In Bali I went to a volunteering event at an orphanage. I got to know about the event through Erlangga, who posted it on Couchsurfing. I really wanted to do some volunteering and to get in contact with the local children in Bali. Erlangga is one of the presidents of Leo Club Bali Shanti. It is a part of Lions Club International Bali Surya for social affairs. But Leo Club is for younger people up to 30 years old. Leo Club Bali Shanti is organized by about 20 people in Bali who help out wherever they can. They do an event nearly every 2 weeks for kids, teenagers or elderly – wherever they are needed.

I had the great pleasure to meet those wonderful volunteers. I went in the car with Ratna, Ang and Obi (he has nothing to do with the German warehouse though ^^) from Denpasar, Bali to the orphanage Pasraman Gurukula Bangli in the middle of Bali. Those three super friendly Balinese people used the driving time of about 4 hours in total to tell me more about Balinese culture, their organization and their life in general. I couldn’t have asked for a better ride with better company than those three! ☺

They recommended to me to find the Balinese ice cream “Es kojong” as it is the typical local ice cream from their childhood. Unfortunately, nowadays it is rarely spotted around Bali as most things are imported now, so I couldn’t find any. In case you find it, please share the location here in the comments so everybody can experience it.

Ratna, Ang and Obi also told me about the Indonesian cultural park “Taman nusa” in Gianyar where you pay an entrance fee of 29$/ adult, 19$/ child (at 12/2016) for exploring more than 60 traditional houses of Indonesia and can get to know the Indonesian culture in one single location and in one day. I didn’t go as I had more time to get to know Indonesian culture by travelling around but from what they told me, it seems to be very interesting.

On the way to the orphan event was the second motorcycle accident I saw in Bali. I checked the woman, she had a shock but nothing serious. So please travel safe when you are on a scooter in Bali, the traffic is very different over there!

During my cultural drive, I learned from Ratna, Ang and Obi about the five believes (Panca Sradha) of Balinese people:

1 God. With many different functions as the maintainer, the destroyer and the creator

2 Soul. In real life our soul is our existence and not our body itself. They explained it to me with the phrase: “A motorcycle can’t drive without a rider. The same can be applied for our body, it can’t live without our soul.”

3 Bunarbhnwa, the reincarnation. The body is limited but our soul is infinitive. For Balinese people, it means that the souls are everywhere around them and that they should pray for them as well.

4 Kharma (action) phala (fruit/result). If we do well, we get what we do.

5 Moksha. Goal of life: Infinity with God.  

They also told me about the main difference between Hinduism in Bali and India: in India, it is more a religion of the spirit and in Bali more a culture of actions. Balinese do a daily spiritual walk for themselves with offerings and praying. They usually include also around 30 minutes of meditation and yoga per day. Ang said “with a relaxed and free mind I achieve better results at work.” So, who is willing to try it? 30 minutes a day everybody should be able to spare, especially if you can concentrate and work better afterwards, right?!

The entrance of Pasraman Gurukula Bangli
The entrance of Pasraman Gurukula Bangli

After about 2 hours of driving we finally reached our destination, the orphanage where we took all our presents (rice, books, pens, milk, chocolate, cookies, etc.) up to the meeting hall. It was a beautiful green orphanage which we had to cross in order to get to the hall up on the hill. There we had a friendly reception with music and some self-made cookies and tea. The children were playing traditional instruments which most of them I didn’t know. At the end, I learned how to play trompong, one of the instruments. One of the girls, Kadek Ayu, 9 years old, taught me how to play it while she was giggling and laughing with the other girls whenever I hit a wrong tone. We had a blast together!

Together with Kadek Ayu (front left) and other girls at Pasraman Gurukula Bangli
Together with Kadek Ayu (front left) and other girls at Pasraman Gurukula Bangli

During our reception, the children had a whole program organized for us! Including traditional Balinese dance, older girls and boys dancing, a yoga performance (oh my Gosh, incredible how flexible and strong they were!!! And everything went so smooth and “easy”) and presentations I didn’t understand as they were not in English. One Indonesian translated parts of it for me so I had an idea of what they were talking about. ^^ During that time I looked at the children and most of them looked happy. It was a very special day for those kids. I was happy that I could be part of it.

