you're reading...

Simplicity = Happiness…what Balinese taught me

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We burnt our pocket this June in Europe so we are on shoestring budget. Our 6 return air tickets SIN-DENPASAR-SIN on Air Asia cost only SGD900. And in this trip, I finally realize that I had been all the while planning a tight schedule and achieving a lot of things in the extent that my holiday becomes AMAZING RACE. This one is different.

There we are, in Bali. This is a 7-days holiday. Taking away the first day and last day which we can’t do much things, we have 5 full days to explore this island. It sounds like a long holiday but we find it just nice for self-drive. Daring, isn’t it? We enjoy it very much. Goh drives the Suzuki APV, a 1500cc small MPV in the 4 days in Bali, the last 2 days we are in Kuta. There are a lot of things I learned from the Balinese lifestyle. Sometimes I just wonder: ignorance could be a bliss. Is it true? They may be smarter people than us…if you have heard the story of fisherman and business consultant, you will know what I am talking about. (I put this story at the bottom of this post)

Bali is the splendid island that keeps tourists coming back. It is my 4th time, 2nd time for Goh, 1st time for my 3 children and domestic helper Eni.

Balinese people have smile pure from the heart and give the best for the tourism. They are genuinely happy people, perhaps attributed to their strong faith in Hindu. They have the belief that a balance should be maintained between the spiritual and the physical world to have peace and prosperity.

Everywhere we go, we see people selling things but it seems that no one is buying. Everyone is selling the same thing, same kind of food, fruit. Robin asks me why the people don’t innovate, different product can attract customers. I don’t know the reason. Probably Balinese are simple people doing simple things.

It is common sight that people sit around doing nothing, or selling things outside their house the entire day without anyone patronizing. At a village near Candi Dasa Beach, 2 women were selling 5 jackfruits in the morning. In the evening, we passed by the same place, the 5 jackfruits were still there. I am not sure whether those 5 jackfruits were the same fruits in the morning, but they looked like the same ones I saw this morning. At least that’s the impression I have.

Besides the charming culture and the friendly Balinese, we are captivated by the magnificent landscape island-wide.

Rice Terrace
At Canggu, the picturesque rice terraces that cling precariously to the side of steep really take my breath away. They are like green waves stretching from the foothill all the way to the top and the villages nestled among the terrace! Looking at the beautiful landscape can bring peace and tranquility, cleansing the clutter in the mind.

Off the Beaten Track
At Munduk Village, we see rice terrace again. Munduk is in the northern mountains of Bali. It’s beautiful and cool. We watch the sunset over the hazy mountains at dinner. The people in Bali take their own sweet time to prepare food so we have great opportunity sitting at their dining area watching the sun goes down. It’s not a life Robin and Dominique will like and get used to. It’s a very simple village lifestyle with no tv, no internet, no entertainment. We go to bed at as early as 8pm. At 5am, we are awakened by the first stirring of the various livestock in the village. The chorus begins with the distant cry of a rooster, dog, duck and birds. That’s the chorus of nature. I love this place – very simple very quiet.

Million-dollar sea view at a budget
Candidasa is a laid-back town compared to parts of southern Bali. There’s not much of a beach here. The wave is big. We have dinner at the seaside warungs. The food is nice and cheap. We eat like king and have a million-dollar sea-view watching beautiful sunset.

Rip-off at Pura Besakih
I have heard bad things about Pura Besakih. I am well-prepared, never did I expect to be like that. It is really very bad. I am disappointed to see the once crowded and popular Pura Bersakih which Goh and I visited 15 years ago reduced to a breeding ground of bloodsucking “temple guardian” and “guides”.

At the carpark, we pay the tickets I think IDR15,000 each person. With tickets in hand we start the long walk up to the temple, then we are being asked to visit the “Tourist Information Office” which is a small hut. The “staff” ask us where we are coming from, Malaysia, Singapore? Is it our first time visiting? When the staff knows it’s not our first time, he asks, “When was your previous visit?” then he starts his cock-and-bull story.

