It was a long time coming. After six years of living in Bali (halfway around the world from my birthplace), after a handful of visits from friends, and a couple of aborted efforts from various family types, I got word that tickets were booked: a couple of real blood relatives were landing on these shores.
Ok, full disclosure: My uncle and aunt weren’t embarking on a trip to Bali from half a world away (only a quarter); and they were anyway going to be in Southeast Asia for meetings and trade shows. A 3.5-day detour away from mainland Asia would amount to an equatorial mini-vacation. Still, they were coming to see me.
Much to my distress, they were first heading to a hotel in Kuta/Legian. Sheesh. I practically begged them to hightail it out of there. Pleaded them to book into a hotel in Ubud; I listed a few prime choices and they picked the first. The following evening, after a long and winding drive through traffic, they pulled up to the grand carved entrance, where the staff and I greeted them (the well-groomed staff offering chilled towels and coolers).
They were entranced from the outset. The flora, the scents, the dense foliage, the spa and little touches in their room.
I played tour guide. We visited a beachside salt-making facility. Stumbled upon a family in ceremonial garb marking a post-cremation ritual. Introduced them to a selection of traditional Indonesian dishes – and to my favorite village in East Bali. Watched the legendary Balinese dance performance, Kecak; capped off by a trance dance.
We wined and dined. And drank a fair share of lattes. Celebrated their wedding anniversary at one of the most upscale restaurants in Ubud: Bridges; the same name of a restaurant where they first met more than three decades ago.. in Canada. Same, same, but different. Eerily auspicious coincidence (or not)!
When the aunt and uncle arrived, daily life as it’s been (this time still tinged with jetlag), came to a standstill.
And then, poof! Just like that, after squeezing in nature, nurture and nutritious goodies (some of which they hauled over for me), their visit was over in a flash.
Still, 2.5 days of relatives swept me away into a reverie, a space outside of time, that I’ll no doubt be reflecting upon for years to come.