Celebrating My 40th Country: Indonesia

I just reached an important milestone as a traveler: my 40th country.

Has it really been 40 countries already?! I had my first oversea trip when I was 13 and since then I’ve done a bit of traveling around Europe, but mostly to touristy places. It wasn’t until I turned 23 that I felt the urge to see the world from a different angle, to explore exotic cultures and wander the unbeaten paths. The rest is history.

So, here I am at my 40th country and wow have I been to some amazing places! Throughout the years, I’ve mostly traveled in Asia and around Thailand in particular. I knew I was going to be here again this summer so I chose Indonesia to mark this milestone. 

An odd choice really – if you had asked me a year ago if I would travel alone to Indonesia, the answer would be a resounding no!  I had absolutely no knowledge of this country until recently and no particular interest in visiting either. But then I saw the movie Eat Pray Love and everything changed.

For those of you who doesn’t know this book/film, it’s about a women who travels to Italy (to eat), India (to pray) and finally Bali (to fall in love). In the movie you see her cycle around the rice paddies with the wind in her hair, finding inner balance and walking the streets of the cultural town of Ubud.

After watching it (minus the finding love-part), I knew I had to go to Bali.

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Bali, Indonesia

Unlike the rest of Indonesia, Bali is dominated by hinduism, and Ubud is the heart of the island. This small town is surrounded by lush rice fields, mountain view and a volcano in the distance.

On every street corner you’ll find signs for healing, reflexology or yoga and the town is marked by its remarkable selection of healthy foods ranging from vegetarian to macrobiotic. Every day, locals make offerings (canang sari) comprised by a small basket with rice, flowers, bananas and betal leaf which they put on the streets, in their house temples, on cars – basically everywhere. When you walk around the streets of Ubud, you have to be very careful not to step on one of them.

One Giant Adventure Land

I’ve only been to two of Indonesia’s over 18,000 islands and already I’m intrigued by its beauty and atmosphere!

During my stay in Ubud, I went mountain biking around the rice fields, walked through Monkey Forest, I’ve seen stunning temples, attended a traditional kecak trance ceremony, been a daily customer at the spa (I even got my own personal massage therapist who calls me Miriam Bellima which means ‘celebrate’ in Balinese) – and I’ve only been here for a week!

Bali, Indonesia

When I return to Ubud in a week, I will indulge in more healthy food and try out some different kinds of yoga practices. Maybe – just maybe – I will climb a volcano too, but I have not yet decided.

All in all, I’m loving my 40th country and I have decided to extend my stay already. Being here, especially in Ubud, is the best thing I’ve done for my body and mind since I attended the Kumbh Mela Festival in India last year. I can feel a difference by not eating meat, the meditation has helped me focus more and I simply love the atmosphere!

There are still so many places in Indonesia that I’d like to explore. Right now, I have Komodo island, Java, Lombok and Sulawesi on my itinerary, but they will have to wait until next time! I hope you’re ready for lots of posts on food, adventures and yoga – they’ll be coming your way soon!

Bali, Indonesia

So what do you think. Would you ever go to Indonesia?

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