Uluwatu – spectacular!

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My last stop in Bali, Indonesia, Uluwatu, so glad I made this part of the journey.  You know when land in a place and it just “feels” right; this was one of those places for me.  It was not the beauty, it was not the people, it was something different, a feeling.  The beaches, Blue Point and Padang Padang (where Eat, Pray, Love was filmed) were all beautiful yellow sand beaches with rock bluff all around and the green/blue colours swirling in the waters.  Uluwatu is a place on the south-western tip of the Bukit Peninsula of Bali, Indonesia. It is home to the Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple and is the number four surf destination in the world.

The name Uluwatu comes from ulu, meaning ‘lands end’, and watu, meaning ‘rock’.  It is sitting up on a rock bluff, as I am sure you can imagine, in order to get to the water you must be willing to walk thousands of stairs in order to make the trek down and, of course, come back up but worth the exercise.  Someone said to me recently you are in such good shape, I thought to myself well I don’t really “do” anything and then it hit me, on this journey I have climbed thousands and thousands of stairs and I walk everywhere. 

I started exploring with Blue Point Beach which was just down the street from my hotel, thousands of scooters lined the parking lot as I entered the top of the bluff and came across a few surfer shops selling boards and expensive surfing gear.  As I continued along I came upon a set of stairs that never ended.  Each level had a restaurant and shops overlooking the ocean, breathtaking.  I made my down down, down, down stopped to stare in utter amazement at each level hardly being able to contain myself as I got closer and closer to the Ocean, the closer I got the more easily I could drown out the sights and sounds of the people and the vendors and focus on what I had come here to see, the Ocean.  I have to admit it’s a bit distracting when there are so many people from so many countries all chattering in different languages, lots and lots of young healthy men and women wearing almost nothing, it seems the bikini bottoms without ass coverage is the new thing.  The men, of course, wearing knee length board shorts showing off that irresistible hip bone and their chiseled abs and defined pectoral muscles, I was a bit distracted people watching. 

The first opening I came to seemed to be an entrance and exit for the many surfers enjoying their craft, I have to say I was a wee bit disappointed because there did not appear to be a beach to sit and oogle at the Ocean.  A nice young Indonesia man came over the told me if I cut through the rocks there is a nice beach on the other side.  I smiled, thanked him and followed the ants, all the people making their way through this small enclosure to find the beach.

As I reached the other size a smile spread across my face, a small but beautiful beach with rock caves to sit inside if you didn’t want the sun.  I set my stuff down and headed to the water.  Since Costa Rica I have not been able to shake the worry that my stuff will get stolen if unattended so I kept a close eye for a while until I realized that we are in a very different Country and the Balinese people are trustworthy and do not steal, they believe in Karma.  As for the other tourists, they are on vacation and are not looking to steal anyone’s stuff.  I relaxed and settled in forgetting about my stuff and enjoying the moment.  I flipped onto my back with my arms outstretched I simply floated and watched the birds frolicking in the sky above, I saw images in the fluffy white clouds above and I just let everything else go, I was in the moment, a beautiful moment that I will not soon forget.  Captured in my mind forever.  My body just floated, I didn’t have to do a thing except be right there, without any worries, without any thoughts, enamoured with the wonder of everything all around me.  I thought to myself, I wonder if this is what the other side is like, sunshine, beauty all around, happiness in my heart, peacefulness in my mind and complete relaxation in my body.   

I sat on the beach and just marvelled at everything.  It was one of those moments in my life where everything stopped and I was completely there, every part of me was there in those moments.  I wish that I could spent the rest of my life in this space where everything else falls away and I am right here, right now.  These past couple of days have been just that.  I wonder if its the melancholy of knowing these are my final few days in Bali and I want to soak up every moment, or if its the feeling I have had since the moment I stepped into Uluwatu, its a sense of being one with everything, being able to let go, unleash, be right here in this moment. 

I stayed awhile then started the arduous task of going back up all of those stairs, my feet and my legs have been champions throughout this journey, never complaining, never giving up, burning a little YAH but they keep on keeping on. 

