FMLM – #EatPrayLove experience at Bali – By Shilpa

A journey of self discovery

#EATPRAYLOVE – the story of how I pieced together a piece of me in #Bali 

Travelling – it leaves you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller. ~ Ibn Battuta 

There comes a stage in everyone’s life when you have to make a leap of faith. You are driven not by your logic or intellect but by your heart’s calling and you cannot but follow it. You can perhaps delay it but you certainly can’t deny it. It’s a constant voice in your head that would relentlessly keep at it till you follow suit. My inner voice was urging me to travel. It was my secret desire to travel and explore the world around me. I kept ignoring the voice until I got to a point where I couldn’t drown it anymore. 

For as long as I remember (since I started working) I had longed to go on solo trips somewhere (for that matter anywhere). I would sit hours browsing the internet and reading about everyone’s travel stories, wondering when I would get to travel and script my own stories. Somehow solo travel kept evading me. Inability to travel solo made me sad though – I wanted to travel but I couldn’t.

 And just when I was about to let go of this lifelong dream to travel solo, a new travel opportunity came calling. And how! One of the travel groups I passionately followed on social media (www.onhisowntrip.com) announced a trip to #Bali. While I had admired their travelogues and pictures for months – their video logs and travel posts always made me smile – somehow, I never imagined I could have fun travelling with a bunch of strangers. “It wasn’t for me”, I had told myself. But when the Bali trip was announced, I was in a phase of life where I just had to travel to find myself. 

And so, I decided to travel 8500 kilometres away from India to a picturesque country with a bunch of unknown people to find myself! Crazy, right? But in hindsight I can tell you, it was worth every bit of crazy. I am now richer not only by the experience but also by friends who (no surprises here) are as crazy as me! So, after a lot of self-talk and some pep talk from my husband, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and sign up for a week-long trip to Bali. 

Captain Nero, aka Neeraj Narayanan, who leads these trips is an affable, friendly guy with a passion for travelling that one can’t remain immune to. And the 15 fellow travellers? Well, we all took to each other like a house on fire. We started the trip as complete strangers and ended it bonded for life! 

New friends for life

Living Postcard

As for Bali, it’s a living postcard. It’s beautiful all over – be it the vast stretches of fine white sandy beaches or the colourful coral ridges or the lush jungle stone temples or its fragrant cuisines, the scenic rice terraces or its beautiful people, Bali is an idyllic retreat – a galore of culture and tradition.

On arrival at Bali, we spent the evening visiting beaches, cafes and pubs in #Kuta. Kuta is the party area of Bali and has loads of really nice pubs, bars and cafes.

The next day we visited the famous #UluwatuTemple. The temple, perched on top of a steep cliff, makes for a very picturesque locale – it overseas the Indian Ocean – and is considered as one of the six key temples in Bali. One can just sit here for hours. It has the best view of the ocean and you will never tire of seeing the waves go up and down, losing themselves as they wash ashore. It is calming as well as invigorating.

The next day we went to the island of #GiliTrawangan. With its lovely blue-green sea, the island is everything an island should be! Here we went bicycling through the lanes and bylanes and did things the traveller’s way, not the tourist way – so we downed loads of local beer and lazed around, capturing the moments in pictures and taking group selfies.

The morning after we went on a glass-bottom tour of #GiliMeno and #GiliAir Islands. These islands don’t have much population and there are beautiful swings just about a foot into the sea which makes for beautiful pictures.

Scuba diving, beach tripping, café hopping, shopping, photographing, daydreaming – these are some of the many things we did here. We took a morning boat back to Bali after a couple of days. From here we went to #Ubud of the “Eat, Pray, Love” fame. It’s a lovely little town, a perfect blend of Western and Asian – flanked by Hindu temples and swanky cafes and galleries. The houses here as Balinese as they get, and there are trees everywhere! We even went on a #eatpraylove trail here.

The next day we visited the #TegununganWaterfall.

Neeraj says a trip isn’t a trip till you find your way under a waterfall. And the whole lot of us were happy we did! It is always hot in Bali and the waterfall was just what we needed. On our way down the narrow paths and a series of steps down to the river, there were several springs and streams. We even spent some time talking to the local villagers and sampling some local cuisine here!

Next on our itinerary was #MountBatur’s volcano tour. The trek started in the middle of the night. It took us about two hours to reach the top but the view from the top more than made up for it. The sun comes up from behind the mountain, and the lake Batur shimmers in the early morning glow. It is simply out of the world! 

Finding a piece of myself back

Sometimes a break from routine is all that you need to recharge yourself. And just like how #ElizabethGilbert finds herself at the end of #eatpraylove adventure, I too had found a piece of myself back in Bali.

I realised the Bali trip wasn’t really to explore the country as much as it was to thoroughly explore some lost aspect of myself against the backdrop of this beautiful country.

I am now more me than before, and to that, I will always be grateful to Bali.

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