Adventure in Bali

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

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Before I left for Bali, several people said things like, “Bali transforms people…” and “I have a feeling big things will happen for you in Bali.” I tried to shrug these comments off because I didn’t want there to be any sort of pressure or expectation to ‘reach enlightenment.’

Well, all those things you hear about Bali? They’re true. With an open mind and a passion to not only observe, but partake, in the cultural traditions, I did indeed transform. People aren’t kidding when they say Bali is magical. Read on to see proof of the magic.

On the last night of our vacation, I propped my phone up on the ledge of my balcony and recorded the sounds of Nature. It was the middle of the night and I wasn’t ready to sleep. Sleep meant time would speed up and my departure would be that much closer. As you read through, press play and listen to the sounds of Bali. All senses come alive when you’re on the “Island of Peace.”

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I once had a dream where I flew through a dome of dense, dark clouds over Seattle. While I was flying through this wall of clouds, I experienced a lot of turbulence and fear. In the dream, I pushed myself and made it through to the blue skies. I began soaring in the warm air amongst the puffiest, whitest clouds and it was Heavenly. Who knew a year later, my dream would be coming true.

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After 20 hours of flying and layover time, we landed in Bali…only to face another 3 hours of riding in a van on a narrow, windy road. What the hell did I get us into? After I got over the exhaustion of a full day of traveling, I turned my focus to the world outside our windows and saw my first glimpse of the Balinese way of living. We all thought we were going to die in this first ride due to riding on the left side of the road and no one really driving in the “lanes.” The lines for the lanes were more like suggestions… At first, it seems like a free-for-all; but even by the second day, we became comfortable because we realized that as crazy as it looks, they have a system. It’s like they sense each other and flow like a river. They even communicate through their constant taps on the horn.

1 honk = “Hello.” OR “I see you.”

2 honks = “Watch out, I’m near you.” OR “Please move.”

3 honks (rarely heard) = “Move, dammit!”

4+ honks (heard once) = “imseriouslypissedgetthehelloutoftheway.”

We rode along non-stop curvy roads and saw chickens, groups of people every 50 yards simply hanging out by the side of the road, and stray dogs EVE-RY-WHERE. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about our upcoming week. We dropped a chunk of change, endured a full day of traveling, and now we were in a foreign country where there weren’t the luxuries of large roads, cell phone coverage, Starbucks, Target, or Yelp.

Come to find out, not having these so-called luxuries is precisely why this trip was so wonderful. In Bali, you are present.

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Is this a dream? This is the entrance to Villa Candi Matahari. As soon as we saw the entrance, we knew every minute of the past 24 hours was more than worth it.

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Words can’t describe.

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Villa Candi has a few Fringipani trees (commonly known as Plumerias) scattered around the estate. They’re known as Jepun (juh-poon) trees in Bali. Every morning I woke up, I would walk down by the pool and pick a couple up to hold onto and smell throughout the morning or place behind my right ear. To me, they’re the most beautiful, perfect bloom. I mean, look at them! And their aroma made me feel so calm and happy. Pictured above is a Fringipani bloom and Lipah Bay. Perfection.

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Near the pool is this perfect gazebo overlooking the ocean. The picture doesn’t quite show the span of the view; depending on the time of day, I would rotate to watch the sunrise or the sunset. Pretty incredible to see both from one spot. I found myself here the majority of the time. With our stay, we had free massages (seriously, how did I get so lucky?!). And where were the massages? In the gazebo. Ohhhhhhh yeeeeeah. The most incredible massage of my life in a gazebo overlooking the Bali Sea. Only thing that would make it better is….well…nothing.

