Eat, pray, love…Do you remember that movie about a girl who went travelling around the world to find her purpose in life? She stopped in Italy first, then she travelled to India and finally she found all the answers on an Indonesian Island called Bali. Our author, journalist and psychologist Olga Peters tried Julia’s Roberts role this time. With only difference that she found her purpose much quicker than Julia’s character - straight after she landed at Bali avoiding Roman restaurants and Indian Ashrams.. You ask how is that possible? Well, read on.
Why do actually people go on holidays? Some to relax, others to change scenery or see new places and explore different cultures, perhaps try something completely new and unknown as different activities and foods, imagine themselves being local by trying on native clothes or get to know new religion.
However Bali is not the place where one would go just to sunbathe or simply relax like in Twix advert ‘taking a moment’. And if you are not familiar with Bali just yet then you may think it is all about cool hotels and villas with pools amongst beautiful rice fields, vegan food, surfing, bikes and palm trees. Or it is just like any other holiday destination but with slightly longer flight time then Emirates or Thailand and two weeks are more than enough to spend there - then you are mistaken.
It is considered miraculous, incredible, fulfilling your dreams and heavenly Island. Although Bali has everything that any modern holiday resort would have these days from lovely seafood to tanned Australians surfing all day long, aromatic shisha bars and night clubs, various shopping, excellent diving and snorkelling, all types of extreme activities, ancient temples and old rituals, monkeys and elephants.. But this place is not about just relaxing or partying - it is about a soul. It is about finding yourself, your purpose in life, the truth and inspiration, harmony and love.
And please be prepared for a most wonderful experience in your life if you are going to travel there. Bali is like your mother. There you are at peace, you are at home.
I did not have to choose a direction for my next trip myself, it started from a miracle. Money for my journey was found in old notebook in a bottom drawer that only contained old things that I gathered during my past trips. You can say that I was given this holidays by Universe for my hard work to keep my space tidy or for my passion to be clean. Instant thought came to my mind: ‘This is just enough to buy tickets to Bali!’. My close friend has already been spending time there during winter months, so it was time to join her. I wanted everything and all together - dive into depths of inner me, take a pause, leave old ways behind and start afresh. I also simply desired ocean, tan and fruit as I have not been on beach holidays for 2 years by then. Therefore, I was convinced that there was no better place for me than Bali at that time. I knew nothing about it. After I purchased plane tickets I started my search. This small and very remote Island (flight from Moscow to Bali is about 18 hours long and you have to change a few times) has older brothers like Java or Sumatra which are much larger but less popular amongst tourists.
Indonesia - is the largest island nation, gained it’s independence in 1945, and after two decades already made a plan for the development of Bali as a tourist center. Why was it chosen amongst many other islets is unknown, but the plan was definitely successful and in 2017 Bali was recognised as the most popular tourist destination in the world! Among tourists here most often you can meet the Chinese and Australians and it is no wonder - Australia is close at hand. Singapore and Thailand are also close and it is very convenient to fly local airlines to extend the required visa (visa-free visit to Indonesia means no more than 30 days, then either crossing the border and gaining a new entrance or a fine or issuing a permanent visa).
After such a long flight to get here there is no sense to stay in one place all the time. Despite it’s modest size - from East to West it is only 6 hours drive - Bali, like a kaleidoscope, is amazingly diverse. Dolphins in the North, surfing in the South, temples, volcanoes and waterfalls in the center of the Island, gorgeous sunsets in the West and black beaches in the East - staying in one place for more than 4 days is at least unreasonable. Why limit yourself in experiences? That's why people who do their homework on Bali go to stay there for a good few months.
After stepping out of the plane you will find yourself in the capital of the island, town called Denpasar. It is located in the South of the island, in the Kuta area - a noisy, fun and very affordable resort town.
It is in Kuta where surfers begin their journey ‘on the wing’, there are a lot of stalls, shops, night clubs, bars and restaurants for any budget. Nightlife does not cease even for a minute, even on Monday morning, crowds of taxi drivers meet the dawn at the entrance to night clubs awaiting their customers. Despite the general benevolence of the Balinese, scammers are often found here (so use only official exchangers, do not buy jewellery from strangers). Discomfort can also be caused by annoying barkers and traders. Kuta is suitable for holidays on budget, beaches and massage salons at every corner will help you to relax, however, you will not find the real spirit of the island here. For local charm we are moving to Ubud.
Striking with their power and beauty waterfalls, jungles full of monkeys, famous rice fields - a living monument to human labor and endurance, recognised as a UNESCO world heritage. Singing roosters, divine dawns, temples, a stone's throw to the volcanoes: the majestic Batura and the waking Agunga. The best spas, yoga centers, retreats, vegetarian and organic cafes at every step ... This is Ubud, the heart of the Island, the Mecca of all creative people, the cultural and spiritual center of Bali. You would hardly find better place to understand the meanings of life! Here everything sets you up to pacify and contemplate natural beauties. The famous film "Eat, Pray, Love" with Julia Roberts was filmed in Ubud. Also this place is famous for handicraft workshops, galleries and museums. It often hosts art festivals of international level. Hotels and restaurants are created according to individual design projects. In Ubud there is a special atmosphere of goodwill and relaxation. Do not rush anywhere, admire the reflection of the setting sun in the water of the rice terraces and enjoy the moment. I recommend you go through the water purification ritual at the Temple of Tirtha Empul and see the national Kecak dance. It is two hours drive to the ocean from here, so I recommend to come to Ubud for at least a few days to fully enjoy the atmosphere and do the sightseeing. And you can swim and sunbathe in a villa or a hotel which are equipped with chic pools overlooking the fields or the jungle.
