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Bali « Kiana June Weber




It has been a while since I posted on this online journal, but time just flies away.  I have been very busy with some things in my personal life, as many of you know, and now it is time to take a minute and reflect.  Specifically, I wanted to share with you my reflections from my trip to Bali.

Martin and I went to Bali last month for three weeks and I have to say I really didn’t want to leave! It was absolutely amazing.  I was completely struck by the kindness and hospitality we were shown, and of course the amazing natural beauty.  We broke our trip into three different spots, one for each week.

Week one was in South Kuta on Binging Beach.  All of South Kuta is known for its waves, and has seen a particular growth in tourism due to surfers in the last ten years.  We tried to choose a beach that had great waves but was a little more out of the way. Binging gets a reputation on the island as a very fit and chill beach because to access the sand you have to climb down hundreds of steps down a cliff face.  Our accommodation was on top of the cliff side, looking over Impossibles wave. We had a great time here filled with lots of yoga, surfing, and beachside barbecues at sundown.  We did have a terrible run in with monkeys who ransacked out room though which really freaked us out.  (I mean TOTAL monkey destruction – suitcases ruined, clothing thrown down the side of the cliff, all of our medication and contacts lenses eaten) It was a lot to deal with, but we came through it together.

Week two was our favorite, as we traveled inland to Ubud, the cultural and artistic center of Bali.  Ubud is a beautiful city nestled where two very spiritual rivers meet up in the mountains between fields of rice paddies.  It has been a center for musicians and artists for many years being home of the Gamelan and retreats for famous painters and writers, and recently due to attention from Eat, Pray, Love it has unfortunately becomes a tourist mecca.  (*More about this later) There was a lot of dodging around mopeds and tying to escape the many pop-up vendors. However, with a little effort there are so many gems off the main road to be found!  In Ubud we lived like a king and queen in a private villa overlooking the jungle. I also had two of the best meals of my life.  Because of the climate for growing produce, and the cheap cost of production this city has also become a mecca for chefs to set up experimental restaurants and passion projects.  Locavore was arguably to best example of culinary art I have every experienced.  We also ate a Pica, a south american restaurant, twice! It was that good.  The rest of our time we spent doing lots of R&R.  It really was a magical and spiritual place to re-charge. I also did some yoga at the famous Yoga Barn – best yoga classes of my life.  I did things I didn’t know I could do.  And we also scheduled a few fun day trips – a cycling trip through rice paddies and local villages and a sunrise hike of Mount Agung.

Week three, we hopped over to Gili Meno – a very small neighboring island off the coast of Lombok.  I say hopped, but really actually getting to that island was by far the strangest commute I have every had:  bus to speed boat to local fishing boat to horse cart. This tiny island has only recently been discovered by tourists. It takes about and hour to walk all the way around the island, so we got to know all of the spots rather quickly.  There was a small warring (kitchen) on the north side of the island that we went to a few times that did fresh caught squid grilled in front of you on the beach. Amazing.  The highlight of this week by far was time in the water.  We went snorkeling and scuba diving and saw the most amazing marine life.  This was really important to me because I wanted to make sure I saw a vibrant and untouched coral reef while it still exists.  The colors and the diversity of life we absolutely stunning. We also saw a bunch of giant sea turtles! I had so ideal how big they could get, but while swimming along the side of the wall we saw an absolutely huge fella grazing along by the bottom.  I mean huge! Bigger than me for sure (maybe four ft wide by six feet long?) Absolutely speechless.

The whole trip was a lesson in zen, peace, happiness and contentment.  Being a largely Hindu population, I found the people extremely welcoming and I was constantly surprised by their genuine happiness and contentment in life. It is really hard to describe. We were so thrilled to be asked to join in a few religious celebrations, of which there are many, and even shown around a family temple in a local’s home.  A culture with emphasis on community and celebration of each day, thanks for the joys of each morning giving.  You see this represented not just in the people and their attitude but in the beautiful and ephemeral offerings of flowers, rice, and incense put out on their front steps every morning. My worry for Bali, and Lombok is that its culture and its natural beauty will be completely ruined by tourism. We saw so many signs of this already and I found it incredibly sad.  Tourist discarding thousands of plastic water bottles every day in a place that until the ten years ago used only wooden cups and banana leaf bowls. The country has no system in place for recycling or waste management.  And so much natural beauty is already being ruined by pollution and capitalist exploitation. As Martin so aptly said “It is a remote island paradise that is being completely ruined by the exactly people who seek out remote island paradises.”   I am not exactly sure what to do about it, but it makes me want to be a better person. The whole trip did.  To be a more conscientious person, left wasteful and more grateful.  To be a happier and kinder person.  To be more at peace in life and celebrate the little things. Zen, Peace, Happiness, Contentment, Health for myself and the planet), Celebration.  These are the things I want to take with me, and carry all the way from those beautiful waves to the crazy and hectic life of summer festival tour.