Bali is well known for its cheap prices, unruly nightlife, hot weather and great surf – but we rarely hear about the people. I was pre-warned about the water, the roads, the mosquitos, and well advised on places to stay, where to shop, where to drink but in the western playground that Bali has become, the life and soul of the place can be overlooked by visitors.
Balinese people have a calm, friendly and playful disposition. I was embarrassed more than once, when they would apologise to me for their poor english. A place so heavily reliant on tourism, has created an environment where locals bury parts of their identity to fulfil the demands of the tourist. Rindel, now a sculptor, described the anger and impatience guests would display when he couldn’t speak english at a previous job working in a hotel in Kuta. Later, he taught himself to speak English at home with a dictionary.
In Bali, 93% of the population are devoted Hindus and their lives are rich in ceremonies and everyday rituals. Daily offerings of simple and colourful flowers are scattered across the island. Their karmic beliefs are embodied in their agreeable attitudes, put simply “If you are good and I am good, if you are happy and I am happy – that is good karma”, a taxi driver named Gede explained.
The cyclical beliefs of re-incarnation and devotion to all living things, although contradicted by the rubbish encrusted shoreline – the Balinese and their connection to the environment was all around.