I reward them each evening with a hot shower and an oil rub to let them know how very much I appreciate all that they continue to do for me on a daily basis.  Part of my daily practice has been to just simply lay down, assume the starfish position and not move.  I then start with the toes on my right food, one at a time and give them attention, gratitude, and love moving up to my shins, my quads, my midsection, my heart, my throat, my head taking a few moments with each member of the team thanking them for all that they do!  It gives me both a mini meditation and a time for my body to just be, to rest, to relax, to rejuvenate!

One of the must sees in Uluwatu is the Temple of Uluwatu with its beautiful scenery overlooking the plateau, 100 meters high above the ocean.  The best part of the visiting Uluwatu Temple is to watching the Balinese Kecak and fire dance with background stage, set with a fantastic vintage view of the sunset provided you sit on that side of the stage.  This was my 4th performance since being in Bali, all of the same story line yet each performance was so different it its own way.  This one was actually quite funny, the monkey put on quite the show interacting with the audience.  

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I took a taxi to the top assuming that there would be transport options available to come back down once the show was over … never assume anything!  At the end of the show, I started walking with the hundred of people exiting the temple and walking towards the entrance expecting to see lots of transport options.  At the entrance I asked a few Balinese people for transport they just looked at me like I had three heads, one nice young gentleman said go over there to the right you will find transport, I followed his directions but found no transport or taxi in sight.  My heart started hammering, my mind going to places I did not want it to go, I was about 15 minutes away from my hotel, up high on a high, a twisty, turney, windy road back to the bottom and it was dark.  I walked as far as the security gate where there were a few men dressed in full uniform directing the traffic, I asked another fellow sitting on the side of the road if he knew where I could find transport, he pointed to the man in the uniform.   I walked over to him and asked if he knew where I could find transport, his eyes widened and he just looked at me.  He seemed a little flustered in the moment, grabbed his walkie talkie made gesture to call someone, then he said I will drive you, right in the middle of traffic mayhem people, everywhere he motioned for me to get in his truck and off we went.  He did not say a word to me nor did I say a word to him.  He drove straight to my hotel and stopped, I asked him how much, he said whatever you want to pay!  Shocked I didn’t know what to do … I gave him 50,000 and then thought afterwards how little I had given him for getting me out of a potentially dangerous situation.  I was so grateful and shocked at the same time, I just couldn’t believe this man would do such a thing for a “deer in the headlights damsel in distress” he was my knight in shinning armour!  I will continue to send him light and love.  Thank you kind gentleman you are a beautiful soul.

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One of the things I really wanted to do while in Bali is drive a scooter, like everyone does here, I had been waiting for a sleepy little town with very little traffic.  Uluwatu was certainly that place but I couldn’t get out of my mind the fact that I might screw up and drive on the wrong side of the road.  They have very few traffic rules, paved roads, stop lights, or stop signs and I have witnessed only one accident and that was because a dog ran out on the road.  It is organized chaos but everyone seems to watch out for each other, honking their horns and flashing their lights at just the right moment.   I contemplated before going to bed one night, will I rent a scooter for my trek tomorrow, I decided to sleep on it.  The answer was not coming.  I woke up the following morning and tossed it around, pros and cons.  The con was if I did have an accident, fall off the bike or any of the plethora of things that could happen happened then I would be unable to complete my journey.  I decided against it and trusted that my feet and legs were still willing to give me the best that they got and I walked.  A good 30 minutes to Padang Padang Beach where the beach scene in Eat, Pray, Love was filmed.  Funny how this should come to be, I stumbled up the information as my driver pointed it out on our way to the hotel that first day.  I had no idea.  It was meant to be since this movie was a inspiration in my making a move and getting a move on with my life.   The universe has such a way of letting your know you are are on the right track, it comes full circle.  

I started walking and came across a place called Yoga Searcher Bali and just had to see what this was all about. 

I went in to find the most beautiful place complete with bungalows, yoga studio and restaurant that catered to organic, raw, gluten frees clean eating.  I had to stop for breakfast.  Eggs Florentine with a banana, strawberry pineapple smoothy and cup of tea.  I was once again in heaven and wondered why I didn’t do better research and find this place and stay here then I read the prices and remembered that I was looking for a cheaper options and that is exactly what I got. 

