Working as a personal trainer and being a devoted yoga enthusiast has always been a part of my fitness-focused lifestyle. After going through the emotional rollercoaster a quarter-life crisis brought upon me, new workout regimens helped me stay on track and achieve balance.
Gradually, they’ve made me realize the beauty of pushing my body to its limits, exploring its strengths and potentials, and so, fitness became my career choice. However, I always felt there was something missing.
Seeking Change Through Traveling
Something seemed off in the way I nested within my freshly built walls of serenity. Living in the UK, you have everything you need and the great number of tourists you encounter daily makes you feel like you’re engaging with the world as a true cosmopolitan. It took me a while to realize this was just an illusion and that I was deeply buried in my comfort zone.
I was surfing the web when I came across this article and it blew me away as it triggered an epiphany: it was high time to travel on my own, far away from home and face fear with no excuses.
I decided to go on a solo trip to Bali and trust my heart to the world in hope this experience would transform me. I chose Ubud in Bali as my destination, specifically because I was always drawn to its culture but never had the guts to travel so far.
Finding My Way and Getting Around
When I took a taxi from the Denpasar airport to Ubud, I felt so lost and lonely that I instantly wanted to go home. I have been battling insecurities for a while, and even eating alone at my hometown restaurants made me feel self-aware, as if there’s any shame in asking for a table for one.
I was uncomfortable with the stares I encountered in Ubud, but I soon realized it was because of my fair skin and different physiognomy. I slowly embraced the fact the locals saw me as exotic and it made me feel sensual and unique. The first real culture shock came with the overall atmosphere, as there isn’t a single worry on Balinese minds.
They were a bit too friendly: a stranger could walk up to you in the streets and start asking millions of questions in order to get to know you. After a while, this warmhearted approach felt refreshing in comparison to home.
Reconnecting With Nature
Ubud is crowded with colorful markets and amazing artisan crafts. This, along with the authentic Indonesian architecture, made the greatest first impression. At first, I was shy to make eye contact, but the locals are really inviting, so they forced me to loosen up.
I asked an older merchant for some insider traveling tips but he didn’t know a word of English. It was a bit awkward, but I’ve learned there’s a lot more to communication than words: his warm smile and facial expressions made me feel welcome.
I ended up visiting the lotus pond at Saraswati temple and went on cycling through the rice fields in the countryside. As I let the pedals go and rushed through the high grass, I looked at the sky and felt something fall into place. Visiting the Monkey Forest was also wonderful: I walked slowly to soak in the surreal beauty of the jungle and watched monkeys passing me.
Discovering Culture and Spirituality
I’ve read about Bali’s spirituality and its festival nature, but seeing it live was a transformative experience. They celebrate life with such simplicity and a respect for tradition, somewhat unburdened.
One Monday night, I went to the Junjungan village to see the Kecak dance performance. And even though I was alone, I felt like I was with the performer and every single visitor in the place.
It made me feel like I belong, which was a feeling I craved for without even knowing it.
I visited the Gunung Kawi Temple surrounded by jungle and rocks and the Tirta Empul, about 20km from Ubud. It felt humbling to see the Hindus doing their rituals of bathing in the holy waters and it made me question the values Western culture has impacted upon us.
When you experience tough times in life, you become extremely resistant to change as you become more and more guided by fear. Traveling is crucial for shifting your perspective and not letting your life become monotonous. In addition to other activities, practicing spiritual yoga in Ubud made me become aware of other parts of my identity.
I was starting to live on autopilot, but luckily, I had enough courage to say yes to life and go for this beautiful experience to embark on a solo trip to Bali—it gave me a much-needed CPR for both my heart and my soul.
Image credit: Aneta Gab