Beautiful Bali – yoga retreat

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After Thailand and my meditation course, this was another milestone in my journey. Inspired by the book of Elizabeth Gilbert ‘Eat Pray Love’, I was expecting to find spirituality in Bali. Actually it’s not the ‘pray’ part if I would make a comparison, because I had that in Java. And the ‘eat’ I experienced in Thailand (oh all those jummy thai curry’s!). I think it’s the ‘love’ part. I fell in love!

Not with a person, but with the place. I haven’t even seen the entire island and I’m hooked! From the day I arrived there and stepped foot into Hanuman Road, I started feeling the Ubud-vibe.

But before getting to Ubud, I had to look for some travel companions. I could choose not to, but then I’d be losing a lot of money on a taxi.

I arrived at the domestic terminal when flying in from Yogya. I thought I was being smart by just hanging around the exit and waiting for fellow travelers to step out. I would ask them if they go to Ubud and we could share a taxi and cut costs. Simple as that. In reality it wasn’t that simple…

Since I had a domestic flight, there were not a lot of other travelers arriving and locals wouldn’t go to Ubud. One taxi driver in particular gave me an idea. You should know that every single taxi driver outside the arrival hall had asked me: “Excuse me miss, you need taxi?” And I would say to every single one of them: “no thank you Sir, I wait, I like to share a taxi to Ubud”. Some would laugh at me right to my face as if I was crazy to expect that could happen. So this one driver told me: “Miss, here domestic arrival, no local go to Ubud, only tourist from international flights”.

So..why not go and wait there then? I asked the way to the other terminal and after a 15min walk, again I had a whole bunch of taxi drivers jumping on me “miss miss taxi taxi”. To escape them, I just went inside the terminal and asking people that were coming out where they would go to. Very soon I got lucky! A Belgian, French speaking couple were heading to Ubud and willing to share the transportation costs. Before we knew it we were on our way to Monkey Forest – the place around which we all had our accomodation.

Arriving at the Onion Collective, I was happy to see such a wonderfull place! A bar/restaurant serving healthy and less healthy dishes, smoothies, live music evenings and a very pretty pool! The dorm was nice and I was sharing it with 3 other girls: Chelsea, Elly and Emilie.

Since Chelsea had also just arrived and was the only one in the room, we decided to explore the city together. We seemed to have the same interests, but I guess that’s not hard to find when coming to Ubud. It’s a gathering of almost all likeminded free spirits. I like!

I was craving (not good!) for a raw veggie salad. Until now I always had good food, with vegetables but always processed. It did not make me feel healthy on the inside. We stopped at KAFE, a raw and vegan restaurant and I had the most wonderful greek salad.

We also stumbled upon an organic market/shop, called Earthcafe, where I bought organic sunflowerseeds, flaxseeds, raisins and dates. I eas carrying around a bag of muesli that I had bought in Bangkok and now I could pimp it with these jummy healthy supplements for a decent breakfast every day. This place has also a small cafe where you can have a drink or taste their raw desserts, like cashew peanutbutter protein power balls or raw chocolate pumpkin cake. You start mouthwatering, aren’t you?? 🙂

My main goal dueing the exploring was to get to the yoga studio I was referred to: Radiantly Alive. They have this 1 week pass for unlimited attendance to yoga classes. Compared to all other studios – I really did the comparison – this was the cheapest option. It cost me only 550.000 rupiah. They are very professional and all the teachers give you good guidance and are amazing!

I tried almost every yoga style they offered. I did yin yoga, acro yoga, arm balance, tibetan heart yoga, vinyasa. My favorite one was the tibetan heart yoga, which was actually more meditation than yoga. It was so powerful! We worked in pairs and by the end of the class we would meditate with someone in mind and take their suffering away. This class first brought tears to my eyes and by the end I was wheeping like a baby. I was not the only one. It touched a lot of people. I was really compassiobate that day! Thank you Sanna Yogini!

Another one that was challenging was the arm balance class. I learned the technique of forearm balance and I am now working on my forearm stand and when I get that right I want to practice scorpion pose! It looks amazing and I bet it feels even more amazing when you master it.

