Travel That Has Shaped Us, Part 8: Bali & Growing in Gratitude
Updated: Nov 11, 2020
This piece is part of an ongoing semi-monthly series in which we will explore how travel has shaped our lives - who we are and how we see the world. We will include multiple voices in the course of the series, and we welcome YOUR submissions.
When we look over our lives, we can see milestones and events that have shaped us along the way. We can observe the ways they’ve shaped our world-views, our sense of culture, our characters, and shaped the way we look at others who are different from us. Our team is exploring the traveling we've done over the course of our lives so far and how those travels have shaped who we are up to this point. Our hope is that this multi-part series will prompt you to reflect on your own experiences and discern how your life has been impacted by your adventures and journeys.
An Unexpected Journey
I had no idea what to expect when traveling to Bali. Truthfully, I had only been back in Australia for a few weeks when the conversation started on the sand at Bondi Beach.
“You want to come to Bali with us? We leave in a couple of weeks.”
I decided, absolutely YES I wanted to go to Bali with my friend and two of her workmates! Why wouldn’t I? I had never been before, and I had yet to experience any eastern-cultured country. So, I budgeted it out and booked the plane ticket.
Experiencing Balinese Culture
No longer than landing in Bali and stepping out of the airport did I realize that I was in for a true cultural experience. I traveled with ladies who also have a lot of respect for culture and honest experiences, so we were ready to enjoy Bali for the differences that it brought us.
We stayed in an open-air treehouse that was tucked away in the back of a rice field for half of the trip. Each bed had a canopy intended for keeping the bugs away, and we were serenaded by the loud sounds of the rainforest creatures.
Our driver’s name was Norman (pronounced Naaman) and he was a father of two daughters and a son who he took pride in putting through school. He worked long hours and weeks tending to tourists like ourselves in order to provide for his family.
Norman quickly took us under his wing and traveled with us all around Bali! We went to the central markets in Ubud, tasting the culture’s street food and visiting their humble markets. We passed fruit stand after fruit stand, tents with an assortment of Indonesian desserts and - yes - friend bananas (YUM!)
Hindu offering baskets decorated the sidewalk in front of every business and were said to bring “favor and blessing” to their work and family. Norman took us to his local temple and we wore traditional sarongs and tied our hair back in respect for the religion and culture.
We hiked an active volcano named Mount Batur with a local Balinese guide, ate a warm banana sandwich at sunrise once we reached the peak and toured the top as monkeys jumped around and cheekily stole traveler’s food.
I was taken back and humbled by the hospitality and servant-heartedness of the culture in Bali. People were friendly and always more-than-willing. Their humble way of life made me realize just how blessed and privileged I am to live in America. Clean water, hard-wood floors and sturdy walls; a car...these are all normalities that I take for granted in my everyday life of first-world privilege.
I left Bali feeling like my eyes had been opened and that I was forever changed by Norman and every other Balinese person I encountered. I hope to do better at stewarding my privilege and giving back in any way that I can!
No matter where we go, travel shapes us in ways we could not predict or imagine. The world is so big and full of limitless opportunities for growth and the expansion of our minds and our hearts. We share these stories to inspire you to reflect on how you've been shaped by your own journeys. And what about tomorrow's adventures? How might your future travels develop you, your family, and your circle of friends into the people you want to be? We'd love to hear from you about how you've been shaped by your travel experiences.
Join us in two weeks for another installment of our series, "Travel That Has Shaped Us." If you'd like to submit an autobiographical piece for our series, please contact us.
More from this Series:
Part 1: Traveling with my Hubby by Christie Costello
Part 2: Building Relationships Cross Culturally by Christie Costello
Part 3: How I Fell in Love with Travel by Monga Abila
Part 4: Growing Up a Traveler by Christie Costello
Part 5: Moving to the Other Side of the World by Dacoda Maddalone
Part 6: Missions Travel by Christie Costello
Part 7: Fam-cations and Friend-cations by Christie Costello
Part 8: Bali & Growing in Gratitude by Dacoda Maddalone
Part 9: The Culture that Opened my Eyes by Anna Fowler