Too Hippie For Square Town, Too Much of a Square For Hippie Town Ubud

Square Town

I often felt uncomfortable in my former skin.  I did not like wearing suits.  I did not like pretending that I was impressed by expensive cars or clothes.  I had my one fancy purse, that I bought years ago.  I never wore expensive shoes.  I always bought clothes on sale.  I knew I was saving money for experiences and not stuff.  

Most of all, I knew I did not belong in corporate America.  I did not like to play the game, to engage in the office politics.  It was a game I played pretty darn well, but did not like myself for it.  I owned too many buddhas, and wished for a different life.  I wanted to explore yoga more, listen to Balinese or Indian music, light incense, and engage in other similar activities. 

I often felt like too much of a hippie for this world, this Square Town.  I was a little too round.  When I announced my plans to finally leave the profession, one of the partners said he heard I was running away to join an ashram.  Close, but not quite. 

Hippie Town Ubud

hippie ubud On the other hand, I am not so idealistic to swear off things like money.  I made good money, I saved it, and as a result I am able to live a different lifestyle now in hippie town Ubud, Indonesia. Part of this lifestyle involves buying flowing pants and skirts, and wearing multiple bracelets and necklaces, one of them with a sitting buddha image on it.  Did I mention the buddha tattoo on my back?  And the other one on my wrist that reads “fearlessness” in Sanskrit.  I get more and more hippified as I continue down this path of perpetual traveler and digital nomad.  

Then, I arrived in Ubud, originally an artists’ colony that developed around the Balinese culture and the Hindu spirituality that exists in central Bali.  The town’s tourist focus now includes plenty of restaurants for vegetarian, vegan, and even raw food.  There are health food stores, supplements, green juices, detox programs, and plenty of healing initiatives.  It is easily the most “hippie” place I have been to.  I’ve started to call it Hippie Town Ubud.

I started to explore classes at the Yoga Barn, which can be both physically intense, as well as a bit more spiritual than I was used to at home.  I became more used to chanting Om and Shanti, and was trying a lot harder to focus on meditating.  I found myself trying to git in to the Hippie Town Ubud.

Early on, I attended an afternoon Sound Healing class.  I had an unlimited pass and wanted to make the most of the various classes.  It was a master class, with a half dozen healers playing percussion, using Tibetan bowls and crystal bowls, and many instruments I had just never heard of before.  There were even a few didgeridoos. The leader wore a shiny brown satin two piece outfit, with a Native American beaded belt.  He had long, flowing hair, and plenty of necklaces.  Most of his brothers and sisters dressed similarly, other than the one percussionist from San Francisco.

We started the class by singing in a group – all about love and the world.  I felt slightly uncomfortable, and not just because I am a terrible singer.  Once we were told to lay down and just listen to the sounds and the vibrations of the music, I felt more comfortable.  At some point in the class, I felt a sharp pain in my left shoulder, to the point that I could not get comfortable, and I needed to roll over into a fetal position.  I was not sure if that was the “healing” or what.   In the end, I am glad I went, but at first it was a little too much for me.  I have attended a few more sound healing classes, and in each one this pain in my left shoulder has occurred.  It probably has something to do with healing, or energy flows, or meridians.  Maybe there is some merit to this stuff.  But, I remain skeptical.  

I enjoy the spirituality of the Balinese culture of offerings and temples.  There is something different about this island, and this town.  Perhaps it is an energy, or merely a history and culture that concerns itself with evil spirits and honoring the ancestors.

I am settling in to life in Ubud a little more, becoming more used to the sing alongs and Sanskrit chanting.  I am becoming a little more comfortable with being in such a chill place.  We burn incense all day at the villa, I have been using an essential oil called “bliss,” and we even bought some healing crystals.  Hook, line, and sinker.

Most of all, I try not to judge other people.  The sound healers and other yoga teachers all have one thing in common – they are entirely comfortable with who they are as human beings.  Which is not something I can say about most people back in the “real” world. 

But, I still wonder, am I a little too square to fit into this Hippie Town Ubud? Do I fit in with the sparkle ponies and bliss ninnies?  And, if I am too much of a hippie for the world I left, where do I fit in?

5 thoughts on “Too Hippie For Square Town, Too Much of a Square For Hippie Town Ubud

  1. Angela says:

    I found Ubud a bit too full-on. Bali has got so much to offer though, it's well worth just getting on a motorbike and driving. Their spiritual beliefs are so fascinating, a sort of marriage between modern and ancient. If you and the other half head to Java, you must get in touch with my dear friend Anes. He's full of Indonesian knowledge and super fun!

  2. Amber Hoffman says:

    Thanks so much Angela. I think we will head to Java when we return to Bali in August. Right now, it is just yoga, yoga, yoga, as I prepare for teacher training. As for Ubud, I do still love it here, but I think what I love the most is getting out of central Ubud and seeing the nooks and crannies.

  3. Naoto says:

    Stopped by Bali on our way back from Shanghai. Loved Bali, especially Ubud which is a place we would come back to again and again.This is our third visit to Bali so we deeidcd to give Ibu Oka one last chance, in view of the many superlative reviews in guide books, travel channels and magazines. Reasoning: So many cannot be wrong.But it looks like they can be. Although the meat itself which was served piping hot, was generally underwhelming, gamy but flavorful enough, the crackling was still as tough as old leather shoes! It really made my DW and me wonder whether those folks who write glowing reviews of Ibu Oka and their babi guling, including Anthony Bourdain and the food critic from The Guardian have ever tasted suckling pig in a Chinese restaurant? If they have, they would have tasted exactly how good suckling pig should taste like with crackling so crispy thin that every bite is to be savored! It is highly unlikely that after that, they would ever venture to describe babi guling as amazing”, “fantastic”, “best ever” and all the silly hyperbole that have come to dominate this debate and given Ibu Oka an undeserved reputation. I have nothing against Ibu Oka per se. It is the integrity of reviews that I’m concerned about!To draw an analogy, if you live in a small outpost, say in the far reaches of Siberia, you may describe your local football outfit as “amazing”, “best in the world” or whatever superlative terms you may wish to employ, not out of intellectual dishonesty, but only because you have never been exposed to the silky skills of the likes of Barcelona or Manchester United.That is probably how it is with this “amazing babi guling” nonsense! We were in Shanghai for 9 days and tried Peking Duck and suckling pig IN SEVERAL RESTAURANTS and the stuff that they served up were slices of culinary heaven!As we live in San Francisco, we have developed an affinity for the dish. We know that everyone is entitled to their opinion. But how do you judge a dish when you haven’t tasted even remotely the best? It is really like the uncultured and the philistine trying to pontificate on high-brow literature and classical music!I’m a fan of Anthony Bourdain and look forward to his witty presentations but on this occasion he has dropped the baton big time! I certainly hope that Bourdain will wise up and realize that he has to remain totally objective. At the rate that he’s going, I fear that his credibility will soon be shot!Finally, we remain baffled over these superlative reviews, because when we compare Ibu Oka’s babi guling to the suckling pig we have tasted in Chinese Restaurants from this side of San Francisco to Melbourne to Hong Kong to Singapore and Bayswater in London, we have to say that if the Chinese version and Ibu Oka’s babi guling are compared and placed on a scale of 1-100, the Chinese version would easily place near a hundred and Ibu Oka’s would limp in below minus 10. That is the difference between a culture with 2,000 plus years of culinary development and a rank amateur!

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