Yoga performance at the orphanage Pasraman Gurukula Bangli
Yoga performance at the orphanage Pasraman Gurukula Bangli

After lunchtime, we could play with the kids. So much laughter was in that meeting hall those hours! I learned about very easy games for children where you don’t need money at all. I can tell you they had much more fun than I see sometimes some young kids having playing with their technology games or stuff like that. You can play them outside or inside with your kids. In one of the games the children were in groups of 4 kids and they had to stand on top of a piece of paper. First group that falls off, is out. Each time the piece of paper gets smaller as it is folded up until one last group is standing as the winner. So easy and so much fun this game! Of course each time the winners got presents from us and we made sure that at the end everybody got one. ☺

The kids trying to stand all on the little piece of paper! ^^
The kids trying to stand all on the little piece of paper! ^^

I would have loved to stay longer and enjoy more time with the kids but in the afternoon, it was time to say goodbye to them and wish them all the best for their future!

After the event Leo Club Bali Shanti invited me to go further north of Bali with them, to Landih Ashram. It is an accommodation facility which has the slogan “Come to feel the love of nature”. The Leo Club is organizing the national leadership meeting of Leo Clubs all around Indonesia next year in Bali. They expect about 100 people to participate. So, they decided on Landih Ashram for having the possibility to accommodate everybody, do yoga with them, having healthy food prepared and being able to show the beautiful nature in Bali. I am very jealous knowing that this will take place – I wish I could be part of it…

The stunning view from Landih Ashram over the rice terraces at Mt. Batur, I am already wearing the beautiful bracelet from Ratna
The stunning view from Landih Ashram over the rice terraces at Mt. Batur, I am already wearing the beautiful bracelet from Ratna

The houses are very traditional and very comfortable from the inside with stunning views over  Mount Batur. For inquiries check their website: http://www.landihashram.com/ In case you will stay there, you won’t hear any traffic (there is no big street around), but a lot of noises from the animals in the nature. You should also bring your own insect repellent!

The great traditional houses and amazing flowers at Landhi Ashram
The great traditional houses and amazing flowers at Landhi Ashram

On our way North, we passed by a beautiful view point where you had a great overview of lake Danau Batur. Over there a woman tried to sell us some bracelets. After a while Ratna decided to buy one and gave it to me as a present. Thank you so much again, Ratna! ☺ It is a brown bracelet with an old coin of Balinese money they used years ago. Because those coins were used as an offering for God, you can find them everywhere on the ground in Bali. They are considered holy after an offering.

Beautiful view point over lake Danau Batur
Beautiful view point over lake Danau Batur

After Landhi Ashram we drove back to Ubud and had dinner all together at a local food market. There was all kind of incredible things to try from! I had Gado Gado and every single sweat dish they could find in order for me to try it! ^^ My favorite one: Pisang goreng (fried banana). Ang also bought me a special kind of “medicine” juice Loloh Cemcem which tastes very salty, kind of juicy…weird taste…I just would drink it again if I would be sick and really wouldn’t have another choice. ^^

Loloh Cemcem, the “medicine” juice in Bali
Loloh Cemcem, the “medicine” juice in Bali

I also learned some Balinese as it is different than Indonesian. Most useful words for you: Matur suksma – Thank you

Matur suksma Leo Club Bali Shanti, Kadek Ayu and everybody else for this amazing day in Bali! I think in the end, by volunteering for those kids, I had the amazing possibility to learn so much for myself and I am very grateful that I could be part of this very special event.

 

 

Matur suksma, your travel girl,

Julie


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Juliane Boll

Juliane Boll was born in Berlin, Germany and never missed an opportunity to travel around the world, get in touch with foreign people and to learn new languages to communicate easier with locals. With her 27 years she visited already 27 countries and lived in 5 of them for longer (Germany, Canada, Belgium, Spain and Brazil). She is a medical doctor but decided to go see the world instead of working in a hospital right now. She will write about her experiences travelling alone.