5 Things I Learned From Living in Bali

After 2 and a half months in Ubud, Indonesia, we are ready to hit the road again.  Somewhat reluctantly.  This is the first time we have “lived” overseas.  Although, I hesitate sometimes to use the word live.  But, I guess that’s what we were doing – living in Bali.

The two+ months we have spent at our villa have been the longest we have spent in any one place overseas.  It is the longest we have spent on the road with our backpacks completely unpacked.  I don’t even remember what my backpack looks like.  

Living in Bali in a Villa

Living in Bali
The Villa

When meeting people here, they ask me if I am living in Bali.  I think, technically, I do.  I do not live anywhere else.  We are paying rent, paying electricity, have mobile numbers, rented a motorbike.  We have unpacked.  We don’t have a mailing address here, that is more because addresses do not really exist here, particularly in the small banjars, or neighborhoods. 

As the weeks wore on, though, and we came closer to our departure date, I became increasingly more hesitant to say I lived here.  After all, in a few days, I would be packing up the old backpack one more time to move on.  The thought of packing it up, though, was weighing heavy on me.  It was starting to stress me out a bit.  

Living in Bali Not the actual packing part, but the leaving part.  We have had some struggles here in Ubud, and a string of bad luck, but Ubud will always hold a special place in my heart as the first place I “lived” overseas. 

Besides, we are not leaving permanently.  We will return in a short 6 weeks.  Back to Ubud, and back to our same villa.  Back to living in Bali.

So why are we leaving, and then returning?  I was scheduled to participate in a yoga teacher training in May.  I withdrew from the training after I had met the teacher, and some of her students, and learned about her style.  It was just not a good fit for me.  

They say, everything happens for a reason.  I met another teacher at the Yoga Barn who was supportive and inspirational.  I am returning to participate in her High Vibe teacher training program in August.  It will be co-taught by another one of my favorite teachers here.  It will be a life changing experience I am sure.

So, what have the two and a half months in Ubud taught me?  

What Have I Learned From Living in Bali?

1. I am ready to slow down more.  

Over the next 6 weeks we will be in three countries and 6 different locations (Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam).  I am not looking forward to packing and unpacking once again.  I am not thrilled with the idea of planning travel, finding some place to stay, worrying about transportation.  

I am happy to explore, and will welcome the break from Ubud, but there is a part of me that liked the stationary life.  This lack of interest in exploring may be a problem for my travel blogger title, but we are looking at some exciting travel opportunities later this year.  I think in the future we will “live” somewhere, and then travel for a month at a time, while keeping a home base.  At least, that’s the goal. 

2. I needed to detox.

I loved Ubud for what it offered me – detox, healthy living, and yoga.  I have taken a crazy number of yoga classes while here.  I have only drank alcohol about 3 times since we arrived.  I have been drinking super anti-oxidant smoothies and wheatgrass shots.  I have not gone vegetarian (shudder), but have certainly upped my intake of veggie and tofu meals, much to Eric’s dismay.  I have lost at least 10 pounds (will know more when we get to a scale again).  I am thinner than I have been in at least a decade

Living in Bali
The Wheatgrass Shots and Popeye Smoothie

I am definitely stronger than I have ever been in my life too.  I am doing yoga poses I never thought possible as a sedentary, out of shape, tax attorney.  I can do headstands, crow pose, and am working on eka pada galavasana (if I could just get that back leg up). 

I know we needed to detox, I just look at the pictures of us in Myanmar, or even before we left the US, but in Ubud, the process is just made easy.  There is little temptation with cheap beer and a buzzing nightlife. 

3. I need access to a large city.

As much as I enjoyed being a local for awhile, I might need exposure to a large city in the long run.  I miss city life.  Although we have been blessed with great Mexican and a decent Italian place, I need a greater variety of food, and places to eat.  I need a town with more than 4 main roads.

Ubud is popular, in part, because there are so many expats living here.  The result is decent access to healthcare, dentists, Western food, and toiletries that many Americans take for granted.  But, it still retains that small town feel. 

Living in Bali
The Tempe and Tofu Curry with Red Rice

4. I don’t feel like I fit here. 

Ubud is a unique place, one where I do not know if I fit.  There are days where I am in a yoga class at the Barn and think “I never want to leave here.” 

Although the locals have been very welcoming and friendly, we have not really made friends here like we have in places like Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur, or Yangon – a strange mixture of expats and locals that make a location enjoyable. I can’t be expected to spend every night just talking with The Husband, can I?

As open minded as Ubud is, there is an atmosphere of a clique, and I am not sure if we have felt as welcome as I had hoped. 

5. I don’t know if I could live in Ubud long term

I would love to teach yoga in Ubud, or elsewhere in Bali in the future.  It is competitive, though, and I am not sure it will be possible for us.  Bali remains an expensive place to live in comparison to other areas of Southeast Asia.  One of us would need a “real job,” even a yoga job, to make it work.  

What I will welcome is an opportunity to return to Ubud in the future.  To know it will always be calling to me as a place to get healthy, to slow down, to focus on yoga.  I know we can always return for a month or more, when we need a chance to clear our heads and heal our bodies from the awful things we do to it in places like Vietnam (cheap beer) and Myanmar (cheap whisky).

I won’t really know until I compare it to how I feel in the “real” world – a world that consists of less yoga, larger portions, and cheap beer. 

For now, the backpacks are filled and we are moving on.

4 thoughts on “5 Things I Learned From Living in Bali

  1. Dan @ A Cruising Couple says:

    We spent some time (not nearly long enough) in Ubud during our one month trip through Java, Bali, and the Gilis. Casey feel in love with the Barn and Ubud's laid back feel. It is a beautiful place to relax and unwind. I hope we get a chance to return. Best of luck in Vietnam and Myanmar and beyond. We are looking at doing a cycling trip in Vietnam in September. Will you be around?

  2. Amber Hoffman says:

    Thanks Dan. Glad you guys liked Ubud. And, enjoy the cycling trip through Vietnam. We will be back in Bali in September, but we have some friends and perhaps interesting places to see in the center of Vietnam, if you have flexibility in your schedule. Let me know. They are places tourists don't generally get to. Contact me if you want some info.

  3. Susanne says:

    I feel kind of the same about Ubud! After spending altogether 12 months in Ubud in this crazy Yoga Expat Bubble I am now exploring other parts of South East Asia (Koh Phangan next). I miss the yoga and amazing healthy food in Ubud though…

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