In the last few days I've made a number of first name friends here at the Best Exotic Frangipani Hotel. This is my name for this little patch of paradise here in Ubud.
I call these people "first name friends" as I truly doubt that I will ever learn these people's surnames, but despite the casual acquaintances we share, they have all somehow wended their way into my heart and soul. I think that this is some of the magic of this place.
There is something very special about this place. It's not a five-star establishment, far from it, but for the $50 a night that I'm paying, I couldn't be happier. I have my own large room, huge bathroom, with a bath and shower, a king sized bed complete with mosquito nets, air conditioning, and the piece-de-resistance, a koi pond outside, where I can sit on a bench and watch the fish to my hearts content with a Bintang in my hand. The staff here are wonderful and the hour long relaxation massages are incredible - made even more incredible as I'm having one every second day for the princely sum of $13...
I knew there was a reason I came here.
The thing that is impressing me most about the Best Exotic Frangipani Hotel is the like minded people I keep meeting. As I said in my last post, everybody here appears to be on a journey, whether it be spiritual, physical or emotional.
Okay, I know that I'm transitioning through my working life at the moment - though I am very proud that not once has the iPad been set to Seek.com.au. Nope, job hunting can wait until I get back next Sunday. But there is more to this trip. Four days in and I've given a handful of tarot readings... maybe this is why I'm here. In return, I've been bought a coconut and given a book writen by the recipent of the reading.
I like that in this place of wonderment and healing I feel like I can talk to everybody here. Before you make the comment that I can talk underwater with a mouth full of marbles, this is not the small talk talking. I feel strangely connected to the people here.
Life has taken on a gentler pace. I wake up in the morning and promptly go for a swim for half an hour or so - because I can. Breakfast - normally of an omelette or scrambled eggs, some freshly squeezed juice and a cup of acceptable hotel coffee follow, is taken after the chlorine is washed off in the shower. It's at the communal breakfast table where these first name friendships. Standard questions.
"Where are you from?"
"How did you find this place?"
"How long are you staying?"
"Where else have you been?"
A lot of these are very loaded questions, despite the apparent innocence of them.
Ubud appears to draw in the wanderers and the seekers. I suppose I'm one of them, open to all sorts of different thoughts and beliefs - and Ubud is the place where you can find them. Or find yourself. Or just disappear and reappear as the mood takes you.
I met Lizzie as I went for my evening swim last night. She's in the process of working out who she is. Ex-wife and mother of four grown men, she's spent the last six months living between Northern California and Bali. She hopes that she can continue this lifestyle for a while longer.
"How do you manage to live like this?"
"I just keep manifesting."
"I think the universe reckons its my turn now. I've spent my life being somebody's wife and mother. Now it's time to work out who I really am."
Makes my being here enjoying a job transition rather pale in comparison.
Talking to Barb, the retired nurse from Melbourne who's been back here four times in the last six months. She's wondering what her next move will be, whether she goes into some sort of healing work or return to something a bit more mundane. She has a quiet, almost regal presence.
There is my adopted drinking buddy Sasha, who's here with her teenage daughters. We can be found in the evenings on the seats outside my room with a beer in hand putting the world to rights. Her girls are some of the wisest teenagers I've ever had the pleasure to meet. Lovely people. Sasha will be running a course up here later in the year and she's scoping people and places out to give her a hand. It's good to find.
There's Lorainne, the girl from the British Midlands, making Bali one of the last stops on her three year working holiday around the world. She's doing three yoga classes a day next door and has a quiet, gentle presence. She's great to talk about travel with over the breakfast table.
I've made a first name friend with this wonderfully boisterous American from all over the place. Jenni, in her mid-thirties, like me, is transitioning out of one job and into another life. We've got each other's life stories over the last few days. We're off to visit a temple later this afternoon, making offerings to the gods in gratitude.
I love these first name friends that you meet when you're away. You'll probably never get to know their surnames. It doesn't matter.
But such is the power of the Best Exotic Frangipani Hotel.
The locals here at the hotel all come looking for something, and in turn, have something to offer.
I was not expecting such a special place.