One of the most common questions I get asked about my travels is... Out of all the places you've been, where is your favorite?
As any passionate human being knows, this answers is not only loaded, it's completely unfair. How can anyone expect, for example, a devoted music lover to pick one band or song that is above all else, or ask a diehard foodie to pick his single favorite dish, it's just plain cruel.
However, if I HAD to pick a place... (Gun to my head) I would absolutely choose Bali.
Im not just talking about surfer-town Seminyak or bohemian Ubud but the entire country as a whole. When you collectively admire, or have the chance to explore the entire country... you start to uncover the endless magic of a place unlike anywhere else on the planet.
While there are so many reasons why Bali stole my heart, I will only go into the area that had the most impact on my soul. This, was hands down the people.
Every single person I encountered, from the young passionate daughter, who excitedly explained all of the various coffee her parents grew during our tasting just outside of Ubud; to our warm and spirited taxi driver, Ketut, who cracked jokes, and told stories during our three hour journey from Bubunan to Seminyak.
The people and the naturally blissful spirits within them... Are contagious and truly inspiring to interact with. Life is so simple, and unadorned yet they love and give with such pure generosity and hope.
On one of my morning runs while staying at Zen Resort in Northern Bali, I took a wrong turn and ran straight down the "Main Path" of a small village. It was 7am, and the sun was defusing a misty amber glow over the rice fields that served as the backyard to their modest straw huts. Tired grandmas with leathered skin and palm leaf baskets filled with laundry on their head stepped towards me into the light with a look of bewilderment on their faces. Small children with walking sticks and string bound books watched me in awe as I accidentally became part of their morning. Suddenly the entire village was still, just watching me run. Within that same breath, with an unspoken unity, they all started gently waving and smiling at me.
It was one of the most beautiful experiences I've even been lucky enough to be a part of. I felt like I was in a cross between a Nike and a National Geographic ad. The lighting, the warm faces smiling, the sound of only my hard breath and feet hitting the gravel was something I still can't forget.
Eventually, I got to the end of the path, and stood on the edge of the villages’ incredible rice terrace and watched as the sky changed with the sunrise. I was so overwhelmed and filled with love and gratitude that I literally collapsed and started to cry.
I had never felt that much love, and support laced with curiosity and wonder. And while the beaches, shopping, food, and culture are incredible… to me it was all about the energy.. the people, that's what really changed me.
In a lucky turn of events, I will be heading back to Bali in a few weeks. I can't wait to share my new adventures, travel tips, and experiences in one of my favorite places on the planet. Xx