Remember a time not so long ago, when you’d sit on the remote control and the TV screen would fill with black and white fuzz? That was my head when I broke up from school for the summer. I was in desparate need for a break. I spent one week alone in Ubud. My conversations leading up to the journey had been as follows:
‘Any plans for the holidays?’
‘I’m going to Bali’
‘Ooh lovely. Who with?’
‘I’m going alone.’
‘Ooh aren’t you brave. I wish I could do that.’
The fact that I had the same conversation with so many people made me start questioning my nearest and dearest’s outlooks to life as we know it. Why was it considered brave to travel alone? Why did I feel awkward whenever I told people this was my plan? And was it just me or did I see pity in their eyes? I’m holding on to the hope that I imagined the final, and was perhaps more of a reflection on myself than their views towards me.
That being said, when I made it onto the plane, I did begin to feel a sense of empowerment within. I really was doing this. I was brave. A hero maybe? Perhaps I was letting it get to my head. The fact is though, I was doing something that a lot of people haven’t done and perhaps never will.
Let me tell you about Ubud. As a self-proclaimed hippy, I felt I had found my heaven. Full of brave heroes like myself, or so I thought. It seems, in Ubud, if you hadn’t been practicing yoga since you could stand, if you hadn’t considered nursery nap time extended shavasana and if your first word wasn’t om then you just weren’t part of the gang. I wasn’t part of the gang. Which leads me to the question, ‘How much time is considered socially acceptable to spend alone?’ I love my own space. I love zoning out and being able to do whatever I want to. It’s one of things currently keeping me out of a relationship. (That and my lack of any other option…) So my week in Ubud, was spent majoritively alone. I hadn’t come to make friends anyway. I wasn’t up for small talk. So perhaps my lack of yoga experience was a blessing. It meant I had very little to talk to the travellers about anyway. If I could recommend one thing to any ‘fuzzy headed’ people reading this, it would be to go away on your own. Never have things seemed clearer than they did at the end of that week. The people and the places I couldn’t get out my head were clearly stuck there for a reason. The potential for development for me as an individual were there because I didn’t have to deal with anyone else’s problems. I could only think about me. And whilst that may be selfish to some, I think it was acceptable to only have to think about myself.
Not to be stereotypical, as an English teacher I try to avoid generalisation, but whilst in Bali, the same personas appeared throughout the week. If you’re a traveller, or even hope to be one, make sure you look out for these guys:
I can’t explain how many hippies Ubud fostered. I had no words after one Aussie told me with passion that he needed to tell the world how great yoga made him feel. That no one should forget this feeling of enlightenment and we should all quit our jobs and spend our days in downward dog. Perhaps he had more words. But this was the message he was trying to get across. I’m all for the yoga love. Believe me, it’s helped me through some tough times. But I haven’t quite let go of reality yet. The hippy, they’ve already forgotten their actual names, instead insisting on being called Oak tree for the entire time you spend in their company. (Real name Steve)
The mid life crisis
Another traveller intent on forgetting reality. But only because they feel their real life sucks so much they have no other choice but to change everything about themselves.
This should never be attempted. It’s too transparent that once lawyer, recently divorced Gail now turned permanent traveller and yoga queen Gigi is still not happy within herself. She should instead be grateful for everything she has and everything she is. There’s no need for change other than keeping clear of people who make you think you need to.
My first yoga teacher after reaching Bali was 300 years old. He was 4 foot tall and had skin like a leather bag. After bending us into shapes I never thought possible, he began jumping (actually jumping) on an old woman’s back, screaming nothing was impossible. Tears streaming down the woman’s face, she tried to tell him she had an injured back. “Leave it to me!” he cried, “I have been fixing backs for years!”
I’m not sure how true this is. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t a trained chiropractor. I’m positive he continued to fold the woman so far forward that her head appeared above her arse.
Not a stereotype? I kid you not, he was just one of a very similar bunch of teachers I came across that week. All equally insane. Not all claiming to be doctors though. The old woman was ok… if you were wondering.
Newbie is no exaggeration. Conversations including “What even is yoga?” took place within earshot (and not in a metaphorical, philosophical way you might expect from stereotype 1). Perhaps not unusual to some, but on a yoga retreat? For all they knew, yoga could have been a craze following on from 50 shades of grey. Thank god it wasn’t. I’m guessing many of my fellow travellers hadn’t washed in several years.
The thrill seeker
Will tell you everything you need to know about any country you ever intend to go to. Or just mention in passing. Or that they are able to mention. They are the walking talking hitchhikers guide. Don’t mention the hitchhikers guide to them though. They are better than that. No book can tell them where to go. Have you ever bungee jumped into the grand canyon? Thrown yourself off the Burj Khaleefa? Rode a shark bare back through the Great Barrier Reef. Thrill seeker has.
In case it isn’t clear, I loved Bali. I loved the few people I spoke to and the few more that I listened to. It helped me think about myself and allowed me to develop less fuzz within my head.
Bali was such a yogi dream that the jewellery I have associated with it is as simple as possible. Back to basics with no added extras. When something is so beautiful, why change it? Please have a look at my Bali collection. I hope you find something that reminds you to bring simplicity to your life, and to remember the things truly important to you.
'Life is really simple. But we insist on making it complicated'