A Bali Birthday! Day 4 Pura Ulun Danu

My mother sent me a picture while I was chatting with her and letting her know how my Bali trip was going. The text that followed the picture simply said “Go Here”

The picture looked like any other post card but wasn’t labelled at all, so I asked if she knew the name of the place?

She didn’t

So both me and my mom tried to figure out where this beautiful looking temple was sitting in two different countries. and somehow we did. It was one that is considered Bali’s most iconic temple. One that Indonesia Tourism always highlights in any tourism campaign. One that is even on their currency! It was the Pura Ulun Danu temple…. beautifully sitting on the shores of Lake Bratan.

The temple was a couple hours drive from Ubud, and I was contemplating whether I should choose this place or just head towards a sandy beach in the north that I had been lusting after. But the Ulun Danu temple sounded like a magical place and hence I decided to visit it on my fourth and second last day in Bali.

The road was terrible and I, the Indian am definitely used to bad roads. Once we reached the spot, I started regretting it because the only things I could see was tour buses and crowds. I realised that if my mother found this picture and this place was so popular all tourist agencies and group tourists probably spend the day here.

My visit to Mt. Titlis in Switzerland was spoiled because of the same reason and I started really blaming myself. Even the entry fee to this spot was much more than the other temples I visited.

The temple itself was quaint and beautiful. The background had misty green mountains and the lake looked endless. It was perfect. So I decided to ignore the swarms of tourists in matching t-shirts and the plastic boat ‘bebeks’ (ducks) that was photobombing my every attempt to get a great picture.

I decided to get past it and just look at the real deal in front of me.

 

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Yes I wish we could avoid all those elements but then again my visit to Ulun Danu taught me that I am more patient than I know.

After I decided to tune out the noise and focused on the clouds it seemed like a great a visit that was worth the effort. Yes I would still recommend a visit, but perhaps try and avoiding peak visit hours. An early morning to visit would be the best bet.

When I tell my mother about it now, she says at least you got some great pictures.

Well I did.

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A Bali Birthday! Day 3 Waterfalls Volcanoes and Rice Terraces…

We need an outlet to be expressive and like many others writing has always been mine, whether it was scribbling notes to my friends or writing long letters to my mother after a fight, it’s been a part of me. So the minute I discovered that travel has become the another aspect of me, it just felt right to write. (Never said I was good at it :-P)

So here I am writing about my third day in beautiful Bali, trying to make the most of what I can in a measly 5 days. But this birthday trip was important to me. For the first time in my life I made a decision without worrying about the 10,000 things that I usually worry about.

I woke up on my 3rd day in Bali in the beautiful villa I was staying at in Ubud. I was excited but even with my 8 page long itenary I had no clue how to go about the day. So during breakfast I decided to stop looking at Google Maps and just give it a go.

We finally decided to check out the Tegenungan Waterfall, simply because it was closer to us, and the ones I had read about more like Git Git and Sekumpul were a bit far away. But visiting Tegenungan was a very good decision. We expected a small local fall that would be a short stop for an Instagram moment….

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Well I surely got my Instagram moments

The Tegenungun falls was magical, I hated myself for not being ready for the water and wearing appropriate outfits. I envied the people who were swimming close to the falls and experiencing something wonderful. I didn’t want to leave the place, water has a power that draws us towards it, and despite my ridiculous outfit and non swimming abilities, I wanted to spend my entire day here. But after a while I had to drag myself out of there remembering that I had to see as much as I could. So I had to say bye, but not before I splashed around in the water.

We decided for lunch we should go somewhere we can absorb the breathtaking views of Mt. Batur. A 4 hour sunrise trek is what most people do, to get the best views! But I don’t have the stamina to do what I have heard is quite a difficult trek. However one day I shall, isn’t that what bucket lists are for?

Till then… I decided to settle down for the views of the mountain and the lake in front of me. I am a person easy to please. Today before visiting any place we get to read experiences of others and while it inspires it also makes me wonder why I can’t be doing that.

