It is day 6 in to this trip, and never have I ever had a cultural shock like this. A good cultural shock of course! Everything from religious customs, food, community settings, road rules, and beliefs is completely different but made for quite the amazing experience!
We went to this incredible temple with water meant to cleanse the 7 Chakras. The guide told us to do it in a specific way by praying to the gods first, providing an offering to the gods, then once we get in the water to go through a ritual of putting our head under first, washing our face, then drinking it. The religious customs seem to consume daily life but with that I believe The way of life is better as it brings families closer together.
Going to a traditional Balinese ceremony was another eye opening experience. Getting dressed up in traditional Balinese attire was so interesting. The girls will wear a sarong and a beautiful lace top called a kabaya. The different dances consist of a guy dressed in a costume with a detailed mask using just his hands and his eyes to tell a story. The children also put on amazing dances perfectly choreographed to traditional Balinese music. The dances were followed by a water blessing and prayers with flowers to the gods. I was nervous to try and pray but the Balinese people were so encouraging and helpful with their Hindu prayers. It was refreshing to see how peaceful, and inclusive they were to outsiders interested in the religious culture.
Staying in Ubud has definitely had a great influence on me when it comes to the healthy vegetarian food. The bowls of fruit every morning with delicious juice and tea feels like a nice detox from western food. Having everything made 100% organically and raw was a bonus too! One type of food that I would love to make back home is something called Brigadels which is like a corn fritter but much better! Not to mention is healthy for you as it is fried with coconut oil which gives it a even better taste.
The traffic in Bali can be best described as controlled chaos. So many scooters whip around the streets many with 2 to 3 little ones with no helmets! The right of way is determined by whoever honks their horn first. Ubud is flooded with cars, scooters, dogs,and tourist buses. I still felt safe while in a car because I believe having this kind of system forces you to pay more attention while driving. In this controlled chaos they still managed to be patient and courteous to other drivers, something western life should have more of.
Staying in a guest house has been a very unique experience. Wayan and Putri who have the guest house told us stories of Balinese culture years ago. One of the most intriguing stories was how families belong to castes and were not allowed to marry outside their caste especially if it was a family from a lower caste system. Wayan told a story of the men being able to kidnap their wives a long time ago. He said his Grandma was kidnapped by his grandfather when walking down the street, and for 10 days cried on a roof then after realized that was her fate and accepted her new husband.
This trip has been such a memorable experience so far. I will always remember and cherish this new knowledge of this incredible culture that has made me see lots of things in a different light. I believe from this I will take away with me knowledge to share when I return home. Along with this new knowledge is a new sense of connection to peace, nature, and to living my life in the now. Life’s too short to worry about the future. This exposure to this new world has been a spiritual and magical experience I will take with me and will utilize forever in my daily life.