16.01.2009 30 °C
We lounge by a pool on Tony's terrace and watch plump golden koi hide from the midday sun under giant lotus pads.
We are on the top of the world. All around us the soft curls of the hillsides are stepped into waterlogged rice paddies that take giant's strides down to the coastal plain at our feet. The young rice is impossibly green - too green to photograph or paint without cries of trickery - and the entire scene is clearly digitally enhanced. Even the silence is deceiptful. We are lulled by a soft warm breeze into a feeling of total tranquility, but it is a delusion - a chimera. The air is constantly abuzz with dragonflies and butterflies, and is frequently ripped by the shrieks of exotic birds in the branches of of the clove and rambuttan trees. A koi leaps from its watery world and splashes noisily back again. Bamboo wind chimes clunk sonorously in the breeze. Tomorrow's dinner quacks loudly as he forages for his final meal amid the clumps of rice seedlings, while the chickens trumpet the successful laying of another breakfast.
There may be no infernal combustion engines here - no chainsaws, motorbikes or leaf-blowers - but the air is alive with the constant clamour of nature. And in the evening, when we have watched the sun slip back into the Sea of Bali, the frogs and gekkos take up the chorus and the heavenly choir gets louder ... much louder ... very much louder. Heaven may not be quite what it is cracked up to be!