12-28 First Impressions: Bali

The path out to the rice fields.

I realize I’m writing this a bit after the fact, but it struck me again as I am sitting in the airport.

My first impression of Bali, driving through in a taxi at night, was one of high walls and open spaces. I realize this seems contradictory but give me a minute to explain.
Every place seems to be walled in. The temples are walled in, the hotel has a wall, the family compounds are walled, even the beach had a wall running along the back. The only thing that doesn’t seem to be walled in is the shop fronts, and I think they might if they could find a way to display their wares at the same time.
The walls are built around very large spaces. The family compound comfortably houses fifteen or twenty people, while the hotel had over fifty rooms. Once you are inside the walls, the place is wide open. There are very few truly closed in areas. Like Vanuatu, the cooking seems to be done primarily outdoors. The communal spaces all have a (really water-tight) roof, but very few walls. The first hotel we stayed in had no rooms, except the guest rooms. The communal space was divided by a few walls, but otherwise open.
A side road in Ubud.

The finest example of this open-to-the-elements architecture I can think of is this airport. We have passed through 4 security check points and a ticketing counter to get to our gate, but we have yet to go through a door. Technically, we are indoors but we are not indoors.
So, high walls and open spaces. Also, primary colors, white fabric, huge crowds, constant voices and the smell of frying food.

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