Every Thursday should begin with a hot and sweaty jungle trek to hidden waterfalls, I thought to myself as I cut may way through the dense vivid green forest. Admittedly this is not the easiest thing to schedule if you’re reading from a London office but currently my office is located in Bali, which makes such adventures a little easier to get in the diary.
Living in Ubud has been nothing short of magical. I’ve been working from Hubud, an amazing bamboo co-working space, which has given me a lovely community and a fabulous friendship circle from day one. The word spoilt comes to mind.
But even when you are living ‘in paradise’ on the other side of the world it’s surprisingly easy to get stuck in the same old routine of going to work, hitting the gym and sharing beers and grub with friends in the evening. And there’s nothing wrong with that, I’m a creature of habit despite my nomadic ways and love nothing more than a bit of routine in my exotic locations. But it’s important to take time out and make the most of your Instagram-enviable location from time to time. And so I’ve been doing my best to do just that over the last two months; I’ve seen spiritual healers, water priests, thrown myself into meditation, yoga, surfing and have even learned how to ride a scooter, which has given me a freedom that has totally transformed my experience living in Indonesia.
But one of my most memorable trips out of the ‘working routine’ has been a trek I took recently with a fabulous family-run trekking company based near Ubud called Authentik Bali, which promises to get you off the beaten track and into the heart of ‘real Bali’ away from the tourists. And let’s be honest, it’s never been harder to get off that beaten track in today’s world of cheap air fares and globalisation. Bali is no exception and I was amazed to learn we would be driving just 20 minutes or so outside of Ubud to begin this remote experience.
Fittingly, the walk began at a temple (for anyone who hasn’t made it this way yet, there are temples at every corner and every other day seems to be a festival or holiday of some kind that requires beautiful traditional clothing to be worn and music to be played down the streets). We walked through a temporary looking graveyard (our guide told us the bodies would be dug up in a few years as local custom dictates), and made our way along a path that would quickly lead us into the jungle.
From that moment the only people we encountered were smiling farmers, chattering woodcarvers and elderly ladies that were carrying huge sacks on their head with ease as they sprinted down the same rugged jungle terrain that we were stumbling down.
With sweat gathering on my forehead, and slowly drenching my entire body, I clambered down steep, wildly overgrown, jungle ravines – and up them again. I balanced on the edge of rice terraces like a five year-old on a gymnastics bar as we made our way through completely isolated stretches of rice paddies as far as the eye could see. And yes, I may have lost my balance once or twice.
And just when I thought the heat would make me crawl to a halt we waded into a river waist high and let the cool water refresh our tired body as we walked through the water for the next 10 minutes or so, trainers, socks and all.
The sound of fast, rushing water got louder as we walked and as we turned a bend in the river and climbed over a tree that lay horizontal in the water, we were rewarded with the beautiful sight of a thundering waterfall – miles from any sign of civilisation.
Nothing is more rewarding than a hidden, natural wonder after a good few miles of sweat, blood and tears. Although, opening the huge lunch box of homemade nasi goreng (Indonesian store fried rice), that it transpired our fabulous guide had been carrying the whole time, was also another incredibly rewarding moment!
It was one of those days where when the rain poured we held our arms open to the open sky above us and when the sun returned we danced as we dried off. I felt like an extra in an Indiana Jones movie (apart from the time that I fell into the rice paddy – then I just felt like a very poor stunt woman). At the end of the day I emerged muddy, battered and bruised with a farmer’s tan but my heart and soul were singing! Bali I love you – thank you for being everything a girl could ask for!
PS If you would like some help with organising your holiday to Bali please email my lovely colleague Barbara who is our Bali guru! You can just drop her an email to say hi, pick her brains or get her to help you organise your holiday to Bali and the nearby islands of Java, Lombok & Komodo. She’s got all the answers 🙂