Ever since Elizabeth Gilbert released her bestselling novel, Eat, Pray, Love with a movie deal to boot, everyone’s been abuzz with the intention of quitting their day job and jet setting around the world. I’m no stranger to this philosophy, in fact, I experienced my quarter-life crisis a bit earlier than most. At the age of nineteen, I resolved to study abroad for six months, merely to escape the sensation of of being sentenced to a life in a deadbeat American town; a town that, to me, personified the expression “bible belt.” I decided on New Zealand because I already knew a handful of people who had been to Australia (Like I said, I was having an early onset of a quarter-life crisis, and determined to go someplace where I knew absolutely no one.) Plus, Australia would be a good place to escape during our two-week Easter break, with a size and mentality comparable to Canada. And that was only the beginning, upon returning to what I considered a mediocre university town, I simply couldn’t seem to get back in the swing of things.
Flash-forward to 2012: As I prepared to begin my last semester at the University of Auckland, I knew this was possibly my last opportunity for frivolous travel prior to beginning my professional life post-convocation. (Who was I kidding?) My high school education and family vacations had already taken me throughout North America and Europe several times. Fortunately, my cousin Lucia had a similar mindset, having just begun her first semester abroad in Auckland. We decided that on top of our local travels within New Zealand, (a country of four million) we would additionally benefit from a mini-vacation to Southeast Asia. I spoke of our Malaysian adventure in my last post, but before I go all Eat, Pray, Love on you, I’d like to rationalize why we decided to visit Bali.
Bali is a breathtakingly beautiful island, with several excellent tourist options available. We wanted to dip our feet in the culture surrounding Bali. We also wanted to indulge in a vibrant nightlife and relaxing retreat that recharged our batteries mid-semester. My Canadian friends, an adventurous couple, Kirsten and Steve, had both been to Bali separately, and revelled about their experiences. Steve urged us to visit Ubud, Bali’s cultural capital. Needless to say, we were not disappointed with its abundance of art galleries, culinary delights, wildlife and exotic temples. Every community in Bali has a local temple, and every family builds a more compact temple in their home. I was incredibly intrigued by this form of devotion. We also visited a monkey temple (or so we thought); our tour guide, Sudarma corrected us immediately and told us it was a regular temple, but the monkeys protected its sanctity and acted as guards of the grounds.