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Entertainment has a completely new meaning. In Bali, I don’t have any of the old forms of amusement I used to rely on so heavily in Boulder. Instead of electronics, I’ve been relying on traditions.
There are only three movie theaters in Bali, or so I’m told. I haven’t seen any of them yet, and I hear they’re not worth checking out, anyway. You can usually find the pirated version of the new releases in a store before the movie hits the theaters.
Internet is scarce and slow. Instead of spending 20 hours a week (or more) glued to Facebook, news and photo sites like I was back in Boulder, now I only check my email every few days when I have enough energy to take the 15-minute bus ride into Ubud.
My home-stay family has a TV, but my language skills are lacking, so I find it hard to watch the romance hospital dramas (a far cry from “Grey’s Anatomy,” which I hate to admit I miss terribly). My home-stay family doesn’t watch very much TV, anyway.
Bars don’t really exist in the parts of Bali I’ve seen. There are restaurants where you can get drinks, but I have yet to find a bar to go relax and grab a beer. I went from spending two nights a week in bars in Boulder—Monday night at Conor O’Neill’s for trivia and Southern Sun on Thursdays for taco night—to having alcohol on special nights where we decide to splurge and stay out until 9:30 on Fridays. I’m almost always in bed by 10 p.m.
So instead of spending my time glued in front of electronics or spending way too much money on a social life in Boulder, I spend time at home, at a traditional performance or enjoying nature in Bali.
My home-stay ibu (mother) has started to teach me how to play cards. The cards are completely different from the deck I’m familiar with, but the concepts are usually the same; find four matching sets of three before everyone else, and so on. Dominoes are also popular. I find myself playing cards with my home-stay ibu for hours. It’s perfect for the language barrier—it gives us something to do, and we don’t have to talk if we’re too exhausted from trying to use exaggerated hand gestures.
Bali is famous for its dances and performances. For Halloween, instead of dressing up and trick-or-treating, we put on our traditional Balinese clothing and attended a performance in one of the many temples in our town. We watched the dancers in all their glamour, listened to the live music and watched the shadow-puppet play.
The performance had nothing to do with the fact that it was Halloween; we didn’t even realize it was Halloween. Dances and performances happen regularly; you can find at least one a night.
The landscape of Bali is amazing. Space that isn’t taken up by the scattered towns is filled with green rice terraces, I can walk into a tropical rainforest five minutes away from my house. And my favorite, Monkey Forest. There, I could pay the equivalent of 60 cents and watch tourists get bombarded by very intelligent macaques who won’t leave them alone until they get a treat. I could spend hours there. And I did, until I got bit by one of the little jerks (a macaque, not a tourist), and had to get five rabies shots over the course of the next three weeks. I haven’t been brave enough to go back since then.
I do miss being able to switch on a computer, being able to watch TV, Facebook stalking all of my high school classmates I don’t like anymore and wasting far too much time on YouTube, but hopefully I’ll still be able to appreciate the small things, like the value of a deck of cards, when I go back to Boulder.
Contact CU Independent Contributor Stephanie Davis at Stephanie.email@example.com.