I saw this beautiful movie in 2010 while working during one of the night shift at a hotel and since then am absolutely in love with the message this movie has given out to the world or at least to many women out there, “Embrace the glorious mess you are”. Liz, the protagonist of this movie makes you love yourself and your choices and that is when as she says, you are on the path of wisdom. She reaches to this outstanding conclusion while traveling around the world and not just traveling, but traveling as a “Single Lady Traveler” and I think could be that was the dawn of the this trend of traveling as an independent single lady. That’s exactly how I developed my desire to travel the places alone while I meet people, know them, love them, get into a small affair or may be not or just order all the food on the menu to learn the beauty of a completely strange land.
I feel everyone in their lives come across the day or that feeling when they finally decide to live that moment, they have always desired. 2014, am about to get married next year with the man I desired all these years and now I think it’s time for me to live my daydream in realism before I get married, travelling to Bali, all by myself just like Liz and meet a medicine man to know my future or get into a small affair because to some extent this is also my bachelor’s trip. Let’s see if all that happens in Bali with me, an island paradise, known for its culture, art and off course honeymooners.
“Am flying, my first trip outside India, all by myself, what is an immigration form? I have no clue”
This was the view from my window, mesmerizing sky, just before landing at Kuala Lumpur
I landed at the Denpasar Bali airport at 09am, managed to get my visa on arrival, which is a very easy process. Show your passport, boarding pass and pay them a fee of 25$ (Which may vary now) and there goes your visa stamp on your passport.
While I started to walk towards the exit, I stopped to understand the green and red exit paths and after understanding there literal meaning I walked on the green path as I had nothing to declare.
Both outside and inside the airport there are plenty of cabs hiring kiosks that are reliable and are not overly priced. I picked up a cab from one of them for my hotel. My cab driver walked me all the way to the parking zone where the cab was parked asking me one question which almost every cab driver, waiter, shopkeeper asked me with their eyes wide open “Why are you traveling alone to Bali?” Well I never minded that question and told them all that, “it’s my bachelor’s trip, planned all alone”. I rather smiled on my circumstances here as throughout my journey I saw woman clad in red & while bangles right from Delhi airport until I landed at Bali because Bali is famous in India among honeymooners and there I was “As single lady traveler”
Finally my cab exited the airport and I got to see this beautiful and clean country with black and white cloth wrapped on every traffic signal and roundabout and this as my guide “Su” told me later, Bali locals believe bring positive energy and hence avoid road accidents, hmm, I believed him deeply.
One of the roundabout’s as you drive towards the city from airport.
I booked myself at the Grand Hyatt Bali; this hotel is just so stunning and has one of the best beaches in Bali among the other five stars lot situated in Nusa Dua.
Below is the view of the beach from the lobby of Grand Hyatt Bali.
This hotel is truly grand justifying to its name, you can almost get lost here and the USP of this hotel is it’s clear blue beach, welcoming services and the open amphitheater restaurant called “Pasar Senggol” where they show a different live dance performance under the stars almost every evening during the dinner hours to keep their guests entertained. These performances are traditional Bali dances inspired from various Hindu mythological tales. This amphitheater was one of the main reasons I booked this hotel, it’s simply high on culture and romantic. The staff is very kind and the food is authentic Balinese. My personal tip– Don’t miss to reserve a table here if you wish to see the local dance performances live in the grandest way, this experience you might not get in various local show outlets.
Dinner date during my trip with Balinese live dance performance at Pasar Senggol
I booked a travel itinerary from hotel and spent close to 350 USD for a chauffeur driven car and a highly informative guide. Since it was my first trip abroad all by myself , safety was my prime concern so I choose to fix everything through hotel because I know they won’t ever put their guest in unsafe hands although I spent a bit more for my organized trip than that a back packer would have spent. But yes after spending four days at Bali, I can surely suggest anyone to plan a trip without spending much on an organized trip because it’s an absolutely safe destination. So if you wish to hire a bicycle like Liz, go ahead and do that.
Just after my check-in I met my guide “Su” (I couldn’t ever remember his original name but this is what he suggested me to call him) who was a local national, was very informative, a courteous gentleman with a great sense of humor which is why he was a great companion to be with. He was a short man with a typical smiling Balinese face and all the days we met I saw him wearing a batik cloth (traditionally worn by local men), wrapped around his waist almost touching the ground with a white shirt. (We call it “Lungi” in India).
Once I met Su, we left in our chauffeur driven SUV arranged by hotel to our first destination Uluwatu temple. Enroute Su told me that Bali culture is inspired a lot from Hinduism and he was amazed when he came to know that there is a mention of King Bali in Hindu mythology and he sometimes think that may be Bali got its name from there but he was unsure. Yes, Su also likes Bollywood movies and mentioned about few of them which he had seen on his trip to India for some travel mart.
