Sorry for the delay in posting a new blog entry, unfortunately, I left my converter for my Macbook at the hostel in Australia as a parting gift so I had to wait until I could find an Apple store to fully charge my laptop.
Continuing on our worldwide adventures, as we hopped on the flight from Brisbane to Bali we really had no idea what we were getting ourselves into but knew it would be a cultural experience nonetheless. As soon as we arrived in Denpasar, we exchanged our money and I am proud to say that I fulfilled my dreams of becoming a millionaire before turning 25 (I exchanged $250USD for $3.3M Rupiahs…I was in heaven!). After we jumped into the taxi to head towards our Airbnb, we noticed that most people used mopeds and scooters as their main transportation. We also noticed that there was absolutely no traffic rules except to stop when there is a red light, other than that mopeds and cars could weave in and out of traffic as they please and go down one-way streets the opposite way – to say we were a bit scared is an understatement.
We decided to stay in an Airbnb for the week with a Balinese family to ask them questions about Bali and get to know the culture a bit better. Our homestay was very inviting and welcoming. Maya, who was our host, had been living in Bali her whole life with her family in Canggu. She spoke very good English while her mother and father had spoken broken English but knew the basics. Her mother, father, and grandparents all lived in the same half acre area in different small houses which they built themselves over the years. They also had their own Hindu temple where they would worship to their gods in their backyard. Since we did not practice the religion we were not able to go into the temple but we were able to admire the beauty from the outside. After walking along the block we noticed many families had their own temples on their land. Another thing we noticed were the rooster’s that would wake us up at the crack of dawn. When I asked Maya why each family had so many roosters on their land, she had stated that they were used for religious ceremonies on a weekly basis (thankfully I asked because I thought they were used to lay eggs). Another observation after walking around the city was that there were incense burning in a woven basket filled with flowers, rice, fruit and small amounts of money covering the streets, temples, beaches and storefront. When I asked Maya what these tiny baskets symbolized each basket was an offering to the gods that they believe in. The flowers symbolize sincerity and love and the coins symbolized selflessness. It’s crazy to wrap my head around making a handful of these offerings every day to lay around the grounds of your home, store, and streets.
After walking around the city and admiring the new cultural aspects, we decided to take a Hatha Yoga class at Serenity Eco Guesthouse and Yoga. It was so relaxing and was completely different than a yoga class that I would take in Hoboken or in Philadelphia. This class was taught by a Balinese yogi who had been teaching for 20+ years in Bali. After the much needed 90 minute yoga class, we ventured to Crate Cafe to try one of their famous Acai Bowls. After much consideration, I decided to try the Brekkie 2 Go Go bowl featuring Dragonfruit and Strawberries and Surfs Up which was a mango based juice with mint and pineapple. To top off the morning, Sarah and I decided to head to Goldust Beauty Lounge for a 60-minute Balinese Massage and a pedicure enhanced with Balinese Ginger Tea and watermelon slices. I don’t think I have ever felt so relaxed in my life. I wish I could do this every Saturday morning back in the states to refresh after a long work week but I guess I can keep dreaming (or hop back on a plane to Bali). For the rest of the day, we decided to lounge around and walk on the beach to soak in the sites. Every Thursday evening during dinner time, Tunga Hotel hosts a Balinese cultural night that is open to the public to watch 3 different dances. Sarah and I decided to have a nice dinner out and check out the different dances. We watched three dances while sipping on lobster bisque soup and chomping on caesar salad. The three Balinese dances included Panji Semarang, Jauk Manis and Jaran Teji (below you will find the explanation of each dance for your reference).
This dance follows the life of Candra Kirana, a princess who becomes a victim of slanders made up by her step sister. She runs away from her country, disguises herself as a man and builds her own kingdom in the midst of a forest. While doing all of this, she wins back the love of her life.
This dance illustrated a king in power with more violent and flexible movements. The meaning of ‘Jauk Manis’ is that a king or leader should be able to protect its people from evil or enemies but also be respectful to his people and be admired.
This dance tells the story of a female who disguises herself as a male rider to search for her lover who disappeared from her palace.
