I'm walking up Monkey Forest Road, in Ubud, Bali. I'm looking for a healer. At least I think that's what I'm looking for. I had an idea for a photography project a few days ago, after looking around and seeing spirituality for sale everywhere here in this tiny corner of Indonesia.
Spirituality is primarily sold to affluent white people. Spiritual tourists come here to find themselves, searching for yoga, vegan food, macrame and an escape from whatever they've left behind.
I am one of them, I guess, although not affluent. Definitely not. I am funding my trip through my current homeless status, meaning there's no rent to pay back home.
I've spent two out of the last three months in South-East Asia, detoxing, fasting, bending, stretching, meditating and immersing myself in sound healing baths. Spiritual-bypass is a term I'm not yet familiar with but will come to understand later. It's fair to say I am running away from a divorce and uncertainty about what life will look like next.
For now I'm walking, sweat pooling at the base of my spine, looking for a healer or a shaman or a guru. Any of the above will do. I want to experience the healing and spiritual modalities these healers and teachers are selling. I want to photograph it. I also want to be changed, somehow, by the experience.
I wander up a back alley and see a sign, roughly scrawled on cardboard. It says 'healer'. I head into the premises it points towards. It's a beauty salon, and it's deserted. A radio plays, the front door is wide open but the chairs are empty, and there's no one around.
I wait. Ten minutes pass and then fifteen. No one comes.
I poke my head around a door and can hear clattering down the end of a long, dark corridor. I call out, and a woman dressed in jeans and a white t-shirt eventually comes out to see me. She doesn't look like a healer but I'm not really sure what Balanise healers are supposed to look like. She tells me to come back in two hours.
I wander the streets of Ubud, in the blistering sun. When I get back to the salon and an entirely different woman in jeans is sitting there.
"No healers today", she tells me.
My impatience bubbles. "I've been waiting", I tell her.
"No healers today", she shrugs, "come back tomorrow. Maybe healer then".
I try to explain, across the language barrier, that her colleague told me to come now. Today. I have been waiting.
She shrugs again. "Maybe tomorrow".