It had been a cold, rainy few days in Bali so far. We hadn’t
been able to do much in the way of activities as the weather was so bad.
Wearing distinctly summery clothes designed for the sunshine, we felt
miserable, shivering in our seats in the Balinese taxi which had no heating. The
windows and windscreen were steamed up from the misty rain. The air conditioning
had to be used to remedy this but it made the cold all the more spiteful and with
it, our moods more despondent. “I’ll try and wipe the windscreen instead of
using the AC” our driver affirmed, “I’m feeling cold too”. He told us that he
had never experienced weather quite like this at this time of year in the indie
centre of Ubud, as had so many other natives that we had met over the past few
days. It didn’t quite strike us as strange yet.
After a long day sightseeing in the chilling cold, I felt ill, as I often do in such weather – the type that would warrant cosy big jumpers, fleecy boots and sensible raincoats back home in England. I was so looking forward to returning to the spacious hotel room in which we were staying, decked out in bright marble and oozing an air of luxury. I could hardly wait to run a hot bath to comfort the chill in my chest. What I actually came back to, was a tap that was dejectedly running cold water. We had complained of this issue the day before, and despite a warm shower that morning, it clearly hadn’t been entirely fixed. So I stood under the shower head, melancholy, disconsolate over my fate. I hadn’t thought that running hot water would have to be a huge achievement. The frustration was building up. I could feel the heat of anger boiling up inside me.
After a brief shower solely for the purpose of cleansing,
not comfort, I threw on my over-sized slippers and white robe which was hanging
on the gold peg above the large oak door, not bothering to tie it. I emerged
back into the room, ripe with moodiness and ready for an argument with my new
husband. Our honeymoon Afterall, was not going according to plan and I had to
release the tension that the day’s events had built up within me. We stood
silently opposite one another gauging each other’s body language, both ready at
any moment to release the words that would initiate an argument.
At the very moment that I parted my lips and began to mutter something or the other, a strange rumble emerged from beneath us, accompanied by an unforgiving rocking motion. My husband looked around, confused, while I gasped “earthquake”. A sharp burst of panic slithered smoothly down my spine and through my stomach. In what seemed like a split second, he raced across the room and took hold of my hand firmly, just as the rumbling got louder and the rocking motion increased. We ran hand in hand as quickly as we could through the long, luxurious corridors that had been a beautiful sanctuary for us over the past few days, and now, a dangerous death trap. We continued to run, my robe flowing freely about my naked body, my slippers slapping along the marble floor. Enveloped in that most hideous moment of horror, I took a second to snicker internally about how the security watching the CCTV would later have a laugh upon viewing the footage of my public display of nudity.
As we reached the wide cream staircase we could see the exit
in front of us. We sprinted one last time across the large isolated Foyer of
our apartment building, near the bottom of our resort complex, sitting deep in a
rainforest of Ubud. As our feet touched the ground outside we turned to watch
the ferocious rocking motions that were still in full force, convinced that the
fine glass chandeliers would fall and smash into a thousand tiny fragments and
the magnificent statues of Hindu Gods would plummet to the ground, breaking
into pieces. We stood there, frozen in our spots, watching in horror, too
petrified to move or think.
When the angry rocking motions eventually ceased, after what felt like a life time, I suddenly burst into tears. My mind could not comprehend the emotions we had just felt or the sights we had just witnessed. It was fear, horror, shock, alarm, panic, dread, distress, trepidation, terror and so much more. More than can be described. My husband held me as I wept, enwrapping me like a baby in his comforting arms. In that moment there was nothing else to think – we were just lucky to be alive and unharmed. The walls that surrounded us were high and guarded by tall trees, both of which could have fallen in on us at any moment, squashing our comparatively frail bodies in a frenzied attack. The sharp glass shards of the chandeliers could have cut mercilessly into our shivering limbs, killing us. The large decorative stone chess pieces that sat serenely along the balcony walls outside our apartment, could have caved in and crushed us. It is funny how everything so beautiful can become so ugly with a quick change in perspective, a shift in experience. Stuck at the bottom of a long winding path leading downwards from the main hotel reception and Foyer, we would have had no chance of escape if the tall walls had descended on us. The earthquake had been a 7.0 on the Richter Scale.
We knew we were lucky. So lucky.
Photo Credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/qA4wf2TQ1q0