We rarely revisit places. With the assumption that a return would probably ruin the a previously held love. It’s like if I returned to Istanbul, sans coup, I’d feel like we’d be missing something. Without those 4am fighter jets, it just wouldn’t be complete. Or alternatively, re-booting Gilmore Girls on Netflix (!!!), without Edward Herrman. Same same but different, right?
Then we did it. We went back to a special place. My partner and I needed a break from the world. The kind of trip that was based on whimsy and great eats and not goals to have every amazing cup of matcha a city in Japan would have to offer. We were also trying to celebrate lucky number eight. So why not go back to the scene of the crime*? And sure it was different. Very different. But it also wasn’t the post-Eat, Pray, Love Bali that we imagined it to be.
Except for the grid lock in Ubud. That was bad. How did it get that bad?
So before I shared every bite you should take and every bed you should sleep in, I thought I’d just ruminate on the art of returning somewhere. It’s a weird feeling. Things are completely different and the same. The store that you bought that dress that you still wear? It’s gone. The streets are filled with retirees from the West and the East looking to get their yoga on. And this is low season. Remember that mostly-empty-surfers-only beach we found on our long motorbike trip up to coast? The hipsters took over. And all that cook batik went into hiding and has been replaced by resort wear.
But the roasted suckling pig on the side of the road is still delicious. The volcano you climbed is still there. And the overrated poop coffee is still available everywhere. Also, the Balinese are still the most hospitable and lovely people around. Oh, and the super tanned surfer boys are still riding around Canngu barefoot on their scooters sporting their Sean Penn-@-Fast-Times-at-Ridgemont-High hair? They’re still there too.
Also, a dude from El Bulli opened a restaurant in Ubud (more on that and a bunch of cool special things next week).
Places change. Going back to Bali was like going home for me. In the case of home, Toronto stayed more-or-less the same, and it was my friends heading into big life changes. In the case of Bali, bigger changes happened. A gorgeous island suddenly became known to the world. And people flocked.
Eight years on, I’d still be happy to visit Bali again, though. We’ll just have to keep looking for those special hidden places.
*We visited Bali the first time in November 2008, just a week after the terrorists who had attacked Bali in 2002 were executed. Ubud and Seminyak were still fairly quiet. Very quiet actually.
All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use. Cait+Tiff are not liable for any costs incurred for sudden excursions to tiny, beautiful Indonesian islands.