Bali is a tropical paradise. From the moment we stepped off the plane, sleep deprived (why do I fly red eyes?!) and weary, I was in love. First of all, it's beautiful. Duh. Second, the Balinese people are the sweetest people I have ever met. Every local I encountered smiled, said hello and asked me where I was going. The bright personalities matched the bright surroundings. Heading to Bali straight after India especially, Mumbai felt like a reward. Bali is just so nice!
Guy flew to Bali with me but, was flying back to Australia the day after. He chose to leave at that time for a combination of reasons. He was out of funds, tired of traveling and wanted to get himself established in Byron Bay. I understood completely but, our last day together was bittersweet. We headed straight to Ubud (Eat, Pray, Love influenced a bit of this trip, I'll admit) and discovered Ubud is a very romantic town. For example, after we had wandered around all day we were heading back to our guest house to get ready for dinner. As we were walking up the hill, the sun was setting and we caught a glimpse of it through a hotel. We went inside and asked if we could take in the view of the sun setting over the rice fields. As we walked to the balcony we were met with not only the most gorgeous sunset but, also an infinity pool that looked over the whole dang scene. We looked at each other and then quickly asked if we could swim in the pool without being guests. The staff said as long as bought something it was no problem. We raced home to grab our suits and then back again. We decided to order dinner there and jumped into the pool. Swimming around in the salt water pool at dusk, overlooking rice fields, in Bali was so surreal and almost too romantic. We were both like kids in a candy store and gleeful at our luck. After our swim, we were wrapped ourselves up in fluffy towels and ate our dinner by candlelight and under the stars. The food was phenomenal and the whole thing was the perfect way to celebrate with each other.
The next morning we went for one last motorbike ride together, riding through the rain forest and enjoying speeding along with the wind in our hair. All too soon Guy was heading off to the airport. It was VERY sad saying goodbye and we both cried a ton. I was toying with the idea of heading to Australia as a surprise so, when we left each other our future was up in the air-- something we were both fine with. After our tearful goodbye, I checked myself into a new hostel. It was even more sad checking into a dorm room again! Private rooms were such a treat but, without splitting two ways, my budget wouldn't allow for it. I found a nice hostel, set myself down and went for a long walk. I ended up at the Monkey Forest. Walking through the abundantly green, dense forest with wild monkey running along beside me was incredibly healing. Actually, saying goodbye to Guy in Bali was a huge blessing. Bali and especially Ubud, is incredibly spiritual. Actually, I was expecting to feel more Spirit in India but, for me, Bali was where I felt the most spiritually connected.
The Balinese culture is one of ritual. Every day there are rituals performed and blessings put out for the God's. Every house has it's own temple so there are temples everywhere! I think it's why the Balinese are such happy, connected people. They have deep faith. It seemed liked everyday was a holiday. One day I walked out to my motorbike and it had a blessing attached to it's handle. I didn't notice it until a friend pointed it out and explained that day was the Balinese day to celebrate and honor all the motorbikes and cars in their life. Isn't that great? I love the idea of being so connected to Spirit that even mundane things get celebrated.
Speaking of Spirit and healing, one of the things I wanted to do in Ubud was visit a medicine man. Okay, I'll admit this was 90% inspired by Eat, Pray, Love and 10% my own curiosity/love of healers. I did some research and found Cokorda Rai. From what I read he seemed legit and was a short drive out of Ubud. Various sources said to get to his house before 9am and ask any driver in Ubud to take you there and they will know the way. I didn't listen to the first part but, followed the second advice and at 11:30am was speeding past rice fields to his house. We showed up at a traditional Balinese house and my driver led me to the a court yard where 3 other men were waiting for the healer as well. I sat down beside them and waited. The guys shared the healer was eating lunch and would be out to see us soon. He came out about 30 minutes later and looked exactly like I would imagine a healer to look- tall, skinny, frail but still exuded strength and the kindest eyes I've seen beside Amma's. His energy was very calm and I trusted him immediately.
The first man in line sat down in front of the healer, who was seated in a chair, and the healer began to push points on his head/shoulders/neck. The man would wince and the healer would explain why that particular point hurt. After the healer felt around his head, he had the man lay down on a woven mat in the middle of the courtyard. The healer took out a wooden stick, it looked like a short chopstick. He then began pushing one of the stick's end into the underside of the man's toes. He would find a tender spot and the man would yelp out in pain. The healer would explain what organ that corresponded with and then keep pressing in his toes, finding yet another delicate point. Once the healer was satisfied he had found all the soft spots he began to do some hand movements over the man, while the man stayed laying down. He also drew on the man's abdomen with his stick. Once he was done he asked the man if he had any questions or concerns and the man asked about pain in his back. The healer then did more hand motions over him and said it would be better. He gave him some parting words and then said, "Okay, I will go lay down now." Wait! What? There were two people ahead of me and me! We all looked at each other confused. I piped up and asked if I could see him after he had rested. As soon as I asked him, it seemed like he had seen me for the first time and replied he would see me, and only me now. I said there were two people ahead of me but, he told the guys to leave and he would only see me. I felt bad but, I wasn't going to argue with him. He told me he would only do a small healing because he didn't have the energy for a full one. He skipped the head/shoulder poking and had me lay down. He began poking my toes and when he felt he had found a spot he asked me if it hurt. At first I said no and then a shooting pain shot through my body. I forgot what organ it corresponded with but, his complaint with me was my passion. He stood over me and did some hand motions. He drew on my belly, pelvic area with his stick. He asked me if I was married. I said no but, that I had a boyfriend. He said a husband was coming soon and that I had a very loving boyfriend. I told him I did. He said good and we held each others gaze. His eyes were so kind and loving! It almost made me cry. He told me that was it, he had give me a healing to be happy, create passion and it was all I needed. I placed my donation in a prayer basket, thanked him and then I was off, speeding back to Ubud with my driver. I won't lie, I felt slightly jipped. I did my best to remind myself we always get what we need. The experience felt super authentic and I trusted his energy/vibe so, I accepted my mini healing and count it as a cool experience. If I could do it over, I would go at 9am when it was recommended so, he would be more able to do a full healing.