But I am a very average person, an ordinary girl with a lot of dreams. But in that moment I was living one of them. In that moment I wasn’t ordinary. I wasn’t able to do a trek to be on the top of the world, but the views from below weren’t bad either 🙂

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Last but not the least Tegalalang rice terraces was what we wanted to stop at before we return to the villa and splash around in the pool. Very honestly, I was tired. I realised how a 9 to 9 job and city life has made a stiff person like me into a robot! And this is something I really need to change about myself.

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I walked as much as I could between the gorgeous rice farms, took my pictures, failed at vlogging cause as I was capturing on video while walking on the narrow trails, my leg sank into the wet sand and me in front of the cool people around me.

Well experiences comes in all shapes and sizes! 😀

I knew that I had only two more days left but every moment made me feel more special. Every moment I felt myself grow into the person I want to be. Every moment I hated that I had to go back to reality and in those very moments I was making plans of how I can come back here. And I will.

All Aboard el Tren de Churro! (Or Not?)

Follow the link to Khaana And Cocktails

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The experiences we’ve documented so far have been for the most part positive ones, but this next stop in Madrid was a bit disappointing. It was a must to visit one of the classic churro cafés in the city, so the gang and I went to the 121-year-old Chocolatería San Ginés. It was TripAdvisor-approved, maintaining a 4-star rating with several thousand reviews.

The line, which extended outside the entrance, also made it seem like a promising prospect. The queue moved quickly and as we were paying I even commented to a friend that I hoped it was really delicious and not just popular because it was quite a good deal (only €3.5 for 6 long churros and the chocolate).

They looked very promising!

“Right! I loved the whole train booth seating and interiors…as far as the churros were concerned it was I’m guessing more disappointing because of the hype behind the…

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A Bali Birthday! Day 2 Getting Blessed at Pura Tirta Empul

Visiting iconic Balinese temples was something I was really looking forward to on my first Bali trip. I come from a land that is home to some of the most beautiful temples in the world, out of which I have possibly seen only a measly 1%. So within my 5 days in Bali I didn’t want to miss out on an experience that was supposed to be serene and spiritual.

And it was, the Pura Tirta Empul was a place that felt special the minute you enter the temple courtyards. I am not a very religious person, but I don’t know why I felt that visiting this temple would be the right way to spend my birthday. I wanted to be in an environment which would allow me to embrace the positive vibes and soak in the magical energy that comes from these places of worship.

What I liked was that Balinese temples have rules, that helps them protect the sanctity of the temple. That doesn’t allow tourists to trespass on certain areas out of respect. It was sacred.

My friend and I decided to do the ritual at the Pura Tirta, we had heard wonderful things about the clear holy spring that was the highlight of the place. We wanted to do the traditional rituals ourselves but had to first understand the process.

The main attraction here was a long rectangular pool carved of stone, filled with koi that were fed by the sacred spring through a series fountains, each that had a spiritual significance.

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Worshippers first make an offering at the temple, then climb into the main pool to bathe and pray. We had to change into the right sarongs then purchase our temple offerings and meditate for around 10 minutes seeking blessings and permissions from the Gods, before we could step into the water.

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We met someone from the temple, who explained the symbolic meanings that each fountain represented. The first 10 represented 10 sins, the next 2 was giving us a chance to make wishes, the 2 that followed was supposed to be touched only for a funeral ceremony…and the one after that was meant to clean any darkness that came from our past lives.

We were supposed to go to each fountain (except the 2 that was meant for funerals), take in the water in our mouths and then spit it out. Do this three times.

Then we take in the water again, where we drink the water this time. Do this three times.

And finally bend our head to let the water fall over us and cleanse our sins away and bless us.

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I don’t know if it was the holy water that was supposed to heal me or the magical energy that came from the belief and prayers around me. But I believed that somewhere this was helping my soul.

