Finding Myself Amid Friends in Amed Bali
I was anxious but very happy. I was alone, but I was finally there. Denpassar Airport. I was in Bali for my first trip so far from France. I had been dreaming about this for months.
I was on my way to Amed Bali, a fishing village on the east coast close to the famous volcano Mount Agung. I was looking for the village that I had read about: an authentic peaceful place with time for myself. I actually wanted to flee the tourist and party side of Bali. I chose to spend my entire ten days trip in this place, so I booked a bed in the “Kelapa Cottage” before my departure, just on a whim. I had planned and imagined a lot of things, but I never could have imagined that I would meet these three women who would make my Balinese days meaningful.
“Welcome to Kelapa Cottage”. After driving three hours through the luxuriant and ultra-green Balinese forest (as well as meeting my first wild monkey on the side of the road), I heard the sweet voice of Nelvi at Kelapa Cottage. Nelvi was the host and manager of Aura spa, she had intense dark eyes, long black hair and sublime skin. She showed me around this paradise. The cottage was located in the middle of a tropical landscape with a view of mountains around. There was a colorful, tropical garden, and on each side were little free-standing Balinese cottages made of natural materials. There was also a nice swimming pool.
I had planned and imagined a lot of things, but I never could have imagined that I would meet these three women who would make my Balinese days meaningful.
Nelvi taught me a lot about Balinese traditions and explained how they live very close to nature. In Amed, people rise with the sun and lie down at sunset. Spending time with relatives is central to their lives. Drinking lemon ginger tea while talking with Nelvi was one of my daily habits.
I met Isa, a tall Dutch girl with huge blue eyes who was in my dorm. Our connection was immediate, and she added all the friendship of this trip. She too had come alone to Bali to recharge herself. I quickly established a daily routine in Amed with Isa: meditation at 5am in the cottage, long walks on the beautiful black sandy beach, some delicious dishes at the “Happy Warung” restaurant on the main street. Happy Warung is the best restaurant in Amed; the sunny Balinese mama who runs it only starts to cook when you order in Balinese, and in any case will only bring the dishes that she chooses. Eating here is an unmissable experience.
In the dorm I met many women who were travelling by themselves and it made me realize the number of women who are on the road. They go alone, but a community of women travelers is always waiting for them. I really had a rewarding time with all of them.
My trip to Bali taught me many things, but one of the most important lessons was to leave other people’s fears to them.
A young waitress at the Amed Beach Café asked me where I came from. She was called Kadek, was seventeen years old, and was amazingly curious and bubbly. Kadek was very interested in Western countries and culture. She proposed to meet after she finished work. She invited me to her grandmother’s house where I met most of her family and admired the family temple of the house. Religion is very important in Bali, and each house has its own temple for prayer. They taught me to create offerings from palm tree leaves that you find everywhere on the ground in Amed. They cooked a Mie Goreng in the middle of the afternoon, a typical Balinese dish made from spicy fried noodles, and a Kopi Luwak (coffee). Only Kadek spoke English but this exchange was so valuable. I asked myself: “In France, would I do the same with a tourist I had come across in a coffee shop?”
If it is possible, do it. If it is impossible, try it.
On my way back to the airport I remembered some conversations I had with my family before my departure for Bali: “If I were you I would never go so far away alone”; “It is fine if you change your mind; you don’t have to go”; “Where are you going? Ah… is it not the place where two girls were kidnapped?” “On the news they said there is terrorist attack risk”; “If you are sick what will you do?”
My trip to Bali taught me many things, but one of the most important lessons was to leave other people’s fears to them. Even those of your friends and family. These are their fears, not yours, nor reality. If you want to go alone somewhere but you are afraid or nervous, just go! Who has no fear? In life is important to be brave, but not reckless. And, as they say in Amed: If it is possible, do it. If it is impossible, try it.
I was anxious to explore alone but I met Nelvi, Isa and Kadek; I found friends, I found time for myself, I reconnected with nature, I found a place where people take time to do things, to welcome foreigners. I found people who smile, whatever happens. The most striking difference in Amed is their link to nature and the value they place on human interaction. It was truly a personal revival.