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The infinity pool. I’ll admit, when I first started this trip, I was in ‘vacation mode.’ I wanted to get a tan, get some awesome pictures of me doing yoga poses on the pool ledge, and come back with some cool Balinese shorts that no one else had. All of these silly thoughts washed away within one day after I realized there is so much more to this place than a cool vacation. Sure, I was staying in the most luxurious Villa I’ve ever seen in my life and there were a lot of photo ops, but I quickly shifted my way of thinking. Yes, I took a lot of photos, but it was only because I didn’t want to forget anything. The Balinese don’t have computers and they’re not glued to their phones like we are in America. They are truly about human interaction and connecting with the Land and the Spirits. Once I started learning this about their culture, I laughed at myself for wanting that perfect mermaid pose picture. What was I thinking? Americans could learn a lot from the Balinese. I know I did…

I’m normally not a breakfast person. In Bali? 100% breakfast person.

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On day 3 we chartered a boat to the Gili Islands because several of us were recommended to check it out. If you’re reading this right now, this is my official recommendation to go to the Gili Islands!

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All the shades of my favorite color.

Mo, Lisa, Davis, Sara, Mitchell, Rikki, and Claire.

The greatest vacation with the greatest friends. This picture makes me smile.

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Bracelet sisters. Something I loved about being in a foreign country was the language barrier. It made you very attune to body language. While we were sitting at lunch, a man walked over to our table with a briefcase full of jewelry to sell. Claire would look up at the man and say quietly, “No thank you.” But she would keep leaning toward the briefcase and you could tell she wasn’t ready for the jewelry to leave. Again… “No thank you.” Still leaning in and looking… “No thanks!”

We all ended up with bracelets.

It’s my favorite bracelet because it’s beautiful, and also because I love this memory of Claire and how sweet she was during this interaction. She was being so nice to the man and kept saying she didn’t want anything, but we all knew she did. I’m glad he read her body language and didn’t leave because that bracelet she gifted me will be my daily reminder of the best trip of my life.

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Snorkeling. Who knew one of the greatest experiences of my life would happen while under water. It started out a little rough because my goggles weren’t air tight and kept leaking water in. I’d have to readjust my goggles every minute or two and I almost gave up out of frustration. Plus, I kept getting foot cramps from the fins. Dang flat feet! But luckily there were extra goggles – hallelujah! Once I replaced the goggles and got used to the fins, it felt like I turned into a mermaid. I kept diving down to swim through the coral reef and look closer at the underwater world. Each section of the reef was like a different neighborhood and I loved watching the different fish and organisms go about on their day. Plus, the crackling noise made it feel like they were talking in their own smack-crackle-pop language.

My favorite memory from snorkeling was when I swam with the blue and yellow striped fish that look like Dory from Finding Nemo. There were hundreds of them and when I was floating on the surface, they were all scrambled about, swimming in every direction. Then I’d dive down and get parallel with them and they’d all immediately face the same direction. I stretched out my arms in front of me and waved them to the left, then the fish would all swim in the same direction toward the left. I’d go back and forth and twirl in the water, and all the fish would follow along, each direction I turned. I was in the water for two hours and I was always drawn to that open area where these fish were. This may sound odd, but each time I did this, it felt like I was a conductor, composing the school of fish. They never really swam away from me; perhaps they were just as curious about me as I was about them.

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“Do what you need to do, go where you need to go, to fall in love with life again.”

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Why Not was a spot on Gili Air. After our time here, our motto quickly became just that: “Why not?”

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Refreshed. Deleted. Undone. Saved.

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Don’t know what to order? Just ask a local what their favorite dish on the menu is. I don’t remember what this dish is called, but I do remember LOVING it. When in doubt, go with the recommendation.

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See the rad guy with his tongue out? That’s Gabriel. Gabriel was our server. It doesn’t seem right to say “server” because this place was so chill, it wasn’t really a restaurant with servers, a host, and etiquette rules. He would hang out with us and then go back and goof around with his buddies at the bar. When he found out we were from Seattle, he couldn’t stop talking about Seattle music and how much he loves it. Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Vedder, and Kurt Cobain he specifically liked. You know it’s a good lunch when you want to take a picture with your “server.”

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This was the moment I fell in love with life again…

I remember asking several times to my friends, “Is this place real?” This beach bar felt like the kind of place that I’d go back on a later date and it would be gone without a trace and a local would say, “Why Not? I’ve never heard of it.” Like maybe it really was just a dream.

