The gap between rich and poor in Bali is a big and blatantly obvious one. Staying in a luxurious resort is a lovely experience but it comes with a definite sense of unease - the haves and have nots are impossible to ignore. And let's face it; luxurious hotels and children aren't the best fit and don't make for a relaxing holiday. But villas that offer space, comfort and no breakables? Ideal.
For ten nights of our trip we stayed in a villa that sat on the edge of the rice fields. Built from Ironwood and traditional pegged joints (termite and water resistant and said to last around 100 years) the design was simple; open and airy. The thatched roof added beautiful detail and furniture was built-in and minimal - there was no clutter. The villa was basic; inspired by the concept of wabi-sabi, it was one of ten built on land owned by the local rice farming community. All the staff members (cooks, gardeners, maintenance, admin) were born on the street and continue to live in stone compounds with their families. Each day we had the opportunity to chat with these people and soak in their smiling attitude. We watched the farmers as they worked; tending the fields, rounding up the ducks, flying kites to scare swallows and placing offerings on the land.
For ten days it felt like we were engaging with and supporting the locals. We felt like we were living amongst them instead of above them. It was an enriching experience and it's one we'll seek the next time we head overseas.
How do you like to travel?