Off a busy main street of Sanur, with the hustle and bustle of shops and cafes is an alleyway with uneven broken cobblestone where I’m greeted by an Aussie man in stubbies, jandals and a singlet. He pulls back a heavy iron rolling gate where I’m welcomed by beautiful Balinese stone statues and lush green and purple scenery with colours and fragrances of frangipani. Split into two common areas both with pools, a beautiful garden and an outside pergola lounging area. This would be my new home for the next 7 days – Holistic Retreat Bali
My room is filled with elegant art, stone floors and I have a beautiful mosquito net trim around my Cali King size bed. My room opens to the outdoor pergola leading to the blues of the pool where I’d find myself reading most nights before bed and where I’d tan during free time.
I ask where the ‘designated smoking area’ is and am comforted to know that the Aussie man in stubbies, a singlet and jandals, also known as Mitch the owner and an amazing man, is also a smoker so it’s meant to be we end up in the same half of the complex soon to be joined by a fab lady from Cairns who would end up being my bestie on the retreat. Three ladies have already arrived and taken the rooms in the other half of the complex. I’m told it’s a first that the other 4 ladies are all Aussies and when I walk in and say I’m from NZ the response was ‘thank fuck a Kiwi.’ I knew we were going to get along well when people started dropping the F bomb as much as I did.
After a quick intro, light lunch and fresh smoothie, Mother nature says a quick hello (here’s me thinking leaving Wellington would mean no more quakes) then we get settled in our rooms where cute goodies bags are waiting for us filled with all things Bali; incense, balinese soaps, scrubs, oils, bath salts and a sarong which would become my go-to outfit for most of my remaining time in Bali.
We have our first Yoga class which is different from what I’ve been practising back home, with the 2 week hot yoga membership I quickly purchased before I arrived get some prep in. Our teacher Kadek takes us through different stretching and breathing exercises and the art of the headstand; “for long life,” he says – who would have thought I would manage to do this on my own by the end of the week. I would soon learn that Kadek taught me many a thing on the retreat and is a man of many talents.
We sat around as Mitch shared some insight on energy and the role we play in being responsible for ourselves which summed up a lot of what we were in for, for the week ahead.
Dinner is an Indonesian delight with a Balinese chicken and rice dish with salad and homemade sambal dressing served with lemon grass and ginger tea, with root veggie crisps – a soon to be favourite of mine that we were served for dinner for the next 6 nights. Aunty Made (pronounced Ma-day) who was not only our masseuse , cleaner , healer, and Aunty but an amazing Indonesian cook who would introduce us to authentic balinese cuisine every breakfast, lunch and dinner. From curries to soups, crisps , smoothies , juices, teas, vegetable dishes, salads, dressings , sauces , sambal, and a mix of vegetarian and non vegetarian meals all made from scratch with local produce bought from the markets next door. It became our routine to reflect and share learnings from our days with each other as the retreat continued. A social, supportive group with the bonus of amazing fucking food. (I’m so guttered I didn’t take any photos of the food it was that good there was no time for taking photos, just eating. )
We were located only a short walk back to the hustle and bustle of the night markets, beach and main vibes of Sanur. My daily outfits consisted of my $2 sarong or $10 shorts and singlets which would be a go-to in the Balinese heat. The constant laughter of children, the vrooms (is that even a word?) of the hundreds of scooters that would pass through the area sometimes carrying a family of four; the smell of rubbish, which was an assault to the nose and the aromas that poured out of the restaurants – one couldn’t help but wanting to call Bali home.
My Cairns neighbour and I would end up taking great little outings each night after dinner to indulge in some retail therapy and let our dinner settle as we walked through the streets of Sanur. We would find awesome flavoured ciggies ( grape, apple, menthol, clove, cheery and vanilla) and would enjoy a $2 Bintang by the pool before we headed to bed. Yes, and it was just the 1 Bintang to your surprise for those who know me.
My body clock still hadn’t got its shit together so I was up at 5.30am and would get my walk on down to the beach to watch the sun rise while children played in the water and fishermen waited for a bite on their lines. It was then I realised the importance of appreciating the little things and began to practise the art of living in the present.
Daily morning meditation & gratitude became routine as we were introduced to chakra meditation and breathing exercises, which for me would be incorporated into my daily routine when I returned to my motherland.