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Villa Candi’s manager’s husband works for the Freebird Express, which was the boat that took us to the Gili Islands. The Villa staff joined us on the boat and that made it especially fun. A couple of them had never been to the Islands, so we were happy they were getting a new experience just like us. When we were about to leave, I saw Sri and Ipu getting bubble tea for Sri’s daughters. I decided to order exactly what they had ordered. They said it was avocado with mint and oreos. Maaaybe this was a recommendation I was going to regret.

Not an ounce of regret. The bubble tea was so smooth and the combination of the fresh avocado, shaved mint chocolate, and crushed Oreos was SO. GOOD.

What was better than the bubble tea was when I paid the woman who made it. I tipped her about 50,000 rupiah, which is equivalent to about $3.00. The woman held the money up and shouted something at the other woman in the hut. The expression on her face said something like, “Look how much money she gave me!!!” I was kind of in disbelief. It was then that I realized that money goes a long, long way here. Imagine if you got a paycheck with an extra 0 on the end, you’d be making the same surprised and happy face this woman did. I was sad to know these people were so poor that even $3 makes their day, but it made me appreciate tipping these people more. The amount of money I spend on coffee each morning could be the highlight of their entire day.

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We sat up top of the boat on the way back to Bali. I knew I was going to get fried by the sun, but I didn’t care. Getting a sunburn in Bali is inevitable – might as well get the burn from riding on top of a yacht! As we got further away from the Gili Islands, the waves became bigger and bigger. The bow would hurl up and down with quite a bit of force. It became so choppy at one point that the crew stopped the boat and told the Villa staff to go to the covered seating area below. We stayed on top.

The waves became so large that they almost engulfed the entire boat. They would crash so hard into the boat, it was like having 5 buckets of water thrown at you over and over and over. All of our clothes became sopping wet and we were constantly swallowing salt water. But we couldn’t control our laughter. Each time the boat would tip one way, our bodies would lunge to the sides. A couple of times, it almost looked like a couple of us were close to getting thrown off the boat. I should mention that the staff was up there in the back holding on, making sure we survived. They were probably thinking we were the craziest tourists to ride their boat in history. Dangerous, but fun as hell.

Our laughter could have been heard across the ocean. For the first time in…well, I can’t even remember…I cackled. I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe and when I could muster up a breath I’d make the ugliest, high-pitched shouts of laughter. We were so damn happy.

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It was when we were riding by the bay of Amed that I realized how lucky we were to stay at Villa Candi. We truly did have the best view on the island. We were so secluded – it sort of felt like we were staying in the palace of Bali.

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It’s a blurry photo, but it’s probably my favorite picture from the trip. Uncontrollable laughter and happiness.

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The couch on my balcony had this view. I read here a lot, but I often got distracted by the view. Sunrise on my right, then sunset on my left. I could have sat here the entire trip and still had the best vacation ever.

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I haven’t had great sleep in a year now. I had a neighbor move in above me in May of 2016 that makes so much noise, I never get a full night’s rest. It has been a year of frustration because I treasure good sleep. I keep a dream journal and even read books on dreams; it has become a hobby of sorts. Before he moved in, I used to have the most vivid dreams and I loved interpreting them. Since my dreams have ceased for the time being, I have been counting down the days we are no longer neighbors.

I want to give a shout out to this incredible bed. Even on the first night, I slept better than I have in over a year. I had a dream so vivid that it even inspired me to write my very first poem. I am so grateful for this bed, for peace and quiet, and for my dreams finally returning.

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Sri, Kolok, Olip, Putu, and Iluh.

The incredible Villa staff. The first day or two, it was odd adjusting to having people around all day waiting for any possible request we had. They would take shifts and hang out in the lounge, ready to assist or do anything we asked them to do. I almost wanted to tell them to just go home and not worry about us.

Then we got to know them better and we all sort of turned into a funny, little family. I realized that they love being at the Villa, and they love their jobs. In Bali, working at a fancy Villa like this is extremely desired.

