Visiting Ubud as a solo traveller to engage in a yoga retreat with like minded people was sublime. When here last year, I travelled with my four year old daughter and my mother. I was distracted by germs and danger and just generally preoccupied with keeping my daughter safe and healthy.
This time, I had only to worry about myself, and well, that’s pretty easy. The immersion in the beauty of Ubud was complete. I had long conversations with local taxi drivers and shop keepers. Wandered streets I did not even realise existed last year. Traversed many steps to the ancient and mesmerising Gunnung Kawi. I immersed myself in Indonesian food intoxicated by the chilli and ginger. It was like I had stepped back in time. I felt like my younger self, travelling, unfettered and with all nerve cells responding to the glorious stimulation around me.
It reminded me, all over again, of the different perspectives travel gifts you with. Last year, despite the parental worries, I was in awe at viewing the world through a four year olds eyes. This time, I was transported back to that place of reflection that solo travel does for me. It is like I slipped out of the known world I create around myself at home and slipped on a gown of spirited enquiry. Last year, I really liked Ubud. This year, I became hooked.
There were so many magical moments. One that stood out was the one day, I actually sat down and sketched. Contrary to my pre trip plans, I did very little mark making at all. But this day I sat (lounged really) on my patio that overlooked a rice paddy and barely moved anything but my hands and eyes as they played on paper. I sat, immersed and content. In my Ubud bought colourful harem pants and sipping on a juice I had sent over from the kitchen. Whilst I was sitting local women begun to walk past me. Each walking, ballet like … Graceful, posied, steady … And with a basket the size of a bathroom sink full of soil perched on their heads. They walked past me repeatedly. I sat there, decadently splayed on the day bed and watched as they toiled away. It was quite incongruous. We shared many smiles. They each smiled, that deep smile of meaning that shines out of eyes, and I returned it. They chatted as they worked, and almost looked as if it were they that sat on the daybed daydreaming away instead of toiling under loads of soil. It was if they knew a secret … In my imaginings the secret became … It is not where you are or what you are doing as much as it is how You approach that moment. Each moment can be its own special treasure.
It is that, more than anything, I took home. That image of those women, happy in their shared work and with a smile to share and spread.
Sending smiles your way.