Bali, what a beautiful place. Known as the Island of the Gods or the Island of a Thousand Temples. Big friendly welcoming smiles, lush tropical vegetation, warm weather, incense smells floating in the air, little temples and offerings tucked away in unassuming spots, and an energy that calls you to slow down and relax.
We had considered traveling to Bali during our year away but had heard it was too touristy and since we already had so many other places in mind we didn’t really pursue it. But during our travels and in the past year while home, we have meet numerous people who have traveled to Bali and said yes, it is touristy in some areas but it’s also beautiful and definitely worth a visit. We did some research on the internet and bought a guide book to find out more. Well, and here we are.
As I have learned more about Bali I have discovered it’s considered one of the spiritual energy vortex areas of the world. Some say that merely being in Bali can bring to the surface old patterns ready to be released. It’s an energetically charged place that is home to an active volcano, ancient and cultural traditions of meditation, prayer, and reverence.
There’s an easy living feeling here. Maybe it’s the warm, humid weather that demands a slowing down. Every day we hear the are sounds of roosters, birds, and geckos. And although it is hot and humid, there’s always a soft breeze. It’s hard to tell what’s a temple and what’s a home. Maybe it’s just my novice eyes for this culture but to me things seem to blend. There’s an architectural design with traditional homes that is said to be in alignment and “in harmony” with the universe. Everything has it’s specific placement and symbolism, which doesn’t seem so different to me than the temples. As we walk along I often wonder, is this a temple or someones home? And the best way I can tell is if there’s a sign that says “Pura” because that means Temple in Balinese. But, my mind has started to relax since first arriving and “trying to take it all in” and isn’t so intent on knowing if it’s a temple or a house – it just is what it is and it’s in harmony with the universe.
Devotion and reverence is thick in the air. Canang sari is a daily household offering and you see them all over. They are square shaped palm or banana leaves pinned together with flowers, flower petals, cookies, crackers, oils, and other items inside and incense laying on top burning. A gesture to offer reverence to the gods and to ask the demons to stay away. We’ve seen them on the sidewalks in front of stores, houses, hotels, restaurants, and temples. It requires one to walk mindfully, paying attention so as to not step on them. As I understand it, it is a form of selfless offering and gratitude for the peace given to the world. And most everything in it is edible so that the offerings can also feed stray dogs, monkeys, birds, geckos, lizards, and other animals.
Bali should also be called the land of the fruit – so much fresh local fruit! We have been so fortunate that the family we are renting from bring us fresh fruit almost every morning. We have eaten tons of dragonfruit, papaya, pineapple, bananas, mangos, and passionfruit. The food overall is delicious and although we love having a kitchen to prepare and cook our own food we have enjoyed some local dishes like gado-gado and nasi goreng.
We rented a motorbike from “our family” and ventured out into the countryside. What did we ever do before we had google maps?! Navigating from the backseat of the scooter with my phone helped us find our way when we otherwise would not have know a street from a driveway and which roads were dead-ends and which might actually lead us somewhere. It’s hard to tell what’s a street and what’s a driveway. Now, unlike the temples and house, we do often need to know which is a road or street and which is a driveway. ha! We would pick a destination to head to; a temple, a village known for it’s particular style of art, a cave, or rice fields and then enjoy the journey to get there. So much fun traveling by motorbike! The open air (we did have helmets on) and wind to help cool us a little but at a speed that was never very fast so we could take in all that was around us. And with motorbikes , when there is traffic, you can move around and snake through areas a little easier. David was a great pilot and followed the cues of the locals.
We spend a good deal of our time doing yoga, being students and attending classes at a great yoga studio only about a minute walk from where we are staying, and also filming classes at our bungalow. We walk and explore new paths and trails every day in our neighborhood village mostly walking among the rice fields, visiting artists shops, and checking out the markets and grocery stores. We are surprised how much we love Bali. It really has pretty much the best mix of everything for us – warm weather, nature and also good wifi, yoga, meditation, and spirituality and also good shopping, coffee shops and vegetarian restaurants, interesting culture and friendly people with big genuine smiles, and affordable – meaning the US dollar goes far here. And last but certainly not least, there are Ganesh statues everywhere I look! That’s always a good sign to me. I don’t think this will be our last time visiting Bali, the Island of the Gods.