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#Brunchtravels: Always wanted to go to Bali? Go to suburban Ubud instead

If Bali makes you indulge in sin, its little cousin offers ways to heal the soul

brunch Updated: Jun 17, 2017 22:36 IST
Shenaz Treasury
Shenaz Treasury
Hindustan Times
Spend time in one of Ubud’s many stunning temples (Toni Handoko)

Society, my profession, my family… everyone is always trying to teach me to be the perfect woman. Hair in place, always in heels, perfectly coiffed and manicured, flat belly, clear skin and skinny thighs.

Yet I have always been quite the opposite – swimming in oceans, jumping in puddles, running around barefoot, dancing in the rain and eating everything in sight.

My family would sometimes say in exasperation when I had been out all day in the sun, looking like a little street kid, “You’re such a rakharpatti (this may be a made up negative word for wanderer). Whose daughter are you?”

Shenaz recommends having at least one breakfast in your hotel pool. ( Toni Handoko )

I would get smacked for swimming out too deep in the ocean. My family was always concerned about my well-being, trying to protect me and groom me into being what society considers ‘a classy woman’.

When people asked me what my ambition was, I never thought of Bollywood or acting. I thought I was going to see the world, swim in it, dive into different cultures. I was going to taste life and all it had to offer. I was going to have adventures. That was my dream. And everything else, modelling, acting, hosting shows, etc., was the means to get to it.

Shenaz’s must-dos
  • Meander through the Tegallalang Rice Terraces.
  • Visit an outdoor spa. Get some intuitive body work, which combines deep tissue massage, reflexology, and acupressure.
  • Spend time in the temples. Everywhere you look, there is a Balinese Hindu temple, and women are making offerings of rice and brightly-coloured flowers.
  • EAT! Besides the delicious local food, Ubud has become the raw food capital of the world, with more vegetarian, vegan and raw food restaurants per square kilometre than New York or Los Angeles.
  • Have breakfast in your hotel pool.
  • Sign up for yoga and master your downward dog.
  • Visit a healer – or Balian. Medicinal herbs and ancient teachings are used to treat patients who come to them for their physical and emotional well-being.
  • Take a retreat. Ubud is the world capital of spiritual retreats, if you want to heal the wounds of love. Or simply get a detox.
  • Re-invent yourself.

I started modelling and then got picked by MTV to go to Singapore, from where I hosted shows that aired all over Asia.My “rakharpatti” spirit was stronger than ever.I wanted to discover the world. Here I was, earning a good salary as a teenager and living away from home. The world was my oyster and I was going to discover it. So one weekend, I quietly packed a bag and jumped on a flight to Bali without telling anyone. I was about 19 years old.

The highlight of my trip was Ubud, which opened the gate to hundreds of solo miraculous adventures for me. I remember coming back from the trip feeling empowered. It was my coming of age story. Travelling solo made me who I am today.

I learned that I was responsible for myself. It made me believe in me. It taught me while it’s nice to rely on someone, it’s also nice to know that that someone is me.

Whenever life’s little problems arise, I remind myself of all my solo adventures starting in Ubud, Bali. And I am able to smile and face whatever situation arises, big or small.

Ubud’s Sacred Monkey Forest is both a nature reserve and an ancient temple. A must-visit for every kind of traveller. ( Shutterstock )

So Ubud, Bali, is very special to me. That’s why, when I decided to start documenting my travels for social media and get into the world of travel blogging, I decided to go back to Ubud. That small, mystical, spiritual village in Bali that the world now knew from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. Ubud had been all those three things to me before I even read the book. Ubud means ‘medicine’ in Bahasa, and its air has magical healing powers. Even though it has become much more crowded and commercial since I visited as a teenager, Ubud once again did some magic and changed my life, opening up a whole new world for me, reminding me who I was and always wanted to be.

I hear royal families from across Indonesia sent their sickly members to Ubud to be cured. This tradition continues even today, with people from all over the world arriving in hope of healing.

I leave Ubud refreshed, healed and with a twinkle in my eye, just like I did when I visited as a teenager.

The writer is a former VJ whose love for travel and photography has taken her all around the world. Her Instagram posts are proof!

From HT Brunch, June 18, 2017

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First Published: Jun 17, 2017 22:36 IST