Bali Traditional street Photography

[Notes From Bali No. 4]: Bend Like Bamboo

During my time in Bali, I was introduced to the Japanese proverb “The Bamboo that bends is stronger than the Oak that resists.”

And thinking about it, while it may seem counterintuitive, rigidity offers the perfect environment for fracture. Stiffening and avoiding hardship isn’t a show of strength, just like admitting that life is suffering isn’t succumbing to sadness. But there was a time in my life when I rejected this fact, mostly with the false belief that control equalled strength.

But I’m the happiest I’ve ever been only now, as someone who’s learned that being adaptable is far more helpful in accommodating life’s ebbs and flows. So to you and yours (and to myself because we all need the reminder sometimes), stand tall in the stillness, but make room for give in the storm.

x, S

This post marks my final farewell to Bali (until we meet again)! And what better way to end this than with my tour through Ubud’s mountains and rice paddies a la Eat. Pray. Love.

I stayed in the beach community of Canggu during the weeklong retreat, but on my day off, I went mountain biking with Bali Eco Cycling through the mountainous region of Ubud (which I also discovered to be the mecca of affordable and unique home decor! Noting for next time…)

The uphill bus ride took just over an hour as we took winding roads through various towns and temples. The first stop on the tour was at the crest of a mountain overlooking a maze of rice paddies. It’s so hard to properly capture the scale in a photo, but if you look closely top-left, that orange speck by the staircase is an adult human. Just wild!

After admiring rice, we grabbed breakfast in Kintamani at a cafe overlooking Mount Batur and its calderas (craters formed after an eruption), one of which is now a lake. In the photo below, you can spot Mount Agung spewing smoke.

Breakfast consisted of a refreshing pineapple smoothie bowl and banana pancakes. We also were treated to a coffee flight with a sampler of Lewak coffee, the most expensive cup of java in the world made from the roasted excrement of a native feline fed coffee beans. It was super strong! And while it wasn’t bad by any means, it’s definitely hype IMO. I did fancy the Ginseng coffee, though!

After we got our fill, it was time to hop on our mountain bikes and start the four-hour bike trek through lush forests, rice paddies, traditional villages, and plantations making cloves, coffee, cocoa, vanilla, tapioca and taro.

En route, we stopped many times to get out and explore. On one particular stop, we were invited into a traditional Balinese home where we got to learn more from the homeowner about their culture and lifestyle, which still includes cock fighting.

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It’s honestly impossible to capture the feeling of these rural streets. The photos make it looks so desolate. And while it was quiet and zen compared to Canggu, the air was filled with a calm sense of community. Dozens of local kids ran around chasing each other, dogs formed packs and played, people softly whistled while they worked, swarms of motorbikes buzzed by.

Of all the temples I saw, this one made entirely from recycled volcanic rock, dried palms, and wood stood out for me (below). It was such a beautiful reminder of Mother Nature’s offerings and our ability to create beauty from chaos. Again, the detail and the scale of the building is impossible to capture (especially when you realize it’s all hand-carved).

Until we meet again, Bali. I love you, I love you, I love you!

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