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Another excursion day! We were asked if we wanted to go to Ubud and check out the market and monkey forest. We would also make a stop at a coffee plantation and the Bat Temple. It took a little bit of convincing because it would be another long road trip on the narrow, windy roads. I was so happy everyone decided to join. It was worth the long drive.

The Villa manager, Sri, brought a bag full of sarongs for us to wear in the Temple. When you visit a Temple, you must wear appropriate sarongs and head cloths. The sarongs created an extra challenge for us since it was already so hot and the cloth trapped the heat closer to our bodies. Again, the excursion was worth the road trip and the extra heat.

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Here’s what a typical road looks like. You see the car on the right? Cars park on the street like that everywhere. They completely block the lane, but everyone just moves around them like it’s no big deal. If this happened in America? You’d hear horns, curse words, and see a loooot of angry drivers. While riding in the front seat of the van, I never once saw an instance of frustration or road rage. Any time Komang tapped his torn twice, the motorbikes or people walking on the side of the road would simply get over to make more room for the van. No fuss about it.

Since I’ve returned to America, my driving has changed quite a bit. I’ve slowed down and don’t get upset by all the crazy Seattle drivers. I just breathe and ask myself, “What’s the rush?”

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We made a pit stop at a rice field. It was so lush, so green, and so breathtaking.

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At the Taru Agro coffee plantation, there was a monkey named Janger that greeted us and immediately jumped on our heads to pick through our hair. We were all loving his attention and taking pictures with our first monkey on the trip. These were the women of the coffee plantation and while they were roasting coffee beans, they were also getting a highly entertaining show from us crazy American tourists.


A coffee and tea lover’s DREAM! The sampler platter of all the plantation-made coffee and tea. The ginger tea and chocolate coffee were my favorite.

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The infamous Luwak Coffee. Sometimes referred to as “the most expensive coffee in the world.” Also referred to as…poop coffee. At the beginning of our Taro Agru tour, we were introduced to the animal called palm civet. These animals eat coffee cherries, then while digesting, fermentation occurs. Once the cherries are pooped out, the feces are collected and turned into “kopi luwak.” In America, a cup of this coffee would cost almost $30.

We were offered this cup of “poop coffee” for $5. They wanted to make sure we were aware of the expensive price and asked us a couple times if we really wanted it. It’s a delicacy in Bali, so he wanted us to be really sure. Americans spend $4 on coffee every morning, so we were definitely in for the little cup. The verdict? Poop coffee is delicious!!

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After the coffee plantation, we stopped at Goa Lawah Temple, also known as the Bat Temple. When we were first told about it, we weren’t given too much information on it other than we should have a guide walk us through. I had decided in my head that it was called the Bat Temple because there would be bat sculptures, not because there would be real, living bats. No way we’d see bats. Well, I was wrong. Once we walked into the Temple, we were facing an entrance to a cave…and thousands of squeaking bats. I was surprised that I didn’t get scared – I was actually extremely fascinated.

This was our guide, Wayan (why-yen). I learned later on this trip that there is a naming system for the Balinese. Their names are determined by their birth order.

First born: Wayan, Putu, Gede, Ni Luh (only women)
Second born: Kadek, Nengah
Third born: Komang, Nyoman
Fourth born: Ketut

If you’re the fifth born or beyond, it goes back to the beginning and the cycle continues. Oftentimes they put the word “Balik” behind the birth name because it means “again.”

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Bats. So many bats.

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Time for some monkeys! After the Temple, we took our sarongs off and walked through the Ubud Monkey Forest. It was unbelievable walking through an area with hundreds of monkeys roaming around. I wanted to play with them all! I would hold my hand out and they would immediately put all of their paws on my hand and start picking at it. It’s their instinct to pick and search for bugs to eat. Even with my hairless hands, they couldn’t resist the urge.

