The Lesson that Bali Teaches Me by Thomas Ward
Four years ago, in 2019, I stepped foot into a house of which I would be living in after
my family’s transition from Singapore to Bali, Indonesia, the Island of Gods. After countless
trips to and from Bali, my parents found it quite a formidable place to live in. This was
because unlike most countries, including Singapore, Bali consists of a variety of fascinating
species of animals and a wide range of vegetation spread amongst its land. If you were
presented with such an opportunity to live in a fantasy such as the one Bali is, wouldn’t you
transfer yourself to witness and experience it. Well for my parents, that was definite.
Without further ado, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Thomas Ward and I
am currently in grade six attending Bali Island School. As mentioned before, I originally lived
in Singapore as that is where I was born. My Mother was born in the Netherlands and my
Father was born in the U.K. And two years after my birth I met with my ever so loving sister,
Ella. As well as me she was also born in Singapore and was only five years old when we
Throughout my four years living here and countless week vacations prior to moving, I
have had many experiences of which I have had the ability to learn from. Now, I would like to
cover two of the most valuable lessons I have been taught as an immigrant in Bali.
1. Cultures and religions outside my own.
As a whole, Indonesia is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. But Bali
alone is prominently run by Balinease customs and traditions with Western culture being
widely accepted but less dominant than the Balinese. This has given me the opportunity to
witness culture outside Singapore’s Eurasian and East Asian values and celebrations.
During my first year in Bali I noticed a big difference between holidays compared to
Singapore. Let’s take Christmas as an example. In Singapore between October and
November is when Christmas decorations start to appear around every community. But in
Bali, the streets are not covered in red and green but instead are just the same as any other
day. After being exposed to a much different culture than what I grew up in, I was able to
develop my cultural awareness.
2. The differences between the rich and poor.
Indonesia is a developing country and this is quite apparent in most parts of Bali. Singapore
is a first world country and you will rarely find rundown or abandoned buildings. However,
when I visited Buleleng, in the north of Bali, last summer, I noticed a major difference in
wealth. To see such a massive level of inequality you don’t even have to travel outside of
Bali. Seminyak is Bali’s richest area, and from luxury shops to fine dining, it definitely shows.
But Buleleng suffers from far more deprivation. Through witnessing such gaps in economic
strength, I am weary to stay mindful and grateful of what I have that others might not, even if
they are necessities such as shelter or sufficient food.