There’s something about Bali that, if you let it, will mellow you out, loosen your jaw — did you know most of us spend our days with our jaws clenched, which in turns creates tension in the hips? — and put a perpetual smile on your face. Having traveled to at least a couple dozen countries and lived in six (Indonesia is my 6th), I can say, without question, that the Balinese are some of the happiest and friendliest people I’ve ever met. They are masters of going with the flow, and they radiate a sort of gratitude that seems almost obsolete in our modern western world. The way they smile profusely and whole-heartedly is infectious, and I am willing to wager that it could cure even the most lugubrious of sorts.
Another way Bali works on you — if you don’t resist, of course — is that it makes what we westerners might deem chaotic and frustrating seem beautiful, fascinating, and lively. This sentiment never felt so true as it did yesterday morning at 6:45am – an hour that the town sees very few expats and tourists, but one of the most event-filled for locals. (Ubud is a very quiet place in the mornings. Cafés, warungs (local eateries), and coffee shops rarely open before 8 or 9.) But while foreigners sleep, local Balinese from surrounding villages filter into the center in droves sandwiched into vans and trucks and packed onto scooters/mopeds to do their daily shop at the market. What is a fairly touristy place come mid-morning — selling sarongs, local arts and crafts, etc — starts as a feast of sounds, smells, and colors.
Half-indoors, half-outdoors the Ubud market has three levels. As I strolled through, vegetables skins, fruit peels, and trash peppered the ground; while people’s voices ardently thundered back and forth, negotiating and socializing; blood-soaked meat was chopped by women talking into mobile phones housed in bejeweled cases; and chickens, awaiting potential executioners, squawked loudly from a nearby truck. I felt as if I stepped out of the glamorized new-age world that foreigners perceive Ubud to be and directly into the heart of it — especially as I was the only tamu in sight. Apa kabar? they asked. You try? they insisted, smiles abounding. And quickly, this world absorbed me into its folds.
My intention was to shop, but I was so enthralled by all of the activity that I ended up doing very little. I did, however, manage to get three different vegetarian dishes (fairly large portions, too) for US$0.70 and a few dozen photos to boot.
Featured writer: Jasmine Cronin-Georgiadi
10 thoughts on “Bali: A Beautiful Chaos”
Looks like a great time!
It certainly was! Thanks so much for reading. Aloha.
Lovely pics. I also loved the people of Bali. Their smiles are so winning. 🙂 Love Indonesian food. My dad is from there. 🙂
Terima kasih! Glad you enjoyed the pics. You’re absolutely right. The Balinese are an incredibly special people. I love their joy, their vibrance, and their friendliness. You’re lucky your dad is from Indonesia. It took me 31 years to discover this place’s wonderfulness, but I’m glad I finally did.
Hi, You took me back to wonderful Bali. If it wasn’t so far away, I would love to revisit it some time. Indeed, the kindest and most gracious people in the world. It might have something to do with their devotion to their religion, an old religion, based on an evolutionary blend of animism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.
Enjoy your time there.
Johanna van Zanten
Thanks so much for taking the time to write. I think you’ve made a really great point about their devotion to their religion. And they are truly a welcoming, open-armed people, which is delightful to be around. I just rented a house here for 3 months — been here for 1 already — but may end up staying longer. Bali does interesting things to us… I have a category on my blog called “Bali Diaries” if you ever get nostalgic and feel like following along.
Aloha to you,
Oh man, I can’t WAIT until the day I go to Bali! I love markets, it seems like this one had a bit of everything. Especially a contrast with ladies on their cellphones bargaining over their raw meat. Totally different from anything I’ve seen! Thank you for sharing your photos too. 🙂
So glad to hear that you enjoyed the piece and the photos. Bali is a tremendously special place. Whenever you make it this way, feel free to get in touch with me via the contact page on my blog and I’d be happy to pass on some travel tips. I’ll be writing more about Bali on the blog as well. http:irreverent-adventuress.com
Wishing you a fantastic weekend.
Sorry – typo!
Thank you Jasmine, have a great weekend yourself! 🙂