One of the other amazing things about Ubud was the food. There is a huge vegan, health food scene and I dove straight in. I cannot tell you how good it felt to eat how I normally eat at home, once again. I had gotten so sick in India and had experienced A LOT of digestion/endocrine flare ups since I had been gone and eating normally in Ubud made me feel the healthiest I had felt in months. However, it's expensive to eat this way so, I blew my budget every day. But, it was worth it. Bali on a whole is a lot more expensive than SE Asia. It's a lot more built up and the prices reflect that. It is possible to eat cheaper but, as I said I wasn't interested in that. Besides eating incredible food, I met an amazing woman in Ubud who quickly became a friend. We met on Lacy's Fb group and immediately hit it off. I had been missing my girlfriends something fierce the whole time I was gone and meeting a new friend who I shared so much in common with felt very special.
From Ubud, I headed down to Uluwatu to experience Balinese beaches! Besides seeing a healer, I was most excited to see Bali's gorgeous tropical waters. And Ulutwatu did not disappoint. Uluwatu is a sleepy, surfer town. There is a main village that is very busy but, once you get past that, it's very quiet. I chose a random hostel upon arriving, per ususal and was pleasantly surprised. This hostel was the only one I had been too where everyone staying there was friends and when a new person arrived they would usher them into the friendship. It was very communal and a nice change of pace. I always stayed in while the others went out but, I did become good friends with my dorm mates! One was a very sweet german guy who was 19 and only cared about surfing and the other a feisty British girl who shared my love of meditation and yoga. I was (and am) always happy to spend time alone but, having a friend or two to chat with and head to the beach with was very nice too.
All I did in Uluwatu was check out the different beaches. I went to Padang Padang (rocky, gorgeous water), Dreamland (white sand and the most gorgeous turquoise water), Balangan (pretty) and Blue Point or Suluban beach (my favorite). Once I found Suluban, I was hooked. I had already knew I wanted to live in Bali after visiting Ubud but, knowing I would have this beach in my backyard sealed the deal. Suluban means walking or passing under in Balinese. Most of the beaches require you to walk down steep stairs to get from the cliffs down and Suluban is no different. However, where this beach differs from the others is the stairs dump you straight into a cove. As soon as you step off the stairs, the sand sucks at your feet and the turquoise water laps at the cave walls. I watched others climbing on to the cave walls and walking over their smooth surface so, I did too. This has to be done at low tide (around 4pm) otherwise the water is too high and only surfers can get out. I continued along it's edge until it opened into another cove. I kept walking along the pock marked stone, which had tiny little pools inside the divots and were full of teeny fish and sea creatures, until I came out until the worlds best beach. Oh man, the beauty of this beach is hard to describe. There were only 5 people on the tiny, sandy shore with me so, it felt very private. The water is clear, turquoise and warm. When you look out at the horizon, you see surfers surfing big waves in the distance. But, the coolest part, was that there are a lot of coral reefs in the area so, it creates these different levels in the water. When I was in the water, surfers would be further out, walking on the coral and looked like they were walking on the water. It was incredibly magical watching all this happening in the gentle water while the sun set. I felt so in awe of nature and this Earth we live on. I went to Suluban two days in a row to watch the sunset and felt a deep peace wash over me each day. Thinking about it now brings tears to my eyes. It's one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.
From Uluwatu, it was truly hard to tear myself away, I headed to Canngu. I had heard it was more a party town and wasn't sure what to expect. Canngu is LA. There is a rip in the time/space continuum and LA exists in California and Bali. Honestly, LA and Canngu are the same place. It is packed with surf/skate shops and wellness stores up the wazzu. I was in heaven with all the wellness goodies available, although I chose to spend my money on all the gorgeous sarongs Bali has to offer. The vegan/health food available was phenomenal and there was so much to choose from, it was overwhelming-- just like LA! The beaches were okay but, had nothing on Uluwatu. Even the beach in Canngu reminded of me LA. I was only in Canngu for a couple days so, I mostly did a smoothie bowl taste test at as many restaurants I could, wandered around health stores and read on the beach. My friend, Elizabeth, came down from Ubud and we attended the restaurant opening of another woman we met off Lacy's FB. Lacy's Fb is there place to be! Fiona's restaurant's, Parachute, was absolutely breath taking. It's nestled in the few rice fields left in Canngu and had incredible food. It was a fancy treat to be able to attend and to attend with friends! It made Bali feel like home already.
I was only in Canngu for a couple days because I had decided, spur of the moment, to fly to Australia and surprise Guy! I bought a one way ticket and would stay for as long as I could afford (it wouldn't be long as my money was LOW). I was bummed to leave Bali but, I knew then (and know now), I'll be back for a much longer stay in the near future.