Oh #TBT, please ‘throw me back’ to Bali where I could ignore the news and live in ignorant bliss of all the disasters, struggles and division in our world right now.
I know that’s not possible, though, and I don’t really want to be that selfish where I isolate myself from the struggles of others. But, for the next few minutes, I’m going to take a break from reality as I reminisce over my 10-day vacation (from seven months ago) with my husband … childless! Ommmmmmmm.
Besides sleep, relaxation, outdoor adventure, yummy food and drink and quality time with my spouse, this trip provided another component that contributes to my wellness — learning. One of the main things I learned on this trip was about the Balinese people’s spirituality, faith, and relationship with nature. There were things they did, things they believe that I want to incorporate more in my life and that I want to share with you, too. Below is a photo gallery of the trip and you’ll find within many of things I learned (other photos are included just because I like them).
Can’t you tell from the pictures above how beautiful Bali is? No? Oh yeah. You can’t see anything through the thick cloud wall behind us. These pictures are from the top of Mt. Batur, an active volcano we hiked IN THE DARK. We met our guide in our hotel lobby at 3 a.m. and drove a little over an hour before we started the trek. Head lamps lit the way and it was a great workout. Nothing like getting in a 2 hour hike by 6:15 a.m.! Unfortunately, we didn’t get to witness the hike’s reward … sunrise or even a view of the world below us. We, like many others who trekked, waited and drank coffee from the warming hut (second photo from left on top) hoping the sun would finally break through the clouds but that didn’t happen until halfway down our descent. It was a good reminder that things don’t always go as hoped and you make the best of it. Hiking in the dark was an adventure in and of itself. Also, we saw two people praying at a shrine at the top of Mt. Batur (first photo from left on bottom). In Bali, there are shrines and temples anywhere and everywhere, including the top of an active volcano. Ain’t no mountain high, ain’t no valley low … to keep god(s) and faith top of mind for the Balinese people. More on that later.
Bicycle Trek Outside Ubud
Our first day in country, we went on a bike ride through the country side, including some rice fields. As you can probably tell, Scott and I like to be active on vacation. Walking, hiking or biking are great ways to see places and they also provide an element of moderation to the glorious gluttony we enjoyed eating and drinking pool and beachside. On this excursion, I learned what riding single track means. I thought it meant a small trail with just enough room for one bike, but I was wrong. It’s a trail the size of a tight rope! Luckily, the single track wasn’t too long and I didn’t fall into the rice fields. Success! I also got to taste a fresh peanut from a farm we rode by. I realized how ignorant I am in some regards because I did not realize peanuts come from the ground (oops) nor that they taste so fresh when they’re … fresh. More like a snap pea than a crunchy nut.
You guys: look closely. These Balinese people are doing something with their hands that doesn’t involve a phone and scrolling or typing. And they are looking at each other and talking. Mind blown. It just happened that the day we visited Goa Gajah, they were preparing for a religious celebration that would take place later that weekend. Our guide explained that communities come together for days to prep for religious celebrations. He called this act “crazy good” in reference to the amount of time and resources they put into it. This tradition, this dedication to faith – to something that unites the community – is one of the biggest lessons I took from the trip. Maybe we have this in the U.S. in different ways but not as striking as this. I want to look for more ways in my life to be “crazy” in terms of the time/resources I give of myself to God, to look for more ways to sit with family/friends without phones and to just talk, and to do things with my hands that don’t involve a keyboard. Recently, I bought string to make “family bracelets” (more on that later) and as I’ve morphed back to my 10-year-old self making bracelets for Hadley and her friends, I’ve realized how nice it is to have something to do with your hands … to create. I have made bracelets without the TV on and just listened to my mind. And I’ve made them while watching a movie with Hadley, and I like that my hands aren’t tempted to reach for my second screen – my phone. I’m now considering learning how to knit to keep this experience going … and because there’s a very limited marketplace/demand for my friendship bracelets. 😉 (P.S. If you knit and have recommendations on how to get started, leave me a comment!)
Mt. Agung Volcano
Days before we left for Bali, my mom texted me and asked if I’d seen the news that Bali was on the highest alert possible for seismic activity. In other words, a volcano – Mt. Agung – was about to erupt. I was already a little nervous about traveling so far and for so long from Hadley, especially because there had just been the devastating earthquake in Mexico and heated tweets were being exchanged between Trump and Kim Jung Un. Now this? We had to decide if we’d go or stay home and lose all the money we’d already paid for the trip. I know – a first world problem – but still a little disconcerting. After reading every article online possible and talking with our travel agent, we were as assured as we could be that we would not be in harm’s way IF the volcano erupted while we were there. Worst case scenario would be that we wouldn’t be able leave Bali to head home when expected. Doesn’t sound too shabby – except when you have a three-year-old waiting at home for you. Luckily, the volcano did not erupt while we were there (it erupted about two months later), but it was sad to see how the eruption threat affected the Balinese tourism industry. When tourism is your predominant industry, flight and hotel cancellations and fewer people visiting restaurants and other attractions is devastating. Everyone we encountered thanked us for choosing to come to the island.
In the photo collage above, you can see some of the evacuees – people who lived in villages around the volcano. Many of them are farmers so not only did they have to evacuate, their animals did too, and there was a fear their livelihood would be literally swept away. In 1963, Mt. Agung erupted and 2,000 people died. Luckily, nowadays there are devices that measure seismic activity and give more warning.
Luckily for us, Mt. Agung didn’t disrupt our trip, and it was really neat to see all the fundraising efforts that were going on throughout Bali to help those displaced by the volcano. The people who assist others in times of crisis provide a silver lining … in this case to the clouds of ash.
A Celebration of Five Years
When our guide and hotel learned our five-year-wedding anniversary was coming up, they offered to perform a celebration/ceremony for us. And it was such a neat experience. Although we didn’t know what exactly they were saying/chanting during the 20 minutes that we sat cross-legged in front of the altar, it didn’t matter. Scott and I were sitting side by side and soaking in the serenity and this cultural expression of honor and love. After the ceremony, we received a bracelet – friendship bracelet style – and I’m embarrassed to say I don’t remember what the three different colors meant; however, I’m proud that Scott and I wore the bracelets (we got a second one on trip) until they fell off on their own. For me that was multiple months later. And Scott is still wearing one of his. I was surprised that Scott didn’t want to take the bracelets off when he went back to work after our trip. It made my heart smile that he didn’t care what anyone thought and that he wanted to wear them. And these bracelets have turned into something bigger: Hadley has asked about the bracelets a lot. So, we’ve decided to make “family bracelets.” We each are picking a color we like and then those colors are used together to make bracelets we’ll each wear.
Other Pictures I Like
Have you ever been to Bali? What did you learn/take away from your trip?
Goodbye, beloved Bali. Thank you for a a great trip.