Last week Thursday, we had a Cultural Q&A with our location managers Kelly & Alam and we learnt a bit (more like a lot for some of us) about Balinese culture. The word choice has stuck with me since then. A very brief, watered down summary is that families live in compounds that have houses for that family, and you marry into a compound. My layman’s way of interpreting this is that Balinese people never have to worry about being homeless. If you don’t get married, you just stay in your family’s compound and endure being teased. No biggie. Balinese people also believe that their lives have purpose, and where they are, what they do is all towards that purpose, which leads to a life of gratitude. (Again, my watered down summary). Their main belief system is Tri Hita Karana: Harmony with God, harmony among people, harmony with nature.
I keep thinking about the western world, my world, the rise of mental health issues, the amount of people searching for themselves, while here in this place from the time you’re born, there’s a system in place for everything and you just have to follow along and be that person, contribute that thing and you are done. They’ve removed choice out of the equation and somehow, managed to create contentment.
As I constantly search for happiness and also find great joy in my ability to choose, I can’t help but think if the reason I’ve been unhappy, unsatisfied with life is because I have too many options, to much to choose from, too much freedom. Since I was a child, my mother allowed me to choose what I want to wear, what I want to eat, I’ve always had a choice, and here I am seeing that the absence of choice creates happiness. Would I have been happier not knowing? Is here where the term “ignorance is bliss” was created? Uncle Peter did say with great power comes great responsibility and knowledge is power and in this information age, does knowing too much and being too exposed take a toll and actually make us sad?
I know I’m stretching and reaching a lot but that’s just where my thoughts have taken me this past week.
On to gratitude. A lot has happened over the past week. I feel as though I could leave Bali now and feel as though I had a full experience here. I am still exhausted, but in a different, maybe a more fulfilling way. Maybe exhausted is just my permanent state of being.
Wednesday (5): Lunch & Learn
We planned our calendar for the month, came up with workshop activities we all wanted to experience and we had the most delicious Balinese lunch. Then I spent the rest of the day at a pool bar, working. You would think the day ended there but it didn’t, a group of us discovered we like singing so we ended up going out to karaoke and became the stars at a small, hole-in-the-wall bar called “Lovin”.
Thursday (6): Me Time
I booked a pedicure at the spa Chrissy Teigen and John Legend went to when they came to Bali. (Yes, I am ashamed of myself.) But it was one of the best pedicures I’ve had in a while, for half the price I would pay in Trinidad. It’s located in Monkey Forest, which is the name of a street as well as a location where you can go to see monkeys! I then got lost in a bit of shopping in Ubud Art Market, found a restaurant where I died a bit in foodgasm heaven and then hopped on the back of a scooter to head back to my villa. The day ended with that Cultural Q&A I mentioned above.
Friday (7): Mini Adventure
So I have an idea in my head of what a hike is. What we did was a climb, a hash, a death walk along Campuhan Ridge. I died many times. This “40-minute walk” took me 2 hours. I luckily got to take lots of pictures of pretty doorways and book a spa day at one of Bali’s best spas that usually has a waiting list. “The walk”, fortunately, ended at a lovely pool club: Jungle Fish, where I spent the day eating, drinking, swimming and of course, working. Then to bed early for…
Saturday (8): Beach Day!
We headed to Canggu for the day and visited 2 beach clubs: The Lawn & La Brisa! Both were beautiful, hella touristy, Instagram ready spots. Not really what I came to Bali to experience but at the same time, it forced me to relax and enjoy Saturday and not be on my computer. One of my fellow workaholics was like “Oh, this is a vacation.” It was a great way to unwind and we all got very loose very quickly lol.
Sunday (9): Motorbike Exploration
So remember when I said I hated scooters? I lied. I love them now. We spent the day on the back of our own scooters with a Balinese driver and visited a water temple, walked through the rice fields that are a UNESCO site, and ended at a monkey forest! Being on the back of a bike/scooter is a very liberating experience. Not at all scary like my first time driving one, which then inspired me to give the scooter thing another try.