There aren’t many destinations in the world that can boast with such incredible spiritual heritage as Bali. Bali is an island and along with many complex factors, its geographical position determined a distinctive way of life. Depending on where you live and what kind of environment and lifestyle you’re used to, you may experience a stronger or weaker culture shock, but in any case – it will be a pleasant one. Balinese are surrounded by nature which fostered a specific mindset among locals, along with a huge respect for tradition deeply rooted in their culture. Here are the reasons why Bali is perfect for a journey that will shift your perspective and help you gain a fuller sense of your personal identity, or maybe even trigger some new realizations of your purpose in this world.
Visit temples and religious ceremonies
Bali is known as “The Island of Gods” and as the “Nusa Dua” – which means the Great Island. It is home to thousands of different temples and religious compounds that celebrate their anniversaries and significant dates all year round. These festivals are marked by the feeling of joy. There is always something going on and it makes a perfect opportunity for you to discover Balinese religion in direct contact with it. Temples that are scattered across the island look completely surreal. Don’t miss the Tanah Lot set on a rock in the shallow waters. It’s located just a 45-min-drive from Kuta. If you manage to visit it during the holy day of Kuningan, you’ll witness a ceremony and create a memory that will never fade away. Goa Gajah (6 km from Ubud) is another peculiar temple worth seeing, dating all the way back to the 11th century. Besakih is actually a large complex temple located on the slopes of the Mount Agung – guaranteed to take your breath away.
Reach inner peace with yoga
Although yoga originated from India and Rishikesh is considered to be its global central, Bali is an extremely popular destination of yogis because of its tranquility. In addition to practicing various types of yoga (e.g. Hatha, vinyasa, kundalini, etc.), you’ll get the chance to understand the philosophy behind yoga and its spiritual dimension. There are even Bali yoga teacher training courses that usually include intensive classes, organized as 250-hour or 300-hour programs, where you learn from the best yogis and earn a recognized certificate. Many different resorts and retreats offer you a chance to start treating yourself holistically, taking care both of your mind and body. Indulge yourself with Balinese massages and discover many different forms of healing excessive stress such as acupuncture, acupressure or alternative therapies. In Western culture, there are so many things we don’t understand about the body-mind connection, whereas Eastern philosophy pays specific attention to it.
Reconnecting with nature
In addition to dreamy beaches, Bali has incredible lush forests and hill areas you can explore. If you choose Ubud for your spiritual destination, you can enjoy cycling through the rice fields, downhill from the Lake Batur, or visit the rice terraces on foot. The serenity of the surrounding greenery will slow down your heartbeat and the healing touch of animals will certainly make you feel humble. You’re likely to encounter animals such as monkeys on the city streets, but if you wish – you can visit the Elephant Safari Park or the Bali Safari Marine Park for a closer experience: animals are truly treated with highest respect and care. Mount Batur at Kintamani is one of the most beautiful ones to climb: get up early to catch a sunrise at 6 AM. This climb isn’t physically demanding but it’s rewarding when you get to see the fiery red sky and enjoy a lovely panoramic view. Visit some of the stunning waterfalls such as the Jembong Waterfall or the Git Git and Munduk: for about $10, you can enjoy the expertise of a private guide on a tour.
Mingling with the locals
What better way to soak in the Balinese spirit than to spend some time with the locals? In Ubud, you can enjoy Tarot reading: although it originates from Egypt, it found its way to Balinese culture. Mingle through the tourist spots and you’ll see there’s a chance for you to get your own personalized talisman made by the Balinese artisans. Ask around if there are some rituals or shows going on (e.g. the Kecak Fire Dance Balinese ritual, Devdan show, or the Bali Arts Festival). Enjoy exquisite coffee Bali is known for, especially if you find yourself in Seminyak. Locals will be more than happy to introduce you to the rich tradition of the Kopi Luwak coffee and the way it’s produced and treated.
Food that soothes the soul
Wherever you choose to go in Bali, you will find amazing restaurants that blend culture with culinary works of art. Some of them give you an opportunity to take a cooking class or two, so you can prepare Balinese food with original recipes when you get back home. Food is rather diverse, although it has a distinctive taste because of the heavy usage of various spices. What’s more important, it’s locally produced and healthy – which can be a part of your detoxification process. Try sate – grilled or marinated meat that’s served with extremely spicy sauce. Those who enjoy a lighter meal can try nasi ayam and nasi campur – a spicy rice meal that’s enriched with typical Balinese vegetables and meats. Even though menus are mostly meat-oriented, you can also enjoy vegetarian dishes, such as meatless nasi campur that’s around $4. Desserts are also quite unusual, such as the black rice pudding. Take deep breaths, savor every bite, and purify your soul with these tasty dishes.
Bali’s environment is far different than what most of us are used to in our everyday lives surrounded by skyscrapers or concrete blocks, which will ensure you a rejuvenating trip you’ll carry in your heart forever.