I had the opportunity to visit Bali for a few days recently. I was visiting my daughter in Singapore, and decided to take advantage of the convenience of a two hour plane ride to one of the most beautiful places on earth. It’s difficult to talk about Bali without thinking of Melissa Gilbert’s book, Eat, Pray, Love, but there is so much more to Bali than the book or the movie depicts. Bali is a place of vibrant culture, spirituality and natural beauty and is surprisingly very affordable.
I was traveling alone, something that I had never experienced before other than traveling for business many years ago. Traveling alone forces you to interact more with the people you meet and opens you up to experiences and opportunities that might otherwise be missed.
My stay in Bali was painfully short; four nights total, but I made the most of it. First, two nights in the vibrant cultural part of Bali known as Ubud, which is in fact the setting for Gilbert’s book. Then two nights in Seminyak, a more touristy, upscale part of Bali to the south.
My first full day in Ubud was by far the best of the trip. My all-too-short stay at the Champlung Sari Hotel, located minutes from the Monkey Forest, was wonderful. My room, located on the first floor, was perfectly appointed and so convenient to the Monkey Forest it was not uncommon to both see and hear them on a regular basis.
After having breakfast in an open air restaurant with monkeys everywhere, I took a short 15 minute walk along Ubud’s busy main street to attend a yoga class. I had a few minutes to spare so I stopped in a small coffee shop. The waitress directed me toward the back, and I was delighted to be seated at a table with this as my view:
There are several things characteristic of Bali a visitor can’t help but find…rice paddies (as above), make shift spiritual shrines and wooden penis bottle openers. Bet you weren’t expecting that one, but it’s true. They’re a huge touristy item (no pun intended). The interesting thing about this rice paddy was it was located behind a coffee shop on a very busy street. In Bali, you never know what treasures lie beyond what the eye can see.
A quick note about the pictures you see here. All my pictures were taken with my daughter’s company phone which she had let me borrow since my Blackberry was obsolete in that part of the world. Unfortunately, I didn’t download most of the pictures and after I left she switched the phone to her personal use and the technician deleted all the data that was stored, including my pictures. Oh well, guess I’ll just have to go again :).
Now back to my day. After paying $13 for a 90 minute Yoga class, I ascended up beautiful teak steps into what was undoubtedly the most gorgeous yoga studio I’ve ever seen.
With a peaked ceiling stretching at least 25′ high made of rattan and bamboo, and two walls opened to a rice field, one could not help but feel that THIS was what a yoga studio should look like.
By the time the class was over, my airplane abused body felt good as new and ready to tackle the white water rafting trip I had planned along the Ayung River.
In order to get to the actual raft, we had to walk down approximately 500 steps. I couldn’t help but wonder if we would have to walk UP steps at the end of the trip.
The rafting trip was absolutely fabulous. We stood directly under water falls and floated outside the raft when the river permitted, stopped for coconut drinks and had water fights with other rafters along the way.
Upon my return to the hotel, I took a shower and walked to a local spa for a manicure and much needed foot massage. Now would be a good time to mention the prices in Bali are unbelievable! For less than $100, you could spend 4-5 hours at a spa getting pampered in an atmosphere that is exquisitely beautiful, with waterfalls, natural stones and music surrounding you at every turn. For a spa whore such as myself, this was heaven on earth for sure. If you ever get to Bali, don’t even consider NOT going to a spa. .
The next day I awoke to once again have breakfast with my monkey friends and met a lovely young lady who also was traveling solo. Coincidentally, we both were planning on taking a bike trip tour that day so we spent a pleasant day seeing some local sites and experiencing the ‘authentic’ Bali.
Off to Seminyak that evening, where I found myself in a room fit for a Queen.
I had my own pool, open to the sky but private. The villa was absolutely beautiful, but it was somewhat isolated and I found myself missing the hustle and bustle of Ubud.
After day four, I reluctantly left Bali for Singapore, hoping to someday return.
And in case you’re wondering, I didn’t succumb to the wooden penis bottle opener…I kept thinking about going through customs ;).