Spiritual Balm

I simply can’t the leave the #traveltopic of Indonesia with just one post. It just isn’t possible.

Yes,  #BaliSpiritFest was most definitely owned the spotlight in my month long journey in Bali. But, after BSF in all her glory, I still got to spend another two and a half weeks, roaming Bali with two of my life’s best friends, Anastasia and Robby. Seriously, I can’t get enough  of the group dynamic us three conjured. It was epic and I love these two humans.

They are A-MAZING. And so was my glimpse of Bali with them, wandering through her incensed haze and wet spiritual balm.

Considering that #BSF ended just a couple of days before Bali’s New Year Celebration, Nyepi (a magical, beautiful, compulsory day of silence), we decided to stay in the dense jungle of Ubud before heading south. These few days were absolutely divine, slow and much needed. Stocking up for our day of silence inside, enjoying the creative ballad of Nyepi Celebrations, friendships and finally the climax- a day of silence, meditation and gratitude. In truth, I made it through half the day in full silence. But, the struggle was real with so many wonderful people in one room! I could go on in butterfly detail here about Nyepi itself, but there are tons of websites that offer us readers more understanding of this beautiful day of silence. To get more of a feel, check out Bali’s Tourist Information Board.

After the close of Nyepi, and travel was allowed again, Anastasia, Robby and I said “see ya later” to our goddess girlfriends Maurissa and Deb, whom I met at #BSF and had spent Zen Ubud Jungle time with. We said “see ya later” with hopes to meet up with them again somewhere in the next two weeks.

From Ubud, we made our way to Canggu, a beach town outside of Denpasar. Canggu is a total beach bum, surfer town, where global citizens come to learn how to surf, eat clean, drink heavy (if you are at Old Man’s) and dance the warm evenings away. Our first night in Canggu, we stayed at a local hostel, opting for something cheap and easy after our more expensive Zen Ubud stay. A and I got our private room and Robby got stuck in the male dorms. He woke up the next morning, looking quite exhausted and with a puppy face said, “Can we upgrade?” And so, we did. It was NOT an easy process, but we did it. Over breakfast, we found a GORGEOUS two bedroom, sea view apartment. Way out of my budget, but I DID love it! We spent the next fews days riding our motorbikes around the city to all the local beaches and eateries.

And here, is where I want to share a small bit of butterfly detail. So, meet my friend Robby. A fit guy, wears glasses, determined as a lion, ambitious with plans, could be Dutch when it comes to saving and almost always late. And I love our friendship. One of the reasons we wanted to go to Canggu was because, like most other tourists in Canggu, we wanted to give surfing a shot. Anastasia was whole heartedly NOT interested in almost dying out at sea, but Robby and I thought we would give it a go. 😉

So, Day 2 of Canggu, we spent the evening at Berawa beach, beginning with a little yoga, some swim time, followed by the tossing back of some Bintangs over sunset. By beer number two, Robby and I are talking to the bar owner about some short surf lessons. He recommends a friend of his to us, and said to meet him back at the bar at 8am the following morning. Truly, at this time, Robby and I think we have cooked up a sweet deal. Anastasia knows better.

So, Day 3 arrives, we wake up, grab a coffee and some quick breakfast. We pop onto our motorbikes, and whiz down to the dawn of a new morning and excitement at Berewa beach. We wait for a bit, and eventually a young Indonesian guy comes up to us, tells us he is our guide, asks us for payment, puts extremely large and heavy long boards in our arms and off we go. Looking at the tide, I was thinking, well this shouldn’t be so hard. We did a few short “try to stand up correctly on the sand” situations, and when that went okay, our guide said we were ready. I thought, what the hell. Let’s try it. And then our guide points to Robby’s glasses and says that he most likely wants to take those off. I mean of course, he would lose them… but have I mentioned how much Robby NEEDS those glasses?

I have only surfed one time with MY Rob in Sri Lanka, and Robby (my now practically blind friend), has never attempted this crazy sport. So, here we go. The blind followed by the clueless, out unto the open ocean. This should be good.

The feeling that this whole surfing thing would go alright dissipated most immediately upon entering the ocean. The waves were a whole lot bigger close up!

In total, I think we were out there, giving it our all for about 2 hours. In those two hours, I might have spent 2 minutes upright on a board. Ujjai breaths did not help this human. These were NOT beginner waves and I really don’t think our guide cared. Ha. I split my time between paddling out and waiting for the right wave. And paddling out was NOT easy. It was treacherous. There was a deep tide break about 8 strokes out, that literally was much like Harry Potter’s stag patronus. The ocean said “Expecto Patronus” and all the sudden you found yourself right back at the beach, out of breath, bewildered and defeated.

Only in hindsight is it funny.

