Bali, and the 3 Pillars of Harmony
Instead of Eat, Pray & Love, on this trip of Indonesia our colleague Michael Healy, from Khiri USA, discovered the Environment, People & Religion of the Balinese Tri Hita Karana philosophy.
The Tri Hita Karana is a Balinese philosophy that celebrates the three pillars of well-being. These principles are as follows; Harmony among People, Harmony with Nature and Environment, and Harmony with God. When traveling through Bali on my most recent trip, these ideas were prevalent in every aspect of Balinese life. No trip to Bali is complete without gaining a deeper understanding of these pillars and this is what we at Khiri Travel strive to connect your clients with.
Our Guide emphasized the Balinese beliefs in community and respect towards one another, which served as a common theme throughout the trip. It was the many unexpected stops along the way that truly turned it from a typical tour into the unique learning experience that I’ve come to expect with Khiri Travel.
We were extremely fortunate and honored to be invited to a traditional Balinese wedding where the guests were warm, welcoming and above all, just thrilled to have us present on their special day. Feeling very underdressed in shorts and a white t-shirt I was apprehensive when our guide got off the phone and told us of a wedding nearby, but any feeling of unease was quickly wiped away by the smiling faces and hospitality that was offered to us upon arrival. The wedding itself was a truly memorable experience, which was highlighted by the sounds of gamelan, stunning traditional wedding dress and the bride and groom asking us to take pictures and talk on their wedding video! With help of our guide’s interpreting, we sat crossed legged on the ground and shared wonderful conversations with these amazing people while sharing a sumptuous lunch buffet. This was one of my most memorable travel experiences I’ve ever had. We also had the pleasure of spending time at our guide’s house for dinner in his village outside of Ubud where the local village children performed traditional dance and music for us. The word “authentic” is probably thrown around entirely too much in travel but it’s these types of spontaneous encounters that will resonate with someone for rest of their lives. This is where we at Khiri set ourselves apart from traditional tours. True connections to the community and people of the countries you visit, should, and will always, be the most important aspect of any trip.
Connecting with nature and environment in Bali (and Indonesia in general) is vital to any trip. Driving through the endless green rice patties of Northern Bali while stopping to watch the locals harvest the fields and plant the seeds that are so important to their daily diet illustrates a connection between people and planet that many of us westerners often miss out on. We were lucky to pull over on many occasions to take panoramic photos and to chat with farmers about which tasks they were performing all while getting an in-depth explanation from our guide about the process. It’s tough to visit Indonesia and not be wowed by the volcanoes that have dictated life on the islands for centuries. While hiking into the Ijen Crater in Eastern Java, also known as “Blue Fire”, I was mesmerized by the prehistoric feel of the smoking caldera, it’s blue sulfurous flames and acidic green lake. Equally as impressive was watching the locals climb up and down the rocky slopes with sulfur they mined right from the smoldering caldera. Our guide explained the process, rules and regulations for this backbreaking work, which was an insightful glimpse into the economic importance of volcanoes in Indonesia. This mildly challenging hike is best started around midnight so you are able to watch sunrise and truly take in the essence of this surreal environment. It’s an absolute must for adventurous clients and easily accessible by a short boat trip from North Western Bali. For nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts I would highly suggest to combine this with a stay in Pemuteran for snorkeling or diving off of Menjangan Island. The explosion of color and life within the reefs make you feel as if you were swimming in an aquarium! Whether it’s observing first hand the relationship locals have with nature or experiencing it personally through the wildlife, beaches and volcanoes; nature and environment are sure to play a key role in your visit to Indonesia.
The final pillar to the Tri Hita Karana is Harmony with God. One of the most common sights you will see in Bali is people making offerings. On more than one occasion our guide had us stop to watch different processions or to observe locals preparing these offerings along the way. On a few instances we were happily invited to take part in this important daily ritual, which was always such an unexpected delight! Our guide explained that this has become much more a cultural and spiritual tradition than its initial religious roots. Of course, religion is important in Bali and the rest of Indonesia. By experiencing Hindu festivals in Bali and the Muslim call to prayers in Java, I learned religion is ever-present and very important to understanding the history of Indonesia. Some of the best sites to visit are temples, with two of my favorite being Prambanan and Borobudur. Both are located in Java and built in the 9th century, the intricate carvings and impressive architecture easily rival some of the most famous archaeological sites across the globe. Over the years, both have gone through their fair share of natural disasters but UNESCO and the local population have restored them to much of their original glory. What I found most fascinating was how much the local population still visits these revered places to worship. In many similar places I’ve visited across the world you will only see tourists. As a tourist at Prambanan I stuck out so much that many of the school children were asking to take pictures with the American! The ratio of local to tourist is something very rare in such an ancient and beautiful temple complex and adds so much value to the experience. Bali is rightfully known as being one of the spiritual capitals of the world, but what a lot of people miss is the warmth, devotion and history on the rest of the islands.
Much like all of my Khiri Travel related trips; I left the country with a real sense of connection to the people, nature and spirit of the country. So many unique programs are being developed at Khiri Travel Indonesia within Bali and the rest of the country that it’s unquestionably a really exciting time to send your clients there. Much like the Tri Hita Karana, Khiri Travel Indonesia has truly developed an intimate link to the essence of Indonesia.
Be sure to check out this short video below of my trip to Indonesia!