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In Bali, many temples are dedicated to Hanuman, the Monkey God. As such, monkeys are considered sacred and are staple parts of the Balinese Culture. This is evident through the plays they perform, the statues they venerate, and the temples they’ve built. You see it when you enter the Monkey Forest – a place overrun with tourists, yet also deeply dear to the people of Bali. It was at the Monkey Forest that I made my first primate friend—at a safe distance of course—out of this blatant baboon.
After journeying safely through the Monkey Forest, I was certain that all future primate encounters would be uneventful. After all, I followed the rules: no food, no small objects in hand, no chasing, petting, or grabbing the devious creatures. Who were the monkeys to harass me?
What I didn’t factor in, however, was the delicious smell of my feet. There’s no need to deny it: my feet are downright delectable. Or at least that’s one mischievous monkey believed.
During my last birthday, I had one clear goal in mind: to travel outside of the country before I had another one. I put that goal aside when I was accepted into the Peace Corps because I was about to spend two years in a foreign country – which seemed to more than fulfill my desire.
But then that dream was postponed and the next thing I knew, I was purchasing a roundtrip ticket to Bali and using the time to cross a few things off my bucket list.
- Go on a Silent Retreat? Check
- Visit some Temples? Check
- Embrace yoga and meditation? Check
- Learn to Surf? Check
- Hike up Gunung Agung? Okay, I didn’t get around to doing this – as I was in no shape for the 12 hour vertical climb – but all the more reason to return again for this particular spiritual journey.
While I was in Bali, I was taken by the extreme kindness and openness of the Balinese people. Although it was easy to see where the Australian crowd, as well as the EPL women, have infiltrated some of the local traditions and ways, it was also easy to see the tones of welcome that echoed throughout the island. Equally as easy to hear was the roosters that echoed every morning and the musical chants of worship that echoed throughout the day.
What I loved most about Bali was the smell.
Everywhere I walked, it smelled like incense – the world was their church and their temple – and there wasn’t a moment that you forgot it.