Bali, Bali, bali
Bali Time, Bali Lifestyle
One could write volumes about the beauty of the island and easily compare it to the Caribbean and Hawaiian islands. Ubud, where we hosted our two retreats, is the spiritual center of the island. It is in the middle of a jungle, but contains many world class shopping and restaurants that are unique to Bali. Our focus for this retreat was to bring people back to basics. To let their mind, body and soul completely unwind and experience a new culture that is entirely foreign to them. Experiencing a new country gives you perspective. It teaches you that there are many different routes about life that we could take and that the way you have been looking at the world isn't the way everybody else does. In fact, our way may have many blind spots and sometimes we learn about these issues while traveling which helps give a better grip on reality and perspective. To hone in on this, we started each day with yoga and meditation. When is the last time you focused solely on breathing and gained full awareness of your body? Well we did this everyday and its amazing to really focus and feel the energy that swarms your body, its a reminder to me to slow down in life and appreciate the beauty and moments around me. Additionally, since the basis of our training philosophies are built around postural analysis, each client was given a postural report of any deficiencies in their body in which we focused on fixing before going into yoga. We performed all of this with the jungles and waterfalls as our backdrop and music. We also spent a lot of time walking and hiking around to visit the many sites in Bali and surrounding islands that I discussed earlier in this article. Playing in our dream like pools surrounded by the jungle and Mt.Agung in the backdrop also kept everybody active. The swimming, scuba and snorkeling in the warm waters of the Indian ocean exercised everyone’s bodies, but also healed their bodies and minds
Zooming around Bali
The streets are well maintained, at least as good as American roads, but slightly small for the estimated 3 million people on this island. Hence, more than 75% of the population rely on scooters to commute around the island. Plus, I don’t think they can afford a car, fuel, maintenance, and insurance on roughly $800 per month of income. Many people will put up to 4 people on one scooter which would include a mother, father, and two very young children. There really aren’t any formal rules for driving on the island. They often joke about the speed signs being "broken". Scooters constantly pass in and out of cars from every direction. I would never recommend that you rent your own car or scooter to transport yourself around the island. The local drivers even call it “controlled chaos that works great with few incidents of injury.” However, one of our cars was rear ended with little damage just at the driver told us, “car accidents rarely happen.” Additionally, everything is always just "15 mins away" which actually means 45 mins or "30-40 mins away" which actually means 1.5 hours away. This we called "Bali time." Be prepared to be late but it doesn't matter because you are on "Bali time" and everything is going to be OK. Coming from a highly time sensitive country it was quite difficult to drop down this barrier in my day to day scheduling but by the end of two weeks I adapted "Bali time." Now if only this could carry over into the US.
Essential Places To Go
The beaches allow you to see nearly everything in one place. The beach at Padang Padang in Uluwatu was as beautiful as any beach that I’ve ever seen. It had crystal clear waters, great snorkeling, excellent stand up paddle boarding, and excellent surfing. Plus, it was filled with monkeys and exotic birds all over the place. The next beautiful place was Seminyak which has gorgeous beaches, beautiful hotels, top notch shopping, over the top restaurants, and a hot night life. It was definitely a younger party crowd, but anyone could find something fun to do there. Next, we went to another beach by the name of Canggu which is very close to Seminyak. It was much quieter than Canggu, but just as pretty without the overwhelming numbers of Seminyak. I would choose Canggu if you were looking for a more relaxed day at the beach.
Our next adventures took us deep into the jungle at the Monkey Forest where there were literally thousands of monkeys there feeding from people’s hands and shoulders. One can purchase bananas there to feed the monkeys. It was truly a display of the monkeys in their natural habitat, because the monkeys can leave the habitat at anytime to head back into the jungle. There were no fences holding them in. They liked hanging around this beautifully designed habitat because people generously feed the monkeys. All of the monkeys were very nice to the humans. It was especially cute seeing the baby’s play and hang upside down from their mother’s tummy as they traveled around the jungle. This was a once in a lifetime experience that everyone has to see at any age. It was a far better experience than any zoo.
