Although I’ve been extremely blessed to have spent my much of life traveling the world with my Dad, who was cabin crew with British Airways for 20 years, I have never traveled solo until this year. My first solo trip was to Berlin back in the Spring; a couple of days in a modern city, not too far from home, with a currency which I was familiar with, and I could use my phone the same as I would in the UK – i.e. an ideal destination for my first solo adventure.
So, in true April-style, I thought I would go slightly bigger for my next trip. Cue a very worried mother as I announced I’d booked my flights to Bali, which is pretty much the complete opposite of everything I’ve just described about Berlin.
I don’t really do things by halves.
Anyway, in order to provide some peace of mind for both myself and my mum, I had booked two organised elements – a small group tour with Intrepid, and a week’s luxury retreat at Escape Haven. But that left me with 2 whole days in the middle completely alone in this strange new world! If I do say so myself, I think I did pretty well in planning this: I’d had some organised-adventuring to get myself used to the country and culture before being let loose in Ubud to see how well I’d fare on my own for a couple of days before escaping to the sanctuary of the retreat, where I would be adequately looked after if I were to completely flounder during the ‘alone days’.
Well you’ll be pleased to know that I didn’t flounder during that period, I flourished! It helped that my Airbnb host, Nyoman, was pretty awesome and managed to organise some great activities for me to do. I stayed at his place for 3 nights and every morning was treated to a delicious breakfast cooked by his lovely wife, Wayan.
It was served out on the terrace of my villa every at whatever time I requested, and consisted of a main, fresh fruit, smoothie and tea or coffee. There were numerous options available for the main, but I’d read on the reviews that Wayan’s banana pancakes were incredible so went for those to begin with…and I never looked back. I was in my element sat there every morning, looking straight out into the jungle, surrounded by the noises of nature, eating the most delicious pancakes I’ve ever tasted!
My first activity was a cooking class in Nyoman’s village, which was about a 10 minute drive from central Ubud. I love food, and cooking, so a Balinese cooking class was definitely on my list of ‘must do’s while I was out there! We started by getting picked up and taken to the village market where they get all their ingredients from.
We arrived and were greeted by a lovely lady who explained what we’d be making and soon put us all to work chopping and grinding and sautéing.
We made a starter soup followed by all the mains which we enjoyed buffet-style. It was a nice size group and I really enjoyed getting to chat to everyone while we cooked. I was slightly worried about the buffet situation, thinking maybe there wouldn’t be enough to go round! Of course, there was plenty, in fact we actually had a lot left over! We even made a desert of fried bananas in a delicious caramel sauce.
Food balancing was apparently her party-trick!
Straight after the cooking class I was off to a 1:1 art class! I was learning the Batik style which is basically drawing the outline with wax and then painting multiple layers over it before washing them off and revealing a masterpiece! The teacher was called Nyoman Warta and through his limited English was able to demonstrate how to use the tools and guide me through the painting process. It was a really unique experience, sat in what I assume was his garden/courtyard area, surrounded by his family and his chickens! The class was only 300000IDR, about £18 which I think’s an incredibly fair price for the time I spent having private tuition!
Once I’d finished painting I had to go away while it dried for 15 minutes or so, and by the time I came back, Nyoman Warta was taking a nap! So his son was apparently overjoyed to provide me with my finished work of art!
The following day was less activity packed, so I spent my morning journal writing out of the terrace before taking a walk into Ubud. There was a path all the way from my Airbnb all the way into town, through gorgeous rice paddies with locals selling arts and crafts along the way. I even stopped off at a restaurant on the way for some coconut water and absolutely loved just sitting back, reading my book and having nowhere else to be.
The rest of the day I spent doing some shopping in the many markets, having a look around some of the little boutiques, visiting Yoga Barn, eating lots of raw-treats and drinking smoothies! Just generally taking in the vibe of the city, and relishing in every second of it.
The next day I was off to Escape Haven for, not that I knew it yet, one of the most transformative weeks of my life. Tomorrow’s post will be about what I got up to aside from turning my entire life around, and with that the Bali Adventure series will draw to a close! Thanks for keeping up so far, I hope you’ve been enjoying hearing about my Indonesian escapades!