Monday, March 9, 2009

Arriving in Beautiful Bali

Eight days into my South East Asian excursion, the random and spontaneous thought occurred to fly to Denpasar *Bali* Indonesia for our final week of travel. I've always thought of Bali as renowned for its highly developed arts and beautiful white sand beaches. After reading Eat Pray Love I immediately knew it was a place I wanted to visit- and not just because the exchange rate is 10,000 Rupiah to the US dollar! (Yes, its totally a chick appealing book) The Balinese culture has so many different influences that make it unique, which I think is what made me so curious about it to begin with. From India to China to Tibet, Bali adheres to many combination's of existing cultures and religions. The majority of Indonesia's small Hindu minority (93.18%) reside in Bali, while the remaining population follows mostly Islam- similarly to Malaysia.

After an extremely brief contemplation, the decision was easy- Bali it was! Mike ended up taking a train back down to Singapore while the remaining five of us purchased flights from KL to Denpasar. Upon arrival we made it into the town of Kuta- one of the more hustle and bustle touristy towns within Bali. As our agenda wouldn't have it any other way, we landed just in time for yet another rainstorm. It was too dangerous to attempt to hop on a motorbike or take a taxi to anywhere outside of Kuta until the rain calmed down, so we ended up staying for more than just a couple days. Although it wasn't ideal to stay in such a crowded town for so long, we enjoyed exploring the area. Alex and I got a 2 hour body and foot massage for about $10. That was awesome! :-)

At our hostel we met a nice kid selling day trip packages to tourists- his name was Imade, otherwise known as the "Sas". Sas was very sweet and loved to chat it up- he smiled from ear to ear at the sight of us Americans. As we approached him he proudly said "whaddup homies?!" and then turned to his friends giggling while glancing our way for approval. It was cute. We could tell he was slightly shy with the ladies, but really enjoyed getting to know all the people who passed by his little stand. We ended up hangin out with Sas a bunch while at our hostel- practicing with him our pronunciation of Indonesian words like "lebe morra" (cheaper please) and "terima kasih" (thank you).

At the age of 21, Sas taught us all an incredible amount about ourselves and the Balinese culture. He would wear a tiny pink flower behind his right ear every time we'd see him, and it was only after I noticed this with Sas, that I began to notice ALL Balinese wearing the same tiny flower behind their ears too. Flowers are worn this way during prayer or ceremony sessions, which occur multiples times a day.

We watched Sas provide several offerings to the gods, in which he'd put together a basket of incense, rice, crackers and flowers and place it neatly out in front of his stand. Sas said that the Balinese Hindu believe that knowledge is an essential medium to achieve the goal of life as a human being. The offerings to his gods occur three times a day, and is a ritual of giving back what the gods have given him. It is a sort of sharing that is based on their gratitude for the richness of life, and brings good health to themselves and their family. Sas taught us that to smile will bring us good fortune and good weather, so to never frown. Needless to say with all the rain we had been seeing throughout our trip, all of our mouths began to get sore from smiling so much!

Witnessing the amount of wisdom and logic that comes so naturally to Sas at his young age surprised most of us. Sas has never been anywhere outside of Bali before- as is the same with most Balinese I had learned. It became clear to me after meeting him how fortunate I was to be able to have the luxury of traveling- to learn so much from actually emerging yourself completely within another culture. The world would be a more beautiful place if others shared his optimism, gratitude and appreciation of life.

No comments:

Post a Comment