In August 2021, I left Bali after living on the Island of Gods for 2 years. Why would I do that? Bali is paradise, and who would chose to leave paradise, right? Well, if you’re interested in why I made that decision after living in Bali for 2 years, keep on reading. This is a short recap of the last two years.
Living in Bali during pandemic times
I came to Bali in July 2019, that was well before the whole world changed and everything was still normal. The reason for moving to Bali was a potential job and the opportunity, to assist at a Yoga Teacher Training in Ubud. Even though I didn’t get a job at the yoga school, somehow – and after weeks of desperation – I found another job, which allowed me to stay and live in beautiful Bali.
When the pandemic hit, I lost my job, but I honestly wasn’t too sad about it. The job was kind of boring and not well paid anyway. But good enough to be able to stay in Bali. So, while most of the world went into some sort of “lock down” in March 2020, I have to admit that I really enjoyed the suddenly available free time.
And while the world went into chaos and uncertainty, I spent my time in a hammock, reading lots of books, taking some business and yoga related workshops and classes online. And I practiced a lot of yoga with Yoga Girl, who did a lot of IG lives during that time. I love her and her lives really helped me during this period! And, I finally got motivated again to continue working on my blog a.k.a. this website, which I had not done in a LONG time.
A new online job that gave me more freedom
I already had a profile set up on Upwork a while back and even while I was working my full-time job in Bali, I had a little side job on Upwork, for some additional pocket money. However, those 5-10 hours / week were not enough to keep me afloat by itself. So, I either had to find a new job or would have to return back to Europe soon, as I was slowly but surely running out of money. And I did not really want to go back to Europe. I wanted to stay in Bali.
A lot of foreigners who stayed in Bali returned to their home countries during this time, as everything was so uncertain and potentially frightening. I however stayed. Even though beaches and most tourist attractions (including waterfalls) were closed in the beginning, we could still move around Bali relatively freely and spend time in nature. Something that most of my fellow Europeans were not able to do.
One day I got an invitation to apply for a job on Upwork. The thing with Upwork is that some companies do not post their job ads publicly, but instead invite selected profiles to apply for a job. The job invite came from a German IT company and they were in need of a Squad Manager (something like an Operations & Team Manager). Don’t worry if you don’t know what that is, I didn’t either. Due to my previous experience in IT/Software companies and project management, I was quite a good fit for this job.
Freelancing and moving places
As it happened, I started working as a freelancer for this company in May 2020, while people around me and in the whole world were still out of their jobs, with little or no opportunity to find a new job any time soon. I was very lucky, I know that! And I am really grateful for that opportunity!
Not only did I now have to work less than before, I also made more money with working only 20 hours/week, compared to the full time job I previously had in Bali! Bingo! My intention that I had set earlier that year was “working less, to be able to enjoy and explore Bali even more, while making more money than before”, did manifest that year! Crazy. And amazing.
But somehow I realized that I suddenly had enough of Ubud at that point. Ubud really did turn into a ghost town in March 2020. Many shops and restaurants were temporarily closed, there was no traffic jam anymore (which everyone enjoyed obviously, but it was very, very uncommon to have no traffic at all) and there was not much going on. I decided I needed a change of scenery, and so in June 2020, I “moved” to Canggu.
Even though I never really liked Canggu. Yes, I know that many people love it. But would you really want to live there? If you’re under 30 and still in your party-everyday phase, then probably yes! But if you prefer a quieter and more chilled and relaxed atmosphere, than Canggu is probably not your first choice.
Canggu is not for me, but I knew that before
I only stayed in Canggu for nearly two months. I am not a surfer, and if you don’t surf, there is almost no way of enjoying that beautiful ocean, as the waves and the current are not very swim-friendly in most Canggu beaches. If I stay and live by the beach, then I want to be able to swim every day, and not just look at the ocean! Also, I am not someone who wants to go out and drink and party every night. And that is what most people do over there. It’s not really my kind of crowd.
The only good thing for me in Canggu is the restaurant scene. You would somehow think that Ubud – being the yoga hot spot of the world – would also be the vegan mecca heaven, but it’s actually Canggu. They have A LOT of vegan & vegan-friendly restaurants, and their food is so much better than in Ubud. At least that’s my opinion. I love the “secret spot” in Canggu. And I miss their vegan chocolate mousse 😋
Plus, there were some incidents arising in and around Canggu at that point, like robberies (yeah, they break into Villas when nobody’s at home and steal your electronics, mostly during sunset time, as that’s when most people hang out by the beach) and a lot of girls suddenly started reporting that they have been robbed while riding their scooters at night (note: It gets dark in Bali early, around 6:30 pm), their mobiles being ripped out of their hands or from inside their scooters or there purses being ripped off of their bodies, while driving!!
