Finding Balance in Bali

Finding Balance in Bali

The Balinese are well known for constantly seeking #balance in their lives. Their #culture is centered around rituals and #traditions, which makes this island the perfect place for an #escape from your daily life. You’ll come back refreshed, recharged, and if you’re lucky; with a pleasant #perspective shift.

All over Bali you’ll see the phrase “hati-hati”, which roughly translates as “watch your heart.” It’s the Balinese way of reminding you that you must keep yourself balanced by taking care of what’s inside. When I decided to come to Bali, I knew that to “hati-hati”, I needed to take a break from the familiar.

My flight had an eerily smooth landing into Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport, which I later decided was my first indication of things to come on this island. We hopped into a taxi and headed inland, up north to Ubud, the artist’s haven in the center of Bali. We’d chosen to stay at The Payogan Villa Resort & Spa, because it seemed more like a retreat instead of just a hotel.

from  $119.8

Hotel The Payogan Villa Resort & Spa

 Jl. Cocoa 2, No. 77 Banjar, Bunutan, Ubud, Indonesia
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It’s a bit outside of Ubud’s bustling city center, and was very quiet. In fact, I barely noticed that there were others staying at the hotel, only being reminded when I shared relaxed smiles with other guests from across the infinity of the pool.

But I wasn’t in Bali just to lay by the pool, no matter how fantastic that pool’s rice paddy views may be. I wanted to get out from behind the villa walls and get immersed in the local culture; do something completely different from anything I’d done before. My first stop on this mission was the Museum Puri Lukisan. The museum was founded from a desire for the distinctly Balinese art forms to be remembered even as the island flourished and attracted more tourism. At the museum, I was ushered back to the outdoor workshop rooms, where I sat cross-legged and sweating, for a three hour class on basket weaving. When I’d first signed up I was confident I would not need three hours to learn to weave leaves into something that could pass for a basket. However, it was actually very thrilling to see the fruits of my labor, a bright green basket, the perfect unique gift for my mother back home. 

... it was actually very thrilling to see the fruits of my labor

Whilst I had a good time basket weaving, nothing beat the wonderful opportunity I had to sit with local women at Museum Puri Lukisan and use my hands to craft daily offerings. Every single day the Balinese surround their doorsteps with these handmade offerings, typically consisting of a small tray made of banana leaves filled with things like rice, meat or fish, flowers, incense, and the occasional piece of chocolate or a cigarette. We chattered away as much as we could, making good use of hand signals. The women wanted to know what I was doing in Bali, how long I was staying, how I made my hair into curls, and if I had a husband. Sitting there laughing along, I realized that maybe we’re not all so different after all.

Since I’d learned so much in my workshop about the daily offerings and customs of the Balinese, I wanted to explore some of the island’s 10,000 temples. We hired a driver through Bali Car Charter and mapped out a few of the must-see temples to hit on our half day tour.

from  $50

Bali Car Charter

 61 Jl. Soka, Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia
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Our driver was a charmer, and spent the next 5 hours or so driving us all over the island, explaining the complex ceremonies and the 6 month Balinese calendar. We decided that the best temple we’d seen that day was Tanah Lot, even though it was a bit of a drive from Ubud. Perched out in the water off the west coast, waves crash around the ancient Hindu shrines and provides an idyllic setting for quietly watching the sunset.

.. the best temple we'd seen that day was Tanah Lot

The following days were spent getting lost in the various markets and shops along the main streets of Ubud. Jewelry is big business here; silversmiths have been selling their wares on the island long before “Eat, Pray, Love” launched it into vacation super-stardom. Unique and intricate pieces make great gifts for the women in your life, but don’t forget to haggle. It’s expected here, and many shop owners have elevated bargaining to an art form. Practice your poker face and you could be walking away with the perfect reminder of your time on the Island of Gods.

After exploring hidden temples, learning local art forms, and shopping for sarongs, it was time to check-in for what was my most anticipated piece of the trip; bringing out my inner hippie during intensive yoga and meditation courses with the Ubud Yoga House.

from  $8

Sunset Mindfulness Meditation Class

 Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
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My husband and I showed up a bit nervous, neither of us had meditated before, and whilst we had done some yoga, we were far from experts. We didn’t have a thing to worry about however, because the classes were filled with every type of person and skill level you could imagine, from first timers to yogis doing complex upside-down work. Even the walk out to the Yoga House through rice paddies in bright shades of green was relaxing. We made the walk twice daily, for a morning flow class and a serene sunset meditation.

Just as “hati-hati” reminds us to take care of our hearts, the name “Ubud” itself means “medicine”, as it’s thought to heal visitors. I left feeling recharged and rejuvenated, and, thanks to daily yoga, more flexible. 

... I left feeling recharged and rejuvenated, and, thanks to daily yoga, more flexible.

As much as I didn’t want to buy into the importance of balance and getting out of my comfort zone, a week in Bali certainly changed my mind. 

Our daily offerings
My haven 

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