Whether it was the large fish in the water that swam by me, or gorgeous water that cooled and calmed me, the Pura Tirta spring was pure and that is why it was such an amazing experience.

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A Bali Birthday! Day 1 Suluban Caves and Uluwatu

“All great novels concern themselves with life or what is described as the music of chance, our beginnings never know their ends

I was the girl who decided to take Mansfield Park to be my transit companion. It wasn’t a specific choice, but Jane Austen felt the ideal, considering I was doing a solo trip to Bali on the occasion of me turning 24.

I know I am young, but for a while know I felt myself craving for something different. The line above is one of the first in the book and though it was meant to imply something else, I found myself relate to it in the moment.

I started visiting places and ‘traveling’ while studying and then settled down in a life I thought I was meant to lead, and now I am not sure. My partially imaginative mind likes to think that my live is a novel too, and while fate and the ‘music of chance’ would probably play a big role, I had to decide how the pages would turn out. I had to decide and make an effort towards a new beginning without possibly knowing the end.

Which is basically why this trip to Bali happened 🙂

And it was short but wonderful

When I landed in Denpasar I couldn’t wait to rush out and grab my bags and find the taxi waiting for me, but a dreadfully long flight might not show that excitement right away.

I didn’t have a lot planned for my first night in Bali, but I was staying in Canggu, Echo Beach and had made plans to meet a couple of girls from the ‘Girls Love Travel’ group. As expected it turned out to be a the chilled evening vibe that I needed, food, drinks and listening to stories.

My Bali ‘Darshan’ started the next day and I had 2 things planned, visiting the Suluban Beach Caves and the Uluwatu Temple…

I was lucky to find a wonderful companion (one of the girls from the travel group) and I loved that I got to enjoy a bike ride even though a part of me hated the traffic. We started with a nice lunch at a lovely cafe near the beach caves and then headed towards it with a little bit of help from Google Maps.

The Suluban Beach Caves were breathtaking,  I don’t know a better way to describe it.

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I’m no surfer, I’m not even a swimmer but the minute I climbed down those stairs and was surrounded by those natural rocks and caves I realised why this place was a paradise. I grew up near the Arabian Sea and love beaches, but watching waves tall as buildings in front of me made me wish just for a minute that I knew how to surf.

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The beauty of the place comes from the water dripping from the caves, the giant waves and of course the numerous natural pools formed on the surface perfect for non swimmers like me. One would have to cross these to get to the waves. The water was clear and clean and looked like it could take all the stress away!

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I mean …. just look at it!

After a while we had to look at our watches since we wanted to make it to the Uluwatu Temple to watch the sunset there, something that literally every travel blog, website and social media post recommended. My friend had also instructed me to watch out for a traditional music and dance festival. It was called ‘Kecak’ possibly because of A capella like soundtrack the performers make.

The temple on top of a gorgeous cliff was indeed the perfect setting for one of the most beautiful evenings I’ve seen. It obviously was a popular tourist attraction and was crowded, but for a change that didn’t seem to bother me. That is because I had a view before me that made me want to capture it on canvas if I could.

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It was also my first temple in Bali and as a Hindu I started identifying the various similarities and differences that existed. Getting a chance to experience new traditions and other cultures is a great learning experience. I noticed everything from outfits, to rituals to even how their temples looked like from the inside. I come from a country that has some of the most beautiful temples in the world and it just made me realise how much more there for me to see and discover both in India and outside.

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The Kecak dance was held in the amphitheater inside the temple grounds, and it took me a good 10 minutes to realise that the enactment in front of me was of Ramayan, a story every Indian must know by heart, and yet the differences in the narration made it seem like a whole new one! The performance was engaging, funny and even engrossing. It even had a toad providing an unplanned comic relief! 😀

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It was a great day and on the ride back to my hostel I realised that I finally was breathing and smiling and was not thinking about the 10,000 different things that usually occupy my mind. Things that make me complain and whine and pity myself. I realised there was a life out there waiting for me… but meanwhile I had 5 amazing days to look forward to. 🙂

It’s not even close to a big victory but I felt little pride as I have at least become confident enough to travel and venture out on my own, at least I have become a better version of what I was before.

