We just came back from Bali. And I gotta say that I think one of the great things to do in life is visit other places and cultures. It tells me not only about others but about ourselves. So even though it is anything but unusual for Australians to visit Bali and not at all unusual for a traveler to make observations from a traveler’s perspective, I have not been there for some years and so was delighted and relieved to find, that despite the huge tourism aspect (perhaps partly because of it?)…Bali is still a wonderful place. Hare are some observations.
– People on a daily basis find ways to spend time with each other and engage in quite lengthy activities which seem to create an opportunity for connection. Early each morning I would see a group of men making sticks for sate, or chopping coconut or roasting something in the open field area of Ubud. Sitting, talking…
– Balinese love kids. I know babies are made to be adorable and our 2 ½ year old has curly red hair and flies around like a comet and draws attention anywhere he goes…and yet Balinese do really live up to their reputation as being the most child friendly place on the planet. When our boy and other children played ball (vigorously and noisily) at the airport on our departure, staff from various restaurants and shops laughingly joined in rather than being disapproving of the disruption the kids were making
– I saw young men on a number of occasions playing different sports, particularly volley ball and soccer. When someone made a mistake, team-mates, rather than becoming angry, would laugh it off.
– The arts of Bali seem alive and flourishing. Possibly tourist money keep them alive… though they seem to be created more for, or at least equally for the Balinese themselves
– Bali just seems cultured and delightful. Everywhere you look there is beauty
I am aware that a view from the outside is very different from a view within, and what might seem like social closeness to an observer can seem stifling to someone experiencing it…simple activities can appear romantic and meaningful to the observer yet be experienced as humdrum by the person involved. And yet I am still inclined to think there are better ways than others of being in the world. And Bali doesn’t do too badly. Janet de Neefe, an Australian resident in Ubud Bali for decades now and a person with a considerable reputation for cooking, business and the preservation of culture, wrote an article in a paper while we were there. In it she referred to the WARNINGS that the Australian Government posts about travel to Indonesia. She suggests that Bali society is noticeable for making sure that older people remain in their families as they age and live out their lives, not in nursing homes, but surrounded by the things they care about and by people who love them. She suggests that perhaps the warning is the wrong way. ‘Give me Ubud’ any day she says.