Remembering my three weeks in Ubud, Bali, makes my heart hurt a little. Because I kind of wish I could stay forever.
Something about Bali just got under my skin; from the daily Hindu offerings to the the eerie, repetitive rhythm of the gamelan to the ornate family compounds. Out of all the places I've been Bali was one of the most culturally unique.
Here are all the reasons I couldn't help but adore Bali.
Banana pancake breakfasts at my homestay.
At every homestay in Ubud the family will prepare you a daily breakfast. Most include pandan pancakes (or eggs with toast), a fruit plate of freshly cut fruit (with lime to dress) and a choice of tea or coffee.
It felt so luxurious to wake up to a breakfast delivered to my door.
Are there any people lovelier than the Balinese? Everyone I met in Bali, from my homestay family to the hotel baristas at the Alaya was so welcoming, greeting me with the rolling trill of their r's and their wide smiles. I also love how all the men call you “dahling”.
While I was there I noticed I met a lot of people named Wayan. I soon learned this is because the Balinese have a unique naming system; the first child is named Wayan, the second Made, the third Nyoman and the fourth Ketut.
One thing that always made Balinese laugh was when I said, “If I were Balinese I would be Wayan!” as I'm the first-born in my family.
Work-lunches at the Alaya.
I spent nearly every lunch at the Alaya, an adorable boutique hotel in Ubud, catching up on work and sipping perfectly frothed lattes.
Also I spent one night at the Alaya, which was possibly the best splurge of my life.
When I first arrived in Bali, I was baffled by the beautiful offerings left out in the street. Had I just missed a festival? Was there some kind of celebration in the works?
It turns out these offerings are called “canang sari“, and the Balinese leave them out every day as an offering to the gods. The offerings are little baskets woven from palm or banana leaves and are filled with flowers, crackers, rice, incense and other goodies.
(I would often see macaques munching on the offerings in the street. But everyone seemed pretty blasé about it.)
Every morning at my homestay a sarong-clad woman would carry a tray full of offerings, delicately placing the baskets all over the family compound (Balinese: banjar) and lighting incense.
And whenever I walked around Ubud I would hear the sound of a broom scratching the concrete- Is it just me or are the Balinese always sweeping?
Doing a bit of sight-seeing.
I compressed most of my sight-seeing into about eight hours by hiring a cab driver for the day. (Sorry guys- I kind of hate sight-seeing.)
All in all I saw three main sites: Pura Tirta Empul, Gunung Kawi and a coffee plantation where I tried Kopi Luwak– also known as “civet poo coffee.” When we returned to Ubud in the evening we also saw the Kecak Fire & Trance Dance.
Visiting Pura Tirta Empul, built around 962 A.D.
Worshippers bathing in the holy water before entering the temple
The fire and trance dance.
And at the end a man dressed as a horse ran around these hot coals made of burnt coconuts. Ouch?
But as far as sight-seeing goes, Bali does it very well.
World-class yoga. Everyday.
During my three weeks in Ubud I did tons of yoga. I'll write more on this soon, but my DIY yoga retreat really changed me as a person as clichéd as it sounds.
In my three weeks in Ubud I fell in love with yin yoga, attempted inversions under the guidance of yoga legend Les Leventhal, finally learned crow, tried capoeira and Tibetan bowl meditation and discovered an ardent love for yoga I want to pursue further. Pas mal.
Eating a crazy healthy diet.
The food in Ubud is seasonal, delicious, veggie-friendly and mostly vegetarian. I miss looking at a menu and knowing I could order anything I want. Sigh.
The rice paddies.
So Balinese, right?
And to be fair… what I don't miss.
Terrible sidewalks. Roosters crowing through the night. Monkeys.
But these inconveniences are small when you're living in such a spectacularly beautiful and special place.
Thank you Bali, for the memories. I promise to come back someday.
Have you ever visited Bali?
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