Puri Duwur Abing: Finding a Family in Bali


I’ve landed in paradise! It’s budget paradise, but still paradise to me!

Our poolside fountain art - the man and women are classic Balinese figures used to decorate many entrances (and poolsides, I guess).

We’ve moved into a hybrid family compound/villa. The Balinese traditionally live together – a village within a village – where uncles, fathers, brothers, husbands, and nephews sit around playing cards while aunts, mothers, sisters, wives, and nieces chat in communal work areas. The “streets” inside the encompassing wall are filled with activity as people come and go, children totter from one house to the next, and chickens cluck their way from building to building.

We don’t have chickens, aunts, uncles, nieces, or nephews, but Puri Duwur Abing still has the communal atmosphere of a traditional compound – with just enough privacy. Our hosts built their fledgling compound 12 years ago, but outfitted it for western visitors. There are seven houses in the compound, all surrounding a tiered, oval pool which is loved by the youngest of the owners’ three daughters. Jeanne, an American from California lives in the cliff-side house overlooking the river. Sue, Hamish, and Lara are the Australians who live between Jeanne and us.

My papaya tree!

Pat and I possess 500 glorious square feet of tiles, enormous windows, and incredible views. Every morning when I wake up, I check on the ripening papayas just outside my window. Each time I pass the pool, I look for new orchids opening. Oka – the compound’s mother – is a collector and has at least 30 gorgeous varieties in the hanging garden surrounding the pool. When I descend the stairs, I admire the stone mosaics – each step with a design like no other. When I need a break from my work, I gaze out past the ornate rooftops catching views across the verdant gorge of the terraced rice fields and fancy resort on the other side.

View across the gorge...

“Wait. Work? What work.” No, not the 9-5-projects-dictated-by-someone-else work. It’s been my dream, for the last five or six years, to live very cheaply in a beautiful tropical country while establishing the foundations of a freelance writing career. Also, Pat and I knew at some point in our travels we’d need a break from the wake-up-repack-travel-to-terminal-ride-transport-find-housing-find-food-find-points-of-interest-sleep-wake-up-repack cycle. The point of exhaustion arrived sooner than we thought. After my parents left Bali, we ditched the three-month plan to run around Indonesia, travel up through Malaysia, and return to the familiar Thailand for apartment hunting.

Hard to choose a favorite, but I think this specimen in Oka's collection takes the cake!

Being settled in Bali is great. As usual, I failed to anticipate time needed to do things other than toiling behind a computer. As such, it’s obvious that a month to “establish the foundations of a freelance writing career” isn’t going to cut it. At least not while there are neighbors to meet, places to be explored, Balinese recipes to learn, traditional fishing to be done, beaches to be enjoyed, and new skills to learn. But I’m okay with that. ♣

More orchids, a healing application of boray, shots of the river, funny english-isms, and more are in this album.



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