“Do you mind if I sit here?”
I look up from my notebook and there she is – the Ubud hippy in excelcis. Yoga pants. Tight singlet. Hair in a bun. A copy of Eat, Pray, Love in her henna jewelled hands, the bookmark no more than two chapters in.
“Of course you can,” I say, stifling my judgement.
After all, I was sitting in the lotus position inside in a pagoda in the jungle fronded quiet zone at the Yoga Barn, waiting for Carmen to finish an Acroyoga class so we could go and grab some organic food for brunch…
Before we left Australia for this latest jaunt of travel, I wrote about why we were going to Bali, specifically why we were going to Ubud. The main theme was that we wanted to be around like-minded people – and the magnet for that is Hubud, the co-working space in Ubud that we joined in our first week after arriving.
How Hubud changed us for good
Hubud (Hub-in-Ubud) is a place where people from all over the world and every career path (though usually something to do with computer programming) come together every day and night to do their work, swap ideas and grow their businesses under the aegis of being a digital nomad.
We met a seemingly endless procession of cool, interesting, intelligent, dedicated ass kickers, many of whom became good friends and co-conspirators in the quest to live on the road and make money while doing it.
We both worked our butts off on paid and unpaid work. Carmen got a business coach and had her head filled with new ideas on how to win more clients that are now bearing fruit because of her perseverance. And I got my butt into gear on my second book after speaking with loads of artists, creative types and innovative thinkers.
Sharing our skills at Hubud
The culmination of our Hubud time was a skills sharing talk in front of a standing room only crowd on a rain soaked night. We called it The Tricks and Traps of Writing On The Road.
Carmen and I shared our skills, secrets and experiences of establishing our travel blog and writing business and how we balance our creative lives with the paying of travel bills. I spoke about the seven-year process for writing my first novel and the myriad ways travel has made everything we do better.
Skills share success
At the end we had twenty minutes of questions and met even more inspiring people who came forward to chat and share their own stories.
Taking the time to go to Ubud and work in Hubud was one of the best decisions I think Carmen and I have ever made. Being around people who feel as we do and act as we do is empowering and it pushed us to keep going. And it rubs off on other people.
A new-found friend of ours said she appreciated me observing that in Ubud you don’t have to explain yourself. Sounds like something I would say, so I’m glad she liked that! And it’s the big moral of the story of why we went there.
How Ubud inspired me – mind and body
Ubud was made famous by the book and then the movie of Eat, Pray, Love – it’s the place where Elizabeth Gilbert heals herself – and millions of tourists have trekked to Ubud since then to try and find their own slice of happiness.
Ubud was always a peaceful place, but now it’s a den of Yoga and spirit retreats, organic food cafes and lots of very skinny people with dreadlocks and tattoos.
Ubud was over-rated to me
In the beginning, I found it a bit insufferable.
I liked doing Yoga – physically. But you could leave all the spirituality at the door as far as I was concerned. I was raised Catholic and have moved away from it – I don’t crave another belief system. I’m happy to be a speck in the cosmos.
The same goes for organic food. I can see the benefit, but ten dollars for a BLT without the bacon? Sheesh.
I am not a convert to either thing – but I am certainly dropping some of my resistance. I did Yoga mostly every day and can now see that there is a spiritual side to it, one of calmness and patience. And though I still cringe a bit at all the Namaste, I’m beginning to appreciate the deeper levels it shows me.
Changes to my attitude
In a real test of my comfort zone, I twice went to a thing called ecstatic dance where you go bananas in the dark to a DJ spinning the craziest music you’ve ever heard. Stay tuned for Carmen’s post on that.
Imagine my terror before this dance off… but I did it, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
And as for the organic food, I can’t get enough of it. I’m not quite sure how I’d go spending half my income at the health store back in Australia, so while I can eat pure for cheap in Asia I am all over it. Hopefully I carry through some of the good habits for the rest of my life.
My final thoughts on life in Ubud
Ubud has changed my mind about a lot of things and I’m glad of it. Travel is a physical and mental journey, and it would be a waste of time if I ignored the lessons it teaches for both realms.
In the last week of our time in Ubud, we met a sceptical couple who has just moved to Ubud and showed them a set of intuition cards we had picked up from one of our hippy friends. The idea is you ask a question of the cards, pick some, and they will help give you an answer.
Spiritual or not, I think they help focus your mind. But they though they were absolute b%$#@^*t.
“Tell me the lottery numbers,” the guy said to the cards. “Tell me who shot JFK.”
I laughed and smiled. Give ‘em a few weeks and they’ll be saying ‘Om’ with the rest of them…
Have you ever visited a place that changed you?
If you’re interested, here are the slides from our presentation at Hubud.