Oh, Bali — beautiful, serene, breath-taking Bali. Where do I even start?
I’ve never stepped foot into Indonesia and cannot be more glad that my first impressions of it is through Bali and its beautiful beaches, warm people and this unexplainable enchantment that everyone calls ‘the spirit of the island’. Prior to this trip, all that I knew about the island nation is what I’ve read in ‘Eat. Pray. Love’ and what my friends who have been could tell me. In other words, minimal.
I had three days to educate myself and all I learnt was that 3 days is hardly enough.
On my first night, I met a local who has worked at the villa I was staying at for 20 years. He shared with me a local festival they call ‘Nyepi’, where for a whole day, everyone and everything on the island falls silent. People cease talking for an entire 24 hours; windows are shut, curtains are drawn and all lights get turned off at home; offices and restaurants close for the day; even the airports and government establishments stop operations.
In Indonesian, ‘nyepi’ means quiet, and it aptly describes this day of silence when everyone stops everything to reflect on themselves. The more traditional will tell you, ‘Nyepi’ is the one day the demons of the island get let out to play so everyone keeps quiet so as to not attract their attention. Others will tell you — and I like this one better — that it’s an exercise in appreciating your simple existence away from distraction; In the peace and serenity, you think about how far you’ve come, all the goodness you have now, because only by recognising all that you have can you be happy and attract more goodness and subsequently, happiness.
How beautiful is that?
The next 2 days showed me a lot more — the kechak dance, the prayer ceremonies, the colourful flower arrangements the locals leave at almost every corner of the town — but it is ‘Nyepi’ that stuck the most with me.
It beautifully represents Bali as a nation: As much as it is a modern and thriving seaside town favourited by many tourists, it remains steep in a tradition that focuses on inner peace and well-being. It does not haste to replace the old with new — instead, it embraces its cultures and traditions and cultivates it as part of modernisation so its people are still rooted in the soil and ways of home.
It moves forward, but never forgets where it came from.
There are so many facets of Bali that makes it beautiful — its mesmerising beaches, colourful local shops, exciting food — but I must say it is the people that make it so unique.
Before I went, everyone told me that it’s one of those places that you go and you feel the the need to return, over and over again.
I think I see why now.
Day One: Beautiful sunny skies and warm sunshine.
No better place to experience the waves at the five-star deluxe resort The Legian Bali. Ocean-front views are aplenty and you wake up serenaded by the sound of waves crashing onto shore.
This is home for the next 3 days.
Spa-time: Where best to enjoy a Balinese ancient massage than in its birthplace?
My four-poster bed at The Legian Bali which luxurious sheets made it very hard to get up every morning.
Meals at The Legian are made from fresh local produce and what you’re served depends entirely on what comes in from the farms that day.
Seafood, seafood and more seafood.
Day Two: Sightseeing around Seminyak. Taking a walk never revealed so many colourful characters housed in equally interesting shops.
Kechak dance in the mall because that’s just how intertwined their culture is with their daily life.
Resort wear is all day every day all around the year here. So much love!
In true Balinese hospitality, every morning I was served a fresh bowl of fruits.
The best espresso martinis with the most fun bunch I can ask for at Tiger Palm, Seminyak Village.
Coconut ice cream is so legit here, it gets served in a fresh coconut!
Day Three: Reinforcing my inner zen, a koi fish pond greets me every morning on my way out to breakfast.
Did I mention how my inner zen has never felt more complete?
Right on this cabana facing the sea, while I sipped on lemongrass-infused pandan iced water and nibbled on white blondie brownies, was when I had the most moving revelation — the winds whispered and the waves sang that as lost and afraid as I was feeling at the time, everything is going to be okay.
Waves that crash feet high onto shore said goodbye on my last day. It will be forever some of my favourite memories of Bali.
Missing the sweet ocean air tremendously.
Everything is going to be okay.
One last look at The Legian Bali, the most beautiful estate with the best views of the Indian Ocean.
They were right: I’ll be back.