Travel Leaves a Mark: How It Changes You

Travel leaves a mark, Anthony Bourdain said, “Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world changes things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life and travel leave marks on you.” Our trip Bali was everything I imagined and so much more. I want to take a moment and talk about a little different aspect of travel, people. The people are what change you.

Budi

I want to share a bit about our driver, Budi. Our resort has eight drivers on call for you to hire to drive you around. But it’s the luck of the draw when you request an airport transport. We hit the jackpot with Budi! He was a great driver and very helpful. When I arrive in a new place, I take it all in and then I start asking a million questions. I want to learn as much as I can about their culture. We even chatted about our families, he has three children, a 12 year old boy and 4 year old twin boys!

Our First Ride

Budi answered my million questions and gave even more info as we drove. When we requested a stop for dinner, we expected “fast food” to eat in the car. He stopped at a beautiful restaurant which immersed us in Balinese culture instantly. The food was amazing and he waited patiently for us while we enjoyed our dinner (we asked him to eat with us but he had already eaten). When we arrived at our villa, we tipped him (which is not necessary but we felt he had earned it). We thanked him for a great drive up and he let us know that we could request him again if we wanted.

A Tour Guide

We requested Budi for our first tour in Bali. He went above and beyond. Guiding us through tourist traps and showing us the real Bali too. He was clearly proud that we were really enjoying his beautiful paradise home. He was born and raised in Bali. He has never left the island. Hard to believe, right? We had such a great day together, when he dropped us off at our villa, we tipped him again. This time he said, “again”? He caught himself, I think it just slipped out. He seemed surprised.

Getting to Know Each Other

We had lots of long car rides so we had lots of time to chat and get to know each and learn about each others cultures. He was blown away to find out that what we spend on car insurance for our daughter would pay for his house including land!! Budi shared some about his family with us. Told us about his grandfather and how his cock fight gambling lost the family so much money and he and his dad have had to work extra hard on the farm to catch up. When he does not have clients to drive, he farms like most other Balinese people. It’s a farming island, for sure! They eat only what they grow. You won’t find lots of vacuum sealed snacks here, most food comes straight from a tree or the ground. The food is an incredible experience in Bali!

Ubud, Bali

The next day we decided to stay in and enjoy our private villa and the resort amenities. We booked another tour for the following day, this time to Ubud. We requested Budi. He arrived on time, as always. He reviewed our requested itinerary and I added a stop for lunch. He said he knew just the place. He took us to eat Babi Guling, their native dish. We asked him to join us and he did! We had great conversations over lunch and continued in the car as usual. We had yet another great tour. Each time we arrived back at our villa he would say, “welcome home”, in a cheery voice with a smile on his face. We of course tipped him, he really is the best!!

A Special Thank You

When it came time to schedule our transport to the airport for departure, we requested Budi again. We drove unusually quiet for about an hour when Budi says, “I would like to tell you message from my wife”, I thought, we have never met her but ok. We looked at him as he took a moment to compose what he was about to say. He said, “my wife and I want to thank you so much for hiring me so much this week”, he continued, “because of you and your generosity we can get therapy for our son.”

*Cue me holding back tears.

He continued, “when our twins were born, they weighed only 1 kg (approx. 2.2lbs) one of them can not walk yet and needs special therapy but we have not been able to afford it, yesterday we took him to therapist to get treatment to help him walk. It was 4 hours away. I think it will help him, so we want to thank you so much for what you did for us.”

It’s The Little Things

WOW!! I was blown away. We had no idea. He was so thankful after the first day that he did everything possible to make us happy (even though we are about as easy going as it gets). We were so grateful for the opportunity to meet Budi and to be a very small part of something bigger. God is always connecting people, it doesn’t matter if you believe the same things or not. Travel affords you that luxury to meet people like Budi and his family.

Travel Leaves a Mark

When they say travel leaves a mark on you, this is what it feels like. It’s possible we will see Budi again, maybe not. But I will say, I will not forget him or his sweet little family. I am grateful for the opportunity to leave a mark in Bali. I’m even more grateful that Bali has left a mark on me! Travel well,  my friends.

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