First of all, everyone except Clement is supposed to rent a sarong. I am prepared by these tricks. I have 2 batik skirts for Eni and myself. Years back, I was only told that women who wear skirts or shorts that don’t cover their legs must wear sarong. I have never heard about such things for guys. Goh, Robin and Dominique have to rent sarong at IDR10,000 per piece. It’s daylight robbery, over my dead body! Goh insists not renting but to buy from stalls. One piece of sarong is IDR15,000 and we will keep as souvenir (ironically to remind us of this place)…and that’s not all.

The “staff” stops us again, pointing at the faded black-and-white photocopy of the temple map, he says we must hire a guide to visit the temple. There’s a special ceremony on today. And nope you don’t have a choice and the fee is IDR50,000. I take out my travel guide that has a detailed map. Goh and I say “No thanks, we bought the admission tickets and we have a travel guide book. We don’t need a temple guide.” We continue to walk up the road toward the temple. A few people in the hut shouts out bad things in Bahasa Indonesia but we ignore them.

At the foot of the temple, near the stairs, 2 men block our path. They call themselves the Temple Guardians, the people who are born at this mountain and have the mission to guard the temple. We are not even allowed to take pictures. Fed-up, I ask how much do they charge to let us go up. One of the men says IDR50,000. I say no, then he reduces the price voluntarily to IDR20,000. OK, no problem, I tell Goh to agree so we won’t make a wasted trip. It is quite difficult to come here. We proceed up the stairs.

The “temple guardian” brings us to one of the shrines, asking all of us to kneel down and make offerings to the god. The children are not interested so they stand at one side. The temple guardian asks us burn joss sticks, to rub the flowers with our palms and put on our face, our head, etc. Then after this is over, we have to put donation in the offerings basket. Goh put IDR5,000 in each basket. Temple Guardian, not once but twice warn us “This is small money!”. We must put a sum of IDR100,000 in each baskets. Damned blood-sucking. We insist “Take it or leave it. It’s a donation which means no fixed amount is required. No No No, That’s all i have” Temple guardian mumbles something then takes the money. After walking to the door, he says his service is completed. We feel relieved to get rid of him and regain our “freedom”. All of us feel so uneasy with him around. After paying him the IDR20,000, we don’t feel like walking around anymore. This place leaves us a very bad after-taste.

The once beautiful temple of Bersakih is now becoming very quiet with few visitors because of the notoriety earned by these people. This is the biggest tourist trap in Bali and fortunately the only big one (besides the small case like ridiculous IDR2,000 per toilet visit at Lovina rundown dirty toilet).

White-water rafting at Ayung River
This is my 2nd time doing the white-water rafting. Because it is very safe, I recommend to my family members. Clement is too young for this activity so he and Eni stay at Puri Asri Villa while we go to Ayung River in the transport provided by Sobek. I choose Sobek though more expensive than other operators because safety is first priority and I experienced their great service in December 2009 during IRFX Asia Offsite.

It is the first time for all except me, so they are all a little nervous and not sure what to expect. Sobek’s guide Tea is fantastic, and makes our trip so much more enjoyable! He has a wonderful sense of humor and is very gentle and careful with the kids. The trip is very enjoyable, fantastic sights and scenery, and the water is not too rough, just enough for a little thrill without adrenaline rush. The boys love it! And we love it too. The activity completes with a lunch provided at the end is decent in retrospect but seem fantastic at the time since we are tired and hungry.

There are a lot of things we do in Bali but the above are the main memorable ones. I also discover that I can’t stand windowless small room. I have the claustrophobic feeling at Tune.com Hotel and the helpless feeling of being trapped make me more aware of my weakness. I am even willing to forego the prepaid sum and check in to Fat Yogi. Unfortunately, Fat Yogi is full. Lesson Learned. I will never go to another Tune.com hotel anymore.

