My Days with a Balinese Princess — Part I, THE ARRIVAL
As I exited the airport there was a crowd of people behind the waist high fence waiting for new arrivals. Most had signs with names written on white paper, but some were there just hoping to pick up a new customer. I scanned the line up and soon saw my name in all caps. I looked and waved at man holding the sign. He looked hopeful and points to me and then again at the sign. I look him straight in the eyes and smile as I shake my head “yes”.
We were quickly on our way. I had arrived during afternoon prayer and could hear the call to prayer over the busy traffic. I would soon learn that Islam is practice in ninety percent of the county. However here, on the island of Bali, Hindu is the predominant religion.
The accommodation I had arranged was located in the city, a short distance from the Sanur beach. It was the home of a Balinese Princess and I would learn the 1982 crowned Miss. Indonesia.
Stepping out of the vehicle it would be hard not to notice the massive white statue of Lord Ganesh, the Hindu elephant god, as I came to the entry of her home. On either side of the statue there was a pathway. Once around the statue, an immense lush and hidden garden revealed itself. There was green everywhere. Trees, broad leaf plants and ivy filled the open spaces. Fluorescent lime green moss covered the cement statues and rock work in the garden. There were serval buildings in the complex. All structures had the same white exterior, red clay roofs and intricately carved doors. Many colors detailed the woodwork on the doors, windows and rafters but most impressively the gold paint provided a striking contrast against the clean white building. I could hear the sound of water falling into a pond and the soft chimes blowing in the wind. I was suddenly and completely relaxed.
Reaching the second house of the compound, I was surprised to learn that I had an entire house, not just a room to myself for the next few days.
It was not until the next morning that I noticed a black and white picture hanging in the downstairs living room. I was sure I had seen as a child. However, I was positive that I had remembered this photo in color. “Is that you?” I asked. “Yes. That was from a very long time ago.” “I think I have seen this picture before?” “The photo was used as a travel advertisement for JAL Airlines in the 80s.” Ratih, my hostess, replied.
Only then did I recall that I had seen this photo in Seattle airport. I remember wanting to go wherever that photo was taken. Now not only had I arrived here, but it was hard to believe that I was speaking with the girl in the photo.
Ratih was a perfect hostess and helped me to arrange the plans I had in mind for my stay in Bali. My favorite day would be the day we went to the Temple and she taught me how to pray.