Finding Faith in Bali
When we travel, or prepare to travel, we can often get caught up in the safety precautions: strategically hiding our money from pickpockets, tucking passports into secret pockets of our backpacks, hiding valuables under pillows while we sleep in hostels. Sometimes, between all the hoops we have to jump through at airport security, combined with the preparation for what dangers might happen abroad, I wonder if travel is nothing more than an experiment in mistrust. And sadly, many of us travellers have had an experience or two to lead us down into that spiral of fear.
Once, I had my video camera stolen from me at the Los Angeles airport when I let my attention wander away from it for too long. Another time, on a bus in Mexico, my travel mate placed her camera on the empty seat beside her, only to discover it was no longer there when our stop came. In Venezuela, another friend was mugged in broad daylight, just a few steps away from our hotel. And then there’s the countless times I’ve been victim of theft in my hometown of Toronto: my house was robbed, my roommate’s car was broken into and my wallet was stolen from my workplace’s locker room—and that was all just in one year. (Note: I am not saying Toronto is dangerous. I adore that place. It’s just very unlucky sometimes.)
I’m generally a very trusting optimist (too much so, my friends would say), but with my track record for losing valuables to wandering fingers, even I was beginning to doubt the kindness of strangers.
Bali, Indonesia, after all this had happened, you could say my optimistic attitude had severely waned. It didn’t help that on my first day in Bali, I was duped by a taxi driver in Nusa Dua into attending a timeshare presentation and, when I told them I wasn’t interested, I was then dropped on the side of the road about five kilometres outside of town.
Needless to say, when we hired a car and driver a few days later to take us to the central mountains to hike the sunrise climb up Gunung Batur, I was feeling skeptical. What’s more, my guidebook warned of scammers and thieves in the region, and trekking guides who threaten tourists who don’t hire their pricey services. My trust level sank even lower and I found myself so tightly wound and on edge that I was like a different person—and I didn’t like her.