As some of you may know, my husband and I went to the beautiful island of Bali for our honeymoon. We had a wonderful time there and were so happy to share this experience with each other.
When most people think of Bali, they envision rice patties, beautiful beaches, gorgeous spas tucked away on a mountain, ancient temples overseeing the ocean, and the occasional thought of Julia Roberts falling in love with Javier Bardem. For me, Bali is so much more.
When I think of Bali, I envision the small villages tucked away in the countryside of Ubud and the woman depicted above.
During our stay in Bali, we decided to go for an all day excursion with Bali Eco Cycling. It was the best experience we had there. You can read more about it here.
During our excursion we had to take a short detour due to a Ngaben, a Balinese cremation ceremony – in Balinese villages, funerals consist in a joyful ritual in which several deceased are cremated at once, therefore the village shuts down. Because of the Ngaben, we were able to spend more time in the countryside and even visit a traditional Balinese home/compound in the rural countryside of Ubud, where we met this lovely old lady.
A Balinese house yard, or compound, is a small village composed of 4-8 houses and includes anything from a single household to several related households. Balinese culture is deeply rooted in the concept of shared community. Everyone shares everything, from goods to duties. Although thanks to westernization women are assuming a more important role in society, traditional Balinese villages women are still viewed subordinate to men on a religious and popular discourse. Yet, this does not stop women from making a big impact in their communities.
Our awesome tour guide told us, “traditional Balinese women do not smoke, do not drink, do not curse, and spend most of their lives in the compound.” You can imagine what went through my mind… I would make a TERRIBLE traditional Balinese woman. Of course our guide was joking, at least for the most part, yet it is obvious traditional Balinese women play a pivotal role in the household. From a young age, women are thought to cook and care for the infants and elderly alike. The main role of the traditional Balinese woman is to make sure that everyone, from the youngest child to the oldest woman is cared for. Additionally, women are able to earn an income by making bamboo tapestries, such as the woman in the picture is weaving. This is no easy job. Women spend hours smashing and slicing bamboo sticks and then weaving them into large tapestries. Unfortunately these mats are sold for less than a dollar per yard, which means women spend every waking hour taking care of the household, or working with bamboo to earn money to make a financial impact in their community. Although these women’s lifestyle does not fit many westerner’s ideals, the women in this household looked very content and proud of their role. Their life is filled with love, sense of community, and pride of their work, which is sometimes more than what we westerners can say.
Looking back, I am glad we had to take that detour because it gave me an insight of another woman’s life and the real culture of Bali. I am also glad we took the time to take a bike tour with Bali Eco Cycling. They are truly the best! If you ever find yourself in Bali, treat yourself to a fantastic tour.[/fusion_text]