Daily Archives: March 13, 2013

Gimme SOMA More!

I will probably spend the rest of my trip craving Soma’s Sweet n Simple with Grilled Tempe….vegan brownie…oja rejuvenation….date and flax cheesecake crust…live pad thai….PacJohn, the charismatic owner….the didgeridoo jam sessions…and the guaranteed new friends at every sitting.


Soma probably doesn’t have more than 20 seats but they will always find a place for you to sit.  The welcoming community atmosphere welcomes Ubud’s short term visitors, seasoned ex-pats, and health conscious locals. PacJohn/Johnny, the owner is always there full of energy, playing instruments, joining a party for a meal, and eager to share his passion for sustainable, local, intentional food.  Not only does Johnny have impressive knowledge of the benefits of superfoods and the physiological benefits (and detriments) linked with diet, he also has local contacts for anything health-minded you could want in Ubud.  From Traditional healers, to tarot card readers, yoga festivals, and music jam sessions…he knows what’s up. 


As for the food.  Ohhhh, the food.  Why is Soma ahead of the game compared to other ‘organic’ ‘vegetarian’ ‘raw’ food establishments? Because it focuses on the flavor as much as the health.  More often than not, when restaurants focus on the health side of foods they are able to get by on just that….Soma goes one step further to make dishes that are not only impressively creative in terms of ingredients (often raw and vegan, always organic and local) but it puts together flavours with exquisitely unique flare to awaken the taste buds.  There is so much thought put in to everything from a simple crust to the drizzle of coulis that every bite is a masterpiece. 


So the menu is great, the atmosphere is intoxicating….the price.  At first glance—100,000 IDR! That was the most expensive meal I’d had in Bali…by about 90,000….first, 1USD is about 9500 IDR….second, for 11ish dollars I got a coconut, a warm elixir beverage, a salad and open faced sandwich, and a decadent vegan brownie…any food of the same quality and taste in North America would be at least 5 times that cost.  I came to the conclusion at that moment that I wasn’t eating anywhere else until I left Ubud (I’d already spent days eating from Warungs and hawker stalls) because my body deserved it after months of rice cakes, pies, and ‘free food’ bin leftovers.  I have never had so much energy, my stomach feels slimmer and less uneasy, and I miraculously feel less bloated in the [what feels like] 1000% humidity of Bali. 


Definitely a MUST go to in Ubud if not for the food, the atmosphere and unreal people.   Where do you find this slice of heaven?  On Jl. Dewi Sita half way between Monkey Rd and Jl Hanoman. 



Have YOU experienced the magic of Bali?

Pretty sure that’s from a Yoga Barn add…pretty sure that plus seeing the photo of Eat Pray Love author Liz Gilbert on Wayan’s wall is what swayed me to say 80 bucks-sure why not!? To a reading and healing…. Yes, literally the same healer Liz Gilbert went to.  Actually, perhaps it was the human ecologist in me, but I cared way more to talk to her about how being thrust in to fame has changed her life than I did my actual reading.  She basically said it was ‘different’ …not better, but different….which is like asking a woman if she’s okay and getting a reply of ‘fine’…  But I guess if you think about the nature and origin of the work, it isn’t for show or money.  She eluded to the fact that people expected certain results from her….thinking that magically she would lead them to love or solve their broken hearts when that’s not what she does. 


Anyway my reading….the whole ‘fortune teller’ thing was a sham…she told me I was a smoker, that my parents were divorced ‘long time’, that I have been in love 6 times, that I am passive….pretty much all the opposite….she did say I had low BP and a long life line…nothing new there….also that I was a 9th generation reincarnation and that I’d marry at 35…Everyone says I’ll marry at 35, so I’ll probably intentionally place my wedding not when I’m 35 even if I did get engaged around then just to prove a point.  Everybody thinks its creepy…if it were 33 or a random number I’d think so, but 35 is a round ‘older than usual’ age…which I think is all they really see. 


So even though that was a bit odd, she ended up feeding me copious amounts of leaves and naturopathic pills in between rounds of my leaf exfoliation….yes, legitimately leaves in boiling water…she made me strip to my underwear and exfoliate my whole body with these leaves.  I couldn’t help but think in the moment “ If I were famous, I would for sure be being Punk’d right now” as I half-nakedly twisted to try and get the leaves on my mid-back.  She told me I’d be itchy at night from the toxins….that DEFINITELY happened….it felt like 10000 ants all over me-EW…I went back for a lymphatic massage and more leaves in the morning…my waist shrank 2 inches, my travel acne (thanks to humidity and pollution) Had cleared, and I actually felt amazing.  All in my head? The first 5 people I saw commented on how good I looked, including the laundry lady who saw me the day before…who knows, but for the weightloss and skin alone it was worth it, nevermind the totally hilarious experience.


Might I add….I LOVE paying 3 dollars for all my possessions to be washed, dried, ironed and folded…why can’t it be like this at home #firstworldproblems, I know.

