I don’t want to bore you with a day-to-day rundown of my volunteer orientation week, so I will share a few highlights of what I found to be the most interesting/fun aspects of the week. Green Lion kept us busy and constantly moving, which helped us get over jet lag quickly.
Kecak Dance Performance
If you’ve never heard of Kecak dance (I didn’t before I went to the performance) you can watch a short youtube clip here. Kecak is a type of Balinese performance dance developed in the 1930s. The dance tells the story of Ramayana, which is an epic Indian poem about a prince trying to rescue his wife from the evil demon king Ravana. I thought the Kecak dance was beautiful! It puts you in a trance after a while listening to the same “cak” sound made by the performers. Some of the volunteers thought it was weird, but I enjoyed myself and would go to another Kecak performance. There supposedly is an all-women Kecak troupe, so that would be cool to see next time.
Indonesian Bahasa Language Classes
I don’t remember a lot from the classes, but I was able to pick up on a few key words that were helpful: “Terima Kasih” means thank you, “Selamat Sore,” good evening, you’re welcome “sama – sama.” Most people I interacted with in Ubud spoke some English, but I think it makes a big difference if you try to speak the local language when you travel. A couple locals laughed at my Bahasa (it’s probably really bad!) but at least I gave it a shot! I would love to study Bahasa more if I went back to Indonesia. It is a fun language. In Nusa Penida, people speak Bahasa but there is also a unique Nusa Penida specific Balinese dialect spoken there as well.
Balinese Cooking Class
I felt pretty terrible that morning of the cooking class (heard of Bali belly?) but we made some really good food! Our coordinator, Yuni, made sure that everything was gluten-free for me. We made gado-gado (mixed veggies), tofu and tempe (fermented soybeans) and fried banana fritters with chocolate, honey, and cheese. It was fun to chop-up ingredients and then see Yuni whip everything up into a delicious lunch!
Making new friends!
It was so fun to meet new people from all
around the globe! I met a lot of highly independent and mature eighteen year old’s from Europe doing a gap year (why don’t we do gap years in the US?!). I also met a few people taking a break from school, and a couple people like me who quit their jobs to travel (my tribe!). Some places we went to hang out in Penenstan were Kopi Desa (coffee shop), Cupit (bar), and Ting Tings (warung). We also took a couple trips to Ubud to go listen to live music and grab food. I was sad to leave my new friends after the first week – I was off to Nusa Penida and they were staying in Penenstan. BUT a few of my friends visited me in Nusa Penida the following weekend to go explore the island! 🙂 ❤
There was only part of orientation I did not like, and I’m sure I’ll get a lot of flack for this. But Green Lion took us to the Monkey Forest in Ubud. It’s a monkey sanctuary in downtown Ubud where you can feed wild monkeys bananas. This has created a super breed of aggressive monkeys who attack tourists for bananas and other food. These monkeys carry a lot of diseases (like Herpes B – it’ll kill ya!) and are known to bite tourists if they withhold food from them. All of the monkeys I saw were overweight and seemed to have only one thing on their mind: bananas. I kept my distance from the monkeys and didn’t feed them anything. It was sad to see all these monkeys dependent on tourists to feed them. I loved seeing wild monkeys when I hiked Mt. Batur (future post). A lot of volunteers LOVED the monkey forest, but I would skip it if I went back.
My next article I will talk about climbing Mt. Batur to see an incredible sunrise!