Then, there was breakfast. Consisting always of either a banana pancake or eggs, fresh tropical fruit salads with the colours & flavours of papaya, dragon fruit & melons; granola, yoghurt, fresh juices and smoothies. Breakfast was something I wasn’t used to back in the real world but I would fall asleep thinking about the next morning’s breakfast Aunty Made would have ready for us after our meditation.
On our first morning we found ourselves on a scenic drive passing breathtaking Balinese stone statues and wood carvings and picturesque rice fields to reach our first healing session. A handsome disabled man would greet us at his home and one by one he would take us through a healing session followed by a blessing where he poured water and colourful flowers over our heads.
I could hear the ladies gasp as he pulled my elbows back to meet each other and it felt if as every vertebrae in my back had been clicked back into place. He then gently spun my head to both sides where the noise of cracking my neck echoed through my body and my aches from travelling vanished.
My overthinking and mind that is constantly filled with traffic would be something that would come up in all of my healing sessions and this would be the first.
I worked on questioning more during healing sessions. The many different dialect of Indonesian languages could sometimes be difficult to translate into English. Or soon I would realise it was actually the complication of the English language. Sometimes I’m too afraid to ask or question things depending on the situation as I don’t want people to think I’m a dumb ass, but when I wasn’t clear I started to question more to understand and gain the full benefits of my sessions- a little life lesson in itself.
Aunty Made then turned my ‘no fucking way’ approach to tempeh around as we arrived back at our villa for lunch and served tempeh fritters, roast potatoes, veggie salad drizzled in an amazing satay and soy chilli sauce.
With a little taste of what I had installed for me for the rest of the week I was so excited to crack on and start working on my self development and investing in ME. My itinerary of; Reiki healing, Massage, Electric Healing, Ubud Day Trip, Kinesiology, Life Coaching , Tai Chi , Yoga, Astrology, Acupuncture, Acupressure & Balinese healing would become a life changing experience which I’m so excited to share with you. (click on the links below for more detail on each session I experienced on the retreat)
On the last night of the retreat my Cairns neighbour and I got a little glammed up and found ourselves at a local jazz bar called the Glasshouse for vino & cocktails. It had an amazing indoor/outdoor flow with gorgeous lighting and climbing vines with floor to ceiling windows to create the beautiful ambience it had. The band was amazing playing a mix of Indonesian, Balinese and Western music. As they took a quick break an Australian lady sat with the Mic and sung a few Adele tunes which made me feel like I was back in Wellington City. She motioned us up to sing with her so we did. Then she asked if we wanted to do a Solo. Oh shit, I’ll need a few shots in me before I get up on that stage. But then I told my self doubt to shut the fuck up. Let’s start to put some shit into action and be fearless, after all I was here to step out of my comfort zone. I told them an old fave of mine and even though the notes were different to how I was used to singing it, here I was on a stage infront of the bar, Mic in hand singing with the band. It was liberating. I was living my passions. Don’t get me wrong I’m not the next fucking Adele but I can hold a bloody note from time to time. What a way to end our last night – On top of the world.
I awoke to our last morning at 7am and took a walk to the local coffee shop. A few off the other ladies who bumped into each other while taking a walk joined me before we headed back for our last meditation session with Mitch. A short stroll to the beach for brunch would be our last meal together and it suddenly dawned on me that this was the last day and maybe last time I would get to see these amazing people I now call family. I packed up my room and Ketut put my luggage into the car while I said goodbye to everyone. My eyes began to water as I quickly flashed back on the amazing week that we spent together at the retreat.
As Ketut and I started to drive to Ubud where I would return to my solo travels and spend my last 3 days in Bali, I began to reflect…
So what did I take out of this for me?
- an openness to how I see the world/universe
- a greater appreciation for my body, mind & soul
- motivation to action nurturing and looking after myself
- simple practises to work on balance
- to accept what falls in my path
- the reassurance that I’m on the right track with being Out of Office
But did I need to take a solo trip all the way to Bali to learn what I did?
Probably not one might say. It is said that to find happiness is to look within yourself and it doesn’t matter where you are to do this. But my objective was to combine a holiday, some me time, to find balance and to step out of my comfort zone so I give this retreat a 10/10 for ticking all of my boxes. The culture, amazing ladies to share the retreat with, food, weather and retreat itself is something I believe can not be experienced if I were to just stay home with my head stuck in a self development book.
So if you’re feeling stuck in a rut, looking to make a change in your life or just simply need some YOU time then I couldn’t recommend this retreat enough.
Like always, if you have any more questions or want more detail into my sessions feel free to flick me an email or contact through social media.