I didn’t feel that safe in Canggu anymore. I did not want to live somewhere where I would have be worried about my stuff every time I leave the house or using Google Maps while riding my scooter. That’s when I decided to “move” to Uluwatu. I have never been there before, but a lot of people, especially from Ubud, suddenly went to Uluwatu to spend some time there. I guess we all needed a break from Ubud. Even though I LOVE Ubud, after a while the energy can feel quite intense sometimes.
Chillin’ in Uluwatu
Uluwatu was very chill and laid-back. Plus, they have some of the most beautiful beaches in Bali! And contrary to my expectations, you can actually swim in a lot of those beaches. Uluwatu is very much a surf town, too, so I didn’t expect to be able to swim there much, either. But to my surprise, it was very much possible and beautiful! For swimming, I recommend Bingin beach (yeah, be prepared for a LOT of stairs though!) and Nyang Nyang beach, as well as Melasti and Green Bowl beach.
Vegan Pancakes @Ours
Yin Yoga in Ulu
While Uluwatu does not even have one fully vegan restaurant (yet), some restaurants do offer quite some tasty vegan options. The best pancakes you can get at “Ours“. The “Cashew Tree” is also not bad for delicious bowls. When I was living there, during August-September 2020, a lot of restaurants had 50k breakfast or lunch deals (that’s about 3€ or $3,5), as times were hard in Bali during the pandemic, too. After a few months in Ulu, I decided it was time to move back to Ubud. Even though Uluwatu offers some of the best sunsets I have every seen.
Walking down to Bingin Beach
Magical sunsets every day
Uluwatu with a view
Sunset point, Uluwatu
Grateful for Mama Bali
I have to say though, for a long time it was not bad at all to be living in Bali during this whole pandemic period. There was never a real lock down. Yes, at the beginning the beaches were closed and all tourists attractions, too. But by the time I moved to Canggu, in early June 2020, everything opened up again.
A friend of mine, who also stayed in Uluwatu at that time I was there, said to me, while we were swimming in one of them beautiful Uluwatu beaches “isn’t it crazy that we are here in this paradise, where everything is almost normal, while people around the world are suffering in lock down“? Yeah, it was kind of crazy. And I was really grateful. Grateful that I stayed and didn’t go back to Europe, grateful to have found a new, good paying job online and grateful for Mama Bali.
Mama Bali is unique. It is a healing experience, but she’ll also be pushing you to face a lot of what’s going on inside you, or things that happened in your past. It’s not always easy to be living in Bali for a longer period of time. Be prepared to deal with some of your old shit.
Back to living in Ubud
After moving back to Ubud, my job became more demanding. As the company grew, so did my tasks. I went from 20 to 30 and finally to 40 hours/week. Due to the time difference, I was getting problematic to be working for a German company full time, as 2 pm CET Zoom meetings meant 9 pm for me. Plus, I did not and still do not want to be working full time any more. I need more free time. To maintain a high level of energy.
Ubud Rice Fields
View from our Ubud Villa
I want to spent my time enjoying Bali, as well as my relationship, practice a lot of yoga, and have enough energy to work on my blog from time to time. With a stressful full time job, I do not have the energy to do that. Something had to change.
So, after months of being overworked, stressed out, falling into unhealthy eating patters, and some hard times in my relationship because of all that, I decided to let go of that job. Yes, I quit a good paying job at a good company. They even payed for my new iPhone! It was a very good company, but with the time zone difference and all the stress, I couldn’t and didn’t want to do it any longer. It wasn’t worth it.
Working for that company for a year, while living in Bali, I managed to save some money. Thus, I could afford to go a few months without the need of a new job right away.
Taking a walk in Ubud’s nature
Me in Ubud
Campuhan Ridge Walk Ubud
Somewhere in Ubud
I might be over Ubud by now
After I quit my job in May 2021, my boyfriend and I had a good time in Bali. We went to Candidasa for his birthday, and then in July, we “moved” to Nusa Lembongan for a month. Nusa Lembongan, or just Lembongan, is a small Island next to Bali. And it’s right next to the bigger Island, Nusa Penida. You might have seen the famous Instagram T-Rex shaped beach cliff photos. Yeah, that’s Penida.
Yoga Shot in Candidasa
Birthday brunch in Candidasa
Me in Candidasa, Bali
We had made plans to go to Lembongan after we got back from Candidasa in June, as we both noticed that being close to the beach is good for us. As at some point, I started having trouble sleeping in Ubud, as suddenly I had difficulties breathing. Not on all nights, but on some. I then started noticing that my breathing difficulties would only occur on rainy nights. You have to know that it rains kind of a lot in Ubud, more than in Canggu or Uluwatu. Even when it’s not rainy season. And, a lot of houses and Villas have issues with mold.
I am not sure why I didn’t have this problem right away when moving to Ubud, but only after I moved back to Ubud from Canggu & Uluwatu, even though I had been living in Ubud for 10 months before already. I love Ubud, I love living there and I love the energy. But, by now, we were both kind of over Ubud.
