Wednesday, October 11th, 2017
Hello again! It’s been two weeks since I’ve written. So much time has passed, so much has happened, and Mount Agung has still not erupted… I feel like I could write a book solely on the past two weeks, but I’ll try to limit it to photos and a few anecdotes.
Francisca and I spent a few days together in Sanur and explored the city on our bicycles. We enjoyed some nice meals on the beach and helped each other during our sudden and unexpected transition to a new city. Because of the news and ‘imminent eruption’ headlines, Francisca decided to head back to Switzerland. I was so grateful we had each other during what may be the scariest time of my life – I will always consider her one of my guardian angels.
After she left, I was completely on my own and so I decided to spend a few more days in Sanur before changing locations again.
My hotel was right next to the south end of the beach in Sanur. Flying kites here is a thing. Groups of men gather and spend all day watching their kites fly. They are MASSIVE and they are EVERYWHERE. It was a site to see.
During my time in Sanur, I’d either ride my bicycle along the road and find a fun cafe to eat at. My belly was happy… Thanks for the recommendation for the avocado toast, Miho!
When I didn’t ride my bike along the road, I’d walk miles along the beach. I’d see a mix of locals hanging out together at the south end of the strip and then as I’d make my way up north, I’d walk through the fancy resorts and a sea of wealthy tourists. It was such a huge contrast to see so close to each other. I frequently found myself in the middle of the divide on big bean bag chairs. This meal was called the “Happiness Bowl.”
It should be no surprise that the sunsets here were incredible.
I felt like I had spent enough time in Sanur and I was ready to check out a new city. But I enjoyed one last stroll along the beach. You never know what you will come across.
Canggu is like San Diego on steroids! Surf city with the chillest vibe and trendy spots to visit. There are multiple beaches to check out and they all have their own sort of personality. My hotel was just up the road from Canggu Beach and I loved spending time there watching the surfers. So much so that I decided to give it a try! I looooooved riding the waves and hope to do it again very soon. I took a class with a surf school and as I was going through the motions, I kept thinking of the surf scene in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” Pretty much exactly like that. I managed to get up on my first wave (kind of impossible not to on that giant surf board!) and I was hooked. I even watched “Blue Crush” after surfing because I felt like I could relate to the main characters. Ha!
There are hundreds of surfers with long hair, tan skin, and abs of steel. But it wasn’t the same type of traditional-Bali feel. I didn’t see any chickens on the road, I barely saw any temples, and the locals were from all over Indonesia. So when I spoke a few of the Balinese words I knew, only a couple people understood what I was saying. It was like I was in an exotic California. And the cafes were as hipster as can be. I wasn’t complaining though…
AND THEN THIS. SO GOOD.
A typical day in Canggu looked like this. Allllllll day on the beach.
Then the night typically ended like this. After several days in Canggu and a nice sunburn, it was time to make another change.
Back to the real Bali.
I was invited to a Full Moon ceremony and I couldn’t miss it. It had been quite some time since there was any activity with earthquakes and Mount Agung. Amed is in a safe zone, so I felt safe coming back to the little town I love. Paul was heading back, so there was no better time to return. I’m so glad I did. Plus, I’ll be honest, I missed scootering!
Unfortunately, I got very sick within days of returning. I think it was a mixture of crazy emotions and change the past few weeks, plus…..cheese. Yes, cheese. In Bali, I’m barely consuming any dairy, so in a short span, I ended up eating SO MUCH CHEESE. I was happy at the time, but then…not so happy. I managed to still make it to the Full Moon ceremony, but as soon as the sun set, I was quarantined to my room.
The ceremony was in honor of the Fishermen’s protection. It was extremely special to witness.
After an entire day sleeping and staying in bed, I crawled out of my room to experience more of Bali. I give the rain partial credit for feeling better. I woke up to a huge rain storm and it was so refreshing! I can’t remember the last time I felt rain, so I immediately put my swimsuit on and swam in the pool while it was pouring. A combination of the warm pool and cool raindrops was the perfect cure.
Later, Golo picked me up to go to Tirta Empul. It was the holy spring that we had visited before but I wasn’t in the right headspace to do the purification ritual. This particular morning, though, was the most perfect time for me to get in the water.
There were a lot less people this time which I was grateful for. Sometimes there are lines of people at each holy water spout, but this morning, I was able to take my time and pray at each fountain. Before I got in the water, the guide said something that will stick with me forever:
“It doesn’t matter what your religion is. All that matters is that you feel from your heart.”
All the feelings.
It was completely magical. And I felt 100% better after being so sick. I felt rejuvinated, happy, and at peace. My heart was full.
The next day I was invited to a ceremony for one of the Villa staff’s baby. Wayan was turning 3 months old, and in Bali, that is a very big deal. There is a two-day ceremony complete with music, feasts, dancing, and lots of drinking. The entire village gets together and puts on this big ceremony for two days – it was wild to see so much activity and know it was for this little cutie.