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There were a ton of monkey families to hang out with. I loved watching the babies crawling all over the place and learn how to climb on trees. I purchased a bundle of bananas to feed the monkeys. As soon as the woman handed me the bundle, about 4 monkeys rushed over and jumped on top of me and started pulling my hair and taking the bananas from me. I didn’t experience a lot of fear on this trip, but that moment? I was a liiiiiittle scared. They clearly wait for people to buy bananas and then they pounce. I got them off of me and then I had to run away from the swarming crowd of monkeys and I turned into quite the spectacle for other tourists. I managed to find a spot that was hidden and I tucked the remaining bananas in the seam of my shorts. The rest of our walk, I would pick small monkeys to give a chunk of banana to, but I had to be very careful to not let other monkeys see – I couldn’t handle another monkey attack!

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Back to the Villa. We didn’t take showers, we took ‘waterfalls.’

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Uhhhhhh…. Yes, this was real. When you’re in Bali, sleeping in just isn’t a thing. At least it wasn’t for me. Every morning, I’d naturally wake up around 5:30am. I’d hear hundreds of fishing boats heading out to the middle of the sea. I figured that half of those boats go out to fish, and half of them go out to watch the sunrise. Once the sun was up and beaming, a lot of the boats would come back to shore to start their day. These people get it. 

On this morning, I couldn’t really believe my eyes. I decided to go down to the beach and soak it all in. I walked down the stairwell to the rocks below the Villa and climbed on to a large rock that had a perfect view of the giant, red sun making it’s daily grand entrance. I saw crabs making their way onto land and I heard birds singing their morning songs. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I saw a whale breaching. It’s nearly impossible to describe how I felt in this moment. Enlightenment, is that you?

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This day was Galungan (gal-ooh-wohn). Every 210 days, Hindus celebrate the arrival of their ancestral spirits returning to Earth. I thought it was extremely special that we were there during the biggest celebration of the year. Our group was asked if we wanted to go on another excursion to experience a ceremony and visit some more Temples. I couldn’t blame my friends for wanting a day at the Villa to chill after all of the outings we had. I really wanted to keep immersing myself in the Balinese culture, so I decided to go on the excursion.

This was at the base of Pura Lempuyang. You can kind of see the men on the right side of the photo. These men were playing cymbals, bells, drums, and the angklung (bamboo rattle). It was a pretty incredible soundtrack to have while ascending the steps to the Temple.

Throughout the entire ceremony day, I saw hundreds and hundreds of Hindus on their way to Temples to celebrate Galungun. Every single one of them had the traditional garb. It was like Easter Sunday on steroids. What I loved was how happy everyone seemed. Even the kids were excited to celebrate. I never saw anyone looking like it was a chore – everyone was 100% in. I was thrilled to join them.

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I’m grateful that our driver Komang showed me the way of a Hindu ceremony. While I was at Lempuyang, I saw only two other tourists – they were two females wearing backpacks and cameras. They didn’t go all the way into the Temple, they stood to the side and took photos. I realized then how lucky I was to experience a ceremony. I became a Hindu for a day.

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The stairs leading to the main Temple. We walked up the right staircase. The left staircase is the exit. And the center staircase is only used on very special occasions (weddings, cremations). Unbelievable, isn’t it?


I may have thought I was in Heaven…

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The view from the top of the stairs; Mount Agung (Bali’s ‘Mt. Rainier’) is in the background. The entrance to the Temple never has doors – Hindus want everyone to feel welcome.

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This was where Komang and I did the ritual. I sat down and Komang sat down on my right. He placed incense (called “Dupa” in Bali) on my left, and incense on his right. We would grab a small handful of petals, rub them in the smoke of the incense, then hold our hands to our forehead in prayer position. After about 8-10 seconds, we would place the petals behind our ears. This happened four times. The second and third prayer, we would put the petals on top of our head, and the last prayer, we didn’t hold any petals. Hindus do this ritual three times a day. There’s no set time and the families would do the ritual at their own leisure. While I was sitting, a family came in and sat down while having an animated conversation. Then all at once, as if at a snap of a finger, they became silent and started praying. Even the little kids…I was very impressed.

I asked Komang what he thinks about when he prays. “Nothing. We clear our minds.” No wonder the Balinese are so peaceful. They literally meditate three times every single day.

