Every morning I wake at 5.30am, just as the insects start their relentless stridulation and the roosters their crowing in earnest.
This early rising is unusual for me. Then again, the tropics have always agreed with my body clock.
I sit on a wooden platform, set within the lush jungle on a steep hill, perched high above the rushing river Os below. As the sun rises slowly behind the palm trees on the ridge opposite, it gently burns away the thick, morning mist drifting up through the lush valley.
Through the trees are glimpses of emerald-green, terraced rice paddies and the still morning air, is broken only by the occasional whooping bird call or the sound of over-sized foliage falling from the canopy.
As the sun finally rises above the treeline, its golden light illuminates the garden. Delicate spider webs appear as if out of nowhere, suspended between over-sized fronds, last night’s rain drops sparkle like jewels on deep green leaves and pale leaf tips glow with a bright translucency.
From the other side of the river bank the rhythmic tok, tok, tok of a temple drum starts slowly, increases in urgency then slows again until the last, lone, beat fades to silence.
And the scent. Well, I wish I could tell you it is the heady fragrance of frangipani and tuberose but it is overwhelmingly eau de DEET-infused insect repellant. It’s cloying but essential at this time of day.
I am in Bali. And I apologise for coming over all overly sentimental, but I feel like I’ve come home.
I haven’t been here for 11 years. And that time was for one short terrifying night and day. Long-time readers might remember the story but if you are newer here, you can read the background to all of this in this post I wrote from Jakarta last year. I feel the need to warn you that it’s a bit of a harrowing story. But if you are interested in why being back here in Bali, in paradise, after so long is making me cry (in a good way!) each and every day, then that post gives you all the background you need.
However, if, like me just now, you don’t really want to contemplate anything that came before or the whys and wherefores, but just sit and be, then I hope my photos will simply convey a small sense of the deep beauty of this place.
It’s so good to be back.
PS: I have finally got around to starting an Instagram account. You can see some other Bali shots over there and I’ll be updating regularly over the next few days of our trip so follow along if you’re interested. Click here.