Why We Love Bali
Bali is made up of a kaleidoscope of colours in its culture, its cuisine, its customs, its countryside, its people and its traditions.
As soon as you arrive in this beautiful island in Indonesia, all five senses are on high alert. There are incredible sights to see as you meander through the village streets and surrounding countryside; the different noises of cars honking, motor bikes buzzing, the bustle of markets, delicious food sizzling on roadside barbecues and cidadas chirping; you’ll notice the smells of Balinese cooking and the odd incense stick wafting in the breeze; your taste buds will be salivating as you try to decide which freshly prepared, organic, colourful, fresh, mouth-watering dish you will eat each day and you will find you are constantly “touched” by the incredible generosity of spirit shown over and over again by these amazingly humble people who love to help, love to smile and love to have you visit their incredible country.
Here’s some glorious gems which we’ve put together from our many trips as you prepare for your visit to Bali, recently declared the world’s favourite destination …
You’ve just found your home for brave folk interested in wholehearted connection and courageous conversations.
Let’s connect every week and together
‘show up, be seen and live brave’
Culture, Ritual and Everything Family
Culture marks the pace of life in Bali, sets the natural rhythm and inspires the way things are done and if you happen to be in Bali when there is a festival, everything can come to a grinding halt as men, women and children immerse themselves in which ever ceremony is taking place. These ancient rituals and long-held beliefs are a huge part of their unique religion – Balinese Hinduism – and you will more than likely come across some sort of ritual taking place while you are there.
Each time we’ve visited Bali, we have been in awe of the culture which you can see everywhere. You can’t miss their daily offerings – known as canang – which you’ll see outside every dwelling, café, shop and temple placed by the Balinese as a gesture of gratitude and blessing to their Hindu Gods.
In the mornings, the men and women dress in their traditional costumes and place several canang around before lighting an incense stick on each one. They are made from banana leaves and the offerings can be small pinches of rice or a tiny bit of salad and meat, together with a sprinkle of salt. They are placed at each temple shrine for the higher deities and down on the ground in the yard, in front of house and at crossroads for lower spirits.
Last time we visited Bali around Christmas, we witnessed the breathtaking sight of the penjor poles which are made and installed around the holy days of Galungan when almost all streets in Bali are lined with bamboo poles decorated with young coconut leaf ornaments. Naturally curved at the top, these towering structures feature significant harvest items such as rice stalks, fruits, coconuts and coconut leaves – much like the traditional Christmas tree. With every household voluntarily installing one in front of their houses and by the roadsides, the result is a long dreamlike archway and walking or driving through a village at this very special time is so incredibly moving.
Cuisine – a foodie’s heaven on earth
You certainly won’t be going hungry in Bali, as there’s simply no excuse not to tuck into the mix of tantalising local dishes, with Balinese cuisine officially declared one of the most complex in the world. The rich local fare uses an amazing variety of spices with fresh vegetables, fish and meat.
As self-confessed “foodies”, we absolutely love to eat when we’re here. Whether it’s wandering up to our organic, raw café called Alchemy and choosing our smoothie bowl from the mouth-wateringly colourful array of fresh fruits, or meandering through the older part of the village of Penestanan to Yellow Flower Café where a traditional Nasi Goreng is conjured up in the tiniest kitchen with aromas of chilli, garlic and spices wafting in the air and hinting at what’s to come. We’ve also welcomed in the New Year at a some of Ubud’s highly-acclaimed restaurants. Mozaic has earned awards year after year for their ever-evolving tasting menus which bring a glimpse of Mother Nature on a plate, to our most recent new favourite – Blanco PerMandif – which is perched on a cliff offering an intimate dining experience for only 28 people where a 12 course degustation menu was a sight to behold. The great thing about eating out in Bali is that you can spend next to nothing or go all out and in both cases, it’s the experience that leaves the lasting impression.
Customs – Balinese beliefs, values and traditions
Indonesian traditions comprise the nation’s beliefs, values and customs practiced by its people. Indonesia isn’t just an island nation – it’s a vast country comprising several archipelagos and a varied demographic range of more than 300 ethnic peoples. These people speak over 700 living languages and although there are some general underlying rules how Indonesian communicate and behave among each other, some islands have their very own customs. Bali is no exception. The fact that Bali’s population is mostly Hindu, their way of life and openness towards other cultures differs from their muslim neighbours greatly.
Also, if you manage to speak even the tiniest bit of Indonesian, the Balinese will open their heart to you very quickly. Just a few words of kindness work wonders. Balinese are extremely welcoming and appreciate greatly any effort made by visitors to respect some of the customs they deeply value.
Smiling – the best invention ever: Balinese connect by smiling at each other. The Balinese aren’t wary of each other, so they smile openly and often. Perhaps, as some say, they could be the ones who smile the most in this universe. So, if you are in a group of Balinese, smile at everyone around you and you will be appreciated and accepted.
Every time we visit Bali, we find our hosts to be so incredibly humble, eager to please and grateful for our custom.
Courage – The Brave and The Open Hearted in Bali
We think the Balinese people show Courage in every aspect of their lives and this is one of the underlying reasons behind our decision to host Courage Hearts Retreats … in Bali. Every day, despite the fact that by some standards they appear to have very little, they display many qualities which we value such as authenticity, acceptance, humility, patience, respect, humour, gentleness, calmness and love. They are living into their values of family and their central spiritual beliefs and there is no doubt that these standards will be passed on through their children whereas a lot of cultures, rituals and beliefs have been lost to future generations in many parts of the world. We see the majority of the Balinese men, women and children as brave and every time we visit there, they open their hearts to us with their beautiful, trusting, smiling faces and that’s why we unashamedly choose Bali as our “home from home”.
We so hope you see and feel their courageous hearts just as we do