Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Changing Perceptions - What Bali Had Taught Me

I have not blogged for awhile.  I had intended to write a piece about my trip to Bali but after discarding a few drafts, I had decided to delve deeper into what made this trip magical for me instead.

I am not new to Bali and its balmy beaches, hot surfers, cheap cocktails and fashionably cool tourists. Or was it the other way around; cool surfers, hot beaches and cheap tourists. 


12 years ago, David and I spent our honeymoon in Bali where our supposedly romantic week whirled past us as we hung about the swimming pool of a quaint little beach resort in a half drunk state.  We went back to Bali every year after that, as we loved the cheap cocktails and the bliss of hanging about by the swimming pool of a quaint little beach resort.

Years after, the resort looked like a ramshackle hut filled with half drunk European tourists some with no sense of cultural respect enough to remove their bikini tops so we could all admire the length of their breasts from knee to chest.   David and I looked at each other in disgust and gawked not at the breasts but at the vision of us hanging about by the swimming pool of that quaint little beach resort, with his red-neck-looking cowboy hat propped on top of his head, and my bikini top still back in Singapore. We could not foresee ourselves in that state during our future visits to Bali.


We came to a realization that Bali, with all its spiritual energy was worth more than those cheap cocktails and hot surfers.  We wanted to experience the spiritual magic of Bali we had missed in the last 12 years.   So we checked into a tiny but beautiful and serene villa located right smack in the middle of a rice field in Ubud, Central Bali.

Every evening, we were entertained by a symphony coming from the bull frogs, crickets, geckos, and a timing-challenged cockerel.  As we sat outside the terrace with our cups of tea (note: no booze), David pointed to the Orion belt, and we took turns guessing the names of stars.  I thought I spotted Venus too but he said I was drunk on tea.  Also, I saw fireflies for the first time, flitting about amongst the rice plants.  I was so awed by the beauty of nature and wondered why anyone would ever need television, when there was better entertainment out there in the rice fields in the evenings.

When we woke up at 4am everyday….yes4am, because that cockerel had not yet learnt to discern when dawn breaks, we spotted rice farmers tending to their crops as birds came by our swimming pool for their morning bath. Bliss.


I also hired a personal yoga instructor to come by to the villa to practice yoga with me. Her name is Luisa. I wanted to initiate David into the wonderful world of yoga, but David got himself initiated into an evening of solitude and delectable room service instead, when he spent that entire yoga session taking photographs of Luisa’s and my butt as we did the cow and cat poses.  That photograph was posted on Facebook and possibly had become National Geographic’s photograph of the week, from the comments we got.  I was so embarrassed!

As I increasingly fell in love with yoga, I formed a friendship with Luisa.  She taught me that yoga was more than the asanas that we were practicing together.  Yoga was actually a way of life that could be used off the mat at our office and at home.  Just understanding the basic tenets of the Yamas and Niyamas, made me look at the issues at work in a different light. We both also had similar ideas about life and spirituality. In no time at all, Luisa and I came up with a business idea to bring an enriching weekend of learning and spiritual rejuvenation to people who needed it – the Blue Heaven Goddess Weekend.  Luisa and I will be launching the Blue Heaven Goddess Weekend in 2014.


Little did I know that this trip to Bali was going to be my medicine that helped salved an open wound.  When I went to Bali, I had the yoke of work issues around my neck.  I had a disagreement with someone at work which impacted my confidence and I landed in Bali with the belief that perhaps, I was really not good enough at what I did. I was made to believe that I had to be opened to change because I was not “cutting it”.

However, the deeply spiritual disposition of the Balinese people touched my heart in a way that no other experience could.  I had an inspiring encounter with my villa owner who doubled up as my driver. His name was Gungdek.  He was the epitome of contentment – he would not ask for more and was happy with life as it was because of his steep spiritual beliefs that everything he had was bestowed by God.  So he lived in joy and gratitude for every little abundance he had in his life.  Gungdek’s daughter died 13 years ago of a motorcycle accident.  2 days after burying her, his house burnt down to the ground.  Gungdek never had money.  He came from a very poor family and his own family lived from hand to mouth, from meal to meal.  However, it was after the loss of his daughter and his house, that woke him up to the fact that he still had a home – his entire family who depended on each other for love and life.  Gungdek worked very hard for years and managed to own a piece of land on which he had built this villa.  I felt so privileged to be able to stay the week in this villa that Gungdek built.  He lived next door to the villa, in a little thatched house.  A mud track led to his house and children blissfully played soccer outside his little house, oblivious to the blood and sweat Gungdek had put into providing for his family. The man was always smiling and chatty.  He drove me all over Ubud to show me the sights, recommended  good and inexpensive restaurants to us and even got a numerology reading from me.  The simplicity of his life, and the contentment about him, did not expose a past of grief, loss and sorrow.  I was inspired.  The changes in his life, and the loss he had suffered, had inspired new ideas and a conviction to turn his family’s life around and make it better.  In the same vein, I was inspired to accept that all changes can indeed inspire new ideas and a conviction to re-chart a direction towards any goal I wanted to manifest.  I should never be afraid and defensive of anyone’s perception of me, however erroneous. If anything, I should be afraid of my inability to change my perceptions about myself.

This much-needed vacation to Bali was much needed not because I wanted to de-stress, rejuvenate and recharge myself.  It was much needed because Bali was calling me to change my perceptions about her, her cheap cocktails, hot surfers, balmy beaches and colourful sarongs. She wanted to touch me with the magic of her spiritual energy. 

Bali also called to me, to change my perceptions about myself.  Like Gungdek who picked himself up from his loss of his daughter and his house, I was called to pick myself up from the loss of my confidence caused by harsh words, thoughtlessness and differing views and perceptions of others.   
I figured that whatever the hurdles and changes got thrown in my path, as long as I could be opened to changing my own perception of them, the Universe will conspire to make things right for me.

I would be coming back to Bali every year without doubt.  Perhaps, she might show me something different again, the next time I visit.  

About the writer:

The writer of this blog post is a 44 year old mother of one, who spreads her time between her day job as a marketing professional at a financial institution, her hobby as a certified professional tarot reader and numerologist, and her family which includes a 20 year old son and 3 dogs with personality disorders.  She's married to a Scot who has been affectionately called "The Crazy AngMo" and prays that he does not find out that the term when translated, has labeled him as a "Ginger Head".   Together, we create a home made up with more nuts than a fruitcake but filled with plenty of love.

The rice fields were so serene

View of the rice fields from our private villa pool

A visit to the Ubud local market

My gorgeous yoga instructor Luisa

Why can't my family be normal....sighhhh.

Luisa and I in total bliss state

Hot surfer, Cool moves

Blue Heaven Bali- My heavenly base for our Blue Heaven Goddess Weekends in 2014

Birds taking a bath in my pool

Stupid chicken

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