“Plant both your sit bones into the ground and root your tailbone into the earth...” This was ringing in my ears when I woke up Friday morning. From Wednesday afternoon until Thursday evening, I attended 4 yoga sessions, which makes it something like 6 hours in one day. Too much... My shoulders were sore from all the wild openings, my ribs aching in every breath and then my ass... All the hip openers and “breathing through the pain” seems to have backfired. In yogic terms, I may now have more open femur bones and quadriceps, however in layman's terms I couldn't even sit on my ass on a normal chair. Still I managed to drag myself off the bed, went to the early bird yoga class, which is generally very gentle and provides a good opening for the rest of the day. On the way back form yoga, I decided enough was enough. However beneficial yoga was, it was tuning into an addiction. I decided to back off for a while and do something different.
Going to Kuta was in my mind for sometime but I was postponing it... Partly because most reviews on Kuta were on how tacky and touristy the place is and partly because I was lazy. I got a Perama ticket from one of the agencies for the 10:30 bus and went to my room to pack my towel and bikini. So far, I tried Tulamben, Amed and Lovina and all turned out to be major disappointments in terms of sea and beach. Being in Southeast Asia, I was expecting those picture-perfect white sand beaches, turquoise waters and the occasional coconut tree here and there. Whereas Tulamben and Amed were rocky-pebbly and Lovina had black sand, dirty water and horribly persistent hawkers. If Kuta also failed, I really had no other options for some suntanning in this island.
The Perama shuttle made many stops to pick up and to drop passengers and it took almost two hours to reach Kuta. I was complaining about not being able to sit on a regular chair, a shuttle bus seat made for Asian-size bottoms was worse in all the ways. I already started dreading the return journey. Well, despite the heat getting off the bus and being able to walk felt good. The Lonely Planet guide mentioned about complicated and narrow streets leading to the beach so I was prepared for the long-walk, which gave no clues if I was approaching the ocean or going parallel to it. After about 15 minutes, I saw the first indication that I was in the right direction; a surfer dude with water dripping from his hair and his board under his arm approaching me. Yesss! A few minutes later, I saw the all-blue and all wavy ocean and felt super-exicted! It was finally white-sand and blue ocean as far as my eyes could see.
The beach is separated from the sidewalk and there's a crowd of hawkers, surf renters, surf teachers, and mobile warungs aligned all the way. After passing that crowd with some “no thank you, I don't want sarong / water / surf lesson” the beach itself was calm. Just the right amount of people and action that would give me a lot of space but not make me feel isolated. Only a narrow strip towards the middle of the beach was flagged as “ok for swimming”, so I laid my towel right by the flag and ran to the water like a caretta caretta just hatched out of its egg. It was quite wavy but even if I was going to get drowned I was determined to swim that day. I spent the afternoon happily on the beach, walking, laying down, swimming, playing with the waves, watching the surfers and having a wide grin on my face all the time. Yes, the distance to Kuta is long, traffic inside Kuta is quite overwhelming and there's a constant smell of exhaust gases but it was worth it. At least the hawkers were definitely more manageable than the ones in Lovina.
My return bus was for 16:30 and I wanted to leave the beach a little early to find a place to eat before getting on the shuttle again. I wanted to take a different route on the way back. I noticed that all hotels and most restaurants have a security guard at the entrance, which reminded me of the Hayarkon Corniche in Tel Aviv. I guess after the 2002 & 2005 Bali Bombings, this was unavoidable. And just looking at the prices in shops and boards, Kuta seems to be much cheaper than Ubud. There's the usual bars with football league broadcasts, movie evenings, happy hours but nothing as tacky as I expected. More like your average tourist destination anywhere else... Hmm, it might be worth spending a few days here to absorb more sunlight on the beach. Thinking these, I find myself in front of a Pizza Hut. Ubud has none of these chains like Starbucks or McDonalds, but Kuta seems to be compensating for it's sister town by the overabundance. I see the salad bar inside and feel like taking a look. I have been on a relatively healthy diet of raw, organic foods in Ubud with the occasional curry here and there. But I guess a change wouldn't hurt :) So I end up eating from Pizza Hut's character-less “where ever you go it's the same stuff” salad bar while enjoying some cool air from the air-condition. Oh well... So much for authenticity, supporting local business and anti-globalism.
After sitting inside and drying for a while, I notice that my skin feels somehow tight. Of course with the strong wind coming from the ocean, I didn't even notice the heat and the sun. Now I feel that I am burning and emitting heat. A visit to the bathroom and seeing myself in the mirror confirms that I am as red as I feel. It hurts but I am happy. I got all that I wanted in a day; sun, sea, sand and a possible tan if my entire skin doesn't peel off in the coming days.
In the bus, I think that I was very satisfied with my day, but now it also feels very good that I am going back to Ubud. Sometimes it's good to go, just to know that you can and you will come back. Ubud gives me that “homey” feeling nowadays.
My yoga learning for the day: “Prana follows where our attention goes”. Try to inhale into each chakra for 3-5 breaths and see if you can feel what's going on in each chakra. If you're a vata, it may be easier to try this after asana practice to assist in turning your focus inwards.
Try to activate mula bandha just a little during meditation and see if it makes a difference. Pattabhi Jois said that slightly activating the mula bandha while meditating makes the difference between thinking and meditating. I tried this today and felt a difference. Nothing major but a promising first try ;)