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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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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