Many days after returning home from Bali, I was still thinking of the padi fields. I looked through all the photos I had taken, over and over again, while I re-lived the experience in my mind. Maybe this is a good way to tell if a holiday had been a success or not. For me, I had a holiday as a holiday is meant to be: totally relaxed to do what I love to do (take photographs) and be pampered by my wife all the time.
Before I went to Bali, I had expected to be greeted with crime and corruption, smog in the air, and filth on the roads. Instead, I found a charming retreat in the rural town of Ubud where, poor as the people were, impoverished they were not. The people were friendly toward strangers. The environment was clean and I saw no carelessly strewn rubbish anywhere. The air was clear and the rivers were unpolluted. The people I saw looked happy and contented with their way of life. I saw little material possessions; modern trappings that do not make our lives spiritually any richer by comparison. This was in a unmarked village and not in a showcase resort set up by the government to promote tourism.
I cannot say the same for Kuta, though. While this seaside resort is tourist-friendly, some of the beaches are full of trash washed up by the tides.
As for my photography experience, I was wrong in thinking that I would not be able to do much serious shooting while tagging along with a group of sight-seeking and sightseeing people (all relatives) who just want to have fun. While it is true that I couldn't always go where I wanted to get the anticipated shot, I had a great time practising all the compositions I had learned but not mastered. My greatest satisfaction is in taking time to talk to the locals before asking them for a shot. It relaxes them and I get great eye contact on the camera. And I cannot be charged for shooting an unsuspecting individual.
To see my favourite Bali shots, go to my Facebook site: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=349920775032404&set=a.349920141699134.88810.100000434531921&type=1&theater