New restrictions as cases sky rocket
So, the plan was to leave Ubud on July 3rd. A few days earlier, and due to the suddenly increasing numbers of cases all over Indonesia, especially in Jakarta and Bali, the government set some new rules and restrictions in motion. Guess when they started. Yes, they would start on July, 3rd. This means that they started restricting movement across most islands, among other things, like closing down beaches, again! This was the best time to be moving to Lembongan then!
While in the beginning those restrictions did not include Lembongan & Penida (even though they officially belong to Bali), I was a bit worried as people started telling us we would not be able to go to Lembongan, at least not without a test. However, I was right, we could go and did not need a test, so don’t always believe what people tell you. Do your own research, on everything. We took a taxi to Sanur harbor and then the ferry to cross over to Lembongan.
You have to go to Nusa Lembongan!
We spent five beautiful weeks in Lembongan. While a LOT of shops and restaurants were actually closed (which had not much to due with the new restrictions, but rather with the overall lack of tourists, as there were much less foreigners and tourists in Lembongan than in Bali), we really enjoyed the quite and the almost empty and stunning beaches! You have to go to Lembongan!
Only a few days after our arrival, the new restrictions now included Lembongan, too. Which meant that no one except locals and foreigners (but only those with Kitas = work permit), who actually live on Lembongan, were allowed to cross over Bali – Lembongan. Plus, by now, you had to have the certificate, to be able to move between islands at all, whether by plane, by land, or by sea! Not such fun times anymore. We might have to stay in Lembongan forever now, unable to leave.
Jungutbatu Beach, Lembongan
Sunset in Lembongan
Me chilling at the beach
Mushroom Bay, Lembongan
Then I started to panic just a little, for the first time ever while living in Bali, as the new announcement of requirements and tighter restrictions were dropped . You now needed a certificate for many things, even for domestic flights and to be able to enter malls and stuff like that.
Thankfully, they soon added an exemption for foreigners to be able to leave back to their home country without it. I seriously started thinking about my current options. Should I fly out now? Who knows what kind of policies or regulations will be announced next?
So, how come you left Bali after living there for 2 years?
This was the first time that I actually started feeling not grounded while living in Bali. The new restrictions felt kind of “violent”, as there was a lot of talk and posts about road blocks and police / military check points back in Bali. It gave me a feeling of “danger” and anxiety. (Note: I am NOT saying it was dangerous, I am only describing how I FELT).
And I started asking myself if I really wanted to continue living in Bali with all this going on. The restrictions were extended and extended again while we were chilling in Lembongan. And the whole world started reporting about the rocketing cases in Indonesia. Suddenly it became clear to me that this was not somewhere I wanted to be any longer.
Ready for new experiences
In the end, those restrictions and new mandates were not the only reason why I chose to leave Bali after all this time. It was just time for me, you know? Even though I started working on my blog again while living in Bali, which was good, I still did not manage to get it done to that point where I would actually launch it or start teaching yoga classes online, like I intended to. I did not have the determination to finish this project while in Bali.
More importantly, I was ready for some new experiences. After 2 years of living in Bali, it was time for something new! Surprisingly, my boyfriends also felt that way.
Another point is that ever since March 2020, I wasn’t able to teach yoga in Bali anymore. Except for a few private free classes for some of my friends. That’s why I felt like I needed to go somewhere where I can teach again. You feel me?
Where to next?
That’s when we decided we would go to Egypt next! Yes, Egypt! Well, I though about Mexico and Costa Rica as well, but I’ve already been to both of these countries. Thus, that wouldn’t be something new.
Plus, Costa Rica is expensive, man! We chose Egypt because my bf had been wanting to go there for quite some time now, and additionally, because the country is quite relaxed when it comes to restrictions and mandates. So, after a quick visit to my family in August, we flew to Egypt in September (which was still too hot though 😅).
Let me tell you, the minute I walked out of the airport in Cairo, I forgot ALL about ma$k$ and social distancing. Plus, it’s hot and sunny AF. Every day. No more rain, no more mold, no high humidity. No trouble sleeping (except for when it’s too hot).
After the obligatory visit to the Pyramids, we took the night bus to Dahab. And this is where we intend to stay for the next months. Yes, obviously it’ll take me some time to get used to the fact that I’m not living in Bali anymore. And on some days I really miss Bali. And fresh coconuts. But I also know that this is where I am supposed to be right now.
Will I ever go back to Bali?
Honestly, at this point, I am not sure. When I left in August, it kind of felt like I would never come back again (yeah, dramatic, right?). In any case, I certainly don’t think I’ll go back in 2022. We’ll see what the world will look like in six months from now.
I will give you an update about what it’s like to be living in Egypt, soon! We’ve just applied for our 6 months visa here and will hopefully get it next week. Plus, I am finally teaching yoga in person again! Yippieee 💕
Stay healthy & happy my friends 😉