The Bali Diary: Shaky Ground

Note: This post is part of a series on Bali. To start at the beginning, see The Bali Diary: Day 1.]

The villa is amazing. We must have made fifty references to each other about Gilligan’s Island already. But it’s true. Something about the thatched roofs, coconut trees, and open-air living make me want to talk with my teeth clenched and say, “Lovey, dear, isn’t this place just mahh-velous?”

Last night, while bats circled the infinity pool and fishing boats flashed their lights on the horizon, we perused the villa’s bookshelves, paintings, shell collections, and wood carvings. We were finally alone after a scrumptious dinner of chicken satay with peanut sauce, rice (a requisite), and fiddlehead ferns, made by our incredibly kind and gentle staff of three: Nyoman, Made (his wife), and another Made.

To keep all the Nyomans and Mades straight (see Day 1 for an explanation of Balinese names), we’ve started numbering them. Nyoman 1 is the caretaker. Nyoman 2 is our driver and the father of Wayan, who’s getting married today. Made 1 is Nyoman 1’s wife, and a wonderful cook. And Made 2 is the third staff member, a persistent sweeper and our resident pastry chef.

IMG_6202Without our watchful staff nearby we were able to poke around without feeling self-conscious. We’d been dying to have a look around because one of the villa owners just happens to be a world-renowned collector of head-hunter artifacts (he may not know wiring instructions, but he sure knows cannibal culture). While Chris looked for shrunken heads, I flopped onto a couch and flipped through Diving Indonesia, an exotic-looking coffee-table book with glossy color photographs. Unfortunately, the sea air had coated all of the pages, leaving them–and my fingers–strangely sticky.

I’ve noticed that most things around here have been affected one way or another by this potent mixture of salt and moisture. The DVD player, now thoroughly oxidized, looks like it’s been dropped in a vat of acid, seat cushions smell of mold, mirrors are filmy, and closets are rank. Still, it’s an arguably small price to pay for living on the set of Gilligan’s Island, as long as you’re not too attached to your electronics or anything made of metal.

villa“What do you suppose this is?” Chris asked, holding a ancient, primitive wood carving of what clearly looked like a woman’s breast attached to a basket.

“I don’t know,” I answered. “Ceremonial breastfeeder?”

Chris carefully placed the object back on the shelf and took down another to investigate.

“Did you ask Nyoman 1 about the wedding? Does he know where it is and how we’re supposed to get there?” I asked.

“Yes, but I’m not sure if he understood me. He just said it’s tomorrow,” Chris said.

IMG_6171“Well, it’s a small village. I guess we’ll get there somehow. What are we going to wear?” I picked up our guidebook and turned to the “Dos and Don’ts” section. “It says here that ‘overly revealing clothing is frowned upon,’ and that we should ‘cover our shoulders and knees in the temples.’ I don’t have anything that covers my knees.”

“We can figure it out tomorrow,” Chris said. “Let’s get to bed before it starts to rain.” The sky had been lighting up silently over the ocean for the past half hour and now the wind was picking up. We shut off the lights and tiptoed along the stone path to one of two sleeping huts. Geckos scurried into crevices and a little frog hopped out of the way of our feet. “You go first,” I said when we reached the door. I still wasn’t sure what we could expect to find lying in wait in our Swiss Family Robinson bedroom. Monkeys? Bats? Spiders? Chris worked the heavy wood latch from its catch, the only locking mechanism the double doors had, then secured them from the inside.

IMG_6342The sky flared and crashed while the wind whipped the tall palms without mercy. Finally the heavens cracked, drenching the land with ropes of rain. Chris closed the shutters and I dove into the four-poster bed draped in mosquito netting. “Do you think this hut is solid enough to withstand a typhoon?” I asked. I knew the villa had been built only six years ago, but its teak skeleton had come from a traditional hut disassembled on Java and shipped here. It looked sturdy, but who could speak to its structural engineering?

IMG_6175“Guess we’ll find out,” Chris said and turned out the lamp. We watched the walls flash then turn black, and soon the Log Sawer was fast asleep. But I lay awake, bed sheet to my chin, wondering what was a shadow and what wasn’t. The storm was moving fast, and the faraway flicker of lightning no longer brought the sound of sixteen cannons. The wicked wind had settled into a calm breeze, and sleep began to flirt with my eyelids. I snuggled into my pillow, ready for the soothing sough of the sea to carry me away to peaceful slumber.

But no sooner had I started to drift off than the bed began to shake.  Not a thunder rumble kind of shake, but a coin-operated Vegas-bed kind of vibrate. Something strange and unnatural.

IMG_6230I elbowed Chris and sat up straight. “Oh my god! Did you feel that?” I asked.

“Yeah, I felt it!” He said, grabbing his ribs. “Why’d you do that?”

“No, I mean the bed shaking! Did you feel it?”

“Just the thunder,” he mumbled, already falling back asleep.

“No, that was not thunder. I don’t know what it was, but it definitely was not thunder.”

Chris went back to sawing logs, and I curled into a ball waiting for the mysterious shake to return.

But sleep came first.

To read more, see “The Bali Diary: Wedding Day, Part 1.”

Categories: BaliTags: , , , , , , ,


  1. Isn’t that just like a guy? “We can figure it out tomorrow”. I can’t tell you the number of times I lay awake trying to figure IT out all night!! LOL I cannot wait to hear more about this adventure. And like any typical woman… I’m wondering what you wore and if it was appropriate or not and if you were well-received! Why do we worry so? ~ Lori


  2. No kidding. Wish I could get back all the minutes, hours, days I’ve wasted on wondering what to wear. Not a problem at the yurt … or soon the cabin 🙂


  3. Oh I love Bali! What a wonderful place… meeting strangers, attending weddings, soaking in the view and seeing a green that is indescribable. Glad you went, glad you are home.


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