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Did Eat Pray Love make me do it?

Did Eat Pray Love make me come to Bali? What did I really expect? Definitely not what I actually learned but worth a trip around the world.

I have not fallen in love with Bali. I am not head over heels. I am sorry. I feel like I need to apologize not only to Bali fans everywhere but to Bali itself.

Bali is very likable and very livable, but it ain’t love. And nobody is more disappointed than me. I am not as excited as I think I should be, spending three months on this beautiful island, and it makes me sad. Maybe the only reason why I am not in love is that I expected it to be immediate. Because really, Bali looks so good on paper, how can one not fall in love at first sight?

It is almost underwhelming because I had put it on such a pedestal in my mind before I came. Unlike Sri Lanka which I never thought about before and which I never saw coming. Sri Lanka had a chance to sneak up on me and bamm! Bali, well I had my eyes on Bali for a while.

Did Eat Pray Love make me come to Bali? What did I really expect? Definitely not what I actually learned but worth a trip around the world.

But I am actually not here to complain about Bali. I know how that works. I say one thing I didn’t like and it can be the most personal reason and people will start to cry. Like some did with Brazil. “Oh, but why did you hate Brazil?” – I did not hate Brazil, I just like a lot of other places a lot better. “I feel offended, you didn’t like the food.” – How? You didn’t make the food I ate and I’m sticking to my guns. Compared to other countries, Brazilian food does not rank very high for me.

Me. Personally. Remember that this is a blog and I don’t have to be objective? Even so, I kept on saying that I disliked some of Brazil for very personal reasons and that I am sure it is a great country overall. Some still wanted to misunderstand me it seemed.

But I digress. Back to Bali which I do not hate in the slightest and in fact, this story is not about Bali per se.

Did Eat Pray Love make me come to Bali? What did I really expect? Definitely not what I actually learned but worth a trip around the world.

Whenever people asked me what I was going to do in Bali for a few months, I’d answer that I came to write. I rolled my eyes along with this answer to let them know straight away that I knew how cliche I sounded. And to make sure they knew I wasn’t one of those Eat Pray Lovers as my friend calls them as many single women in their mid-thirties here are.

Not that there is anything wrong with that, I just didn’t want to be one of them. I didn’t think I needed healing, I thought I was doing well without a Felipe and that I liked myself just fine – no need for urgent soul-searching.

Did Eat Pray Love make me come to Bali? What did I really expect? Definitely not what I actually learned but worth a trip around the world.

I think I was wrong. I was also wrong about what Eat, Pray, Love is really all about.

Earlier I was at dinner. It is one of my favorite spots on the beach where a little stretch offers one BBQ place to the next. Same same but different. I like the third one from the right. The waiters are the friendliest and they are cheaper than the others. Plus they seem to get the most cats (considering that they are all open and connected this may have just been a coincidence but still…).

Did Eat Pray Love make me come to Bali? What did I really expect? Definitely not what I actually learned but worth a trip around the world.

Also, as I discovered today, they make a really great lemongrass sambal to go with their tuna. So I was having a lovely meal, finished, and paid my bill. I was just about to say goodnight to the waitress when she asked me ‘Why are you alone?’. Now in Bali being unmarried and thirty-something is somewhat out of the ordinary. But she was young enough to have broken with tradition and we live in a town with many westerners and expats and what kind of question is that??

Obviously one, I didn’t want to ask myself tonight. Or ever really. I mumbled something or other, I wasn’t sure how much English she understood and how much made sense to her even if she did understand me. I am not sure it made much sense to myself.

Did Eat Pray Love make me come to Bali? What did I really expect? Definitely not what I actually learned but worth a trip around the world.

But her question stuck with me. In fact, I blamed her question that I felt lonely afterward. If it wasn’t for her and her icky question who would feel lonely after such an excellent tuna steak for less than €5?! I tried to watch Tarzan but he didn’t get naked enough for the first 40 minutes and so I gave up. Even he got his Jane, I know that much. And I? I stared at my phone screen willing someone to text and say hello.

I didn’t come looking for the full Eat, Pray, Love monty, but maybe just a little bit?

No love for Bali and no love in Bali. I know it’s the price I usually don’t mind paying for my travels, for my freedom, for my utter lack of responsibilities to anybody. Does this mean I can’t complain and feel miserable once in a while?