It was all day and all night – I was honored to be a part of it. I know I keep saying that I’m experiencing the true Bali…but THIS. THIS was true Bali – I was in their homes and saw how close the village is and how everyone has an active part. Everyone was helping each other and they were all having so much fun. At one point, all the women got up to dance and as I was watching, I noticed all of their eyes were closed. They were all dancing around, barefoot in the dirt, waving their hands, but they weren’t running into each other. They were sensing each other and feeling the music. It was so beautiful.
After two days of celebrating Wayan, I went on another excursion. This time to Ulun Danu – another stunning temple. On the way, I noticed a spot I’ve seen in many photos. It was even more beautiful in person.
Ulun Danu was also just as gorgeous as I expected.
There was, of course, a huge ceremony – I believe to pray for Mount Agung. It was so special to be there at a time when hundreds of people were dressed up, playing music, and praying at the Temple.
As the ceremony was making it’s way across the large field, I took this photo and for some reason, it’s one of my favorite photos. This man was working on the ledge while the procession was going on in the background. It is so Bali. The Balinese are the most traditional and also the most hard-working people I’ve ever met.
Ceremonies and work. There is no choice. It’s just what they do.
After the ceremony, I wandered from the Temple and found a teeny, tiny zoo!
I was obsessed with the row of 10 little owls. They weren’t obsessed with me until I started scratching their heads.
I wasn’t super obsessed with the bats, but I was BLOWN AWAY. They were huuuuge! I feel dumb admitting this, but I didn’t know bats could grow to be that large! This bat stuffed his mouth with banana and I was so on it’s level.
Why end the day here? There are more temples to see!
The next temple Golo took me to was near Ubud. Goa Gajah – also known as the Elephant Cave Temple. This place was packed with tourists and their selfie sticks. I wandered around, checked out the cave, and got blessed by a sweet old Balinese woman.
In one of my last posts, I wrote about my idea to create an Instagram account for Amed. I have done so and in the first week or so, I was GUNG-HO. I was researching how to get a following, watching videos on best practices, and filling my notebook with social media notes. I quickly gained followers and was thinking, “Hell yes, this is it! It’s working! Amed is going to get on the map!” There are all sorts of ‘tricks’ to gain followers fast – I was downloading apps for analytics and doing the best practices articles were recommending (like 1,000 photos and you may get 100 followers in return + like/comment/follow influencers + post at specific times + blahblahblahblah). Oh my gosh, it was exhausting and felt like I was selling my soul. I learned that all of those Instagram ‘celebrities’ literally don’t have lives – unless they buy all of their followers, they must not do anything other than stare at their phones all day. I quickly lost as many followers as I was gaining them (I read that if you don’t follow people back, they get pissy and unfollow right away – sheesh!). After I came back to reality and I opened my notebook to pages of hashtags to use, I started laughing at myself. “What the hell am I doing?! I came to Bali to ESCAPE this bullshit!” My intentions were (and are) good, but life is not meant to be spent on your phone constantly hoping you get so many likes and followers. I’m still posting here and there on @visitamedbali, and if nothing comes from it, that’s okay. I’m only investing a tiiiiiny amount of time on it now because I still think the beauty of Amed should be shared.
So I’m going to keep going, keep living, and I will always focus on the NOW. My mind has clearly been all over the map and there have been lots of speed bumps along the way. But with the bad, comes a lot of good. The volcano has kind of shaken everyone up. For three days, I was terrified and I’d never feared for my life quite like that before. It’s so odd looking back at that time, just three weeks ago, and remembering calling family and friends wondering if they were my goodbye calls. I can’t even believe that’s a sentence I’m writing – but it’s true.
Time has passed, tremors have stopped, and things are slowly going back to normal. The talk of the town is Agung and everyone has different opinions on the volcano. But what everyone agrees upon is that no one knows if it will erupt. No one can say with certainty if it will, no matter what the news reports or what the scientists or the government says. She will decide for herself. But let me tell you – people in Bali are praying harder and more often than ever. In my personal opinion, I think the praying is working. And it is bringing people closer together – building upon an already strong community. And one of the best parts is that the tourists have slowed coming here, but have not stopped. I’ve seen quite a few tourists in Amed and it’s bringing a sense of normalcy.
A short section of our drive yesterday took us to a spot with an incredible view of Agung. I didn’t feel an ounce of fear and I still don’t. Everyone is prepared if something were to happen, but everyone is hopeful that she remains calm. It’s so bizarre how some days Agung looks massive, but others, she looks like a little hill. I don’t quite understand how that is. But she is always looking calm.
How has it only been two months since I’ve been here?!
Right now, I’m safe in Amed and it’s another gorgeous, sunny day. I miss the PNW and Fall, so please embrace the pumpkins and the Fall foliage for me! Here is a tropical flower just for you. Miss and love you all! XO