The Silent Traveller

Last weekend, I was at a garden party when a man approached me.  His opening line was:

“Somewhere you should go is Bali.  You’d love it.”

Before I could reply, he continued:

“Don’t bother with the beaches.  Do like we did.  Go to Ubud in the centre of the island.  It’s much quieter.  Get away from all the tourists.”

And then he added:

“Visit a temple.  Watch a sunset.  You’d love it.”

I smiled politely; nodded my head; agreed with him that it all sounded lovely.

What I never said was that I had lived in a small bungalow in Bali for several months when I was younger.  That I had stayed in a tiny village called Peliatan on the outskirts of Ubud, because it was much quieter, and I had wanted to get away from all the tourists in Ubud.  That I had visited the temples of Pura Besakih and Saraswati, and had watched the sun setting over the sea at Tanah Lot; that I would listen to the never-ceasing chorus of frogs croaking in the river outside my bungalow veranda, and try to prevent the cheeky monkeys from stealing my glasses; and that, every day, I would walk from my little bungalow along the Monkey Forest Road to a small place where I could eat delicious vegetable curry and look out across the peaceful green vista of rice fields, against a big, blue sky.

I could have said all of these things to the man at the garden party but, instead, I remained silent.


Well, I suppose I hadn’t wanted to crush his feelings.  He had been so genuinely enthusiastic in his recommendation that it would have been a pity to spoil his spirit of generosity and the gift of knowledge that he imagined he was imparting.

But, also, how do you condense all the varied emotions and experiences of those lazy months spent on a tropical island idyll into a passing moment of garden-party small-talk?

Sometimes the best memories are simply best left unspoken.

© E. C. Glendenny

E. C. Glendenny knows when to keep schtum.

She also knows when to yack away, as she does in her books of travel writing: Easy Come, Easy Go; Easy on the Eyes; Resting Easy; and Easy Pickings.

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