The first week was rather interesting.
As I had been telling you jokingly before leaving, I was going to eat pray love, spend a week alone, with books, in a place that looked pretty close to heaven.
Keep the Eat, Pray, Love part in mind, okay? We’ll get back to that soon.
So after hours (hours!!!) on planes, there I was, time shocked, in my big room overlooking the Balinese jungle. Heaven? Hell yes. Even though I sort of…
Do I have to mention it?
I was obviously on tech rehab. That’s the thing to do right now, no?
Tech rehab is to the ’10′s what rehab was to the ’00′s.
Stop walking around with your head buried in your f&$@&g phone, G.
So, lets make a list. Tech rehab means:
No Instagram. No Twitter. No blog*. No emails. No Skype. No Snapchat. No Pinterest.
Phone okay, only for emergencies.
Well, as it turns out, there better be no emergencies: I lost my phone the minute I landed in Bali. Pffffff. I decided to take it with philosophical grandeur, took a deep breath and went on with my day.
It would be wrong to say that I didn’t experience serious withdrawal.
Every twenty minutes or so, a sort of intense pressure shook me. My hand wanted to move towards my pockets. I recognized it quick. The check-the-phone appeal. Wow. It took three good days to get rid of it.
I remember, one day, telling my long-time-single friend :
“But traveling alone, oh how wonderful it must be! Finally connecting with yourself, reading, writing, what a blessing!”
Believe me, I now realize what a condescending ass I must have sounded like.
I clearly remember her answer:
“Yeah well it’s good the first time, but after a while, reading and introspecting becomes a little repetitive, you know what I mean?”
Whatever she said, I needed to try.
A week alone, then a week with Scott, a safe way to have the experience.
So there I was, tech-free, my notebook and pens in hand, wandering in paradise.
Mmmm. I took a meditation class. I read my books. Swam in the clear waters. Sunbathed naked on my terrace. Got back in touch with my body. Took notes on random stuff like getting back in touch with my body (very, very random) and, pheeeeew, got each part of my body massaged.
Felt self conscious for being alone at the restaurant…
For about five minutes.
(Sorry I had to do that one)
See, I was not alone being alone.
Ubud, the city where I was staying, is the city where Eat, Pray, Love takes place.
I didn’t know that! But I was soon to understand the impact the movie had on the city.
EVERYTHING REMINDS YOU OF IT. Everybody talks about it. Everybody was an extra in the movie. Ugh. Sorry I made the stupid eat, pray, love jokes before I went.
This is serious.
Of course, I’d seen the movie. I’d find it entertaining. No more, no less.
Well, but here is the thing: It seems to have brought to the island an interesting breed of tourism. Women, alone, walking around with notebooks and pens.
Reminds you of something? Someone?
Yeah. Women looking for healers to tell them what’s wrong in their life, all the feel good, organic yoga yolo type of thing.
Just warning you right away. I didn’t see any healer. Gosh, I have my shrink for that.
So after freaking out for ten good minutes (a long freak-out time for the temple of cool that I am becoming thanks to my shrink) I decided that whatever, let them eat granola and keep on writing random thoughts and drawing in your notebook.
Everybody looks for something when traveling anyway.
Some look for a beach, others for a dance floor, some look for a wave, others look for healers, some want to meet people, others just want to be left alone…
Others thought they wanted to be left alone and after three days reconnecting with their bodies realize that they are deeply…
So fucking bored!
So bored I checked my emails.
I know guys.
Oh well. I give you the absolute right to judge me.
So, against your judgment, I opened my emails, and there she was.
Bella. The girl you saw here. Sent me an email. Was in Bali at the same time as I was. Wondered if I would want to meet for a coffee.
OMG BELLA PLEASE, YES TAKE ME OUT, PRETTY PLEASE.
Bella came to pick me up at my hotel and we started a conversation that went on for days. Still going on actually. She had grown up in Bali. She knew it like the back of her hand and also she knew a lot of people, great people that live in Bali and hate Eat, Pray, Love, by the way. FAIR.
And that’s how my alone introspecting adventure turned into one of the most social vacaycays I’d had for a while. I met her friends, then Scott arrived, then we went all together on an island, ate, drank a lot, all the good stuff, no meditation needed.
Oh. I didn’t check my email. I was social without media. Good no? Am I getting back my points? I only had a poor attempt at Instagramming at a lost moment (to the hell with rehab!)(was I drunk?) but it didn’t even feel great. See? I am not an addict!!!
So now that we all know that you don’t have one spiritual fiber in your body and that the only thing you love to do is to drink with your friends, what about Bali?
Should you go there?
Bella told me, as much as she loves her island, she doesn’t know if she would recommend anyone to go there for a vacation.
Because in Bali, whatever you do, you have to keep in mind the three T’s:
Tourists. Tourists are everywhere**, and women with a notebook may be the most aesthetic and pleasant of the bunch. There are a lot of French people (isn’t it annoying when you’re in faraway country and you hear people speaking your language every 5 seconds?) (answer: OUI), Australian surfers, who are extremely sweet on the eyes but very loud, a lot of Chinese tourists and, oh well you get it: the world decided to meet in Bali AND IT’S VERY ANNOYING TO NOT HAVE BEEN THE FIRST ONE TO HAVE THE IDEA OF COMING HERE.
Traffic. There is a lot of traffic and it’s totally eating up your vacation time***. Please give yourself three hours to get anywhere. Get some good music.
Trade. Ok, I mean shops but shops doesn’t have a “T” so Trade. Shops, shops, shops, millions of shops everywhere! You will feel absolutely dizzy if you don’t have a serious idea of where and what you want to shop for. Luckily, I had Bella and Cisco’s city guide (tested a lot of her addresses and they are really great) or else I would never have been able to figure out my way through the… Oh well, let’s say it: the crap.
And it would have been too bad because there is a lot of wonderful art, antiques and obviously, sa-sa-sarongs to buy.
Ew, I hear you saying. I’d never want to go there!
DON’T SAY THAT. You would be missing the point.
Bali is magic.
It’s going to be hard to describe to you that deep feeling of happiness that followed me all through my Bali journey. As soon as you get away from the busy touristic centers, Bali is amazing, Bali is grand and beautiful and yes, Bali is mystical.
Cisco said it. No need for a healer. Just being there makes you serene and light, and for that, of course you have to thank the amazing beauty and magnetism of the place****, but above all, you have to thank the people.
It’s not only that they are genuinely welcoming and smiling even if you’re the 262526 white gal in sarong and Birkenstocks that they’ve seen during the day.
It’s watching them live that will make your heart sing (is that too cheesy an expression? Ok, that will lift your heart.)
Praying multiple times a day, as if they were (I think they are) instant messaging with the gods. Working hard but also hanging out a lot, sitting in their cool “bales,” sort of meeting places where they sit and talk for hours.
Seeing good and evil as two forces that complete each other and make the world go round.
Impossible not to fall in love with it.
Oh, also, they love to laugh about us, the Balinese. What? I didn’t say they were perfect!
They even walk around with their heads buried in their phones, sometimes.
*I would send my pictures to my team twice a week and that was that. To me, a travel photo diary is not a tech thing. It’s a true pleasure. I love to feed you my travel stories… Sorry!
**Please come to terms with being a tourist. Yes, you are ruining paradise at the same time you’re enriching it. I’ve got some sort of theory about that, if you have any interest I can develop it.
***Please come to terms with the fact that it’s tourist traffic that’s eating up the lives of Balinese people.