Bali balloons

Go with the flow

I take whatever comes my way – the good and the bad. It’s hard for me to say, which one of these is a trip to a Balinese orphanage. Perhaps the point is that it doesn’t fit the frame? Isn’t it better when things are not one or the other? When they can be both and neither at the same time?

It felt good that I wasn't the only one freaking out about pancakes o_O

It felt good that I wasn’t the only one freaking out about pancakes o_O

Have you used your GPS abroad?

As soon as I got to Canggu, Tommy told me that he would be going to an orphanage on Sunday and I could join him. But no pressure, it’s all right.

I never (never say never) reject an experience, so of course, I was interested.

Tommy had the address written on a worn piece of paper. I looked it up using my smartphone while he snickered at me. (Smartphone is just not his thing.) All right, we’re good to go. He with the piece of paper in hand, I with a GPS in my bag.

After trying to find the place guided by Tommy’s hand holding the paper, we turned to technology and arrived at the spot in an instant. Well, maybe smartphones are not that bad…

How do you celebrate your birthday?

Traditional Balinese architecture marvels me – almost everything looks like a temple to my untrained European eye. As soon as we entered the residence, I was hit by a mixture of smells with beautiful incense aromas wading through.  The place had so much green vegetation that it formed a maze of paths sunk in a jungle with cackling of hens to guide you.

This is an orphanage? It's a garden, not an orphanage...

The Secret Garden.

Where's the hen?

Where’s the rooster?

Oh, so this is where the smell comes from... D'oh!

Oh, so this is where the smell comes from… D’oh!

Windows, no windows. Should there be windows?

Windows, no windows. Should there be windows?

Pancake Birthday Party

The children were already in the ceremonial hall. It was a Pancake Birthday Party. Pancakes? Gooooood. Surya and Evelon had their birthday and they decided that they wanted to celebrate with the children at the orphanage. Celebrating your birthday at an orphanage? Gooooood. More than that. Impressive.

Give me more!

Give me more!

After some singing and dancing designed to loosen us up, we gathered around the pancake station. Suddenly, this big hall with a never-ending ceiling, shrunk to this one small spot – the table with the pancake batter and pans. Kids swarming around looked like colourful birds about to be fed, one chirping over the other.

Digging in - the best part!

Digging in is the best part!

Not having eaten breakfast, I started feeling really hungry when the sweet smell diffused in the air. Imagine my joy when the first pancake went to me! I put some syrup on it and ate the pancake at once without satiating my hunger even a bit. Oh, well…

Putting things into perspective. Again.

We were taken on a tour of the premises. Hm, actually, not really. Rather, we were given a green light to go wherever we wanted and see whatever was there to be seen.

I also managed to fell in love...

I fell in love in an instant. Here’s the object of my affection.

The building is very grandiose but largely unfinished. It’s been an orphanage since 1984 and no one knows what had been there before that. The top floor is just bare bricks, mortar and rubble. The living quarters? It’s hard to write about them without sounding superficial. It is what it is. The children are joyful. But are they happy? Girls aged 13-19 live in one basement room without any windows. I guess they’re as happy as they can be.

Used? Unused?

Used? Unused?

The kids train for the Barong dance in the main hall.

The kids train for the Barong dance in the main hall.

Make a wish

When we came back to the main hall, I realised that the children have made much nicer pancakes than I had done. Their compositions looked so delicious that I went straight to the cooking station.

The final stage of the Pancake Party transpires on the roof. Surrounded by low buildings, rice paddies and lush trees of Denpasar, we can nearly touch the sky.

When was the last time you played with helium balloons?

When was the last time you played with balloons?

The big bouquet of balloons is now taken apart and everyone gets a piece of plump rubber. Among general excitement, we write our wishes and tie to them the balloons. Then, 1, 2, 3! And up they go, carried by the swift wind and winged thoughts of our minds.

And so, there we were. Tommy and I, standing on a rooftop of a tired building in Bali, surrounded by laughing children, colourful balloons and aromatic incense smoke coming from below. Talk about surreal…

I wonder how many of these dreams will come true…?