Every one comes with a different purpose to Ubud. Mine was personal growth, that’s why I was focusing on my yoga, doing a little meditation and I also took a Reiki training. It was a 1 day course where I learned about the history, the use, the practices, the different levels and the teacher performed 2 Reiki sessions on me. 1 was the attunement to open up my energy channels so I can channel the energy and perform Reiki myself on others and on myself; and the last one was just a normal session. I also performed my first Reiki session on the teacher. It was very weird to feel so much heat i side my body and especialky around my hands. My fingers were tingling all the time. I can’t wait to practice on my friends and family!

A lot of people come to this place on a yoga retreat, organized by a yoga studio. Usually you pay a lot of money for Such retreat. I had ny own retreat, but organized everything myself: my accomodation, my food, my yoga classes and my excursions. I bet I got more out of it and paid way less!

I met up with Stephanie and Gerda again – the German lady with her daughter that I had met on the way to Pai. She was meeting some other friends at the same time and I was all of a sudden speeking Romanian to Miha, a Romanian woman owning a shop in Bali and living there. The world is so big but yet so small!

On the first night I also met up with Camilla and Sara, 2 Swedish girls from the meditation course and we had dinner in one of my favorite places in Ubud: Bali Bu(n)da – a raw/vegan place where ai would receive a discount when showing my yoga membership card (lucky me!).

2 days later another girl fron meditation would join us in Bali: Benar from Norway. It was a really nice gettogether and everything felt so laidback and normal, as if I was meeting up with old friends in my hometown (this is the falling in love with Ubud part).

I had rented a mktorbike, so I could get around very easily in and around Ubud. After a few nights I decided to move to another hostel on the other side of the city so I could explore it better and not always having to take the bike. I ended up in a very cheap but not so nice hostel, but there I met Jennifer from UK. We immediately started spening time together and after 2 nights in this place we decided to share a room in a beautiful homestay. Only a few meters from one of the main roads of Ubud, but when you enter the garden you are surrounded by tranquility! The only thing you hear is the sound of birds singing. Only on the second day it became clear that one of the owners of Griya Jungutan Homestay was Belgian! What a small world again! Mario and Rien took good care of us, serving us delicious breakfast every day with a big smile! Thank you both and see you soon!

They days were passing by and there was so much that I still wanted to do and did not had the time for! I need to return one day (soon) for sure! I’m glad I did 2 excursions tough, to see the surroundings of Ubud. I did one organized tour, where Wayan (everybody in Ubud is named Wayan so it seems, man or woman) picked us (me and Jen) up in his van and took us to some wonderful places: the Elephant Cave, the Rocky Temple, the Holy Spring Temple, a Luwak coffee and tea plantation, a view over Mount and Lake Batur and we also saw rice terraces. Oh the beauty of it all! I can hardly describe it.

The other tour I did was a self-organized one. Me and Jen fueled the motorbike and we headed north to see the Beratan Temple, the famous one that shows on postcards. It was an amazing day! We saw beautiful sights along the way, we sometimes did unintentional detours that brought us to wonderful places – getting lost in a good way! On the way back I felt the first Balinese raindrops since my arrival. It were a lot of drops, we were soaking wet! I guess Bali was just crying that I was leaving…I felt the same way about it.

This is the first time I have to leave a place and feeling really sad. As much as I loved Thailand it does not compare to Bali. This is a place where I totally fit in and where I could see myself living and opening up a business. I have searched for it but I did not find a decent book cafe…so there you go. I already know what I would be doing there!

Since I stayed in Ubud for 9 days I have more places to recommend for good food and drinks:

● Soma Cafe: raw and vegan food, they do saturday brunches with live music
● The seeds of life: raw and vegan food, I had the best raw chocolate cashew banana cheescake ever. Beat cake in my life – and I had loads!
● Warung BiahBiah: local Indonesian tapas
● Toro Sushi

These 4 restaurants are all in the same street, where you can find lots of other restaurants as well.

● Cafe Havana: good food and 2 times a week they have a live band, latin dancing every night
● Warung Kampoeng: local food, very delicious and the cheapest food I ever had in Ubud! 38.000 rupiah for a small bottle of water, tempe, nasi goreng and stiefried green vegetables. By eating here you also support charity. This place is in the sane street as Bali Buda and Radiantly Alive.

What else to do in Ubud?

● go to the local market in front of Ubud Palace and bargain for cheap sarongs, batiks and dresses

● get a Balinese massage

● go to a Balian, a Balinese healer 

Enjoy Bali! And fall in love as I did!

Next: Sri Lanka

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