In Bali dreams come true everywhere. One of the main wonders of the island I discovered in the North, in a quiet place called Lovina. Here, in the dolphinarium, I finally swam with tame dolphins! At different times each of the five tailed beasts were rescued by fishermen or bought out from the zoo, some were already born in captivity. These are not just tame animals, but real healers - children with disabilities from all over the world are brought here to experience dolphin therapy which is known to give outstanding results. For six years mother of a special boy, Galina Minohina, has been living in Lovina and helping her son to stand on his feet as well as rehabilitating patients with cerebral palsy and other diseases (https://www.instagram.com/bali_dolphin_therapy) . You can also just watch wild dolphins from the boat every day at a dawn. In search of a flock in the morning real flotillas gather here. Not far from here there is one of the most beautiful waterfalls of Aling-Aling Island and the oldest Buddhist temple of Borobudur.
East coast, complete absence of waves, the richest underwater world. Scuba divers and snorkeling lovers and those who desire solitude aspire here. The local residents unspoiled by tourists are friendly and easy to approach. Here you will not be deceived and in case of something being lost or forgotten in a cafe or hotel will certainly be saved and returned back to you. Near Amed there are great attractions such as Cave of Goa Lawah, Kerta Gosa Palace and Tirta Gangga Water Palace. Boats from here go to the islet Gili (Gili). Along the coast stretches a serpentine road with magnificent scenery where on a good day you can see the nearby island of Lombok and it’s main volcano Ridzhan. Black volcanic beaches and perfectly calm ocean without waves. The most delicious durians also grow in Amed.
Nusa Dua translates as ‘two islets’. Quiet, peaceful and pricey this district is located in the South of the Island and is famous for it’s white clean beaches without merchants, expensive hotels and restaurants. It is unlikely that here you will feel true Balinese flavour but surely have a very comfortable rest. In addition the airport is not far away, just 20 minutes drive. Downside: far away from the main attractions, quite strong ebb and almost no nightlife. Although, for someone, on the contrary, it is an advantage.
Luxury villas, five-star hotels, beautiful beaches, trendy restaurants, boutiques and a vibrant nightlife. It seems that this town in the north-west of the previously described Kuta has no shortcomings. Seminyak - is a status, stylish, famous for it’s luxury lifestyle and infrastructure considered one of the best in the whole of Bali. Seminyak is very central, tourists have the opportunity to travel to all areas of the island with convenience and bypassing traffic jams. There are only two downsides: a strong current and the fact that the number of tourists exceeds the number of local residents in several times.
Large waves almost all year round, rice fields, Indonesian houses with tiled roofs, temples made of black stone, endless beaches, the best sunsets in Bali and majestic ocean with waves crashing against the shore. This is Canggu, an area in the North-West of the island, a haven of expats and surfers, the most fashionable place in Bali. Unlike Kuta or Seminyak, Canggu is green and picturesque. The abundance of cozy cafes and delicious restaurants with a western menu, hipster parties on the shore attracts tourists. In Canggu there is quite a large community of foreigners who stay in Bali for a long time, so sometimes you feel like you are not in Asia but in Europe. One of the striking examples of the excellent combination of Indonesian colour with European status is Tugu Hotel which is located in Canggu and is part of Secret Retreats group. With it’s unique stylish design of decoration. Unusual territory with ponds and footbridges through them. Private rooms with pool or ocean view. An evening tea tradition for guests. The founder of Tugu hotel chain, Anhar Setjadibrata, owner of Indonesia's largest collection of Indonesian fine arts and antiques, created a unique place for fans of history, Indonesian culture and antiquity, who is marked with an honorary badge by Vice President of Indonesia for his contribution to the preservation of culture, art and the history of the country.
I was very lucky to have spent a whole month in this fairytale full of beauty and wonders. And if you are about to go travelling to Bali to explore yourself let me give you a few recommendations:
Top things you must do in Bali
• Try water purification ritual at Sebatu Temple (North of Ubud)
• Sunrise watching on painters path in Ubud or on Rice Fields
• Treat yourself to an amazing balinese massages in authentic Spas
• Have a fruit smoothie for breakfast in one of the vegan cafes
• Go shopping or just walk through shops with native clothing and jewellery. Attend central market in Ubud
• Watch Kecak dance and feel the ancient hinduism culture
• Swim with tame dolphins
• Greet the water Spirit by visiting waterfalls
• Climb Batur volcano mount (where Bali’s story began) and watch the sunrise from 1700m height
• Enjoy the violet sunsets at South-West coast
• Relax, take your time and most importantly do not plan anything!
And perhaps it will sound pathetic but the meaning of life has opened to me there, in Bali. I just felt what exactly my purpose was, what my mission was. And that everyone has it’s own. But the places where grace condescends to people are almost always the same. I'm sure that Bali will give you what you ask for. Something special that you will travel for to find there. The Universe is abundant and in Bali it takes on almost real forms and speaks with you in a very simple language.