Before my aunt and cousin went out shopping for the day, they rode into the city to find a driver to take me to Uluwatu. They found Ketut, a tall local man who said he would be my driver for three hours for the cost of 250,000 rupiah (approx. $30.00 USD). He had a skater style with a full sleeve of tattoos and many other random tattoos covering his body. I did not see the tatted chest though.
I felt silly for not speaking any Indonesian during the trip. All we had to work with was his minimal English vocabulary which was difficult to understand. As we struggled through conversation we discovered a lot of commonalities among each other, such as our age, how we prefer the countryside over the club AND, of course, how we both have Facebook accounts. We have completely different backgrounds, but as young and hip adults, we were similar in many ways.
The drive was about 45 minutes to the temple in Uluwatu. When we arrived, we had to place yellow and purple fabric around our waists as skirts. This is etiquette for the Hindu religion. As we entered the path to the temple, we were surrounded by monkeys! There were families of them, little babies and all.
We were not allowed to enter the temple, but walked the path surrounding it and edging around the island. I wanted a picture of both of us, because I thought Ketut was cool and I wanted to document the person who I spent a lot of my day with. He, however, pulled me in for a close picture and tried to hold my hand as we walked the path. If you think this is awkward when you speak the same language as someone pulling something like this, think about how awkward it is when you don’t speak the language. He was pretty cool once I pulled my hand away, but I was not expecting him to go for it with me. Makes for an interesting story though. 🙂
After reflecting over the trip with my cousin later that night we spoke about how minimalized communication can be with someone who speaks a different language than you. Questions are shortened to “You like?” and “You want go?” As Americans, we do not have to interact with people who speak a completely different language than us every day in order to make a living. And if these people do speak a different language, they usually know a decent amount of English to get by, unlike myself who depend on the Balinese to know a little English to help me get by.
Bali’s economic engine is tourism. Tourists come from all over; Australia, America, Japan, China and Europe. I can’t imagine struggling to make conversation with the people I do business with or serve on a daily basis. The Balinese achieve this with such patience. As I returned to our hotel in Seminyak, I felt reviled to carry on a conversation with my family in my own language. We were able to converse about everything under the sun, something I have not appreciated until my trip to Uluwatu.
Uluwatu resembles a place that I have only previously seen in Hollywood movies. As I was thinking about where I was on the map as I was looking at the Indian Ocean from the cliff, I was taken aback by the beauty the earth has to offer. I yearned to sit on the edge and listen to the waves crashing on the rocky earth for hours. It is amazing that this little island offers home to its people and its visitors and ends in such a beautiful way as it hits the ocean. I can’t imagine a better place for a temple to be located. A higher power sure shines with the view offered in Uluwatu.