Back from Bali!

I am slowly emerging from my jet lag stupor so I can tell you about my amazing trip to Bali! I am not a big vacation person.  I am usually ready to leave shortly after I arrive anywhere and spend half my trip counting down the days before I can leave.  On this trip, I was sad to come home!

This was my third trip with Escape to Shape. The group was unusually small, seven in total, which was the perfect size group for me, and I loved all of my travel mates. Desa Seni, the resort where we stayed was beautiful.  We each had our own huts that were surrounded by organic gardens and rice fields. It is hard to describe the vibe and beauty of the place. I would go back to Bali, just to stay there and might not leave the grounds. The food was amazing and the staff was so friendly and sweet.

The resort has two open air yoga studios surrounded by beautiful flowers.  Needless to say, it was the most amazing place I have ever done yoga.  Our yoga teacher was fantastic.  I am a Vinyasa flow girl, but I embraced the Anusara practice and definitely benefited from a focus on my alignment. We had a class every day, and I loved it. I even worked on inversions, which scare the bejesus out of me!

It was a Bali miracle that I got to do any yoga at all since I suffered a surfing injury on the first day there!  How I managed to twist my knee falling off a surf board, I am not sure, but it only caused me pain when I walked and I took a lot of Advil.  I did manage to get up on the board before I had to quit. I was very grateful that my vacation was not ruined on day 1.

On day 2, we took a fascinating trip to the sacred Giri Putri Cave on the island of Nusa Penida (about a 1-hour boat ride from Bali).  You crawl through 70 cm hole to enter the cave but inside it is HUGE and contains 10 different temples (and a few bats, which should have been eating the mosquitoes but left a few alive that managed to find me!).  Our Balinese healer guide walked us through offerings at each temple which involved flowers and water getting splashed on you.  At one point we had buckets of water dumped on our heads, twice.  We did not get a lot of explanation for what was happening, but it was definitely authentic and there was a lot of cleansing and praying going on.  I didn’t connect spiritually to this experience (can you tell?), but it was pretty cool.

On day 3, flying across the world, fighting the heat, humidity, and mosquitoes, and running around Bali caught up to me. I made it through yoga, a beautiful lunch in Ubud, and a stroll around the Sacred Monkey Forest (there are a lot of sacred things in Bali) but then had a bit of a travel breakdown. Instead of shopping, I camped out in a cafe and re-hydrated with two large coconut waters while my hosts convinced me that I did not have Denge Fever, I was just tired and acclimating to a new climate.

On day 4, we got to hang out at “home” to do Yoga and Pilates and just chill out, because it was raining.  Awesome day.

On day 5, we ventured to another famous temple at Uluwatu and watched a traditional  (and touristy) Kecak dance. (Which I just learned from Wikipedia means Monkey dance.  I clearly didn’t ask enough questions while I was there.). We had dinner at a seafood BBQ place on the beach.  Everyone there was Balinese.  I loved that these trips include just a little bit of required touristy stuff and mostly unique/authentic experiences. Our diner started out a bit uncomfortably with a pack of local dogs copulating near our table on the beach. Luckily, it started to rain and we got to go inside.  The whole thing was pretty hilarious.  Once I got over the fact that the fish really looked like fish, and I recovered from the dog show, it was delicious.

On day 6, we visited a swank beach club for lunch (to get a feel for where many tourists stay in Bali. I preferred our eco-village) and then did a little more shopping. This time I had more energy and managed to buy a few things.

In the evening, 20 kids from a local orphanage came to do yoga with us.  Our yoga instructor had been teaching them once a week and wanted us to meet them and hopefully support the orphanage (which we all did).  They were the sweetest kids.  It was an amazing and emotional experience to spend time with them.  If nothing else on my trip gave me perspective, this experience did. (Read more about this in my post: Yayasan Kasih Peduli Anak)

On Day 7, we had one last yoga class and delicious lunch and boarded our planes for the long journey home.

I didn’t have a traditional spiritual connection with Bali, but in my own way, I did. I left my comfort zone.  I overcame the obstacles of sun, heat, bugs, and boats. I had a more positive attitude than I normally do and made the most of my time there.  I was completely unplugged for a week, which I really needed.  The women I was with said I “blossomed” on the trip. I am not entirely sure what they were seeing but I do feel a little different like there is a little more peace inside me.  If that’s not spiritual, I don’t know what is!

Bali for my Birthday

For my 43rd birthday, I am going to Bali. Why Bali?

  1. I wanted to do something exciting for my birthday
  2. Escape To Shape was going to Bali around my birthday
  3. It seems like a magical, peaceful place where I can completely separate and get a different perspective on  life
  4. It sounds really cool to tell people you are going to Bali (this is half the reason why I ever go anywhere)

I have traveled twice with Escape to Shape and it is now my favorite way to travel.  (You can read about my trip to Sicily here). Erica and Francesco plan a perfect vacation so why would I plan one myself? It is just hitting me now that I am visiting my second Eat, Pray, Love location. Not planned.

My days will be filled with yoga, Pilates, cultural tours, hanging out by the pool, and delicious food with, most likely, single women about my age who can also afford to have someone else plan their vacations for them.

I am not a fan of the sun, sunscreen, sweating, bugs, disrupting my sleep schedule, or leaving the island of Manhattan.  This trip is taking me WAY out of my comfort zone. That was the plan for 2012. Why not? Since I have spent most of this year working (in my comfort zone), I am glad I put something adventurous on my agenda, kind of.  I am also a little scared.

I will be traveling for 24 hours to get across the world.  I am a little bit nervous about this but I am borrowing a travel pillow and I heard my airline has a selection of 40 movies I can watch at my seat (score!).

I have, of course, been obsessively planning what I should bring for months. I have spent quite a bit of pre-vacation money on clothing and sun/bug protection.  To my defense, what one wears in Bali is very different than what one wears in Manhattan and this is a complicated vacation.  I need workout clothes, touring about the island clothes, and a clean, post shower evening outfit every night! I try to be flexible about re-wearing clothes, but I am expecting everything to be covered in sweat, sunscreen, and bug spray. I am a spoiled human being.  See why I need some perspective?

I did have a mini freak out on Friday when I was reminded that there will be mosquitoes.  Mosquitoes love me and they apparently carry Dengue Fever in Indonesia.  I did not need to know this. I have since acquired an environmentally friendly-ish bug spray AND backup wipes with Deet in case I need to go hard core. I also spent about $75 on the most expensive sunscreen on the market, to avoid the sun poisoning I got on spring break on college, and a travel size aloe vera, just in case.  I then obsessed over purchasing an official sun hat to backup my workout hat because, at times, need full 360 degree head coverage. It was a busy weekend.

In addition to running around acquiring things, I have been putting the many things I have acquired in my suitcase.  My largest bag is filled to the brim so I have no room for anything I might buy (gifts for my family members for example)  This is not good.  I will have to obsessively think about what I can remove for the next four days before I leave (a perk of packing in advance.)