I enjoyed my week in Bali especially when I was able to get beyond the towns and into the countryside and villages. Its a far different experience than just staying in the larger towns.
Sure I could of rented a scooter and become like many tourists, but that still wouldn’t have motivated to get me outside my comfort zone… Nope, I’m old school so I got a bicycle from the hotel and peddled my way out into the rice paddies with a guide from the hotel. My destination was the well known Tegallalang rice terraces which was approximately 12 kilometers from Ubud – thank goodness for my awesome guide. 🙂
Traveling at this slower pace has its advantages as I observed a number of weddings underway, kids going to school, farmers bringing their produce to market…this was the real Bali especially once I was off the main roads.
As I neared the rice terraces the hills were steeper (as you’d expect), but also the number of tourists and scooters multiplied considerably particularly adjacent to the Big Swing. It was a definite “pass” on the Big Swing as the line up was already ridiculously long and me being not much for organized tours and line ups it was an easy decision to keep peddling.
Fortunately my local guide was able to obtain the entrance tickets in the blink of an eye after we arrived and so no waiting around. Although there weren’t more than a handful of people at the terraces when we got there anyway.
What the brochures don’t tell you is that even after you’ve paid you entrance fee you have to pay each farmer that you encounter a toll to cross his land – during my hike I had to pay four different farmers the equivalent of something close to the entrance fee each time, so rather than your 10,000 rupees ($10), you ended up forking over the equivalent of $50 for the experience.
Don’t get me wrong I happily paid the fees as the scenery was breathtaking and literally a once in a lifetime experience, but I’m sure if you weren’t expecting this then it would have be annoying for sure.
On the ride back my guide asked me if I wanted to follow the paddy field path rather than the road…and of course I said yes. 🙂 The remainder of my morning was spent on a slow and peaceful ride along impossibly narrow but green bunds which divided the fields. We passed through quiet villages and stopped at temples to explore.
No place to be, no agenda other than soak in the unforgettable scenery…was this heaven? Quite possibly!
As I neared the end of my week I realized that I hadn’t yet taken a yoga class while in Bali, but had planned all along to see how it stacked up against my hot yoga class back in Toronto. The most famous place in Ubud is the Yoga Barn, and although there are many spa and wellness centers, when it comes to yoga the Yoga Barn is the most well known place to take a class in Ubud.
Conveniently located a mere five minute walk from my hotel, and thats if I’m dawdling… 🙂
They offer up to fifteen classes available per day, so I dropped in and signed up for a 90 minute Vinyasa flow class, which is exactly the same one that I take normally. It didn’t take long before the room was at capacity and it was a relatively large room, but I think we must of had at least 50 – 60 people in the class. Prime time is prime time and apparently the 10:00 am class is exactly that.
Interestingly, I was only one of three men other than the instructor in the entire class (not complaining just an observation!) 🙂 , with most of the women sounding like they were European – Dutch, German, French or English.
Once we started class it didn’t take long for the heat to begin taking its toll on the participants, well we were in the tropics after all. There were a few complaining to the instructor about the heat but for the most part those that were feeling the heat just lay on their mats relaxing.
I enjoyed the class, but I must admit it wasn’t as good as the class my usual instructor (Jess!) gives back in Toronto.
The remainder of my week was divided between exploring the markets, art galleries and temples that are so prevalent in this part of the world and lounging. One of my favourite art galleries and performance centers (as they have Balinese dance performances a couple of nights per week) was the Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA).
The gallery grounds are large and tropical, with a number of fountains, statues, and pre-war buildings that are used for the art installations. As well, there was a resident wood carver and sketch artist creating some amazing Balinese art and accessible to everyone who passed by.
Most afternoons I just lazed, which is so unlike me but I really needed to recharge my batteries after a hectic few months on my projects and then my non stop visit to Japan. Nothing like an afternoon massage at the spa followed by a snooze by the pools.
Most nights dinner was at one of the local Warung’s (cafe’s) that dot the town for a taste of the local fare. Amazing dishes including some of my favorites – Nasi Ayam, Nasi Campur and Nasi Goreng. Absolutely delicious!
It was an fun week in Bai, just about the right amount of time for me to feel rested and relaxed.
Someone asked me if I’d recommend Bali as a destination. My personal point of view is that its a beautiful country but completely overrun with tourists, which impacts every aspect of Balinese life. Sad in some ways, but in others it provides a livelihood that they wouldn’t necessarily have otherwise.
I’m personally glad I’ve gone, but unlikely to rush back if you know what I mean.
It was a fabulous trip overall and now already busy planning for my next trip. 🙂