Travel is an undoubted privilege. For many reasons, not least the kindness of strangers, and this is more apparent in Indonesia than anywhere else in the world. Or so I believe on the back of my recent revisit to this wonderfully diverse and enthralling archipelago.
Wherever you are in Bali, whether it be in a hotel, restaurant or in the middle of bustling traffic, you are always greeted with a heart-warming smile. I believe that it is not just a destination that makes a journey a memorable experience, it is the people you meet along the way.
Gazing out of the car window on a road journey through Bali’s picturesque south, I noticed a lady working in a paddy field. She looked back at me. In that small moment of connection, she smiled and waved, encouraging her children to do likewise. As they stood there waving and smiling this wonderful Balinese family’s genuine warmth and friendliness overwhelmed me. But there were many other similar incidents that stood out in my memory.
Later that evening I walked from my hotel to a local restaurant, situated in a peaceful village surrounded by rice fields illuminated by a big bright moon. My senses were awakened by the aroma of spices cooking in the open kitchen at the back of the room. I was eager to find out more. Cheekily, I asked if I could see the kitchen. My simple curious request was met with unabashed delight as I was ushered backstage into the kitchen. I, with trepidation but great excitement, ventured forth. Everything was fresh from the local market that day: vibrant green banana leaf, lemongrass, fresh coconut and a myriad of vegetables that I am ashamed to say I did not recognise. I was asked if I approved. I nodded my head in affirmation. Smiles of approval. I then had the audacity to ask if they had any chilli. An even greater round of smiles.
As I ate the sound of the tingklik, a bamboo xylophone, diverted my attention elsewhere as I watched two young local children play behind our table in the restaurant. I was instantly sent into a trance listening to the methodical tune when the light of the girl’s smart phone under the xylophone distracted me. I smiled as I thought about the modernity of the phone compared to the traditional Balinese music and clothing that they were wearing. Both work in harmony, they have the modern advances that we all expect in our day-to-day lives yet they hold traditional values dear that they learned from their ancestors.
The Balinese are the warmest, kindest people that I have ever met. Karma is one of the main beliefs in Bali, they believe that you should fulfil your life with a good attitude. Upon asking my guide how safe Bali was, his reply was, “You must be careful, they are resurfacing some of the pavements so you might trip over.” His innocence and genuine nature made me smile.
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