I signed up for this field trip to Bali on my first school day because one of my co-teachers wanted to cancel. I might’ve re-considered if I had known how action-packed this “holiday” was going to be…
At least it didn’t rain on this Bali trip
It was not all bad, but I’m more of a backpacker who is used to travelling on her own. Travelling with two busloads full of people on a tight schedule is not really my idea of a holiday. If you don’t know yet if you’d prefer flying solo or having company with you, check out this post to determine your travel personality.
I had been to Bali once before a few years back, during the rainy season. Hence, I didn’t really have such a good impression on Bali.
When the monsoon rains hit, whether it be in Bali, Thailand or somewhere else, it gets, well.. wet, dirty and annoying. But this trip changed my opinion on Bali, despite the organisational structure, which I wasn’t so fond of.
Mesmerising temples and spirituality
The good things first. We saw a lot considering that we stayed there only for the weekend. I just love the Hindu temples that you can see all around. At this point, I will mention that most Balinese are Hindus, though Indonesia on whole is predominantly Muslim (about 90%).
Our tour guide told us that Balinese have temples for numerous gods; not just the usual Hindu gods but also deities eg. for rice, water and different natural elements, such as mountains and forests. This explains why there are temples and offerings literally everywhere. So you can see the religious aspects or the godliness all around you. It gives this place a spiritual feeling. Since yoga has been on my mind recently quite a lot, this spiritual feeling felt like a natural continuation for my contemplation of the yogic or more spiritual lifestyle.
The temples were beautiful. I loved looking at them and also seeing different religious practices and how the locals worship. It is all so different from my Lutheran Christian upbringing and religious practices which don’t resonate with me so much anymore. Yoga practice definitely has made me question my beliefs and worldview.
Anyway, besides the temples, we visited a viewpoint where you could see the highest volcano of the island, Mount Agung. Breath-taking. The viewpoint was actually at a restaurant and the food they served there was quite good as well. I tried black rice porridge for the first time. Delicious with condensed milk!
Being stuck with my co-teachers
What I didn’t love about this holiday was the tight schedule. We had no time to go around on our own. A friend of mine happened to be on the island as well and I really wanted to see her. But the headmaster said I wasn’t allowed. Because of the insurance policy. Ok, I kind of understand but isn’t it a bit mean not to allow this since I live on the other side of the world and don’t get to see my friends often?!
When I heard this I was so angry and felt trapped. Never again would I do this kind of a field trip with Thai teachers. Sorry, I’m just too used to treading my own way. Go when I want and where I want to go.
Blame it on the farang
Another thing that caused my blood to boil was the comments from others when I was late from the bus a few times. Apparently, I shouldn’t go on my own like that. For Pete’s sake, someone had left me at the airport and I was trying to find any familiar faces without success. I was left a bit behind because I exchanged money. There were Thais from my group after me doing the same thing so I thought I was safe. Wrong!
After 20-30 minutes of waiting, I decided to start looking for them and luckily found them. Thai sim card doesn’t work in Bali so couldn’t send a message to my 3 farang (foreign in Thai) fellow teachers. When I finally found them and got on the bus I was cheered. I was not happy at all. Later on, I noticed though that this was done to everybody, it didn’t make a difference if you were a Thai or not.
After the arrival, we had lunch at an amazing Chinese restaurant. I would tell the name if I remembered… Food was really good. When I had finished I asked if there is coffee included. The tour guide said I could go across the street to get some and wait there because the buses had parked there anyway. I got my coffee but the teachers were still inside the restaurant so I decided to have a look around the shop.
After a few minutes, the tour guide comes looking for me and saying everyone’s waiting. Needles to stay, someone mentioned me soon after that that I shouldn’t run off on my own. Arrrgghh!!! Of course, the farang gets noticed and told off (politely, though), but the Thais who aren’t able to follow the schedule every other time aren’t told off.
But the Thais were even worse
On the last night, we went shopping at a massive discount shop called Krishna. We hadn’t had a lot of shopping time earlier so people went crazy here. We were permitted 90 minutes there, though it was already getting late. Some Thais just decided to ignore the curfew and showed up back on the bus very late, ranging from 30 to 80 minutes. Some people were quite pissed off. We got back to the hotel midnight and had left the hotel 9am in the morning. See what I mean about the action-packed holiday…
We also got to try wonderful teas and coffee at Bali Pulina Agro Tourism. Samples were free and the view was beautiful. What I didn’t like, though, when I noticed they had civet cats in small cages on display. Civet cats are fed coffee cherries which is further processed into high-quality coffee. To me, this stinks of animal cruelty and hence, next time I wouldn’t come to this place. I’d prefer civet cats free and my coffee just as it is.
As you can see, my trip was full of ups and downs. I fell in love with Bali but realised I’d never again do a group tour, at least not with my workplace. If you want to know more about my school and how I ended up teaching there, have a look at this post or this one to learn about the surprises you will face when teaching in Thailand.