Leaving the Lanza-grotty style beaches of Kuta and Lenigan behind we headed inland to Ubud the home of Balinese Hinduism and the Bali Royal Family. Once a peaceful religious retreat, Ubud is now a thriving tourist attraction, however it has retained a peaceful, calm air about it, particularly in the evenings once the day trippers have boarded the coaches and returned to their luxury resorts.
During the day a short walk down the back streets brings you out into the paddy fields, which step their way up the gentle ridges into the hills above the town. Here the pace of life has changed little for a few thousand years. Wildfowl fish and swim amongst the rice, locals tend to their fields, traversing the wide pools on narrow earth banks. Rice is still planted and harvested by hand and sold in the markets around Bali. The only major change is the occasional hot and sweaty tourist meandering through the paddies, camera in hand looking for that perfect tranquil photo opportunity!
We spent 4 days staying at the an Ashram meditation and yoga retreat. No alcohol, no food on the premises, no meat, no sex and up at 6am for meditation and yoga! To our great surprise we actually really enjoyed our stay at Anand Ashram! We found the meditation insightful and relaxing and the yoga the perfect way to start the day with gentle exercises, balances and stretching.
The founder, Anand Krishna, set up the organisation in 1991 after a miraculous recovery from leukemia thanks to a Tibetan Lama who provided him with insight into different meditation techniques allowing him to baffle his doctors, and western medicine in general, and heal himself through meditation. Through his foundation he promotes global peace, inter-faith discussions and conferences, addresses radicalism within faith and is recognized by the United Nations as an ambassador for world peace. He has a legacy of almost 150 books to date with more than 1 million copies sold in the past 15 years. People of all faiths attend his talks is a running commentary to his vision “One Earth, One Sky, One Humankind.”
We were fortunate that he was staying at the retreat also and we had many a fascinating conversation with him discussing his motives, approaches, philosophies and getting some handy hints on meditation techniques!
With batteries recharged and minds focused we realised that it was time for a change in our life. So we consulted the map, set a new course and booked a cheap flight to Darwin – Australia here we come.
Another sweaty tourist in the paddy fields
Unchanged for millennia
A home for more than just fish and rice
The locals haven't changed much either
Well one local has
Who'd have thought? Scarecrows are international!
An ingenious wind operated "clacker" for scaring rice-robbing birdies
The Balinese festival celebrating all things metallic results in motorbikes and cars being washed and adorned with garlands and other decorations for the day
Well a few things have changed - less buffalo and more "Chinese Tractors"