As I walked each morning my route from the guesthouse to the yoga villa in Bali, I would pass the same people and greet them with a smile and “Good morning.” In a very short time it became a familiar routine that I greatly looked forward to.
I would pass a small family temple and the residents were often outside washing or chatting alongside the small, dirty channel that flowed with water down the street. As I turned onto the main road, I would pass stores setting up their wares or food for the day to be sold or offerings on the ground for those who had passed. Sometimes there were already customers ready to purchase what was on offer, but still the people would stop and smile to say a brief “Hello”. Old men would be sitting on their ‘stoops’ watching the numerous motor bikes and cars speed by taking in the busy street in front of them. Some would simply stare while others would give me a slight smile and head nod to greet me. By the time I would arrive at the villa, I felt as if I had just walked through a family village and I was a part of it.
(neighbor temple grounds/home)
(my route from drop pin to blue dot)
The truth is that the Payogan area is filled with members of one family. My hosts explained that the guesthouse where my yogini-mates were staying was run by cousins on his wife’s side. Others along the road were probably uncles, aunts, cousins, brothers and the like. Still, strangers still felt a true sense of warmth in their smiles.
Different to Thailand where tourists often feel as if they are only liked for their wallets, the Balinese, or at least the Ubudians, never gave that sense. While it was easy to pick up on their intent by their friendly line of questioning: “How long are you staying?” “Where are you from?” “Do you already have a plan for your trip?” “Do you need a driver?” 😛 , it always felt genuine somehow. Funnily enough, everyone was willing to be a taxi for the right price!
These small encounters, though brief, really made me stop to consider all that we have to grateful for. Even not having AC, electricity or hot water for the past month has given me a new appreciation for such luxuries that are so easily and readily taken for granted. My hope is that when such luxuries do return to us, that we will still stop to acknowledge warm smiles, kindness and generosity as well as get out into the ‘fresh’ air away from our first world privileges and enjoy the simpler things in life.