One of the stops we made during our extended honeymoon was Bali. I had been only once, for a single night, on a layover to another, more remote, island. That had been years before I ever thought I’d go back, and at the time I was working, so that’s a story for another day.
We both knew we wanted to go there, but we didn’t want to spend time in the crowded areas. We did what the cool kids were doing and booked Ubud. Turns out there’s a LOT of cool kids, and Ubud was a little too crowded as well, although still very enjoyable. But we needed to find a quieter place, and MovieStar had picked Nusa Penida, a small island not far by speed boat.
Not sure how things are today, but at the time there were not a lot of places where we could spend a few nights on that island, and one jumped at us: Batan Sabo. It looked amazing, relaxed and comfortable. We booked it, and a couple of emails were sent back and forth, setting up a transfer from the dock and other smaller things. Turns out the owner was a very cool and respected photographer on the archipelago! We didn’t know it yet, but he would be the most gracious host, and the proverbial cherry on top of an amazing stay.
The island is beautiful, and on its way to becoming an influencer magnet, so things might be different now. The cliffs are superb, and it’s easy to understand why they attract so many of these particular travelers.
Moving on… we arrived and it soon became apparent we had picked the right place.
Pande Heryana welcomed us to his small cottage, decorated in standard hipster style, and soon we were laughing together, while we ate delicious food and he played the guitar for us. We talked photography and life, tourism and opportunities.
The island is really small, and although it has more than a few spots that are very much worth a visit, Pande spends a lot of time on the big island, shooting couples on honeymoon and a few weddings as well. Tourism was growing on his native island, we wasn’t sure how that would turn out, a bit scared it would ruin the authenticity of the place, but he decided to open the cottage with his brothers, and have a go at the hospitality business.
First night on the island and we were already loving it.
Morning came and we were getting ready to have breakfast, and Pande told us there would be a wedding in the family in a couple of days and that he would like to invite us to attend the ceremony. He insisted, and so did his wife.
I only had one shirt that I thought would be appropriate, and he said he would help us with that as well. We shouldn’t worry.
How many times would we be able to attend one of these weddings in our lifetime? I would say none, or, if we are very lucky, one. We were very lucky.
Two days later I picked up the camera, put on my best shirt, and the traditional headwear and skirt, movieStar was helped by Pande’s wife, Prima, and off we went.
We were treated like family, with the little ones looking at us with curiosity (my beard is an amazing ice breaker), the older ones pushing food into our mouths, just like home.
Flowers were offered to multiple gods, and we tried to understand as much as we could, and answer as many questions as possible. They were as interested in us as we were in them. It was one of the most gratifying days of the whole trip. It was amazing to be able to interact with them on that level, and the memories we brought home are still very alive. We still talk to them from time to time, checking in on their family, and they now do the same with our new tinyMovieStar.
In the end, that’s why we travel.