We left the autumn crisp weather of the north and crossed into tropical heat and humidity south of the hemisphere. If South Korea felt like work, busy and booked daily with lots of sightseeing, places to go and people to meet, Indonesia feels slow and relaxed.
I know it sounds crazy, but this is the first real down time we've had in awhile. Packing up all our belongings, renting the house, and actually planning the logistics of leaving the US for a year were often overwhelming and stressful, not to mention a huge life adjustment. Being on the move vagabond style isn't an easy comfortable vacation. Survival basics in an unknown place become a lot more challenging to figure out. Every day we have to be concerned about where we'll sleep, what we'll eat, and how we'll transport somewhere, all in an unfamiliar culture, location, and language while on a budget. I know this is just the beginning and I'm definitely not complaining, but I'm glad to have some time to slow down and catch up with old friends.
That's one reason why I was very appreciative that our Balinese landing was soft and easy. Our friend Zoltan arranged the ultimate VIP airport pickup, including not only a driver to shuttle us to his house, but also a special expedited service which breezed us past the customs and visa lines straight to the luggage carousel and exit. This is how things work in Indonesia: if there is something you want, or something you want to work around, you can pay someone to achieve it.
We are staying at Dragon Lounge, a masterpiece of a house. The family we are visiting are longtime friends, permanent vagabonds of French and New Zealand nationalities, artists who we always seem to meet on different continents depending on time of year. They have found a balance of continual change in their lives. Parent and grown siblings are all artists, jewelers and leather makers, and they travel the world selling their Balinese-made wares. Every year we host them in the US for an annual jewelry show. It's finally our turn to see their home turf. And it is awesome.
The Balinese culture is so incredibly rich and lush with creativity and craftsmanship. I see it everywhere when motorbiking around. From the stonework of the countless temples (I think there are more temples here than houses), to the hand-carved wooden doors, and the batik fabrics––the Balinese are extremely skilled artisans.
If creativity here in Bali is as innate as it feels, then I feel I'm right at the epicenter.
It took Lou six years to build and create this space, and after seeing the quality and attention to detail so consistent in his jewelry and leatherwork, the incredibly thoughtful detail of the design of his house is no surprise.
Everything fits consistently with his aesthetic, life philosophy, and style. The whole house is designed as a true indoor/outdoor living space with an open-aired kitchen, lounge room, bathrooms. The roof is made of thick palm tree bark, then layered with custom wood shingles carved to look like snake scales. All the wooden handrails are twisted vine, structural posts are hand-carved to match the reptile skin aesthetic and everything turns together organically. There are tiny metalwork details on structural posts, carved pearl pieces finishing the tops of staircase railings. His attention to detail and craftsmanship is beautiful.
Happiness and creative energy flow through everything. There is no distinction between work, life or art. Lou's life is art. Everything is so integrated it's inspiring.
We talk about their family's lifestyle and feel the creativity here in this live-work space. Lou always says that people should keep moving, otherwise they get stuck in the same old way.
Changing patterns is good, breaking habits, disrupting your perspective, keeping on the move. But this is easier said than done for most people. And particularly I find that keeping on the move is not a part of the traditional American lifestyle. Yet I can see how healthy it is. I can watch myself unravel, how silly it used to be to feel so consistently stressed out. Here life and art are integrated in a balance I want to find during and after my travels.