It’s no secret that I was unhappy for the first month or so of my Asia trip.

Okay fine. I was inexplicably miserable for the first month of my trip. I descended into a dark place where I battled depression, anxiety and an overall despair for the future. For a while I seriously considering flying home. (How anyone could have a near mental collapse in a tropical paradise is beyond me, but here I am.)

And similarly, it’s no secret that I partied a lot in Thailand and Cambodia. And countless pints of beer, excessive sun and lack of sleep and exercise do not do your health any favors.

While I turned a mental health corner in Koh Rong due to some much-needed alone time as well as tremendous support from friends and family back home via Skype (love you guys!), and have felt so much better ever since, I still wasn’t feeling 100%.

I came to Bali because I was in rough shape, both physically and mentally. I specifically ventured inland to Ubud, the cultural heart of Bali, to reboot and recharge. And I have to say – I couldn’t have picked a better place for a retreat.

From the verdant rice paddies and intricate Hindu sculptures to the streets strewn with yellow frangipani, I feel like I’ve stumbled into an exotic, macaque-addled dream world.

Bali Retreat

Bali Retreat

The Balinese leave daily offerings on the street to honor the gods – palm baskets carefully filled with rice, flowers, cookies and incense. It’s a beautiful gesture of gratitude, and Ubud feels like such an inherently spiritual place.

Bali Retreat

But of course, it’s not perfect – there are tons of fellow tourists clogging the streets, as well as relentless vendors in the street hawking wares and services. You want taxi?

Bali’s also a bit pricey compared to the rest of Southeast Asia – right now I’m paying $15 a night for a shoddy private room as well as $5-10 per meal, which are expenses that are adding up quickly.

But it’s so worth it. Ubud is exactly what I need.

One of my goals at 23 is to get in the best shape of my life, and I’m trying to do just that.

Bali Retreat

I attend yoga and pilates daily, and consume a diet of leafy salads, smoothies and grilled meats. And I’m attempting to cut out alcohol and white flours. (Okay, I slipped and had a glass of white wine last night. I’m sorry.)

Bali Retreat

Bali Retreat

Also I’m loving my classes at the Yoga Barn. Though unfortunately they don’t offer bikram yoga (hot yoga), they have a fascinating list of classes I can’t wait to try like acro yoga (partner yoga), sound meditation healing and capoeira.

I’m also catching up on freelance work as well as getting way ahead as I have a jam-packed month ahead in December: a few weeks of diving on Gili Trawangan, and then precious time with family and friends back home over the holidays.

But I have to admit – I’m a bit lonely. As much as I’m very over sleeping in noisy hostel dorms, I miss the camaraderie of my fellow travelers. Sheesh, am I ever happy? When I’m with a big group I need alone time, when I’m alone I crave company. Ugh.

I have a lot of work to do in the next ten days, but I’m here, I’m working on myself, and I’m so grateful to have this opportunity. And if in ten days I have made strides in making meditation a part of my life, finding a balance between freelancing and travel and slowing down my monkey brain (oh, and if I’ve become slightly bendier), I’ll be pleased.

Bali Retreat

Bali Retreat

Have you ever created a retreat for yourself? Where was it?

Note – I was not perked or paid by Yoga Barn for this mention – I’m just very happy with them and wanted to share with all that might be interested in practicing yoga in Bali!

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Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.
Ashley Fleckenstein