No, I did not watch ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ before I decided to hop on a plane (well, three to be precise) and head to the beautiful tropical island of Bali.
I was intending to go to Tokyo with friends but then decided I’d make an epic trip, ending in a surprise visit to London (some have raised suspicion to my motives, with a new S7 at home the alleged reasoning, and to them I’d say that such self-interested and capitalistic maneuvering never occurred to me). Rather, following a late insomnia-driven Internet search I stumbled across Bali and a plethora of organic vegan food. So, that was that, bye bye Tokyo (sorry, I’ll come one day) and hello solo self-development and vegan food adventure!
Solo travelling is often deemed to be scary, the Internet warns female travellers to be armed with pepper spray and to stick to well-lit streets (gee, thanks for the patronising 101 Big Brother).
Our thoughts are limited to that of white bourgeoisie backpackers with dreadlocks and tie-dye shirts, jasmine encrusted gems lining their necks and a TripAdvisor guide in hand.
And, to be honest, that crowd is around the trendy vegan hotspots and the latest yoga craze (namely, community yoga dance classes). But for me, Bali was an incredible solo trip: a sanctuary of meditation and mindfulness, creative delicious vegan food and the friendliest people I’ve met. Solo travelling is more than just a means of galavanting around the world while you ‘figure yourself out’ (whatever that means), it’s a way of challenging yourself, meeting awesome people you would not necessarily speak to otherwise and being at one with your own company.
During my one-week stay in Ubud I explored beautiful temples, saw the sunset along the rice paddies and had many massages- my favorite was a Balinese full body massage! Also, I woke up before the sunrise and headed to the zoo, eating a vegan breakfast with orangutans and elephants because merely going to the zoo is not enough. I even tried a reflexology foot and hand massage, believed to pinpoint reflex areas which link to parts of your body and thus cause a physical change to your body. In reality, it just felt like the lady spent an awfully long time massaging and stretching my toes in every possible way. I’m still not sure how I feel about it. I’m sorry for crushing your hopes before you booked that inflated reflexology appointment….
On every cobbled corner there is a fresh juice bar, Luwak coffee (cat poo- a must try) and a vegan café. I highly recommend Soma in Ubud, it has a creative and unique menu catering for all food preferences and tolerances out there! But the noble vegan café winner goes to Paradiso and Earth Café: the world’s first vegan cinema, need I say more?! I watched Cardboard Boxer, and with tickets priced at 50K (rupiah) and going towards food or beverages you easily have a free ticket! There is a raw vegan bar with protein balls, chocolate fudge slabs (they were massive) and blueberry tarts. I had the Seitan steak with mash and broccoli and a maca java soy milkshake, followed by palm sugar popcorn and raspberry cheesecake at the cinema. Oh yh, and everything is vegan!
Life lessons I’ve learnt:
1) Try to avoid travelling during Chinese New Year or ensure you have longer layovers!
2) Don’t waste all your Polaroids on pictures of food. They come out blurry anyways.
3) Don’t attend acroyoga- it is painful and sweaty.
4) Book a longer visit next time. You’ll want to try out more vegan cafés. It eases the pressure on the whole 5 meals a day shmidt.
Thanks for reading!