I continued on my way to find another gem of a beach, another place the driver pointed out along the way, he told me this one was quieter than the actual Padang Padang Beach although this one had the very same name.  Curiosity got the better of me and I ventured down a long windy gravel road to find the entrance to the beach and a plethora of stair all the way down.   I walked all the way down to find a beautiful, again small, beach with gorgeous yellow sand.  I walked most of the way down and found a perfect spot away from everyone, practiced some yoga, had a meditation and a talk with my higher power.  Again I felt this same feeling I had yesterday, just being in this very moment taking in everything around me, I was at complete peace. 

I stayed awhile and then carried on, climbing all the way back up all of those stairs

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and continuing along the road for another 15 minutes until I came upon Padang Padang Beach.  I was not satisfied that this was the location the driver pointed out so I kept on walking.  There was a restaurant called Buddha Soul I had seen on the way in that I wanted to check out so I persevered until I finally came upon it, my body was tired, my legs needing a rest and my belly ready for more food.  I went inside and had a smoothy and a gluten free carrot cake that knocked my socks off.  The owner had published a book about her journey how she came to open the restaurant as I waited for my food to arrive I read it and was quite amazed at the similarities in our stories, so I bought the book filled with delicious gluten free, power foods and recipes!  Waited awhile and ventured back to Padang Padang Beach, another 15 minutes by foot back.

This beach required a payment of 10,000 to get through the entrance, I paid and carried on and to my delight monkeys were all around just waiting for the unsuspecting tourist to steal whatever they could.  I stopped, of course, and marvelled at these little creatures, I just love monkeys.  Carried on and made my way down many many many more stairs going down down down past vendors and shops along the way until I saw it ….

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there is was the famous, the beautiful Padang Padang Beach.  It was gorgeous, very small again, but gorgeous.  Lots of people but still lots of beach and places to sit.  I immediately knew I had to get out into the bay and see what was all around it so I rented a paddle board, something else I have wanted to do during this whole time in Bali, and off I went.  The same worry arose about my stuff, needing to pull out all of my trust to leave my backpack and trust it would still be there with the contents intact upon my return.  I struggled in my mind for a bit and then reassured myself that this was Bali not Costa Rica.  I took off on the board and paddled out into the Bay to uncover all of the hidden gems nestled into the rock cliffs, I paddled away from everyone else and just enjoyed being out on the water all by myself.  I noticed waves starting to roll in and getting bigger and bigger until one knocked me right off the board and into the water.  I had contemplated wearing my sun glasses, I knew I couldn’t be out on the water without them but the thought of losing my precious sunglasses was something I could not bear, I wore them anyways.  Thankfully I didn’t lose the glasses, I came up laughing at myself as I climbed back on the board sitting this time and let the waves rock me like a baby in a basinet.  I paddled over to other side where there were no waves and sprawled out on the board on my back enjoying each moment.   It was so beautiful to be out on the water, floating, swaying, lulling; I was a tiny baby and the Ocean, my mother was rocking me with her gentle, kind, unconditional love.  I felt as thought I was in heaven, once again. 

I spent most of the day at the beach and it continued to get busier and busier, people watching at its finest along with monkey watching too.  Those little devils would hide up in the bushes in the rock bluff and wait until the right moment and come rushing down and grab the stuff of an unsuspecting tourist, so many times it happened over and over again.  I sat watching laughing out loud each time it happened.  They are so curious, so precious, so amazing to watch with their little hands that so resembling that of a human, their devious nature and their territorial ways of being also resembling the human.  So entertaining, so much fun to watch.

Back up all those stairs … up, up, up so many stairs, my legs and feet had had just about enough of this.  After arriving at the top I treated myself to a ride back to the hotel for some much need R & R, a hot reviving shower and a Starfish. 

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Rested and then headed out for dinner to a beautiful restaurant nestled into the cliff overlooking the ocean, one last sunset here in Bali.  I, again, had this feeling of complete and utter peacefulness, as I watched the sun set I found myself becoming emotional as my thoughts were not anywhere except right here in this moment and I was so overwhelmed with the beauty that surrounded me, where I was, how grateful I am for this journey and all that has had to happen to bring me where I am today!  Just grateful!

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(this picture was from from Lombok, I did not have a camera or iphone for most of this journey in Uluwatu, just being present) .  One of my favorite sunset shots!

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