Tag Archives: canggu

The Magic Healing of Balian

I’ve fallen into the trap recently of becoming complacement.  Lazy.  I came away wanting to get my writing done, study, enjoy the things I was doing at home and online; but to do it in a much warmer setting, whilst experiencing a different culture. 

That was happening, and I was moving around at the same time, exploring, fulfilling my life in different ways with new places, new experiences and excitement.

In the last few weeks I have rented a small room for myself and my boyfriend, who is arriving this week.  However in the run up to his arrival, because neither of us were entirely sure when it would be, I have spent my time preparing for him; nesting if you will.  However, due to work commitments, his arrival date had to be pushed back, and I didn’t realise it until these past few days, but I’ve managed to put my entire life on hold for this.  I’ve not been doing any of the things I love, instead have just been going to the gym, and working on my tan, thinking of nothing more than how big my bum looks, and filling my brain with self indudlgent and trivial thoughts, rather than doing the things I set out to do.

To add to this, I ended up doing something last week to a friend I have made here, that really, really hurt her.  It was a completely drunken and foolish thing to have done, and I can make every excuse in the world, but essentially I hurt someones feelings, someone who I care about, and as a result of this, have spent the past week being rather critical of myself, and evaluating the kind of character that I am, if I could have done something so clearly hurtful to another human being.

  

❤️

 
So as you can see, even though I am in paradise, I’ve slipped from my healthy place of self love and self worth,which I was discovering, back to not really knowing who I am.

A few photos from my favourite place in Canggu; Echo Beach

     
   

Thankfully, I feel that I realised this pretty quickly.  
So having woken up yesterday morning, after an evening of drinking with friends from home, and a dark cloud of hangover and guilt looming over me, I packed some clothes in a bag, rolled up my yoga mat and caught a ride, North up the coast, to a small village called Balian.

I’ve been here now for less than 24 hours, but having got my head down last night, woken up early this morning, and completed a yoga session for the first time in ages, I already feel better.

I felt a sense of guilt; for feeling disappointed in myself; when I’m in the most beautiful place on earth, and I’m not sat behind a computer in an office in Highbury & Islington, working in a crap job for the council like I was before.  I should be just embracing it, and being happy.  But instead, I’d become lazy, waking up every day to lounge by the pool before going to my gym session down the road.

My brain works 1million miles an hour, and I know this.  I need to have more mental stimulation to challenge myself each day.  Yes, I’d be meeting people all the time, making friends, going for dinner, having drinks, but I still wasn’t filling my mind with substance.

 

Deni, lovliest guy and best waiter in Bali

   

Monggos; my local bar /restaurant / sofa spot

 

Wednesday night drinks at Old Mans

Complaining about working out, post training at Bali Fit

Teaching the most loveable, oversized pup in Bali, how to swim

 

Looked after a puppy for the day as a trial. It was great til she peed in my bed. Now revaluating want of children or puppies in life

 
I woke up this morning in Balian, and as I say, went to practice yoga.  I then came back to my hotel for a breakfast of watermelon and pineapple with yogurt, and some gritty Bali Coffee.  I then slipped into my bikini, grabbed my novel, and walked down to the beach.  Here, in between reading chapters, I’d look up at the surfers taking it in turns to catch a wave, or the men out on the fishing boats, not too far from the shore.

 

Last night’s sunset at Balian

 
I looked to my right, and saw the ocean crashing against the rocks that were jutting out into the water, and the little bungalows situated on top.  To my left there was an expanse of more beach, with palm trees lining the way.

  
   

After overheating on the black sand, I gathered my things to return to my hotel, a short 3 minute walk up the cliff.  I came to the (infinity) pool, even though where I’m staying is certainly budget accommodation, and took a swim, before stopping to look over the edge, at the waves rolling in from the Indian Ocean.

  

“Budget” Accommodation


 I’ve since been sitting in the sun, taking positive actions to get myself back on track with where I need to be.  I’ve done some writing, and looked into more online work, as well as chasing up some other things that have been sat at the back of my mind, niggling at me.

