A Sleepy Beach Resort in Bali
A slow internet connection, packed days and early bedtimes have kept me from posting since my city escapade…but my past few excursions have been quite the opposite of bustling Jakarta!
Our flight out of the capital transported us from a pungent, noisy metropolis to a peaceful, green bliss! The island of Bali is truly all it’s cracked up to be. The beaming faces of the Balinese welcomed us, and we drove for 2 hours through rice terraces and art villages to the town of Candi Dasa (pronounced “Chandi Dasa”). Our hotel, Candi Beach Cottages felt like a tropical paradise – and it was the complete opposite of our typical budget-friendly style of traveling!
Since we were exhausted when we arrived in Candi Dasa, we spent two days relaxing by the ocean and hanging around town.
Everyone at the resort was incredibly friendly, and I learned the remainder of the Indonesian greetings (to add to my small arsenal of Bahasa Indonesia). “Selamat” (good) is added to the front of “siang” (afternoon), “sore” (evening) and “malam” (night), along with a big smile, to greet anyone you come in contact with.
In Bali, everyone and their brother offers tours of the nearby attractions. After just one trip to town, we had the names and phone numbers of three different taxi drivers, all of whom were fighting for business. Each of these drivers had traditional Balinese names – Wayan, Made and Ketut. If you read Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love” you might remember that these names mean first, second and fourth – literally the order in which children were born.
In town, we also indulged in a massage – which was mind-bogglingly cheap: around $8 for an hour – and did some browsing in the small shops. Any vendor who had pearl jewelry for sale was eager to take a lighter to the pearls to prove that they were real, and not plastic.
Back at the resort, I somehow managed to make friends with an Austrian woman, Irina, who understood very little English and spoke even less. As we chatted in the ocean, I was able to decipher enough of her German (with the help of constant hand-gestures) to learn about her family and her Bali vacation. And, when I couldn’t understand, a nod and a smile helped to keep the conversation moving. Later that day, I couldn’t help but chuckle as I watched Indonesians and Eastern Europeans try to speak to each other in English – a second or third language for both parties. It didn’t seem like the most efficient mode of communication, but it was the only option, and you had to admire their efforts!
The hotel also offered a fruit tasting, where they prepared tropical fruits like soursop, guava, rambutans, coconut and jack fruit. They were all quite unique – the soursop and guava were very tart, but the rambutans and jack fruit were sweet and delicious! Plus, the grounds of the resort were covered with beautiful tropical flowers!
The resort was well within the budget of the average American tourist, but it was quite extravagant by Balinese standards. There were two huge pools on the grounds, the rooms were air conditioned and bottled mineral water was provided to guests on a daily basis. Watching overweight westerners gorge themselves on a varied breakfast buffet while bony Indonesian children ate steamed rice outside of local warungs (small restaurants) left me with a funny feeling. I really don’t mean to be cliché, but the experience got me thinking about how much we take for granted in the US. Throughout our stay, my mom and I tried to support local businesses (shops, taxi drivers, restaurants) in the town, and we gave small gifts (bracelets, pencils, chocolates) to the local children. These things didn’t make up for the huge divide in standards of living, but the silver lining was that the Balinese have such an amazing outlook on life. They appreciate each and every blessing, whether it be booking a tour for their taxi business, a beautiful day, a good catch on the fishing boat or the fact that their family is in good health. They even make small but beautiful Hindu offerings each day (in addition to intricate ceremonies in their village temples) to bring good fortune into their lives.
Observing this also made me re-evaluate my outlook on life – one in which a small setback feels like the end of the world, even though I have never had to worry about having a safe place to sleep, a healthy meal or a loving family. Bali has had it’s “Eat, Pray, Love” effect on me already, and it’s only been two days! I can’t wait to see what else there is in store – and I’m looking forward to counting my blessings and finding ways to give back to my local community as well as the global community once I return home.
Thank you for reading, and as they say in Bali, sampai jumpa! I can’t wait to post more pictures from my next adventure. 🙂
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