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Sometimes life unexpectedly meets us with people who effortlessly and spontaneously win our trust. They get under our skin or make us feel as if we already know them.

In the following lines, we will talk with and about Annie – one charming, smiling and meaningful person I met recently in Bali, where she is living for the last year. Annie’s story, at least for me is one of those stories that shakes you a little, that lights up a light in your head and shows you that life can sometimes change your plans and evolve differently than expected.  And that’s where the magic lies. The story of Annie inspires. Not because of the specific events in her life, their sequence or places she has been. It inspires more because of the choices she makes, the attitude she has and the colors she gives to everything that is happening in her journey from her home town Blagoevgrad to Ubud – the heart of Bali where she lives now.

Who is Annie?

Frankly speaking for the first time I need to stop and think about it before answering this question … Maybe because I’m a Gemini sign …. And eventually I have a lot of faces, with some of whom I actually met the last year since I am in Bali. When I’m in a good mood, I’m generally cheerful, sunny, curious, I love learning new things and traveling. This is my passion since I was a child. I’m a free spirit. I love dancing, having fun, laughing, meeting people and exchanging experiences and ideas. I love the movement, the dynamics, the creation of new projects that light the spark in me. I love to work, I can not sit for a long time doing nothing. I think I’m a good friend, honest and decent person. However, I can become quite stormy and I have my moments, especially when I’m hungry, tired or I didn’t have enough sleep, then I become quite irritable and emotional. Fortunately, however, it happens rarely and I already know what to do in these situations – go get some food or some sleep. Then I cover myself for a while until I charge my batteries, says Annie.

Why Bali?

The story of how and why she came to Bali is a long one and as she defines it herself – quite similar to the movie “Eat, pray, love” with the only difference that things are happening in the opposite direction. She is currently in Bali and soon she is planing to visit India and Nepal. Then … who knows.

I was heading to India (this is my dream since 1995) to take a yoga teacher class, but at that time the school closed due to the rainy season. My Yoga teacher in Sofia – Krasen Stoyanov advised me to go to one of the best Ashtanga teachers who had a course in Bali and so I found myself here. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do this course because it was quite expensive. I made a fundraising campaign at Gofundme so that I can come here – my friends helped me to do it and I am endlessly grateful to them about that. I arrived in March 2017. I got on the plane from Bulgaria on March 3rd, without even thinking about the date (March 3rd is a national holiday, celebrating the freedom of Bulgaria) . It was a sign, I realized it at the airport, Annie says.

The magic of the island

Getting in Bali, is actually easy, spending some time there is wonderful. Then it comes a moment when you either leave, promising to yourself that you will come back or you just decide to stay.

When I arrived at Ubud, I had the feeling that I had been here before. I felt super good, as if I had left some time ago and now I am coming back. Right from the start, I had a feeling that I would stay for a year and a half or two, I did not know why, I just trusted my inner instinct. There was a moment before Christmas, when I was thinking of going back home. Then I was expecting a group of people coming for the New Year eve, but because of the volcano, people gave up. It was a difficult financial situation, but apparently it was not yet time for me to go back home. In fact, it was and still is a transforming, quite intense period for me. To let go of everything old and set a new beginning. At times it was exciting, but at times – quite challenging. I learned a lot about myself and my life, not only from the books I had read so far, but from the life itself, that is actually our best teacher. Obviously I still have to study and that’s why I’m here, says Annie.

At the beginning of her stay in Bali Annie devoted herself to an intensive yoga practice (mainly her favorite ashtanga style) and meditation sessions with various teachers.

Then I had several incidents – I fell into a waterfall, then I had an accident with the scooter, thanks God nothing serious happened, but I injured my ribs and I had to stop practicing for a few months. Now, fortunately, I have come back to “work” and almost every day I am doing yoga, meditation, breathing exercises. There are so many yoga workshops happening in Ubud, but I’m pretty selective. I went back to the Astanga, this is my yoga type, at least for now. Every Tuesday I also go to the Om chanting, which is a good practice as well. This is where I want to develop and I have been working for in the last 8 years. Otherwise, to help myself financially, I organize tours for friends or friends of my friends, who are coming here and want someone to show them the island. Thanks to my Balinese family and my curiosity I travelled around a lot. I lived with them for 7 months. They are super cool, and I’ve learned a lot about the culture and people here. When I arrived, I also started writing a blog about Bali culture and traditions (https://plus.google.com/+AnnasSoulTravel). It has become very popular worldwide, with maybe over 20 000 followers. In fact, it was a full-time job for several months. At the moment it is a bit behind, but maybe it’s a good idea to start again. Besides, I also meet friends, go outside, try to learn Indonesian, but I am a little distracted, I have to admit.

The life before

And if it is true that the most exciting journey is the one to ourselves, Annie is the proof. She was born in Blagoevgrad, where she graduated high school, then she studied Directing at the Southwest University in Blagoevgrad for three years, but she never graduated. While I was studying, in 1997 I started working as a bartender at the Underground Club, the best club in town that is still running. I never thought I will be doing this for almost 20 years, Ani remembers.

In 2001 she went to study Hospitality and Tourism in Cyprus without knowing neither English or Greek. There I learned English and Greek (not so good, but I was able to speak). It was a tough time because I had to go to school, to start from A and B, I had to work, to pay for college and spending. My parents helped me the first year, but then I had to do it myself. Well, there were other Bulgarian friends, who were very supportive and I have to say that for me, friends are part of the family. I graduated and I went back home in 2005 where together with friends we opened one of the most remarkable places on the Black Sea coast – Alcohol Lozentec Beach. It was so much work, I did not know how we did it, but we did it. So many good moments, memories and friends! We run it for three years, then it happened that we had to close it. Then 2008 with other friends we opened the Magnito piano bar and sushi in Sofia. I was there until 2010 when we sold it. The crisis has come, the things in this industry have changed a lot and I have been exhausted since the last year in Magnito. Then I met one of the most precious people in my life, my ex boyfriend. We were together for 6 years and I am endlessly grateful for everything he taught me during our relationship. Then I stopped working for bars and night clubs and I tried to find a work in an office with “normal” working hours, but soon I realized that’s not for me, definately.

If she has to sum up her life before Bali, it would sounds like that – first part: parties all night long; second part: personal development focus. I started working with myself, attending more seminars and courses, I have changed a lot since then. Now I’m going to bed at 22.00-22:30 and I am waking up at 6.00-6.30. Before, it was the other way around. Now I need more time for myself, just to spend it in silence. I like to travel alone, I have become more aware of the responsibility I have for myself, the decisions I take and the consequences. I started to love and I appreciate myself more, to have more realistic idea of ​​who I am, to make a deference between my real needs and the needs of my ego. I learn to trust my instincts and intuition, to respect the needs and the space of the others and not to take things personally. I have changed a lot, although sometimes I miss the madness and the freedom of the previous Annie, but when she comes back from time to time I let her do whatever she likes…at least for a while.

In the second part of our conversation with Annie you will read why she thinks Bali is such a magical place and how to touch the special places on the island.