The other day I landed on the island of Bali, Indonesia. It took nearly two grueling days to reach this destination from my home of New York City. It was worth every minute. Being a spiritual haven with an undeniable “energy” I couldn’t help but engage in some deep personal reflection on my infatuation with travel.
When I sat there and reflected upon why I find passion in traveling to new foreign destinations, thoughts and feelings from my past and present overwhelmed me. I reflected back on the things I have learned, relationships formed and perspectives gained from travels around the world. The knowledge and memory that is gained in a travel experience is invaluable. The high from a luxury amenity and the comfort of a fancy hotel is just a perk that fades when each trip inevitably comes to an end. What does not fade, however, is the intangible gift of that specific experience one carries with them and can apply to their everyday life. See that, my friends, is what I love most about traveling.
To see new people and ways of life, to smell and taste sensations for the first time, and to come to terms with the expansive nature of our world and the people who encompass it – that is a perspective that can change’s one outlook on everything.
Growing up in what is seen by many as a “bubbled” community comprised of very similar people, I always was curious to escape that bubble and understand the world outside a bit deeper. It was when I first arrived at Harvard, a very international college, I made numerous friends from other countries. These friends all shared with me stories of unique family histories, religions and traditions from their respective home country, further fueling my quest to see the world and better understand the stories they shared with me about a hometown foreign to me.
As I have overcome fears and challenged myself to escape comfort zones, the doors to the world have opened generously. Suddenly everything has changed. New experiences in new destinations have flooded my soul over the last few years – and I love it. I am addicted to the value that travel adds to my perspective, my internal memory and admiration for different ways of life that are carried out around the world.
This morning I awoke at sunrise to walk down and see the local fisherman village along Jimbaran Bay. I could not help but contrast the different ways of life between a person like myself in New York City and a native of Bali. For me as a New Yorker, getting fresh fish looks like this:
Walk 8 blocks to the nearest grocery store and likely step in dog poop or garbage along the way. Push through crowds of people in business suits just getting off work. Take a numbered ticket. Wait 20 minutes for my number to be called by a large male in a rubber apron and gloves. Ask him what looks good that day and he tells you the tuna. Order the fish and find some sides that probably come in a box. Wait in line for 20 more minutes to pay, and finally, after all that, walk back out to the bustling city of New York with that piece of fish.
And today, seeing the locals engage in their morning routines and way of life, I couldn’t help but observe the stark differences to my metropolitan way of life. Here are a few of my observations of how you can get fish as a local in Bali:
You can either take your small boat out to sea along with the help of a husband/wife to catch your own fish for the day. Or you can work with a team of men to push larger boats in and out of the water, bringing back a good return of fish that is split between the group or sold-off at the market with profits shared. You can ride your motorbike to the beach and barter with fishermen for the best size and priced fish. Because it’s a beach environment, you are likely barefoot. Or you can use a homemade weaved basket to scoop up shellfish from the sand. Regardless of how you catch or shop for your seafood, you might have to scurry away wild beach cats who try to steal a piece of the inventory. All of this activity is done to the backdrop of the Indian Ocean.
See, no way of getting fish is better than the other, they are merely different and can show us all that no matter where you live in the world or how you pickup your fish, we all like to eat a fresh catch from the ocean. Follow along below for glimpses of my morning at the Bali Fish Market where I saw, smelled and experienced a whole new way of grocery shopping.