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Bali: About the experience, the people, and the good vibes

April 5, 2012 by · 3 comments

By Mina Nacheva

Mina Nacheva - Bali

Here are a few things to consider before you go to Bali.

First of all, it’s warm – and I say this for a reason. Clearly, you’d pack your summer suitcase. But do take a look at the weather forecast anyway. When you do that, make sure to look at the air temperature and then at the side note that says “feels like.”

It may be 27°C, which you’d think is nice and warm, while indeed it feels like 36°C that can easily come as a major heat wave to a newcomer. In that line of thought, bring lots of sunscreen, too, even if that very same forecast has indicated ‘cloudy’ weather.

Forecast. Check. Sunscreen. Check.

It’s quite possible that it’ll take you a good 12 hours to fly to Bali – unless you happen to live in Australia – so get yourself some easy read. Preferably about Bali. It is that much more fun to go sightseeing afterwards, and be able to recognize the places you visit.

Bali guidebook. Check.

Also, you wouldn’t want to sit on that same 12-hour-long flight, get to Bali and realize you don’t have a camera with you. So make sure to bring it along together with a memory card with plenty of free space.

Camera. Check.

Mina Nacheva - Bali

One last remark before you take off: prepare to smile and meet some very friendly people. Because here’s the thing in Bali: You make a purchase, people say thank you. You walk by and look at them, they say thank you.

Even the ‘goodbye’ is not quite a ‘goodbye.’ You head for the lobby exit. Thank you. You leave the grocery store. Thank you. You walk around a market stand, and don’t seem to like anything. A bracelet? No. The ring with the green stone? No, no.

That other ring perhaps? Definitely not; so you make your way out. Thank you. And all this comes with a smile and a slight bow; people’s hands pressed closely in front of them as if to pray.

Coming from Europe, I found this fascinating. So try to get yourself in the mindset.

Good mood. Check.

Mina Nacheva - Bali

On our first day, we – a group of ten – set on a day-trip to explore the island. Bali is located in the south of Indonesia. It stretches over a bit more than 5,600 km2 of land and has close to four million inhabitants, who live together as a big family, our tour guide told us.

The sense of community is particularly strong, as people find ways to help each other out not only within their own families, but outside, too. You get to know your neighbors, their relatives; the relatives of their relatives. It is rarely the case to not be able to put a name to a face.

Speaking of names: the majority of the Balinese use only four when they name their children. These are Wayan, Made, Nyoman and Ketut. They apply to both male and female, and simply indicate birth order.

So if you were to go to Bali and have children, your first-born would be Wayan, and fourth-born would be Ketut, respectively. If you have a fifth one, all you’d have to do is start the name cycle again, and call him or her Wayan.

Mina Nacheva - Bali

It is interesting to note, though, that in Bali it is not accepted for a woman to have a child without marriage. It is important, especially for the child’s sake, to know who his or her father is. Marriage is therefore an expected step in one’s life, and it tends to occur at a relatively young age.

Family. Family. Family.

To me, this seemed to be the entity – the institution, if you will – that keeps society going. When you start your own family, you don’t stand alone but rather add a branch to an already existing community. You simply become a bigger family.

“In Bali, we stay together,” our guide told us. “We look after each other.”

At first, I didn’t give it much thought. Most families stick together; most families look after each other, and not only in Bali. But I realized he meant something different.

For one, there is no such thing as retirement or a pension in Bali, he said. People start working when they’re young, and they keep working when they’re old until they can eventually not keep up anymore. This is when their children and younger relatives take over, and provide for them. In the end, it all adds up to a strong family spirit.

It is the circle of life as the Balinese see it and experience it: it passes on more and more responsibilities onto the younger generations, as time goes by. But more importantly, it creates a sense of community; a sense of belonging to that community.

Mina Nacheva - Bali

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