I am a city girl. Born in London, I only had one brief experience with rural life, as a child, in Canada. The rest of the time I lived in cities like Denver, Seattle, Dallas, New York City and London.
It’s probably no surprise, then, that my idea of immersing myself in nature was visiting a local park or experiencing a foreign holiday destination with my family.
Even house plants fear my pink thumbs. Seriously, they cringe when I enter a garden centre. I can hear them whispering “please, don’t choose me!”
Add to all this my life-threatening allergies to certain insects and you can see why I would be nervous about spending 2 days in a Balinese jungle.
Ok, that’s not entirely fair… I wasn’t actually camping in the jungle. I was staying at a wonderful little eco hotel, called Bali Eco Stay. But, since the room didn’t have any windows and I could touch the leaves of the trees from my balcony, I’m going to give myself credit. I stayed in the jungle. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
I often write about the importance of facing your fears as an older woman and, when I arrived at Bali Eco Stay, I knew that I was in for a taste of my own medicine.
The hotel is set in a remote area in central Bali. It is a magical place, where rice paddies, lush jungle vistas, local traditions and luxury meet. It’s a strange combination, to be sure. But, it’s also one that works more harmoniously than you might imagine.
People like to throw around words like “stunned” or “overwhelmed” when they write about their trips. Well, I can tell you that I was both of these things when I first looked at the waterfall, cascading only a few hundred yards from my room. I just stood there, wide eyes staring in awe (and perhaps a little terror) at the power of the natural world only a stone’s throw away.
Later that evening, when the sun set, I would start to feel differently. But, for now, I was in heaven!
Before I describe how spending 2 nights in the jungle helped me to face my fears, I want to tell you just how wonderful Bali Eco Stay is.
For starters, the property is exquisite. Located in the mountains of central Bali, it is luxurious and beautifully designed. Every aspect of the property was built with sustainable principles in mind.
Personally, I love the concept of eco-tourism. Something magical happens when “conscious” travel to natural areas enriches the local environment and the people that it supports.
Bali Eco Stay features stunning views of organic rice fields, a cascading waterfall and, of course, plenty of lush jungle. The waterfall even produces electricity!
The owners, John and Cath Blundstone, are passionate about sustainability and have created a magical place. But it is definitely an immersive natural experience.
As the sun set, my little wooden room just seemed to blend into the jungle surroundings. Instinctually, I got up and went to close the windows. Then, I remembered that there weren’t any!
I felt like an outsider in a world that I didn’t understand. I sensed a thousand little eyes watching me invade their space, plotting their revenge. Their sounds filled the night. There were sharp little chirps, rustling sounds and insect calls. Behind it all was the ever-present sound of the waterfall, ancient and powerful. It was endless, relaxing and terrifying all at the same time.
“Ok, no big deal…” I thought to myself. “I’ll just keep the lights on.” Then, I remembered that the Bali Eco Stay team had wisely told me that it’s best to sleep with your lights off. Can you imagine how many moths and other insects would be attracted to them in the middle of the jungle? Yikes!
So, I sat there, for what felt like hours, listening to the sounds around me. I’m not sure what I expected to happen. Did I think that a pack of monkeys would arrive to carry my bed into the darkness? Did I picture a panther invading my room, like something out of the new Jungle Book movie by Disney?
Of course, our thoughts are not always rational… and there is something about the night that makes everything seem more dreamlike.
Eventually, as my animal mind started to believe that nothing was going to attack me, I relaxed. As I did, I slowly realized just how beautiful, even sorrowful, the sounds were all around me. I realized that this, in a strange way, was how humans were meant to live.
As recently as a few hundred years ago – a ridiculously small amount of time in the great scheme of things – the soundtrack of life followed us everywhere.
In Bali, there is a strong link between people and nature. Water is especially significant, with communities having a great deal of pride for their local springs.
Yes, they have their environmental challenges, but, most of these are created by tourists, like me. I am confident that places like Bali Eco Stay will help to change perceptions and help everyone to live in harmony with nature.
In the meantime, I learned some important things about myself, while staying at the hotel. I learned that my fears are mostly in my mind. I learned that the world around me is powerful, magical and worthy of my respect.
Most of all, I was reminded that we are a part of nature. Aside from human happiness, nature is the most important thing that the universe has created. On second thought, maybe it’s not even possible to separate the two.
I wish that you could have been with me to experience this amazing hotel. Maybe, I’ll organize a trip for next year. Would you join me? I’d love to hear in the comments.
Would you join me on a trip to Bali if I organized a group tour? Do you think that you could stay in a hotel in the jungle? Why or why not? Please join the conversation.