Finding Balance in Bali
This is part 2 of a 4 part series about a recent trip we took to Bali
Of course a spiritual vacation is not all the earnest work of devotion. We are staying at the Maya Ubud, and a more integrated balance between luxurious four star service and raw nature I cannot imagine. The whole property is a lush tropical garden, set among the rice paddies of Ubud, itself the artistic heart of Bali, as well as where Liz Gilbert stayed when she wrote the Bali part of Eat Pray Love. The lawns are well-manicured, but even the team of gardeners working seven days a week can barely hold back the jungle of local plants, huge trees, and bright colorful splashes of flowers. The Maya has a deeply organic feel from the moment you approach the front entrance, a huge thatched roof covering the open space and pavilion, which is inspired by the design of traditional Balinese “bale” and family compounds. You feel like you are on a spiritual vacation for sure here, a spiritual tour of the mind, body and soul. A wooden walkway slices through flowing water to the lobby, where the soaring thatch ceiling is grounded by a circular glass floor at the center, lit from below and filled with objets d’antique from Bali’s ancient past.
The staff welcomes you, with more than passable English; their enthusiasm for your comfort makes their meaning even clearer. When my group arrives, our cooling welcome drink and room keys are accompanied by the spa brochures I requested. The energy in the room is palpable as everyone chatters excitedly about the treatments, the design. By the next morning, the spa is booked for three days solid by our happy assembly, knowing that we digress from Eat Pray Love, but happy to do so..
Greg and I are staying in a pool villa, one of 34 that stretch out in neat rows ringed by the ever-abundant plant life. Walking to our room for the first time, I see five different types of butterfly. As we slide open the teak doors to our room, we are transported into another level of beauty. I treat myself to a spiritual tour of the room. The roof is thatched in the traditional Balinese fashion, the neat rows of dried grass clearly visible high overhead. We have a 4-poster bed with filmy cotton mosquito netting draped charmingly on the bedposts. Our bath is an oversized hammered aluminum affair with a view of the private garden. Nicer than the accommodations in Eat, Pray Love… by far.
Outside, facing the bathroom, is a small plunge pool, filled to overflowing with cool clear water. The sticky humidity has already taken its toll; as soon as the bags are delivered to our room, I strip off my clothes and take a bracing plunge into the pool. There isn’t much room to swim, but it is enough. During our stay, I use the pool three or four times a day, looking up into the blue sky, enjoying the view of the Ti plants and the verdant jungle that envelops me. Once, I see a huge snail, bigger than my index finger, gliding up a three-foot leaf, his antennae waving cautiously as he explores what comes next. I want to be that snail while I am here, concerned only with what is just in front of me, but spiritual tour leaders don’t get much spiritual vacation time. Ensuring that all the guests are happy, well taken care of, and that their myriad questions are answered, leaves me little time for personal pursuits, though I do re-read portions of Eat Pray Love in the pool each afternoon, just as a reminder to stay on track.