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Traveling to Bali alone without any agenda at all, got this writer hooked on the fix of traveling alone some more!
This post is a part of #TripOfMyLife, a travel series at Women’s Web, where women write about a trip that left a deep impression on them.
When you are stuck in a weekly conference listening to a senior person making poor jokes, and along with your colleagues, you are dreading the moment of being forced to find the joke funny; that is the moment when you feel like running away from that room to a blissful place, a place away from pretence where you can sit and breathe, just breathe. That’s when you need to go to Bali!
Every day you wake up, go to work, travel back, eat and sleep. When this routine makes you want to pray or crave for change and excitement. That’s when you need to go to Bali!
When nothing in your life makes sense and you have spent too many hours thinking about where you are heading in your career or better yet, pondering on what is the purpose of your life. That’s when you know you need to take a break and head for Bali!
When you have read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love and fallen in love with the picturesque beauty of Bali aesthetically directed by Ryan Murphy in the movie based on this novel. That’s when you need to go to Bali!
No, I did not go to Bali to search for myself. I did not go to Bali to take a Soul trip. Nor did I go to Bali clutching a copy of Eat, Pray, Love hoping it would transform my life. Nor did I go there to fall in love with an Italian dude.
I am just your average Independent Indian Woman, who saved up just like any other Indian tourist to have her first ever international solo trip to a dream destination. And the only agenda I had on this trip was to make the money I spent worthwhile and enjoy every freaking second of my vacation.
Bali is considered to be the Artistic Center of Indonesia and though an island, it has a plethora of things to indulge in. That’s just what I did and ended up having the trip of my life.
After enduring a 14 hour long trip on Malaysian Airlines, not to forget the hyper-anxiety due to considering the possibility of vanishing into thin air any second, I landed at the Denpasar Airport, Bali and started the 5 most memorable days of year 2014 of my life.
The first thing you will notice in Bali is the wave of hospitality and the heart melting smiles of the Balinese people – right from Immigration to the day you board your return flight. Even the brooding flight attendants seem to smile a little brighter as the wheels of your plane touch the airport runway which is surrounded by water in three directions.
The second thing that will hit you being an Indian is, coming from a land where more than 88000 Gods are worshipped, you may believe that you belong to the most religious, traditional and culturally rich country; your myths will be in for a shock if you spend even a day in this outrageously beautiful place which is covered with structures depicting the historical and mythological tales of the Hindu religion, especially from the Mahabharata and Ramayana.
One can get into a trance watching the meticulous hand work of the statues and it takes a considerable amount of will power to stop staring at them and get moving from the middle of the road.
Almost all the roundabouts in Bali have life size statues of Rama, Deva Ruci, Ghatotkach, scenes of Krishna giving Arjuna the lessons of the Bhagavad-Gita, or a magnificent life size work of art where Ravana is challenging Rama to kill him. One can get into a trance watching the meticulous hand work of the statues and it takes a considerable amount of will power to stop staring at them and get moving from the middle of the road.
Bali, the land of Art
The third thing you will notice in Bali is that the Balinese are very nosy people. The moment I entered my hotel room I grabbed their Welcome Book as I settled in with hot coffee wishing it would take some of the jet leg away and almost spilled a mouthful on the book when I read the first few lines, which clearly warned me to “not get offended as Bali people can be very curious (a softer word for nosy I thought) and will keep asking personal questions with you, request you to kindly treat them patiently as this will be your experience almost in every part of Bali.”
When the words finally sunk in, I laughed my head off. I am from India, INDIA! What did these Balinese know about being nosy? Maybe that’s the reason I didn’t take a picture of that book. Boy! Was I in for a shock, for shock it was.
The warning of the welcome book was nowhere close to reality: not only are the Balinese nosy people, but they will inquire into your life like a biographer. They do not understand the subtle yet clear warnings of your body language that you do not want to answer the questions. They will keep getting into the details until you spill all the beans and ensure that nothing ambiguous remains to be clarified. But at the same time they are downright sweethearts – they talk politely, pay attention to every detail, and go far and beyond to make your travel comfortable. If you share a good conversation with your driver or guide, they will show you the cheapest places to buy goodies, eat delectable meals or places that you can enjoy which you wouldn’t find in any of the travel sites, blogs or forums.
The fourth thing you will notice (which has many Indians running away) is that most of the souvenirs in Bali are phallus shaped, whether pen stands, key chains, refrigerator magnets or a bottle opener. You will find them in the front row of all the artefacts or just dangling from the ceiling of the shop, carved out of wood with utmost precision!
Want a souvenir from Bali?
In those five precious days that I had, I experienced two completely different faces of Bali. While one was fun, lively, glamorous, funky and wild at times, the other was calmer, serene, quiet and laid back. One would make you want to party all night while the other will force you to grab a Yoga mat and sit in the company of self and embrace every second of it.
This being my first solo experience, I will refrain from writing on my budget, as I had no issues there. I had researched and read about the places and services available for travel, eating or sightseeing, and even before I landed I knew exactly where to go and how to travel. Traveling alone builds in you a new level of confidence and a renewed sense of responsibility. All you need is to give yourself some time to enjoy your own company and before you know it, you will be addicted to the quality time you spend indulging with self.
Traveling alone builds in you a new level of confidence and a renewed sense of responsibility. All you need is to give yourself some time to enjoy your own company and before you know it, you will be addicted to the quality time you spend indulging with self.
Bali is full of serene sights and thousands of temples; what will do you good is identifying all the tourist attractions and historical monuments you would like to visit from the huge list of tourist attractions, and also listing down the activities you would like to do which were part of wish list since forever.
The Taman Ayun Temple
Holy Spring Water Temple
I did not intend anything before visiting Bali. It wasn’t a journey of spiritual searching or a journey towards understanding my purpose. My trip went smoothly and I did everything that I planned. All I wanted was to have fun, meet great people, eat delicious food and pick up souvenirs for my family. And yet when I returned, I returned with an enhanced sense of completion.
When travelling solo, the realization that you are on your own sinks in only when your feet touch your destination, a strange place surrounded with strangers. Though travelling with friends has its own perks, travelling solo definitely gives you a high – a high so addictive that it kept me giddy the entire six days of my trip and by the end of it, I was already making plans for my next fix.
Explorer, Wanderer and a Feminist. HR Professional with a passion of writing and blogging. Avid
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