I reached at Uluwatu temple in no time or may be because I and SU didn’t stop chatting even for a second, it was late afternoon and as per Su this was also the best time to be at the temple as the temple looks beautiful as the sun sets in its backdrop. Su cautioned me to be careful of monkeys while walking inside the premises of the temple and suggested me to leave all my belongings in car except my camera. Meanwhile Su arranged to buy my entrance ticket which was 30 IDR per person. It was a long walk approaching the main temple premises while I tried not to be friendly with the monkeys (Because I was scared) unlike other tourists who were happily feeding them bananas. My first sight to the temple, it definitely looked quaint but gorgeous.
This temple is situated on a cliff about 75 mts. high, projecting into the Indian Ocean. I was given a sarong to tie around my waist, a Balinese etiquette which is considered to be sacred and is mandatory to be worn by all tourists and locals once they enter any holy place or temples at Bali. Most of the famous temples or wherever I visited at least, this sarong was given by the temple authorities. I started to climb the stairs; this temple gives you a spectacular view of the sea as you reach the top. To witness the blue and calm waters of Indian Ocean from the top was a spectacular and peaceful experience. I wanted to sit on the stairs while continue to stare the sea but the sun heat was unbearable. Most of the area at the temple was kept private and closed for tourists but I never mind it, may be because I was completely mesmerized by the quaint charm and the view of blue waters of Indian Ocean.
View from the stairs of the temple
“So let’s go Su” I told Su to move, “Beautiful lady” (that’s how Su always addressed me throughout the trip), no he was not flirtatious otherwise I wouldn’t have tolerated him. “The beauty of this place is yet to be exposed while the sun sets and you would be taking a sit at the amphitheater” said Su. I was amazed and inquisitive at the same time of what Su meant and what he meant was this:
As i see the sun setting from the amphitheater with the dramatic kecak dance
Kecak dance performed by the locals at Uluwatu temple while the sun is setting into see which brings out the colors of Bali culture which has its roots from the famous Hindu mythology of Ramayana and Mahabharata. This dance is performed at the Amphitheatre at Uluwatu temple against a dramatic sunset backdrop. The artists use their voices to create dramatic music in chorus and also use their hands in great volume throughout the performance. The story has a strong insight from one the incidents of the holy book “Ramayana” where Ravana, the knight of Srilanka abducts the wife of Lord Rama, goddess Sita and how Jatayu the holy bird tried to rescue Sita from Ravana. The performance continued until the sun disappeared completely in the blue waters of Ocean.
Next morning, Su recommended going to Ubud which was part of our four days itinerary. Ubud is a town in Bali known as a center of traditional art and dance. Our first stop was a house of local artist as I requested Su, I would like to visit a local house to see how locals live and do in their day to day activities. Su took me to this house of a local artisan wherein I received a very warm reception including the question, why I was traveling alone? This gentleman showed me around his house which was more of a museum because most of the rooms were filled with the paintings and sculptures he made for tourists to admire and buy. There were paintings depicting the culture, dance and temples of Bali and sculptures of gods primarily of lord Ganesha and hence I could relate to his art.
A local’s house in Bali
The local man took me around his house, showed me his kitchen as well and ended his house trip by taking me through the small temple he had in his garden. While he offered me to enter the temple, he spoke to Su in Balinese to check if am not undergoing my mensuration (we Indian girls are use to this so called etiquette). I looked around the temple and said goodbye to him and thanked him for his genuine hospitality although I didn’t buy any of his art. Yes not to mention he picked up a Plumeria flower from his garden and requested Su to tell me to put in my hair, which I certainly obeyed followed by Su not wasting a moment to click my pictures with the plumeria.
The Temple at the local’s house and me with the plumeria
We moved next to Goa Gajah cave temple and as expected I got the sarong at the entrance of the temple to tie around my waist. This temple was built in the 09th century and also served as a sanctuary. It’s situated in a huge area and you need to walk down few stairs to reach the main premises of the temple. As I reached the main grounds my eyes captivated the entrance of this beautiful cave temple.
The entrance of the cave has figures of demons carved right into the rock with the primary figure of an elephant and hence this temple is also called as elephant cave temple. Inside the cave, which is not too spread out the atmosphere, is calm and cold with majorly people performing private ceremonies with the religious man of the temple. I walked outside the cave and found this small quaint structure which is called as the bathing temple wherein water is pouring from the standing statues. By the way this site is also UNESCO world heritage site. The temple has vast green lands to walk around so if you are looking for peace like me, a walk throughout the temple is much recommended.
