31 March, 2014

My Trip to Bali – guest post by Antonia Albany

Travel broadens our outlook on life. It educates us to the ways of other cultures and different beliefs as well as to more visible differences in customs, dress, food and entertainment. Nowhere are these differences more fascinating to experience than in Bali.

Despite my extensive travels and residences around the world, I knew very little about Bali or
Indonesia. As a senior, I have to feel safe and cared for to enjoy traveling. I felt both during my two week sojourn with Spirit Tours. I also felt embraced and venerated by the Balinese people, who hold their elders in high regard.

Bali is a land of thousands of temples, many of which were established  as early as 1,000 A.D. In these places of worship, holy men, withered and bent in old age, perform blessings for locals as well as any tourists willing to dress appropriately, in sarongs, and to learn the proper procedures to receive the blessings of prayer, with flowers and wetted rice, the latter of which was placed on our foreheads and in the hallows of our necks.

Five months previous to my trip I had lost my husband of twenty-four year__s, and it seemed during temple visits that these elders were comforting me with their blessings. The rice stuck to my tear-streaked cheeks as well as my forehead, and, as I looked into their faces, I felt the lifetimes of service and devotion that they’d blessed upon their countrymen and visitors.

Bali’s landscape is comprised of luxurious rice fields, peaceful rolling hills, and open land thick with vegetation. The city of Ubud is the artistic and cultural center of Bali. There we enjoyed the elaborate costumes and choreography of delicate Balinese dancers as they told stories through traditional dances. With expressive make-up and bright and illustrious fabrics woven into native dresses, these quiet and unassuming performers were transformed into exciting and picturesque storytellers. I was mesmerized each and every time by them and the musicians who accompanied them.

The traffic was a tourist sight in and of itself. Don’t plan to drive in Bali.  Even if you’re a passenger, it’s best to keep your eyes closed … it’s that scary. No stop lights, no traffic lanes, no right-of-way signs, and hundreds and hundreds of motorcycles, many loaded with families of three or four! And yet it worked.
Horn honking and road rage were noticeably absent. There were very few accidents, and no flipping anyone off. At one point, a funeral procession was making its way, on foot, down the center of a two-lane road. In a show of respect, all traffic stopped while ashes were cast off a bridge next to the road. No one
complained about the forty-five minutes it took to conclude the ceremony.

In addition to the sights and sounds and smells of this tiny island, the stand-out attraction is its people. The Balinese are uncomplicated, honest people who are devoted to the concept of karma. Put simply, those who are good, will receive good, and vice versa. Thus, there is relatively little crime in Bali. People truly love serving where they can bring joy into the lives of family, friends, and everyone they meet. Without exception,
employees in the hotels, shops, restaurants, markets, and spas worked diligently to create a pleasurable experience for the customer, not so much to make themselves look good but purely to please. I can honestly say I have never been so genuinely embraced and moved by the people in any other foreign country I have visited.

I hope to return to Bali one day to see more temples, eat more delicious foods, and, most importantly, to visit the kind and generous Balinese people. I will always feel welcome there.

Check out Antonia’s Senior Moments weekly blog at


  1. What a wonderful reminder about our trip to Bali. Thanks Antonia. Touring Bali with spiritual community is such a beautiful experience.

  2. I remember this
    Tour to Bali with you and the other folk from Santa Rosa and Kansas City Antonia. I hope traveling with the group is in your plans again. Hey, I hope travel with the group is in my plans!! I love it when Spirit Tours hires me to be the Gentle Yoga instructor for the trips.


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