New Year # 3: Nyepi

First, I celebrated international New year in Sydney…Second, Chinese New year (I was in NZ…but being half Chinese I always celebrate this bad boy)…Third, Nyepi (aka: Balinese New Year).  I was reading blogs/internet advice and read that this year the 12 would be the Bali New Year and thought that I would HAVE to be here for it….’it would be such an amazing party’…then you get here and find out that the day before Nyepi is a celebration…Nyepi is a day where you can’t use electricity, talk to people, or leave your room.  Literally the whole island shuts down and the only people in the streets are the Nyepi police ensuring that locals and foreigners are both observing the holiday. 


It’s not Indonesian…..but Balinese…and I don’t think it actually has much to do with religion either otherwise it wouldn’t only be here…  The Balinese calendar is 60 weeks long, so today (I’m cheating…a bit) is the mark of 1930-something.  Yesterday was the Ogoh-Ogoh parade which is supposed to be best in Ubud…basically a dozen-ish massive monsters built by locals from surrounding districts out of organic materials (like 20 ft high) and paraded through the streets before dusk to scare away and slay any bad spirits….then after the sun sets they burn them and subsequently all the bad spirits they would have caught.  Then while all of the residue escapes the streets the Balinese must stay inside and reflect on their year, the following day is a celebration once again filled with apologies and forgiveness as the happiest people on earth (arguably) embark on another year.


In an effort to be so ridiculously tired on Nyepi that we could sleep all day to avoid the confinement and boredom of the day two friends and I decided to do a sunrise volcano trek.  We started at 2am Monday (Sunday night)…and decided not to sleep first…turns out everyone else got the memo that you would be helllllllla tired if you stayed up all night.  More importantly stayed up after waking for early yoga Sunday morning….Anyway, at 2am we drove out to Mt Batik (I think….the smaller one…not Arung) for a 2 hour trek to the top to see the sunrise.  It was way more challenging than any of us anticipated, but the view from the top was more than worth it!  We got up in time to take cliché yoga pose photos, and soak in the impressive view.  The climb down was actually way worse…if anything I was just more impressed at what we had climbed in the dark as we all slipped and tripped down the unstable lava-rock.


After we decided once again not to sleep hoping our deprivation would be satisfied the next day, so we stocked up on wholesome baked goods (veggie samosas, banana breads, rye pretzels) fruit, and nuts for the next day as we clued in that we would have no access to food for the holiday.  Most homestays provide guests with food…but apparently our budget choices had left us to fend for ourselves.  By the time we’d bartered down prices in the spirit of ‘nyepi’ it was time to head out to the ogoh ogh parade…


I would have been okay walking 20 meters, letting the people carrying the ogoh ogoh stop for water for 10 minutes then walking 20 meters if I hadn’t been up since 7 the day before and done 2 yoga classes and hiked a volcano in that time…so we decided to skip the burning which seemed to be hours away and catch a couple Bintang’s as a toast to the new year. …On the walk home the power surged on Ubud’s main streets and the silence of Nyepi had blanketed even our excited recollections of the day as we tiptoed to our rooms for what would be 36 powerless hours.


I definitely pre-charged every electronic item I had…Then realized I wouldn’t have access to wifi anyway…but my computer screen is currently a great light to brush my teeth…and I did actually meditate for an hour, did 8 minute abs…twice…and (although it is easy for my rest-less mind) did a boatload of introspection. 


I was up from sunrise, to sunset, to sunrise, to sunset and still only slept 8 hours…I wasn’t tired this morning at all.  I thought about how amazing I feel….how many times I’ve stopped in the last (almost 5) months to think “this is my life”.  I’ve said it in gratitude, amazement, almost humor at times…but today I looked at it so much more literally.  This is my life…not just my trip but my life. 


I was contemplating earlier in the week whether or not to go to the full moon party in Thailand.  I know in my gut that I can’t be fussed…but everyone says I have to go, and everyone will ask if I go…finally thanks to the wise words of a fellow traveller I decided I’m not going.  I’ve been preaching that it’s my trip, nobody elses…and I know in theory that what other people think shouldn’t matter…which is mostly why I didn’t end up doing half of the adventure things in NZ, and scrapped the Gili’s to stay in Ubud… and I don’t regret it at all… but she said, not only can you not travel to impress people…but you must also consider that you for this time in your life can chose exactly where you want to be…and by chosing to be in once place, you are also choosing not to be in another.  So not only is it the money, the fact that I don’t care to go, or that I may not enjoy it….it’s the fact that I’m giving up the opportunity to be somewhere I’d rather be and I won’t get that time back later.  For whatever reason that really stuck out to me.  Reminding me that when we make choices we are not only choosing one thing, we are also often giving up another.  And so, once again I find myself acknowledging my battle of caring what other people think.  For some reason this particular example of me giving up precious time somewhere I want to be travelling to go somewhere I know people think I should go is glaringly obvious that it’s not just choosing for others, it’s also sacrificing something for myself.