It’s not every day that you get to see active volcanoes. Mt. Agung is the one that has gained international attention and concern. It had a constant, large steam cloud rising from it every day with minor earthquake activity that I never felt being a approximately 30 miles away from it at the first villa that we stayed. It was very ominous, but not unnerving. Our group had a perfect view of it every day from our swimming pool. I sat in amazement at the beauty of mother natures power. It last erupted in the early 1960’s. Another volcano we visited was Mt.Batur. It last erupted in 1995. It was quite a site to see. Tessa took a small group to the top to capture one of the most majestical views of all of Bali. It still has active steam vents which the girls stood over to warm their bodies for this sunrise hike that began at 2 am.
Diving and Snorkeling
We spent 4 days scuba diving and snorkeling. The first 2 diving / snorkeling locations was a 5 minute boat ride to Padang Bay where we saw many colorful fish and coral. The second set of diving/snorkeling was an hour boat ride to a different set of islands called Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan. Both of these islands are just as gorgeous as Bali, but had a lot less tourists. Part of our group went snorkeling and the other went scuba diving here. Our scuba group went to a dive at a location called Manta Bay. Unfortunately, it rained very hard that day and had 1-2 meter swells. The golden lining to these minor issues was that it was too dangerous for the snorkelers to go there, but excellent for scuba divers. Our boat pulled up roughly 200 meters off the shoreline on a treacherous shoreline where the Manta Rays love to feed on plankton on the surface. It was our lucky day and we hit the jackpot. There were approximately 30 full size manta rays feeding in about a 200 meter square area. One dive master said she’d never seen so many rays ever in one spot. It was definitely my number 1 dive experience of all time. These gentle giants were so graceful and agile in the water for their enormous size. They appeared to be extremely hungry because they never stopped inhaling the plankton during on our 60 minute dive there. The resorts, scuba, swimming, scuba, surfing, paddle boarding, boating are all top notch on all of these islands. I look forward to spending a few days on Nusa Penida the next time I go to these islands.
The food, religion, philosophy, settings, and people on this island are all tightly connected to each other in ways that western culture could learn and gain from. The food in Bali is so exotic that I had no idea how to cut or eat it, or even guess what it would taste like. The most amazing thing is that all of this fruit is all around you in the trees and ground. I’ve never seen so much naturally available fruit. The common fruits like bananas, coconut, and mango were everywhere in the trees. You could also purchase it at small markets on every block of the entire country. Our health retreats are vegan and offered fruit and many other exotic vegetables.
We also offered a fruit cutting and tasting demonstration of the local fruit. It included dragon fruit, snake skin, passionfruit, rambuton (which is red and prickly), mango, banana, pineapple, mangosteen and the popular white slimey fruit Soursop. Other fruits that were widely available, but weren’t ripe were jack fruit and the notorious durian. Durian is a horrible smelling fruit that is loved by the locals. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to try it. My favorite was the Dragon fruit. There’s no other fruit that I can compare it to, nor its color. The interior color is combination of different shades of purple. I really enjoyed all of it. We ate many of these for breakfast on a daily basis, and they were also used in our smoothies everyday. We stayed at 2 separate villas over 2 weeks and a had a different culinary staff for each. Neither head chef was overly comfortable with cooking strictly vegan food and accommodating for multiple types of allergies. Our chefs used an amazing array of fruits, vegetables, and grasses for all of our dishes that I’ve never or rarely seen in Westernized society.
The basis for our breakfast was usually a rice dish, fruit, steamed local vegetables, tempeh, coconut soups, pumpkin soups, and unique mix of spices and herbs in every meal that gave a it a very tropical flavor. There was also some vegan toast and pancakes available too. Our groups were usually travelling during the day so we missed lunch at our villa, but had lunch at some of the most prolific vegan restaurants I’d ever been to. The first was Alchemy, the second was Clear Cafe, and the other was Sayuri. Each restaurant had a tropical feel to it and used many of the local ingredients grown in Bali or Indonesia. Ubud has a very intense international yoga population that is tied to the Hindu religion. Many of these yogis trained in India that we talked to. The style of the food reflected this. The food, coffee, smoothies, juices, teas, and desserts were tightly fit to the culture. I never had a bad espresso, smoothie, vegan meal or juice in Bali. This is very contrary to American standards.
