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Eat. Pray. No Love, Bali.

Oh, Bali, you are something else. We both went into Bali expecting Eat, Pray, Love and gorgeous beaches for days. Well, we ate a lot. A prayed to leave almost every day. Don’t get me wrong, Bali is incredibly beautiful. It is full of culture, spirituality and breathtaking scenery. But it is also very hard for the everyday backpacker not trying to go all out and vacation in style.

We landed in the lively Denpasar and eased our way into Indonesia and the ways of SE Asia. The locals are truly amazing people, always smiling and wanting to chat. The organized chaos of it keeps you on your toes but has a way of making you feel welcome. The following day we headed to Canggu, the hip beach town full of raw vegan cafes and surfers with bleached hair and short board shorts. It’s charming without being in your face.

We don’t tend to stay in once place too long so we headed over to Ubud. Mixed feelings on this gorgeous place. It is one one of the most lush and spectacular places I have ever seen. Every turn leaves you breathless. But it’s a little overrun with yogi’s who look down their nose at you. Last time I checked, that’s not what yoga, spirituality or travelling is about. I was thankful to have someone with me since it seemed a little difficult to connect with people there. Bali seems to be teeming with couples, tourists and lost souls. So yes, we fit right in, especially since I think most people think Sasha and I are together anyways!

The moment we decided to rent scooters and travel the coast was the moment our trip changed and took on a whole new meaning. It would have been one thing to rent bikes and just rip around to see things but nooo! We decided to just dive in with our backpacks on, helmets that didn’t fit and zero experience. Bring it. Day one we headed up the west coast towards Pulukan and stayed the night in Medewi, a charming off the map surf town that even the owner of the hostel was surprised we found. We were both rather stressed after driving on the opposite side of the road than we’re used to with a million vehicles going a million different directions at every different speed with zero rhyme or reason but we made it. Bodies sore from lugging the bags, a bed was all we cared about.The following day we trucked on to a town that I still have no idea of the name. I know it was on the north western part of Bali and I know that it took 4 mental breakdowns on the side of the highway to reach.

That was the drive that tested my limits like I have never, ever experienced before. I am a damn tough cookie but I broke that day. I woke up sore and not feeling great but I was determined. Once we started the drive I was ok, not loving the scooters and my heavy awkward backpack but I was ok. And then the rain started. And then my muscles started to scream at me. And then I was done. It was one thing after another just building and building inside. It was like with every rain drop that pelted my unprotected face and every breath of dirty polluted air was a dig at my very foundation. The longer we went, the thinner my walls got and the more shit that just came flooding to the surface. All of a sudden I’m having a borderline panic attack on this damn scooter and the wind is making it even harder to breath and the tears are blurring my vision to point of blindness. And there ensues my grand breakdown on the side of a Balinese highway. Every insecurity that I have ever felt came creeping up in my time of weakness and defeat. My muscles seized in a way I had never experienced, my joints become immobile and my stomach was inside out. I’ve never wanted to give up and walk away so bad in my life. It took every ounce of strength and dignity I had left to get back on that godforsaken scooter with my helmet that was three sizes too big but the prospect of a bed kept me going. Silver lining, we ended up staying in the most fabulous place ever with this gorgeous outdoor shower and AC, so that was great. Although I thought I was for sure going to die, it was nothing a little TLC, Boy Meets World and air conditioning couldn’t fix. After taking a day to just rest and recoup a little we both decided we were done with the coast and done with the bikes. We ended up doing the entire coastal drive back down to Canggu in one longass day to get it over with.

I don’t know what it is about Bali but it’s shaken us and rocked us to our core in so many different ways. People speak of it’s healing powers but this is something so far beyond that. She crushed us so hard, and then broke us even more, before even giving us a glimmer of hope. And then finally she allows the healing to take place, but she doesn’t even really have anything to do with that part of the process. The healing came from so deep within that I don’t think either of us even fathomed that we had it in us.

I’m stepping out of Bali a very, very different person. After only one week. Not only did I need to see myself at my weakest, at my worst, at my most undesirable but I had to let someone I cherish more than anything see me in those states and tell me that nothing has changed for me to see the undeniable value and truth of unconditional love. Let yourself be vulnerable. Let yourself be seen. Let yourself be loved.

Be well & Live loud, Amanda

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