Read More:  The Downside of Solo Travel.

I was writing a chapter the other day about the pros and cons of solo travel. One chapter was about loneliness and the lack of sharing moments, responsibility, and the burden travel sometimes brings. There is no arguing that this can suck at times. There is no easy or quick fix for it, also it comes and goes in waves. It usually makes me more appreciative of the company when I do have it, at least for a while and is never enough reason not to solo travel. But love? Well, love is a lovely concept. One I may or may not believe in any day now. But until I meet HIM it seems useless to speculate. Will I travel less? Will I never feel lonely again? Will I feel whole?

Did Eat Pray Love make me come to Bali? What did I really expect? Definitely not what I actually learned but worth a trip around the world.

Read More: How to be with the Girl who Travels.

The answer to all three questions is probably no, I am pretty sure of that. People are not meant to make us whole.

Did Eat Pray Love make me come to Bali? What did I really expect? Definitely not what I actually learned but worth a trip around the world.

n Bali and especially after that dinner and the waitress I had three little epiphanies. First I read this post by The American Girl, a newfound travel blogger, whom I have come to love and admire. In the post, she admits freely that she hasn’t had sex in three years and how that helped her not only to get her priorities straight but to realize the most important thing of them all is to love yourself. It is truly the best thing you can ever learn and do and will have the rest follow suit.

I must admit that I read it, loved it, was a bit scared of not having sex for three years, and forgot all about it. Until I went to the wellness retreat at the Amankila. What I thought would be a posh hotel retreat with some massages was so much more.

Read More: Sweat, Tears & the Sea.

Did Eat Pray Love make me come to Bali? What did I really expect? Definitely not what I actually learned but worth a trip around the world.

As I mentioned in the post, the details are too personal to tell, even for me. But it all came down, again, to self-love. How I should be able to look me in the eyes and not look at the lines, the wrinkles or my eyebrows that need plucking. To like what I see and then tell myself that I am amazing and beautiful, worthy of love and light, and all the things we may roll our eyes at and call them new-agey. You know, the stuff that deep down we all need so desperately.

I have been struggling. To get back on my yoga mat, to manage my time, this blog, my writing, my life. But after that retreat, I realized that the most important thing for me to learn right now is how to be kinder to myself. To stop the arguing, the bickering, the ‘Am I good enough?’ and the general questioning. To put myself first, stand up for me, and yes, love me.

Did Eat Pray Love make me come to Bali? What did I really expect? Definitely not what I actually learned but worth a trip around the world.

I am making that a priority and I have the sneaking suspicion that once I do, everything else will fall into place. Where this place will be won’t matter nor if I have Tarzan, Felipe or anybody by my side. And that was my third epiphany. Eat, Pray, Love was never about the guy nor was it about Bali. It was always about falling in love with yourself and in my personal version to eat all the raw vegan cheesecake I can get my hands on. Which for me is good enough reason to travel somewhere as any.

Read More: The 40 Coolest Places & Top Things to do in Bali.

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21 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your story. I spent two weeks there in May, and it was entirely a clique post break up trip but exactly what I needed. I feel like I loved Bali but did not fall in love with Bali, if that makes sense. It had been on my list for a long time and glad I took the trip but also not my favorite place I’ve ever been.

  2. I loved Eat Pray Love – although admittedly I didn’t finish the book – and I love this post. 🙂 I just find it refreshing to read a narrative in a travel blog instead of the usual listicles and something so personal. In case you need someone to tell you, you are amazing and beautiful. I once a quote that goes, We are hardest on ourselves. We must also forgive ourselves for that and be open to loving our flaws.

    1. Thank you Katherine, that is so sweet of you! I do try to remind myself daily but it is nice when it comes from others too and especially a stranger once in a while 😉
      There have been lots of discussion lately about the state of travel blogging/ writing and I am happy to know that pieces like that are being received well, because truly that is where I pour my heart into!

  3. Bali is on my list of must visit places. Fantastic pictures!

    What does raw vegan cheesecake taste like? Have you ever tried regular cheesecake to compare the two. I am more curious than ever now to try some raw vegan cheesecake.

