While in Rotorua New Zealand, Nate got the news that he would need to go back to Australia for a quick work related football combine. Instead of spending the money to go to Brisbane and sit around while he worked, we decided it would be best if I went straight to Bali and he would meet me after the combine. I decided this would be the perfect place and time to do a yoga retreat while I was solo. Could that get any more cliche?
I researched yoga retreats in Bali and there are many, especially in Ubud, however they were so expensive! I came across a resort in the north that had excellent reviews on trip advisor and offered a yoga package for $649 for 4 nights. This included yoga daily, a deluxe room, breakfast, dinner, a massage and a dolphin tour. This fit my budget so I booked my time at Puri Bagus Lovina immediately.
I have never traveled to a foreign country alone before so for me, having a place to go with things to do put my mind at ease. Nate is a gifted traveler who knows how to navigate unknown situations easily and make friends with complete strangers but I struggle with those situations a little and *Puri Bagus Lovina made it effortless.
*I should start before I keep going that I was not paid for this review because I’m about to rave about my experience. I should also say that I tried really hard to take pictures but I’m too embarrassed to take a lot of selfies so I did my best.
I arrived after midnight in Bali and stayed at the Harris Tuban Hotel just five minutes from the airport. They have free pick up and their orange polo shirts made them extremely easy to find in a sea of 100 other Balinese men holding up signs waiting for their own foreigner. I would recommend if you are arriving late and can’t get to your destination, this was an easy place to get to and perfect for quick stay.
Lovina is three hours north of the airport, so the following day I was picked up by a driver from the resort and off we went to an unknown place in Bali. Mountains separate the south and the north and just before exiting the winding mountains, I passed beautiful views and at least 30 monkeys hanging out on the side of the road.
When I arrived at the resort around 2 pm, I was greeted by the manager Ayu who had set everything up with me over email. They gave me a cold towel, a delicious cold pineapple juice and my “program”.
I was surprised that they had laid out my five days for me but relieved that the decision making was taken care of. I was escorted to my beautiful room and dropped my bags to explore the lush grounds of this property which sits right on the ocean.
I made my way to the restaurant to get a late lunch and ordered a warm chicken salad that was packed with unique and delicious flavor.
I was immediately excited for every meal to come. At this restaurant, I met Ketut, who would become my friend for the next 5 days. He is the food and beverage manager who is great at his job and very experienced from working on cruise ships around the world for 16 years. His English is excellent and his level of service and caring for the guests is unmatched.
All the key employees had my “program” memorized. They knew when I had yoga, when I had a massage and which of my meals were included. You can tell the hotel takes pride in their staff knowing the guests names and schedules from the time you walk into the open air reception.
My time at the resort was filled with so many new experiences as well as a lot of time relaxing by their pool. Lovina and the major town next to it doesn’t have much going on, so I recommend visiting if you want sensory underload and relaxation.
My fexperience with the resorts yoga started the day I arrived and continued every day during my time there. Their yoga practice is not the westernized version I am accustom to, so even though I didn’t quite get the exercise I hoped for, I learned so much!
Balinese Hindu yoga is a spiritual act that includes unique breathing techniques, sounds and a deliberate pattern. First you pray, then you cleanse your chakras, then you stretch, then you practice balance, then you rest, then you thank your body and finish with a prayer. All with your eyes closed. I will point out that they don’t quite understand the limitations of a westerners body! I am not naturally flexible (which is why I do yoga) and this seemed shocking to the instructors (who have probably practiced yoga at least once a day since the time they could walk).
My itinerary also included a massage. It was so luxurious and relaxing, there was no pain involved at all, it was pure joy.
I also did an early morning dolphin tour on a wooden boat with some other guests from the resort.
I didn’t enjoy this very much because I felt like there were too many boats chasing the dolphins, so the entire time I had anxiety about the propellers in the water hurting a dolphin.
At one point the Dolphins really seemed to like being around the boats because they were moving slowly around us but I can’t be sure, however, I’m going to think that. See the video on Insta.
They set up a time for me to learn to make a Canag (Chanang) which is an offering, a thank you, that the Balinese Hindus take to temple when they pray.
I hand wove a basket with a bamboo stick and assembled holy flowers inside of it, they even dressed me appropriately with a sarong and waist tie which made me feel legit! And the sweet teacher did my hair.
Ketut offered to escort me to the local market so that he could point things out to me, including his fun game of pointing out the giant rats… Eeww!
A few other experiences I had outside of my “program” were due to the staffs generous and sincere effort to make sure I loved my experience there.
When I asked Ketut, now my friend, where I could get some sandals and sunscreen, he offered to drive me to a local store. My new sandals had been taken in the Philippines so the first day and half at the resort, I wore the hotel slippers around.
He also knew I loved the Ginger Lime Squash on their menu (everyone knew it, because I always ordered it) so he arranged for their bartender to show me how to make it. It’s lime juice, ginger purée and soda water with simple syrup to taste.
I was walking by the xylophone player and he motioned for me to sit by him and learn to play. I was horrible but it was fun!
My last day at the pool Ketut brought me a special coconut drink, that is fresh coconut water, lime and brown sugar ( I think). He even put ice in it, which no one does with fresh coconut juice.
He also mentioned to me that a local yogi runs an orphanage nearby and if I was interested I could go. I jumped at the chance to hang with little kids and bring them some goodies so the hotel set it up.
The man running the orphanage is named Dada, an extremely personable man. The children have such confidence and happiness in them, it’s a very happy place. They are vegan and grow everything on their farm and learn to harvest and cook.
The saddest part was that most of these kids are abandoned because of divorce, some have lost both parents but many of them are sent there because when their parents split up, they don’t want anything to do with their old life after they have remarried, including their children.
I was so shocked by this but Da Da is doing amazing things at this ashram. The kids wake up every morning at 5 to meditate and do yoga twice a day, that is how he teaches them discipline. They go to school everyday and he has an English teacher come in once a week. The kids spoke really well and came right up to me and introduced themselves and shook my hand. When they graduate high school Dada helps them get a job or set up higher education, whichever they want. It was heartwarming to know this place exists in the world.
With all of these experiences I had, my time quickly come to an end at Puri Bagus Lovina and it was my last night. I think I got extra special service because it was low season but it’s also just their way. Every person says hello to you from the groundskeeper to the cleaning person. They thank you constantly for being there and welcome every person each night at dinner or each morning at breakfast by knowing their names and probably their favorite drink as well!
The meals were all delicious and I learned they have an organic farm in the south of Bali where everything in their kitchen comes from. The food portions are so big that I only ate lunch once. Here are a few snaps:
I was sad to leave such a warm place where they truly treat you like family. After my last breakfast, I went in my room to grab my bags and the man who beautifully turned my room over every day had left me a thank note with a hand drawn picture.
I left a small tip for him because it was well deserved though I’m not sure that was even his intention. I checked out and signed my bill which they so carefully and efficiently reviewed with me, without me having to ask them. At 9:30 am on the dot my ride picked me up to head to Ubud to reunite with Nate!
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