I can’t believe that I’ve been in Bali for nearly three weeks now. The time has passed by in a dream-like blur, every day filled with happiness and bliss.
I’ve spent most of my time in Bali in a town called Ubud, which is about an hour’s drive from the ocean- a bit more inland, and a bit more laid back. Just today I went to Kuta beach, which is the huge blow-out party and touristy area of Bali- every square inch of every street lined with shops, massage parlors, restaurants, and Westerners dressed in skimpy bathing suits. The beach, chock full of people and surf boards. It was cool to check out, but Ubud is definitely more my cup of tea: much more laid back and full of lots of really cool museums and shows to see.
One of the shows I got to check out a few nights ago was a Balinese shadow puppet show. This happened by pure luck: I was at dinner, sampling a bunch of Indonesian ‘tapas,’ when the host came up and offered me a free ticket. A couple in the restaurant had planned to go but the husband was sick, so the wife had offered me his ticket instead. I excitedly accepted- nothing makes me happier than a completely spontaneous adventure.
The puppet show was really interesting. The story is about a demon in a kingdom who possesses strong supernatural powers, and keeps killing people. The demon demands that the king offer him a human sacrifice, or he’ll continue killing everyone. Bima, a prince from another faraway kingdom who also possesses strong powers agrees to humbly sacrifice himself. When the demon tries to eat Bima, Bima’s magical powers overpower him, and there is a huge battle between Bima, the demon, and his followers. Eventually Bima defeats the demon and the kingdom lives happily ever after.
Here is a clip of the Balinese puppet show that I took on my iPhone. The quality isn’t that great, but it’s still cool to check out:
This part is when Bima and Detya Baka (the demon) are fighting. The orange glow in the background is actually a fire torch. I really enjoyed the show, even though most of it was in Balinese.
Another place I’ve been immensely enjoying in Ubud is The Yoga Barn, a huge open space right by my house that has all kinds of classes, treatments, and a little healthy cafe. I’ve been majorly indulging and getting treatments there, including a ‘crown’ massage, which is a full on head, shoulder, and neck massage using special medicinal herbs, and a hibiscus soak. AMAZING!
Plus, last night I attended a Tibetan bowl meditation class, which was pretty unbelievable. I’ve never experienced Tibetan meditation bowls before, and it was a very powerful experience. The first half of the class I felt as if I was in immense pain and I actually had a physical reaction- I had a coughing fit and my nose started running. I had to leave the room for a few minutes so I wouldn’t disturb the others in meditation. The second half of the class I suddenly entered a complete trance-like state where I felt this incredible energy within me, as if something else had entered my body. It was a very surreal feeling, and when the class finished, I felt extremely awake and alert, yet peaceful at the same time.
I’ve been enjoying my time here so much, and it’s hard to believe that in only two days I’ll be moving on to Thailand, which both saddens and excites me. Saddening because I’ve had such a wonderful time in Bali. There’s so much more that I want to see and experience, and I’m not ready to leave yet. I think it will be quite awhile before I make it back here again, but I know I will someday. I hope that I have the opportunity to stay here for a longer period and understand more of Bali’s secrets. I feel as if I’ve merely begun to scratch the surface.
However, I AM excited to be heading to Thailand for a week, up to Chiang Mai, where I was two years ago with the CRC program at Global College. I’ve missed Thailand so much these past two years, and I can’t believe how lucky I am to be able to experience a slice of it again- even better that CRC is up there again this time of year, along with one of my best friends, Mira.
Here’s to lovely new experiences and back to old fond ones.
Bali has continued to be a lovely dream, full of delicious foods, warm weather, greenery farther than the eye can see, special time with my Mama- and a visit from my Aunt Jodi!
My Mom and Aunt Jodi
Aunt Jodi lives in Australia, so I barely ever get to see her- in fact, I’ve only seen her once in the United States, when she came for a celebration of her father’s passing. Previously, I’ve only really known Aunt Jodi through the beautiful jewelry she makes that she graciously sends us for special occasions. For my high school graduation, I got an absolutely stunning handmade necklace from her that I wear all of the time.