    1. Thanks so much!

      I love regular cheesecake and am quite the expert. The raw vegan one tastes nothing like it but is still so very good in its own right. Nutty and creamy. I am not a vegan so it actually came as a big surprise how much I liked it 😉

  4. Man, I really loved this post. I love your honesty and your reliability. It’s so nice and refreshing. Can’t wait to read more of your posts!! x

    1. Awe, thanks so much, Chloe! That is really sweet of you to say and makes me happy 🙂

  5. Wieder einmal ein wunderschöner Post, Annika. In der letzten Zeit hat mich mein Offline-Leben ein wenig mehr beansprucht, ich bin kaum zum Lesen und schreiben gekommen (was ja nichts schlimmes ist). Aber als ich diesen Post von dir gelesen habe, habe ich bemerkt: Das hat mir gefehlt. Deine Worte und Fotos haben mir gefehlt. Das wollte ich mal hier lassen 🙂
    Alles Liebe,
    Kathi

    1. Super lieb von dir, vielen Dank, Kathi! Nein, gar nicht schlimm, dass nicht lesen aber natürlich freut es mich zu hören, dass ich dir gefehlt habe 🙂

  6. A deep and honest piece that sends a strong message. I like your conclusion about being kind to yourself. If more people did that the world would be a better place. Although, I’ll pass on the raw vegan cheesecake.

    1. Thanks, Christina! I should have added that I am not a vegan nor a fan of raw food – this cheesecake however is a revelation 😉

  7. I have sneakily read this in my mid-morning coffee break and just wanted you to know how much I enjoyed this post.

    I love the personal nature of this, and I love that you make such a good point about blogs; they are meant to be personal, they are meant to reflect the writer’s opinion, not try and please everyone. People are always going to disagree with something, it is how things are phrased and shared, and also how they are commented on, that matters.

    Personally, it has taken me some years to reach a point where I know I have healed myself, asked myself painful and searching questions – and heeded the answers – enough in order to move forward, to change things again. As I said in a recent and thought-provoking conversation I was lucky enough to share; if we do not care for ourselves, do not allow healing – and also appreciate when things are good – then how can we possibly help others as effectively as we perhaps could?

    I am in danger of rambling, and I must get back to work, but thank you for sharing this post – definitely one of my favourites, full of truths and wisdom. 🙂

    PS One day I’d like to visit Bali, but I think I’d rather have company to do so.

    1. Anyone in particular comes to mind for your Bali companion? 😉
      Thanks for this comment, I am really really glad you liked the post. I am always a bit scared to get too personal lest it somehow comes back and bites me. So I happy when people can relate to it!

  8. Beautiful post. I didn’t like Bali – I only went because my partner said I couldn’t not like somewhere I hadn’t been – and then I still didn’t like it. We even had an argument about it whilst we were there.. but back to your post. Good on you for resolving to be kinder to yourself. Its such an important thing to do when women feel like they need to compare themselves to others all the time. There’s enough people judging us without us doing it ourselves too! Enjoy falling in love with yourself – and don’t forget to take yourself out for a nice meal and order dessert first!

    1. I don’t agree with this sentiment – I think one should keep an open mind but I get that some destinations may just be doomed before one even set foot there. Not sure why that is…

      I am happy you liked the post, I am not a big dessert fan but definitely taking myself out for some nice meals these days 😉

  9. Travelling is always difficult when there is this great expectation. I’ve travelled to lots of places and felt distinctly blah about, while others gush over them. And like you say, it’s often how you feel within yourself, which manifests itself into feelings about a certain place.

    1. And I think everybody feels entitled to feel like this. However, when you write about it, people all of a sudden think you are not entitled to your feelings anymore…

  10. A very moving piece! I have never been to Bali, but was keen to do a similar journey as Liz Gilbert back in 2013 to fix myself. Self love is just so important to get through the difficulties and test one’s mettle. I hope you were able to get into the right head space 🙂

    1. Well on my way, thanks Janine! Bali is not a bad place at all so you should still come even if you are alright now 😉

  11. What a beautiful post Annika! I think we should probably all start spending bickering at ourselves and being kinder to ourselves – I’ll take that away for my own life 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Kathi! I am not a pro yet, but at least I am starting to realize when I am being unkind to myself 😉