All tagged bali

A Love Letter to Bali

Both metaphorically and literally, I came to Bali to be stripped. Intentionally, delicately, fiercely stripped. I came to Bali to challenge every drop of ego and pretense I held dear. I came to Bali to heal.

My time on The Island of the Gods has been a firestorm of transformation. Just over five weeks later, I don’t recognize myself. My love letter to Bali is one of gratitude for the lessons she taught me, or reinforced, or drilled into my stubborn brain. Either way, the lessons are the thing. 

A trek into Bali's iconic rice paddies

"Just a small trek," my private guide for the day Pak Putu said.

"Small trek..." I asked, somewhat suspiciously. "Small trek, to see rice paddies like the birds," he said matter of factly. We climbed up up up the side of the mountain, navigated delicately along the canal system perched along the ridge line. 

At one point an 8-year old Balinese girl went flying past us, giggling, running up the mountain as she likely does many times a day. I felt pretty lame as I stopped to take a photo and catch my breath. 

What will you offer in the name of balance?

Sweeping, sweeping, sweeping...the swooshing sound of sticks and dried palm fronds on Mr. Gede's handmade broom begin before the sun rises, and never truly ends. 

One of my most visceral memories of this island will be the sound of rough brooms scraping stone sidewalks. Walk down any street at any time of day and you'll see shop owners sweeping the corner of the world carved out for their livelihood. Even the woman who sells sarongs at the beach, in a Sisyphean display of resilience, sweeps sweeps sweeps the encroaching sand. 

A disastrous snorkeling adventure highlights the kindness of strangers.

I love snorkeling. Like, a lot. I've been snorkeling all over the world for years and have never had a thrashing like I had yesterday. 

The correct question to ask me would have been: "We are going to extremely rough, extremely open waters. You will not float around in a coral reef while we go off and dive. You'll bounce around getting clocked by giant swells, focusing too hard on staying alive to even bother sticking your mask in the water to learn what's lurking below your feet. Now, do you want to snorkel with us?"

They did not say this. So we loaded into the seat-less, door-less vantruckcar and headed to the beach.

Shameless Travel Porn: Beach day in Sanur, Bali

The following are instructions left by my Airbnb host:

"The map below shows the quickest route to the beach (via the cow field). This walk takes approx. 3 minutes. The resident cow living in the field is not a problem to walk past (if he is not hassled). Gates open to a dirt field with a dirt track off Jalan Danau Tamblingan. Follow the track to the beach. Do not hassle the cow."

What Bali's offerings taught me about letting go

They're everywhere.

You can't walk a more than a few feet in Bali without needing to navigate around an offering. They're on the ground, in the road, on top of shop signs, teetering on the handlebars of a scooter, stacked high on temple steps, spilling out of cubby holes cut into the black stone buildings, giant statues all decked out and dressed up with fresh flowers and colorful fabrics...everywhere.

I'm trance dancing in Bali as a way to emotionally heal. Because of course I am.

So I’m scheduled to do a little trance dancing in Ubud. Not a typo.

I realize most of you don’t know me personally, so let me explain that I’m primarily an introvert. I’m not keen to draw attention to myself, particularly in situations where I feel uncomfortable. Let's just say I'm working on my relationship with public displays of vulnerability. The moment I was presented with the opportunity to trance dance in Bali, I had hilarious and horrifying visions of Bridget Jones caliber. The degree of potential embarrassment is staggering. 

RTW Destination Announcement: Sanur, Indonesia

Just go with it.

When I first started dreaming of my solo 'round-the-world (RTW) trip, I pictured my first locations as Iceland, Greenland, all over Scandinavia, Ireland...anywhere cold and comfortable and easy. You know, cute scarves and all. Yes, I know most people fantasize about leaving their jobs for life on a tropical beach, but heat and humidity are difficult for me. I was planning to save SE Asia as my last pit stop, once my solo travel moxie was firing on all cylinders. Well, so much for that.