Hearts of Gold

This trip has been more about the connections we have made with others rather than bagging the big sites, museums and major attractions. Believe me, I would love to spend hours at the art galleries and museums of Ubud, but this is just not enjoyable for me (or them) when my kids are in tow. We have loved our trip for what we have learned and seen, but what we will miss most are the new friends we have made along the way. This post highlights some special souls we found during our stint in Bali, which is about to come to a close as we prepare for our two final months in Malaysia.

Wayan, we will miss you for your sweet, quiet yet helpful presence at Villa Satori. You alone made our stay so pleasant, we want to come back… Tomorrow!

Ketut, Wayan’s husband, was equally wonderful around Satori. A big highlight was when their 14 month old baby, Gede, came over to play. What a delicious, little morsel! He absolutely loved the little yellow bucket we gave him.

Just outside the house is a small fresh coconut stand manned by Nyoman, a rice farmer in his 60’s whose plot is nearby. His wife, also named Nyoman, is around quite a bit as well, often making canang (offerings) to sell to others who are too busy to make them themselves. If he runs out of coconuts, Nyoman nimbly shimmies up the nearest tree, pauses to make sure no vulnerable heads linger below and then whack. A resounding thump follows as if a 10 pound bowling ball suddenly fell from the sky. It was always a lovely diversion to go and order a coconut and sit with Nyoman for a while, chatting about his fascinating life and the way the fields and town have transformed around him. He invariably radiates light and a youthful spirit, no matter the weather or time of day. I especially appreciated how welcoming he is to all foreigners who pass this way. Nyoman and his wife are truly the golden ambassadors of Juwuk Manis.

Another precious Balinese sweetheart was Soni, who had a small outdoor massage studio up the Juwuk Manis path from us. She spent several hours over the course of our four weeks here remedying our chronic aches and pains, not to mention Merle’s as well! Over the course of this entire trip, Merle has become sort of a massage junkie, from his first one months ago on a beach beside the Gulf of Thailand. It is easy to oblige when it is so cheap in this part of the world. Soni was incredibly kind to our entire family. In return, I posted a glowing review of her on TripAdvisor, which has already attracted several new clients.

Merle and Mathilda’s favorite buddies here were Isla (3) and Grayson (5) King. We enjoyed our connection with their parents, Sabina and Keith, as well. It’s always hard to say goodbye, but we are hopeful to see them again, maybe here or somewhere else in the world.

Isla and Grayson’s nanny was Jero, a kind hearted woman who also spent a fair amount of time watching M and M during their play dates together. I am so glad I got the chance to say thank you and goodbye to her, for some of the kids’ best times were spent at the Kings’ under her supervision.

We actually met the Kings through an awesome Facebook group called Families on the Move. In order to join, you must be a family and traveling continuously for more than 6 months. It is through this group that I have had many questions answered, found lots of support and infinite inspiration. These people are so cool. If you thought traveling long term with kids was crazy, look at all these people we connected with in Ubud. Not crazy people at all, just regular peeps having a darn good time.

During our last days here in Bali, we reconnected with our beloved neighbors from Penestanan, Kadek and her kids, Putu (10) and Jovin (5). Like so many folks we have encountered during the previous eight months, Kadek’s enveloping warmth, smiling face, and generosity–knowing how little she has–is simply humbling. She, her kids, and so many others have given us the chance to see first hand that indeed love is all you need.


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