Off­shore

ON THE GREAT STATE OF IDLE­NESS

hellobali - - CONTENTS - • PETER STEPHEN­SON

the 15-hour plan The charm­ing town of Ban­dung in a day

There's not much left of 2014, so by all means make the most of it. But do we re­ally need to make a bucket list? If so, can't it con­sist of or­di­nary, ev­ery­day things? Ex­treme leisure rather than any­thing spec­tac­u­lar? Sure you could go bungee jump­ing, white wa­ter raft­ing and par­ty­ing with the in-crowd, but would you re­ally feel less ful­filled if you didn't?

What I'm ad­vo­cat­ing here is noth­ing less than the re­turn of idle­ness to its right­ful place, and the devel­op­ment of a new ap­pre­ci­a­tion of bore­dom in­cor­po­rat­ing in­do­lence with­out guilt. What is equally im­por­tant, how­ever, is to re­mem­ber that not only should we aim to get our ac­tiv­ity rate down, but that we should also avoid turn­ing leisure into work. So re­sist the urge to see in­ac­tiv­ity as part of a med­i­ta­tion regime or zen state, or as some­thing whole­some or ul­ti­mately good for us, and es­pe­cially not as some­thing we need to do in or­der to make our­selves more pro­duc­tive in the long run. Why not just stare into space for the sake of it, or have a nap, or waste time? Bet­ter still, just sit around when you “re­ally should be do­ing some­thing”. Do­ing noth­ing can be its own re­ward.

In or­der to achieve this, you should, as much as pos­si­ble, and with­out un­duly jeop­ar­dis­ing the health, safety and hap­pi­ness of the peo­ple close to you, also be pre­pared to ne­glect your re­spon­si­bil­i­ties for days or even weeks at a time. And you should also be pre­pared in the process to risk gain­ing a rep­u­ta­tion for un­re­li­a­bil­ity and down­right lazi­ness. And if you do de­velop this rep­u­ta­tion make damned sure you de­serve it.

With all that in mind, here is – in no par­tic­u­lar or­der – my top five items to in­clude on your bucket list: 1. Sleep in un­til lunchtime. Or later. De­spite the well-known phys­i­cal and men­tal health benefits of sleep, many peo­ple don't al­low them­selves the sim­ple luxury of sleep­ing late. It's free. Find­ing the per­fect lo­ca­tion and buy­ing the best qual­ity sheets and pil­lows could set you back fi­nan­cially, but then, once you've done the re­search and forked out, you're good to go. Ide­ally you want some­where quiet but with a nice place for lunch within strolling dis­tance. 2. Catch a bemo. Sadly there are fewer of th­ese cheap public trans­port mini­vans on the roads than there used to be, be­ing vic­tims of the growth of pri­vate ve­hi­cle own­er­ship in Bali, which is amongst the high­est of any prov­ince in In­done­sia. That's a shame, since rub­bing shoul­ders with strangers, live­stock and bas­kets of shop­ping in­side th­ese cramped ve­hi­cles was si­mul­ta­ne­ously one of the great plea­sures and dis­com­forts of a visit to the is­land. Wait­ing for what seemed eons for a bemo to fi­nally set out from its sta­tion was part of the ex­pe­ri­ence, with driv­ers keen to cram in as many peo­ple on as pos­si­ble. 3. Go for a stroll with no par­tic­u­lar des­ti­na­tion in mind. In this goal-set­ting, achieve­ment ori­ented world, an idle ram­ble, whether in the coun­try­side or through a vil­lage, town or city is a rare treat. Get lost if pos­si­ble. Take a map but read it up­side down, or make like the Si­t­u­a­tion­ists, that rad­i­cal bunch of Paris-based artists and ac­tivists, and nav­i­gate through Denpasar with a map of Vi­enna. And take wa­ter, a hat, some money, a phrase­book, sun­screen and the name and ad­dress of your ho­tel. The rest will take care of it­self. 4. En­roll in a course, prefer­ably in some­thing you have no par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est in. Hate cooking? En­roll in a half-day cooking course. Have no ap­ti­tude for lan­guages? En­roll in a begin­ners In­done­sian or Ba­li­nese lan­guage course. Lack fine mo­tor skills? Take up sil­ver­smithing. Sure, it's counter ini­tia­tive, and maybe you'll dis­cover that you were wrong about what you as­sumed you hated or were bad at. More likely you'll be re­minded as to why you never wanted to do those things in the first place. If so, ex­cel­lent! That was a com­plete waste of time. 5. Go to Ta­banan, which de­spite be­ing rea­son­ably close and ac­ces­si­ble to the tourist des­ti­na­tions of Ubud and South Bali is right off most vis­i­tors' radar. There's a fairly good rea­son for this. It's a big­gish but re­laxed re­gional city, a cen­tre of in­dus­try and agri­cul­ture at the heart of the is­land's ma­jor rice pro­duc­ing dis­tricts. But there's not re­ally a lot to do there, not much at least in terms of the things that gen­er­ally at­tract tourists. It has a pleas­ant night mar­ket and a flea mar­ket where you might un­earth some vin­tage odd­i­ties, the subak mu­seum, which fea­tures dis­plays on rice cul­ti­va­tion in Bali and the an­cient ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem that sus­tains it. But other than that? Not much. And that's just the way I like it.

“Do­ing noth­ing can be its own re­ward.”

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