First Visit to Bali?

bali-beach

We all have firsts. When I first arrived in Bali on a fam-trip (familiarization trip) hosted by the Indonesian Tourist Bureau, my expectations were high. After the threat of terrorism in Jakarta, the Indonesian government wanted to send a message to the world that Indonesia was still a safe, desirable tourist destination. The trip was exciting, relaxing, informative and a wonderful ‘first’. As I learned, however, Bali, the jewel of the country, doesn’t need promoting since it has all the charm, laid back atmosphere and natural attractions that fill any self-respecting tourist’s bill.

When I travel I like to go off the beaten path and into the backdrop of an area. I choose to visit with the people who live outside of the tourist traps and learn about the culture more directly. I do occasionally run into a snag here and there like the time my little boutique hotel didn’t have hot showers since the local hot water heater repair fellow was entertaining guests of his own and unavailable. Doing without a hot shower wasn’t fun, but hardly a show stopper.

Wayan’s Healing Ways

jamu

I arrived at the Balinese Airport with a heck of a chest cold, aggravated by the long plane ride, and feeling like day old dung. My plan included ten busy days of writing, relaxing and nosing around the back neighborhoods for the best local shops and places to eat, however at this point I just wanted to lie down. I made a date with Ben. Not my dream date, but I was soon flat on my back with Ben – Ben Gay.

After a few hours of feeling sorry for myself and wistfully staring out at the azure blue sky, I called my friends to let them know I had arrived safe – if not sound. As I was coughing into the phone, my buddy Made (pronounced ma day) told me that he could be at the hotel in about an hour to take me to visit a local healer. Ni Made works at his family’s crane company and is a very busy guy, but typical of the Balinese spirit, he realized my time of need in such a compassionate way. Compassion is one of the traits of the Balinese people that make me feel at ease half-way around the world.