in front of gloriously designed and well-lit boutiques and vegan cafes. Bali is bursting at the seams with smoothie bowls and health-freak-food deliciousness, which I found slightly baffling because the local food is phenomenal.
As soon as I arrived I saw parasols everywhere. The Balinese are Hindus of the most magical sort and my understanding is that the spirit world and this world are as one. Shrines with parasols are round every turn and parasols are used in temples and in processions. They're made from bamboo and durian wood (bit like a jackfruit) and are completely handmade by artisans.
I roved across Bali on my hunt for the perfect parasol partner, someone who would be up for the challenge of making my designs, let me poke around their production and generally be a bit of a nuisance. I found him, but I bear the scar.
It involved a two hour motorbike journey, a classic ' tourist-back-of-leg-exhaust-burn', a makeshift ice pack of defrosting chicken nuggets and awkward lunch in a vegan cafe in Ubud (vegan capital of the world) surrounded by wide-eyed dogs staring at the AMAZING chicken-scented human inexplicably eating an avocado thing.
I have three obsessions in life apart from loved ones, parasols and African liberation theology; boiled eggs, hot sauce (all condiments tbh) and lighting. Bali DELIVERED on all these.
Boiled eggs are moderately achievable everywhere, although I did have a high incidence of bad eggs for breakfast in Bali and developed some magical thinking about the correlation of these and ensuing luck in my day. Travelling alone for long periods can do funny things to you.
On the lighting and hot sauce fronts Bali excelled itself. The lighting deserves it’s own post and the HOT SAUCES are the stuff dreams are made of. Sambals, the poetic name they call their condiments, it sounds like sweet nothings whispered in your ear, sambals...
Every morning in Bali I woke up in my white frilly nightie, stretched like a Disney Princess, thought about doing yoga, What'sApped and checked Instagram for 15 mins (30 mins) and then went outside for a BOILED EGG AND GREEN SAMBAL.
I'm having a Proustian moment recalling those halcyon days. My bottle of Encona West Indian looks shabby in comparison.
This was my Best Breakfast in Bali. My wondrous chum brought me FIVE sambals for my morning egg.