Coffee and Vegetable Plantations
We were also fortunate to visit some vegetable and fruit plantations where we were able to see cacao trees, how it’s processed, and make our own chocolate treats directly from the source. We also made our way through a coffee plantation to see how they make coffee and where it comes from. One of the most unique coffees was the Luwak coffee, which comes from an exotic cat species that eats the coffee bean and defecates it. The bean is, of course, properly cleaned and processed for an amazing cup of coffee. They also had many amazing local teas. I would misguide you to not mention the infinite amount of rice patties that we saw. There rice terraces and farming techniques were very beautiful and fascinating. We tried to minimize rice intake at our retreats, but loved the rice that we ate.
The Balinese are the most amazing people I’ve ever met. The epicenter of their life is Hinduism which dictates everything they do in their life. Each home or business makes an offering everyday that is usually on multiple points on their property. The offering generally contains items that are grown on their property. The offering is a small basket made of intricately, interwoven palm leaves that measures approximately 1” high and is 4” wide by 4” long. Typically, you find flowers and food grown from their property in it. It includes an incense stick too.
The villas we stayed at appeared to have a dozen offerings around the property. These offerings are made to show their graciousness for all that they have. This daily habit dictates their core outlook on every aspect of life. Their immense respect for life grounds them like no other culture I’ve ever experienced. Their standard of treatment for nature and other cultures exceeds Westernized cultures. These people work as hard as us but seem to keep their heart and souls focused on what is ultimately the most important parts of life. Their devotion to spirituality is also evident by seeing multiple worship temples on nearly every block. We were fortunate enough to visit one of the most popular water temples twice while we were there, Tirta Empul. There we had a chance to drop off a handmade offering (which each of us made), meditated, and dipped ourselves under the multiple temple fountains to cleanse our souls and to pay respect to the Hindu God and prophets.
There is no separation between spirituality, work, food, and nature to these people. It’s all the same. There’s much we can learn from these people. We met many smart and educated people that could pursue high paying and high stress jobs, but have chosen to devote their time to a higher spiritual calling that requires a deep respect for all people and nature. These are very happy people that are led by their soul first.
We stayed in two different villas that were stunning, but maintained its cultural identity. Each villa was surrounded by carefully manicured jungles, local plants, and waterfalls. There was a plethora of plants, trees and wildlife that I’d never seen in my life. There are nice hotels located throughout Bali, but I would strongly suggest spending most of your time at a villa where you have a chance to experience raw nature at its finest. Most rooms in these villas are not fully enclosed. They have multiple openings for natural air conditioning purposes due to the high heat and humidity. Each room is equipped with mosquito fighting repellents and bed tents to prevent these nasty buggers. Each person should continually apply mosquito repellent to prevent bites. The natural repellents worked very good. I would suggest getting typhoid shots before going there. The villas are natural expression and extension of the local forestry. A lot of palm, bamboo, and local wood is used to construct these beautiful homes. Both villas were very over the top when it came to architecture and landscaping. The numerous geckos and other insects in the jungle serenaded us to sleep every night. The jungle was very active in the evening, but nothing that kept me awake. To me is was music to my ears. Much like listening to an ocean or waterfall. It made me feel like I was living in nature. I would suggest bringing earplugs if you’re a very light sleeper. All of our staff members were extremely helpful in every way possible. They landscaped, made/served us food, cleaned the house, and cleaned our rooms every day. It’s the best service I’ve ever experienced. The price was much cheaper than any other tropical location that I’ve ever seen. It’s very affordable, but takes a little extra time to get there, but well worth it.
A Bare Health Bali wellness retreat will not only transform your body with all of the exercise and vegan food program, but your mind and spirit will be rejuvenated. The islands, jungle, and Indian ocean change your life and get you re-focused on taking care of your mind and body. As I mentioned before our purpose is to let your mind, body and soul completely unwind. Experience a new culture, gain new perspective, have new experiences and have memories to last a lifetime. We hope to see you on our next Bare Health wellness retreat. For more information head to our website : http://barehealthandfitness.com/
Just another girl who is trying to inspire others. Passionate about health and fitness. And a love of coffee and peanut butter.