My Bali Trip: Eat Pray What?

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The Bali trip was my first experience to traveling alone for an extended period of time. For some reason, I always had the opportunity to travel with friends. Nowadays with so many sketcher friends, it's even easier to find someone to travel with. I was in Bali for two weeks, then a friend joined me for 4 days.

For me, the main reason for traveling with friends is the fun factor. After coming back from Bali, I realized I don't mind traveling alone as well. I enjoyed traveling alone. There's the sense of freedom associated with it. You can arrange your time as you like is probably the main advantage.

I had planned Bali to be a sketching trip. I had gone on several sketching trips before. George Town in Penang, Malaysia, Bangkok, Barcelona and Spain, and Cambodia.

Every sketching trip was fun. There's something about sketching a place that makes me really connect to the place. I'll usually spend from 1 to 3 hours to finish a sketch, and that amount of time really allows me to observe the place and the people there. As a result of the intense observation and recording with sketches, I can remember the scenes and places I've been to more vividly, as if I was just there yesterday. There would be those who prefer spending the time to explore more places and take more photographs. Different people, different focus.

For holidays where I only took photographs, my memory of the places isn't as vivid and would often need to refer to photos, and even so, I won't be able to remember the streets that I walked down. When I sketch, I remember the streets around the captured scene because I would scout the location looking for the best place to sketch. Sometimes I would stand for minutes to observe the place, to picture in my mind how the composition would work, or just to wait for the sun to come out behind the clouds so that I can know where the shaded spots are. Those minutes of observation help me remember the place better.

For this trip, I brought along an A4 Moleskine watercolour sketchbook with 60 pages. My quota was to draw 4 pages a day. Each day I spent 6-8 hours seated somewhere and sketched. I did bring a camera along to Bali but mostly because there's no time to sketch everything I see.

While I was in Bali, I updated my Facebook page more regularly with sketches. A friend asked if this was an 'Eat Pray Love' trip. Hey, isn't that the Julia Roberts movie where she travels to exotic places to eat, pray and love? I've not watched the movie. Maybe this trip was about finding out if I can travel alone. If I'm just photographing, I'll be bored within hours.

The sketch above is of Bali island. Bali is bigger than Singapore. I was a bit apprehensive initially wondering if I'm able to cover the whole place given the size. Now that I've driven around the island, I guess it probably takes more than 2 hours to drive from north to south, and more to cover the width. It's very manageable. For most people, spending a week or less would be enough to cover the major places of interest. You'll definitely need a vehicle to get around. Most people there get around in cars or motorbikes.

At the bottom left of the page, that's a Barong you see. It's supposed to be a lion-like creature and character in the mythology of Bali, Indonesia. Actually I can't make out the features, I just see it as some face carried by waves. You'll see a lot of Barongs in Bali. The one I sketched was on one of the walls at the Ngurah Rai International Airport.

I went to quite a few places, namely Uluwatu, Kuta (within it Legian, Seminyak, Jimbaran), Ubud, Tegalalang, Tanah Lot, Lake Batu, Pura Besakih and many other temples. I'll talk about the places in more detail in other posts.


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