Between Bali and Me: Friendly Strangers

 To know a place is to know a people.


Unfortunately, like many people, my imagination conjured an picture of Bali, Indonesia, as a crowded, westernized beach stage brisk with ideal “Instagrammable” moments. we contingency acknowledge that lounging on a beach, removing inexpensive massages and eating delectable, inexpensive food sounded impossibly appealing for a division abroad. But there was something deeper that drew me to a island: a people.

Over a subsequent few months, we wish to make durability relations with a people on this island. we usually know a few difference and phrases of a language, Bahasa Indonesia, so far, yet it is not formidable to practice.

I live in a encampment of Kerambitan, Tabanan, where a fume from scent curls adult your nostrils on each dilemma and a belligerent is dirty with petite offerings done of palm leaves that margin with gardenia flower petals and gummy sweets, or infrequently cigarettes. Bathrooms are given with a vast bin of H2O and dual tiny buckets: one to rinse your hands or physique and one to flush. After a seventh cold bucket shower, we contingency admit, we asked myself, “What am we doing here?”

Then my horde mom called my name, “Oli,” and showed me a mangle image of creatively boiled bananas and called me “cantik” that means beautiful. Even yet we was already sweating again, we was rested by her kindness.

Generosity is not singular to my horde family. One afternoon, a male and an facile school-aged lady on a motorbike pulled off a bustling highway to pronounce with my friends and me as we strolled down a street. He asked us where we were from and where we were going, revelation us that he was an English clergyman during a propagandize in a area and mouth-watering us to his residence to share a meal.

The small girl, his granddaughter, didn’t contend a word, yet stared during her pinkish trek featuring a characters of “Frozen,” patiently watchful for a review to end. After about 10 minutes, we pronounced a goodbyes, and he invited us to his residence once again, this time charity a bonus: “I will move my students and they can learn English from we while we learn Bahasa Indonesia from them,” he exclaimed.

I have never been invited by a foreigner to share a meal, yet for a man, it wasn’t peculiar during all.

Indonesians, like all people, accost from a accumulation of backgrounds and perspectives. However, from my singular practice here so far, we have been struck by a conspicuous munificence that is benefaction even in infrequent exchanges. In a touristy areas of Canggu and Kuta, people were noticeably vehement to correlate with me if we spoke some-more than dual difference of Bahasa Indonesia.

I came to Bali with small believe of a enlightenment here. While I’ve usually been here dual weeks,  my horde family and teachers have not hesitated to bucket me adult with believe of their customs. I’ve schooled that Balinese suffer heaping spoons of sugarine into their tea until it pushes a corner of cloyingly sweet. I’ve schooled that it’s deliberate terribly unpleasant to squeeze anything with your left palm or hold someone else’s head.

There’s zero wrong with wanting a mangle from bucket showers, generally when you’re from a nation like America where luxuries are mostly treated as essentials. Staying in a hostel in Kuta Beach this weekend and station underneath a showerhead as prohibited H2O flowed over my tangled hair, gummy from a salt water, felt like an lenience compared to my practice in Kerambitan.

As we trafficked around a beaches in Denpasar, we marveled during a contrasts between Kerambitan and a traveller area of Denpasar. we enjoyed pulling a symbol to flush instead of stuffing a bucket — tremendously. It felt like we were on another island. we am so beholden that for a subsequent 3 months, we have a event to knowledge Bali in a entirety, commencement with a stately view and a people.

Olivia Buckley is a youth in a School of Foreign Service. Between Bali and Me appears in imitation each other Friday.

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