Going to Southeast Asia was never really on my list. Whenever I thought about traveling my mind always wondered to Europe. I could never get past the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or the white and blue views of Santorini — I loved the glam of Europe! Fortunately, I married a person who loves to explore the whole world and not just one continent. When hubby mentioned that instead of heading back to Europe (for the 3rd time) we should go to Asia (which has been on his bucket list for some time now), I was intrigued. I had been to the Middle East a few years ago, and had been to my parents motherland of Pakistan when I was younger, but I never thought about visiting other countries in Asia.
After doing some research on “which countries to visit in Southeast Asia” and of course “Food in Southeast Asia” it all looked amazing! We landed on visiting Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Bali, Indonesia.
I have to say, I didn’t know what to expect before leaving… and I’m not going to lie I didn’t think I was going to love it. I’m happy to now report that I DID love it, and I really don’t think I’ll ever be the same person again. Why? You ask? Singapore and Kuala Lumpur are two major cities in Southeast Asia, and they were filled with hard-working, genuine, and honest people — and the food was out of this world! But Bali is what really changed me.
Before visiting Bali I imagined it would be just like what I had seen on Instagram, and don’t get me wrong– it was even more breathtaking than I thought. But what Instagram doesn’t show you is how amazing the people in Bali are, and how behind those delicious Balinese breakfasts and the person pushing you on the Bali Swing, are people who are so grateful that you are supporting the country which is growing purely on tourism. YOU are the only reason those people are able to feed their families.
Throughout our time in Bali we were constantly introduced to positive people who shared their stories with us. Within the first few days there I noticed how the locals were always smiling. I’ll never forget our first drive up to our villa in Ubud. It was pouring rain and there were these two adorable little girls that were dancing in the muddy puddles, barefoot. All while their dad was running behind them with a giant leaf over his head to protect them from the rain and to take them back to their little house, that I could tell had no air conditioning and a leaky roof.
At that moment, I realized how blessed and fortunate we are to live in a place where we have luxurious that we take for granted. I mean I’ve never been so grateful for air-conditioning. I couldn’t help but to feel sad for them, but they weren’t sad. They were happy to be alive. Happy to get up in the morning and work in the rice terrace in 100 plus degrees. Because that meant they were going to be able to provide for their family, and give their children a shot at a better life. That’s when I realized that not only should we feel blessed and grateful, but we should be happier and more positive in our lives.
Throughout our trip, there were so many more instances like this that I will never forget. I’ll miss it like crazy. I’ll miss the amazing fruits (when was the last time you had real fruit in your drinks?), I’ll miss the fresh coconut shavings on my acai bowls, and most of all I’ll miss the smiling people who were so grateful for the little things in life.