• Tara B. Vasi

Day 6/45: Ubud, Bali. Sunrise 🌅 Hike Mount Bater, Yoga Barn take 2, New Man Friend

My alarm goes off at 1:30am and I can still hear people partying on the rooftop. I throw on clothes and head to reception to meet Rebecca who is also going on the hike. We wait about 15 minutes and when our guy shows up and he is just straight a meanie weenie. I sit all the way in the back of the van. There are two dudes already in the van. Once we head, we go to another hotel to pick up a couple from India who are on their honey moon.

We drive about 45minutes to the bottom of Mt Batur. Mt Batur is an active volcano. It is really cold outside. We go into the restaurant and sit down for quite a while not really sure what to do, but get used to the goose pimples on our legs. I get up and ask our for coffee, but he snaps at me for the absurd request and tells me to wait. Ten minutes later we are served one big plate of fried bananas slices and each a small cup of instant espresso. We get a cup of forks and all eat off the same plate. The members of the group are loquacious to say the least. They ask where Rebecca and I are from and she says England. Instead of chiming in that I am from American, I just go with it. I get dirty looks sometimes when I say I am American, and I don’t really feel like discussing my dumb ass president at 2:30am over gross coffee mud. I’m a little put off by the driver but try not to dwell.

We get to the parking lot and the meanie weenie hands us a small bottle of water, and a styrofoam box containing a hard boiled egg, a small banana, and a piece of white bread to hike up with us. This is what they meant by water and breakfast included? I ask him for more water, because I know it will not be enough for such a long hike and he says only one per person. There is no where to buy water in the parking lot. We have a different guide who will take us up the mountain. She is a very young girl who hands us flashlights. I am happy the driver isn’t the guide up the mountain.

There are TONS of other people there for the sunrise hike and we can see flashlights illuminating the path all the way up from to the top of the mountain. There are a bunch of stray dogs too, which is surprising because we are so far from civilization. We head about .75 mile up on a paved road. We stop often to break and wait for the couple from India to catch up. We get to the dirt path and the incline shifts to STRAIGHT UP. the young lady guide offers me a walking stick and I accept. We hear from our guide that the hike is two hours from there. We are already a little gassed, but concerned about reaching the top by sunrise so walk ahead. The guide tells us that she is the leader and we have to stay behind her. I understand that. We do our best, but eventually she decides to stay with the couple and the four of us head up on our own. There are motor bikes with passengers buzzing my us and we have to step off the trail to let them pass by. Many motor bikes offer us rides and I consider for the rest of the two hours, but never take one. We stop every once and a while to take pictures. The view is absolutely amazing. I ration my water as best as possible, but finish the majority of it by the half way point. There is a sweet stray that has been hiking up by my side and even though I have such little water, I share a hand cup full with her and she seems is so grateful she licks even the droplets that roll from my hand into my wrist bracelets and up my forearm. The air gets cooler as we get higher and it feels so nice cutting the heat of my internal temperate.

We get to the top and see other groups being offered sanititizing wipes, sandwiches with chips and hot coffee and tea. We disappointedly eat our egg and our banana, salvaging for more food and water. I feed some of the white bread to my pupper friend but even she thinks it is lame and drops it from her mouth and into the dirt.

I find a spot to sit by myself and take in the beautiful sunrise. Couples are kissing and making hearts with their hands as their guide takes pictures for them.

We reconnect with out guide and the couple from India after sunset. She takes us to a place where the steam billows out from the volcano and we take pictures. I look for my pupper friend but she has moved on to a couple with real food, so me and my stick take a photo in the crater.

We start our decent. We are told the driver will meet us where the dirt begins and the paved road ends. We get to the bottom and find out that the driver doesn’t want to drive up to get us and that we have to walk down To meet him. We are exhausted and hungry and peeved by this but start walking anyway. The couple stays to break a little longer on a bench with the guide. Half way down the paved road we see what we think is our driver pass us in the van. He honks. We keep walking. We are so thirsty and hungry and ready for sustenance and rest.

We hear honking and the driver pulls up from behind us carrying the couple and the guide. I can’t help but say out loud. Are you fucking kidding me?

I ask the driver if he has any extra bananas or water and he says that we are finished. I ask him to stop for food and water and he says, No. What happened to the option to go to the coffee plantation? The views from the top were amazing, but other then that I am supremely disappointed with our tour. On the way back, I text my guide and ask him to reach out to the provider to see if I can get some money back. We get back to the hotel an hour later and Fahar my guide comes out and argues with the driver. The driver eventually drives off and for the rest of the day Fahar and I talk back and forth with the provider and eventually I get 100, 000 back for myself and Rebecca. I end it there and move on.

I take a quick shower and head to Buddha Bowl again and order an eggs Benedict. It is so amazing, I almost lick the plate.

After the food, I am still a little hungry but decide to go get a massage and get ahead of the soreness I will surely feel in my legs. I buy two huge bottle of water too.

