Endless Nights

By Hannah Black
For The Bali Times

SILAKARANG ~ I recently went on a visa trip to Singapore, which I don’t usually look forward to but was pleasantly surprised to enjoy. It was my first night away from my 17-month-old daughter Lola and although I wasn’t nervous about it, it just felt different.

One of the great things about living with so many family members is I don’t have to worry about who is looking after Lola while I’m away because there is always someone familiar to her. So I gave her big hugs and told her I would be back soon and off I went for my first night of freedom for a long, long time.

I’ve been to Singapore a few times before and never found it very exciting; but for some reason, this time I felt like a country bumpkin visiting the big city. Perhaps it was because I’ve been living in the village for such a long stretch now or that I’ve been so busy being a momma, but I was really excited about being in a big city.

It’s always nice to step away from home and have a bit of a breather from village life. A night and a day wandering Singapore, looking at the fantastic architecture, shopping and eating different food was a welcome change. I went with an American colleague and we indulged in slurpees from 7-Eleven and shared a Crunchie chocolate bar as a British indulgence.

I definitely wouldn’t want to live there, but it’s fun to see new faces and remind myself there is life outside Bali.

I’ve lived on islands for most of my life – Manhattan, the Isle of Man and Bali – and I’m well attuned to island life. And I know it’s very important to break out once in a while to make sure I don’t get too comfortable or complacent.

I also had a night out in Kuta on Saturday for a bit of a change. Usually I would avoid it like the plague, but it was nice to get out of my usually routine and I even talked my husband Ongky into skipping temple to hit the town.

We hung out with some friends at a pretty low-key bar (not the Bounty or Double Six Club) and headed home at around 11:30pm laughing at drunk and sunburned tourists on our way. I had fun, but that small dose of Kuta means I don’t need to do it again for a really long time.

It’s pretty easy to get stuck in a rut living up in the village, especially when so many people I know live further down south. Evenings are quiet and relaxing but can also be quite long and boring. Most family members head to bed around 9pm and get up stupidly early in the morning, so there is little action after sunset.

Most of my friends think Ubud is in the far reaches of the universe and only come to visit for special occasions. That means I have lots of family time in the evening – cooking, reading and playing with Lola. This, of course, is a positive, not a negative, but I often end up in bed with a book at 8:30 or 9pm, which can make me feel like a bit of an old fart.

Often the men in the village gather to drink and gossip (as fervently as they might deny it, I know they do) until late into the night, but women are seldom included unless they are serving at the warung.

It doesn’t help that living so close to the equator, the sun sets at 6:30pm every single night. I often miss those long, light summer evenings that keep you up late into the night.

The first time Ongky and I went to the UK together, he couldn’t believe the sun was just dipping under the horizon as late as 10pm. It took at least a week to get adjusted to the light and with the addition of jetlag, the sleep we craved evaded us for some time.

I often have to fight the urge to sleep when it gets dark just because it’s dark and there isn’t much to do. In fact I’ve taken up quite a few hobbies to keep myself occupied in the evenings when everyone else settles down to watch sinetron (TV soap operas).

Excitement comes in different forms these days: making a new dress for Lola, cooking and doing DIY around the house and now getting emails from my friends and family teasing me about what a boring old codger I’ve become.

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