I arrived in Bali at 3am in the morning. Prashanti, the first place I stayed at, had organised a driver for me to pick me up from the airport. Once we got to Ubud and close to the location of the hotel where the car couldn’t go any further, someone from the hotel came to pick me up on a scooter to take me down the small path between rice fields, packing my suitcase in the front, me at the back.
There were so many stars. The moon had the perfect shape, a half moon sickle, just the way you imagine the moon to look like if you were to draw it. I’m fascinated by the moon and its different phases and its influence on our lives, so this added to my excitement and made the arrival even more special for me. Even though everything was dark, the short ride through the green surroundings (I could tell even in the dark), past palm trees and rice fields, with the starry sky and perfect moon shape was absolutely magical. There’s no better way to describe it, no better way to describe the overwhelmingly beautiful experience I had when I first arrived in Ubud. From the first few minutes I could tell I loved it. When we made our way past the bungalows, up the wooden stairs to my new home for the next two nights, everything felt so special. Everything was quiet, except for the sounds of the night, the crickets chirping, the water streaming in the background, and a slight wind rustling through the trees and rice paddies.
When I first entered the bungalow I was stunned. It was so beautiful, so natural. Lots of wood, perfectly dimmed light, creating a cosy atmosphere. Then I saw the second door which opened up onto a balcony with a roof, two wooden chairs and a unique wooden table overlooking the rice fields. I stepped out onto the terrace and was just blown away (once again). From that moment on I knew for sure how much I loved this place already. I had fallen in love with Ubud, Bali. I had this instinct before I even left for Bali that I would love it and wanted to come back again, and these first few minutes confirmed that gut feeling.
I looked around the room, the bathroom, the perfect little kitchen nook with filtered water, a kettle, and a little box of tea. So cute, homely, and welcoming.
I wish I could have taken pictures straight away with the bed made perfectly, the towels folded the traditional Balinese way, so quaint and artistic like you can see it in so many pictures. I wanted to capture the place as I first found it, untouched, peaceful. That is the right word, the feeling I got in those first few moments - peaceful.
Instead of photographing it, I sat down on one of the two couches under the slanted wooden ceiling, writing down what I was experiencing.
I also found a pile of old, used books in the bedside table cabinet. The first one that I picked up was a used copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love. How fitting, seeing Ubud is where they filmed part of the movie.
So I sat there in total bliss, absolutely grateful for being able to stay there, wishing I could capture that particular moment and share it straight away. It was beautiful, without being cheesy.
I went to bed at 4.30am, and woke up again around 6.30am to the sounds of birds, the crickets and the rooster.
My first Breakfast at Prashanti was amazing, absolutely perfect, just like everything else. I wanted to live there - sitting outside on the verandah, overlooking the green tropical trees, the water streaming in the background and the birds singing. It was so good.
Made, one of the members working at Prashanti, brought me green tea, fresh juice (dragonfruit, watermelon, pineapple and papaya), and pumpkin with rice and coconut. It had the perfect taste mixture of sweet, slightly salty, creamy and just a hint of caramel from the palm sugar syrup. I ate it all in about three minutes, savouring every bite and sip of it though. I was in heaven.
On my second morning I woke up with the rooster crowing again. It was exactly 6.30am. I looked up. This (see pic) is what I saw. Breathtaking. I got out of bed, picked up my camera, went outside. Scenes like this don’t last long. Maybe a minute or two if you’re lucky. Even as I was taking pictures, the sky changed, it wasn’t the same picture that I had seen just a minute ago. Yet it was magical. Early mornings have the best light. I went back inside, ready to go back to sleep. I looked at the bed, it was covered in golden light, appearing so cosy and welcoming.
In the afternoon I met Maya, the owner. Originally from France, she came to Ubud seven years ago and built Prashanti from the ground up. She told me that there used to be coconut trees and cows grazing right where “my” bungalow was.
Maya left France in 1989, has called the Caribbean home, as well as the Canary Islands and Sri Lanka, before moving to Bali. She’s got a background in tourism, used to run a yoga therapy and a massage centre. So opening up Prashanti as a yoga retreat and eco hotel just came natural, once she accepted what her gut was telling her and let go of any resistance she initially had. Her plan now is to add a massage centre to Prashanti as well to complete the experience.