Bali Silent Retreat is two hours from the airport. The car traveled via single traffic lanes meandering through villages with quaint Balinese architecture, arriving finally in the middle of a padi field with just a hut in sight. This is our reception area, and way beyond hidden at first sight, is our resort.
My wooden deluxe bungalow is the only one with a double bed. Most guests are here alone, and it seems only Asians come here in groups. I have a fabulous view of the sacred Mt. Batu Karu from my balcony. The downstairs of the bungalow has a sofa, and leads to the toilet and an outdoor shower. Through the toilet is the stairs to the bedroom upstairs. Being in a wooden bungalow is a new experience for me. Every sound is amplified – my husband’s movements upstairs, every creaks on the floors and doors. Showering outdoor is also a novelty until there is a thunderstorm. It’s a novelty indeed showering in a thunder shower. And because it’s outdoor, make sure you are decent when you emerge from the shower as your neighbor’s shower is just next to yours. Luckily the resort provides a robe for me to wrap and hop into privacy.
There is no lunch but a buffet spread of salad and cooked vegetables are laid out from 11am to 4pm at the lodge, which also houses a small shop, the kitchen, the lounge where we eat and siesta. Bread, cookies – all gluten free, seeds and nuts, are available for snacks. The meals here are prepared lovingly by Dutch chef Simon (www.newearthcooking.com) and his team of ten kitchen angels. All food are foraged from the resort garden or purchased from local farmers, such as the duck eggs which are served at almost every meal, my only source of protein – which Simon will disagree. Why duck eggs? Just because it’s available locally, as in this area, as ducks are more habitable in this wet topography than chicken. Coming from an Asian country, I must warn you that most of the food served here are cold food, with the exception of eggs in the morning, and soup in the evening. (Can you imagine my disappointment when I arrived at dinner to find the soup all gone?) As no caffeine is served, I am without hot food all day, if you discount the morning ginger tea that is served to my room at 5.30am, scaring me to death the first time I heard the creaking of the stairs in the first morning.
Of course, there are many herbs available on the table for you to brew your own concoction of herbal teas in a pot on a stove – mint, Rosella, tarragon, ginger, turmeric, etc. But I pass and stuck only to my lime and mint infusion.
Every morning at 5.30am, there is a mallow gong for wake up call, as meditation starts at 6am at the Bale, preceded by five gongs fifteen minutes before. I never attend that, preferring to go to the 7am Asana yoga. The Bale is an octagon shaped wooden stage shaded by a tension structure roof.
There, everything is provided for – holy water to sprinkle on your head before entering, pick up a piece of gratitude stone from a bowl, say a thanks and drop it on another bowl. Yoga mats, blocks, cushions, pillows, blankets – all the props one needs to get into a yoga pose is at hand. After class, spritz and wipe down the mat and we are done. I really enjoy my time at the Bale – morning and afternoon yoga and afternoon meditation – except that the flies are a real irritation during yoga and especially during meditation. Can you imagine trying to be still with flies buzzing around your face. There are bottles of insect repellent provided but I feel they attracted more than repel the flies.
There are daily events planned throughout the week. During my stay here, I went on a garden/jungle walk with Chef Simon, did a mindfulness walk at the labyrinth and jungle with Lars, and also attended talks by both gentlemen. I also had a fantastic 90- minute massage in a room with a twirling fan and torn towel for US$20.
Dinner is served from 4.30-6pm, after which, there might be a talk depending on the day’s timetable, if not, it’s either you read at the lodge, which is rather dim from the few LED bulbs powered by solar energy. The lodge has an impressive library of spiritual books which are useful to out you in the right mind.
But for me, it’s back to the bungalow. Yes, my bedtime here is at 8pm. Outside, I hear the mating calls of frogs, the chirps, cheeps and whines of insects, sounding like they are just right under my bed.
And this is why I am here, to connect back to nature, and discover my gratitude and feel joyful that I am alive and part of this beautiful planet that provide us with all this wonders.