I’m glad I took the escape to Balian.  Yes, I was living my own paradise in Canggu, but even the most perfect of places have their way of grating on you.

For me, I needed the change of scenery, just so I could hit the refresh button, and remember why I was here.

If you’re reading this and you feel like you need somewhere with no distractions, and somewhere that literally will give you a reminder of the true Bali, and not the tourist version, I can whole heartedly recommend Balian.  I’ve achieved more of my “to do list” here in one morning, than I have done in one week in Canggu. 
 After spending a couple more days here, I’m going to head back to the relative hustle and bustle of the hipster town, and keep my newly rediscovered work ethic intact, finish my online studies, whilst getting some writing jobs under my belt.  And then finally get to see my beautiful boyfriend.  Perfect.

  

 

How not to make life hard for yourself; renting in Bali

After having spent yet another week living out of my backpack in a hostel (the very lovely, but very cosey single room I rented in Serenity Eco Guesthouse, Canggu) I suddenly had the realisation that I should be thinking of getting settled.

In my mind, I was waiting for my boyfriend to fly out and join me until I rented somewhere more stable.  Perhaps because I wanted to make sure we found somewhere we liked together, but in actual fact it was more likely that I was hoping then he could do the searching so I wouldn’t have to.

However, with his arrival impending, and a gental nudge and suggestion from him to find somewhere, I agreed.  Having trapsed through the Internet half heartedly, looking for somewhere to stay on all the usual site (AirBnB, Booking.com), over the last couple of months, I was so sure that nothing was within our budget.  Our budget being as cheap as possible, without living in a total dive; a dive so dismal that would inevitably make us want to kill one other.  Not asking for much then.

So having exhausted the Internet, I was slowly giving up hope.  It was only when I took a trip to the beach in Nusa Dua with another girl I’ve met here, I was advised to just keep my eyes peeled, and that I could find really good deals just by walking down the street.

The boyfriend and I had already agreed upon the village of Canggu, on the west coast of Bali.  Here, he can surf daily, and for me, there’s loads of places to keep practicing my yoga.  Its somewhere that has enough social life to be fun, but not too busy like Seminyak or indeed the living hell that is Kuta.  It has a good mix of all the positive aspects of Bali, my only worry being the amount of showy “hipster” types, but again, maybe the more yoga I practice, the more zen I’ll get about this kind of thing (!)

So I took to the Internet once more, sitting in a bakery in Seminyak last week, ferociously Googling every phrase I could think of for finding property to rent in Canggu.  There are many real estate sites out there, however, unfortunately most are tailored towards those with a grander disposable income, and my searches kept coming up with entire villas to rent, with three bathrooms, a swimming pool, and a dreamy view of the rice fields.  That would be lovely, however, not realistic.  How could this be so hard?  All we wanted was a decent sized room with an ensuite; no kitchen or living room necessary.

I did find a couple of basic properties through random searches, however all were a good distance from the beach, and were nothing spectacular.  I arranged viewings of several properties for the next day, feeling a little disheartened, as I don’t ride a moped, and was hoping I could live somewhere I can access all necessities by foot.

That evening, I made my way back to Canggu, and asked the moped I had caught a lift with, to drop me off in the center of the village.  The main part of Canggu is pretty much three parallel roads running to the beach, which meet at the top near a few bars, restaurants and a smattering of shops.  I walked the length of one of these roads, right from the shops, all the way to the beach.  It’s funny how I hadn’t noticed before just how many signs there were saying “Rent a Room”.  I’d been in Canggu for almost a week, and hadn’t noticed a single one.  However, now that I was looking, the signs were everywhere.  I must have poked my head in ten different properties, all basic rooms with an ensuite.

 Edit   

These properties varied significantly.  I saw ones that had no windows, moth eaten beds; ones with puppies running around, (however, this unfortunately isn’t worth living somewhere with no access to clean water) ones where there was mould growing in the walls and ones where building and construction work were still ongoing, and would be for the next year, at least.

