Some people remember their trips through photographs. Others remember them through storytelling. Still others do it through writing in their journals. I usually fall into the first camp, but for some reason I felt compelled to document my experiences in detail while in Bali. I outline some of my motivations for that in this post. Here though, I’ll share transcriptions of my journal entries on a day-by-day basis. Be warned though, these were written for my own enjoyment, so they may or may not be a little cheesy!
Bali, Day One
I have arrived in a faraway land, paradise found. I write in days since arrival, because I have no concept of time here. What day is it? I neither know nor care. The first thing I noticed upon arrival is the greenery – it’s everywhere. The main religion in Bali is Hindu, and the temples found on every property lend an air of primitive elegance to every street. Today we settled into our hotel and did a bit of shopping, then slept in preparation of a busy day ahead. I think finding sleep will be a struggle, given the excitement brewing in anticipation of what’s to come.
Bali, Day Two
Today I dove right into the Balinese culture. Visiting Tanah Lot and seeing the majesty of the sea temple conjures images of a simpler time. I am struck by how beautiful and well-maintained the land is. The temples themselves are all closed to the public, and rightfully so; these places of worship belong to the Balinese people, and they should be kept safe from prying eyes.
Visiting the Kopi Luwak roaster and seeing firsthand how this nectar of the gods comes to be was a rare treat. It was a metaphor for Indonesia as a whole, in that there was so much more to it than first meets the eye.
Next stop was the majestic Taman Ayun temple, where my patience was rewarded with a beautifully unspoiled panoramic photo – no tourists in sight.
My first image of the temple was of a man fishing, his cat (or just A cat?) waiting patiently for its meal. Simpler times, indeed. Walking these hallowed grounds, it becomes clear that man and nature work together in harmony here; the photos of moss-covered statues and altars are living proof of that.
Bali, Day Three
I continue to be amazed at the natural beauty of this landscape. Each and every home is unique in design, harmonizing with nature in ways I feel we’ve lost touch with back home in Canada.
Our first stop of the day may be one of the most familiar to outsiders in its output: Bali is well-known for its wood carvings. Of lesser fame are the artisans behind them, and I was glad for the opportunity to visit the gallery of a local wood-carver. Courtesy of Indra’s negotiation skills and fluency in Indonesian, we were able to purchase three stunning carvings for $240 – almost half the listed price. The cost is misleading, however; these pieces are priceless, memories of our trip to paradise.
It is here that I first became inspired to incorporate elements of Balinese design back at home. This village has an abundance of shops featuring wood carvings, natural furniture and mossy stone sculptures. Its people make their living doing something they love, and I am both saddened and inspired by this. I am saddened because so few of us can say this back home, yet inspired that the possibility still exists.
We then traveled to the island’s volcano, only to be rained out; clouds obscured the entire view, and such is life. All was not lost, though; these same clouds offered some ethereal mountainside photo opportunities that remind one of a distant, foggy childhood memory.
The fog dissipating, we arrived at the terraced mountainside of Bali’s rice fields. Vaguely reminiscent of Machu Picchu, one must resist the urge to run unrestrained through the crops that form these farmers’ livelihoods.
Our lunch at Locavore was a rare indulgence, featuring small dishes with big flavour. The warm rainfall offered the perfect backdrop for this all-local cuisine.
From there we visited another gallery, this time for painters. The jungle-inspired artwork was alluring, but out of reach even after negotiating. We left-empty handed but with full hearts, knowing today was a day well-lived.
Bali, Day Four
Our third active day began with a more traditional tourist activity. While I snorkeled, the others walked the sea floor. No wonder I saw so little; all the fish were investigating the mysterious floor-walkers beneath me!
We then headed to Turtle Island, which I was excited about at first. The name conjures up images of wildlife in their natural habitat, with humans visiting them while leaving a modest footprint. Instead, we were faced with more of a zoo-like atmosphere, with captive animals staring at us from every direction. Conditions were reasonable, but not great, and we left feeling somewhat disappointed. The glass-bottomed water taxi that transported us to and from the island, however, was a special experience.
On Pandawa beach, I was able to rent a $5 kayak to paddle on unspoiled waters, clear to the ocean floor for a lack of motorized boats in the area. I am saddened by the thought that this beach will one day be as commercial as others in Bali, yet grateful that I was able to experience it before that happens. The view of the sprawling Cliffside was well worth the price of the rental, and I spent minutes just drifting in awe of it all before capturing the view in a photograph.
We then ascended the mountainside again, this time to visit the cliff temple, Uluwatu. The name literally translates to “head of rock,” a fitting name for a temple that sits at the head of a sprawling oceanside rock cliff. We left our valuables in the car, since the mischievous monkeys here have a taste for shiny objects, in addition to rambutans. Modest dress is mandatory here, and we donned borrow robes before entering the temple grounds. The whole process lends an air of solemn respect fitting of such a locale.
A trip up the long staircase offered a rare glimpse into the Hindu religion in the form of a ceremony taking place within view. I felt I was intruding sneaking a glimpse, though the participants seemed not to mind. Walking away from the temple, a look back revealed an incredible photo opportunity, a reminder of the value of stopping to look back and reflect on one’s experiences in life.
Our final stop of the day involved dinner on the beach. While the fabled Bali sunset we were hoping to catch eluded us, the fresh-caught seafood tasted as good as ever.
Bali, Day Five
Day five in Bali was marked by its intense heat; it has been by far the hottest day we spent on the island. The day began with a relaxing poolside breakfast at our hotel, the Mercure. It was the nicest of all hotels we stayed in while in Indonesia. Despite that, I can’t relate to those who are content to spend their whole Bali trip at their hotel, when so much beauty awaits us beyond these walls.
Our first stop of the day took us to Blangsinga waterfall, an oasis from the heat of the day. Getting there was no easy task, however; the staircase down was treacherously steep. We were rewarded for our efforts however, with an amazing view from the base of the waterfall. There, a sign read “Don’t worry, be sexy… but no naked.” Indeed.
Our next stop was a local market, where Indra once again showcased her expert negotiation skills, coming away with dressed and pants alike. After a few purchases, we broke for lunch before heading to the spa. The volcanic mud treatment we had at Anika Spa was a unique experience. Coming out of it, my skin felt soft and clean, and the atmosphere within took in an (even more) faraway land.
Feeling refreshed, we headed for the shopping mall, where we ended the day by scoring some great deals on local clothing. On the way back to the hotel, I reflected on how the day’s end was befitting of its beginning. As the sign at the waterfall said, “Don’t worry, be sexy… but no naked.” Words to live by.
Wrapping it Up: Bali, Day Six
Day six is our final day in this paradise, and I am determined to make the most of the day despite that fact. We woke up before sunrise with the hopes of catching it from the local beach. Though it wasn’t what we had hopes for, there was a solemn beauty in the little sun we did see, and I was grateful for the opportunity to snap a few peaceful photos.
After a break for lunch, we were off to the airport to be whisked away to Malang, back with our family. Though I look forward to that, I will miss the majesty of Bali perhaps more than any place I’ve ever been. There is something about this place that captures my heart, my soul, my spirit. I find myself drawn to it like a magnet, unable and unwilling to let go. This may be farewell for now, but my spirit lingers here, and I will one day return to remind myself just how beautiful this world truly is.