As I stepped out of the Bali International Airport the heat and humidity were the first to welcome me. “We don’t get weather like this in Los Angeles,” I thought to myself while I made my way to exit the airport.
Bali was never on my list of places to visit. But having traveled solo for years and finally deciding to settle into my new home, I was starting to feel lost and lonely. I was desperately searching for a connection but I didn’t know how at the time. Travel helped me with that, but I knew that this time around, I didn’t want to travel alone. I wanted to be with people.
He took my luggage and we walked to the van that was meant to take us to the villa where we were staying. He assured us it was going to be a long ride, but it didn’t matter. The long stretch of Indonesian temples and shrines as we drove through the streets, took my attention away from yet another long journey.
When we all arrived on the first night, we shared a nice cultural dinner at a small restaurant near the villa where we were staying. Just like strangers meeting for the first time, we semi-formally introduced ourselves, learned about each other, and talked about the trip that was set before us.
We had a very diverse itinerary with every day filled with activities. But the following were my favorite experiences as part of the SoFe Bali Meetup Tour.
All over Bali, there are these beautiful fragrant-floral masterpieces that can be found almost everywhere. On the streets, in the temples, in front of shrines, decorating the shops, and etc.
They are literally everywhere.
Canang Sari is a spiritual offering that is practiced every morning by the Balinese Hindus. Its symbolism includes warding off demons, attracting prosperity, and honoring ancestors.
First, we arrived at another villa where we were met with some locals who welcomed us and gave us a lesson about the Balinese Hindus religion, the symbolism of the canang sari, and how to make it. Then we were taught how to make it from a variety of fresh colorful flowers that came in white, red, yellow, blue, and green. Each floral had its own meaning and each item was meant to be placed in a specific direction. After completing the workshop, we were directed to a little private temple, where we presented our canang sari to the gods.
Learning about the Balinese Hindu religion through the canang sari workshop was a pleasant experience. Although the canang sari looks simple and dainty, it is actually a very intricate item with so many meanings. Had it not been for this workshop I would not have known what these floral offerings were and what they represented.
Considered as one of the most beautiful places to visit in Bali, the Tegalalang Rice Fields is where you want to be. By the way, did you know that its a UNESCO World Heritage Site? If that’s not more of a reason for you to visit, then I don’t know what is.
It’s stunning beyond belief.
When we arrived, we all walked towards Tegalalang, enjoyed the view from the top, and took advantage of the many photo opportunities that we could get. If you are an Instagrammer, this is your spot.
Do you know that “I Love Bali” sign you see on everyone’s feed? Yeah, It’s here at the Tegalalang Rice Fields and trusts me when I say there is no better place to take that picture. At the top of the rice fields lines an array of cute cafes, shops, and photo-op stations (the picturesque swing and birds nest is there) that all overlook the rice field.
It was such a great place to relax, hang out with new friends, and enjoy the scenery. If I ever go back to Bali, this would be the place I would want to visit the most.
I’m not into nature at all but visiting the Tegalalang rice fields was an inspiring moment for me. The entire landscape is just breathtaking that no picture (or filter) can do it justice. I had one of those moments where I began to realize how big the world is, how much of the world I haven’t seen, and I started to remember why I loved traveling in the first place. How much I wish that I could share the moment with friends and family at home. But it is not the same. It’s never the same as being there in person.
For this experience, we drove to a remote area, and when we arrived at our destination we were greeted by our host, “Wayan”, with a decorative and refreshing welcome drink. At the start of our experience, we were given a lesson on how to make coconut oil, followed by an introduction to the variety of ingredients found in traditional Balinese dishes.
All the ingredients, cookware, and cutlery were prepared. Before the preparation of each course, we were given instructions on how to make it and what we needed to do. Then we worked together in pairs to handle different parts of the meal such as de-seeding the chili, finely chopping them, cooking the meat, etc. Every so often, we would rotate stations to ensure that everyone was able to experience different cooking practices.
Wayan and his team orchestrated the class smoothly, and with his humor, instruction, and his team, we had the best time ever. At the end of the class, we all sat together, enjoyed the feast that we all prepared and delved into deep conversations and laughter all through the night.
I truly enjoyed this experience because not only were we introduced to Balinese cuisine but this was such a great activity to do with new friends. The cooking class was fun and at the end of the meal, we really got to taste our own blood, sweat, and tears which by the way was very tasty. Just kidding. The food was delicious but the company of the SoFe ladies was what made the experience the most memorable for me. To feel connected during the meal made gave me a sense of belonging.
Of course, I slept well after the biggest food coma of my life. It was worth it.
Solo travel is one of the best ways to travel but making new friends and sharing memorable experiences with them was what I needed most. Traveling to a new place is always an exhilarating experience for any traveler. But traveling with like-minded women was such an empowering experience and one that I look forward to every year since. There were deep conversations, late-night swims, and a whole lot of laughter. I couldn’t have asked for a better trip than with the girls that I met and traveled with.
Now, I can’t tell you exactly what was the best part of this trip because everything was amazing. But what I do know is that after the trip I came back home looking forward to book my next SoFe Meetup: Morocco.
Christine de la Fuente is a creative travel blogger from Los Angeles, California. She enjoys traveling the world solo just as much as she loves traveling the world in LA – “How To Travel The World Without Leaving Los Angeles”. Most of all she travels to visit historical sites, eat good food and experience festivals all around the world.
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