Friday, July 13, 2012

Ubud, Bali: Health Mecca

I arrived in Bali at the end of June.  I was on a late flight coming in and didn't arrive in Ubud until about 1am.  I was lucky to find On's Bed & Breakfast at that hour and I ended up staying there for the duration of my time in Ubud. The owners were sweet, and super helpful with everything.  One of them even brought me to the local banjar to ask for my mysteriously missing package in the mail, but I digress... I can easily say this is one of the most unique places I have visited.  I was a bit skeptical at first when I saw the Ashtanga Center was in a inland city (I was expecting the beach) and wondered if there was going to be anything going on there at all.  I had no idea! Ubud has everything and anything you could imagine and the food is amazing!  Organic, vegetarian, vegan, raw, and gluten free dishes are standard in many restaurants - it is so easy to be healthy here.  There are endless options for every type of yoga and massage you can think of, and various other alternative healing therapies readily available from singing circles to writing groups.

I started yoga the next day despite my late arrival.  Little did I know I was in for another surprise.  I've been practicing standard Vinyassa flow yoga since college and though I was well prepared for my one month intensive practice.  Well, it could have been worse (if I had never done any yoga at all!)  It turned out to be exactly what I was looking for, which was to learn the skills neccesary to develop an everyday self practice.  Funny thing was I did not realize that Mysore style Ashtanga was a self led class. Probably should have done a bit more reading on this before I showed up but luckily I landed in the right place :)

As you can see, (we didn't) they are
already trying to eat the seat!
I had quite the scooter experience in Ubud.  First, let me explain about riding a scooter in Asia, whatever you do don't think about what you are doing!  This is the #1 reason foreigners get into accidents.  Because everyone else on the road is thinking about everything and anything but driving.  Especially in Bali, where you frequently see someone eating, talking on their cell phone, and carrying a baby all while operating a two wheeled vehicle. And if you are lucky there will be 2-3 passengers.  Did I mention they drive on the wrong side of the road as well?  If you are going to overcome the challenge of riding a scooter in Bali, keep this advice in mind: drive slow, trust your instinct (unless it's telling you to stay to the right!) and never forget that the larger (more dangerous) vehicle and/or driver always have the right of way!  Anyways, my scooter story has nothing to do with driving because I wasn't even on it when this incident occurred.  I was staying near the Sacred Monkey Forest, a popular tourist spot in Ubud and had to drive through the foot path on my way in and out of town.  On the way, I saw my yogi friend Sue and stopped to say hello.  

Now, I know you that if you dont want trouble with monkeys you dont feed them but in this instance I chose to ignore my better instincts and decided that we had strength in numbers. (Yea right there were two of us and dozens of them!) As soon as I reached for the bag containing the rest of my fruit salad lunch they were all over the place.  Our reaction was scream, laugh, and take pictures, in that order.  Until we wanted to get going and realized the monkeys were really interested in my scooter, in fact they started baring their teeth at us when we tried to even get close to it.  Then one ran off with the helmet.  And then we realized they were eating the seat cushion. Now I know why people put bricks on their seats when they park in here. And WHY didn't the scooter rental guy tell me this! After a lot more screaming, running away, and enlisting the help of some foreign males (the Balinese were too busy laughing to help) we did regain possession of the scooter and helmet, minus the half eaten seat cushion. The scooter company was not happy with us.

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