The last three weeks of my life are the best three weeks I’ve ever lived. I won’t lie, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows and truth be told it can’t always be that way. Otherwise you wouldn’t appreciate all the good in your life. Regardless, I make the choice to be happy and grateful.
Visiting Bali or any third world country will make you appreciate the life you have more than anything else in the world. I’m here to share with you how Bali changed the way I look at the world and why you shouldn’t sweat the little things.
Here are just a number of reasons why Bali increased my gratitude for life…
- I got engaged in Bali
- I spent three weeks in my dream destination and had the adventure of a lifetime.
- I got sicker than I’ve ever before in my life and thought I was dying.
- I saw a third world country for everything that it is.
- I realized how important it is to be always stay true to your heart and let go of the little things.
I’ll never forget the morning of my engagement. Newly jet lagged, I was three days into my Indonesian journey and finally managed to sleep in until 4:30 am. My love woke up soon after me and was eager to go to the beach. We headed towards the most beautiful beach I’ve ever been to in my life on our scooter to watch the sunrise. Most beaches in Indonesia require a massive staircase to climb down to access them. Padang Padang Beach or as I call it, “turtle rock beach”, is no exception. There are 175 steps to this beach to be precise. Half way down the stairway we stared at the jaw dropping horizon, we watched the waves crash gently onto the shore and the sky glimmer shades of blue and pink with the slightest hint of a rainstorm.
As we were turning to leave, Jefferson said we should take one final look at the beach before heading back. When I turned around, he was down on one knee asking for my hand. It was the most wonderful moment of my life so far. For months, I spoke of how I couldn’t wait to get married and how ready I was to be Mrs.Wright. I am forever grateful for this experience of a lifetime. After all, not many people can say they got engaged in Bali. Gratitude.
Moments after getting home from Bali, my fiance said he would run and get food while I rested. As I laid down with my puppy, I couldn’t help but think about a conversation I had just had with my father in law, Bob. He asked me if I was glad to call the United States my home. I replied by saying how grateful I was to call the US my home. But it also occurred to me that my grandmother grew up in very similar conditions to the Balinese people.
My grandma Virgie is from the Philippines and grew up extremely poor. She spent her entire life convinced she was going to marry an American man and move to the states to escape poverty. Although she made it to the states, she married a Trinidadian Chinese Marine Corp soldier instead.
But back to the story…
I told Bob that it made me very sad to think that my grandmother grew up in such unfavorable conditions.
Later that day as I began to fall asleep, I couldn’t help but ball my eyes out. It seemed so unfair that my grandmother grew up with so little. So many beautiful islands in the world that are faced with the ugly realities of being part of the “third world.” This made me realize how I have NOTHING to complain about in my life and what I do complain about is so petty with everything I’m blessed to have.
Many places have no running water, no access to clean water, little money for food or basic hygiene products, open sewage in cities and children begging on the streets for money.
Bali made me fall in love with the beauty of the natural world but also made me question the world we live in. Why was I so fortunate to be born into the right family? Why wasn’t I born into a poor Balinese family? Why wasn’t I the one begging on the streets to eat? I couldn’t wrap my mind around it and I still can’t. How do we live in a world with such disparity?
My biggest “problem” in life is how I’m going to afford to keep traveling. . Yet, basic survival is the priority of people in the third world and most can’t even imagine the luxury of traveling for leisure. On one particular day in Bali, Jeff and I were moving from Southern Bali to Central Bali and we hired a driver named, John. After talking to John, I asked him where he dreamed of traveling to to which he replied,
“Singapore, but its only a dream.”
He laughed at the thought of ever having the money to leave Bali. But here I was crying in the back of the car wishing more than anything to buy him that ticket to Singapore. I couldn’t have been more grateful for being in Bali after meeting him. My life is truly a blessing.
