Happily posing for a picture
Although we had some interesting visits to the bird park and the elephant area today I’m going to leave talking about those two experiences to another time. For today’s entry I’m going to focus simply on what I have learned and seen about the Balinese people.
In addition to the many tours that we have booked through the travel agency we also arranged to hire a private driver and car for a full day to take us out to see places that were not on the tour schedule. As it turned out yesterday, time with our driver has been the highlight of our trip. Anytime we came across a place that we would like to stop and take a picture all we had to do was ask and he would pull over as soon as he was able so that we could get out of the car and spend some time taking some nice photos along our route.
As we traveled along we had quite an open conversation with Dalem, our driver. I was curious about working life in Bali as for the past few days I had been watching out the car window as we went past so
Building a community hall
many people seeming to eke out a living under difficult circumstances. He explained the people are happy with what they have in their lives and working hard is just part of their way of life. He told us that if he wanted to be a policeman or a government worker he would have to pay under the table for that job and it could be as much as 200 million rupiah which of course made that reality beyond his dreams. It would be a good job though because then he would have a pension.
One of our first stops, we came across a construction site where three ladies were sifting a rocky soil on a screen. One woman would shovel the rocky soil into a bucket, then pour it onto the screen. Two other women would then shake the screen to allow the finer soil to pass through. Another woman would shovel the finer material into an old wheelbarrow and move it 10 feet to dump it into a wooden tub where she then added a shovel full of cement and added water. Another woman used a hoe to mix the “mortar“. Once mixed, she would fill two buckets
Another furniture store
More scavenged materials
on either end of a long stick and another woman would carry it into the construction site. What was remarkable was that these women were elderly and although they were walking on rough stones, they wore no shoes. When they saw I was taking a photograph, they paused, smiled and posed for a picture. It was very hard work in the heat of the day.
As we left the construction site we traveled down a narrow busy street that was lined on either side by endless stalls occupied by people of all ages selling their wares. In many cases their “store” would be a cement ”garage” with no doors. Dalem told us these people would live behind their store in modest accommodations. Someone in the family would tend the store from 8:00 am until 10:00 pm seven days a week. The only time the store would be closed was when attending special Temple ceremonies . As we snaked through the traffic, there were a few “new store construction sites”. I found it interesting to see how they used bamboo to make their scaffolding.
After an hour, we came into the city of Ubud where were able to see
Selling fruit to a passerby
some talented silver smiths at work as well as a wood carver who proudly told me he was working on a ceremonial door for his temple, a great honour to be chosen for this task. I had seen these wood carvers on previous outings, working at night under very dim light conditions, often a single bulb hanging precariously from the roof by a single wire. Although in both cases the work was tedious, all were happy to stop and show their work and you could sense a real pride in their workmanship.
We left Ubud and drove into the countryside high up among the rice terraced paddies. The roads narrowed but were relatively “pot hole” free! We encountered many people hard at work in the rice fields. Dalem told us there would be 4 rice crops a year and the fields were in several stages, some newly planted, some ripening and some being harvested. Whatever the case, it was all labour intensive and it didn’t take long to see just how back breaking the work was to do and the majority of the work was being done by the women. We witnessed the same tireless work ethic by all
Local “food truck”.
the people and still the willingness to wave and smile whenever you made eye contact. In the villages, there were people young and old on scooters carrying bundles of rice, older people carrying bamboo poles on their heads or backs.
After this day out with Dalem I have a whole new respect for these beautiful people. It has become so apparent that leisure time for the majority of the people is an unknown concept. Their philosophy is based on working hard at whatever task they have no matter how menial, to care for their family and care for others including tourists and through that sacrifice they will be rewarded.
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