Happy Holidays! In honor of the joy and happiness suffusing the holiday season I invite you to join me on a photo stroll through the markets and streets of Ubud, Bali, where the whole city smiled at me.
From the cheeky grin of mischievous children to an open, toothy smile from market vendors, an openness and joy is inherent.
Follow me on a tour of Bali’s Smiles
You step out of your room and into the family compound area of the guesthouse. You’ve had your tea and breakfast, brought right to your front patio and the cool fresh fruit was a perfect way to start your day.
As you weave through the compound you pass by a few members of the family weaving and readying their offerings. The oldest son speaks great English and you welcome the cheery and inquiries about your plans for the day. The little girl on his lap is less convinced of your harmlessness and shyly smiles from behind a mobile phone, on which she has been playing games.
You plan to explore one of Ubud’s larger markets and he gives you a pleasant smile of dismissal; you have no doubt he’ll follow up with you when you return for a full account.
Before one foot is even out of the elaborately carved wooden door guarding your compound two children dart by you giggling. With her perky pigtails perched on the top of her head you ready the camera and call out to them.
A cheesy grin breaks across the face of the youngest one – a grin so similar to the squishy grin your own young niece prefers that a pang of nostalgia for home breaks over you and then flows off just as quickly as the children scamper away down the side-street.
The first woman you encounter gives an instantly open smile and offers up some fruit – you’re on the hunt for mangosteen and you eye her heaping pile. She’s not very pushy and instead asks the usual patter of conversation “where are you from? Are you married? Holy cow why not?”
You’re now toting a bag of mangosteen and dive deeper into the maze.
The colorful kites catch your eye. You stop to admire and the craftsman is more than happy to show off their features. If you had more space in your backpack you might be tempted, but a kite is not packable so you continue on.
Your friend is on the hunt for a new purse and so the two of you look through the stalls until this woman’s frank friendliness and adorable children catch your eye.
You chat for ages with the vendor as your friend continues looking through the purses. Her son is quite the ham and his mother so clearly delights in her youngest.
The sun is high in the sky and the bright light penetrates the dense stalls and your hunger is now more insistent and you set your sites on the Dewa Warung as you leave the market.
You’re content and happy; it’s as if, through the process of proximity and osmosis, the simple inner joy of the locals is now your own.
Joy is universal no matter your religious denomination, so cheer and happiness to you, I hope you have joy this holiday season! :)