Hello everyone. Let me first introduce myself a bit. I am Dr. Somya Agrawal working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Information Management at a Taiwanese university. With respect to my disability, I was born with spina bifida. I use leg brace in my left leg and hand crutches to walk around. For long distances, I prefer using a wheelchair. I am very passionate about life and surely believe in the saying that “Life is what you make it.” I live everyday as if it is my last and try to make memories even out of simple moments. Sharing a photo of myself taken at Bali zoo.
I had always wanted to do a solo trip someday. It had always been on the top of my bucket list. Being an inquisitive person, I love traveling, going to new places, yakking with local people, trying to pick up some new words of their language, eating local cuisines, learning about the history and connecting with the beautiful culture that beholds every place. But I am a physically challenged person and it always felt like an impossible dream to travel solo to some beautiful destination. I was very much used to traveling with my family and very close friends, thinking that I couldn’t/ shouldn’t travel without them, just in case if something goes wrong during the travel. I always felt that they needed to be there with me always. But I broke this myth after my Bali trip when I read some inspiring articles on Hotel Camea about travelling and I realized how much fun I was missing. Sometimes when I look back, I don’t believe it, that I actually took this trip. Today I want to share some of my memories from Bali, although I feel, my writing won’t be able to completely justify how truly happy I felt during the trip.
It all started with me searching on google, “Looking for a 5 days tour in Bali”. That’s when Accessible Indonesia’s website popped up.
I saw some Bali pictures on the website and thought to myself:
“How about I give this a shot?”,
“How about I write to them?”
I filled their query form asking about ‘5 days trip in Bali’ and came across Maureen and the Accessible Indonesia team. They helped me plan my whole trip from start to end along with several other people whom I came across over the next few months. From the time of emailing them my query, lets fast forward time over the next 2 months. I saw the whole trip materialize one step at a time. I always had in time that I had to take care of several things while planning. The AccessibleIndonesia team patiently answered my million questions and made everything feasible for me. When I was about to book my flight tickets, I broke the news about my solo trip to my parents (after about 2 months already into planning). I wanted to make sure first that it was really happening before anyone gets a chance to burst my happy bubble. Haha. They didn’t believe it at first, but eventually supported me.
Day of arrival at Bali: (21st Dec)
So, now, let’s directly jump onto the day I was flying to Bali. It was 5 and a half hours flight from Taipei, Taiwan to Depansar, Bali. I was kinda nervous and super excited as it was my first time alone when I would be landing onto a completely strange land at the end of the plane journey. I had been told on email that Maureen would be picking me from the Depansar airport along with my tour guide named Augustine. I reached Depansar and saw them with a signboard waiting for me. Hahaha. I can’t describe the feeling. I was so happy. They both welcomed me with their warm smiles which reduced half of my anxiety. We spoke as if it was not the first meeting. They directed me towards a wheelchair friendly car where I met the driver who drove the car for me throughout the trip. It was a very comfortable van. The moment I sat in the car, Mas Augustine (Mas means brother in Bahasa) started introducing Bali to me. It was Saturday afternoon of 21st December, 2019. They took me to Hotel Gardenia in Sanur, the guesthouse in which I stayed for the next few days. The guesthouse was beautifully comfortable and very much wheelchair accessible. It was around 5 pm in the evening and Dayu from the staff of Hotel Gardenia welcomed me a cool and delicious water melon drink in my room. Thereafter, I had the whole evening free to myself. It had just started sinking in that, “Wow, I’m really on my solo trip to Bali!”
I asked Dayu (staff from Hotel Gardenia), for coffee and some quick snack. She told me to have Bali coffee. I ordered it along with some spring rolls. Interestingly, I didn’t know at first that one doesn’t need to put milk in Bali coffee. So, I asked her to put some milk into my coffee. Now I laugh about it when I think of that moment. Then using my electric wheelchair, I rode around the Sanur beach. I’m usually not a beach person as none of the beaches I had travelled to before were wheelchair accessible. But I am very fond of sunsets, so I wanted to atleast catch my first sunset in Bali beside the beach. Sharing the photo of it below:https://www.hotelcamea.com/
Then I went to a nearby restaurant on the beach and ordered a beer and they gave me some peanuts free along with it. The vibe around was very lively. There were some people dancing, some singing. Overall, the music was also sounding very happy. From the next day morning, my travel around Bali started.
Day 1: (Dec 22nd)
The first place I visited was Sangeh Nutmeg Monkey Forest. The time I visited there, some people had come in traditional Balinese attires and were performing some Puja. It felt like an auspicious ceremony. Mas Agus told me about ‘canang’ which is the flower offering made in the temple. As it was a Monkey forest, there were many monkeys wandering around. They seemed to be very clever. I was told that the trick to protect yourself from the monkeys was to avoid direct eye contact with them. I also saw a newlywed couple over there getting their wedding photo shoot done. Their attires looked very pretty. After seeing the forest, I got a little hungry and wanted to try some local cuisine, so we stopped by at some place to have coconut water. It tasted very sweet.
