Sunday, November 06, 2011

The Daughter's Bali, 2011

It all started last year when I was on my way home from a month in Europe and had stopped in Singapore to see my old housemate and gorgeous friend Ms. Froggie. Both devoted yogis we decided that we would head to Bali this year to spend some time furthering our skills at a yoga retreat in the lush mountains of Ubud and also spend some champagne and girl time at a beach side resort. We both had the same requirements – no crowds, touts or bogans and we wanted serious luxury accommodation on the beach.

I have been to Bali many times – the first when I was a mere 15 years old with my school for an art excursion up until my early 20’s when I followed my then surfer boyfriend around the island as a dedicated towel and wax minder. I got to see amazing hidden gems off the beaten track during these trips and I have always had an unexplainable affinity with the small Indonesian island. From the moment the plane begins descending through the tropical clouds I feel like I have arrived “home”.
Most people associate Bali with the horrific terrorist bombings of 2002 and 2005 and the hedonistic and embarrassing antics of some Western tourists as they ignore and disrespect the quiet customs of the beautiful Balinese people who are lucky enough to call Bali their home. To me, it is a place of great spirituality, emotion and beautiful customs.

I wanted to steer clear of the tacky streets of Kuta, Legian and Seminyak so after some research found the village of Canggu and the amazing Tugu Bali Hotel. Filled with excitement, I was driven through the dark incense laden streets on a sultry August night to meet Ms. Froggie at our hotel. With a bottle of Champagne in my hand I made my way to her suite where we sat on her spacious sea view balcony, waves crashing onto the black sand beach just beyond the hotel’s garden gossiping and laughing like only old friends can.
We spent the next 2 days walking miles on the black sand beach and eating our way through the amazing menu choices the hotel offered, all the while never running out of conversation. Ms. Froggie is possibly one of the only people in the world that I can travel with and never get sick of. We are both extremely independent, well travelled and introverted so know how to get along without even trying. I think previously living and travelled together a lot also helps.

Finally the day came to make our way to the green mountains of Ubud to our 6 day yoga retreat. I was really looking forward working with the Australian yoga teacher who is very well known in yoga circles and seeing if I could push myself to new areas (freestanding headstands perhaps? Yikes!). Our hillside retreat was gorgeous and overlooked the rice terraces that Bali is famous for. The ringing of wind chimes was soothing as we unpacked our bags and headed to our first yoga session with the group of 20 other yogis.

Over the next 6 days we were woken early and stretched to our limits in our open air yoga pavilion overlooking a small river. It was beautiful watching the sun rise over the jungle as we “downward dogged” and “warriored” until our muscles felt like they were beyond stretched. We were fed the most amazing semi-vegetarian food every day and I have never felt so healthy.

Massages and decadent spa treatments were offered daily as well as excursions to temples and bike rides through the surrounding villages. There was a day of enforced silence where we spent 24 hours without speaking or interacting with anyone (slightly difficult when sharing a room – Ms. Froggie and I perfected the art of miming with much hilarity).

It was with sadness we left our new friends for a few final days back at the Tugu Bali Hotel. Ms. Froggie and I soon fell back into our beach walk/eat/swim/eat/beach walk/sleep routine until it was time for me to farewell her as she headed onto another part of the island while I flew back to Sydney.

It had been 10 years since I had been to Bali and before I left for this trip I had wondered if perhaps I had imagined the magic it held for me. Maybe nostalgia had made my memories sweeter that what was reality? I can honestly say, I fell more in love with it. I now know that it will always be “home”. I can’t wait to go back again soon.

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