Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Magic Exists in our World and it's in Ubud, Bali

I chose to stay on a family compound and had breakfast out on my private porch one morning. 

My final destination was Bali and as I sit here at the airport waiting to start my 30 hour trek back to San Diego, I am sad to leave a place that has so much magic, paradise and what I imagine to be a form of heaven. From Tokyo, to Saigon to Hanoi to Bali, this has been an experience unlike any I have ever had before. The people that came into my life throughout my travels, the places I experienced and the challenges I faced all contributed to my feeling of nothing but gratefulness, joy and laughter.
The people, the food, the landscape, culture and the environment in Ubud, Bali was more than I expected. As soon as I stepped into my room on a family compound, I felt like I was at home. My plan for this part of the trip was to relax, write and read and do some deep work with personal reflection and healing. But, my time in Ubud did not exactly go as planned in all ways and I am perfectly fine with that. Allowing my days to just “come as they are” was part of what made each day perfectly amazing. A typical day consisted of me waking up, walking 1km to the gym, showering, then stopping by a local juice cafe to order a fresh pressed juice (usually papaya and lime or a green detox of some sort). Next, I would walk about halfway  back to the area I was staying and find a really great place to eat breakfast. I would then relax with a book and eat and read. Afterwards, I would explore the area. I might go shopping, take a painting class, stop and hang out with some friends I made or walk throughout the town and see where it  leads me. Most of the time, it led me to a spa where I would get a foot massage, full body massage, body scrub, manicure or my hair done. There is something to be said about getting a massage everyday, I have to say! I always had my camera ready because capturing the beauty of Ubud was also a big part of the fun. I had no schedule and nowhere to be and that feeling of freedom is beyond the best feeling in the world!
I met Dewa when I saw a sign for an art lesson while walking around town. He shared with me his art and we became instant friends! 

One night, I caught a traditional Kecak Fire and Dance show steps from where I was staying, but most nights, I would have a late dinner after meandering around town and then go to bed. Most of Ubud is dark and quiet by 11pm which also made it a perfect place for me!
What I Love Most about Ubud
Offerings. Waking up and walking throughout town with the smell of incense burning and the reminder with every offering I pass that I have so much to be thankful for. Everyday, the Balinese give offerings of thanks and hope for prosperity. It’s a small square made from palm leaves with flowers, candy, food and maybe a hand rolled cigarette. Placed on top is a stick of incense that is burned on a regular basis throughout the day. These offerings are placed outside of homes and businesses. I never knew I needed the scent of incense so much in my life. I think I bought at least a thousand sticks to burn when I get home!

The food was absolutely amazing! Literally every single meal I ate was fresh, tasty and made of whole foods. Each morning, there is a local market that opens from 4am – 9am. It’s there that the restaurant owners will stock up on fresh produce, meats, fish, eggs, coffee beans, breads and spices. The food sold at the market is always harvested and sold within 24 hours. Ubud values gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarianism, vegan foods, organic produce and fresh juice. Basically, any healthy food option you like to indulge in, Ubud’s restaurants will have it for you. One night, I ordered lobster and spinach gluten-free raviolis with a ginger tea and a gluten-free brownie made from organic dark Balinese chocolate oh, and fresh Vietnamese spring rolls because I was missing Vietnam that night.

Fresh pressed juices deserve a category all their own. Ubud’s residences make freshest and most interesting and yummy concoctions out of fresh fruit and veggies. I had detox mixes, super hydrating mixes, stomach soothers, energizing juices, calming juices and cleansing juices. They all were created for me on the spot and were never pre-made. Everyday, I would have 2-3 different juices in attempts to keep a feeling of cleanliness throughout my body. Part of wanting to somewhat cleanse myself spiritually, I also wanted to cleanse my body and eating and drinking in Ubud, well that’s the perfect place for it !

The people in Ubud are some of the most sweetest, kindest and genuine people I have met throughout the world. There is a sense of trust and I think their belief in karma plays a big role. One day, I took a painting class with a artist named Dewa. We spoke and got to know each other during the 2-hour session in his studio. He talked about a time when he was really sick and the doctors couldn’t tell him what it was, so he went to see a spiritual healer as a last resort. He told me that she said someone was jealous of him. Throughout bouts of laughter, he explained that he was so surprised to hear this from her because he always tries to do good and think about good things, so having someone be jealous of him didn’t make sense.  The healer gave him oils to drink and different oil to rub on his body as way to rid the negative energy being sent his way. He said within a week he was feeling better. I told him about my chronic back pain that I have been trying to fix for close to 13 years and how I would love to have someone help me with that. Right away, he offered to take me to his healer. He said it would be 20 minutes away on his motorbike and we would have to stop to grab an offering for her on the way, but he wouldn’t mind taking me, if that’s what I wanted. We continued to talk and after the 2 hours and a completed painting of Buddha, we were on our way to his healer. Throughout the rest of my time in Ubud, Dewa took me to his healer three times. We became friends and I learned a lot about Balinese culture and what it’s like to live in Ubud.
Ibudessa is a beautiful soul and woman. She performed healing sessions for me a few times while I was in Bali. Although we don't speak the same language, we were able to communicate in other ways. Her generous spirit helped me to cleanse my aura and keep grounded while I experienced another part of our beautiful world. 

The architecture in Ubud had me fascinated the moment I stepped outside. From the brick roads and mosaic lotus lined with green moss to the family compounds that still remain exactly as they were built many, many years ago. Several generations of families reside in these compounds, karangs, and each structure within is built and placed in a specific part of the compound. To enter, you will see a beautifully carved, small door to walk through and immediately notice a small shrine that is honored with flowers, incense and/or rice. The small door and shrine are to help ward off any spirits that would be unwanted. The family compound reflects the human body and each building within is placed in a specific manner. For example, the family temple is built facing east as it will be the first to see the light of day. I couldn’t help but stop and notice these beautiful homes and I was very lucky to be invited into some and also stay within a compound through Airbnb (highly recommended you do this if ever you visit Ubud!).

This street led to where I was staying

The atmosphere in Ubud is literally breathtaking! One day, I got up early and visited the rice terraces before all of the crowds and before farmers harvested crops for the day. It  was absolutely stunning with lush greens and quiet creeks running between the palm trees and flower bushes. Besides the rice terraces, the town of Ubud is also unique in it’s lush greens lining each street and random statues and shrines outside of homes and businesses.

I feel so incredibly lucky to experience such a magical and unbelievable place. I think Ubud, Bali was the perfect last stop in my trip throughout Asia this summer. It was a great place to reflect on my gratitude for having so much in my life and to cleanse my mind and body before returning back home and start my 13th year teaching!

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