Indonesia is a deep inhale of fresh air – the kind of air you breath deep into your lungs on a crisp winter morning. Indonesia is an intertwining of cultures and traditions, a country where the language differs depending on the island; a country of innate, traditional and harnessed beauty.
It is a country of contrasts; from tropical forests inland to white sanded beaches lining the shores and coaxing you into an ocean clustered with beautiful, healthy corals providing a habitat for an array of sea life and startling creatures.
Back on land, whether it is Bali, Flores, Timor or Lombok, people dress themselves with pride, with elegance. Men and women alike walk down the roads donning hand crafted, ikat woven material wrapped around their bodies, creating clusters of delight for your eyes with patterns curling intimately around one another in vibrant colours. Young girls and women wear bright, hand picked flowers in their neatly kept hair. I am startled as I watch them – in Bali, in Flores, in Lombok, in Timor – at their exotic and undeniable beauty.
The blinding sun licks their skin as if it were an old lover, used to their presence – a lifetime spent outdoors, entangled with nature, has blessed their skin.
And they smile. A bright white smile – they smile as they carry a large woven basket on their heads full of goods, they smile as they cradle a tiny baby on their hip whilst chattering away to you at full speed, and they smile through their weary eyes after another long day.
I developed a strong love for Indonesian people during my time there; their kindness, their traditions, their family values, and of course…their smiles.
The first stop on our Indonesian adventures was Ubud. Hidden amongst the hanging vines of central Bali’s forests, Ubud emits a spark of mysterious magic from its core. Famous from the 2006 novel ‘Eat. Pray. Love’, this hippy haven has seen an influx of tourists over the past few years. However, don’t be put off by this. Ubud is clustered with markets intertwining with one another, leading you up and down rickety concrete steps and squeezing through intricate lanes gazing at the many patterned, aztec, colourful garments overflowing on the street stalls. With a plethora of yoga studios offering classes which stray from the norm and eateries geared towards veganism and superfoods, Ubud is indeed a hippy heaven.
A sucker for aimlessly wandering, I spent afternoons strolling through the enchanting streets of Ubud, gazing into windows of shops selling intricate jewellery, or round market stalls laden with hippy pants which I had to tear myself away from otherwise I wouldn’t be able to close my rucksack for overflowing amounts of patterned clothing!
Otherwise, our time was spent revelling in the many amazing eateries – after 2 months of eating rice and noodles as our staples, I resembled a child on Christmas morning as my eyes jumped excitedly about the menu of Earth Cafe. Salads, humous, pitta bread, veggie burgers/wraps and a plethora of health juices and smoothies.
I would highly recommend this Eco warrior cafe for anyone looking for a wide selection of vegan and veggie munchies!
My excitement and our health cafe adventures didn’t stop there. One afternoon we found ourselves in Soma cafe. Finding ourselves a seat on some floor cushions, we settled in for a good few hours of relaxed vibes as a jam session of local musicians playing traditional tunes unfolded before us.
Awesome vibes, yummy food and delicious raw desserts!
Ubud’s chilled, hippy vibe is infectious – many people spend their days doing yoga followed by sipping on health juices and getting lost in its entangled lanes selling yoga pants, incense and hippy crafts. It’s charm is not connected to a particular age or sex and here’s hoping it is also a charm immune to ever increasing tourism.
Do not ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. – Howard Thurman
Be weird. Be wonderful.