The grass is always greener elsewhere, and as a nomad, I evidently got itchy feet after seven years in Singapore – a personal record of living in one place. But one can’t just pack up and leave, you in fact need to go somewhere, which raised the difficult question: where should we go? That exact question has been buzzing around our household for years.
Often a next move for expats is dictated by work, but if there is no such push, just a general pull and a sense of adventure – the world is your oyster. That sounds like the ultimate luxury, but it also makes things ultimately complicated. Drowning in a sea of too much choice, too many factors – good education for the kids, a pleasant climate, liveable surroundings, a good culture for raising kids, and exciting prospects for work, we felt stuck. We were tired from the high pace of city-state Singapore. We needed a break; time to spend together as a family before the kids were too old to want to spend it with us.
The question I have been asked uncountable times the last few months is: why Bali? I always want to answer; why not Bali? After debating for years what our next move would be we eventually decided on an impulse, after seeing a Facebook post on one of the green attractions of this green island: a Green School. Combined with my own fascination for all things Indonesian, Roel’s wish for a fun place to spend his upcoming sabbatical overthinking his next steps, it seemed perfect.
So here we are. In Bali. In our new house overlooking rice fields, with our new Bali rescue dog, discovering new things, learning a new language. Away from the safety and comfort that was Singapore. And we are starting to figure things out. The Bali traffic no longer defies us, as we find order in the chaos and the politeness of the Balinese (if you get cut off on your scooter you can bet it’s a fat white Bule on that bike). We are starting to find out where to get our groceries (and sorry Linde, we do really need to cut down on cheese, who would have believed there is a country in the world where cheese is more expensive than Singapore?)
The kids are starting to settle in in the new school, and I can say one thing: things are definitely greener there! This is the school where all new parents (including me) sigh: I wish I was a kid again so I can go to school here… The classrooms are made of bamboo and have no walls. They are situated in lush gardens. There are rabbits and chicken, and cats wandering about for Linde and Jasmijn to cuddle. Tijm has started Middle School where he can select exciting elective subjects like surfing and free diving. The focus is on sustainability, the school wants to educate the green leaders of tomorrow. At the same time they are innovative educators, the guiding principle is that school should in fact be fun, as kids learn way more when they can follow their passions and enjoy themselves. We hope that they will manage to challenge our boy with a passion for maths as well as sports.
And, there is plenty for the parents too. Roel and I enrolled in a course where we will work alongside the Balinese to learn about the rice cycle, establishing ties with local farmers and develop a shared vision for expanding organic rice supply. I can’t wait to get my feet in that mud! Roel’s other goal this year is learning to surf whilst I am looking forward to many mornings like this one, where I sit on my patio alternating writing and gazing at our amazing view. I am starting to believe this was a good move.
And then of course there is always the follow up question that still defies me: how long do you plan to stay? There is only one answer to that: I have no idea.
(Okay, some photos, because I know you all want me to poke your eyes out with the gorgeousness of our new surroundings. And yes the guest room is ready... )