However all of these were relatively within budget, and it was looking like the best option would be sharing a twin room with fan, and using an outdoor cold shower.  Not awful, however, far from the image I’d dreamed up before, of living in papardise.

I was just about to call it a day on househunting, when I passed one last guesthouse.  It had big gates, an outdoor pool, and was walking distance to the beach and to the bars.  As I enquired further, I learned that it had hot and cold water, and air con.  All this for the same price as the other dingy rooms I’d been shown.  

I asked to be shown around, and it kept getting better.  The rooms were bright and airy, no small, cramped and depressing rooms.  There was furniture, a beautiful big white bed, the pool was small and clean, and it had 24 hour security.  The cleaning gets done and the bedding changed twice a week. And there are no bills – everything is included.

  

    

    

  

  
Across the street we have our local, Monggos, but I prefer to call it Bintang Toed Joes.  Down the street a little there is a gym called Bali Fit, which offers training programs which are pretty much Cross Fit – exercise so difficult it makes you weep, but is incredibly good for you.

     
The room is being let for £268 per month, a price I couldn’t afford on my own, but thankfully with Sam coming, it is possible.  For the solo traveler with a tighter budget, I saw plenty of rooms that were half this price and a little less luxurious, however still perfect for one person.  

I’m glad I shopped around and compared properties, as I almost went for a room at half the cost that wasn’t even in Canggu; instead it was in some sort on no mans land between here and the next village on.
From walking around all day I managed to find something that is perfect for us.  Sam can wake up with the sunrise and walk with his board to the beach for his mornin surf.  I can attend Bali Fit for their 7.30am class of the, beating my ass into shape.  

We can later grab breakfast together in the cafe at the gym, where they offer gorgeously healthy food, smash avacado and eggs on toast, or natural protein smoothies served in coconuts filled with goodies such as acai berries and flax seeds.  

  

 

After letting it digest he can go off for another surf and I can join the yin yoga class then maybe do some writing in the sun.

In the evenings,there are the most beautiful sunsets to be seen, a few hundreds metres from the front door.  The surfers can be watched, catching the last waves of the day, as the sun sets behind them.  Looking to the left, you can see the planes coming in to land in the distance at Denpasar airport, the lights on their wings cutting through the clouds seemlessly, before touching down.

There are an array of restaurants, otherwise know as warungs, that can be eaten at, all servings a mix of Western and Indonesian food.  Many of these warungs are health orientated, as Canggu is just one of those kinds of places, and you can eat beautifully fresh fish for great prices.  

Another option is the beach at a bar called Old Mans, where street vendors gather to sell food for next to nothing; grabbing one of these whilst watching the sunset over the sea is another great way to finish the day, on the cheap.

It just goes to show, the Internet isn’t always the answer, and sometimes all it takes to find your own personal paradise, is a bit of legwork and a lack of laziness.

And with that, I’m off to “Warrior Training” before meeting friends at Old Mans for a game of Beer Pong.  Ciao.
 Edit   

My boobs got groped, and it’s not even the boys that did it who I’m most mad at.

Boobs.   Breasts.   Chesticles.   Norks.   John and Paul.  Whatever you want to call them; they’re everywhere you look, and God love ’em, they’re great.

They’re all a bit of fun; they’re soft to play with, they’re portable comforters, and fortunately, I have learnt to love mine (after spending years comparing them to traffic cones and mouses noses throughout puberty) I now feel proud to wear them on my chest, as two protruding examples of my femininity and curves.

Pride.  That’s exactly what I feel.  If I so wish, I can wear a bikini, or a low cut top, and let them be.  Yes they’re ample, but I’m by no means a page three cleavage – wielding babe.  So me and “my girls” get on with our daily lives without thinking much of it, dressing them how I wish and never really getting any unwanted attention.

Last night I went for a drink with a beautiful girl I had met here in Bali.  We were talking over some wine about our experiences here in paradise, and I was picking her brains, as she has 5 years of Indonesia under her belt already.  I was exclaiming at how remarkably safe I felt here as a solo woman, especially coming from traveling Central America, where I felt quite the opposite.  She was agreeing, and saying that generally speaking, this is a very safe place to be.  So I was quite shocked when she told me that she was once victim of a drive-by groping, on one of the busiest roads in Seminyak, in the middle of the day.

