Primarily my day to day routine consisted of breakfast, lesson planning, lunch and then teaching. However native volunteers also found time to equip me with a few local skills; including Balinese Cooking, Batik Painting and Ceremonial Flower Arranging. All of the activities were great fun and again it was down to the kindness of the local people; providing us with their time to undertake such activities. I was very glad I had been offered the opportunity to do so.
It was wonderful to live locally in the rural village and the daily commute to the school was equally as enchanting, although not all that near. It could take up to an hour through winding hills and forested valleys to reach, but every day I looked forward to seeing the inquisitive children that met us at the school gate. Although education is not compulsory in Bali, the children are thirsty to learn and proved quick to pick up on the new language. My role of teacher may have been tough at times, but it was also very rewarding. By the time I came to leave, I was sad to part with my Grade 3 class, but glad that I had engaged with them and vowed to keep in touch.
Despite my weekday commitments, I managed to find time at weekends to explore the sites best attributed to Bali. The Holy Water Temple, found north of Ubud is a hidden paradise that helped me to spiritually connect with the island and its beliefs. Meanwhile a visit to the local rice terraces was a must, to see how the natives live off the land. The site also provides a healthy walk, just mind your step as you go.
I also made an early trek to reach the black sand beaches, along the north side of the island in Singaraja. This region is much less populated than along the southern shores of Kuta, home of the white sand surfing beaches and also densely filled with global brands. Both areas had their own appeal, but I was personally much more intrigued by the natural wonders of the north.
Whilst I hadn’t been destined for an island holiday, I found myself drawn in to the local culture, religion and landscape. My time in Bali was peaceful and simple compared to my ordinary life in UK and that was something very poignant that resonated with me. Although I was working, it was still a break and a truly life-changing one at that. By getting involved with the community, I arguably saw much more of the native island than the majority of visitors do when they book their Balinese retreat. And from the perspective of a wanderlust foreigner, was certainly more stimulating. I’ll always be thankful for the experience and treasure the memories fondly. Maybe one day, I might even visit again…