For the past 5+ years, the Top 3 destinations on my bucket list have been: Bali, Maldives, and Santorini. When the book Eat, Pray, Love came out in 2006, I was going through it and my “work mom” suggested it was the perfect book to read. Per usual, she was right. While I didn’t have the gall to pull an Elizabeth Gilbert and give up everything I had to be an international nomad, I vowed to “one day” see the beauty of Bali.
At the time, the whole idea was silly to me. I was at a shit job with shit pay living paycheck to paycheck, so I felt I had more chances of going to Mars than Bali. To say that I am grateful to have went is an understatement. To my friends that replied to my Bali posts saying they would be going there soon, I AM ALL THE EXCITED FOR YOU! It’s such a magical place and from the vibe I got, they are more than happy yo share some of that magic with you. Thus, here is my 2 part Bali recap starting with highlights from my trip and then my suggestions and tips for your trip.
Tirta Empul temple. To be completely honest, this experience was totally not what I expected it to be, and I was a little mad at it. Not that I didn’t feel a certain energy praying in sacred waters and participating in an ancient Hindu tradition. It’s just that a part of that energy was dimmed due to there being trash in the water, and people taking photos. It’s one of the few times I felt taking out a camera would actually hinder an experience. A part of me felt like we were tarnishing the tradition, but then again, if the locals are charging for it and are OK with photos who am I to say what is and isn’t OK? Nevertheless, I’d recommend it.
Skooter ride. In 2010 I went to the Philippines and hopped on the back of my cousin’s motorcycle with no helmet on the freeway. I have no idear why I thought that was a good idea, but I figured my cousin loved me and wouldn’t kill me. In the Philippines there are no lanes, no traffic laws, and no traffic lights. Basically there are no rules (hence, no helmet smh), so I thought anything else would be a training wheels ride on a track with full body armor.
Although Rach disagrees, I’d have to say that driving in Bali is way scarier. While the idea sounds fun, the reality is absolutely terrifying. Of all the things on our to-do list, riding a skooter in Bali was nowhere to be found. So of course we rode one back to the villa while at Crystal Beach in Nusa Penida. The only thing worse than getting into an accident? Having to wait for your ride, so we swapped a van for a skooter and figured it wouldn’t be so bad because it wasn’t as busy on the island. Best bad decision ever.
Cooking class. This was totally not what I expected it to be, and I ain’t mad at it. It was confirmation that nothing brings people together more than food (yes, even more than hatred for the same things). It was just the right amount of direction, labor, information, and humor. I found out a lot about the Balinese culture from our host, as I broke
bread gadu-gadu with a room full of strangers. I highly recommend Paon Bali cooking, which is the class we took.
Jungle massage. Actually, the entire jungle experience although I’m not sure if I’d do it again lol. We house hopped a lot during our week long stay, and it wasn’t as much of a hassle as I thought it would be. Matter fact, it was great. Each area was so different, and provided such eclectic experiences. While in Ubud, we stayed at a 100 year old teakwood villa in the jungle.
I’m talking lush forest views, bugs crawling into your luggage, monkeys on the roof, and keeping one eye at the crack in the bathroom door just in case an animal decided to come in and join you midstream. I felt like I was in a Disney movie when I would wake up and open my bedroom door, “Oh hello Mister Monkey. Please don’t attack me. Hello, beautiful butterfly. I hope I don’t find you in my luggage later!”
The day after our 1,387 hour long hike, we booked massages on the balcony. There was one point where the masseuse asked us to sit up and face the jungle. As she massaged my shoulders and I stared into the green abyss listening to the sounds of exotic birds and insects, I asked under my breath, “Is this real life”.
And then I heard a chainsaw in the distance and was reminded that it in fact was real life.
Mt. Batur sunrise hike. A co-worker of mine told me this was an absolute must while in Bali. I mean, the words “sunrise hike” alone sound amazing. Surprisingly, the view at dusk and bragging rights weren’t what made the trek. It was our tourguide singing and playing the guitar at the summit, while other hikers joined in. It was surreal, and comforting amidst everything happening in the world. Bali Trekking Tours is the company we went with. If you’re lucky, you’ll get JB!
Yoga. I know, I know. How more cliche can one get? So much more! Next to downward dogging in India, I’d think this is hitting the jackpot for any fan of yoga. Initially, I wanted to join a public class to get a community feeling, but there wasn’t one available during the time we were free. A private yoga lesson next to the infinity pool at our villa was definitely not a bad alternative. Our instructor, a woman by the name of Rachel who founded Pineapple House was AMAZING. She was everything I imagined a woman who lived on a ship for 6 years and travelled from London to India to Thailand and then created a surf and yoga retreat in Bali would be (except for pregnant, congrats!).
Let’s get corny shall we? There was a moment during one of the poses where I looked up, and the flower covered tree branches on the grounds framed the sky so perfectly I almost cried. Surprisingly, I didn’t. But that simple, not so glamorous second made the trip.