The temple cave entrance
A UNESCO world heritage site,Noticed the blue sarong tied around my waist?
After the breakfast I and Su headed to Bali coffee and spice plantation, a place much recommended by my best friend as she tasted this amazing coffee blend there called “Kopiluwak”, considered most expensive coffee in the world and known to be made from cat poop. Su showed me the spices plantation in details and clicked me while giving me some weird pose ideas. I was amazed to see the variety of tea and coffee produced here organically. You can see the locals roasting coffee by hands in front of you.
After the tour of the plantation, the caretaker served all blends of tea and coffee available which were plenty in number and I simply loved them all. No one suggested me Kopiluwak here but off course the caretaker suggested to try and buy the honeymoon coffee. I don’t have to mention why it is called honeymoon coffee but yes when I shared with him during my conversation that am due to get married next year, he suggested me this coffee and I certainly bought it as well.
The Bali Coffee Plantation
It was a lovely weather that day and we happily proceeded for our next destination.On my way I told Su, I saw Julia Roberts in the movie cycled across the paddy fields and I want to see those. Su in no time fulfilled my wish and we were amongst the green paddy fields driving towards our next stop. Meanwhile Su in order to make sure that he is the best guide asked me if I would like to meet the old medicine man called Ketuk who Julia Robert consulted in the movie. He told me that Ketuk was alive but now charge plenty dollars to meet people because now he is a popular man.
The lush green paddy fields to cycle
We reached Tanah lot temple, I was always very excited to see this temple due to its beautiful and calm location. As I entered I witnessed this beautiful rock formation in the Indian Ocean on which this temple is made and is dedicated to the sea gods of Bali. Su told me that the temple had undergone a major renovation in 1980s as few parts of the temple started to sink in water. It’s in fact interesting to see such a huge rock formation in ocean. The view of Indian Ocean is spectacular at this place, waves hitting the temple premises give a mesmerizing view, to feel this further what I found was a great idea is to stand at the bottom of temple and experience the waves.
Me at Tanah Lot temple, shutterbugs by Su 🙂
We returned back to hotel and I preferred to spend my time alone, watching the sun set at the beautiful beach of Grand Hyatt Bali.
Next day I decided to indulge in some local food and shopping. Su took me to some local markets. Am more of a street shopper in such destinations so my paradise was the Ubud Art market, hundreds of small kiosks selling clothes, miniatures , paintings , handmade bags, baskets , hats and souvenirs , so I got everything I wanted from here for friends back home. There are many places to shop in Bali right from street shopping to high end stores.
After finishing shopping we headed to our final destination Mount Batur. Mount Batur is an active volcano surrounded by various small villages of Bali. We drove to Kintamani village which was around 1500mts. above sea level and upon reaching this place I was awestruck with the dramatic view of active volcano and the serene Lake Batur surrounded by it. It was little chilly and misty but every moment was worth the experience.
The locals around this place were friendly and tourism is one of their major sources of income after agriculture. As far as I could see there were views of small houses enveloped in rice terraces hence this place was simply peaceful. If you wish to indulge in trekking to this active volcano you can certainly have this amazing experience facilitated by the locals, I had to skip this because I was running short of time. Trekking to Mount Batur is at least a full day or two affair hence there are also small hotels at Kintamani for the visitors to stay at this place for longer.
After the breathtaking views I felt hungry and told Su I needed to sit for some local food as I have been only eating in the hotel and can’t leave without tasting the authentic Balinese food. Su was almost like my genie, he had an option for all my fancies and the next thing was to find me in this beautiful restaurant with an authentic Balinese ambience and food. I took a table next to the glass window, ordered everything on the menu and set my eyes at the lush green rice terraces realising how happy I was with my independence, all this while doing exactly what I wanted and going places I wanted to go, it was like I had wings.Meanwhile my foods arrived and have a close look at my dishes and yes I ate them all alone.
Surprisingly Su and I were quite back on our way to hotel may be we both were sad because our small journey together had almost come to an end. I had to leave Bali next morning but before I leave I had to fulfill my last wish so I told my Ginnie, “Su , I want a tattoo” Can you take me to a tattoo parlor here in Bali? Su, by now was pretty impressed that am a crazy girl and said yes the very next minute. He dropped me back to the hotel and picked me again that evening; he took me to his friend’s tattoo parlor. He ate rice and chicken curry with the locals waiting for me outside, my first tattoo and I was definitely scared and excited both. Su’s friend was quiet flirtatious he was very happy with the fact that I was traveling alone and offered me to join for a party that night on the beach. I spent that night lying on the beach under the stars thinking that i have lived a complete movie in those four days and three nights, i whispered to myself “Thankyou for bringing me here”