Bali! One of those places I had on my bucket list for no reason, other than everyone said you should see it. I was in Indonesia, so I did visit . Except, I wanted to make my visit more purposeful. I wanted to explore the architecture of the Green Village and Green School. I wanted to build something similar back home for The Global Graduate Academy, which I am a Founder of.
As a rule, I try to explore as many countries whenever I go to any continent. After all, I have managed to get through the visa hoops, I might as well maximize and fit a lot in.
I had no idea what Bali had in store for me, although I did my research. And no amount of research prepared me for Bali.
I had so much cultural and religious shocks that will last a lifetime. My students still tease me about my Balinese experience and it was a rollercoaster.
For a start, I was quizzed and my luggage was scanned and searched multiple times at the airport. I know the immigration/customs folks were doing their job, but I also knew they were surprised to see a solo female African traveller; a Ghanaian. As my passport was passed from one official to another, I kept my Ghanaian smile on. When I finally had my passport and luggage back, I was relieved and amused. I told them I am not here for any monkey business and gleefully asked them to Google me.
I knew Bali had a reputation for having people come through not only to surf,
but with drugs or to experience all sorts of illicit drugs and a hedonistic life style.
I wasn’t surprised when later, a random guy will offer me a taxi service, Viagra and magic mushrooms all under 30 seconds.
I was excited, scared, and happy at different times of the day. My mind and emotions were stretched. I thought I was so open minded, until I got to Bali and was shocked by my first real encounter with Hinduism. I was afraid of stepping on the sacred sacrifices. I was afraid when food was offered to me, as I know it has been sacrificed to the gods first. I had seen the owner of my guesthouse do so in the communal kitchen.
The statutes and temples scared me. The religious statutes were everywhere. In front of homes, hotels, shops and major international corporations.
Most houses had their own temples.
I did appreciate their dedication to their gods,
however, as a Christian, the interactions shook me. I wonder if people feel the same when they come to Ghana, as we have lots of churches too.
Ogoh-ogoh was on the evening of my arrival. Statues who normally have the form of mythological beings, mostly demons were paraded.
This is believed to be a way of purifying the natural enviroment. The Nyepi festival was the next day. It is a day of silence for the gods. Everything was closed. I mean everything; for 24 hours (6am – 6am). I was surprised when the international airport in Denpasar was closed too. You were forbidden to go outside, or turn on the lights except if there was a baby in the room. Radio, Tv etc were to be turned off. It was a surreal 24hours.
Needless to say I did go to have a glimpse of the architecture of the Green village and Green school the next day. As the festival atmosphere was still on, there were no guides around to take me on a proper tour of the bamboo factory etc to ask questions. So much for research.
All in all, Bali is beautiful and super affordable.
I had a full body massage for an hour for $3 by an older woman who has been doing it for 30 years!
Bali made me prayerful, gave me lots to think about and I built new and solid connections with kind souls like Kuba from Czech Republic and Marit from The Netherlands, who were there to explore the country and learn to surf too. Clive from London and Amita from Indonesia were super cool too.
In a twisted coincidence, Clive my next door neighbour at the guesthouse, got sun burnt and asked Amita his old friend from England who is a doctor in Bali to check out his burns, one story led to another, only for Marit to discover she and Amita stayed at the same hostel and nearly met whilst she was travelling in Vietnam, a few months prior. Fast forward a few months later and I am staying with Marit’s family in Holland for a few days to reconnect and break my journey from China to Holland to Iceland. I am still in touch with all of them and hope to see them again soon.
I know my Bali experience is different, I will visit Indonesia again,the people are nice, the food is great and it is such a beautiful country. I am just not sure about Bali.
Have you been to Bali? What was your experience?