And while I did get to ride a few waves in. Robby being out in the ocean, completely blind, where sound does not travel, could not see where the guide and I were floating. So he was left to his own defenses. Straight up battling the ocean’s patronus 99% of the time. There was a that 1% though that my practically blind friend was one with the ocean and rode her wave all the way in! Back on the beach, after a near drowning episode for me (due to my crazy curly long mane of hair), we were beat and ready to say mission complete.

It is a memory that I will probably go back to with Robby, for like forever. When we almost died in Bali. Anastasia, you were right.

After around four days in Canggu, we decided to split up for a few days with Anastasia getting some nice R&R in over at a hotel in Seminyak, while Robby and I skated off to Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan (two small islands off the coast of Bali’s southern tip). We chose these two islands instead of the well traveled Gilli Islands simply because we did’t want to party as hard as we use to! So, we chose these two islands where we could get some GREAT diving in, drive our scooters around and enjoy the ambiance of a lazy isle. And, we did just that! Off the coast of Nusa Lemongan and Ceningan, we swan with giant manta rays, reef sharks, sea turtles and all sorts of gorgeous coral and other marine life. It was Robby’s second attempt and first success at diving! For me, seeing 8 large manta in one dive was AMAZING, and it is all thanks to the incredible Chloe from Lembongan Dive Center. She helped Robby feel comfortable underwater and she knew exactly where to spot the Manta! If you want to dive in the southern areas of Indonesia, go to Lembongan for sure!

From Lembongan, our next stop was to meet back up with Anastasia in Uluwatu (beautiful cliff side temples, exposition of Indonesian ceremonies and Finn’s bar). We had a total of 4 days in Uluwatu, which were pretty dang cool. Robby was feeling a little sick, but he healed up for the Water Temple Ceremony and our last evening at Finns. On the morning of his flight home to Thailand, I finally heard from my ROB that he made it through the second phase of Ranger School and was onto the last- Swamps. So Robby left giving me a big hug and a, “your husband is a badass,” high five. It was a great moment. And, the three weeks, Anastasia and I shared with Robby were so much fun. A quirky, awesome, funny and loving dynamic. I love my friends.

With Robby headed back to Thailand for work, that left A and I, finishing up the last leg of our journey together. We spent the days in Seminyak, reminiscing about China and South Korea, resting and enjoying each others company before parting ways for Thailand (me) and Australia (A).

(Have I said how much I love her lately? Because that girl has seen SO much of the world with me and I value our friendship!)

By the end of our stay, it felt weird to be leaving Bali, because in truth, in the whole month I spent on the island, I really only got to see less than 10 percent of it. I specifically remember looking at a map one of my last days and being like DANG, there is so much we didn’t see! I honestly did not plan to have that feeling at the end of the month. I expected to be more like, “DANG, we saw SO much.” I EXPECTED to feel the same way about Bali that I did about our vast exploration of China. But, even though my “plans” did not play out the way I thought they SHOULD,  or EXPECTED they WOULD, I can’t help but laugh at the perfection of what my journey in Bali WAS! Traveling with three people means you want to take everyone’s desires into consideration. It means you don’t force your way or someone else’s way, instead you work together and you allow what is best to show up for you! This meant not pushing my friends to cheaaaap hostels, onto epic mountain adventures or on long bus rides we didn’t have time for. Not too much anyways. Instead, we traveled to fewer destinations and saw less of the country. Writing this, I would have imagined I would be sitting here wishing we could have seen more. But, that is not at all how I feel. I 100% feel that I got to truly experience the places we DID see. In our glimpse of Bali, the slower pace left space in time to notice the brightness of marigolds, the way trash was disposed of, the smile rising on the elderly woman driving her motorbike, morning prayers and how lit incense can be used as a knife to energetically cut apart rain clouds and open up the sky. Amazing.

In regards to time, our slower pace was similar to traveling alone. In traveling alone, you have SO much time on your hands to soak everything in, every noise, smell, feeling and understanding. In times I have traveled solo, I have had an abundance of time on my hands- taking everything in. Both ways of travel bring in wisdom and openness to the adventure of life. But, when it comes to my wander around Bali, I am so thankful to have been traveling with 3. It was so wonderful to spend time in such a far flung land with two people who make me laugh, people who I love dearly and people who I enjoy seeing smile.

So, really, I don’t care if I saw less of Bali than I expected. I got to still move slow and take in my surroundings. I got to share all the highs and all the lows with my friends- memories I know we will belly laugh over. I get to bridge what I learned on our travels back to my own home environment. I got to travel out with friends, yet still travel IN. Whether fast or slow, alone or with company, it remains true that every time I travel outside the norm, I reinvest my belief in the beauty of every destination, of learning from every connection, in seeking the truth that is our ONENESS, in bridging kindness and understanding, and always valuing our shared earth and her incredible capacity to nurture all her wild beings, big and small.

I cannot help but smile at my glimpse of Bali.




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