Updated: Nov 25, 2018
Earlier this year I traveled to South East Asia with a stop in Bali, and I've needed these following months time since to fully process what I learned and write down the revelations I had. This month I've reflected so much on how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to experience the paradise that is Bali.
I believe I was very drawn to Bali because of it's connection to spirit and the earth, and the gorgeous photos I had seen of the rice terraces floating around on Instagram and travel blogs helped a little too. At a time where you could call the U.S. spiritually bankrupt (improving slowly and surely) and during my spiritual awakening, Bali called to me loud and clear. I wasn't even planning on going there originally, as I was heading to Malaysia to visit a dear friend that has been living there for the last year. We were going to spend time on Tioman Island, and she and her husband were going to get their divers certification and I was planning to chill on the beach.
Then she suggested we go to Bali and it was such a wonderful surprise! What's really interesting was that before all this I made a vision board with my business and the travels I wanted to go to, and Bali was on there! My whole reason to visit South Asia at the time that I did was to see some of the world before I put my nose to the grindstone and build my online business for the next few years. I had heard of mentors in my company doTERRA doing the same before they built theirs to great success and I knew it would get me through any of the hard days of entrepreneurship.
This trip was the best thing that I could have done, and it could not have happened at a more opportune time. To put it in perspective, I launched my doTERRA business in March and I traveled to Bali, Singapore, and Vietnam in April. I was still so new and invigorated to be taking responsibility of my dreams and the trip just elevated all of that.
When we arrived in Bali after deplaning our Air Asia flight, it was as if a blanket of calm and peacefulness covered us. We were all so ecstatic and in slight disbelief, that we had made it to this magical Island of the Gods. The weather was extremely warm and balmy, and there was this sense of magic in the air.
The traffic on the one winding road in the capital of Denpasar was a bit of a contrast to the island paradise we were expecting. We were greeted by dozens of friendly Balinese faces of drivers that come to pick up at the airport. That was one of my favorite aspects of Bali, the people. The people we met were incredibly generous, kind, and hospitable. We befriended our driver for the week, as we got to know how funny and kind he was during our long drives around the island.
Overall, there is a reason that people are drawn to Bali. What I found was that most people come to be cleansed. To be purified, of their past and regrets. Bali welcomes these people and instills salvation, in the form of freedom, love, and forgiveness. There are sites, rituals, and symbols surrounding you at every turn which remind you of this.
The culture was so intriguing, and I truly appreciated their connection and reverence of the spirit world. The traditions were also so based in duality, for instance their culture teaches a concept of yin and yang, of good and bad, where there are daily offerings of food, incense, and money to the spirit world and the universe, as shown in the photo above. However we also learned that they have cock-fighting as part of their religious ceremony and that is perfectly legal. Bali is not perfect! No one or place is.
Our driver told us about how there are 3 different temples per village. There's one for human to universe connection, one for human to human connection, and one for human to nature/animals connection. I was so glad to get a local's insight on the culture and their upbringing there.
We went to the Tampak Siring Temple with the holy water fountain on one of our excursions, and there was the opportunity to get in the fountain itself and cleanse your entire body of negative energy and entities. A true fountain of forgiveness. We didn't get in because we would have had a long drive home in wet clothes, though we did wet our faces and I did feel lighter and free. I love their understanding of everything being made up of energy.
At a time where I had made so many changes and shifts in my life (positive changes, yet also uprooting and navigating the unknown) such as getting sober, losing my dad to alcoholism, taking time off of work to heal grief, moving from New York to Boston, and starting my own online business, I had every reason to freak out with anxiety but doing so wouldn't get me to where I wanted to be. Bali forced me to chill and connect and with my inner voice to really heal. I needed to make peace with my past before I could start a new chapter. I needed to forgive myself for all the choices that I had made and trust in the simple fact that everything happens for a reason.
It feels like the complete opposite of our Western culture, where we are programmed to feel shame for the so-called 'mistakes' we made, and there is no clear path to forgiveness. That's what I appreciated so much about Bali, it showed me there is a way to be cleansed and start anew, no matter what.
I was truly touched by the kindness and generosity of my travel companions, my dear family friends. To feel hosted and as a part of their family was something I will never forget, I enjoyed traveling with them so much and felt truly blessed to have been in Bali with them. They are both great fun and we had so many laughs together!
The people of Bali's reverence for the Earth was also something to be admired. Seeing the sunset at Tanah Lot literally took my breath away, as did the clear sky full of stars and the Milky Way we got to see. I realized from observing that the homes and buildings were built around the jungle, waterfalls, and beautiful rice paddys. Nature was so important and cultivated there, it took precedence over structures and homes. There were so many open air villas and the locals lived in these small open compound communities. They loved their plants, and used them in essential oils for healing too, similar to the medicine man you see in Eat, Pray, Love! Funnily enough, that movie was on my flight to Singapore and it was the best way to prep for the trip.
Our driver even sang us their national song called Ylang Ylang, it was so beautiful.
Here is my previous post on what essential oils I used for the long-haul flight to South East Asia, and in my travels to Bali, Vietnam, and Singapore!
Since being in Bali I've learned so much about it that has made me love it even more. I read the book "Take Off Your Shoes: One Man's Journey From the Boardroom to Bali and Back," where a man leaves his CEO corporate career for a sabbatical in Bali, and his kids go to the Green School. This school teaches children and young adults holistically, and focuses on entrepreneurship, creative values, and sustainability. I was blown away that this even exists and I feel that this embodies the future of education.
I solidified my connection to animals in Bali. As some of you know I decided to fully transition to a plant based diet in February 2018, and it was first because of mood support (I researched this as a way to support mood without prescription antidepressants) and then after I realized that animals are just like humans, they are conscious, create social bounds and experience emotions. I got to play with monkeys at the Ubud Monkey Forest and I was so amazed to share space with these human-like creatures. I honestly could have spent an entire day there, it was so cool to be up close and watch how they interacted.
And there were plenty of vegan options to eat everywhere we went, which I really appreciated and did not expect! Lots of delicious veggies, fried rice (nasi), noodles, tofu, and tempeh curries sustained me.
Overall it reminded me of some my values: sustainability, my spiritual practice, kindness, compassion, animals and nature. I still feel so drawn to Bali and feel as though I must have had a past life there. I just felt so at home and I still think about Bali often.
Here's what I did and recommend! We had a driver from the Mr. Bali service which had great reviews from TripAdvisor. I'm still connected with our driver and it feels great to know I have a friend in Bali!
Tanah Lot for the beautiful sunset
Git Git Waterfall
Traditional Balinese Dance (not sure where the one we went was, they seem to have them all over Ubud!)
Tampak Siring Temple (Holy Water)
Ubud Monkey Forest
Tegalang Rice Terraces (Unesco World Heritage Site)
Ubud Local Market (this was across the Tegalang Rice Terraces, I got a great deal on Balinese pants that I still have yet to figure out how to wear!)
Kalapa Retreat (this is where my friends stayed and it was incredible, I got to spend a day there with them in the infinity pool directly on the beach)
Beaches of Kuta and Legian (I didn't have a chance to go to this beach, this was recommended by my uncle, he's French, well-traveled, and has great taste so you can trust him!)
Affordable massage near Ubud (I didn't have a chance to go for the famously cheap massages, this was also recommended to me by my uncle)
There is definitely so much more to do, this is just a week long itinerary with the top sites! There's also Mount Batur, Gili Air, Seminyak, and other places that take more time. All I can say is I can't wait to go back for some slow travel, and I think of Bali fondly. Have you experienced Bali yet? Let me know if you have any more recommendations, I would love to hear!