monkeys do yoga
Bali, the place of tranquil yoga barns, beaches, rice fields, oh and beer fueled Australians. Only a short flight from Australia, Bali has become the go to place for young Australians looking for a cheap beach holiday. Kuta, Bali’s own version of Magaluf is a place best avoided if you want a more peaceful retreat.
Arriving in Bali I headed to Canggu, a small coastal town known for its relaxed way of life and surfing. The hostel lived up to this vibe with surf board racks outside every room and a pool. The beds surprised me though, normally when you think of a bunk bed you think of two beds, these however were three, I’m just thankful I didn’t have to sleep on the top! Walking from the hostel to the beach I soon discovered why people came here to surf, the waves were massive and incredibly intimidating. Even trying to stand up in the shallows was a challenge, so I was quite happy to sit on the beach and observe from the safety of the sand.
Chatting to fellow travelers is a great source of information, hearing about a bar which over looked the beach and had roof top pool, which you could use for free if you bought a drink, was music to my ears. Well that was my afternoon sorted, an uninterrupted view of the sea, fresh coconuts and blue skies. Bliss.
Hearing the words, ‘We are going to the bar, do you want to join?’, is an offer that I rarely turn down. A group of people from all nationalities coming together, usually ends in laughter and randomness. Like the night we went to Old Mans, a bar in Canggu which has live music until 12am and an after party on the beach. I naively thought it would be a few people playing music. Oh no, a full DJ set and lights lit up the beach with the crowd dancing to the beat. When we eventually decided it was time to head back, we ended up walking past a Balinese man cooking pizza. Not only did people buy this deliciousness we helped him cook them. Canggu, relax by day, party by night.
Ubud, a contrasting, yet welcome change. Located in the centre of Bali, Ubud is possibly the most well-known area, featured on many films for its relaxed atmosphere, Yoga retreats and lush, green countryside. Sadly, with fame and popularity comes tourism. The tourism boom can be seen in the western shops that line the high street and marketing aimed at those wanting to buy a piece of restorative calm. If you manage to look past all of this and stray away a little you can still find the true Balinese culture, even if it is slightly hidden behind the facade of modernism.
Hiring a driver for the day three of us headed to the rice fields of Jatiluwih. Traveling further north we entered a more rural Bali and it was a welcome escape. Walking through the rice fields, which were as far as the eye could see, I found a pocket of tranquility. It’s a shame that this soon disappeared back in Ubud with my constant fear of a monkey jumping on me. I enjoyed watching them from a distance as they raided bananas from shops and sat aboard someone’s parked scooter, happily eating their loot, but I didn’t want them to come much closer (they have big teeth).
Getting up at 2am I headed with a group to Mt Batur, one a Bali’s volcanoes popular for its sunset treks. Walking up a volcano in the dark is something I had never done before, and it was a strange experience. Looking up all I could see were lots of little lights creating a trail as people headed upwards. Reaching the top, we were greeted with fog. It wasn’t going to be the magical, colourful sunrise that I’d hoped for. All was not lost though, the sun did make its way through the cloud, creating a feeling of being on top of a mysterious world, one where monkeys appeared from nowhere.
Before leaving Ubud, I did the thing you’re supposed to do, in the place you’re supposed to do it and went to a Yoga lesson. Going to the Yoga Barn, I found myself surrounded by people that seemed to be floating as they sipped green smoothies and spoke very softly. Defiantly a far cry from the beach raves!
Taking a week out I headed to the Gili Islands before coming back to Seminyak. Slightly down from Kuta it still has the beach bars and lively night life but is slightly quieter and handy for the airport. Although Bali is small the traffic is terrible. Enjoying my last few days in Bali I ate an abundance of fresh fruit and soaked up the sun, even venturing to the Potato Head Beach Club (a strange name but fun) to watch the sunset over the sea from an infinity pool. A little bit of luxury to end my time in Bali.