So it was a really special treat to spend so much wonderful time with her, but even more of a treat because she brought along some of her amazing jewelry! I thought it would be worthwhile showcasing some pictures on here, since they are so beautiful.
Filed under: Indonesia
The Green School. The most absolutely coolest outrageously awesome school I have ever seen. Made entirely out of bamboo with a focus on agriculture, environmentalism, and sustainability, The Green School is THE premiere school in Bali. If I ever end up living in Bali one day, this will be the place I send my kids to school.
You MUST check out these unbelievable pictures below.
Surprise! My Mama came to Bali! This is the first time someone in my family has come traveling with ME on my adventures, and it’s a big deal for me. Mom came for 7 days to experience the wonders of Bali with me, and I am so happy that she is here!
I picked my Mama up at the airport yesterday (she was quite dazed from her 40 hour journey from Florida to Bali), and we journeyed back to Ubud, the cultural and artistic center of Bali. We are staying in an absolutely gorgeous hotel- the best part? They give us fresh fruit every single day, and we get to try all kinds of delicious local delicacies.
After I forced my Mom to stay up until 8 PM last night to get over the jet lag, we woke up early this morning incredibly refreshed and ready for the day. In the morning, we went to this gorgeous house overlooking a gorge full of greenery, for our raw food preparation class. My Mom is really into raw food, and I found a raw food cafe while in Ubud. I asked the owner if she knew of any raw food classes we could take, and she threw one together for us! It was AMAZING. I had never known raw food could taste SO delicious, and it is AMAZINGLY good for you. So worth the lesson, and Mom and I had a wonderful time.
In the afternoon, we wandered about the main area of Ubud, full of tiny shops and temples. We especially enjoyed the Ubud Monkey Temple, and stopping by Cafe Soma (the raw food cafe) for a peanut butter and chocolate shake (only the must nutritious ingredients, of course).
It was a really relaxing day, and a great introduction to Bali. And so I present to you, Day 1 of Bali: Ubud.
This is my third year in a row I have been outside of the United States for Halloween. The first year (2008) I was in Thailand; year 2 (2009) was in Paraguay; and now for the 3rd time in 2010, I’m in Indonesia.
I wonder where I’ll be next year?
Filed under: Indonesia
I love Bali. I have been doing pretty much the same thing every day here, and loving it: absolutely nothing. The only thing I’ve added into my daytime routine is now walking up and down all over Ubud every day, going into tiny little shops and marveling at all of the homemade organic soaps, scrubs, oils, and the many different kinds of dresses and sarongs that litter the alleyways.
Though an interesting factoid: I face-planted twice this week, yes, twice. Either my sandals are slippery, or Bali is. The first time was when I tried to convince a Balinese man to teach me to ride a motorbike. I had heard from friends it was easy, and since it cost only 6 dollars a day to rent one, I daydreamed about spending my days lazily zipping around Ubud. The guy promptly rode me to this little dirt road where we could practice.
Well, I won’t lie: after 30 seconds of instruction, I immediately revved the bike and suddenly went flying down this dirt road at 50 miles per hour, valiantly trying to hit the brake (with my hand still on the gas, smart move). Right before I hit the main road, I finally achieved my goal: slamming on the brakes and flying head first into the road. Nice move, Brittany. The guy was not amused. At all.
My second faceplant happened today, while I was of COURSE, wearing a brand new wonderful (and slightly expensive) dress I had just bought a few hours ago. It was raining outside, and as I cheerily waved goodbye to my hotel staff, I slipped on the tile and slid right down to the ground, where my lovely, bright orange dress, got soaked in mud. Unfixable? Yes. Was I amused? No.
But what’s a vacation without a little bit of humor thrown in? It’s hard to take yourself too seriously in Bali. Or stay mad for too long.
Back to napping.
