• Tara B. Vasi

Day 15: Hoi An to Hue, Vietnam. October 28th 2019. BALI, Shopping, Mango Smoothie, Sri Lanka

The roosters had me again. They are such hard workers. I woke up bright and early and on a mission I unoriginally named, Mission: Bali.

I tiptoed out the dorm room with my computer and found my own special work area in the restaurant. I got some coffee and got to work. I have been trying to figure out the logistics behind visiting the island of Bali after my G-Adventures tour in November. After all I am not tied down to much of anything in the US, especially since I just ended a relationship and moved from San Diego to NJ. I have barely the chance to settle down in NJ, which I had been resisting anyway. I have a family that support my travels for the most part. They want to make sure I am safe, and want me to be happy. My yoga classes are covered and my boss gave me her blessing. I will already be in this area of the world, so why not? Bali is one of the yoga meccas of the world and I know I am going to love it. Plus, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat. Pray, Love found love there, so who’s to say it can’t happen to me? Is that even what I am looking for? Maybe I am looking for Eat?

I found a G-adventures tour that starts the same day my current tour ends, November 12th, and booked the hell out of it. The tour is 9 days and called Bali, Beaches and Boat rides. I will be flying in to Denpasar then heading to Kuta. I’ll spend time in Ubud, the place where yoga and yoga retreats are prominent, and then take a ferry to the island of Gili Trawangan. I immediately messaged my sister, You are going to hate me. I AM GOING TO BALI! She was happy for me, a little jelly belly, but mostly happy.

I sat and said to myself, “I am going to fucking Bali.” It was such a cool feeling to want something so bad and then to just go fucking get it! Its was empowering. I was doing it again… I was following my dreams. Holy crap. I was overflowing with coolness.

I pocket a few hardboiled eggs for the bus ride, like napoleone dynomite and his tots and know everyone will hate me in a bout an hour when I crack them open. We are heading for Hue, Vietnam, right smack in the center of the country.

We stop at a few look out spots a long the way.

Vietnamese people, we notice, are becoming more and more aggressive with their sales techniques. I buy some delicious fresh mango and tiny bananas. I love tiny bananas. I give one to everyone in the bus including the driver. I had so many!

We arrive at the hostel in record time. We are greeted with delicious cold and refreshing passion fruit. The group decided to do a motor bike tour, but Bryony and I skip out and opt inside to shop around town and check out the river. Our hostel is located right in the down town area and close to the river. We stop at the shop right across the street and I fall in love with a silk dress with peacocks on it. Photo coming soon. The dress can be worn three different ways and when I try the dress on the lady teaches me all the ways. She is really sweet. The original price of both was 800 dong but I negotiate the dress and a similar tank top for 500 dong total, which is about $22. She comments on my sweet deltoids and tells me she used to have time to workout, but doesn’t have time anymore with kids, a husband, and a job. I said, I have no idea what that must feel like hahah and we laughed and we laughed… I offer to teach her yoga. She tells me she is pregnant and too sick… I feel bad for haggling with so much…

Bryony and I walk around Hue for hours, popping in shoe store after shoe store. Both of our pairs of shoes smell so awful from the rainy bike ride, we are dying to find some simple flip flops or sandals (which Bryony refers to as sliders) to give our other shoes a break. I also couldn’t possibly wear my sweet tevas with my new silk dress.The majority of the stores don’t carry sizes large enough to fit our feet. Bryony found a pair she liked, but questioned if they were real leather. The lady held a lighter to the leather to show it didnt melt which meant it was real. Bryony bought the sandals. They are similar to Birkenstocks. Men on scooters kept approaching me and asking me if I wanted to buy drugs. I guess I just give off that vibe. I said no thank you. We’d go into a store and come out and they’d be there again, trying to sell me drugs. The streets were oddly clean. Though oddly dirty.

We walked to the river at the peak of the day and its safe to say it was in the high 90’s. The ferry boat drivers (who were currently on foot) would cut in our path and pushed us to take a ferry boat ride. Even after saying no thousands of times they still persisted even as we walked away from the river. We stopped at a small cafe and ordered a mango smoothie. The mango smoothies came with gigantic straws and it was hard not to suck it all down in one gulp.

We head back to the hostel and have a seat outside for a bit. A drunken Irish man comes up to us and begs us for money. He said that he had been attacked and all of his money and belongings were stolen. I entertain his story, but Bryony is much more skeptical. He seems awfully drunk and why would a grown man approach two young women for help? We send him off and a guy that works in the area tells us that he works that same sob story every night to get money to get drunk. Right after the incident a man jogs by with ski poles. It was a very odd couple of minutes.

We head up to the room and my phone vibrates. I get a message from a young woman who is looking for yoga teachers in Bali and in Sri Lanka. We go back and forth about ourselves and about the opportunity. She created a company called Lets Imagine. The company brings yoga to children in schools in underprivileged areas. She is looking for someone to help her with the program and also to lead yoga retreats to raise money for the program. The whole idea is blending yoga with service, or SEVA. The retreats include seva with elephants, sea turtles and stray dogs. The retreat is super reasonable priced too, which I love, so it’s accessible to more people. I can’t believe the universe brought us together! I didn’t even know I was on Mission: Sri Lanka, but ok! Mission accepted!!

The best part, she seems genuine about helping children. It’s not all about money. I appreciate that. I drafted up a contract of stipulations and clarifications and presented it to her. She was impressed by my professionalism, but was sorry to hear I had been taken advantage of in the past. Live and learn! Maddy, you’d be so proud! She added her own caveats and I am swooning over the transparency and honesty.

I walk out of the hostel in my new halter top and the lady that sold it to me runs across the street to me and fixes it for me, typing it much tighter.

This is not how to wear it 👆

She had her baby with her this time. He was so cute!!!

We find this hidden gem of a restaurant near the water. I order crispy noodles with tofu and vegetables. Its delicious. The group dinners can be fun sometimes, but other times everyones just too tired to talk. I’m getting really good at this vegetarian thing.

The restaurant has set up a little karaoke area for us for after dinner. We all sit in a half moon shape and karaoke. Its so awkward. No one is dancing. No one wants to sing. Finally people start volunteering and its pretty hilarious. Olivia sang 4 non blondes what’s up and she’s got some pipes! I didnt get up to sing. I can’t carry a tune and its ok.

Ali and I dip out early and go to the river. The bridge is illuminated in pretty colors that change slowly and flow like waves from one end to the other.

I stand on a bench to take photos and a gigantic rat crawls under my feet. I squeal like a big.

On the way back, more people try to sell us drugs. Like, they reaaaaally want us to do drugs tonight.

I get a little vanilla ice cream with chocolate coating and then head back to my room. Sweets are my alternative to drugs 🤷🏻‍♀️ I go to bed, not thinking about drugs, but thinking of Sri Lanka. Like, whoa, what is going on right now? And, like, thank you universe, for having my back!


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