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What an offering (“canang”) looks like. Throughout the duration of the trip, I probably saw thousands of canangs. Everywhere you go, you see Temples, known as “Candi” (chan-dee). And I mean everywhere. Balinese have Candis outside of every single house, business, village,  chicken coop, etc. We have mailboxes, Balinese have Candis. They even have them alongside every road where families could stop and hold their rituals anywhere they were traveling. And at every Candi, you’d see dozens of canangs. It was quite remarkable.

Often times, the locals take the bamboo portion of the canang and place it on their car or motorbike. Every vehicle had dried up canangs on their windshield, hanging from their side view mirror or attached to their grill.

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After we finished praying, Komang grabbed the silver bowl of holy water and drizzled some on top of my head. Holy water in Bali is extremely special. The water must come from specific locations and it can only be retrieved by holy men. Most men you see don’t have any facial hair at all, but holy men have long hair and long beards (usually they are older so their hair is grey). When I showed the staff a picture of my Dad, they all had huge grins on their face. I don’t know exactly why, but my guess is that they were in awe of my Dad’s thick beard. In Bali, my Dad would appear to be extremely holy!

After the holy water was in my hair, Komang put rice on my forehead and temples. The rice is supposed to bring out positive energy within you. And that it did… It was a beautiful ceremony to be a part of and I was truly honored to experience the ritual. There were a lot of Balinese Hindus at the Temple, and I never sensed judgment from anyone. They were so welcoming and I’d like to think they were happy to see someone from another culture join them.

What truly blew me away was the depth of their belief. In America, mindfulness needs to be taught – there are articles, books, and YouTube videos on how to be mindful. Meditating isn’t extremely common, but I’ve noticed it’s picking up popularity and is in a sense, a trend. For Balinese Hindus, mindfulness is their way of life – peace and good karma is instilled in them from the moment they’re born. Praying and meditating for them is as natural as us getting dressed every day. And it has been for centuries – no trend about it.

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After the ceremony, Komang drove me to the Taman Soekasada Water Palace. This palace was built in 1919 by the King of Karangasem. These grounds were for the royal family and they would host special events here. The gazebo I was standing in here is called the Balai Bundar (The Around Building) and the King would do yoga and meditate here. Smart man he was…

After the water palace, my next stop was Tirta Ganga, another water palace built by the King. This was one of my favorite memories because I saw so many Balinese families wandering around the park before they went to ceremony. There was a good mix of locals and tourists. I love this picture because it reminds me to be in the moment. This family was having so much fun on the stone pathway. See the couple on the left side of the photo? When I walked by them, they had a tripod set up and were jumping up and down trying to take goofy photos. Just a slight difference in cultures…

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I walked by another Temple where another ceremony was being held. It was a little different than the ceremony at Lempuyang – this ceremony had what looked like 100 people all doing the ritual at the same time. Just a few yards away from the Temple, I was surprised to see a pool with some kids lounging in it. Wish I would have brought my swimsuit!

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This is a Temple (Candi) on the side of the road. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but you see these Candis EVERYWHERE. It was neat to see all of the canangs scattered around and on the Candi – they’re all offerings to the Gods. It felt like on long sections of the open roads, I’d still see a Candi every few minutes.

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Yet another reason why the Villa staff was incredible. I asked if we could get a coconut – 20 minutes later, Kolok came back with two young coconuts chopped down from a tree. He opened the coconut and poured out the sweet, fresh water for us to drink, and then gave us a spoon to eat the coconut meat. Delicious!

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I spy a Fringipani bloom… Every morning, I’d bring up Fringipani blooms to smell as I watched the sun rise. I’d leave them in my room, yet each morning my room was cleaned, the staff would never throw the blooms away. I’d find them tucked in the decorations or placed on my pillow. I always loved finding the bloom every day in a new spot.

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Our last night… What an incredible finale! On the last night, we were given an epic feast that the staff took all day to cook. At one point, I saw them chopping what looked like hundreds of cloves of garlic. It was some of the best food I’ve ever tasted, and it felt so special to eat on our last night. After the meal, we sat in front of the lounge and they surprised me with a birthday dessert. The picture says it all…I was so incredibly happy.

