Bali, My Beloved Home

I don’t have a lot of places in the world I would call ‘home’.
I also don’t have the classic definition of home which most people have. Home is not only where my friends or my family are, but also where my heart feels most at home.
I would have never expected Bali would give me a place out of nowhere, which I always feel welcome to come back to. A place to lose time and worries, to do whatever I want to. To have more space for myself.
But the most important thing is, I found myself in Bali more than at any other places so far. Bali is magical to me. I didn’t know before I came to Bali, that I would visit ‘The Island of Gods’ again and again and again.
Every time I felt tired of traveling around South East Asia I would come back, having my own space and freedom. To meet my friends and to live life to the fullest. Replenished with new energy, I would continue my next travels. My heart beats quicker when I think about Bali, my face gets brighter when I reminisce about my nights and experiences back to those days, my smile gets bigger when I think about my friends I made in Bali and my soul gets lighter when I guess how much peace I found.
And Yes- Islands like Java, Sumatra or Flores shouldn’t be missed.
But all of my next Indonesian blog posts are dedicated to Bali.

One thing I have to admit: I wasn’t very excited to go to Bali, my superficial me was exhausted to be at crowded places and I thought Bali would be overrated.
And even at the beginning I wasn’t really pleased and convinced by Bali, but after 1 month my affection grew bigger and bigger, it became later on unstoppable. Suddenly, it came to a point that every night before I would go to bed, I was way too emotional.
I felt I had the time of my life and I puke nothing else but happiness.
At least one time per day, I thought while scootering around, it has to be a dream or ‘Wow, it is amazing here, I never want to live somewhere else than Bali!’ Sounds like a cliché, but I even tried to pinch myself to assure whether I was caught in a dream or if it’s reality.
Bali and I started to date since the end of September in 2015.
Since then we have been in a fond relationship, with ups and some downs.

Here are five reasons why you should visit Bali, even though it is meanwhile too touristy. I could point out more, but here we go:

  1. I am a solo traveler, but not in Bali. I can’t count the number of friends I made anymore. And for the first time, I didn’t need to use CouchSurfing to find local friends. It was easy.
    You are sitting alone in a crowded Warung? There will be definitely one person who comes to you, whether tourist or local. Don’t be shy and speak to them. On the next day they might invite you to go cliff jumping with them like what happened to me before.
  2. The prices– I think for most of you, it might be of interest. At the beginning I often went to Hardy’s to buy my food and cook at home. Later I gave up, I just went out everyday to Warungs and to the pasar malam, night markets.
    A bottle of water (1,5 liters) in Hardys’s was around 2000 Indonesian Rupiahs (o,15$). Nasi Goreng or Mie Goreng at the night Market was 15000 IR (1,12 $). Bintang (beer) maybe 20000 IR (1,5 $).
    Especially if you go to Warungs, it will be cheaper. I ate almost everyday at one of my favourite warungs in Sanur called ‘Warung Java’ for a plate full of diverse food, but no meat, and paid usually between 8000-10000 IR.

    Also if you become friends with the locals and they might work in water sport centers, you will definitely get some discounts ;).
  3. Bali has something magical, which is difficult to describe. Actually you can’t run away from your problems in Bali. But it shows you how to deal with them and is one of the most important stages in my life and for my development. Seriously, I met a lot of people who have been in Bali for a while and they told me the same. Bali is magical and casted a spell over me.
    For me all this ‘find-yourself-blah-blah-stuff’ was true in the case of Bali.
    PS: Vanessa, if you read this, you will know what I am talking about, right?
  4. Outdoor activities and healthy lifestyle.
    Before I go to work I would buy myself a fresh mango or dragon fruit, right at the corner of my homestay.
    Then drive to the beach watching the sunrise in Sanur and eat my fresh fruits. A paradise! That’s the perfect start in my day.
    My days were never fully planned, but somehow I always did something.
    After work, I would go surfing. Bali is truly a journey to a surf-mecca.
    Taking a nap after surfing is the best thing to give yourself and your body a good rest.
    If it is not enough, you can climb Mount Batur (1717 metres or 1,06 miles)! Still not enough? How about the highest volcano on Bali?
    Mount Agung with an altitude of 3142 metres, respectively 1,95 miles.

    At the evening I would go to Yoga in Power Of Now Oasis – Yoga Studio Bali, in Sanur. The place is all wooden and open so birds fly in and out while you do yoga and listen to the ocean.
    If I would still have time, I usually drive quickly to Serangan (10 minutes far away from Sanur) to watch breathtaking sunsets and eat Es Campur or just to drink out of a coconut.
    If it should be more fancy, I usually drive to Canggu for a sunset.
    Kuta is also brilliant, but sometimes too crowded, so I prefer Legian in this area or better: Seminyak.
    Endless spots of great spas all-inclusive.
  5. The Friendliness of Balinese People.
    I think they might be the friendliest folk I’ve ever met in my life.
    Helpful, sincere, warm-hearted, graceful smiles and being decorous are only few virtues.
    With a ‘Terima Kasih’ (thank you) or ‘Apakabar’ (How are you?) or a big smile, you can easily win their hearts. If someone is very interested in languages, I can tell you that Indonesian is an easy language to pick up.
    Their smile and charm is so contagious, sometimes you have bad days and don’t feel to smile at all, somehow the people still can conjure a smile on your face.
    Especially young people would love to speak English to you.
    The whole island is fascinating. It starts from people, culture until nature. Observe in the early morning their beautiful rite of sacrificial offerings. They do it 3 times per day, and the offerings can be easily seen everywhere.

Be open-minded and curious and soon you might fall in love with this island like I did.

Offerings at Goa Gajah/ Elephant Cave Ubud
Elefant Cave, probably from the 9th century.

While Indonesia’s majority is muslim, more than 80% of Bali’s population adheres to Balinese Hinduism. It is a combination of traditional long-term local beliefs and Hindu influences from Asia.
With an estimated 20000 temples and shrines, Bali got its nickname as the ‘Island of Gods’.
Not only gods and demigods are worshipped in Balinese Hinduism but together with the indigenous agricultural deities, spirits of ancestors,some heroes and sacred places. The religion also embraces mythology and ancestor worships. Rites are done everyday and offerings were sacrified.

You quickly recognize, it pervades nearly every aspect of local people’s traditional life. There is one tradition I watched many times:
The Barong Dance, which is an ancient dance tradition. The stories  are performed through bodily gestures, in which the Balinese dancers are dynamic and expressive. It shows the religious and likewise artistic expression among the Balinese people.

Barong Dance at a temple in Serangan.

Once you will be invited to a traditional Balinese wedding, I beg you to go. It is wonderful to see how everyone is dress up traditionally.
Get lost in a world of colourful dresses, stunning food, smiling people, traditional rites and different culture.
Everyone will treat you like a special guest.

Candid Moment.
Wedding in Serangan.
Colourful wedding.

And if one of your local friends doesn’t have time to go out to a bar with you in the evening, this is the most common reason why:
‘Sorry, I have a ceremony today, I can’t come :(‘ .

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