In the massage parlor, a lady guides me into a room and I take off my clothes and jewelry and lay on the bed. Someone comes in and starts rubbing my back, I swivel around to tell them I like the pressure super deep and to please please focus on my lower back. The masseuse is a young boy maybe 15 or 16 years old. A good ol’ fashioned switcheroo, huh guys? It didnt bother me. The massage was great.

After the massage I couldn’t fight it anymore and gave into a nap. There was so much I wanted to see and do in Ubud, but I just could not function further on the three hours of sleep and my legs were like jelly.

The nap was remarkable. I set my alarm so that I could wake up in time for an afternoon yoga class at the Yoga Barn. I really did not want my experience yesterday to be the lasting impression of what I thought was supposed to be a yoga utopia.

On the way, I decide its the perfect opportunity to try Lumak Coffee.

I caught this Lumak smiling!! So rad!!!

The coffee is made from coffee cherries that have been partially digested by the Lumak and then collected after defecation. Thats right, they shit it out and people make coffee with it. The Lumak is part feline and eats only the finest of the cherry and digests them within 6 hours. No one is forcing the Lumaks to eat the cherries or choose the cherries, they do this naturally, which I appreciate, and they roam free in the coffee plantations. All coffee beans are actually seeds within a cherry apparently. The Lumak coffee is expensive and a huge export for Bali, and other parts of Indonesia. The flavor was rich and bold, too bold for my liking, but I can see why people would love it, for it’s flavor and the unique way in which its made.

I get to the Yoga Barn extra early to check in.

I order a smoothie that comes with chia seeds on top and a bamboo straw. I order a date protein ball rolled in coconut. I am still so depleted from the hike. While I wait for class to start I chatted with Chamara, the owner of the Villa in Sri Lanka on the phone. We only chatted briefly, but it was nice to connect with him for the first time and tell him how excited I am to work with him and to hopefully, make his life a lot easier. I’m excited to spread the word about the Let’s Imagine and Nil Manel foundation!

The class was huge, maybe 50 or so people. I took the open mat in the front row, right in the center facing the teachers mat and the alter. The teacher Paul, was incredibly handsome and had a soothing aura about him. I noticed his wedding ring right away. Bummer. He had us introduce ourselves to the people around us and I met a sweet woman named Sophia from New Jersey. I accidentally yelled, no shit! When she said she lived in Holmdel. My cousin and her family live there! She told me she was 39 and going through teacher training at a studio down the street. The class was an advanced yoga flow and I love how he added challenging aspects to more simple poses, like flipping your hands for sunbird, or practicing three legged chaturanga taking out the plank pause. He told us being an advanced yogi has nothing to do with the postures, but how you lead your life off the mat. He said just focusing on the postures is like ordering a pizza, eating just the crust and then throwing the rest away. I liked that.

During savanna he played his guitar, and I was so grateful that I decided to give the Yoga Barn another chance that day, because this experience definitely more closely resembles the experience I was imagining. I think I like the place in Semanyak better. It’s style is more low key and down to earth.

After class I ran into Sophie again and we chatted. She told me how much yoga has changed her life, and I just love so much hearing stories like that. Her and her husband have been trying to have a child for years, even tried in vitro but was not successful. She was devastated and stressed out in her corporate job, so quit, and decided start her yogic journey to self love. I was so happy for her! I invited her to my yoga retreat in Sri Lanka, but she said she has to get to her husband in Singapore and then head back to New Jersey. I told her I was 35 and she gasped and said I looked great and in my early 20’s. I love when people respond like that when I say my age hahah Hopefully, it Continues for a while! We exchange social media accounts and will stay best friends forever.

After class I feel light and free and walk the streets of Ubud with a fresh outlook. The whole town seems to have a different feel to me and I appreciate it much more then the day before. I walk up and down the streets and window shop. I speak to different owners of stores about jewelry, gem stones, and yoga gear. I end up buying a dress and a yoga bra for a ridiculously low price. no thanks, I don’t need a taxi.

I find myself on this little gem of a street and after looking at the menus of a few places, choose a restaurant that offers a Asian Caprese salad. I sit at the counter looking out and people watch. I jot down notes in my journal about Paul’s vinyasa class. Thats how I know I have had been to a good class, when I feel inspired to recycle bits to make it me own Or want to make sure I remember something he shared.

A man sits next to me. Tall, cute, bearded, tattoos… my kryptonite. I ask him where he is visiting from. He says he lives on Bali but is originally from Finland. He owns a few restaurants in the area and in Thailand and has been nomadic for about ten years now. He name is Riku. Our conversation evolves beautifully and I learn he doesn’t drink alcohol. He just got that much sexier. We exchange numbers and I tell him that when I am back in Ubud after my jaunt on Gili Island, I will message him to get together and maybe check out his restaurant.

I pay my tab and tell him it was nice to meet him, and I head back to the hotel. Along the way, its starts to rain slightly and it feels so nice on my warm skin. People duck under awnings and umbrellas, but I walk down the street like the rain is just a prop in my own personal movie.

I get back to my room and have another shower, feeling so full and rich from the amazing day. I can’t help but open mouth exhale ahhh for the rest of the night. I fall into the deepest sleep comforted by cool air and a blanket of gratitude and appreciation for having one of those days I know I will never forget.


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