Filed under: Indonesia
I am currently writing to you from a wildly popular cafe (aptly called ‘Kafe’) in Bali, gorging on a big heaping bowl of salad overflowing with every vegetable imaginable, washed down by fresh and cold blueberry and watermelon mint juice. Surrounding me are every conceivable size of potted plants, overflowing with brilliant sweet-smelling Balinese flowers, barely overshadowed by a gleaming case of such delicious looking raw food cakes that I can’t decide which is more pleasant to look at. I have arrived in Ubud.
Since getting here in Bali, I have been completely off the grid. No email, no internet, no telephone (this culminated in a massive panic attack by my parents, who assumed I had been kidnapped/murdered and proceeded to call the US Consulate in Bali to have them search for me- that one is definitely a first)- I’ve been waking up every day at 6 AM starting with a 3 mile run, followed by a huge breakfast of fresh juice, fruit, and croissant at the simple but elegant hotel I’m staying at, and then the entire day is to do as I please– I can’t resist getting a daily 1 hour Balinese massage for 8 dollars, or sunbathing by the pool followed by my 3rd shower of the day. Suddenly I have fistfuls of time, and I find myself doing all of those things I had meant to do at some point but hadn’t- such as read through my entire photography book that comes with my camera, or watch all of those movies on my computer I’d been meaning to get to, or take 10 hour naps.
It’s been the perfect vacation, and I’ve been fully appreciating the art of doing nothing. Let the next 2.5 weeks commence of the same.
My fellowship with Kiva has ended, and I am currently sitting in the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport waiting to board a plane to Bangkok, Thailand. I have a day layover there before I head to Bali, Indonesia for three weeks.
This sudden change of plans was precipitated by an immense need to just get out of Africa. Truth be told, this experience was not what I had hoped it would be. In a nutshell, my experience in Africa was largely based around Nairobi. While I’m appreciative that I got to live in the city for three months, travel all around and really understand it, this was not what I had envisioned myself doing: living in one of the most super posh urban areas of Africa for three months. I had imagined that my experience here would have been similar to the one I had in India- living a very basic lifestyle and really experiencing the life of an average local. Living in Nairobi, which is littered with plush shopping malls, movie cinemas, spacious apartment complexes, and a huge variety of Western food, limited that experience for me. I have to partially lay some of the blame on myself: I of course, could have chosen to live a very different lifestyle if I had wanted, but it would have been grossly inconvenient in relation to where my work was every day. I also found myself turning to these creature comforts merely because it was there and easy.
I think this correlates to my perception of what I thought Africa was before arriving, versus what it is now. Studying development extensively through Asia and South America, I read all kinds of books about ‘the plight of Africa’- the AIDs epidemic, millions crowded together in slums, malnutrition, malaria– and every picture I saw were of starving Africa children. Part of me knew, from traveling to many places, that this could not be the whole picture of Africa- but I had imagined that it was much more severely underdeveloped than most other places I had been. Upon arriving in Nairobi, I was shocked to find that places such as Bangladesh and Panama were much more underdeveloped than Nairobi, a vast city chock full of modern conveniences. I understand that Nairobi is not an indication of what the rest of Africa is, by any means- in fact, Nairobi is the hot spot for aid agencies that carry out work in other countries, because it is such a convenient place- but it still really changed my perception of Africa as a continent, in both good and bad ways.
And so I feel like I’ve experienced Africa in a pretty unique way- not quite the one I had wanted, but it was an experience. And at this point, I am ready to move on from this experience. I know that I will return back to Africa someday, when I am older, a bit more wiser, and when I am can see and understand the dichotomy of the continent a bit better. So I decided that rather than travel around Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania for a month, that I return to Asia instead for a brief respite, an area of the world that I hold most dear to my heart and sorely miss.
This decision was also caused by a huge desire to stay for a period of time in Bali, a place I’ve always wanted to go to. I think that a 3 week stint in Bali is just what I need right about now. Then before heading home at the end of November, I’ll be heading to Thailand for a week to visit one of my best friends Mira and the CRC program at Global College.
Kenya: I did have some wonderful memories with you, and so I thank you for that. But it’s time to move on.
On to Asia.