An Observation of What is Possible: Reflections of Bali
Updated: Jul 23
Remote and hybrid working is here to stay. The growing number of people working from home or creating personalized and flexible solutions is happening everywhere. We saw this happening on our recent trip to Bali. We have been traveling to Bali every 6-7 years for the past twenty- five or so and we could see the changes in travelers and people from every culture working there.
It was not a surprise to me on our trip last month, that we learned and observed more expats than ever. Bali now has a huge expat community. They were from America, Western, Eastern Europe, Australia, and other countries, I am sure. Some were professionals looking to extend their remote work life in this paradise rather than remain in their country of origin or as digital nomads. Some told us they had planned a 60-day work/life experience which was tempting (Visa for 60 days can be paid for at the airport). Others were artists, chefs, musicians, or writers deciding to live there and grow family roots. They all expressed interest in living on this accepting and affordable island.
This visit was special for us. We were there for my son’s wedding and over 50 friends and relatives joined us. It was amazing and we were delighted to share our own Balinese family with our friends from the states.
It is now evident that many different cultures are blending into the Bali landscape, literally and figuratively. Not every Balinese is happy about this change but overall, if you respect their spiritual traditions, daily rituals, and ceremony, it is soul affirming no matter what your religious orientation.
Quiet Machines & Daily Ritual
All spirits animate and inanimate are revered. We were there on a day where everything mechanical and machine-like was to rest with goal of showing appreciation and gratitude for facilitating human work; it was called Iron Day or Tumpek Landep. Anything made of iron was to be quiet. Many years ago it was first about sharp tools or weapons but expanded to include machines later on. Those Uber alternatives like Grab were still running but the cars were adorned with beautiful offerings of flowers, rice, incense, and sweets. Daily offerings, called “canang sari” are gestures of gratitude and placed everywhere. It is a practice that has gone on for hundreds of years. Balinese believe offerings bring the gods down to the island and nurture and protect the people. How could you go wrong with that intent?
However, everything has its downside. It is motor-bike crowded and I mean thousands are on the road and everywhere. It is impossible to drive or you take the risk in a crazy, no-adherence-to-rules way of driving. It is not a walking city other than in the small villages and on nature hikes. Healthcare is limited unless you know someone there and pay cash or have good travel medical insurance.
What is an unforgettable thought and truly memorable is that this is a unique place where all the senses are tapped. Imagine a balmy climate, beautifully terraced rice fields, waterfalls, volcanic mountains, ancient temples, a cuisine that invites connection, a community that welcomes you and a place where people offer gratitude daily.
We also happened to fly over to Java, the biggest Indonesian island, and visit Yogyakarta to see the Borobudur, a 9th century temple. It was Buddha’s birthday that day. This is the largest Buddhist temple compound in the world. It was restored in 1911, continued in 1975 through 1982. People from all over the world were there to celebrate. Good energy and karma there!
This trip reminded me that a new perspective and practice of daily gratitude is not so crazy. Birthdays are to be celebrated in style with family and your community, small or big matters. Tradition matters. Spread the word that there is power in finding your own version of gratitude every day.
Photo from Sanur Beach, Bali - June 2023