Aloft in Bali’s ‘Winter’

By Hannah Black
For The Bali Times

SILAKARANG ~ It’s that season again when men become boys and boys can be seen in every village busy at work with bamboo, cloth and bits of string. It’s kite season!

This time of year, also known as dry season or coffee season, is when the temperature drops those few little degrees and locals don their winter coats, hats, gloves and scarves before going anywhere on their motorbikes.

There is a buzz in the air around this time – almost like the fall in the UK or US, when everyone starts to bundle up and spend more time indoors.

Living up near Ubud, it really has been chilly the past couple of weeks. Wrapping up in a sheet or light blanket in bed or in front of the TV has become oddly normal and a jumper is necessary for evenings out.

My friends and family back home pooh-pooh the idea that it could possibly be cold here; but after four years of acclimatization, I feel the chill. It’s funny to think that their warm 18 degree days are our cold evenings.

Kite season, however, really is a lovely time. Despite the children (and adults) all having runny noses and coughs, it’s a time when I notice everyone in the compound looks more active and less worn down by the blazing sun and humidity.

My mother- and father-in-law seem to nap less and the kids are left to roam without the warning of it being too “panas” (hot) to play out of the shade.

The other great thing about kite season is the kites! My nephew Kaka, 5, makes a new kite out of plastic bags and bits of sticks almost every day, helped by his father or grandfather, who seem to be able to make a flyable kite out of just about anything.

As for the monster kites you see around this time of year, what a sight. I remember the first time I saw one of those beasts being carried down the bypass by dozens of men; I couldn’t believe it would actually fly.

Later, my heart was in my throat watching them being launched in a competition on Sanur Beach. The tension in the crowd as they performed tricks and landed could be cut with a knife.

The sense of pride you can see in the kite teams is also a wonderful sight. They make the kites, organize their transportation and fly them as a team, something we seldom see in the West these days.

There are, of course, downsides to this chilly season. Everyone is sick on and off all the way through June, July and August with a variety of “cold weather” ailments including the dreaded “masuk angin” or “entered by wind.”

It’s not that I don’t believe in masuk angin. I just think there is more to being ill than just wind getting in your body – in a word: bacteria.

The very worst thing about the drop in temperatures for me is cold water, and I’m talking about getting up for work at 6am and having to get in a cold outdoor shower. Fantastic in very hot weather when you need cooling off, but colder than the proverbial witches body part at the moment.

Every morning as I force my self inch by inch to get under the icy flow, I think about buying that water heater I’ve been meaning to for so long. My husband Ongky, who doesn’t take a shower until around 8 or 9am doesn’t really see the need, but I think it may be time for him to give it a try.

Weather data shows that Bali’s temperature stays pretty steady all year round, but living here it’s impossible to ignore the difference in seasons.

Okay, so it doesn’t come close to the extremes of a scorching New York summer and the city’s snowy subzero winters, but there is a distinct change in atmosphere only felt by those who manage to stick it out and live here through hot and hotter.

Filed under: My Compound Life

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