Bliss in Bali

KATE LALLY CHILLS OUT AT A WOMEN- ONLY SPA RE­TREAT IN IN­DONE­SIA

Solihull News - - TRAVEL -

YOU de­serve a break. I re­peat th­ese four words to my­self in the taxi, at check- in and at 35,000 feet.

Fly­ing across the world to go on a self- care re­treat seemed a lit­tle dis­ori­en­tat­ing. Women es­pe­cially are not good on that front – we have to fill so many roles, per­form so many tasks.

And while great joy can be found in nur­tur­ing oth­ers, it can be all too easy to for­get to look af­ter num­ber one.

But it’s like the flight at­ten­dants say: put your own mask on first be­fore help­ing oth­ers.

You’re no good to any­one else if you’re run­ning on empty, and some­times you need to step out of your daily life to gain a sense of per­spec­tive.

The mere men­tion of Bali evokes im­ages of par­adise and, as our plane touches down, I am en­veloped in a sense of calm.

Ke­tut, my per­sonal driver, is wait­ing for me at the air­port, and our jour­ney whirls us through end­less waves of peo­ple. They fly by on scoot­ers with hel­met- less kids sleep­ing at the front and mounds of food, clothes and other items wob­bling pre­car­i­ously on the back.

There are chick­ens in the road, women bal­anc­ing bas­kets on their heads as they walk, stu­dents wear­ing tra­di­tional dress, and brightly coloured of­fer­ings lit­ter the streets.

Once we leave the city, though, it’s a dif­fer­ent world. Ke­tut and I float through lush green rice pad­dies and watch cows graze in fields, be­fore we ar­rive at Bliss Sanc­tu­ary.

The villa is quite the oa­sis – no kids or men are al­lowed.

There’s a jade- coloured swim­ming pool, a rooftop mas­sage and yoga stu­dio and just six lux­u­ri­ous rooms. In­side, peo­ple greet you with a smile, feed you heav­enly meals, and give you hours of pam­per­ing ev­ery day, plus yoga and med­i­ta­tion.

My room at the sanc­tu­ary in Canggu, south­ern Bali – sis­ter to an­other Ba­li­nese Bliss women’s re­treat at Seminyak – is a vast mar­ble- floored space, with a huge four- poster bed and stand­alone bath tub.

But my favourite part? There are no itin­er­ar­ies and no rules. Your stay is all about you do­ing what­ever you want.

Whether that’s spend­ing your en­tire stay do­ing noth­ing but be­ing pam­pered, liv­ing at the beach, or tak­ing trips to tem­ples and cul­tur­ally rich towns, it’s en­tirely up to you.

I ar­rive at around 5pm In­done­sian time and my host­ess Anna, who be­comes both my PA and BFF over the next week, has al­ready booked me in for a full- body mas­sage.

Next up is what is prob­a­bly the most ar­du­ous task of my trip – de­cid­ing what to do to­mor­row.

From day trips to yoga classes and med­i­ta­tion, ev­ery other as­pect of your hol­i­day is in­cluded, and with ev­ery won­drous cor­ner of Bali at my dis­posal it’s tough to nar­row down.

My days roll into an easy mix of morn­ing spa treat­ments and af­ter­noon ex­cur­sions, not to men­tion din­ing on in­cred­i­bly sump­tu­ous In­done­sian cui­sine.

Salt and pep­per squid, chicken curry, chicken sa­tay, seafood bar­be­cue, the list goes on. You can eat as much or as lit­tle as you choose, to and pre­pare can even some­thing ask the in- and house store chefs it for you, so you aren’t tied to set meal times. There’s a seem­ingly end­less sup­ply of choco­late in the fridge, too. Mid­way through my trip, ev­ersmil­ing Ke­tut drives me to the spir­i­tual heart of Bali: Ubud. Made pop­u­lar by the best­selling book Eat, Pray, Love ( made into a film star­ring Ju­lia Roberts, in 2010) this cul­tural, play­ful part of the is­land is home to streets of shops and cafés that re­flect the lo­cal artis­tic and creative scene.

Set among emer­ald rice fields and misty moun­tains, this vil­lage clus­ter is the per­fect place to recharge and re­flect.

I spend my day tem­ple- hop­ping and trin­ket- shop­ping, be­fore wan­der­ing through the fa­mous Mon­key For­est. The nat­u­ral sanc­tu­ary is home to a horde of grey long- tailed macaques, which you can see swing­ing through canopies, laz­ing along path­ways or feed­ing on ba­nanas.

Be­fore head­ing back to the villa, we stop at the breath­tak­ing Te­galalang Rice Ter­races, fa­mous for their beau­ti­ful scenes of slop­ing green pad­dies.

Like some­thing out of an an­cient his­tory book, the lay­ered ter­races pro­vide a stun­ning patch­work that has to be seen to be be­lieved.

For a change of scene, I spend my next af­ter­noon on one of Bali’s most stylish beaches. Seminyak is a beau­ti­ful haven of white sand with great waves that makes it a favourite among surfers. As the shad­ows lengthen I bag a spot at one of Seminyak’s rooftop bars and watch day turn into night, a cock­tail in my hand.

Dur­ing my week at Bliss, I was re­minded how the world is full of beauty and won­der, and met peo­ple who are friendly for no rea­son other than to be nice.

Ev­ery­one wants health and hap­pi­ness, and af­ter a week at Bliss Sanc­tu­ary, you’ll feel a lit­tle closer to achiev­ing that goal.

The re­lax­ation lounge at Bliss

Healthy eat­ing – mahi mahi mango salsa and freshly- made rice pa­per rolls Cool and calm: The yoga and mas­sage area

A bath filled with petals on the ter­race of your ho­tel room? Oh go on then

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