Flying into Bali from Singapore was quite emotional for Lisa and myself . We had spent some time here on our first holiday together 12 years ago. This was the holiday we took where we told ourselves if we could stick each other for 10 days we would get married. For Lisa there was also the attachment to a part of her past where she had lived in Bali 17 years before and sewn some of her many wild oats with two of her best friends on the island paradise. Getting off the plane you are hit with the remembered smell of the island, the incense and the pungent aroma of the kretek cigarettes the locals smoke, a smell you like the way you may have as a child liked being close to your grandfather when he lit up his pipe, a warm and comfortable feeling.
Bali still retains that island feel even though large parts along the coast have been built up beyond recognition. The people are still largely friendly and easy-going in the face of rapid development and change.
It is home to countless creative people, local and foreign who see Bali as a place in the sun where they can express themselves and make a living from something they love by selling whatever it is they make to the throngs of tourists from all over the world who still flock here for their two weeks of paradise a year.
Lisa was designing clothes while she was here and there are still many designers working here from all over selling their fashion in the hundreds of small independent boutiques. I think she was very inspired from her couple of walks around Semanyak where she lived before. She often spoke of the traditional Balinese house on its own in the middle of a rice padi where she lived with Ruth Morgan. One afternoon she went in search of it just to see if it was still there for old times sake’s. Not a chance. Lisa wasn’t sure if the road she was on was the correct one but after a call to a guy she knew she found her old road now surrounded with shops and villa’s , no sign of the old house or padi though ….. I think she was kind of disappointed .
We didn’t spend too long on the coast we headed up to Ubud in the mountains, home to countless Balinese artisans, boutique hotels and guest houses. On the journey up you pass through numerous villages each seeming to specialize in one craft or another, wood carving, stone carving, jewelry making, basket weaving pottery throwing.
I had been carrying around 5 of Axel’s milk teeth since he started to lose them on the journey and I wanted them set in Silver to wear on a necklace. I thought I had found the right place to do it in the village of Celuk. This place was full of silversmiths and we visited there on a Saturday. I got out of the car and started to walk around and found to my disappointment that their staff were either gone home on some Hindu holiday or that they got there stuff manufactured elsewhere. I was trudging back to the car still carrying the little teeth in the small fabric bag I kept them in. I had tried in vain to get this done in a number of other places. I was thinking it would never happen when this girl pulls up beside me on a motorbike and asks me what I am looking for, I explain and she say’s hop on I know the place. Trusting old me, leaves the wife and kids in the car none the wiser that I have headed off with some girl I don’t know on the back of her motorbike, they thought I was still down the road looking in shops. Anyway we head off in the opposite direction to where the family are, with me shouting in the girls ear, asking her will she return me to where we started when we are finished. She answers back something leaving me none the wiser. Down a maze of laneways and back alleys where we arrive into this courtyard and what turns out to be a small jewelry and silver factory. I was sort of relieved, I wasn’t going to be beaten up, tortured and robbed. Once I emptied out the teeth onto the table and explained what I wanted them to do the four or five people surrounding me, there always seems to be four or five involved, they discussed the request throwing bemused looks at me and eventually said they could do it. It would cost me €35 and they would be ready in two days. I said great, see you in three days. Which I did, and I got them and I was very happy with the finished article and gave them 30 quid. I then had to come up with some story for Axel. I had been priming him for some time that I was going to ask the tooth fairy to return some of his teeth to me. So I told him I had written a letter and hoped for a good response. He had lost a tooth on a sleepover in Singapore (which I got back, thanks Dee) and had been voicing doubts over the veracity of the tooth fairy, he said we left the money under his pillow, I told him I wouldn’t be arsed wasting money like that and how come he got money when he lost the tooth on the sleepover, he said our friends put it there. I said to him, you know if you don’t believe you don’t receive and he just shrugged. We were losing him, to the big bad world at the tender age of seven.
We were staying in a beautiful hotel in Ubud, the a little villa with a private pool when there was a knock on the door. When Axel answered the door to the concierge he was presented with a little package, which he had been told had been delivered in the middle of the night. It was a small black beaded box tied with a leather thong with a small note under the knot. When he opened it he got a shock to see his five milk teeth all capped in silver on a leather rope. I don’t think he knew what to make of it. There was also a small blue butterfly with instructions to Axel from TF to present it to his little sister. I think we might get another six months belief out of him, certainly till he gets back to school next year where someone will tell him the awful truth and he will lose another small piece of his beautiful childish innocence.