Saturday evening, we land in Bali Indonesia and proceed as normal to customs and immigration like herded cattle. Hundreds of people stand in numerous slow moving lines for immigration. After seventy minutes, we have officially arrived in Bali! Our Air BnB host is picking my mom and I up from the airport. This is the first time I’ve ever had someone waiting at the airport holding a sign with my name. I always thought this would be so cool. In all my years going to different destinations, I’ve always had this weird jealousy of the people who get this opportunity.
My mom soon begins to stress out as we wind through the busy streets of Denpasar, where lanes are just a suggestion. I laugh as I recall driving in India, which is much more chaotic than Denpasar. Ninety minutes later, we arrive at our villa, just north of Ubud. Our host shows us our villa, where watermelon juice is waiting (yum!), asks for our breakfast order and bids us goodnight. My mom and I check out our gorgeous villa and head right to bed.
We wake the next morning just before sunrise. I am excited to start the day. I hop into the bathroom and enjoy a nice warm shower in the open air as the sun peaks over the horizon. Shortly after, breakfast arrives. Banana pancakes, fruit juice, coffee, and a plate of fruit – dragonfruit, pineapple, watermelon and papaya. The spread is beautiful!
Through out the week we are spoiled with amazing delicious spreads for breakfast every morning, made fresh by our host’s wife. Our hosts are spectacular. Always ready and willing to give us rides to town, book adventures for us and just have good conversation in general. Nyoman (our AirBnB host) and his family are incredibly kind and excited to share Balinese culture with us, my mother and I eager to learn.
The villa is situated on Nyoman’s property, a quiet escape from the busy streets of Ubud, which are only a ten minute drive away. Nyoman has three different villas to rent on his property, all of which are beautiful. There is a gorgeous rice field between his villa and the Main Street in Ubud, which takes about an hour to walk. Along this walk you’ll see many ducks in the rice fields, people selling artwork and children playing.
My mom and I spent our Bali days wandering through Ubud. Watching Balinese Hinduism in action, surveying the market for fun trinkets and enjoying plenty of massages! Balinese take their religion very seriously and it is pretty breathtaking to see their devotion to the daily rituals. Small offerings can be seen covering temples and entryways to homes and businesses through out Ubud every single day. We spent an early morning walking through the market, before the rush of tourists descended upon it. The markets are small and cramped in many areas, so it is nice to be able to admire the stalls without the hustle and bustle of the midday. Be sure to bargain when you go! The stall owners have a method of identifying customers. Once you purchase something, check out the kind of bag they give you. Is it white and/or striped? That means you’re an easy customer, you don’t bargain too much. Is it black? This tells other stall owners and sellers you drive a hard bargain. We got a black bag. We read that Bali marketers expect you to bargain and that a good way to bargain is to offer half of what they initially tell you. And then figure it out from there where you stand, stay at half or are you willing to increase a bit?
Massages! Three days in a row. NOT joking. Typical price for a one hour, full body traditional Balinese massage is about $7-$9 USD. Again, NOT joking. My mom and I were very relaxed during these three days, which was exactly what I wanted for this trip for my mom. I brought my mom on this first leg of my journey in hopes to help her de-stress from work at the end of the year (she’s a high school teacher). As well as to hang out with my mom, obviously!
The trip was fantastic overall. Great to experience Bali in a more traditional sense and not just at the beach and surfing the whole time (which is what I’ve noticed is the typical kind of trip guests to Bali partake in). Matter of fact, my mom and I never even went to the beach! Not dissing the beach whatsoever, I love it. But we felt Bali is a place to connect, ground ourselves and experience on a more spiritual level. And we did exactly that.