Bali Adventure 2015
This whirlwind trip began about a year prior when our good friend Karen came back from experiencing it in its first year. It was a yoga retreat set in Ubud, Bali (known to all who have read “Eat, Pray, Love”) that included daily yoga practice onsite plus side quests like white river rafting, monkey forests, shopping, dining, and more. We were in pretty much as soon as she described it to us.
Our trip brought us first to Taiwan, where we had about 8 hours layover. We spent it wandering around the airport and bonding with some of our fellow retreaters.
As soon as we got into the Denpasar airport, the group split. Some went straight to the yoga site, but we and a few others stayed in nearby Kuta, a touristy beachside town. We had arrived the day before the national holiday of Nyepi, a “Day of Silence” that is preceded by parades of locally created floats depicting Ogoh Ogoh, demons that they then contain for the year to come. The day after, the whole island completely shuts down and nobody is allowed on the streets. They even black out the windows of the hotel. So we spent the whole day indoors, but mostly up in the rooftop pool and spa.
During our trip we stayed in two amazing locations. In Kuta, we had a suite with a balcony overlooking the ocean. Gorgeous view that we almost didn’t get to use because of Nyepi. In Ubud, we stayed at Honeymoon Guesthouse, a series of bungalows. The hotel is almost entirely open air and is chock full of detailed artistry including carvings and statues. Magical magical place!
During our stay we visited four temples. The first is a Holy Water temple where we did an intricate series of blessings. The second was a more local temple and we were honored to see local villages using the space to prepare for a festival of the coming full moon. In the third, we saw a truly ancient site, climbed down (then up) 100 steps, and enjoyed a gorgeous waterfall. In the last, we traveled separately as a small group of 3 to an ocean-side temple called Tanah Lot, much like Mont San Michel, it becomes somewhat of an island when the tide is high.
We packed a lot in! We visited the monkey forrest and fed the monkeys bananas. We went white river rafting as a huge group then swam in a waterfall at the end. We got up insanely early in the morning and climbed a volcano in the dark to catch the sunrise at the top.
The food… it was all so fresh and so organic. We stuck almost entirely to local delicacies, indulging once in the local take on pizza. We drank Bintang beer and fell asleep to the Casa Luna specialty of comfort tea (milk with ginger and nutmeg… knocked us right out!
Achievement! in 12 days I managed to get 8 massages. One massage came with the retreat package. The place next door was so friendly and inviting and so incredibly cheap. An hour-long massage cost $8. And we sprang for one super-indulgent day at a resort spa, getting a decadent couple’s massage for… well, the cost of an American massage in NYC, but it was so worth it!
What was supposed to be a simple commitment ceremony performed by the priestess who opened and closed our retreat with blessings turned into a whole lot more. We should have known something was up when they asked us to compose vows. We should have known something was up when they moved the ceremony into the hotel’s private temple. We should have known something was up when one of the amazing ladies who works at the hotel showed up to do my hair in a traditional Balinese style. It was gorgeous and incredible and we wouldn’t change it for the world. But first, we had planned all week to get tattoos, and Taran spent her spare time all week drawing them for us. We got them the day before the ceremony. They’re designed to form a yin-yang when we hold hands, but to stand powerfully on their own.
ONE DAY IN TAIPEI
On the way home to NYC, we had a 24+ hour layover in Taiwan, so we got a hotel and spent the day exploring, hitting the Confucius temple, then wandering through the town and catching some everyday life stuff. We ended up finding a lovely restaurant, then we squeezed in a visit to the Botanical Garden and the National Palace Museum before rushing back to the hotel, checking out and getting back on a plane home.