It is around nine o’clock in the morning as I wake up. I step out from my own room where I have stayed the last 3 nights and step to the yard of the compound. The grandmother of the house sees me and wishes ‘selamat pagi’ (‘good morning’) with a sweet smile. It seems that the whole family has been awake for quite some time already, and are fully occupied with their daily routines. I greet the grandmother happily and try to hide my tiredness. She offers me breakfast from the family kitchen and my day starts with some sweet Indonesian tea.
TEXT & PHOTOS BY ANTON
This is how my third morning in started in the village of Sindu, on the island of Bali. The last morning of a Duara experience that changed my perception of the Island where I had already spent two months before the village visit.
How I ended up in Bali in the first place was due to conducting a Bachelor’s Thesis project for Duara Travels, a company that I had admired and followed closely during my Tourism Management studies. I decided to mix work and leisure and head up to Bali for the whole autumn of 2018, where I combined working on the Thesis project with relaxing and exploring the island.
As one part of the project, my task was to expand Duara’s village network and I was now testing a new village with a brand-new host family. In this blog post I will tell more about my experience of being the first customer in the village.
Before starting my own village stay, I read blog articles about the experiences of previous Duara travellers. In several reviews, there were mentions of nervousness mixed with excitement before starting the village stay. These were also exactly my feelings when hopping on my rental scooter before heading to the village. I thought that I would surely have an amazing experience but was simultaneously nervous of how the communication and interaction between me and the host-family would go. Reflecting the experience now, I believe that the host family were thinking exactly in the same way when waiting for me.
As I arrived to the yard of the host family they were waiting for me with the Duara-contact person, Buana, who introduced me with the family. The kids in the family were very interested in the new arrival but also shy. The first hours were spent by getting to know each other and looking around the family compound. As the time passed, the nervousness melted slowly away.
By the time of the first evening, while sitting on veranda, the initial awkwardness seemed to be more and more just a memory and discussion flowed smoothly.
The evening gatherings were actually when the strongest bonds between us were created. Each evening, we gathered to sit on the veranda, snacking on local delicacies, sipping local drinks and exchanging stories. There was no feeling of rush. No feeling of urgency. The evenings passed smoothly with family members and friends coming and going. On those evenings, I started to get a better sense of Balinese sense of time and community.
While sitting together we exchanged stories about our own cultures.
My host family also tells about the challenges with growing tourism industry in Bali, especially caused by big resorts in the neighbouring areas.
Bali is basically on the other side of the globe from my home country Finland and there were lots of fascinating things about Bali that were so different from Finland. The Balinese Hinduism, local music culture, history of the island, and traditions were wonderful to hear about and each of the topic would require a lifetime learning to master. My host family was also fascinated about Finland. Why would anyone want to go swimming in a freezing cold water? That’s dangerous! Some of the people found pictures of northern lights so amazing that I had to convince them that it’s a real phenomenon and no photoshop was used. Landscapes of Lappish snowy forest seemed like a dream for them.
On the last day of the stay I had a look at the local community project, where 10% of the rate is allocated to. Buana, Sindu village contact person, is heading the community project. He is creating a space for local youth to learn digital skills such as video-editing, and digi-marketing. With these skills they can pursue their own goals in a world where these skills are increasingly useful.
As we were saying goodbyes with the host-family they said that I have a family now in Bali. And this is exactly how I felt. I hopped on my scooter and drove back with a smile on my face knowing that I did good to the local community, got much richer in experiences and now had an extended family in the village of Sindu.