If you are a fan of an extended overseas adventure then you know there are a few things about living in a melting pot of cultures, customs, languages, food, random adventures, learnings and hilarious moments when things that are lost in translation that are seriously entertaining, like belly laugh out loud and I am blessed to live in one such smaller sized pot, the worlds favourite most Google searched Island of the Gods Bali Indonesia.
Connection is an essential element of our human experience, the other night I had a few friends over to dinner it was not fancy but it was super fun! My guests were from Serbia, UK, USA & Netherlands and the me now Bali resident and previous participant in the Penal Colony of the Long Lost Isle of Australia. All us friends are all connected to each other in Bali by the cafe, the beach, a house, work mates and of course our dogs!
Menu wise I was in lazy mode, chef function had been immobilised and so the entree snax were from Bintang in the form of Kacang Disco which is the best name for a snack food ever, Kacang Disco are spicy crunchy peanuts. From the local warung delicious light and crispy payek with peanuts served along side lychee soda. Main course was Italian aka pizza Gojeked to my impromptu dining table followed by also Gojeked brownies and sesame peanut brittle (which I want to try dipped in dark chocolate)
Just in case you are concerned with availability of pizza here in Bali and that this could potentially sway you to book a ticket to fly we have some of the most delicious and crazy affordable pizza in the world right here, mere minutes from where ever you live and as an added bonus you don't even have to leave the house its just a few Gojek or Grab App screen taps away below is my list of favourites in and around Seminyak La Baracca Warung Italia Warung Napoli Wild Habit Pizza Fabrica
I love that there are moments of deep discussion and moments of hilarity punctuated by dogs doing zoomies in the garden and then bouncing on the couch and that we are all ok with it! The biggest belly laugh came of the evening came from a moment of truth about mosquito coils.
You see this was the first time "they" my friends had ever lived in a country where mosquitoes were a nuisance, actually a fucking Dengue causing, Baygon avoiding, buzzy annoyance pest of epic proportions.
They had been using mosquito coils, buying them in Bintang opening the box, prizing apart the plastic packed coils that look like two tightly wound skinny purple yin yang snakes and then sliding the single hopefully unbroken coil into a corner of their room and considering themselves protected.
I spat my lychee soda and near peed my pantaloons as they further explained that they could see the lightening bolts on the cover of the box and couldn't read the Bahasa Indonesia instructions and so it figured they were protected by the strange dark purple lavenderish scent emanating. As such had absolutely no idea that you were supposed to ignite those carcinogenic bad boys with a lighter from your nearest Circle K, spike them on the dodgy aluminium stand and let them smoke you out of your own home. Vwella mozzies gone. They were literally blown away when I got my lighter out, I was laughing so hard my belly was hurting. They were so glad they came to dinner it was a most educational an entertaining exchange!
Believe it or not you have actually been able to travel for the hole of the pandemic even though powers that rule the world have made you believe it was forboden. Every one in this story bar me arrived in Bali in the last 6-18 months testament to this lots love of an adventure and a good laugh. the caveat on the international travel being it was not easy (but it was possible)
I have been in Bali for the whole of "waktu covid" "covid time" one of my first blogs pondered "Is covid killing connection?" My answer is that it has killed connection, and we are gonna have to work real dam hard to undo the damage. Thats what made the above gathering all the more sweeter.
We have all experienced our own versions of lockdown ranging from the "Don't go out unless you need your double shot flat white" Bali style lock down to the "If you leave the house for anything other than a Bunnings sausage sizzle we will fine you and as an added bonus if you cuss at us we will chuck you in jail" Melbourne style lockdown which incidentally was the longest running in the world, and the state of emergency in that part of Australia just got extended for another 3 months.
Despite many passport carrying peeps having being able to traverse the world, for most Australians unless you had a letter from your employer and were paying first class prices for economy seats this was not a possibility. returning to Australia from Bali less of a slight of a glimpse of gnat of a possibility. Western Australia is probably plotting a Corisca style revolution for independence, planning to break off from the rest of the wide brown land. They are not sending iron ore to China they are sawing through the boarder so they can drift away as their own island LOL.
