When I came to Bali

When I came to Bali all those years ago, life was dramatically different. First electricity was almost unknown. There was, for example one small light bulb outside the Puri Agung (King’s Palace) on the Main Street. As far as I know that was it. The light at night was provided by lamps that were fuelled by coconut oil. It was soft and gentle, totally non intrusive. There was no television, except perhaps in the enclosed spaces of the very rich, in Denpasar. This is mere speculation, for I never came across it, way back then.

Washing of self and clothing took place in the rivers, under the flowing waters of some spring, or with a coconut bowl from an indoor water vessel. If hot water was required, it was simply boiled using the ancient method of pot-on-top-of fire.

Hot water was used only when one was ill, or if one didn’t manage to wash before dusk. It was dangerous to wash with cold water after dark for health reasons. When one lives in the tropics this is wise. Yes, washing one’s body at least twice a day is normal practice here and one which I agree with. The body is considered to be a sacred temple and it is therefore advisable to keep our temples impeccably clean… for many reasons!!

Back then it was possible to drink the water from springs with total confidence as it was pure and delicious. Now due to the influx of ‘Progress’ much of this pure water is so contaminated that it has to be boiled, or treated in some other manner. This is something that the Old People regret and consider with both sadness and increasing alarm.

Back then there were few cars, some motor bikes, for the privileged few. Bemo’s (a sort of covered mini van) were the normal mode of public transport, into which was piled anything from people, sacks of rice, baskets of fruit, to chickens and even the occasional pig. Old Dutch bicycles were often seen. I had one myself for years. And then there was the world wide traditional method of transport… ‘Shank’s mare’ (walking).

Now, some of my Balinese friends say that the island will sink under the weight of cars, trucks, and tourist buses. More later…

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