There is a saying – Travel often. Getting lost will help you find yourself.
I love travelling. I was fortunate enough to have been able to travel when I was young, visiting new places, being exposed to different cultures and eating a variety of cuisine which is why I feel the need to do it constantly.
Traveling is good for you, it helps you reconnect with your soul.
As part of my journey to discovering myself, I decided to take a trip to Bali, Indonesia. I’ve been going to Bali over the past few years but it was for work or simply to take a break and hang out by the pool in a resort. This time I challenged myself to do something different, step out of my comfort zone, and do something I’ve never done before. To be honest, I’m not really an adventurous person, I’m scared of trying new things (case in point – when I try a new restaurant, I’m armed with a list of what food to order from reliable food lovers) because I’m scared of ordering something not yummy. I like to stick to my comfort zone.
Doing research on the internet, I came across the top things to do in Ubud (according to Trip Advisor) and went with two.
1. Jewelry making with Chez Monique
I love jewelry, especially silver jewelry. I thought this would be a great souvenir to commemorate my trip and a great conversation piece at the dinner table. I could already imagine the pride in my voice when I say – I made this!
Chez Monique is an open air workshop in the middle of this complex. Upon arrival, Wayan, the owner welcomes you with open arms, a bottle of water and props you behind a table with many folders of past designs to inspire you. He encourages that you design your own piece.
I knew I wanted dangling earrings, and it should look/remind me of Bali.
To keep things simple I followed a current design in the folder.
After tracing the sketch on tracing paper, I was given 2 sheets of silver. I decided that I wanted to add texture on my earrings so with my little hammer, I pounded the sheets to allow little round dents to appear. Once that was done, I was taught how to file and follow the sketch of my jewelry. This was the hardest part. I didn’t want to break a blade, and would get tricky in the more intricate part of the design. Once it was done, my earrings were taken and they were buffed and hooks were soldered on to the edges.
Everything took less than 2 hours and I am now owner of my new favorite silver earrings that I can wear daily!
2. Bali Eco Cycling
I’ve always wanted to see Bali in the eyes of a local, the rice fields, where the locals live, and their livelihood. Bali Eco Cycling offers just that.
I was a little bit hesitant to do it by myself but since this was a group activity, it was a chance to meet new people. I was in a group of 10 people who were all Australians. I was the only Asian and it was really fun trading stories and getting to know each other.
Bali Eco cycling tour is a whole day activity which starts with a tour to an Indonesian tea and coffee manufacturer. They will lead you through a garden and point out to you different plants and herbs (ginger, vanilla bean, cinnamon, tumeric and ginseng) that you can use for cooking or flavoring your dishes. They also let you try different teas and coffee including the famous Luwak coffee otherwise known as the Sh&$!t coffee. Apparantly this is the most expensive coffee in the world due to it’s process. [Luwaks are small raccoon looking creatures who eat the coffee beans which ferments in their stomach to be passed out, collected and roasted.]
Next, we were brought to a breakfast stop overlooking Mt. Batur, an active volcano in the heart of Bali. After a scrumptious breakfast of black rice and coconut milk, Nasi Goreng, fresh fruit and banana and chocolate pancakes we were finally ready for our bike tour.
Its a 15km bike tour where we passed by small compounds with little kids shouting and waving to us “hello”. It was a perfect day with the sun out and the cool breeze on our faces. It was so relaxing to bike through the back roads, under the coconut trees and then alongside the beautiful rice terraces. We stopped at one of the compounds where they showed us how a Balinese family lives. I felt like I was intruding into their home especially since I had my camera but our guide said that the family was compensated for showing us their home compound.
A compound is composed of a few families living in a shared space. They share a common space, usually the kitchen, eating area and the courtyard but they still have their own respective houses around it.
We continued the tour passing along more scenic rice terraces and stopped at a big banyan tree. You could opt to bike another 8km uphill to the lunch destination but by that time I was exhausted and very eagerly climbed into the airconditioned van.
Lunch was authentic Balinese cuisine. I enjoyed eating gado-gado, tofu, Indonesian noodles, smoked duck and sticks of chicken barbecue. All very delicious and one of my best meals in Bali. For US$38, this activity surely delivered on a fun day shared with new friends.
I would definitely do it again!
For more information:
PT. Bali Budaya Tours (Bali Eco Cycling)
Jln. Raya Pengosekan
Peliatan Ubud Bali
Telephone: 97 5557 | Mobile: 081 337 420 420