How did the locals in Bali maintain their way of life?
With the international globalization you would think it is hard for locals in Bali to maintain their way of life. Surprisingly, and despite the booming of tourists in the Island, making it one of the most visited exotic destinations, Balinese have always managed to continue living their life according to their traditions, their way of thinking and beliefs. For some of you, it might be hard to notice that fact but good observers will probably share with me the same opinion. This is how they’re doing it:
Wake up before tourists
With tourists jamming the streets, jumping from one place to another disturbing the serene traditional way of living, it can be a real hassle for locals to avoid this chaos and all the distractions that comes with it, even potentially grow angry about it.
However Balinese people managed to adapt to this new environment, and were clever enough to overcome this issue by switching their clock. Therefore, all locals wake up early morning, before all the tourists, to carry out with their communal shores before starting to deal with the “outside world”.
Our dear friends from Ubud were very generous to share with us this piece of information: the local market in Ubud opens its doors around 4:00AM until 6:00AM. Crazy right? Nobody would be awake by that time. But it is at that time that you’ll be able to find freshly picked fruits and vegetables for half the price you would normally get in the supermarkets. In fact the market is a trading hub for the Balinese to exchange goods and buy their daily needs. With that being said, locals will still try to rip you off, being a tourist and all, and it’s here were you should practice your bargaining skills to come up with a fair price for both parties.
Connection with nature
Nothing beats watching the beautiful sunrise while the free roaming cows, feeding stray dogs as if they were their own child… You’d instantly feel the connection that locals have with their nature and you’d admire them for it, especially that we live in an era where nature is heavily consumed rather than nurtured. And what is really striking is that they look really and truly happy, despite their “low” life conditions and their insufficient finances and their limited belongings.
Surfing in the wild west of Bali, was truly a rewarding experience, not only because surfing there was awesome but more importantly because we got to witness the true Island life and to start appreciating nature for what it truly is, our home. Nurturing it and taking good care of it is a crucial measure for our survival. And it is a shame that what we call civilized, or more developed, societies are missing out on this point tremendously.
Collective solidarity and synchronization
Locals in Bali operate with such synchronization that you start questioning the efficiency of today’s organizational strategies. They understand each other without having to over communicate. Look at the way they drive. With countless scooters and cars occupying the tiny streets, it is very rare to hear or see an accident. With their “Hello! I’m there!” hunk, everybody seems to know exactly when to move or stop.
Solidarity is the foundation of their success as a society. For instance, in Bali, tourists get a price and locals another. That’s just the way it is, even if nobody says it out loud. Don’t get me wrong Balinese are very welcoming, helpful and generous people, but business is business. You have to know that their income can be as low as 3$ per day. Tourists represent an extra income for them and they know that foreigners get paid much more in their own countries, which allows them to manipulate the prices.
Traditions and rituals
Bali kept its traditional aspect and you can clearly see that just by looking at the meticulous architecture, the daily offerings, the temple ceremonies, the collective dances and many more.
Always paying respect to the gods, the Balinese never miss the chance on placing offerings (Canang sari), which are made of flowers, food and incense to repel bad spirits. They leave them on the streets, in the shrines or just around the house. You would wake up everyday to a colorful sight and a sweet perfumed atmosphere.
Offerings get often eaten by stray dogs, birds or squashed by people’s feet. When asking one of the locals on how would god accept this offering, her answer was mesmerizing: “God is present in all aspects of nature, humans, animals… we are responsible of taking care and helping each other. So do good and only good will follow”
Nowadays, It is uncommon to witness locals still wearing their traditional clothing. Well not in Bali, especially in the rural areas. Attending ceremonies at Hindu temples is a constant activity there. Wherever you go , you could witness the ceremonies preparations , everyone is wearing the official Hindu costume and women carrying pots of fruits to be offered later on at the temple.
As a foreigner, it is impossible for you to own a Land in Bali. A Land can be leased for a definite amount of years or a foreigner can make a partnership with a local for opening up a business. Despite foreign financial temptations, Balinese have managed to preserve their land and found a way to get integrated in the whole touristic business without loosing their identity!
Nevertheless, the emergence of luxurious resorts and hotels is inevitable in such magical destinations as everywhere else in the world. It is in our duty here as responsible travellers to avoid encouraging the expansion of such developments, for they are destructive to the local culture. Whenever you’re encouraging a big chain you’re only making the big bosses make more money for their luxurious fiestas, where as if you encourage local businesses you’ll be indirectly contributing in the maintenance of the local way of life!