The Island of the Gods is tourist dependant and as fear and panic swept our much loved tropical paradise people returned to their home countries by the thousands, hotels sectioned off rooms, small businesses closed, local warungs downsized and eventually shut as migrant workers from other Indonesian islands returned home. Bali emptied out, friends left dogs stayed. Many of us spent the next 2 years (and some of us are still) missing our families, friends, loved ones, pets, houses and colleagues connected only by Facetime, Instagram & TikTok.
For many Facebook dominated connectivity during the pandemic as with all platforms there was some good ordinary and some very deletable content. And then there were actual conversations with friends.....
One of my least favourite exchanges was in a thread with a few media washed friends in Melbourne that they would refuse to meet with me as I remained unshcmaxxed, that they would no leave the house or meet unnecessarily with people because they didn't want to risk getting a vireeoli with a 99.83% recovery rate. In my head, I am thinking "Not meet for coffee not meet?" or "Not come over to dinner not meet?" or "Our views differ we must not cross the great divide not meet, ever again style not meet?" I left them to ponder their imminent loss of human interaction and went to meet some friends. I wonder if they have shifted their perspective yet? Also who cares if you are or if you aren't its none of anyones biz. But their words hurt, some said they would be happy never to travel again. Who were these people???
Here in Bali we have had a pretty good run, by all accounts. However there have been some serious blips on our radar in the last few months, people taking their lives. I hear the news from mutual friends and at a distance. We are a smallish bule population so never mind 6 degrees of separation its only one degree on the island. I don't have the answers as to why, the depth of their sadness must have been excruciating. I am but a far off observer with my own mental health issues of the past, present and probably future. There have been days when I have thought about if it would matter if I was here or not. I am grateful that I have the tools to access where I am at and change tact.
One of the keys to wellness is connection. Do you realise that no one ever asks you if you are happy?
If you live in Bali they ask you how long you have lived here, what do you do and if you plan to return home. Living in Bali isn't a holiday for everyone, for many of us this is our home and we are waiting patiently to reconnect with our friends family and loved ones. Waiting for them to come back to Bali, for our businesses to become buoyant once more so that we can build the connections that us humans crave.
Our Island home doesn't change our need for connection and belonging.
As we are slowly released back into the world we once knew some of us are going to have to re-learn how to build connections. We have an opportunity to ask what would serve us and what does not? This is your future so you don't have to be weighted by the decisions or programming of the past. What do you want your new connections going to look like?
Here are my top 10 tips for building connection!
Don't be shy say hi!!! Meet the people around you, don't be afraid you never know who you might meet. The past 2 years you have talked to strangers on the internet all the time, so I am pretty sure you can hold your own in an IRL conversation.
Make a list of the things that light you up that bring joy, take that list and allocate it to daily, weekly monthly and possibly annual activities. then action that list!! You are going to meet some amazing people on those journeys and build extraordinary connections!
Smile and say yes if you say no you will never ever know!!!
Show up and be reliable! Act Commit Belong was a campaign that ran in Australia I think its an excellent place to start!
Be curious ask questions, listen to the answers
You are not going to like everyone and not everyone will like you dats cool, mooven right along!
If you are travelling join local social media groups that reflect your interests yoga , crypto, waterfalls , food, fashion, cooking, gardening, local experiences, that keep you updated or invite members to meet up I met someone the other day that joins the weekly HASH run she has met heaps of people and run all over Bali!!!
Learn to love your own company. Sounds random but learning to love your self builds confidence and makes you comfortable meeting new people.
Learn a little of the local language, making an effort makes a massive difference.
Slow down life moves pretty fast, you don't need to go that fast (on your scooter) Take a few rounds of breath. Slowing down and connecting to breath will be the difference between observing whats happening around you or just whizzing past it!
Bonus tip: Ask people if they are happy!!!
As Bali continues to welcome passengers as they step of their planes direct on to the tarmac at Denpasar to have their nasal cavities swabbed we cant wait to welcome you and create new connections!