This Past week, I spent my Spring Break with some friends in Bali, Indonesia. I can’t say that I’ve ever really experienced full on culture shock before, but Bali was unlike any place I’ve been to before.
In terms of preparing for the trip, there were some health concerns that needed to be taken care of. Upon visiting a doctor in Sydney, I learned that consuming any of the tap water or any food (i.e. raw vegetables) could pose extreme health risks to non-natives of Indonesia. From there I went ahead and received a typhoid/hepatitis A vaccine to reduce my risks.
Our villa in Bali was located in Seminyak, which is in the Southern part of the island, located near the touristy area of Kuta. The streets were constantly bustling with motorbikes and locals. I have never seen such crowded roads with so few rules! The streets had lane markings, but no one seemed to use them! Somehow the Balinesians made the organized chaos work for transport, which I could never see happening back home in the States.
There were many memorable sights throughout my stay, including the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud. This popular destination was crawling with native monkeys, and visitors could buy bananas and other food to feed them, which is how I met my little friend in the cover photo.
Also in Ubud was the magnificent rice terraces–a beautiful, layered landscape of rice fields. It is pretty difficult to describe, but I hope my pictures do it justice. They are truly a sight to see.
A brief side note: While Bali is a tourist hot spot, Indonesia still possesses many characteristics of a third world country. When driving through many small neighborhoods, I saw a unique side of life that was new for me. People work extremely hard, whether that is selling their local fruit on the street, hand wheeling their food cart throughout the town, or selling other local pieces of arts or trinkets. Additionally, the air constantly smelled of burning trash, because many areas do not have a department of works system that we often take for granted. This sort of environment definitely made me realize how lucky I am simply have clean clothes, food, water, and a roof over my head.
While the standard of living may be lower in many parts of Indonesia, that does not mean the people always suffer. On my last day in Bali, a friend and I travelled to the amazing island of Nusa Penida, where we taxi’d up to the top of a mountain and then did a brutal hike down to the beach (By the pictures I’m sure you’ll see it was well worth it). After the hike, we took a walk around some of the local residential areas of the island. These people essentially lived in huts that lacked many average amenities, but when observing these families, they truly seemed happy. I saw a group of children helping their grandmother prepare food outside of their front stoop, and they were playful and full of joy. They even offered us to swim in the beach right next to them! While this type of lifestyle is probably not easy, I was glad to see that these people were content.
By far, my most memorable moment in Bali was the sunrise hike up Mt. Babur. I will be dedicating my next post to that journey so be on the look out!