A flood of outstanding entries arrived on our desk this past week. A final week to go and the announcement next Monday of a winner in the Bali Dream Holiday Contest.
Stay tuned to find out who's going to win 2 tickets on Singapore Airlines, 7 nights at the Four Seasons Private Estates Bali at Jimbaran Bay, tours and transfers from Bali Discovery Tours, rafting and cycling excursions from Sobek, luxurious spa treatments from Mandara Spa, a helicopter tour from Air Bali, and Cooking Lessons from Bumbu Bali/Rumah Bali.
A writer from Melbourne, Australia, authored this week's entry.
A John, Dear Letter
My first and only trip to Bali was a dream from which I sometimes wish I'd never woken ...
John and I met at a conference in Sydney. He lived in Hong Kong; I lived in Melbourne. We went our separate ways at the end of the conference, but three months later we were still talking daily so John suggested we meet up in the middle - Bali. He joked that it would be cheaper than a week of phone calls. He wasn't far wrong!
We were reunited in Sanur, where exquisite perfumed gardens meet the turquoise sea. By day we lounged under frangipani trees, speculating about the lives of other hotel guests and sharing the one book. By night we enjoyed a last cocktail curled up against each other on the cool sand. We were falling in love - I knew it - but I also knew we were going our separate ways in a matter of days.
From Sanur we caught a fishing boat to Nusa Lembongan, where we planned to stay a day but ended up staying four. We felt we'd stumbled upon a private paradise, and explored it with the enthusiasm of city children on their first holiday by the sea. One night the hotelier's family invited us home for dinner, and I watched in amazement as John charmed everyone present, including a shy grandmother with no English. By the end of the night he had a cat in his lap, a child asleep at his feet and had swapped addresses with ten adults. There was something about the place that unwound him. It was as if the warmth of the people and the blazing sun ironed out his intellectual edginess.
After Nusa Lembongan, we nestled into the cool lushness of Ubud. We made several day trips to fabulous temples, markets and forests but, to be honest, I enjoyed the journeys even more than the stunning destinations. I felt such deep contentment half dozing in the car's back seat with one ear tuned into John's banter with the driver.
On our last night in Bali John proposed. We were lounging by a lotus pond watching the first stars come out when he said "Marry me and we'll come back every year". I was so surprised I had to ask him to repeat it, and then I was so happy I could hardly get my grinning mouth to form the word "OK". It seemed so right that I imagined the frogs were croaking in approval.
As it happened, John and I never returned to Bali. He died very suddenly before our wedding date a year after that magical night in the hills. But when I'm strong enough to see him again, and can return the genuine smiles of the Balinese, I'll go back.
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