After that, we visited the Ulun Danu Beratan Temple in the mountains. It was pretty crowded, but the vibe felt very spiritual. Every temple in Bali had a strong sense of Hinduism around it. I enjoyed listening to different stories from Mas Agus.
After that we went to see the Twin lake. I really love nature and was awestruck when I reached there. The drive to the Twin lake was not very easy as it had started raining. But driver was very kind and really didn’t want me to miss it. The view was so beautiful. I also got to click some wonderful photos out there. Maureen also gave me to taste some red berries from the trees.
That day ended with me having some traditional Indonesian food, “Gado gado”, which turned out to be my favorite food of Indonesian cuisine.
Day 2: (Dec 23rd): The next day I experienced the Farmer’s walk. It was the most memorable day as I got to meet Suar and Subita and their family. They took us to their beautiful home and we chatted for hours together. The path to his home was not very suitable for wheelchair, but we nevertheless took this bumpy road. When I look back, I think to myself, “Difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations.” On the way, I also got to taste water from the stream coming from the mountain. The water was very crystal clear and the stream looked beautiful.
After that we visited Goa Lawah Temple and took a glimpse of Kusumba Salt mining area. The Goa Lawah Temple was again a very beautiful temple. Interesting thing was to see the cave with many bats. I came to know later that it is considered as one of the six holiest places of worship on Bali. I took some photos along with the local kids. Thereafter, the driver took us to have a look at the Kusumba Salt mining. Mas Agus explained the process of how Balinese made salt from sea water.
Day 3: (Dec 24th): The next day we headed to Tirta Empul Temple in the morning. The temple was extremely beautiful. The temple compound consisted of a bathing structure, famous for its holy spring water, where many people go for ritual purification. I had heard that the temple pond had a spring which gave out fresh water regularly, which Balinese Hindus consider to be holy water. I had really wanted to go and take a dip in the water as well. But it was not accessible for me, so I just prayed for everyone’s true happiness and good health around me.
Thereafter I went to an interesting tea place where I tasted different varieties of teas. I got to hear the story about Luwak coffee. It was fun. That day’s journey was not over. Because after that, we went to see the mountain view of the famous Mount Batur. It is considered as the most popular Bali volcano. Its last recorded major eruption was in 1963. I was intrigued and mesmerized at the same time as I had never imagined I would get to see a mountain with active volcano. That day ended with me coming back to the guesthouse and resting.
Day 4: (Dec 25th): The next was the last travel day in Bali. Interestingly it was my favorite day if I have to pick one. I got to see the traditional kecak dance performance. The dancers were dressed beautifully in traditional Balinese attires. Everything looked so colorful. After the performance we went for souvenir shopping. I bought some gifts to take back home.
The day had two more important activities left. I am super excited to say that I got to experience the-not-so-easy elephant ride and Bali swing. It took a little bit of convincing to do as the people were a bit reluctant due to my disability. I am glad it was possible. After the elephant ride in Bali zoo, I also fed the elephant with cucumber, corn and bananas if I remember correctly.
Day 5: (Dec 26th): It was my last day in Bali. I clearly remember, I had already fallen in love with Bali by then. I still wanted to make the most of my last half day that was left. I went to the Sanur beach on my electronic wheelchair at 4.45 am to see the sunrise at the beach. It was pitch dark when I had left the guesthouse, but I was determined to experience it. As my wheelchair was not very suitable for sand, I took help of some fisherman working on the beach to find a good point to view the sunrise. It was totally worth it. Sharing a glimpse of it.
I hurried back to the guesthouse and had breakfast. Oh, I forgot to share one thing. I used to have Balinese breakfast everyday early in the morning at around 7 am. It was so delicious. I miss their homemade strawberry jam. Sharing a photo of it. The staff at the guesthouse was super friendly as well. I want to go and stay in the same guesthouse next time I visit Bali.
One of the staff members told me that they were going to have a puja that morning. I asked if I could be a part of it. The guesthouse manager herself agreed. I was so happy. They treated me as a family and allowed me to experience their culture so closely. Sharing a glimpse of it.
Thereafter, I got ready for my flight and Mas Agus and the driver dropped me at the airport to take my flight back to home. So, that’s how my first solo trip ended in Bali. I am so glad it all worked out well. I so wish to visit Bali again sometime and get lost in its magic.
Terimah kasih! Sampai Jumpa! 🙂
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