I purchased the flight to Bali on a whim, as I’d been counseled by friends on how much I’d love it: the healthy focus, the plethora of vegan restaurants, the hippie-dippie spiritual vibe. That Elizabeth Gilbert had visited and included it in the solo female traveler’s Scripture definitely didn’t hurt its case. I’d bought the nonrefundable ticket for what turned out to be an impossible date and time, as overnight I was thrown into a messy international scandal at work and my time was no longer my own.
My schedule was packed with drawn out appointments, meetings with lawyers. I was being suffocated by pinching stress, anxious negativity, and Bangkok smog. After yet another long and fruitless meeting, I’d reached my breaking point, and an ultimatum. A spiritual escape was no longer a dream, it was a necessity. I needed to get away for some air. I was freed for ten days.
From the moment I landed in Bali, I felt a heavy weight lifting off my shoulders and drifting away in the frangipani perfumed breeze. The wifi was almost nonexistent, freeing me from my email, stranding frantic voicemails in my mailbox, releasing me from any impending doom I could have possibly staved off.
I was in another world.
My pre-booked Ubud guesthouse was a cozy, tucked-away, ancient hodge podge of sturdy yet whimsically ornate buildings. The bubbling fountains and smoke of incense softened the air, and I inhaled a smogless, stressless breath of freedom from the disconnected comfort of my temporary home, enjoying the heavy dark wood furnishings, and my own private terrace on the courtyard.
One night slid easily into 10, as I would wake each morning to a freshly prepared vegan breakfast while watching one of the maids perform the traditional ritual offering, presenting origami-like bamboo leaves dressed with flowers to the spirits. Like each new day is gone when the sun sets, so were these small gifts destroyed by the time night falls. But there was no sadness in their loss, only joy in the next morning’s offering.
Time was slow, and my own, for the first time in months. The passing of each day was beautiful and enjoyed. The only scheduled appointment was in the morning, an hour of yoga in a light, breezy studio receiving whispers of the forest. I had forgotten how to move without a goal, what my breath sounds like in silence, how it feels to be quiet within myself. Finding it again was delicious.
I spent the rest of each day wandering the streets in a daze, mesmerized by the scenes of lush green plant life punctuated by colorful blooms, and made friendly by the effervescent smiles of the Balinese. I took less than 10 photos (most of them here, unedited), all quick afterthoughts, as I preferred to be in the moment rather than photographing it. I had long meals alone, mostly raw food, leaving each restaurant feeling healthier rather than heavier.
After returning to Bangkok, the beauty of daily joy stayed tucked inside my soul, like a small Balinese offering waiting to be presented.
If you’re looking for a bit more upscale relaxation while in Bali (and some sea views too), check out the Conrad Bali (best price through traveloka hotel deals).