Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Surf Goddess Retreat - Bali

I have been home and back to work for almost a month now, the glow of the vacation high has sadly faded and all I have left is the pictures and my day dreams of the beautiful Bali water. I wanted to share a little bit about the vacation I so enjoyed last month at Surf Goddess Retreats. Surf Goddess Retreats is located in Bali and getting to Bali is no easy feat from Los Angeles! Of course I DID say I needed to get away from my life for a spell and going half way around the world was about as far as I could get. The flight from LAX was 16 1/2 Hours to Singapore, then a layover at Singapore Airport, definitely one of the coolest airports in the world to have time to kill in! Then 2 1/2 hours to Denespar. At this point my friend Dawn and I, bleary eyed and dazed from a day plus of travel were greeted by a driver with a sign who was dispatched to bring us to the retreat! Easy as that we exited the airport into the bright sunshine, were whisked away and found ourselves driving through an amazingly colorful, tropical and foreign land.

We were the first guests to arrive at the villa and were greeted by Chelsea, the retreat founder and owner. She was so warm and hospitable - showing us around the beautiful villa compound we were to call home for the next 8 days. Afterwards I immediately jumped into the pool right outside our bedroom door took a deep breath and knew I had made the right decision to come here!

The first evening we met our other retreat companions who came from San Francisco, Maine, Tokyo and Scotland. Then we sat down for what was easily one of the most amazing meals I had eaten in a long while. Of course - every single evening we were treated to an incredible and diverse array of dishes that were fresh and healthy. The food was so phenomenal we became quite spoiled and I wish they had a cook book - although we did get to eat some things that I don't think you can find quite so easily here in the states. One of my favorites at breakfast was this odd looking thing called "Jack Fruit" that tasted like bubblegum! Sounds crazy but was amazing!

The next day we began our surf lessons with the great crew at Rip Curl Surf School where we spent a few hours every day for the rest of the week. The water was warm and most importantly shark free! One other girl and I had a bit more experience so we got to have our own instructor the first day and then the second day our Surf Leader Melinda worked with us. They really catered to every ones unique skills. After that the rest of the girls had mastered standing and paddling so we all spent the rest of the next week together. The instructors were great and I don't know how they do it all day, I mean it is a rough job being out in the sun and surf teaching class after class of women huh! :-)

The school has photographers on hand to take pictures of the lessons so at the end of the week you can purchase a disc with your surfing photos. Thanks to that I was able to show my friends and family my surfing moves as well as a few of my spectacular falls and wipe-outs!

I am not really quite sure why I kept doing this whole "Airplane Arm" thing. One of the things about the photos is you could see what you looked like and what mistakes you you were making.

I just thought I would put this one in to show how graceful I am at falling. Yeah right!

In addition to surfing everyday - we also got private yoga at our villa. Quite a different and wonderful experience to enjoy yoga on a patio outside your bedroom door, overlooking your pool and garden while hearing the sounds of birds and other wild life all around you. Our instructor Susan was wonderful and patient with those of us who were not as adept. I am happy to say that through her I have re-discovered yoga and have been committed to practicing it daily since my return and am really feeling the benefits both physically and mentally. Thanks Susan!

In the middle of the week we took a day off from our surf lessons and Susan accompanied us to the town of Ubud. For anyone who has read the book, Eat, Pray, Love - the town of Ubud is featured in the last part of the book, and the people the author encountered and be-friended are real, including Wyan , the woman who owns Traditional Balinese Healing Center.
Our first stop was to the sacred Money Forrest. An amazing place with more monkeys then you can imagine just living among the trees - hanging out with tourists and getting fed and generally Monkey-ing around. (Oh yes terrible pun I know)

This "little" guy was the official greeter as we entered

Just chatting with my new friend about his days in the Monkey Forrest.

A family with a newborn Monkey.

As it turns out - the day we traveled to Ubud was an "Auspicious Day" in the calender for doing all kinds of ceremonies. During the drive Susan educated us on the religion and culture in Bali. Balinese give multiple offerings to the Gods every day. There are shrines and temples everywhere the eye can see as this is a very spiritual culture. The rest of the day we were able to peruse an open air market, have a delicious lunch and then visit Wyan at her Traditional Balinese Healing Center. This is her daughter (also featured in the book) Tutti and her pet rabbit.

The drive home we passed some of the beautiful rice fields that Bali is known for.

The rest of the week was spent doing more surfing and yoga, spending time with and getting to know all the amazing women on the trip, more exploration of this beautiful island and of course more spa treatments!

The end of the retreat and saying goodbye to our new friends was sad - but of course in today's digital age - we are all already connected through Facebook. Chelsea has also set up a Surf Goddess network for us to all be able to stay in touch with our new surf goddess friends. I can't say enough good things about the retreat. The accommodations are top notch, beautiful, safe and comfortable. The food - no matter how much of an appetite you have worked up there is more then enough delicious food to go around. Included in the retreat was a decadent several hour long spa treatment on our first day as well as a Life coaching session which was an eye opener for me. All in all it was an incredible experience in every way.

Dawn and I stayed a few extra days to continue with the rigorous routine of spa treatments, beach, sun, surf and eating. After which we had our last evening of sunset cocktails and prepared for the long journey home.

So for anyone who has ever dreamed of a surf adventure or a trip to Bali, I suggest you check out Surf Goddess Retreats!

Cheers Luvs



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