She told me she was sat on her moped in traffic, and a man drove past her, reached out and grabbed her breast hard and purposefully.  Not that it should make a difference, however she made a point in telling me she was wearing a big jacket and not showing much skin (however even if she was in a bikini, this behavior is obviously wildly inappropriate and sickening).

I was shocked, as my experiences so far here had been so pleasant.  I in no way felt threatened by sexual harassment; if anything quite the opposite.  So today, when I had a rather similar experience regarding my very own Danny DeVitos, naturally, I grew even more disgusted.

I moved into my new apartment in Canggu, right by the beach and in the center of everything earlier this afternoon.  I’d just finished unpacking and wanted to take a walk around the block, picking up new household necessities such as soap and what-not, before coming back home to nest some more.

It was late afternoon, and as I passed Deus Ex Machina, one of my many new local bars, seeing happy, smiley people walking in for their Sunday night sessions, a big smile spread across my own face, as I appreciated what a lovely part of the world was currently my home.

And as if my internal monologue were being read out in a narrative from a movie, this was about to quickly change.  I saw about four mopeds quickly zip around the corner, approaching me, filled with a mix of local teenage boys and girls, presumably on their way back from the beach.

They were laughing and shouting amongst each other loudly, when the bike spearheading the group, suddenly clocked me, and started steering to the other side of the road, the side on which I was walking.

It all happened so quickly, and in a moment of panic as they started getting closer and leaning in, I could only presume they were after my handbag, which was strapped across my body.  With that thought I took both my hands and grabbed my bag, anticipating it being ripped from my body any second now.  However, instead of feeling the strong jerk of someone pulling at my bag, what I felt instead, was much more upsetting, and much more invasive.  I felt the hands of two teenage boys lean in and squeeze my breasts really hard and forcefully, whilst laughing, literally right into my face, before speeding up again and driving on.  Not only is this act itself absolutely hideous from a sexual point of view, but on top of that, it really, really, f*cking hurt.  My breasts were grabbed in such a rough and aggressive manor, from two boys on a moving bike; it’s hardly going to tickle.

To make matters worse, shrieks of laughter instantly ensued.  Stunned, I looked behind me, as the four mopeds of teenagers were looking at me, hysterically laughing as though they’d just spent an evening at an Eddie Murphy show.  All mopeds were carrying young girls on the backs, who then proceeded to make the classic “wanker” hand signal at me, inbetween a few middle fingers, which I happily reciprocated whilst my face was, hopefully, portraying the vile sickening feeling I was currently experiencing.

That’s the worst part about all of this.  Yes, those boys are loathsome and gross for their actions, and they should be ashamed, and I only wished I had a moped myself at that point on which to follow them and really make a point about how they would feel if someone did that to their mothers or their sisters.  But the thing that really, truly left me with a bad taste in my mouth and a heavy heart, was the fact that these girls were so involved, and so entertained by the sexual harassment of another female.

I just wanted to scream at them everything that the Spice Girls ever taught me in my youth about Girl Power, and on a more serious note, that making fun of, and degrading another woman, only allows men and boys to think it’s even more ok to act in such a lewd way.  These silly little girls actually made my eyes water with sheer frustration at their stupidity.  Everything their sisters from around the world have fought for, and indeed still are, becomes more jovial and trivialised by their behavior of such ignorance and idiocy.

Frustratingly, as they were on mopeds, none of my feelings will ever be known by them, so obviously the only way to vent is to take to my computer and to write down how I feel about what, for them, was such a little joke and a mindless act, but for me, put a total dampener on what was a really beautiful day.

Of course, my immediate feelings towards them were of violence and rage, however I can only hope instead, that the next unfortunate woman they do this to, has the means to turn around and really explain to them why this isn’t funny.  Why it’s not laughable to make a woman feel self conscious walking down the street, having taken an innocent walk to the shop, or in any other situation for that matter.

