Most bemo or colt will push off from far and away stations such as the one I waited for my colt, in Ubung. The problem with public transportation such as bemo or colt, is that it will wait for full passengers of 12 before embarking anywhere. By the time it reaches places like Candi Kuning, or if it ever took off at all from the station, it would probably be sometime in late afternoon and as it was a raining season, I will loose a whole day, waiting for the possibility of a hitching a ride on a public transportation, and if I manage to do so, reach my destination late and to be welcomed with rain.
I was told by a local that sometimes, if the turn up of passengers is poor, the transport may not even leave the bus station!! Imagine, after waiting for few hours for the bus to be filled up, and when in vain, you may find yourself without a transport!! If this is not a cowboy town, I don’t know what else is.
To be honest with you, call me a masochist, but I did not really enjoy the journey up in the private trooper as compared to the public transport because of the exclusivity. There was not much of communication with the locals as the driver, if given the chance would have preferred to demolecularize us all and teletransport us to Lovina in a speed of light. Confucius would have become a Confused-cius if he was still alive, as to why his famous quote had gone unheeded, “It is not so much about the destination, but about the journey”.
Fortunately, Lovina is about the destination too. I can’t say that it is THE beach getaway and the only reason why I had decided to put up in Lovina was it was a better choice than Singaraja, to put up in order to access Pura Beji, a 45minutes motorbike ride (well depend on one’s speed). The beach was black sanded and the water was clear enough, but unfortunately, it was not kept clean.
Lovina Beach.... unfortunately, I did not manage to catch the sunset because well, most of the time, it rained in the evening. Speaking of which, I enjoyed going around a motorcycle with my kid in the rain, both of us singing that song, ".ooooooooooooooo...I hear laughter in the rain, walking hand in hand with the one I love.......oooooooooooo....how I love the rainy days and the happy ways, I feel inside....
To be redundant, Lovina is about the destination,for me, as I found a gem, not lost, just undiscovered. The gem came in a form of a German traveller, Robert, who put up at the same place as ours. Unable to find a suitable lodging in Ubud, he ended up in Lovina beach. Dare I say sweet serendipity?? But unlike many other travellers, he engaged himself with the people around him including the vendors by the beach. There, he found a lovely little girl named Puteri Ayu, about 3-4 years of age and decided to help her out. Born to parents, out of wedlock, Ayu was abandoned soon after birth by her mother who according to her grandmother, refused to marry her father, because of poverty. The last bit was my assumption.
Little Ayu is being taken care by her father and her grandparents. Although they are poor, I could feel that Ayu is surrounded by so much love by the beautiful people around her, which include her grandmother’s friends. Balinese are generally poor materially but definitely rich with love and affection, and many more good things in life that is free. I have seen a child born into richness but neglected of love. What Robert had said in response to my observation about Ayu being enveloped by a lot of love, was right on the bull’s eye, “a little help with money would help despite the love”. Robert sponsored Ayu’s 3 years pre-schooling, all paid for in one go.
Turned out, there are a few more kids of the same situation that he had helped along his travel getaways. This, I find, truly inspiring indeed. I mean ask ourselves, how many of us have gone for holidays and helped out the people who we bumped into? Most of us would prefer to put up in fancy hotels that take up almost half of our travel budgets. Then we buy souveniers for people who we have problems remembering their names and who would most likely toss it in some corner soon after it reaches their homes, if not bitch about how ugly it is.
Puteri Ayu......trust me, it is very difficult to snap a good photo of kids....I spent more than 10 minutes just trying to get a good shot....this one is my favourite...it captures the essence of a smart child, just waiting for an opportunity of education to come by...there are many more children such as Ayu, just crying for the help they hardly know at this tender age, that they need.
The place I put up was a basic backpacker’s lodge, Hotel Purnama, which is run by a very warm, kind and friendly family and for the Rupiah 80,000 (RM23 plus breakfast I was a bit guilty to take because of the dirt cheap price!), it offers very basic accommodation. After all, to my thinking, unless one plans to sit in the room all day long to rest and laze about, I do not see any point of paying so much for a room just to come back tired and zonk out. The extra money can be used to perhaps purchase things from poor vendors, as a method of giving them some income. Frankly, I would rather give to the people my eyes witness their poverty rather than to give through an organization for example in Africa, (albeit as noble as the deed may sound) of which I will wonder if the money pumped in would be recycled into coffers of Kalashnikov and Mercedes-Benz of some bejewelled pigs that run the place.
Most Muslims and Hindus for example, would fast (refrain from eating/drinking for a period of time) from time to time. Muslims would avow that the act of fasting, is for us to feel, indulge what it is like to experience poverty. If you ask any poor man on the road, I suspect that they will tell us to go ahead and eat, drink and be merry, instead, just give them the money they need and keep the experience to ourselves as our experience will not help them in any way, the money on the other hand, would.
Pura Beji ; still standing tall despite her past grandeur......
So here’s a suggestion. Perhaps, once a year, when we go for one of our holidays, why not try to keep aside some money to give to the poor that we bump into along the way. The little money to us, may prove to be of bigger in value to them. In the case of Puteri Ayu, it cost Robert around USD400 (that’s about RM1200) to sponsor a three year pre-schooling. Imagine that for the cost half the price of the I-phone or I-Pad some of us are willing to pay for, this could actually make a difference in a poor kid’s life for 3 years.
Ask ourselves this question once in a while, “How do we define the meaning of life?”. It’s to recycle back into society, what the Higher Being had blessed us with, materially at least. Now that is one recycling people should make noise about. To me, a person like Robert not only defined the meaning of life, but put it to practice and that is why I said that I was blessed with an acquaintance with a gem of a human being. Robert, if you are reading this, I want you to know that you are a gem of a guy and I am honored to have met your acquaintance.
That and err…he managed to convince both my dotter and me to initiate picking up garbage by the sea side to educate the unfortunate people who live off tourists visiting the beach, selling whatever they can, to decipher a simple message, “Clean beach, means more tourist attraction, equals to more possible income for them”.
Hitherto, I cannot help but smile at how I was diplomatically talked into, one hour of picking up garbage on the beach… I’m still smiling as I’m writing this down. The last time someone made me pick up garbage was Mrs Tan, a hot tempered teacher who we suspect was suffering from permanent menopausal mood swing and can probably make the Prime Minister pick up garbage, and that was back in primary school!! And it was hardly 1 hour !!
Not a care in the world, born into poverty, and oblivious to their bleak future, a girl lay her head to rest by on the sand, where her guardians vendors.
At the end of the day, the take home message I’m trying to put out there is, let’s just not talk the talk, but let’s walk the walk. Perhaps we underestimate the power of us. We should be able to believe that even the smallest thing we do to change for the good, may initiate something for a society. We should not be comfortably and say in surrender that there are so many things to do to change the world. Yes, it can be overwhelming, but the journey to a thousand miles definitely have to begin with the very first step. Small steps is better than not making a move. It’s always better to contribute something, no matter how small, than not to contribute at all. Imagine if everyone were to contribute even the smallest of thing, the world may have lesser people suffering.
JFK once said, “Ask not what the country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”.
Here’s my rendition of something similar, “Ask not what society can do for you, but what you can do for the society”.
My uncle said that “there’s nothing much to see in Lovina”. I beg to differ. We only fail to see when we choose to close one eye and choose to be unreceptive. I see a lot more than scenic beauty (after the picking up garbage operation) Lovina could offer. I see love, humanity, empathy, and so much more and my only regret is, indeed, deep regret….is that I did not stay one more day in Lovina….