Last week eight friends and I decided to take on Bali, Indonesia for our Spring Break. We step off the plane to be greeted with a wall of hot, heavy, and humid air; none of us have ever been this close to the equator before. Our driver, Bobby, packed our luggage into the van and took us to our awaiting villa of paradise for the week.
The first day we trekked through Bali a few hours North to Ubud’s jungles and an elephant oasis. Mary, the elephant I was paired with, showed me around the local village, rice patty and forest. Riding an elephant was definitely terrifying at first. They are so tall and strong; you can’t help but feel vulnerable. But after a few minutes I was comfortable and amazed with the beautiful creatures power. After feeding the elephants and playing with the babies we were lead to a beautiful three-course Balinese lunch.
Day two we had a few adrenaline packed activities planned – white water rafting and ATVing through the jungle. I felt like I was apart of a Hollywood film while gliding down the Ayung River. The valley was filled with natural waterfalls and bright green vines – the scene was picturesque and serene when we weren’t tumbling through the roaring rapids. Afterwards, we were able to blow off some steam and let loose on the ATV course through the jungle and nearby village.
The third day my roommates had an early pick-up call of 2am to hike up Mount Batur, an active volcano, for the sunrise. Unfortunately, I had to decline this exciting excursion due to my recent injury but I knew it was for the best. Instead, my friend Emma and I found a spa a few blocks away from our villa to receive some luxurious Balinese treatments. Since our money is worth so much in Bali, we were able to treat ourselves like queens in the tranquil environment. Later that day our group found the Monkey Forrest and made a few furry friends. I was surprised at how terrified I became after the larger-than-expected marsupials were jumping on and off all of us. However, I did end up making a furry little friend that hung out on my hand for a while.
Spending a few days in a low-income country was an eye-opening experience. Being in the tourist area of Bali was a very different experience than being up north in the villages filled with locals. The Balinese that lived in the tourist areas lived off the tourists’ money. We couldn’t walk down the street without every taxicab beeping at us to see if we needed a ride. Similarly, every salon, spa and restaurant had employees waiting outside to inform and hopefully drive customers inside. We walked through a few markets during some evenings and the vendors would sometimes trap you into their booth and beg you to name a good price. I would bargain for a good price, as we were told to do so, but sometimes I left feeling unsatisfied – knowing they needed the minimal amount of money I saved more than I did.
After leaving Bali, I can’t help but feel extremely grateful for the life that has been given to me. There are many less fortunate than us that we tend to ‘forget’ about. Not necessarily in the sense of money, but the opportunities and resources we have access to and often take for granted – like clean water and a higher education.
In the end, spring break was a success! The food was delicious, the people were friendly and the views were incredible. This week I’ll be headed to New Zealand for a long weekend. Thanks for reading – stay tuned for more adventures!