- Silver workshop Ubud
When people show pictures of their travels, they’re most likely all smiles and never show just how varied the experience can be. Yes, I laughed, but I also cried, got stressed out, got scared. It’s life, just somewhere else. It’s not perfect. And damn, those clear turquoise waters look perfect, but they are also not always perfect… more on that later. The silver workshop I attended in Ubud, Bali, was a personal highlight because it encapsulated a time that wasn’t always easy, but I wanted to appreciate every moment. I made a moon crescent ring, which reminded me of the sky in Thailand, and engraved the word “gratitude” as a reminder to myself. For me, it’s a symbol of strength and shows me how I can be resilient and that my positive attitude towards life will always see me through.
- Cremation ceremonies, Ubud
In Ubud, despite the shocking amounts of tourists, you do get to learn about the culture simply from being there. We were in a homestay, and we were told all about it by the family, who told us how they build a temple and that every household has the same tradition, including a place for drying and storing rice. We were also told about the cremation ceremonies, and there was a large one when we were there as one of the members of the royal family has recently passed away. Sadly, it clashed with my booking for the silver workshop and I didn’t manage to shake my refusal to be purposefully late for something. However, of what I saw of the ceremony, it was more of a celebration of life, with hundreds of people gathering, a parade with lots of music, and lots of decoration.
- Silent Meditation Retreat, Ubud
I went here for a day, and it wasn’t completely silent, but it made me feel so refreshed and relaxed. It reminded me of what someone had recently said about bringing these elements into your daily life, and that you don’t always need to go on holiday to do the things you enjoy doing on holiday – such as swimming, reading and lying down! So, no swimming here, but we started with a rice terrace walk, where we were guided through the surrounding nature. The day was then filled with eating truly wholesome food, yoga and meditation, and reading on sofas and hammocks, ending with some star-staring.
- Sengiggi and Gili Islands
We used Sengiggi as a base for going to the Gili Islands, and although there wasn’t much there, the sparkly sea was really nice to swim in, and there was hardly anyone there. One morning we were literally the only people in the water. We went to Gili Meno and Gili Air. It would have been nice to spend longer on Gili Meno, and it was nice, but the water was very shallow where we were, with lots of coral, and then I stepped on a sea urchin just to make life a bit more difficult! Thankfully it wasn’t anything major, so we took local advice to bash it with coral and, hopefully, I shouldn’t have any long-term issues from it. Gili Air we walked around the whole of, and it certainly is a luxury to be somewhere with no motorised transport. The food here was also incredible – with ate a lot of Gaddo Gaddo, which is basically a vegetarian dish with lots of satay sauce!
- Dance, Ubud
I saw a shadow puppet show, but it was the dancing that stole the show in Ubud! If we were there longer, I would want to see more. Again, the story was hard to follow simply through dance, but it was a similar one (I’d actually just been reading myths and legends before I went away). The kecak and fire trance dance was really hypnotising and a truly unique experience, with the sounds of men’s voices creating the music, and the main dance, plus the trance dance that involved moving in the fire’s embers.
Tips: The main issue we had was getting to the Gili Islands. We were told we would be on the 10.15am boat, and had actually got up quite early, only to be made to wait for ages, conned into spending more money on a horse and cart, which we didn’t use because we got up and walked for five minutes instead. We then watched the completely packed boat go away, before one of the staff we booked with gave us the boat ticket. We had no information, and after an hour of waiting I found out it was possible we would need to wait until 4pm, when the last boat would leave, to see if the boat fills up. Long story short, we ended up leaving another hour later, only because my boyfriend figured out the best option was to pay the rest of the money to get the remaining tickets. Because it was so late in the day, this meant that the waves were worse and again I feared for my life as it felt as if the boat would tip, but thankfully we made it! The rest of the boat experiences were more positive and less rocky.