Bali has always been a sweet haven in my mind ever since I have watched Eat, Pray, Love with Julia Roberts. I have high expectations for this place, but after reading article after article, I have prepared myself to come to Bali with an open mind and an open heart, no matter what outcome it gives.
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love traveled to Bali to seek love; I went to Bali to see for myself if finding love in such a small and chaotic place was really possible. For just two days, I didn't find love with just one person; I found it deep inside many of the Indonesians that I have met along the way.
1. "I have little money, Ms. Sarah, but I'm happy."
Mr. Wayan, the unexpected saint who made my travel to Bali a lot easier, once asked me if I have ever been to America. "No. What about you?" I asked. "No Ms. Sarah. I want to see America, but I only visited places here in Indonesia." He said. "Why not? You have the money!" He laughed, "I have little money, Ms. Sarah, but I'm happy." "But you're working. So you have a lot of money." I insisted. "I have money because I work hard for it. But not enough to travel. Maybe next time, Ms. Sarah. Now, I save." It was quite unexpected to hear such a thing from a jolly, generous and curious man like him, but I do wish him all the best in life. With his positive attitude and amazing personality, I know he'll go a long way.
2. "I want to finish school."
For my first night in Bali, Mr. Wayan took me to Jimabaran for the best seafood by the beach. The ambiance was as lively as the roaring waves crashing ashore. "Are you still a student?" the server asked, while I was scanning through the menu. "Yes, but I am graduating this October." Her face suddenly lit up. "I am also a student!" She said excitedly. "Really? But why are you working here?" I asked. "Because I want to finish school and get a good job after." She answered. I smiled. When I was in college, I have always wanted to work while studying, but I never did get the chance to do so. I always complained how tough it is at school and that there is no reason for me to not be lazy at home because well, school's stressing me out. But then, I meet this girl, and her passion radiates when she speaks of life at school, plans after college and working at Jimabaran.
3. "I am Hindu"
Checking in at Wangsa Villa, Nusa Dua, I met a man working at the concierge who patiently answered all my questions about Hinduism. He told me that most Hindus wear a bracelet. "Muslims pray five times a day. How many times do Hindus have to pray in a day?" I asked. He grinned, probably thinking how crazy my question was. "Ms. Sarah, I am Hindu and we usually pray three times a day and more for our personal thoughts." He said. "Do you pray three times a day?" I asked again. He replied:
Yes, but you know Ms. Sarah, it is not really about who prays the most in a day. It's about how sincere and true you are to what you believe in. Be sure to thank the god you're praying to for everything, even the most simple one.
4. "Because we love Bali."
In the area of Batu Batulan, Ubud, I visited an amazing art shop where everything was hand-painted. The details in each artwork was beautiful, I wanted to buy everything. Then I wondered, "Do you make a lot of money with these paintings?" He responded: "We paint because we love Bali and we want to show people how beautiful Bali is, the people and our culture. We don't make enough money, we are not rich, but life is still good."
5. "I work for my daughter."
Whilst visiting a coffee plantation at Ubud, we were showed how the Luwak's poo could be turned into something as delicious as a Luwak Coffee. But that's not what I was really after. Because as soon as I sat down with this 60-year-old-something man who have toured me around the plantation, I begin to ask him questions, which he found utterly fascinating after he realized that I was from the Philippines, not Indonesia. "Manny Pacquiao!" He exclaimed, making punching gestures. I laughed, "Yes, Manny Pacquiao." He laughed out loud. "Do you stay here often?" I asked. "Yes! Yes! I really work here." He replied. "But why? It's hot and don't you get tired of doing this everyday?" I asked. "I work for my daughter, Ms. Sarah. She has no more mother and I want to put her in the best school. I also want to learn English." With this, I rest my case. Whoever his daughter is, she must be so proud and thankful to have such a hardworking father looking after her.
A lot of us find it easier to complain when things don't go our way, or when things get hard. We don't realize that a lot of other people are fighting an even more difficult battle than ours. We tend to shut our minds to seeing the beauty of being put into difficult situations. I am guilty of that as well. But Bali taught me that, even if things may not go accordingly as planned, even if life may throw rocks at us, the simple things that we learn from all these battles are what's important.
In Bali, I found love; love that is so genuine, pure and irreplaceable. I may be no Elizabeth Gilbert or Julia Roberts, but I am thankful for another lesson learnt.