Ever since returning from the Indonesian Archipelago, I’ve been convinced that the island of Bali has a magnet under its crust.
This small corner of the universe has a social and spiritual harmony that creates a gravitational pull, unifying its visitors and locals alike. The island itself is ornamented in maze-like rice terraces, verdant jungles, curvaceous coastlines and lotus-flowered hills. The beautiful density of Bali’s landscape manifests itself in the local artwork, architecture, and personality. It’s an island of festive decoration and breath-taking detail. The aesthetic, however, is only part of its magnetic effect.
The Balinese term sekala-niskala (“visible-invisible”) iterates the people’s rooted belief that the physical world is penetrated by a spirit world. At any given moment, there are offerings being made to the invisible dimension. Whether or not you subscribe to Bali’s dominant faith (an amalgamation of Hinduism and Animism), it is inspiring to coexist with such a dedicated spiritual body. No doubt, there is something special about this place.
When my boyfriend, Taliesin, and I left for our adventure, we had no game plan for our trip abroad. It did, however, help that Taliesin had spent a semester in Indonesia only two years prior and had picked up some of their native tongue along his way.
Stepping off the plane in Denpasar, we had only a vague notion of where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do. We knew for certain, however, that we didn’t want to go anywhere near the tourist hub of the island’s southern tip. We wanted to immerse ourselves in a peaceful and locally oriented location with a more hand-made feel to it. This brought us to our first stop: Ubud.
Once we arrived, we booked a few nights at the Matahari Cottage. Tucked away from the main strip, this retreat offered a wonderful first week’s sleep in Bali. We were drawn by the shops and studios that surrounded it; within a two-block radius of the Matahari Cottage, there exists a traditional Balinese spa, a yoga studio, and an organic café. The studio, Radiantly Alive, and the café, Bali Buda, were some of our favorite spots. Healthy-eating yogis might feel overwhelmed by the surplus of restaurants, shops and studios that cater to the taste of that “modern-hippy” lifestyle.
Radiantly Alive features a wide array of experienced teachers from all over the world. They offer everything from Vinyasa, to Tibetan Heart Yoga, to Qigong and Mysore. Their bamboo floors and wide windows that look out on Ubud’s jungle make for some beautiful and harmonious sessions.
Leaving Radiantly Alive, walk towards the main road and treat yourself to an organic feast at Bali Buda. This is a place where you can feel truly good about what you put inside your stomach. Ingredients are sourced from local farms under supervision of the Bali Organic Association. Most importantly, it’s a restaurant that is dedicated to sustainable projects such as “Say No to Plastic,” “ecoBali,” and “Rumah Sehat Madani” (a non-profit providing maternal and general healthcare to locals in need). For those of you who are gluten-free, the veggie-rice wraps are a delicious must.
There are endless things to say about this magical corner of the globe, and I am so grateful for twenty-seven days I spent here. As proof of its magnetic effect, my partner and I currently looking into teaching opportunities at the Green School Bali, an international k-12 school that has been acclaimed for its dedication to natural, holistic and student-centered learning. If you seek further advice about where to retreat in Bali, feel free to e-mail me, because who knows? I might just be headed that way myself.
The Balinese term sekala-niskala (“visible-invisible”) iterates the people’s rooted belief that the physical world is penetrated by a spirit world. At any given moment, there are offerings being made to the invisible dimension.