Yes, I am the first to exclaim my love for boobies.  I think they are great fun, and should be embraced, loved and appreciated, in whatever shape and size they come in.  But that joyous feeling I have about boobs, takes a somewhat dark turn when it comes to sexual harassment.  And it sickens me even more to think the next generation of girls are being taken on drive-by gropings by their pubescent boyfriends as some kind of a sick sport.    I can only hope that these boys and girls do some growing up, and fast.

Eat, Pray, Love and some Colonic Irritation

Back in Costa Rica, once having booked my flights to Bali, I started browsing the pages of bookyogaretreats.com to find, well, just that. A yoga retreat.  Many options came up, however many were for the traveler with a far larger disposable income.  And that’s ok, I mean if someone were to tell me they’d be going to a yoga retreat in Bali, I’d too think of big white beds, and fresh pressed juices, being waited on at every opportunity, whilst enjoying the whole experience with their beautiful other half, sharing a salad whilst laughing intensely.  These were the OTT stock photos coming up in my searches, with the prices to match.  

As I scrolled the pages I found an option that was totally within my budget, in fact the deal was wonderful; 7 nights, breakfast every day, two yoga classes a day and on top of that, one lymphatic and one deep tissue massage, all just outside of Ubud.  I seem to have misread the part about me staying in an ashram.

An ashram, by definition of Google, is “Traditionally a spiritual hermitage or a monastery of Hinduism”.  So as you can imagine, pretty intense to abide by and to stick to rules that are set down, rules which I wholeheartedly respect, however I just wish I’d maybe prepared myself a little better beforehand.  An example of this would have to be abusing the free whisky slightly on the flight over from the Americas.  I followed the instructions and got a taxi to a resort called “Om Ham”, which was across the street from where I’d be staying.

I was delighted with everything as I clambered wonkily out of the taxi, as my bag was taken by the beautifully dressed Balinese staff, and I was thinking of how much I’d lucked out.  Maybe I would be staying here at Om Ham Retreat.  No.  “Follow me Miss Kate”, and I was shown across the road, and through a beautiful gate, down big steep steps and into a jungle liked wonderland, with Balinese locals all dressed in white, chanting in conjunction with one another, as they slowly walked in line around the grounds and up into the gates of the temple.

   
 
I was shown up to my room, which was a dormitory consisting of three beds, female only, with a shower, toilet and sink attached.  There was only one other student staying at the ashram; a very intensely devout Christian – turned – Hindu, from France, who now splits her time between this ashram, and one in India.  I later learned that this French chick gets so into her chanting, she actually often passes out at the shrines.  Now, I can respect other faiths and religions, but that does seem a bit much.  Surely you don’t need to chant that hard and get so into it?  It struck me instantly that maybe we were very different people, and I already felt a little guilt that I knew I wouldn’t be taking this experience as seriously as her.

However, as it turns out her family were visiting from France, and so I ended up not having to worry about her catching me not going to prayer (puja) at 6am each day, as she spent most of that week with them.
Other than the awkwardness of realising that this was certainly no hotel I’d chosen for my retreat package, everything was perfect.  The dorm was not crusty and horrible like a hostel dorm, it was airy and spacious, with a balcony to sit at.  There was a yoga studio in the center of the grounds, made from natural materials, with a woven leaf roof.  There was the Holy spring from which you drank, and cleansed in before going to prayer.  You would then follow the path up to other shrines of different Gods, and bow and pray, before moving to another.  Once inside the temple you’d enter a cave, and follow the path round to again, visit the different Gods.  I wish I was able to take photos to really show how beautiful this all was, however with it being inside the temple it would have been rude for me to do so.

The best part of this, was seeing the beautiful Balinese people going to prayer, holding incense and offerings for their Gods, all wearing white sarongs, and the women with lace tops, and the men with cloths wrapped round their heads, known as Udengs.

