A Little Holiday Joy… A Photo Stroll of Bali’s Smiles

Last updated on November 14, 2021

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.

My daily breakfast at my guesthouse in Bali, Indonesia.
My daily breakfast at my guesthouse in Bali, Indonesia.

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.

Cute Balinese kids

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.

You leisurely follow in their wake in search of the nearby market and it’s mere minutes before you stumble into the densely packed maze of stalls.

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.

You pass by tables full of knick knacks, wooden jewelry, and, oddly, a table full of moderately creepy wooden cats.

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.

Small boy smiling at Ubud's main market, Bali Indonesia
Small boy smiling at Ubud’s main market, Bali Indonesia

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! :)

35 thoughts on “A Little Holiday Joy… A Photo Stroll of Bali’s Smiles”

  1. Belated happy Birthday Shannon……
    I love your blog.I read your maximum of posts and i always found them interesting and impressive.The knowledge shared by all the post are good enough to acquire the whole information.

  2. Oh I love it! This is the first post I’ve read on your blog. My favorite is the third to last picture. The little guy is adorable. I’m in China right now and smiles are not so common. I don’t blend in precisely because I grin too much. =)

    • Thanks for stopping in – we’re in accord, I adore that photo of the little
      boy :) Is China really that different? I haven’t been there yet but that
      certainly changes the experience if you’re the only one smiling.

      I’m looking around your site and love the simplicity of the design – happy

  3. Ah, joyful indeed. Lovely to see familiar faces and smiles (since I came from not far from it). Merry Christmas, Sharon! (Do they actually say “holy cow”?)

    • You may have caught me out Dina, not sure that they said “Holy cow” lol but they said the words with that meaning behind them! Hope your Christmas was wonderful! :-)

    • Thanks Matt! Happy holidays to you as well; enjoy New Years Eve! (…and the food in Ubud was epic, nasi campur shot up immediately to “favorite dish” status while I was there :-)

  4. All of the photos are great but I love the girl in the last two. A smile really does go a long way and it’s free to give! Hope you have a great holiday Shannon!

    • Thanks Amy and Kieron, and I appreciate you stopping in and commenting. The open friendliness of the Balinese stands out so clearly, glad you guys enjoyed your time there too :) Happy holidays and good luck planning your RTW!

    • Thank you Sarah – they shots of the kiddos are my favorite, as you said, their honest happiness is beautiful :) Happy holidays!

    • Thanks so much Ayngelina, my favorite countries seem to always align with the ones that had the friendly and smiling locals :) Happy holidays down south!

    • Thanks so much Ayngelina, my favorite countries seem to always align with the ones that had the friendly and smiling locals :) Happy holidays down south!


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