After spending the first half of the week in Ubud, we decided to spend our remaining days in Bali’s other tourist hotspot, Kuta. At first glance, I thought Kuta was great. Like Ubud, it was full of adorable little tourist boutiques and spas, this time, with a beautiful long, sandy beach. Ah, paradise, right?
Kuta is completely OBNOXIOUS. Yes, I said it, Kuta is OBNOXIOUS! I really didn’t think tourism could get more annoying than Ubud, until I found the taxi drivers and masseuses even more prevalent and aggressive in Kuta. You can’t walk more than a few feet without people harassing you, and even some of the stuff in the shops was just plain rude. Like this bumper sticker stall:
In addition to its over-commercialization, I just think the whole Kuta scene wasn’t my vibe. Kuta is party central, like the Spring Break destination of Southeast Asia. I did enjoy going to the beach, but the waves and current were so strong, even just playing in the water was stressful. At the end of the day, it’s just wasn’t my cup of tea.
I will say, despite all my disappointments and stresses throughout the week, I finally got the Bali I was looking for on my last day of the trip. One of my goals in going to Bali was to take a yoga class at an “authentic” yoga place. Unfortunately, I missed my opportunity to do it in Ubud (where the main yoga spots are) and I sadly discovered there were practically no places to do yoga in Kuta (at least not well-publicized). After giving up hope on the tourist booths, I went to an Internet café and tried to find something online. Again, to my dismay, there were virtually no yoga classes to be found in Kuta online either! The only lead I found was a small resort located outside of Kuta that offered daily yoga classes starting at 8:30 a.m. The only problem was that the website was dated from 2003…
Since I already established I didn’t like Kuta, I figured I had nothing to lose, so the next morning I got up early, packed my bags, put on my yoga gear and set out to find this obscure little resort. To my not-so-surprise, the resort no longer offered Saturday yoga classes, so I was out of luck. But the setting was so charming that I actually didn’t care. Situated behind a small-town road, covered in lush greenery, bright flowers, Balinese statues and rustic chalets, it was exactly the beautiful, serene Bali I had pictured in my head before my arrival. Despite missing out on my class, I felt instantly at peace and decided to just enjoy my last day by wandering around this delightfully tourist-free area.
My first stop was this charming Eastern and Western restaurant across the street for breakfast, offering high-class service and organic food for really cheap prices. As I was enjoying a delicious plate of Eggs Benedict and a cappuccino (complete with latte art!) I noticed a rack of brochures near the entrance. As I went to inspect I realized THIS is where they had been hiding all the yoga information, geez! Ideally, I had been looking for a place to try both yoga and meditation and to my luck, I found another resort nearby that was offering a three-hour brain-mind-body workshop that afternoon. Though I really had no idea what this workshop entailed, I headed out once again and delightfully found yet another, lush, serene truly “Balinese” setting. In addition to features similar to the previous resort, this place had an open-air yoga studio, situated in the back of the property, surrounded by flowers and greenery, unbothered by the rest of the world. It was perfect.
The class itself was also amazing. The first hour our instructor talked to us about the relationship among the mind, brain and body, giving a scientific explanation on what parts of the brain reacted and why when one was meditating. The second hour was spent doing this really simple, yet fascinating breathing technique that put us all into this crazy, zoned-out mindset. Basically, you take two inhalations, first from the stomach, then from the lungs, and then exhale and repeat this over and over and over again. As the whole group lied on the ground, doing these crazy breaths together, it eventually got trippy. I have never experienced anything like this. In what I can only describe as a sort of hyperventilation, your whole body just starts buzzing and your mind goes blank. I really don’t know how else to describe it, except that my arms, legs and head were just “buzzing.” From here, we went directly into an hour-long yoga session, which was absolutely incredible. Having just come from the mind-clearing breathing session, we were all completely calm and “aware” as we did our poses, and I found myself for the first time starting to make the mind-body connection. I also found I could hold some poses longer and further, because I was no longer fighting with my mind about the pain or tedium. It was truly an incredible experience and the perfect way to end my trip to Bali.