‘Selamat Pagi, Apa kabar? Saya Sabrina!’ If I had a penny for every time I’ve said that sentence during the past year, I could probably open up my own Zinc factory by now.
It means, “Good Morning, how are you? I am Sabrina” in Indonesian and it was my door opener to the magical Homestays when I was treasure hunting on Bali.
One day – 100 smiles
On a typical Treasure Hunt day I’d wake up with the sunrise, enjoy a delicious banana pancake for breakfast (Must Do when in Bali!), pack my bags with camera, questionnaires, brochures, etc. and jump on my scooter to visit guesthouses. I walked into one Homestay after another, introducing myself and trying to explain the vision & mission of Home Sweet Home. “We want to support you!”
Thinking back to my very first recruitment day makes me smile– as a German business graduate, I went well prepared with a clear, focused presentation, a computer, and in a nice dress. Nyoman, the first Balinese owner of 69 Homestay I visited, was so intimidated by me that he didn’t speak a word and looked more relieved than happy when I left.
Things needed a change
We learned the language, created some easy printouts, and got some casual clothes. Suddenly a whole new world opened up! The Balinese greeted me with big smiles on their faces, invited me to delicious Bali Coffee (kopi luwak!) and curiously listened to the Home Sweet Home. Once we broke the ice and overcame the language barriers, almost every Homestay owner was excited to become a part of HSH Stay.
Angels for Bali: Home Sweet Home Angels are born
Usually, the days were long and exhausting; I would leave my accommodation early in the morning and spend the whole day walking and driving through the hot, balmy weather of Bali. Heat flashes, flat tires, and getting lost in the mountains were just some of the challenges I was facing (besides the other typical Bali issues every foreigner has experienced). However, when I saw the gratitude in the shining eyes of the Homestay owners, I knew I absolutely loved my job. I had found a purpose: I felt in love with the mission & idea of Home Sweet Home. I could feel I was making a difference!
Sister Serafina Nahaka, who runs a Homestay together with an orphanage, even called me a “god-sent Angel”. Ever since then, my job title was “Home Sweet Home Flying Angel”! Now, I understood the true meaning of the phrase “Support the locals” because in Bali’s fast changing environment the locals really do need our help!
It’s not about us – It’s about them
Living 7,300 miles across the ocean from my family and friends, and the constantly changing places I was visiting, made me feel lonely from time to time. Thanks to all the wonderful people, who not only invited me into their homes but also their hearts, I felt like I had found many homes.
I met all kinds of people: from Wayan (the first female mountain guide!) to Smiling Buddha (owner of Meditasi Bungalows) the host of Elisabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray and Love. According to him, she got most of her inspiration for the love part of her book in his place. Indeed it is a magical place! Each and every one of them had their own inspiring stories to tell, many of which they shared with me over Arak (very strong coconut liquor – bad Hangovers guaranteed), laughter, and tears.
To see the real Beauty of Bali you have to meet the locals! They are Bali’s true jewels.
Find the needle in a Haystack
In the centre of Bali’s most famous spots like Canggu, Ubud, or Amed it was quite easy to find the guesthouses; but in the remote areas, it was much more challenging. Sometimes, I spent hours just driving through the middle of nowhere looking for places which could maybe be a homestay. I got lost countless times and chased away by guardian dogs. Curious how we did it?
A place where you can stay only for 2 hours?
One of the most awkward situations I found myself in was that time I realized I was signing up a brothel to Home Sweet Home. Nothing seemed suspicious to me, not even the trucks in the parking space. Even when the owner told me that they wouldn’t charge their guests by the night but by the hour, I still thought he was just running a rest house for truck drivers. Only after he told me that usually, his guests come in couples and never stay longer than 1 or 2 hours I started laughing!
The Oh Wow – Effect
Often, the most magical homestays didn’t look very spectacular from the outside; but, after wandering inside, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! A colourful garden with an infinity pool right in front of the ocean was unfolding itself in front my eyes. The only words that I was able to say were “Oh Wow!”; that expression became a fixed part of my vocabulary! One of my favourite hidden treasures is Bali Belva Homestay in Nusa Lembongan. Watch out for Special insider Tips (in the listing marked with a yellow star – There is a special recommendation waiting for you!)
Sharing is Caring
The Home Sweet Home story quickly became famous among the Balinese as well as the travellers. The locals spread the word to their friends and families and recommended each other, “Can you please go to Wayan, ya? He my friend, he have very nice homestay, he need help too!”. I found it fascinating that the Balinese see each other as a big family rather than competitors and are eager to help each other.
Meeting other travellers, the Home Sweet Home story was often the main topic while having a sunset Bintang after a long work day. Everybody was inspired by our mission and wanted to participate in a certain way. From personally experienced reviews to more insider tips on hidden treasures, everyone had something to share with me. I was overwhelmed by the positive feedback and support Home Sweet Home was getting and understood that our platform is not made from us for the user but rather from the users themselves.
Good Times turn into lifetime memories
From Jimbaran to Sanur, from Ubud to Amed, and from Sidemen to Kintamani, Home Sweet Home led me down an inspiring journey. I visited over 700 Homestays, drank way too much Bali Coffee, and slept in many different beds. The main thing I learned is that Bali has so much undiscovered beauty and is full of surprises; you never know what you will find around the next corner. For one person alone it is not possible to discover all the magic of Bali by oneself but we are over 5 Million people living or travelling to Bali, and we all have something different to share. Share what treasures you’ve found and let’s discover Bali’s beauty together!
A dream came true.
Still today, 6 months after the acquisition process, I see the Homestays and their people in my dreams; it is like being on this unique journey all over again! I see myself as extremely lucky that I was able to live this experience and cannot put my gratitude for Home Sweet Home and all the people I met along the way into words. It was an unforgettable time. I have no doubt that the Home Sweet Home story will keep writing itself and move far beyond Bali.
Hati Hati and Sampai Jumpa
(means be careful and See You soon in Indonesia)!
From Home Sweet Home:
‘Thank you, Sabrina, for those kind words. It was a pleasure exploring and treasure hunting this beautiful island of Bali. You will always be a part of the Home Sweet Home family!’
Sabrina is from Cologne, Germany and currently living in Bali. She moved to Bali in October 2015 with the mission to learn surfing, meet kind people and simply live in an always sunny place. She loves travelling, yoga, coffee and the ocean; but moreover, her biggest passion is writing. She writes everything from marketing texts to creative and personal writing. As a guest author, she keeps you entertained with funny, heartwarming stories about Bali!
Do you know a place to stay? Help us open the magical doors!
Home Sweet Home is made by people like you. Only together we can support the locals and keep the culture alive. Have you travelled to a remote place and did you find your personal magical Homestay? Share your favourite place with us and be a part of the change with Home Sweet Home. Simply contact us!