It’s impossible to put into words that feeling of being in a new place, experiencing an entirely different culture – the food, the people, the language, the natural beauty.
Amazing doesn’t really cut it, nor beautiful – it is a culmination of so many feelings and emotions when you dive head first into a country you have never been to before.
I had such an experience recently when I travelled to Bali for the first time. I had read a lot about it before I booked the trip, watched online videos in an attempt to get a feel for it, and scoured travel forums looking for a definitive answer as to whether it was the place to go. I had travelled to Thailand previously and there seemed to be a sort of divide between people as to whether you loved Thailand or you loved Bali. For some reason, no one loved both. I had thought about visiting Bali for a long time, especially I’m sure like many others after seeing the movie Eat Pray Love way back when, but I was feeling a real pull there so I was intrigued to see it for myself.
So here I was in busy Seminyak, walking the streets in the stifling heat noticing that my fellow shoppers were predominantly Australian. I didn’t really click with the whole haggling thing and found it to be a bit of an ordeal to be honest so I didn’t do much in the way of shopping. This was a small sacrifice because I instantly fell in love with Bali. I felt so relaxed and calm here and everyone was so friendly. Everywhere you go there are offerings on the ground, in front of shops and houses, of flowers, food and incense. The smell of Sandalwood wafts through the air and on certain days they still dress in their traditional clothing. There is a real sense of tradition here which I loved. In the ever changing world we live in, it’s comforting to know that the old ways are still valued and that the following generations will also embrace these traditions.
A couple of days later we were in Ubud. This was the Bali I had imagined. Beautiful - green rice paddies, Balmy weather, Temples, Day spas, amazing food, & the loveliest of people. What's not to love? I was nervous about the infamous Bali Belly but I tried to be as cautious as I was willing to be, without denying myself the pleasure of eating delicious food and I managed to avoid it. If you’re into Yoga, Meditation, Energy Healing etc you will have come to the right place. There are so many retreats surrounded by lush green jungle, not to mention day spas offering treatments for as low as $6.00.
It is a very spiritual place and one I highly recommend everyone visit at least once. My highlight was by far the Purification Blessing at Tirta Empul Temple where you wear a special sarong, step into a huge pond and one by one you first cup your hands with water and splash it on your face, then submerge your head underneath each water spout. Prior to entering the water you give an offering and ask for the blessing. I tried not to let the fact that large fish were weaving in and out around my ankles distract me and that local women kept pushing in front of me take anything away from this special experience. I assumed this was a test in patience and tolerance so I simply waited until the right time to feel the calming waters wash over me once again. It is quite a slow process and one in which patience certainly is required. There were other beautiful temples as well like Gunung Kawi but for me Tirta Empul was unforgettable. It’s not hard to see why Bali has such a magical feel about it. Similar to us humans who have chakras throughout our body so too do places. These are called Ley Lines. According to Robert Coon, the author of the book called Earth Chakras, the Ley Lines pass through 6 sacred sites in Bali where the energy of each element gets purified. Bali is magical and it’s not hard to see why so many spiritual seekers are drawn there. Although I do love Thailand, Bali did tip the scale for me.
Travel is an adventure, a step into the unknown and a treasure trove of memories to cherish. For me, Travel is like Meditating. It is freeing, it enables us to explore the unknown, and to embark on a journey without limits.