If you are looking for a place where you can see nothing but nature, both this earth’s and your own, look no further, you’ve found a home away from home!

I spent several months living in Bali at a time when I needed to rejuvenate myself ~ body, mind, and spirit. During that time, I met Ketut Sudiasa. I was referred to him by a fellow traveller who told me, “You just have to go see this guy’s farm. It’s in the middle of nowhere. It’s awesome!” Although I was skeptical at first, tourism being what it is today, I must admit that my eyes were opened in a way that I hadn’t read about in a guide book before even setting foot off the plane.

The first time Ketut and I met, we spent a lovely afternoon visiting his privately-owned farm in the middle of nowhere. By “nowhere”, l mean in the middle of The Real Bali and not “The Real Bali” you see advertised in Kuta, Ubud, or Lovina. Over the bridges and through the villages, we drove down bumpy, dirt roads far away from the sights and sounds of even the smallest towns and, certainly, away from the noise of the larger cities from where we tourists often fly in. At the end of what had been a jarring journey (in life and down the bumpy dirt road), I found myself on the edge of the National Forest of Bali with nothing but rice fields as far as the eye could see all the while Balinese farmers farming the way they have for centuries and the Balinese community living in that manner as well. Nowhere to be found were other tourists, traffic, or taxi drivers. The only sound was the wind, my breath, and my deep sighs of relief with it.

Ketut and his family, from grandparents to grandchildren, fed me with food fresh off their farm ~ fruit from trees growing right before my eyes, eggs from chickens who had laid them the night before, rice and vegetables taken from his expansive garden. Right from the start and right off the vine, our afternoon lunch was an authentic experience of this earth’s goodness. The nights I spent in the private bungalow he offers on his farm were some of the best nights’ sleep I’ve ever had in my life. I awoke, of course, to the sounds of chickens crowing, after all, this is still Bali, but also to the sounds of the forest ~ birds chirping, leaves rustling, a river’s rushing. I enjoyed Ketut’s company so much that afternoon and those few days, and I learned so much, too, that I joined him for a few more tours. On each tour, I continued to see sides of Bali that I hadn’t read about in a tour book. I saw Bali through Ketut’s eyes, and because I was in such need of transformation, I felt that the island of Bali and the gods that inhabit it saw me, too. In other words, I was in God’s country, and God was in me.
Though he is so much more fluent in German, Ketut and I conversed in English, and I had no problem communicating with him. We talked about tourist topics, but we also talked about the more important matters of life as well. As a tour operator, he was attentive to my every need, making stops when I saw something that interested me, when I felt hungry or needed to pick up snacks or water, or when he thought there might be something I might enjoy as well. As a tour guide, he answered my questions thoughtfully and throughly. I grew spiritually from spending time with him, and I left Bali very much altered.

Life is sacred on “The Island of the Gods”, and I left with that sacredness in my heart. I arrived in Bali so very spent, but I left so very satisfied. This sense of fulfillment and contentment has stayed with me. I believe it is, in part, because I saw Bali ~ and, thus, life ~ through the eyes of Ketut, a family man and a leader in his village taking actions consistent with a vision of what is possible for his community.

If you are looking for the real deal and the real Bali, let me tell you that for a real deal, Ketut is the real deal and the real Bali. Selamat Jalan!