As I mentioned earlier on in this series, Mind Body Soul Surf Bali has done an amazing job covering every aspect and nailing every little detail throughout the retreat itinerary, and the cultural experience was no different. From our day in Ubud to learning how to put together a canang sari and our closing ceremony everything was perfect and gave me one of the better tastes of Balinese culture than I felt like I had experienced throughout the entire 3 weeks.
One of my favorite parts of traveling has always been experiencing the culture of the place, without that element I may as well just be in DC at a fancy hotel or at a beach in Maryland. The few days of experiencing Balinese culture with Mind Body Soul Surf Bali gave me an incredible insight into not only every day life in Bali but also a deeper understanding of the history and culture of this amazing place.
By the middle of the week my arms were dead tired from all the paddling, so I was so excited to do something a little different and head back to Ubud for a day of culture with a stop at a coffee plantation, bike ride through the villages surrounding Ubud, another outing to the Sacred Monkey Forest and a trip to see the Kecak Dance!
The first stop was at a local coffee plantation where we were able to tour the plantation and sample about 15 different types of coffees and teas grown there, including the famous Luwak Coffee. Luwak coffee is only made in Bali, it is known as the most expensive coffee in the world and the way it’s made is… questionable. The Luwak is a possum like animal, and at night they are released into the plantation where they eat the coffee beans, then once the coffee beans, have, shall we say, left their systems… they are collected, cleaned and roasted. It’s gross, but apparently this makes it the most desirable cup of coffee in the world, I tasted it, it tasted like any other cup of coffee, but then again I’m not a coffee connoisseur.
Our bike ride was amazing, it was a lot of fun to see some of the smaller villages and ride through the rice fields. We were even able to stop by a local compound and see how a traditional Balinese family lives, that was one of our favorite parts of the day.
The Kecak Dance was incredible, even though none of us had a clue what was going on the entire time, it was a beautiful performance to watch.
Throughout my entire trip I had seen many offerings being made and placed everywhere by the Balinese Hindus to thank and praise the Gods. I was very excited when on our last afternoon we were able to learn how to make them ourselves and make them to bring to our closing ceremony.
Sarah and one of the women from our villa taught us how to put them together and explained what each color represented. White-colored flowers that point to the east as a symbol of Iswara, red-colored flowers that point to the south as a symbol of Brahma, yellow-colored flowers that point to the west as a symbol of Mahadeva, and blue or green colored flowers that point to the north as a symbol of Vishnu.
It was amazing to be able to take the time to sit there and do something that the Balinese do in their every day lives. And even more amazing to then be able to use our own canang sari during our closing ceremony (more on that later this week)!
I am so thankful to have been able to experience Balinese culture with Mind Body Soul Surf Bali, it made me feel so much more connected to the incredibly tradition rich country that had stolen my heart.