I had never been so nervous in my life. I began to think hard about what I might see once I arrived in Indonesia. During the plane ride, my mind projected images of the tsunami wiping out many cities in Indonesia. I did not want to see people suffering, nor did I want to contribute to their misery by walking down their city streets in flamboyant clothing. Ironically, when I exited the terminal in Bali, I was utterly stunned to find that so much reconstruction had been done in the country. It surprised me even more to see so many lively and welcoming faces. Confused, I was willing to find out in greater detail how they could remain joyful even after such misfortune. My trip to Bali became more of a discovery than a vacation.
The first big discovery for me was meeting the tour guide. I immediately felt sorry for him when he gave his short informative speech about the infamous tsunami that struck the island, and how it had affected him and his family. Surprisingly though, the guide had a great sense of humor, as he introduced himself as a famous Korean celebrity, bringing laughter to my family. This Indonesian tour guide was actually trying to have a good time, and made my family feel welcome to what he called, “a land of paradise”. I wondered if the tour guide was either being miserably sarcastic, or actually telling the truth. In fact, he was beyond telling the truth because for the next week my family and I traveled to towns where we enjoyed the magnificence of their culture. I then realized my mistake, for the tour guide and the rest of the citizens in Bali were not dispirited, but more unified by the disaster, to make people feel more willing to visit their homeland.
Another rather unique discovery that I made while on the trip was rafting. My enthusiastic tour guide suggested that our family go rafting in a mysterious region of Bali. At first, I hesitated, thinking about the effects of the tsunami, and imagining dead animals as well as floating debris in various rivers on the island. However, I was yet again shocked from disbelief at just how extremely off my imagination was. During the rafting experience, my family and I looked in awe at the majestic Amazon-like environment, and stared in wonder as swarms of bats flew into caves, and screaming monkeys swung from tree to tree. What was more ironic was that the dangerous rafting videos I saw on TV were the exact antithesis of what I had experienced. It was my first time rafting, and I was able to cherish it in Bali.
I realized from my trip that the tsunami did not destroy Indonesia. Sure, many building were destroyed, and lives were lost, but that did not stop the citizens in Bali from losing their cultural values as well as high spirit. In turn, this allowed me to learn that there are always positives, even in situations that appear to be disastrous.
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