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Now THIS is a finale. We were treated to four traditional Balinese dances on our front porch.

The first dance was the “Welcome Dance” and the girl moved as if she was in a trance. It was mesmerizing. She’d flicker her eyes and move across the patio in a fluid way, while holding a couple canangs (offerings). At the end of the dance, she grabbed the rice and petals in the canang and tossed them on the ground.

The second dance was the smallest girl and it told a story of a girl playing in a garden. She’d hop up and down and flutter her arms. She was adorable and I loved the cheery aspect of this dance. The third dance was quite the opposite. It was the “Warrior Dance.” The girl made bold, striking moves and looked very powerful. It was sharp, yet still graceful.

The last dance was the oldest girl and it was called the “Peacock Dance.” Her skirt had fabric that she would hold up with her hands making her look like a beautiful peacock. It was very graceful and had a lot of twirls, it looked like a sort of ballet.

We were told that the order of the dances went from easiest to hardest. To me, all the dances looked equally challenging. I have my own theory on why the dances became harder as they progressed. Remember the rice that was scattered on the ground during the welcome dance? By the time the fourth dance began, a couple cockroaches made a cameo. I watched as the cockroaches skittered over to the rice and the dancer tried to not step on them with her bare feet during her intricate routine. She would try to flick them away while keeping her composure and emulating the vibrant bird. I would look over at Sri and the other girls and noticed Sri was watching her like a teacher, seeing if she’d pass this ‘test.’ The other girls were giggling while watching her avoid the pesky bugs.

In Bali, everything has meaning. I’m probably wrong, but it almost felt like tossing the rice was intentional. They’ve done these dances at this Villa countless times, and they know the rice is going to attract cockroaches. And the cockroaches reminded me of the monkeys when I was handed bananas. The monkeys knew exactly when to pounce, just like the cockroaches knew when dinner was going to be served. If they didn’t want cockroaches to interfere with the dances, they wouldn’t throw out the rice.

Yeah, maybe it’s a stretch for a theory, but it seemed as if this night was like an assignment for the dancers. Girls growing up in Bali learn these dances in school and each one is like a right of passage. I loved their choreography and their trance-like eye movements. And I’m not going to lie, watching the cockroaches shuttle about was just as entertaining!

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Our last breakfast… Mie Goreng. I took this picture because I wanted to remember this delicious spicy sauce. We doused every breakfast with this stuff. I’ll never forget the first morning when we were ordering from the menu. We asked what Mie goreng was, and they pulled out a package of noodles that looked like Top Ramen. I was surprised that at a Villa this nice, they’d literally be serving cheap, college food for breakfast. Thankfully, I was wrong. So very wrong. They brought out the most tasty, scrumptious noodle dish with fresh vegetables, chicken, and a fried egg. I already loved the mornings because of the sunrises, but I totally was a morning person in Bali because of the addition of these mouth-watering breakfasts.

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So grateful for our time at Villa Candi Matahari! I’ll never forget this staff and how kind they were.

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Heaven. Villa Candi Matahari in English means Temple of the Sun. How fitting…

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One last group photo at the airport with Komang!

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This was an interesting moment for me… Every time I return to Seattle from any trip away, I’m always happy to see the city. It’s usually a feeling of relief that I’m back. This time? I didn’t get that feeling. Instead, I wanted the plane to turn around and make the long journey back. Seeing all of the buildings, cars, and concrete overwhelmed me. It was as if I flew back to the future.

Bali is filled with poor people, but you know what? They are so damn happy. They love life, they believe in good karma, and they take the time every day to turn inward. That makes them richer than any millionaire. Us stressed-out, over-worked, technology-driven Americans could learn a lot from the Balinese.

I’m ready to go back to the “Island of Peace…” Maybe one day…

 

2 comments

  1. I love reliving EVERY MOMENT (well, except the cockroaches… that is the only part I can do without. Ha ha!) I’m so glad this blog is here so I can come back and relive this magical vacation anytime I want!

    Like

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