Marching With—Then Teaching—Balinese Children I Didn’t Know (Random Travel Moment #7)

Marching Balinese students

One minute, I’m walking down the street. The next, I’m marching…with Balinese kids I don’t know. An hour later, I’m in their classroom—teaching them.

How the heck did that happen?

Read on and discover how Random Travel Moment #7 landed me in a classroom!

Marching Balinese students

Where: Amed, Bali

I’d been staying in an area known as Amed, where several fishing villages sit along a black sand beach in the northeastern section of Bali. I was walking on the main drag, heading away from town and in the direction of Mt. Agung.

What: Plan to Go Hiking

I was on my way to a more rural area to go hiking. I had just passed some rice paddies and enjoyed a view of the mountain in the distance. It was a gorgeous morning.

Who/How: An Encounter with Marching Children

I spotted and heard the kids marching. I had no idea what was going on. Were they in a military school?

Heck no.

They were in phys ed class.

I marched with them for a few minutes—for fun—and they laughed. Soon, their teacher was talking to me. Well, trying to. He knew only a handful of words of English.

Good thing I had an unlocked iPhone with Internet. I went right to Google Translator and used it so that we could communicate. It helped. Sort of.

How: By Invitation

I was able to explain that I’m a teacher and when he understood, his face lit up. He looked overjoyed—and immediately invited me to his school. Although I was looking forward to hiking before it got too hot, I loved the idea of seeing what a Balinese school was like. Also, it felt wrong to decline such a sweet invitation.

Balinese teacher

What Else? Mystery Food

So we marched walked over the school. He took me on a quick tour. Then we sat with the kids outside for a while. I wasn’t quite sure what was happening.

They offered me food and I accepted. It tasted sort of like a potato or maybe a batata. Not sure. I did like it, however.

Mystery food

Another teacher, who spoke more English than the first one, explained that some of the students had just participated in a Balinese ceremony (which explained the rice on some of their faces).

Balinese boy

I explained to the other teachers that I was an ESL professor in the U.S. and that I’d spent a few weeks teaching in Sumatra.

They smiled…then invited me into the classroom.

How Marching Led to Teaching

Next thing you know, the original teacher and his colleagues left me alone…with the students. As he walked out, he gestured that I should sit at the desk.

Me teaching

I saw a few markers and a props and thought—Is he asking me to teach them English? Holy crap—I’m not prepared!

Then I thought—OK, sure, why not?

Little did I know that I’d be there for a couple of hours.

Yep, they left me there for a while. And I taught a really long class. I stuck to the basics (based on the kids’ level)—the simple words, phrases, etc. At one point, we played an language-oriented version of Bingo.

And know what? It was a blast. I had a great time. The kids were sweet and well-behaved and I think they got a kick out of me, the foreigner whom they met while marching down the street.

We spent much of our time together laughing. And that’s always a good thing.

Balinese children

Balinese students

Balinese child

After Class…

I went on my hike. It was already getting hot, but I was happy. I enjoy spending time with the locals, especially kids. For me, it’s one of the best parts of travel.

Mt. Agung, Bali

How About You?

Have you ever ended up in a ‘random travel moment’ where a simple walk led you to have an unexpected experience? If so, where and what?

If not, what do you think of this one? Would you have gone to the school or declined the offer and gone hiking instead?

School in Amed, Bali

Like This Post? Then Check Out My Book!

If you enjoy reading about random encounters with the locals, then check out my recently published book, ‘Magic Carpet Seduction.’ There are many stories about going off the beaten path, being in the moment and going with the flow—and the cool stuff that happens when you do.

Meanwhile, feel free to sign up for my newsletter (click here) to be kept up-to-date re: future books and to learn, in advance, about upcoming discounts on my book.

And, if you’d like, check out some more ‘random travel moments‘ from ChickyBus.

22 Responses to Marching With—Then Teaching—Balinese Children I Didn’t Know (Random Travel Moment #7)
  1. RyanRoseKnowsTravel
    June 10, 2013 | 10:26 pm

    I love it! I love the random moments that happen when traveling! Thanks for sharing!

    • CB Driver
      June 10, 2013 | 10:33 pm

      Thank you, Ryan. They really are fun. One never knows what will happen next! :)

  2. Paula C. Wilkes
    June 12, 2013 | 1:14 am

    Great adventure! Bali is a beautiful place with very accommodating people. You are so lucky to experience those things while traveling.

    • CB Driver
      June 12, 2013 | 11:30 am

      Thanks, Paula. I enjoyed meeting the locals in Amed; it was much less touristy than towns in the south.

