Bali: Eat Pray Loving Me – Beauty



“I am Surrounded by Beauty”


I’ve been known to scream or squawk at Bruce that I need my home and surrounding environment to be elegant & beautiful in order for my soul to be calm and at peace.   This has been my battle cry for a long time as those of you who have been to Birdsong know that we have a lot of stuff which always seems to be sprawling out everywhere in our small house.   I often feel I’m in a constant battle in my own home because I can’t seem to relax and I can’t seem to just ‘let it go’.

I was just reviewing an old astrology reading transcript and had an ‘aha’ moment when I read   “Your moon is in Libra:  you like beautiful surroundings; everything that is calm, tasteful and harmonious”.     More recently, in working with Louise doing my conscious connected breathing, I uncovered through a series of exercises & discussions that beauty and elegance are my signature words — they are part of my soul path.

So here in Bali, it comes as no surprise that I am deeply drawn to the beauty that surrounds me.  The artisanship displayed by the Balinese people is quite exquisite — the stonework of the temples and statues, the craftwork of batik painting, puppet making, and the like, and the daily canang sari offerings are a delight to the senses.


And I’m drawn to and loving the rice fields here in Ubud – these open spaces that one only has to walk a short distance away from a main road to find.



But beauty not only exhibits externally in the form of material items and natural landscapes;  it also comes from within, at the source, the human heart.  I’ve been working on cultivating my internal beauty and the more I’m loving me, the more that essence is radiating outwards into an energy vortex and hopefully attracting and merging with other similar energies.

Yesterday I met two Balinese people with whom I fell in love.  I had noticed this man and young woman standing along the roadside near my abode several times over the last few weeks.   And as I was walking slowly up the hill after a day out in the heat, the man engaged a few words with me and I felt a strong urge to stop and have a chat.  Turns out, they offer rice field & herbal trekking tours in the fields behind my complex which I’d been gazing out at nearly daily.    We exchanged polite conversation; he told me that business was not so good yet put no pressure on me to tour with them.  He’d just wanted to chat and he said he liked my smile.

I left them, came back to my room, and pondered my course of action for the upcoming days.  And my heart decided I should go have a tour with them.  I went back and made arrangements to trek the next morning.

Early Saturday morning I met with “I Mede Rumawan” and another associate.  We greeted each other with big smiles and exchanged a few words in Bahasa;  thankfully Mede’s English is quite good because my ability to pick up Bahasa or any language for that matter is definitely not one of my strong points.


Off we went on a 2 ½ hour walk through the terraced fields where rice, peanuts, sweet potatoes, green beans, chilli peppers, and corn were grown and fruit trees and herbs were naturally or wildly growing in and amongst the terraces:   sour sop, jack fruit, guava, coconuts, dragon fruit, bananas, nutmeg, cloves, turmeric, galongal and more were all in abundance.


Mede was so passionate about this pristine area with expansive views that instilled tranquillity.  No motorbikes were cruising through these fields.   Neither were there many Westerners.  This was an off-the-beaten-path excursion right in my back yard!   He explained how irrigation works in the terraces – the water originates from the mountains or underground springs and is controlled by various villages and their water temples as it flows downhill.   This irrigation system, called Subek, has been around for over a thousand years and is part of the fabric of Balinese culture.   The land we were on was worked by over 100 families and he says it works because of community and communication – everyone has to work together in harmony for everyone to prosper.

It is very laborious – harvesting rice by hand in the hot sun is demanding on the body.  We came across a group of women harvesting and they let me have a go at thrashing which I was told I was doing too vigorously.   Once the ladies have thrashed and cleaned the rice, they put it into baskets which they then carry on their head for two kilometers to the market where they will only get a minimal amount for all their efforts.



He says the land is in his heart and I totally felt that from him and felt a kindred connection as Birdsong is that to me.    I came away from my few hours with him really feeling his beauty and felt grateful that we’d had our encounter.


But beauty and light do not exist without ugly and darkness.  I am still puzzling why this has to be so, but it seems to be part of a natural law – the law of duality.   So with the beauty, I am equally seeing the ugly side of Bali which has taken me on a huge emotional wave — Eyes wide open feeling pain and sadness versus eyes wide shut existing in my little perfect bubble of westernized conveniences which make me feel good.    Am I to judge another culture for what is acceptable and normal for them?

There are things I’m seeing I feel are blatantly wrong (like the ever growing plastics problem which everyone talks about — streams, ravines, oceans and beaches littered with plastic waste contributed to by both tourists and Balinese) and inhumane  (the treatment of the civet animals that are kept in cages akin to factory farming for the sake of making the uber expensive Luwak coffee or dogs which are often stolen and kept in cruel conditions for their meat known as RW and then being sold to unsuspecting tourists as satay – read here if you dare!)  and things I’m seeing that I don’t react kindly to but feel I can’t 100% pass judgment on  (cock fighting & gambling, and the general treatment of dogs — it’s been hard to see dogs in all sorts of states roaming the streets.

What I can do is be a conscious traveler and use my purse and time in the best way while still loving me and fulfilling my personal desires for being in this country.

  • Plastics: I am traveling with my own water bottles which can be refilled at various restaurants & yoga studios with ‘refill stations’.   After asking, my accommodation in Ubud has provided me with a 5 gallon water dispenser and I’m asking each accommodation I’m booking whether they provide refillable water so I don’t have to buy plastic bottles.   I also bring my own water bottle with me on tours so I don’t have to accept a plastic bottle.   In all my walking around, it’s been kind of shocking to see the majority of young travelers traveling without their own water bottles.    Also the Balinese are just as much contributing to the problem as no one drinks the water from the ground here –  water is cheaply available everywhere in plastic containers.  I’ve also brought my own cloth bag so I don’t have to get plastic bags at the markets.
  • The Civets: I will not go on any tour that stops at a ‘lewak’ coffee plantation.  When I’ve spoken to a few Balinese about lewak coffee and the treatment of civets, they swear these cruel conditions are not being done here.  Yeah, I’ve heard that line before.   I’ve signed a few pledges & petitions
  • Cock fighting/gambling & dog treatment: I’ve made a donation to the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) who have many great campaigns and success stories on behalf of all animals here in Bali.   Here’s a really good article on being a responsible tourist in Bali and how NOT to support any attraction that features animals.   Gone are the days of needing captive animals to provide entertainment for us humanoids.  Volunteer at an animal shelter if you need some four-legged connection.
  • I’m going vegetarian/pescaterian for as long as possible while here. It feels sensible  for me to do this and travel further along my food-consuming consciousness path.

Now back to beauty and loving me:

  • I’m staying at accommodations that have a good beauty aesthetic for me and offer larger rooms — I’m paying more for this but I’m worth it!
  • I’ve decided to only eat at establishments that are in beautiful surroundings that make me feel good.
  • I’m doing my best to only eat at organic or vegetarian/vegan places (which is easy here in Ubud).
  • Lucky me, there are several eateries fitting both criteria in Ubud in the rice fields. Sari OrganikSweet Orange Warung, and Dragonfly Cafe are my favs.
  • I’ve had two lovely 90-minute Balinese massages at beautiful locales which cost $25USD instead of the $10USD massages one can find being offered in every mom and pop shop.

Beauty on the inside, beauty on the outside.  It’s possible to cultivate and live in a state of beauty while having conscious awareness of the darkness that is part of the fabric of life.


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