So I did manage to scoot off somewhere on my own and I did rest a whole lot there, going to bed around 9pm every night with naps in the late morning and afternoon (where there is no access to TV or laptop, the human body knows when to rest). Even then, I still couldn’t quite escape being the typical task-driven Singaporean, because I would book an activity or two each day, be it a cooking class or a spa treament or a cycling tour. “Wow, you like to be beezy beezy Ms Mehraine,” the cheeky reception guy would say every morning when I trotted over to choose my to-do thing. So yes, I guess I still don’t quite know how to do/be nothing yet, but slowing down already proves to be such a stark contrast to the usual life.
I saw a different side of Bali in Ubud – a quieter sort of getaway compared to the frenzied beaches of Kuta and Nusa Dua and this has made me like the place a whole lot better. The last time I was there, I was on this super-defensive framework of “I don’t want to get ripped off” and of course I felt I was. This time, I felt a little more generous with tips because I knew the staff around me were working hard but struggling with slower business, though I did draw the line when the hotel chauffeur beseeched me to go “shoppings for present”.
I liked cycling around the area best – though embarassingly enough, a little van had to rescue me while going upslope because I was practically wheezing midway. (“Ha ha Ms Mehraine you are funny!”). But breezing by downslope through the sleepy villages waking up in the morning and glistening rice padi fields was almost magical, like an amusement park ride but so much better. This is a rather gimmicky thing to say, but I can only describe this in touristy terms since I was just a passing guest there.
Reality hit home the minute I returned with a bad stomach (ironically, I suspect, from the coconut milk laden dessert I had prepared during my cooking class) and the usual insurmountable list of things that needed to be done. Nevertheless, I’m still very thankful to have that little breath of fresh air, no matter how short-lived. I know my mind has cleared somewhat – because one obvious indicator that I am less stressed is that I’m more sociable – and within the next few days of being back, I became acquainted with a few unlikely strangers and had some really random, connected conversations with them. So before the window of “leave-me-alone-I’m-overwhelmed” oblivion closes in again, let me just remember that such breaks are good.