Village to Voyage: A Trip to Ubud, Bali
I travel to lose myself and to find myself again. The same is true about books. I can read a good book and get so lost in its pages, but also find myself in the story being told. I’ve been traveling for a long time, more mentally than in real life because travel has not always been affordable. In fact, the first time I ever boarded a plane was at the tender age of seventeen. To some, that’s considered much later in life (check your privilege!) and to others, not at all. My first trip to England. Before being able to travel I did vicariously though books. I was an avid reader, and mentally books took me through countries without even getting out of bed. One day i’m in Somalia the next i’m in Sudan. One day i’m in Brazil and the next I’m in Bali, except this time, my physical presence really made it to Bali.
My first impression uttered to the my cab driver Kadek, “wow, this place reminds me of the Caribbean, my home country, Grenada in particular.” A rush of heat and humidity greeted me, the narrow roads, the way the houses are built and the lush green vegetation. It felt a little familiar, yet still foreign, and strangely enough, I felt a little bit of nostalgia. On my cab ride to Kuta, I asked my Balinese driver about things to do, places to see, food to try, the demographic of ethic, religious and linguistic groups across the various regions. I wanted to understand the lay of the land. After about a forty minsutes drive, I arrived in Kuta late in the evening and was greeted by its busyness and the smell of incense from the Hindu offerings. 83 percent of Indonesians follow Balinese Hinduism while other religions practiced are Islam, Christian and Buddhism . I stayed one night in Kuta and as jetlag would have its way I did not see much of Kuta and left early in the morning for my journey to Ubud.
Early mornings in Bali seem to be routine for most, you will find locals burning incense, placing food and praying at altars by the road side, you will see people sweeping their yards and burning waste as the smoke fill the air. For our first stop in Ubud we visited a temple. As Hinduism is the dominant religion in Bali you will find lots of temples almost everywhere across the country. If you’ve been to Brooklyn, it’s like having three churches on one block. Visiting almost any religious place of worship will require that you dress appropriately. Men and women are required to cover their legs before entering the temple. Sarongs are usually provided before entering and will most likely be your proof of ticket purchase before entering the temple. You may also noticed signs advising that women on their menstrual cycle are not allowed to enter the temple.
Next we stopped by Tegalualang waterfall. By then it was midday and as you imagine the waterfall was crowded with visitors and locals alike. The walk down is probably twenty minutes from the parking lot, however there are cute nestlings along the way so it may take a tad bit longer if you stop for photo ops. The vibe at the waterfall really reminded me of a river fest in the caribbean. You can find cute signs that says I Love Bali, Happy Birthday etc., they’re great photo props to send a cute photo to a loved one back home. It was raining a bit, so no one was allowed to get in the water so after spending some time enjoying the remnants of splashes form the waterfall we decided we had enough sightseeing for the day and so we checked-in at our hotel in Ubud. relaxing by the pool while we catch-up on life.
Truly, this trip was less about sightseeing and more about traveling slow and enjoy being in a new country and my friend’s company. It could be that my spirit quickly adapted to the Bali lifestyle or maybe I didn’t care enough to rush from one site to the next. That morning, we checked out of the hotel and made a first stop to Tegalanglang rice terrace. This rice terrace is one of the more popular attractions in Ubud. I didn’t think it was as magical as it looked in photos, but it was nice to visit and fun to get on the extreme swing. If you’re planning to visit the terrace, and also plan to get on the swings or nests, you should try to go very early in the morning to avoid really long lines and just simply enjoy the serenity of the field without being rushed by other visitors.
After the rice terrace, we decided to check-in early at The Mason Elephant Lodge. I truly enjoyed our stay there! At the Lodge, you will find elephants roaming around the safari park and you can bathe, feed or swim with them. The elephants are rescued from other parts of Indonesia and are not all from the same family, but are all cared for at the lodge. The first three days was lovely, but after we checked out of the lodge, I was really excited to visit the island of Nusa Penida. You can read here about my favorites to see on the island.
My trip to Ubud was slow, not rushed, there was an ease about the city that forced me to feel safe, leave my biases and assumptions on the flight and to be present in the moment. So as the saying goes and it’s true, I travel to lose myself and to find myself again. In the village, I read books in the corner of my childhood home in Grenada or under a mango tree, but I think this is where my voyage strikes the balance, I am now able to see the world clearly and feel it at the same time, from village to voyage.