Pulsars, Plants, and Present Participles

'Journeys in Hong Kong and Beyond'

Christmas in Bali

Having grown up in the Northern Hemisphere, I grew accustomed to a white Christmas. Cool weather, a light dusting of snow on the ground, and large Pine trees with their green needles poking out from the cloudy snow piles that rest upon their branches; these are the signs that Christmas is nigh. The day begins to darken earlier and indoors becomes a haven from the frigid air.  A place of refuge with a hot drink and warm fire. For the last two years I have not required shelter from the cold. The light dusting on everything around me has been tinted with a hue of sandy red and does not collect on tree branches but rather in the bottom of my shoes and against my oily sunscreen limbs. The indoors is still a haven but not from the freezing air rather the scolding sun that shines bright from early morning until late evening. 2015 marks the second year I have spent Christmas on a tropical island.

Last year I enjoyed relaxing in Koh Samui, Thailand. This year I soaked up the sun on another East Asian island; Bali in the Indonesian archipelago. Bali presented a similar experience to that enjoyed in Thailand, relaxing, adventurous and full of sunshine and sand. One minor difference; Bali hosts a predominately Hindu population and therefore does not recognize Christmas as a statutory holiday like many Thai businesses. Despite what Fox News might have you believe however, Christmas is omnipresent.  TS Suites had their plumpest staff member dress up as Jolly Old St. Nick. Vendors who routinely exclaimed ‘Hey Boss’, were instead wishing ‘Merry Christmas’. Culturally they may not celebrate Christmas but economically it is ‘Ho, Ho Ho’. During Nyepi (Balinese Hindu New Year celebrated near the end of March) Bali practically shuts down, lights are dimmed and fires are forbidden. Nyepi is a day for self reflection, no distractions, no driving, one should not even leave their home let alone do business. In Bali Christmas is a joyous time when presents are exchanged, merriment is exclaimed and copious amounts of food are consumed.  Hindus, Muslims, and Atheists alike can all rejoice in Christmas, even if it is only to help sell a few more souvenirs .  The Balinese made Christmas special despite the fact it is not Hindu and for that I was thankful.

Bali really provided a wonderful experience. TS Suites pampered us with inexpensive spa treatments, full buffet breakfast, a relaxing soaker tub in our room, and a roof top bar complete with infinity pool and shishas. Day trips took us to ancient temples, waterfalls, rice terraces, a monkey forest, and white sandy beaches with breaking waves crashing into the shore. We saw a lot and wished we could have stayed longer and seen more. Two divine weeks of rest, relaxation and exploration. We ate too much and saw too little and if given the chance would do it all over again. Look through the photographs, read the captions for details, watch this short time lapse video taken at the  Monkey Temple and come back soon for more ramblings on my blog.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

P.S. I fell asleep at 9pm on NYE and woke up in a New Year, at 8am, despite our hotel doing its very best to keep me awake with a all night party right outside my balcony window.

Fraser • 10/01/2016

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