Two small girls sat on the side of the road in Ubud begging for money. As I walked by I watched the girls squeeze their noses and giggle as a car drove by spreading the wretched open sewage smell into their nostrils. My heart sunk for what seemed like the 20,000 time on this trip.
It was one of the saddest things I ever witnessed in my life. Little girls giggling at the unsanitary conditions of their existence. Meanwhile, here I was walking home with a belly full of dinner to my luxurious villa. I quickly turned around and asked them for their photo. They were so flattered and became more giggly with my request. I quickly snapped a photo and handed them the rest of the money that I had with me. The caked-on filth of their miniature hands will remain in my memory for the rest of my life.
You could have sworn these little girls were at Disney World with the amount of happiness I brought to their days from this small interaction. They jumped for joy with the slightest bit of attention from a complete stranger and smiled so brightly when I took their photo. These little girls lived in the slums but found happiness with such simplicity in their lives.
Lesson Learned: Count your blessings and enjoy the little things in life. It sounds so cliche, but traveling to the third world made me realize how true this cliche really is. I encourage every person living in the first world to make it to the third world at some point in their lives. As my granddad always says
“Travel is the best education out there.”
DISCLAIMER: If you are offended or grossed out about talking about food poisoning or any of its symptoms DO NOT READ.
Half way into my Balinese adventure, I got sicker than I’ve ever been in my entire life. It started with a fever and led to excruciting stomach cramps and diarrhea. Now I know that may be TMI but I promise there is a lesson in gratitude to be learned from this story! After three days of lying in a hotel room in Bali, I came to the realization that I was slowly dying…or so I thought. 😉 It all occurred to me after I started defecating bright reddish pink “blood.” After finishing my business, I laid down in bed and for the third or fourth time on this trip I balled my eyes out.
I was never going to see my sweet puppy Hunny Bunny again.
I was never going to live to see my wedding day.
I was never going to see my family again.
Life as I knew it was OVER. I told Jeff to figure out how to get us back home as soon as possible. If I was going to die, it wasn’t going to be here.
After a half an hour, it all hit me. I ate a smoothie bowl earlier that day that was made with BRIGHT PINK dragon fruit. I wasn’t dying after all, the dragon fruit turned my poop pink! I cried tears of joy and called the doctor to check me out. Turns out I had acute GI distress or what is commonly known on the island as, “Bali Belly.” It’s very common for travelers to pick this bug up by drinking the water or eating bad food.
The moment I thought I was going to die really made me count my blessings. It’s a ridiculous story now but I am more grateful now than ever before. 🙂
I am changed for the very best after visiting Bali. The way I look at the world is changed. I’m much more appreciate of my life and every moment of it. I have a roof over my head, I never worry about where my next meal is coming from, I have clean water always available to me, my car although old gets me where I need to go, I have enough employment for survival, and I have an education that will open up opportunities for me in the future.
Anywhere you go in Bali, the locals will ask you where you are from. As soon as you say, The United States they instantly light up.
“Oh America. You are so lucky, your country is so powerful.”
I didn’t realize how lucky I was to be born in the United States. I took this birthright for granted but no longer will I overlook this major detail of my life. After one conversation with a local, I realized how lucky I was to have the health insurance I always complain about. Although Obamacare isn’t perfect, at least it allows me to afford health insurance period.
The other part of the conversation was about welfare. Although I don’t use the welfare system, I’m glad that we have something in place for people who could not afford to live otherwise. I’m not talking about people who abuse the system, but the people who actually need it. This man brought it to my attention that this welfare system could benefit so many starving people in Bali who work their assess off and still can’t make a decent living. What a twisted world we live in.
To conclude, I don’t have fancy things, a rich family or a nice car. Instead, I have EVERYTHING. My life is not lacking anything and if I choose to be miserable because , “I don’t have enough”, than that’s my own problem. I am privileged and blessed to be an American.
Above all things, I AM GRATEFUL.
Next week I’ll blog about what yoga is like in Bali. Thanks for reading.