Today is a Balinese ceremony for scooters and cars, my host tells me.
Sure enough, I find an ornate flax creation tied to my scooter today, with flowers stapled all over it.
Out on the street nearly every scooter has an ornate decoration, and old beaten up trucks and cars have more flax and flowers tied all over them. Some trucks parked on the side of the road are covered in decorations and bowls of fruit and flowers.
How cool is that?
I am really struck by how beautiful it is that the Balinese are taking time and effort, in fact a whole day of ritual and celebration to celebrate something we completely take for granted.
(Ps this post was written a week ago – in case anyone’s a Balinese ceremony buff who’s going to realise that the car ceremony was not “today”, but another day.
The Balinese people are constantly worshipping, spending hours of their day chanting with incense and offerings at every entrance, every door, every bike, every family altar, every day.
Well most days.
And most days, the chicken and the gecko that live next to my house have a war over who will get to eat the cracker and the rice on the offering first.
Balinese people don’t spend a great deal of time thinking about how to make themselves happy, I’ve learnt, they find the idea curious. Their culture is about celebrating what they do have and thanking the gods and offering up their time, energy, Mentos, and fish shaped crackers. And sometimes cigarettes.
They mostly seem very happy with their far-simpler-than-ours lives.
When you drive around bali, you drive defensively.
People pull out from roads and intersections with no indication or warning. They beep constantly, when passing, when not passing, when stopping, when waving to a friend. They put their hazards on while driving through an intersection to indicate that they’re going straight.
Intersections are a game of first-in-first-turn.
Cars and scooters alike swerve across the wrong side of the road and if they’re on your side coming for your head on, you’re expected to just swerve around them, no big deal.
In the west there would be fingers and cursing flying, but in bali, it’s all good!
It’s a whole different culture here like nothing I’ve ever seen.
Gratitude and huge devotional ceremonies for the simple things.
Lack of worry for things like road rules. Barely any road rage despite the insane traffic and ridiculous driving.
They don’t seem to take things personally.
Whereas I’m scootering round freaking out about every person that beeps at me! Are my lights on? Am I driving wrong? Do I look weird? Is my scooter broken?
It’s perspective altering.
Why do we get so angry about our “rights” on the road? Why are we so focussed on our individual rights and wrongs rather than just getting on with it? Why are we so indignant about ridiculous things? Why don’t we celebrate how lucky we are to have such efficient transport?
This is why I love travel more than anything else in the world.
It makes me look at my life and my values through a different lense.
It’s been biggest influencer in working out who I am and what I want, outside the arbitrary constraints and rules of the societies I grew up in.
I learnt to question why I do the things I do.
More often than not I realise that my attitudes could do with some shifting.
And so I travel.
And so I shift.