I love to travel and was lucky enough to take a historic (for me) trip to Bali, Indonesia this year. The last week of August and first week of September, to be exact (friends forgive me for taking so long to post). Since I had a milestone birthday this year, I figured it was as good a time as any to get my Eat, Pray, Love on. For the record, I wanted to visit Bali before all the hoopla of the Eat, Pray, Love book and movie. Years ago in L.A., I met an older gent, a seasoned traveler who lived a fairly stressful life as a corporate lawyer, or maybe it was finance? At any rate, he told me his absolute favorite trip was to Bali, Indonesia.
I’d heard if Bali but didn’t quite know where it was on a map. He told me it was the most peaceful place on earth and that there was a special energy there. After spending a month or so in Ubud, a jungle area in the middle of the island surrounded by beautiful rice terraces, he said he was a new man. Renting a small one-room hut/cottage slightly raised a few feet above ground (for about $8 USD per day), each day was the same. Wake up, meditate, read, talk with locals, eat some fresh fruit. Then do some writing before venturing into town where many artists had set up shop. He’d ride a bike down to the market, buy a fish and have them clean and cook it. Then maybe take a nap or head to the beach and surf. It was a solo trip for him, a time to disconnect and recharge. He met lots of different people and never felt alone, telling me lots of Australians went there, it’s kind of like their Hawaii. I was intrigued.
At this time in my life, the only thing I could think to ask was where he kept all his personal belongings when he was away from his hut (which had no doors). When he told me he left it all inside and never had any problems, I was shocked. He said it just wasn’t the kind of place people thought about committing crimes and stealing. A seed was planted, I must travel to Bali one day.
Years past and I’d occasionally mention my desire to visit “the island of the Gods” and I started to hear things like “oh, so you can have your Eat, Pray, Love moment” and to that I’d reply, huh? I learned about the book but never read it. Then the movie came out starring Julia Roberts and I figured, ok I’ll watch it. It was ok, not life changing for me. But I learned the popularity of the book and film had changed Bali, especially Ubud. No longer a secret spot for creative hearts, it was now bustling with yoga studios, galleries, vegan cafes and several unauthorized Ralph Lauren stores. None of this deterred me, a visit to Bali was my destiny.
Time to Pack
I obsessively planned the trip for months. Scouring blogs and Trip Advisor for travel tips, I began to build my itinerary. Choosing AirBnB for my lodging, since I’d had a great experience with it Peru a year earlier, was another win. I absolutely love AirBnB. Staying in a local home or apartment really makes it feel like you live there. I also love hotels, they just provide a completely different travel experience. I was able to swing a decent airfare on Cathay Pacific out of L.A. using some of my American Airlines points. The U.S. doesn’t have any direct flights to Bali, most go through Hong Kong, Tai Pei, Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore or Bangkok. Any way you slice it, it’s a 14-20 hour journey. Yes, that’s hours. Way too long to be on a plane, but I knew my destination would be worth it.
Quick Bali Flight Tip
I recommend stopping in Tokyo rather than Hong Kong (like I did), it’s a shorter distance from the US and breaks up the flight better. I recruited my friend Andrea (of Project Dre L.A.) to travel with me. She was a wonderful travel companion, we didn’t fight once during the two weeks. That said, she’s really an L.A. girl, which became evident during our first lizard sighting in our Ubud villa…
To be continued…up next: Ubud and Lizards