Bali: The Beginning of Forever
When we booked our honeymoon to Bali, I knew the trip was going to be special. What I didn’t know was that the trip was going to become life-changing. After a beautiful wedding weekend surrounded by close friends and family at The Historic Walton House, an enchanting jungle oasis tucked away in the Everglades region of Miami, we started our 36-hour trip to Indonesia. Four flights (and a little jet-lagged) later, we arrived in Bali and made our way to Ubud, a town tucked away in a rainforest surrounded by rice paddies, Hindu temples and shrines. I could feel the tranquility of this island immediately. We arrived at our home for the next week, the Four Seasons Resort at Sayan, a hotel built on the side of a mountainous jungle along the sacred Ayung River. We were surrounded by nature everywhere we looked -- an 18-acre sanctuary of gardens and paddies with over 1,000 different bird species flying around. Butterflies painted in a vibrant palette of colors flew throughout the resort, joining the tropical lizards, frogs and fish that all quickly became our friends. The staff became our family. They were the most genuinely kind people we had the privilege of getting to know. Native dishes were served daily as we enjoyed a variety of locally spiced foods and healthy homemade juices and teas throughout our stay. The hotel had a car service that they provided for their guests to take them to their excursions, but we wanted a more local experience. We hired a man named Ari who lives minutes away from our resort. He took us to some of the most unforgettable and moving sites in Bali. He taught us about the culture of the Balinese people and gave us a true educational experience of the land. My husband and I love elephants. They represent strength, respect, and loyalty and we have always been enamored with their beauty. When we found out Bali has a sanctuary of rescued elephants from Sumatra, escaping near-death circumstances, we knew we had to go. We met the caretaker of an elephant named Lucik who let us feed the elephants and then took us on a ride around the reservation. It was so cool to see the power of these animals in such an intimate way.We happened to be in Bali during a full moon, which Ari told us was a very important day for the Balinese community to give up offerings to the Gods. He took us to the Tirta Empul Temple during the full moon ceremony where we watched people praying throughout the water temple and cleansing themselves in the sacred pools. Everyone who enters the Temple must wear traditional sarongs so we wrapped them around our waists and toured the holy grounds. Being able to catch a glimpse into such a meaningful and important day to the Balinese people was such a powerful experience. While we had the honor of touring several different temples, the Goa Gajah Temple was perhaps the most beautiful one we visited (otherwise known as the ancient Elephant Cave). We met holy man Pak Gusti who took us into a sacred area of the temple, a hidden area covered by waterfalls that contained ruins of a fallen temple. We were later told that it is very rare to see Pak Gusti and that the experience we had with him was one that was unheard of. Bali is known for some breathtaking waterfalls and beaches so we had to take advantage and visit some. Padang Bai is an area of the Bali Sea known for their clear water and vibrant fish. We took a canoe out to sea and snorkeled among neon corals and tropical fish for the afternoon. Then we had lunch along the coast where a local restaurant owner prepared us some dishes. After a pretty physical day at the beach, we decided we needed to visit another one where we could have a bit more relaxation. Finn’s Beach Club is known as one of the most popular spots to visit and once we arrived, we understood why. To get down to the beach we took a cable car built into the side of the mountain. Once we arrived, we laid out our towels and immediately rain into the ocean. The water was the warmest water I have ever swam in. We spent the day floating around off the coast of Uluwatu in southern Bali, surrounded by beautiful caves. The offshore reefs created a natural swimming pool so the water was calm the whole day! Living in New York City, we find that more and more we crave nature escapes. The second you step foot in the city, a fast-paced, nonstop life begins. The people of Bali believe in simplicity. They hold loved-ones near, work hard, and also take time to enjoy the quiet moments in life. I learned the importance of taking a step back in life and enjoying the moment you are living in. I have a revitalized appreciation for nature and how re-centering it can be, and I learned from the beautiful Balinese people that some of the most beautiful moments you can share with loved ones are also some of the simplest. Starting off our lives together as a married couple on the beautiful island of Bali was the perfect decision and I will always hold the memories from this trip so close to my heart.