They would do this at night, when the sun had gone now and it wasn’t too hot, as they’d chant the mantra; “Om Namah Shivaya”.  It was beautiful, however also slightly reminiscent of Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom, with the way they all moved together to their shrines in a trance.  Luckily these guys were way nicer than Mola Ram and his Thuggee cult, and no one had their heart removed, so all was pretty peaceful.

   
  
    

   

When I wasn’t observing others praying, (I felt this was a nice balance of not faking my religious beliefs but respecting theirs through observation) I’d be practicing yoga for four hours a day.
This type of yoga was unlike anything I’d ever practiced before.  I’ve been doing a hell of a lot of yoga taught by white chicks with great, toned, bottoms, however this was more of a spiritual type of yoga.  We’d start and finish with chants and mantras, but other than that, it was very intense.  
All classes were taught either by the Guru himself, a crazy but loveable bearded character who reminded me of Yoda, or by a number of his students; all of whom were slight Indonesian boys who had the frames of young teenagers, however were immensely strong and fit.

  

  

   
The classes I attended lasted for 1.5 – 2 hours, and were twice a day.  My first experience of such a class; I thought I was going to die.  They are so intense and you push your bodies for such a long amount of time, however it’s great at the end when you can feel it.  For the first time in years I can actually touch my toes. What a depressing achievement.

  
   

  

  
Ubud itself is a really cool little town.  It’s totally taken over by the obsession with yoga, I feel that was massively to do with the Julia Roberts movie, Eat Pray Love, being filmed here.  I’d looked online and had seen there was a place called the Yoga Barn, and decided to pop down and check it out, as it promised to be every yogi’s dream; a yoga studio set up with treatments, a shop, a juice bar, and raw vegan restaurant.  I arrived there and was instantly struck with fear and the sheer size and scale of the place.  There were all these vegan-looking models wearing designer yoga brands, sipping on wheatgrass smoothies, whilst standing on one leg.  Almost.

I quickly made the decision that this was far too much of a pretentious place for me to practice yoga at, and for some reason, I did the most pretentious and middle class thing I’ve ever done, and decided to book in there for a colonic irrigation.  Have water squirted up my bottom for a reason I’m not entirely sure of, except for it helps put a spring in your step?  Sure sounds great.

So I was guided away from the hoards of irritating, fake hippies, and taken to a little hut.  I was left on the porch of said hut, to fill out a questionnaire about my digestive health, whilst on a rocking chair, next to a big sign that read “Colonic Healing”.  Awkwardly I smiled as beautiful men that resembled Jesus, walked past me and smiled sympathetically, with their gorgeous, toned and skinny female companions, who looked like they’d just hopped out of a sportswear catalogue, as I sat there, hoping that no one read the sign, and certainly didn’t see that the questionnaire was asking me to draw pictures of my own stools.

   
   
The next hour consisted of the most awkward small talk of my life, as I laid on a table and spoke to a very nice American lady, around my age, whilst she held a tube in place, and massaged my stomach, as I whined in pain and discomfort.  I left that hut knowing that no amount of promise of “spring in my step” will ever make me put myself through that again, and I gladly left the Yoga Barn to return to the safety of Ashram Munivara.

I spent the next few days exploring Ubud, and its’ beautiful little shops and cafes, and visiting the rice terraces, which were just stunningly beautiful.

   

  

   

   
   

   
 On my last days I met up with two friends who I’d met whilst teaching in Thailand, who were holidaying in Bali.  It was so lovely, and was such a comfort to feel so relaxed and happy to see them, showing that travel really does allow you to have friends in the unlikeliest of places, wherever you may be.

  

I’ve since left Ubud to travel to the coastal town of Canggu.  I’ve checked into a place called Serenity Eco Guesthouse.  There’s several yoga classes a day, and the whole place is eco friendly, from the bricks of the building to the natural “soap nut” used to wash the floors.  And I’ve just written this whilst sat on a bamboo floor, enjoying a slice of raw vegan cheesecake and a spinach and cucumber juice.  Talk about pretentious. 

However, in all seriousness, this place lacks a pretentious vibe, and seems like a place that is genuinely just trying to make a positive difference with its footprint, without being too wanky. Perfect.