I know. It must be surprising to hear from me, but it’s true. I’ll probably never go back to Bali. What happened? About a year ago, I decided I would move there after falling in love with the rice fields, the lovely people and their ceremonies, the healers of Bali, and so many other things. But, things have changed, and now I will probably never go back. Here’s why.
What Bali Used To Be Like
The first time I went to Bali was in 2005. I’ve never really liked the Kuta area, though the first time I visited, I did spend a few days there. It’s the spring break tourist trap for young Australians, full of kids drinking bucket drinks. People that, for all of their awareness, could be anywhere. Too stoned and drunk into oblivion to know where they are.
The area that stole my heart was Ubud. Ubud, the cultural heart of Bali with its tranquil rice paddies, artists and unique crafts. I still have the small spoons made of coconut wood and sea shells that I bought from a vendor so many years ago. At the time, it was the most exotic place I had ever been.
The heady smell of incense wafted through the air, drifting from the frangipani, palm leaf, and rice offerings that lined the sidewalks. I was met by the kindest smiles I’ve ever seen. The people were friendly and welcoming, proud of their island. The word that could sum up the feeling I got from being in Bali was reverence. People were happy to be in the moment, to sit and watch the rice grow. It taught me to do the same. There was a tranquility about Bali I’ve never experienced anywhere else.
Yes, you still had the touts everywhere interrupting the silence with their questions of “Taxi?, massage?, transport?, Bintang?” Yes, you still had those thieving monkeys that aren’t so nice and often bite people, and those crooked sidewalks. But, really wasn’t that all part of the charm?
I also explored Northern Bali where hardly any tourists go, where I had an entire black sand beach to myself, and which still pretty much remains untouched today.
For years, I dreamed of this exotic place and finally returned in 2013. Ubud was unrecognizable. Most of the rice fields had been replaced by commercial shops, and instead of unique crafts, the stores now mostly sold tourist trinkets.
The spiritual yogi crowd had now overtaken Ubud, and there are more green juice cafes in Ubud than casinos in Vegas. I still really liked Ubud, though. I like green juice. I didn’t care for the snobby poser yoga crowd, the ones who acted like they had learned to fart rainbows and what was wrong with you that you didn’t, who made the classes feel like yoga was more of a competition than a practice. As a matter of fact, spirituality itself felt more like a competition than a journey. To get an idea, see this video below!