Anniversaries and Why I’m Still in Bali

A few days ago my middle daughter had her 15th birthday. Her cousins from down in Denpasar came up for a few days to join her for her birthday party. There was an incredible amount of food as my wife spent several days cooking along with a few friends and family members. Now that the kids are older, they’ve decided to go with small parties and larger presents for themselves. It actually costs me just about as much in the long run, but it’s easier on my wife who only has to cook for the family and not for forty kids and the family.

Rebecca on her 15th birthday

Rebecca on her 15th birthday

The same day as Rebecca’s birthday was the 19th anniversary of my move to Indonesia. I always tend to do a little reflection as the years pass, and I continue to be amazed that I am still here after 19 years. An old friend whom I haven’t talked to in close to 40 years got in touch with me the other day, and the big question was how did I end up in Bali? How indeed… I’ve just finished my first ebook, and despite what I once said about never writing a book about Bali, I ended up doing just that.

How did I get here, and why did I stay?

I came to Bali on my first vacation when I was teaching in Papua, then called Irian Jaya. Bali was relatively close, the island had anthropological connections for me because of Mead and Bateson and Geertz, and I was just looking for some place to have a peaceful vacation and recharge after my first four months of working overseas. I actually didn’t plan on staying in Bali for the whole vacation, I was planning a few weeks here and then a week in Thailand and a few days in Jakarta.

Like many tourists, I ended up in Kuta as my point of entry. Why Kuta? It was close to the airport, and it seemed to be the place where there were a lot of things for a single guy to do.  The Merpati plane from Timika landed just as the sun was setting. I wandered around outside the small domestic terminal until I found a taxi and made my way to Bakungsari Cottages in Kuta which is the first place that I stayed in Bali. After a week of wandering around Denpasar, Kuta, and Legian, I made my way up north via bus.

I boarded the wrong bus and ended up going up north on a beautiful road through Pupan, rather than through the middle of the island through Bedugal like I had planned. By the time that I figured out where I was, I was almost out of the Lovina strip. I jumped off the bus just down the road from the Bali Taman in Anturan. I ended up moving a few days later to a small homestay in Kalibukbuk for the grand price of $2 a day. After a week in Kalibukbuk and Anturan, I cancelled my plans for Thailand and Jakarta. I spent the rest of my time in the north of Bali hanging out with my new Balinese friends.

From there, I was just taken, like so many are for some reason that is actually quite hard to explain completely rationally, with Bali and knew that I wanted to live there on a full-time basis at some point in my life.

The rest of the story follows fairly quickly from there; I built my first house, met the woman whom I married a year later, built another house, started having children, built another house, changed jobs a few times, moved to another island, built another two houses, retired and moved the family back here. That sums up as neatly as possible the past 19 years.

Why am I still here? That’s a good question. Just today one of my correspondents said, “oh, you’re still in Bali, you must really love it.”

I replied, “Yes, I do,” But as I think about this reply. I keep wondering why.

Find out what my answer is


~ by drbrucepk on August 28, 2008.

One Response to “Anniversaries and Why I’m Still in Bali”

  1. Happy Anniversary for living in this crazy country – crazy but fantastic!

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