Thursday, July 25, 2013

Godless In Paradise

I am lucky enough to have done my fair share of traveling.

In the summer of 2010 I went to Bali, Indonesia to visit my father, sister and nephew. I had just graduated college and it was an exciting time in my life. I had been there before but not as an adult and I now had the chance to understand its culture and people with a deeper meaning.

Bali is an island in the Indonesian archipelago with a population of 3.8 million people. It is home to the majority of Indonesia’s Hindu population, giving the island a distinct cultural feel apart from the rest of the mostly Islamic population of the country.

Bali is rich in culture and draws millions of tourists every year. Some people who go, never want to leave, and a community of ex-patriots has grown from all over the world. My sister is one of them.

I arrived in the early morning to my sister’s house after a long car ride from the airport. When I got to my room, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The view from the balcony was amazing. It was like being in a dream, a surrealistic tropical dream. The house was situated on a hill overlooking a valley below that contained a stream. Halfway down the valley there was also a swimming pool. I thought to myself, “This was paradise found.”

We had access to our own swimming pool that was feed by natural filtered water.

The next day I got a better look at the rest of the house. It’s built in the traditional Indonesian style – open air – with no walls, only a roof. There’s no need for walls with the tropical climate.

It contained an upstairs studio for artists to paint and there were some unfinished paintings there.

The dining room area is right below and the living space is quite large.

It was healthy eating everyday. We were literally able to cut down fruit from the trees nearby and make them into lunch.

The roof was made from bamboo that did a good job keeping out water when it rained.

I later learned that rooms in the house were rented out and that there was a continuous flow of people coming and going. Some of them had kids and the house was always full of children. The kids would enjoy playing in the living space and let me film them. (That's me fifth from the left) 

Kavi is my nephew. At the time I visited him he was 4 years old.

Just like me when I was his age he’s really into dinosaurs and enjoys pretending to be a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

And also just like me he’s taken an interest in drawing.

One day I went into town and played ultimate Frisbee with my sister’s boyfriend and some of his friends. I lost really badly and fortunately I don’t have any footage of it.

At night we’d gather and talk around the dining space, although I would spend a lot of time on my laptop surfing the internet. It was during this time that I had thought of the idea of renaming my blog "Atheism And The City."

I remember we went out a lot to eat in the local town and at some of the shopping centers. Food and services are pretty cheap there. Kavi would always entertain us with spontaneous dinosaur behavior.

 Here are some of the typical sites you'll see around the island.

Statues of Buddha are everywhere. 

The traditional Balinesian architecture. 

Traditional Balinese dog.

Lizards crawl on almost every wall.

Everyone gets around on motorbikes.

During the trip I did spend a few days in the city of Kuta, which is the tourist mecca, and which contains the island’s primary nightlife spots. This was the hotel I stayed at in Kuta. It was full of Aussies. Everywhere. 

The view from my hotel balcony.

This I believe is a Hindu god.

There are beautiful gardens everywhere that are peaceful and tranquil. 

And there are tons of beautiful places that are hidden away.  

Balinese locals.

Home sweet home...

Now when I say "Godless In Paradise" I don't actually mean that I'm consciously aware of the fact that I don't believe in god at every moment of my life. In fact, it's far from it. Most of the time I'm conducting myself under the assumption of godlessness as I conduct my general affairs. God and religion simply just never enter into my mind, and that's pretty much the way I've always been. 

I do have to say that there was one point when I was in Bali where I felt an incredible sense of calmness and relaxation when there was a Hindu ceremony taking place nearby. A woman was moving around a traditional Hindu offering plate that had this beautiful smelling incense burning on it, and her natural sense of ease put an amazing wave of calmness over me. I wrote about this in my post The Reason For Ritual

I can't say that I'm a spiritual person, but I saw the importance of ritual, meditation and ceremony: It heightens our psychological state and increases our bonds with our fellow homo sapiens and with nature. 

1 comment:

  1. Really does look like paradise. Adding to my bucket list.



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