Travel To “Eat, Pray, Love”

With award-winning actress Julia Roberts and co-stars Jacques Bardem and James Franco, the film “Eat, Pray, Love” should be a box office success scheduled to release 13 Aug of this year. Based on author Elizabeth Gilbert’s life story, the movie follows the young divorcee as she escapes the humdrum, familiar life in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, known for Italian meat markets and family owned shops, to the adventure and excitement of “la dolce vita” in Rome. This article will not include all the attractions in Rome or India where filming took place, as the spotlight will be on Bali.

After four months of fun, food, and companionship, a desire for spirituality takes her to the Hindu Ashram Hari Mandir in the suburbs of Pataudi near Mumbai, India. Yoga and meditation sessions taught by native gurus were filmed on the 25 acres of the retreat, as well as scenes from the local market, a Sanskrit school that houses 500 students, a hospital, and a home for the aged.

Visitors to this film location, about 40 miles from the Indira Gandhi International Airport, can indulge themselves with accommodations at the Pataudi Palace, featured in the movie. Built in 1935 by the Nawab Ibrahim Ali Khan of national cricket fame and the official home of the prince of Pataudi, the Palace has been fully restored as a world heritage site. Popular with travelers to this part of India, the hotel has kept much of its old world charm with spacious rooms and verandas overlooking rose gardens and cypress trees. In addition to dining on traditional, exotic Indian cuisine, the Palace provides a peaceful, romantic getaway from the noise of cities and crowded streets.

Rates: $250 double up to $450 single.

After four months at the Ashram, reality sets in, as some balance between earthly pleasures and abstinence is needed – what better place to find it than on the beautiful island of Bali. Travelers have always been fascinated with the customs and mysticism of Bali, a land of volcanoes, sacred temples, nature reserves, and a huge population of monkeys. Based on the movie, a large increase in tourism to the city of Ubud in the district of Gianyar is expected, as it was recently voted Asia’s best city destination by Conde Nast. Visitors will want to sightsee, and “Eat, Pray, Love” tours offer interesting itineraries in and around Ubud (meaning “medicine”), considered the center of art and culture on Bali. You’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the music and dance, the museums, and the shops filled with clothing, fine jewelry, paintings, and sculpture. You can practice yoga, visit the spas, and even learn from the local shaman that “the resting place of the mind is the heart,” bringing you one step closer to nirvana.

A featured attraction in Ubud is the annual Gempita Gianyar festival, a gathering of environmentalists, to be held this year from 2-3 July. Besides dance and music performances, the “Ubud Street Bash” features a carnival and parade down main street, with over 25 fashion designers, 7 musical groups, and hundreds of other participants. Special guests will be honored at a royal heritage dinner, and students, ages 15-17, can attend a 5-day summer art camp as part of the festival.

While filming the movie, Roberts and Bardem stayed at the Puri Saren Agung near Monkey Forest Road on the palace grounds of the Ubud royal family. The B&B style of the hotel offers visitors comfortable, yet modest accommodations in a choice of several bungalows, with evening dance performances in the open courtyard. The landscaped grounds with ornate stone gates, wooden pillars, and statues of Raksaka, lions, and elephants are the main attraction of this colonial style hotel. The hotel is inexpensive, with rates averaging $60/night, but they will probably increase with the film’s release worldwide.

A visit to Bali would not be complete without a guided tour that includes some of the ancient temples (over 15,000 on the island), where the Balinese people spend much of their time bringing flowers and food. A four-hour sunset tour includes the Tanah Lot temple overlooking the Indian Ocean, the Tamara Ayun temple, a bat forest, and the Alas Kedaton, a forest filled with hundreds of sacred Macaques monkeys. (Monkeys are considered holy if they live on temple grounds, but otherwise are considered a nuisance by most Balinese.)

Rates: $35 per car (up to 6 people)

The exclusive Pan Pacific Bali Resort, formerly Le Meridien Golf and Spa Resort, near the Tanah Lot temple offers garden and ocean view guest rooms with balconies. Suites, one, and two bedroom private villas, each with garden, pool, and pavilion, are also available. Set amid tropical gardens, terraced rice paddies, and coconut groves, the resort features a beautiful 18-hole golf course designed by Greg Norman. In addition to spa facilities, four pools, and a gym, visitors can enjoy dining at a half dozen restaurants, pubs, or lounges, some with live entertainment by Balinese dancers. Squash, tennis, cycling, and the outdoor seafood market nearby are popular, as well. With all the amenities and so many things to see and do, this would be a wonderful place for a wedding, a honeymoon, or a fabulous vacation.

Sample Rates: $666 – 2-bedroom villa; $604 – 1-bedroom villa, $460 – executive suite.

Golf packages: $400 – $800 for 3 nights, includes buffet breakfast, 2 rounds of golf, and a tour of the Tanah Lot temple.

Spirit Quest tours offer a great travel package for groups of 20 or more to Ubud, which includes round-trip airfare from several major cities, hotel accommodations for 6 nights, breakfasts, and entrance fees. Travelers stay at the Alila Hotel and Spa at the edge of the rain forest in rooms with balconies and private open air showers. You’ll dine on Italian food at the Amanusa Resort in nearby Nusa Dua, fresh seafood at the Bali Beach Club, and Balinese at the Lotus. Tourists enjoy shopping at the outdoor market for jewelry, silk sarongs, and crafts, as well as browsing the paintings at the Ayumas studio or the Bali Budaya wood carvings. Your well planned itinerary will include a visit to the Besakih Temple, which is actually 5 temples in one, as well as morning yoga and prayer sessions. You can pamper yourself with a one-hour $50 spa treatment, or request a personal reading by Kitut Liyer, the Balinese spiritual healer featured in Gilbert’s book.

Package Price: $3,000 (from Los Angeles). You can find more information on their website.

In her book, Ms Gilbert wrote,” I crossed the street to walk in the sunshine,” and travel to “Eat, Pray, Love” promises fun and laughter, and perhaps a different perspective on life along the way.

Sharon Slayton

Filed Under: Movie tourism

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  1. […] Here’s an interesting article about retiring in Bali, Indonesia. Apparently it’s cheap and happy. See also movie tourism in Bali. […]

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