That silent touch,
sound of water crashing with rocks,
clouds making ridiculous patterns,
the ruffle of grass on your feet,
distant chirp of birds,
the way your best friend calls your name.
Such priceless things in life are often free!
‘Free’, a word that has strength to get any middle class Indian run in their Pajamas, only to stop and think, “What am I running for?” That was inherent in my upbringing as well and so; I subconsciously tend to look for free stuff on my travels. But, in the last few months, I found an ancient abandoned church on the streets of Indore, a pristine enormous lake in Maharashtra out of nowhere and a folk dance performance in Udaipur. Guess what was common!? I hadn’t planned to be at any of those and yet, I happened to be. Universal conspiracy, is it? The point is such ‘freebies’ are all around. We just need to be a bit more observant and appreciative.
Indonesia has been on mind for quite a while, and so I was researching about things I could do there without spending a penny. Unexpectedly, the findings were somewhat common to India, or to most places, for that matter:
Attend a festival
The best thing about festivals is that even if you don’t celebrate those, you can be an audience, to the extent you want to be. Festivals in each region, country or continent help us to be familiar with their beliefs and culture a bit more. Each month seems to be a treat in Bali, specially for someone who is visiting for the first time. From temple anniversaries to local New Year, they celebrate everything in their own way.
Be a part of local traditions
Just as in India, we often observe people taking out a procession, be it Muharram, Ganesh Chaturthi or a wedding, in Indonesia too, we are likely to encounter similar occurrences. They have religious rituals, offerings as well as funerals that you can join, start a conversation or wait for them to do it and mingle along.
Go on day hikes
Hills are one of the reasons Indonesia has been attracting me with its pictures and travel tales. Pick any of the trails in Bali and start climbing. From all I gathered, there are green paths full of rice fields, coffee plantations and even intricately carved temples on the way. A bottle of water, a camera and a diary to make note of scattered thoughts would be all I need.
Meet the turtles
Be the guest of turtles at a beach for ‘one of its kind’ experience. ‘Bali Sea Turtle Society’ runs a turtle conservation center that can be visited at Kuta beach. It’s a local organisation, run by local people where they relocate sea turtle eggs from the beach to a central hatchery, to protect the eggs and increase hatching rates.
Roam around street markets
I’m not someone who likes to shop on travels but certain things have their own charm – like silk scarves, carved softwood figures, handmade woven bags, baskets and hats. Even if you don’t want to buy any of these, the colorful pictures and long walks along such stuff don’t harm anyone. Night markets are another fantastic way to explore the streets and culture of Bali.
Apart from these, get up really early and climb a hillside overlooking the ocean for an incredible sunrise, pick a beach and stroll in the evening when the sun calls it a day, slide down Aling-Aling waterfall, relax at sandy beach of Conrad Bali, visit the broken sea or find your own leisurely thing to do. And tell me about it too?
© 2016, Swati. All rights reserved.