What To Do In Bali: Bali Tours With Locals

Why I’ll Probably Never Go Back To Bali

I know. It must be surprising to hear from me, but it’s true. I’ll probably never go back to Bali. What happened? About a year ago, I decided I would move there after falling in love with the rice fields, the lovely people and their ceremonies, the healers of Bali, and so many other things. But, things have changed, and now I will probably never go back. Here’s why.


What Bali Used To Be Like

The first time I went to Bali was in 2005. I’ve never really liked the Kuta area, though the first time I visited, I did spend a few days there. It’s the spring break tourist trap for young Australians, full of kids drinking bucket drinks. People that, for all of their awareness, could be anywhere. Too stoned and drunk into oblivion to know where they are.

bali statue

The area that stole my heart was Ubud. Ubud, the cultural heart of Bali with its tranquil rice paddies, artists and unique crafts. I still have the small spoons made of coconut wood and sea shells that I bought from a vendor so many years ago. At the time, it was the most exotic place I had ever been.

bali offering

The heady smell of incense wafted through the air, drifting from the frangipani, palm leaf, and rice offerings that lined the sidewalks. I was met by the kindest smiles I’ve ever seen. The people were friendly and welcoming, proud of their island. The word that could sum up the feeling I got from being in Bali was reverence. People were happy to be in the moment, to sit and watch the rice grow. It taught me to do the same. There was a tranquility about Bali I’ve never experienced anywhere else.


Yes, you still had the touts everywhere interrupting the silence with their questions of “Taxi?, massage?, transport?, Bintang?” Yes, you still had those thieving monkeys that aren’t so nice and often bite people, and those crooked sidewalks. But, really wasn’t that all part of the charm?

Bali sidewalks

I also explored Northern Bali where hardly any tourists go, where I had an entire black sand beach to myself, and which still pretty much remains untouched today.

Bali family

For years, I dreamed of this exotic place and finally returned in 2013. Ubud was unrecognizable. Most of the rice fields had been replaced by commercial shops, and instead of unique crafts, the stores now mostly sold tourist trinkets.

The spiritual yogi crowd had now overtaken Ubud, and there are more green juice cafes in Ubud than casinos in Vegas. I still really liked Ubud, though. I like green juice. I didn’t care for the snobby poser yoga crowd, the ones who acted like they had learned to fart rainbows and what was wrong with you that you didn’t, who made the classes feel like yoga was more of a competition than a practice. As a matter of fact, spirituality itself felt more like a competition than a journey.

I still found my tranquility and the best part of that journey was staying in the middle of a rice field in a joglo I found on Airbnb. I also did visit some of the local healers in Bali and had some incredible experiences with them.

Rainbow over the rice field in Bali www.thiswaytoparadise.com

I also journeyed to Amed where I found a more authentic Bali still existed, and this blissful, untouched place reminded me of a more tranquil side of Bali that I was grateful to find.


I was still so in love with Bali that one year later, I decided to move there. But, when I got there, it seemed things had changed. I had decided to move to Ubud, as I wanted to be surrounded by a community of expats, yes even, farting rainbow ones. (Maybe I could learn-without being a snob about it!) I also wanted to immerse myself in the traditions of the locals at the same time. I loved how I had often been invited to take part in the ceremonies that are such a part of Balinese life.

Balinese CelebrationBalinese Celebration. Don’t Miss The Monkey On The Power Line!

But, I was disappointed in just how much Ubud had seemed to change in just one short year. Day tourists were now getting dropped off by the bus load in Ubud. It was impossible to even walk down the sidewalks, as many of them just seemed to stand right in the middle of them, not moving. There seemed to be even more touristy trinket junk for sale than ever. It was either that, or really expensive hippie yoga clothes. Or raw food. Why was everyone here?

not for sale rice paddie

Even one of the last remaining rice paddies had to put up a “Not For Sale” sign. And, it seems like all the rice farmers have now become taxi drivers, as it’s not impossible to walk more than two feet in Bali without the sounds of “Taxi, transport?” filling your ears.

The Pseudo Spiritual Movement In Ubud

Bali ice cream

Then there was the pseudo spiritual vibe that had taken over in Ubud. Even the ice cream is made with crystal essences, sound vibrations, and pieces of someone’s soul (that chose to be made into ice cream rather than go to heaven, apparently). Girls no longer farted rainbows. Now, they didn’t fart at all. (That’s what happens when you eat someone else’s soul.)

peace bali

In Ubud, it’s impossible to have more than a two-minute conversation without hearing the word, chakra, vision from the Spirit, blessing, transformation, harmony, or spiritual awakening coming from someone’s mouth. CAN SOMEONE JUST BE REAL?

harmony in Bali

When too much harmony leads to boredom

But, no, they can’t. Because, everyone can somehow afford $10 yoga classes and $5 smoothies without even having to work. Oh, and those that do work, do so by trading imaginary Unicorn money called Bitcoin. (I can’t wait for the comments I’ll get for that comment.)

Bali dogs

Now, I could have left, but it took me getting bit by a rabid dog to wake up! Yes, walking down the street one day, I got attacked by a dog. It bit a good bit of skin out of my leg, and as I looked down at the pool of blood forming on the street beneath me, I had a revelation. That dog was sending me a message to go home. I didn’t really know where home was, but I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t Bali. So, it was somewhere around the fifth rabies shot that I sent an offering of gratitude to this dog for waking me up. Part of it wasn’t just that Bali had changed (and yes, I know there’s a lot of awesomeness that is Bali outside of Ubud), but I had changed, too.

Bali offering

How Bali Changed Me

I have a lot of gratitude (yeah, I just used that word) for Bali. It did show me a different way to live. A way of reverence, a feeling of gratitude (I know, cringe), but more than anything, it gave me a feeling of being present.

And that feeling of being present showed me that there is absolutely nothing that needs fixing or changing. Everything in this moment is perfect just as it should be. Because it’s all an experience that is teaching me something. We are here to have experiences.

I could stop going to healers because the journey to healing is an endless one. There is physical pain, emotional traumas, and once you get past that, there is the pursuit of immortality. It never ends. I could focus on the things that felt good in my life instead. I can just accept what is.

I can stop being a seeker and, instead, let life come to me.

And, I don’t ever have to learn to fart rainbows. Or do a perfect yoga pose. I can put ice cream in my green juice if I want. Hopefully with tequila.

He who laughs the most wins. Or, maybe that’s loves the most. Isn’t it really the same thing?

Actually, whoever has the most ice cream wins. And, it doesn’t have to be made with souls.

So you see, I got what I needed to out of Bali. I got myself.

Valen in Bali

Why I'll Never Go Back To Bali