Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
Early on in our marriage, and when we could afford to do it, my husband and I realized we loved to visit exotic places. We would study the cultures so that we were prepared as much as possible for whatever might come our way. And when we didn’t know what we were doing in a particular country or situation, we weren’t afraid to ask questions. We’ve been to Japan, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, and to tamer places like Australia, Italy, and Great Britain. But one of our very first exotic trips was to Bali, and we weren’t disappointed.
Bali is the only island in Indonesia that survived the religious incursions of Buddhism and Islam, mainly due to its isolation and the Dutch influence. The Balinese have their own unique practices they include with the traditional Hindu worship.
When I decided to tell you about Bali, I was stunned to realize that over 20 years had passed since we’d been there. We were fortunate to discover a guide/driver through a friend, who was not only reliable and friendly, but generous, too.
Our driver was Hindu, and he was gracious enough to take us to his home. In the courtyard were various spirit houses where they made offerings every day to the ancestors. And several times he wanted to assure us that all religions were valuable; he wasn’t an elitist about being Hindu.
We visited the performance of many traditional, cultural performances with dramatic actors, colorful costumes and dancing, often accompanied by gamelans (Balinese orchestras), which you see playing for the dancers in the video. We also visited regional temples, and discovered wonderful food. One of our favorites was Nasi Goreng.
* * * *
One of the highlights of our trip was our driver taking us on the monthly excursion the people of his village made, from his little village temple to the Main Temple. We walked the entire way, under umbrellas, as we tried to protect ourselves from the occasional downpour. Our driver used his own and his wife’s clothes to dress us in traditional garb! We were so honored!
When we arrived at the Main Temple, we watched as mothers bustled around their little daughters who were dressed in the finery of celebration. Later they would dance a traditional dance in ornate clothing and jewelry.
Later, we watched as hundreds of people from the region carried fruit offerings, often on their heads, in a long procession to a central area. The gamelan accompanied them, playing celebratory and religious songs. The ritual went on for quite a long time, but our driver was nice enough to take us back to our condo before we turned into pumpkins!
* * * *
As I reflect on our Bali journey, a number of memories come to mind. We visited in 1999 before the Bali bombings in 2002. I wonder if our driver’s business may have been devastated by the chaos created, since he worked on his own.
I also think of the hard-working people we encountered; how much we enjoyed visiting different villages that often specialized in particular crafts such as wood carving, jewelry, weaving, and pottery; reminding ourselves to keep breathing as we watched people with two parents and two children on tiny motorbikes dodging in and out of traffic; and studying the large temples that decorated the landscape. We traveled with the mindset of just taking in the experience with as little judgment as possible, yet appreciating the culture and environment we would enter on our return home.
We’ve never returned to Bali. There were so many other places to see. But it does have a special place in our hearts—the people, the beauty and the pure adventure of our first international trip.Published in