Why Bali? So many times I have been asked this question by my friends and family. After visiting Bali for the first time in 2011, I felt in my heart that I would return to this Indonesian island paradise and make it my home. After nine beautiful years in London, I packed one piece of luggage, my camera bag and got on an airplane. Three years later, I returned to Bali to starting a new life with openness to whatever challenges and adventures await.
My first stop is Ubud – a lush yet tiny green town (almost a village) in the middle of the island. It is surrounded by beautiful rice paddies and is known as Bali’s major arts and culture centre. Although Ubud is far from the main beach resorts and the ocean, there is something special about this place that continues to draw people away from the sea and inland. For centuries Ubud has been a great source of inspiration for all kinds of people tapping into their creative psyche! It is truly a special place and unique from all the other main cities in Bali.
Bali is a Hindu island. Hinduism was brought from Java which is now largely inhabited by Muslims. In the 16th century, the Hindu royal family that ruled Java was forced to move to Bali due to a large influx of Islam to the island. Along with themselves, the family brought the best of Java to Bali (religion, culture, arts etc). Numerous artists moved to Bali at that time and Ubud became the centre of artistic life and the official home of the royal family. For centuries the royal family supported arts and culture and drew many foreign artists to Bali throughout the 19th century. In addition to Ubud’s rich culture, it had always been a thriving centre for medicine as the epicentre for medicinal herbs and alternative medicine (such as faith healers). Some say that the name “Ubud” stands for old Balinese word “ubad”, meaning medicine.
Today, Ubud is considered to be Bali’s spiritual capital for yogis, meditators, healthy eating and hippie communities. It’s truly a great place to explore alternative healing – both mentally and physically. You can practice yoga, visit an ashram, or find yourself at a meditation retreat. There are several options for high quality vegan and raw food restaurants, although it’s all created by the expat community. Local Balinese eat a diet of mainly rice, vegetables and basic meat – quite often fried. Balinese say they don’t need to practice yoga or meditation – they don’t have problems like westerners do. They are happy, whether they are poor or rich, and accept the life they have and see only good things around. Most of us in western countries have the opportunity to learn quite a bit from this positive outlook. See the beauty around you, notice small details and never stop smiling.