Even if I get lost, at least there is way to find myself.

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A Women’s Day Special…

I know this might be late for everyone who is in the same time zone as me, but there are people in the other side of the world who will soon be celebrating this day in a few more hours…

So I was wondering what to write as a women’s day special…

What can I write about feeling special about being a girl? What can I say that hasn’t been said before? Then I just decided to make it more personal, decided to re live a promise I made to myself

I read somewhere that there is a little voice in our heads that only gets louder with age, a voice that says “If you don’t do it now, you will regret it” 

So this women’s day let me make myself a promise that I will try my best to not look back and regret

Try my best to grab every opportunity I get that takes me a bit closer to the dream I have

Try my best to be a better version of myself

Try my best to love, understand, work, cry, laugh, write, eat and travel….and live a life that I don’t look back at one day with regret, a life that I can look back with utter satisfaction…

Perhaps like Dory I can just #KeepSwimmming ❤

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Mumbai and Me…

A couple more weeks and I finish a whole year in Mumbai, and among so many other things the city has kept me ‘hopeful’ ; making me more sure about what I want in Life and unsure about how to achieve that…

A year in Mumbai taught that the ‘Bollywood Town’ does inspire the filmy side in you (specially if you’re already a hopeless romantic like me) and even though you don’t run into Shah Rukh Khan, you can pretend you’re the protagonist of your very own movie…and it has only just started

I truly believe that every place in the world will have something that will inspire me; but Mumbai has made me more realistic.

No I didn’t find the right guy yet but that still hasn’t stopped me from day dreaming;

Yes I have a job, but I keep thinking about what to achieve next…

Mumbai hasn’t taken away the inspiration or hope from me, but the ‘struggle’ it has given me, has made me have more realistic expectations about my life and future

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Mumbai, might be a dream destination for a lot of people, but it isn’t mine. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like it. There is crowd and chaos here, but there is also a buzz that keeps the city vibrant and alive.

Which is why  I make a list of places I want to go and eat at every weekend and make a list of different parts of Mumbai I want to explore, ignite the spirit of the the ‘traveler’ in me

 

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There is colour among the crowd here, there is art to admire, there are book vendors to buy old classics from, there are food joints that will make you happy… Mumbai offers a lot

The city lets you move out of your comfort zone and teach life lessons. The city teaches you patience (specially when you’re stuck in traffic that refuses to move); it teaches you to accept the reality that you’ll probably get home food only once or twice a year now onward…

Mumbai teaches you to manage on your own, to look for household items that might make your independent lifestyle in a new city easier, to take the taxi or auto or local trains without hesitation when you want to go somewhere.

It teaches you to fight for your place in the ladies compartment in the local train, and order groceries online so you can make that one pot pasta

Mumbai is so huge, that when you’re new to the city it would take you a while to make friends, and hence makes you crave for good company and simultaneously appreciate it when it comes along. Cause despite the whole ‘I want to travel solo’ vibe that people have these days, sitting with a friend sipping on a cocktail is something I personally look forward to after a tiring week at work.

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Mumbai keeps the romance in me alive;

No, romance for me is just not having a love life… Yes, romance is passion and love but for me it also means the hope and warmth I feel from looking at the flicker of a candle flame

It also means the loneliness that grips me at certain moments in a day

It also means the solitude I sometimes crave for; and the joy of friendship

Romance represents all the different emotions I feel

It also represents the inspiration I get from the light from the full moon that I spot between tall buildings

Romance for me is also when I get to sing out loudly when no one is around and sing ‘My Favourite Things’ whenever I want to make myself feel better…(Thank you Julie Andrews for that :-*)

My point is that romance for me means a lot of things and this city helps me keep that spirit alive, even though I am the young, single, working girl in a city that is still new to me even after a year

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