The next day, I decided to try Fire Morning Hatha at The Practice Yoga studio down the block from me. The atmosphere of the class was stunning, the studio looked over rice patties and was outdoors and very spacious. ur instructor had been living and breathing yoga for years and read a couple lines of out his Yoga Bible before we began class. The practice itself was very spiritual and allowed me to clear out my mind and focus on the present. After a wonderful 90 minute class, I enjoyed ginger tea with a couple of other classmates and the admired the stunning scenery. Before leaving for the 7:15 am class, I accidentally locked Sarah in the room because apparently, you cannot unlock the door from the inside so I had to go and rescue her before I started my day. After another relaxing yoga class, Sarah and I decided to try out Betelnut Cafe for breakfast. Here I decided to stick to a healthy dish with a fruit granola bowl, avocado egg sandwich and a cucumber/mint iced tea. Another great start to my morning. That day I decided to risk my life and rent a moped to cruise over to Tanah Lot and Seminyak while Sarah relaxed on the beach and walked to meet me at Potato Head Beach Resort. Driving my moped 30 minutes away on the streets of Bali was absolutely exhilarating. Once I became more comfortable with steering and the crazy traffic I started to weave in and out like a local being very cautious while doing so and always having my helmet on. After following the sign to Tanah Lot, I finally arrived. Tanah Lot is known as one of Bali’s most important landmarks where an ancient Hindu shrine is perched on top rocks where the ocean waves crash below. The views here were absolutely stunning – a must see while in Bali. While driving up to Seminyak (which should have only taken 30 minutes but took an hour and a half because I got very lost) I ended up in a 400+ moped traffic jam (pictured below). It was absolutely insane! I tried talking to a couple Balinese people to see why there was a traffic jam but no one seemed to understand me so with very little movement and bumping into a couple mopeds later, I finally resumed gliding around Bali. After stopping in 10 different stores to ask for directions, I ended up in the shopping capital of Bali, Seminyak. These streets were packed with people searching for the newest trends and deals. After an hour or two of shopping, I decided to head over to Potato Head Beach Club to meet up with Sarah and enjoy the infinity pool.
Of course, after reading and watching Eat Pray Love, Sarah and I decided to spend the next two days in Ubud, Bali which was around an hour and a half Uber ride north. We decided to check out the Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest so we could play with some monkeys and see how they act in their natural habitat. We watched families groom each other, protect each other, swing through the canopies and feed off of all the tourists bananas. The whole forest was about a couple miles long wide with stunning surroundings (a large garden with a river, many gorgeous monkey statues, a monkey cemetery, etc). As a monkey, I would have loved to live there with the hundreds of monkeys and gorgeous property in the wild. So far the Monkey Forest was my favorite part of Bali. After playing with the monkeys we decided to walk around Ubud to see if we could bargain around for a couple deals. Sarah got a pair of really nice handmade leather sandals and I walked away with 3 acrylic paintings – success! We stayed overnight in Ubud at a homestay with another Balinese family. Before we arrived at the homestay we thought it would be a good idea to get some fitness in and walk from the city of Ubud to our homestay which was a couple cities away without Wi-fi or service. After 3 hours, 15 wrong turns and a couple loops later, we finally arrived on the steps of our homestay for the night. After 10 miles of walking and a nice cold shower, we were ready for bed.
I was ecstatic to try out another Balinese yoga class at Yogabarn, where the yoga class is taught in a large treehouse. Here I took Tanya’s slow vinyasa class that relaxed my mind and muscles and allowed me to go through the poses with grace. By the end of the 90 minute class my mind and body were in such a state of meditation that I fell asleep during savasana (that’s a first and an accomplishment!) After a wonderful yoga class to start off my day, Sarah and I walked to the Elephant Cave in Goa Gajah (around 3 miles away from Ubud), one of the island’s most impressive archaeological sites. Once inside the holy archaeological site, my 12-year-old tour guide walked me around the grounds to explain the history behind the sculptures and carvings.
Fun Facts about Goa Gajah:
- Dates back to the 11th century and was built as a place for meditation and prayer
- In the elephant cave, there are three stone structures wrapped in red, yellow and black holy cloths to indicate that these are sacred
- Offerings were placed around the grounds and next to each stone structure
- Goa Gajah translates into Elephant Cave
- The buddha statue was stolen during the day by a tourist 14 years ago, now there are security and tour guides everywhere on the grounds to protect the history
After a quick tour around Goa Gajah, Sarah and I headed to see the Tegenungan Waterfall before heading back to Canggu. This waterfall was incredible with a couple Balinese kids wanting to take selfies with us and trying as hard as we could to swim under the water (it was impossible due to the current from the waterfall). Overall it was a very successful day with lots of walking and cultural experiences.
Unfortunately that night and the entire next day I had what they called “Bali Belly” and spent the rest of my time in Bali in my room trying to recover before my flight to Bangkok!
Next stop – Bangkok, Thailand!