Hi and welcome to the second interview of the Girls Living in… – a series of interview where we get to see a city (well, sometimes even an island, keep reading) through the eyes of amazing talented girls who happened to live there. This time, we’re going to the authentic, beautiful, blissful.. Bali!
I am thrilled to introduce you to my dear friend, beautiful and creative Touran. Touran and I worked together and I miss her dearly, so much that I wanted to see Bali again, this time through her experiences. Touran has her own business, she is a great admirer of art and she is a great inspiration to me.
All right, let’s get on it!
Introduce yourself and where are you from?
Hi there! I’m not very good at intro’s (I never know what piece of info to give about myself), but here I go.
My name is Touran (it’s short for Touran Taj) and I’m originally from Iran. I spent the first 7 or 8 years of my life, growing up in the capital city, Tehran before my parents packed everything up and moved to Santa Fé, New Mexico. Yes, it’s in the USA and not Mexico. I get that question all the time. :)
Since I was young, I’ve always moved around. On top of Iran and the US, I’ve lived in Canada, Turkey, Italy, and recently Malaysia. I love traveling and luckily so does my family!
What brought you to Bali?
Good question! I decided to spend 5 weeks living in Ubud, Bali so I can focus on my own projects (keep reading, guys – Olya).
I’d been to Bali previously for short trips and I loved the culture, landscape, and the peaceful energy. I knew it was a place where I could really focus, while nurturing my mind, body, and soul.
On my last trip to Bali, I decided that I needed to go back the first chance I got and that opportunity was brought to me 6 months later.
What do you currently do?
I’m in the art biz. I’m still getting used to saying that, but I love the way it sounds haha. Until recently, I was working for an online transformational education company in Malaysia, Mindvalley, (yup, that’s how I met the radiating Olya) and recently left to follow my passion in the art world.
My grandmother is a successful artist as well as my mother so I’ve always grown up around art. But I’m not an artist myself, those genes must have skipped a generation.
Instead, I became passionate about the business side of art – how to market art, get artists’ work exposure, get artwork into galleries and museums and into clients hands. So that’s what I’m doing! Partly with my family art business and partly on my own online art gallery, Mumora.
What was your regular day in Bali like?
My days in Bali were amazing… sigh. I would wake up every morning and do my yoga practice by the pool. Some mornings, yoga was followed by a quick dip in the pool. I love the combo of yoga and swimming, yoga heats up your body with energy and swimming cools down your muscles and refreshes your mind.
After making some breakfast (usually organic granola or a smoothie), I would get straight to work. I was able to really focus so in a few hours, I would accomplish a lot. It was a great feeling to be working on my passion and in such a beautiful setting, so working was my favorite part of the day.
In the afternoons, I would jump on the back of the bike (I had my very own driver
aka my boyfriend Grayson) and we would go for a drive around the rice paddies and into Ubud for dinner and cocktails.
Some days, I would break up work with a trip to one of the temples around Ubud or a quick stop to one of the gelato shops. On the weekends, Grayson and I would pick different parts of the islands to explore, whether it was the Gili Islands or Canggu.
When it comes to Bali, what’s your number 1 favourite place to be?
Do I have to choose one? Haha. If I’m talking about Ubud, then my favorite place is the Yoga Barn in town. It has an organic café with delicious food and fresh juices and there’s always a yoga class, free dance class, or activities that are going on. It’s a great place to meet people and really get a sense of the Ubud community.
Outside of Ubud, Bali has some beautiful beaches and surrounding islands. I’m not much of a surfer, so I like beaches with pristine sand, clear water, and snorkeling. The best beaches in my opinion are around Lombok and the Gili Islands. If you’re looking for a quiet weekend with turtles, coral, and clear blue water, then this is the place for it. We went to Gili Meno and I have to say that it’s probably one of my favorite islands in SE Asia!
Cafe: Clear Cafe in Ubud. It has the largest selection of fresh juices, coffees, teas and raw organic food. You can’t go wrong ordering anything on the menu. If you’re there for breakfast, try the granola with fresh tropical fruit and cashew milk, it’s my favorite.
Also, Deus Ex Machina in Canggu. It is a custom motorbike and surf shop that has an adjoining café. The atmosphere is super chill and as you sip on a cup of coffee, you can watch the serious surfers and bikers come in and check out what they have. They also have top-class food that draws people in for brunch, lunch, and dinner.
Shop: there’s some great boutiques in Ubud. But these usually cater to tourists, so I go shopping in the central Ubud market. You can find everything and you can bargain A LOT so the price is much cheaper than the stores.
Secret hideout: I would have to say Sari Organik in Ubud. It’s a café hidden in the back-alleys of Ubud. You have to go along this tiny dirt path and pass dozens of rice paddies to get there. Once you get there, you’re really out there and have a beautiful view of the rice paddies below. Since it’s more difficult to find, you feel like you’re one of the lucky people who found this secret heavenly café.
Site. There are so many amazing temples in Bali. Every village has it’s own temple, so as you drive along the roads, you can experience authentic Balinese temples that have been used by Balinese families for generations. I love stopping by these temples, they’re very traditional.
I think the most breathtaking sight is the Uluwatu Temple in South Kuta. The temple is situated on this giant cliff with the ocean below. It has an amazing view, especially at sunset. They also have traditional Balinese dances in the evenings so you can experience a dance performance in a gorgeous temple setting.
If I came to visit you in Bali for just one day, where would you take me?
If you arrived on a Sunday, then I would take you to the Sunday dance class at the Yoga Barn. After shaking it out for a while, we would head to brunch either right at the restaurant at the Yoga Barn or Clear Cafe. After that we would drive along the rice paddies and stop by a few temples before heading down the island to Rock Bar or Potato Head for a drink while watching the sunset.
What would you miss most in Bali now that you left?
The island lifestyle. Everyone is so laid-back. You can lay by the beaches or explore the jungles. And the sky is open so you see the most amazing sunsets and stars at night.
How are the people in Bali? Do they speak English?
Every Balinese person I met was super friendly. Some of them didn’t speak English, but they tried to help anyway.
One thing I did experience on the way to the Gili Islands, is that a lot of people will try to sell you things and can be quite pushy about it. Just be prepared to have people approach you and get you to buy something depending on where you are.
Any cons you found when living here?
What are the things to consider for someone who’s planning to move there?
It’s difficult to get around without having your own transportation such as a motorbike or car. And then if you do have a mode of transportation, you have to get used the Indonesian driving style.
As I mentioned, there is a language barrier to consider, although most people are open to helping even if they don’t speak English.
It can also get some getting used to do things like grocery shopping, they have their own system and produce so you’ll find yourself cooking up some interesting things.