Nobody tells you that Ubud, renowned as the artistic and culinary capital of Bali, is above everything a place for women. You donâ€™t find any mention of that in any established travel guides, though as soon as you spend less than two months here, youâ€™ll find out – as I did the very first time I came here, in 2002.
Besides the average tourist, thereâ€™s an influx of a very special kind of person: Bali boys with an eye out for Western women who happen to be single.
Couples and single men occasionally are here, passing through. But single women are more likely to fall for the lure of the island. Some come totally unaware. They think itâ€™s a vacation on a famous tropical island, and then find themselves falling under the tantalizing spell of Bali.
Most single women here have come in search of something. They might not know what it is because they are propelled by a drive. To some women itâ€™s a matter of sexual drive, to others an instinct that urges, or a lust for adventure, suppressed for too long. To most itâ€™s a desire to start again, after dramatic, unplanned changes in their lives.
A large number of women come to Bali unattached, purposely, to have some fun. Balinese boys can be very cute. Some are stylish, with long hair in ponytails, sweet eyelashes and Colgate smiles. In tight jeans and sunglasses, they can make your head turn, let alone when they are bare-chested.
If a woman is sensitive to a manâ€™s beauty, then here is heaven on earth. Constantly titillated, on Bali, a woman can feel she is in the island of Venus. She is herself Venus, a goddess of love, her sensual energy aroused again and again. The attention she draws to herself when she walks, rides a bike, drives a car, dances on a disco floor, sips a coke, lays on a beach is so overwhelming at times that she may feel lifted into another space.
Here, she loses her known self in favour of a much more rewarding one. She feels she can experience what Marylyn Monroe did a sex symbol back in the 1950s.
The constant stirring of the senses combined with the searching of something may lead a romance-oriented woman to lose her inner direction; she truly believes that â€œromanceâ€ is what she was looking for – a well-known trap set by the boys for naÃ¯ve women.
When romance blossoms, the entire experience can be all-too predictable, leading to exploitation, shattered dreams and broken hearts.
For the few who are able to resist the street-honed charm of cute Balinese men, and keep looking for a less obvious outcome to their Balinese sojourn, there are more tantalizing adventures waiting for them.
Brought nearer to their feminine core by the very nature of the Balinese experience, women begin to feel openness never felt before. A new awareness arises, stirred by the surroundings, and they become increasingly conscious of the nature of the receptive feminine.
Encounters with such a diverse range of expressions and manifestations of the receptive feminine can result in inner doubts about life-long priorities. At the same time, it opens the mind to new realities, some already familiar but somehow neglected in previous Western lives.
A woman in Bali can appreciate the unusual experience of relating to a kind of man who is not threatened by showing his feminine side. The experience can stir different reactions, from bewilderment to subtle excitement.
The mirroring of a reality that is inside a womanâ€™s world and is all around, in cultural traits, social values, daily exchanges, affects her in ways that she cannot tell.
Sometimes she feels strengthened by the sole experience of witnessing the honouring of feminine values around her. Even when she witnesses the dark side of feminine nature, even then she canâ€™t help but feel at home.