Tuesday 12 April 2016

Bali Wanderings

Hi beauties!

I have carried my completely amazing Bali trip with me since I returned, and I often go back into the space, I will now call my zen place, for some peace. Bali spirituality crawled into my consciousness and remained there, it has brought about an awareness of life on another level.

A typical sight in Bali, ornate statues and carvings. This particular statue adorns the government buildings in Bali

A typical road in one of the villages

Entrance to one of the locals homes/villas
I was not really prepared for the awe inspiring experiences, for the impressive hospitality and openness of the locals. I had intended it to be a time for recuperation, sun, sand and sightseeing. Instead, I got all of those including some well needed spiritual healing and inner peace. The locals have an intrinsic need to do good and to live their lives with a sense of gratitude and awareness of the Divine. It is really refreshing to visit such a place, where one can feel the positive energy and see it translated into their daily lives.
We arrived one evening from Malaysia, tired and ready for bed and greeted at the opulent Nusa Dua resort (The Laguna) in complete luxury. The gong was sounded as we entered (traditionally announcing happiness has arrived), welcoming us in Asian fashion and we were given warm towelletes to refresh ourselves in the cloying heat before heading to our room. The resort is an oasis of beauty with the heady scent of jasmine and frangipani filling the air, the fallen frangipani blooms creating a fragrant carpet under our feet.

The Lobby at The Lagoona, Nusa Dua

One of the many pools around the resort
After a restful sleep, we spent the morning exploring and taking in our lush surroundings, finished off a day of relaxation with a visit to a traditional Bali spa. This was an authentic experience, without the western influence one would find at spas at 5 star hotels - absolutely worth at least one visit. Public transport is almost non-existent, so we relied on establishments which collect and drop off at the hotel, shuttles provided by malls and the services of a driver (ours was recommended by a family member who had previously visited). We occasionally walked around the Nusa Dua area, and quickly got caught in unexpected showers.

View from our room, in the middle of an impromptu downpour 
Being led to our pamper room at an authentic Balinese spa
Our driver doubled up as a tour guide, and quickly proposed day tours for us, around our planned activities. Some of the experiences I would highly recommend include, swimming with the dolphins (if you’re a strong swimmer, you’ll be able to interact with them one on one) and visiting at least one of their traditional healers is something you will find most inspiring.
 I was most curious to check out the Bali healers and their methodologies. My experience with the first healer was interesting (even though she was an expat who had been living in Bali for over 25 years), the discussions around my life and decisions which were playing on my mind were raised. She is an astute observer, able to aptly identify my personality and character, forcing introspection into matters I chose to ignore, which is where I derived the most value. She empowered me in a way, and encouraged me to look at situations differently; engaging a side of me I was not ready to embrace.
The stunning Javanese villa which is home to Elisa Sense,
the first healer we consulted
A Temple selfie!
Of course, we also needed to visit Ketut Liyer (‘Eat, Pray, Love’ ), who is known locally as a palm reader. I am sceptical at best of palm readings but went as a novelty; and again, I was pleasantly surprised at how powerful he is at reading people and their characteristics. Unfortunately Ketut is now too old to see people so his son, a teacher by profession, did our readings. My sister and I were taken aback by the amount of truths revealed in these interactions, without us having to disclose anything. It brought a sense of awareness around the abilities of reputable ‘Balians’ as the traditional healers are usually called. As I recall these encounters, I cannot believe how my mind has been opened to the power of positive energy and the knowledge that in all aspects of life, we need to focus on ourselves instead of others; coupled with submission to God in all things. This reinforces all of my beliefs, and it is gratifying to see that across the world, in a different culture and a different religion, that the same fundamental principles apply.
Interacting with these intelligent animals was a special experience indeed.

And in the middle of an amazing experience another downpour starts!

I was really impressed with this charismatic Balian 
There are also some must see sights, Kintamani Volcano (which is usually viewed from a distance), at least one of the resplendent temples, the paddy rice fields and a visit to a coffee plantation. The Kuta area is a favourite in the surfing fraternity, and even though I do not surf, we enjoyed a sunset dinner on the beach in this bustling part of the city. Our shopping trips were infrequent, only because we had just come from a shopping destination, Kuala Lumpur; but their prices in Bali are competitive and the jewellery is really well priced. Since it is a really impoverished island, designer brands aren’t popular, although they can be found at department stores. Shopping is usually for keepsakes, souvenirs and many tourists come specifically for their infamous wooden furniture and carvings.

A buffet restaurant serves as a vantage point to view Kintamani Volcano
(as seen in the background)

Clockwise from left to right:
1. A pic with the waterfall in the background, we descended about 150 steps
 and back to view the magnificence
2. Rice paddies
3. Watching a traditional dance at a local theatre
4. Coffee and tea plantation
5. Having a moment in the Sacred Monkey Forest, Ubud
I am fascinated by the art of Batik

Batuan Temple, Gianyar - it is compulsory to don a sari skirt upon entering a temple
And my driver, Putu giving me some background to their cultures.
Variety of teas for a tasting at the coffee plantation
Caviar restaurant on the Jimbaran Beach

Sunset Selfie on Jimbaran Beach, Denpasar

Bali Collection Mall
Traditional dancers at the hotel
A selfie in the Sacred Monkey forest, Ubud
The food was not always halaal, and I’m not that big on certain Asian foods, so we frequented eateries at the resort (who would cater halaal on request) and seafood places around Bali. Most fastfood chains, Starbucks and the like are also usually halaal, but because both of us don't have huge appetites, meals were haphazard and only when we were ravenous. 
Overall the trip was indeed a memorable one, for the new experiences and more so the intense sense of heightened spirituality one leaves with.
It is also a really affordable vacation in light of the erratic rand.

Caio for now, 
RuBe xoxo

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