Before I get into my old ways, let me pen this down as a constant reminder the self-reflection I have gotten from this holiday in Bali.My conclusion is simplicity equates to happiness.

A simple life means eliminating all but the essential, eschewing chaos for peace, and spending your time doing what’s important to me.
Checklist to follow up:

1. Make a list of top important things. Simplifying starts with priorities.
2. Evaluate commitments. Everything, from work to home to kids’ activities to hobbies.
3. Time management. Make a list, and evaluate whether they’re in line with priorities.
4. Simplify and delegate work tasks. I never seem to be able to finish my work. Perhaps getting a temporary assistant can help to organize my stuff.
5. Learn to say no.
6. Limit your communications.
7. Limit media consumption.
8. Do what I love – reading and writing
9. Spend time with people I love.
10. Spend time alone.
11. Create a simple mail & paperwork system.
12. Clear the desk. My desk is a cluttered desk, distracting and disorganized and stressful.
13. Establish routines. The key to keeping your life simple is to create simple routines.
14. Declutter before organizing.
15. Continue writing as creative outlet for self-expression. Allow this to replace busy-work.
16. Simplify goals.
17. Single-task. Multi-tasking is more complicated, more stressful, and generally less productive.
18. Simplify filing system.
19. Reduce consumption of advertising.
20. Learn to do nothing.
21. Go for quality, not quantity.

I hardly watch TV nowadays and this is the more obvious difference I made to my lifestyle.

Before I close off this post, here’s a story of fisherman and business consultant which Karen Yip told me after I shared my experience with her. Thanks for her words of wisdom as well as Yolanda’s and Geline’s. I also want to thank my boss, Marc Pelet. Thanks for your support to hire an assistant for 2 months.


A management consultant, on holiday in a fishing village, watched a little fishing boat dock at the quayside. Noting the quality of the fish, the consultant asked the fisherman how long it had taken to catch them.

“Not very long.” answered the fisherman.

“Then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the consultant.

The fisherman explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The consultant asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

“I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, have an afternoon’s rest under a coconut tree. In the evenings, I go into the community hall to see my friends, have a few beers, play the drums, and sing a few songs….. I have a full and happy life.” replied the fisherman.

The consultant ventured, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you…… You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have a large fleet. Instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you can negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to a city here or maybe even in the United Kingdom, from where you can direct your huge enterprise.”

“How long would that take?” asked the fisherman.

“Oh, ten, maybe twenty years.” replied the consultant.

“And after that?” asked the fisherman.

“After that? That’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the consultant, laughing, “When your business gets really big, you can start selling shares in your company and make millions!”

“Millions? Really? And after that?” pressed the fisherman.

“After that you’ll be able to retire, move out to a small village by the sea, sleep in late every day, spend time with your family, go fishing, take afternoon naps under a coconut tree, and spend relaxing evenings having drinks with friends…”

” That’s what i’m doing right now”, said the fisherman and went his way.

Moral of the story: Know what you want! it’s pointless to look for money and career if you already have what you want. don’t sacrifice yourself for money, you are looking for money to get something … so know what’s that something is…




About Pamela's Online Journal

Working mother of 3 boys, loves travelling & writing.


3 thoughts on “Simplicity = Happiness…what Balinese taught me

  1. I got this web site from my pal who informed me on thee tolic of this
    site and now this time I am visiting this website and reading very infolrmative posts at this place.

    Posted by traffic travis coupon | August 14, 2014, 08:32
    • I’m glad that the information is informative to you. Planning a trip can be time-consuming. I trust more on word of mouth than advertisement and travel guide. I hope the blog posts will help travelers to plan their holiday better. Thanks for your encouragement.

      Posted by Pamela's Online Journal | August 14, 2014, 15:18
    • Thank you.

      Posted by Pamela's Online Journal | October 7, 2014, 16:38

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: