bali birthday adventure
The Balinese have always been renowned for their wonderful hospitality, and Intrepid’s Chimene Barrett discovered what generous lengths they will go to for a birthday in Indonesia…
“My husband and I have been lucky to celebrate our birthdays in a few exotic places around the globe. This time we were enjoying the 9 day Bali Adventure and although my husband tried to hide the fact, we all knew he would be celebrating his birthday on this trip.
The morning of the big day, we set out on foot into the lush hills of East Bali, at the base of Bali’s highest peak, Mt Agung. For over four hours, we walked amongst working rice paddies, traditional villages and along remote jungle tracks. The views were stunning and the walking was not too strenuous – even the humidity was lower at the slight altitude. Our local guide was on hand all the way, bringing our attention to interesting flora and fauna, explaining farming techniques and the ways of village life.
To our pleasant surprise, in one of the villages we were led through a small archway that was the entrance to the home of our local guide’s brother. Prepared that morning by his sister-in-law were our bungkus (take-away) lunches. These included fragrant rice, spicy noodles, satay chicken and eggs, all wrapped in banana leaf.
Before delving into our delicious banana leaf packages, my husband was formally welcomed into the compound and presented with a special hat and a hand-woven scarf. It seemed the locals had been given the heads-up about a birthday! An impromptu cross-nations rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ was belted out and my husband’s version of lunch was revealed. His was decorated with flowers and much fancier than any of ours!
A really enjoyable couple of hours were spent with the family in their home, learning about village life and in the end, after much pressure from the locals, my husband did reveal his birthday age!
That afternoon we continued our journey in minibuses to reach the tiny finishing village of Kedisan, at the edge of Lake Batur. The night was spent in simple accommodation in a village with not much around. We would be going to sleep very early in preparation for our 3am wake-up call to hike Mt Batur the next morning.
After dinner in our guesthouse, it appeared that our group leader had also planned a surprise and the birthday celebrations were not over! From somewhere in this small village, a birthday cake had been prepared complete with full frosting and personal message iced on the top. For a second time that day the beautiful Balinese had gone out of their way to help us celebrate. I certainly have a lot to live up to now if we are spending birthdays at home!”