So my two month study stint is coming to an end. I have been training like crazy to get a diploma in Spa Therapy from Bali BISA. My time has been intense, and the whole experience feels like a hazy cloud of time which hasn’t really happened!
So apart from school, what have I done? Well not much really! I mean, in comparison to my previous travels, my Bali experience was very stable and it is the longest I have stayed in one area for 6 months! Although, to keep up with study, and sleep patterns, this really didn’t matter!
The highlight of my time was definitely meeting loads of new people and making new friends- Balinese and International. I spent every day at school laughing, giggling and making fun with the beautiful Balinese trainers and my International classmates. Even when stress levels were at an all time high, we always found something to laugh about. Every week there were new people coming to take new courses- for one day, one week or the treacherous 2 month!
With these friends I enjoyed wine nights on the beach, juice/coffee (and study) dates, festivals, celebrations, swimming in the ocean, hanging in hotel pools, western food searches, scooter riding lessons, and exploring the surrounding black sand beaches and rice fields just outside Denpasar. I formed strong bonds with the girls at BISA (trainers and staff), and it became my priority to get a joke or a smile out of one of them every day- which was not hard at all because usually they are the ones cracking jokes! They are the most friendly, open and funny people, and made my experience here wonderful.
The second month here saw me changing hotels to a much homier apartment with a swimming pool which was much appreciated in the humidity and scorching heat. It had a real kitchen so there was no more boiling eggs and vegetables in the kettle, and a double bed so I could sleep in the starfish position after a long day! I also rented a scooter for the month which was an experience in itself.
Basically, driving in Bali is crazy (as i wrote here). Being a passenger is one thing, but being behind the handlebars is another! First of all you have to get used to the old style scooters with little power- very different to the motorbikes I have been riding my whole life! As soon as you drive on a main road the adrenaline starts pumping. It is a big shock! The roads are like a flowing river- the road lines don’t matter, and neither do any formal driving rules found in western worlds! If you follow the flow of the traffic, you will be safe (hopefully) and if you do anything rash you will likely cause chaos, especially with the abundance of scooters transporting an entire family of four. I have been driving everyday for a month and have not had any real issues except a tyre full of nails! Nothing too serious -just had to drive the bike home at 30km/h on a highway while the back of the bike fishtailed from side to side! I actually love driving here- it is exciting and fun and i feel like a local, I just need 3 more passengers to really fit in!
One weekend I rode my scooter to Uluwatu and Padang Padang beaches. This was the furthest I had ventured for a while. I found secluded beaches with clear blue water and white sand. Although a secluded beach in Bali is still occupied by small Warungs (shops), umbrellas and sunbeds to rent, rooms for rent, and naturally- tourists. There is no escaping people in Bali. The best part of my day was walking along the side of the road- admiring the forest on one side and the beach on the other, when 3 monkeys came up and sat at my feet. We admired the view together, while one played with a bottle cap he found on the road. Much like myself, they looked bored by the tourists swarming around them. I love monkeys! And I would have loved to visit the monkey forest near Ubud. Next time it will be a priority!
In Bali, they are always celebrating something. Full moon, Balinese new years, weddings, deaths, Wednesdays, and anything of cultural significance. It is not unusual to see women and men packed onto scooters dressed in traditional clothing on their way to some sort of celebration. In 2 months I have seen three funeral progressions winding their way down the streets of Sanur. When someone dies they carry the coffin atop a big decorated float, held on men’s shoulders down the small back streets with a big parade of people donned in traditional dress playing music, blocking the streets off for cars and scooters to pass. They take the body to the crematorium where the body is watched as it is cremated, until the ashes are collected and taken to the beach for spreading. Usually these ceremonies are very colorful and celebratory. There is little morbidity and the life is celebrated rather than mourned. It is incredible!
It is safe to say I am sick of rice. I distinctly remember saying 8 weeks ago- I will never get sick of this food! Well the time came about one month after that! Sure, Indonesian food is super tasty, fresh and simply- damn good! But there is only so many times a week you can eat rice and noodles!
In two days I will be on the plane back to Australia for some of Mum’s home cooked food and family time. I am sure I will be missing a good Mie Goreng or some Tempe Tofu not long after arrival! But until then, I would just like to say thankyou Bali, and thankyou Bali BISA! You have made my time here something to remember, and who knows- maybe I will be back for more!