23 June 2014

Lessons From The Balinese

Bali was our holiday destination. We spent most of our time in the jungle at an eco lodge surrounded by rice paddy fields and dense forests of coconut, papaya, cacao, and banana trees. We were deep in the heart of the island, far removed from anything resembling the modern world, but in the midst of everything important. We got to see the real Bali; thriving nature, tiny villages scattered throughout rice paddy fields, a preserved way of life, sacred temples, and ceremonies where gifts were offered to the gods.

This was the Bali I convinced my husband was worth traveling 20 hours door-to-door to experience first-hand. And this was the Bali that, beyond a beautiful place for a relaxing holiday, I heard possessed a special culture, one that offered us the opportunity to observe a very genuine way of being. The villagers here are poor, they have a hard life. But the strong social ties and sense of community and family enrich their well-being in a way money cannot. The signs of their genuine nature were subtle, but they came across so vividly and were so authentically ingrained in the daily life, that they really made me think.


Strangers smiled at each other, locals smiled at foreigners, even the endless pack of roaming street dogs, as disheveled and ratty as they were, looked like they were smiling (yes, dogs can smile, though it could have just been the humidity getting to me there). But my point is that the smiles were genuine. We can all tell when smiles are not genuine, can't we? The villagers were smiling in their eyes as much as on their lips which gave me the sense that they cared for others around them on a fundamental level, acknowledging that we are all one, all a part of nature, and therefore all deserve that basic level of respect. 

When was the last time you gave a stranger a genuine smile?


We had a guide lead us on a 7 1/2 hour round-trip climb on Mt. Batukaru. Our ascent was divided into 4 sections, each marked by a small temple just off the narrow foot path, if you could even call it a foot path. Our guide left incense and flowers at each temple, as a gift to show gratitude for the mountain and ask for permission to pass into the next section. On the mountain, in our wanderings through the villages, and at the eco lodge, we observed that these basic rituals of gratitude are a typical part of daily life. I think gratitude is one of the main paths to joy and contentment. 

What are your daily rituals of gratitude?

Patience + Trust

Balinese driving defies most western rules and boundaries, yet the roads had an order to the disorder. Motorbikes and cars would pull into traffic without waiting for an opening and trust that the cars behind them would make room. Which they always did, without batting an eye or honking their horn. They allowed room for patience on the road, and they trusted each other, so I began to trust their chaotic order. 

How often do you allow room for more patience when driving? Where else can you be more trusting in your life?

Have you been to Bali? What made an impression on you?


  1. I've never been to Bali before, but after looking at your beautiful photos, I want to go tomorrow! It looks amazing! That is awesome you were able to go! I need to start planning my next vacation soon :)

    1. Thanks Izzy, it really is a special place.

  2. Lovely post Katie - I can relate to all of these (as in I have experienced these all myself in Bali, as for my patience when driving - that's definitely something i need to work on some days, so thank you for bringing this to my attention!). It sounds as though you had an amazing holiday, I would love to explore that area of Bali next time :)

    1. Thank you Dearna! I could work on driving patience too, but it's nice to know you've noticed these things in Bali yourself. What a great place, huh?!


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