  3. Danny Delnison
    June 12, 2013 | 5:41 am

    The cute kids! :)

    • CB Driver
      June 12, 2013 | 11:29 am

      Yeah, they really are. I think I may do a photo essay just on the children of Indonesia–that’s how beautiful they were.

  4. Erik
    June 14, 2013 | 9:33 am

    This looks like an amazing experience. I know we’ve talked about how rewarding it was for you. Too bad more people don’t have the ability to embrace an opportunity like this.
    Erik recently posted..Cafe Gollum- Amsterdam- Beers & Bars of the Europe 2013 TripMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      June 16, 2013 | 11:13 pm

      Hi, Erik. Thanks. It was rewarding…glad I bumped into the marching kids! Maybe it was easy to embrace the experience because the kids were so darn cute? :)

  5. Maria
    June 14, 2013 | 9:32 pm

    How cool is that? Cooler than shorts from the freezer on a summer day. Kudos for giving so much back!
    Maria recently posted..Wordless Wednesday – Great Salt LakeMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      June 16, 2013 | 11:14 pm

      Thanks, Maria! It was cool. I loved it because although it was Bali, it felt like it was a million miles away from the annoying touts, etc. of the major tourist areas.

  6. Martha
    June 17, 2013 | 1:25 pm

    What an awesome story! Just like you remember fondly those children and your unique travel experience with them, I bet those kids will always remember you as well! Was there any way you could have kept in touch with them? You mentioned that one of the teachers did speak some English.

    • CB Driver
      June 17, 2013 | 3:00 pm

      Hi, Martha. Thanks–glad you enjoyed it! A couple of the teachers spoke English, but it was quite limited. I do have a friend who lives in that town and her husband is Balinese. Maybe he could let them know that I wrote the story. It would be fun for them to see their photos on here, I think! :)

  7. Iain Mallory
    June 21, 2013 | 2:18 pm

    Wow that really is a totally random travel moment. It must have been a great experience, one not many of us will ever get the opportunity to copy. Fantastic!
    Iain Mallory recently posted..Nepal, A Portrait of InnocenceMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      June 22, 2013 | 8:47 am

      Hi, Iain. Yes, very random! It was really fun and definitely not likely to happen again. Glad you enjoyed the story!

  8. Frank
    June 28, 2013 | 5:27 pm

    Hi Lisa,
    Great photos and I love your courage in just joining these kids. I think it’s a great cultural experience and as much as others would want to do the same they would be a bit shy…you made it happen. We had a similar experience in Northern Laos and it was a highlight of our trip:
    Next time we’ll be more aggressive and just get in there, the kids obviously love it.
    Keep up the good blogging,
    Frank (bbqboy)
    Frank recently posted..Montreal – Visiting the Botanical Gardens and InsectariumMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      June 30, 2013 | 2:38 pm

      Hi, Frank–and thanks for the positive feedback! It was quite an experience and when I found myself in that classroom, I thought–OK, go for it. It does help that I’m a teacher, of course.

  9. freespirit7
    January 19, 2014 | 2:32 am


    I loved your classroom experience and I would have done the same thing since these life experiences happen for a reason and should be lived on the spot, awesome :)!

    • CB Driver
      January 20, 2014 | 5:28 pm

      Hi, Ladybug. Thanks for reading. Cool that you would have done the same. I know what you mean re: things happening for a reason. I often find myself in those situations.

      • freespirit7
        January 29, 2014 | 8:44 am

        Hello again,

        I never told you that the reason I found your blog was because I was searching for information about Amed, Bali. I did go on January 26th (3 days ago) and am now in Denpasar. Amed was beautiful, very long drive from the airport but worth it with that beautiful ocean view and tropical rain. Whatever you’re doing now and wherever you are, I hope you’re having a blast :)! Take care, LB

        • CB Driver
          February 2, 2014 | 9:36 am

          LB–thanks for letting me know. I’m glad to hear that you went to Amed. That’s awesome!!

          I just got back from Jamaica–a country that took me by surprise. I went off the beaten path to an area known as Treasure Beach. Loved it!

  10. freespirit7
    February 3, 2014 | 6:07 am

    Hello CB Driver,

    Well Bali was our destination after Thailand and hoping to stay here awhile. Jamaica is on my list :). Enjoy your journey.

    Keep in touch,

    • CB Driver
      February 3, 2014 | 9:22 am

      Thanks–and you, too! Nice to have ‘met’ you here. :)

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