In Bali it’s hard to tell a Balinese home from a temple – everything’s so pretty. We checked in at Svarga Loka resort, and there must have been a glitch in the matrix, because we stepped into another dimension.
We opened the beautiful wooden door, but there wasn’t a room inside. In the huge living space there was an ancient-looking wall with stone sculptures, a Japanese-style Kai pond with fish, stepping stones to cross it, and a Balinese gate on each side. It’s like Angkor Wat in your home. There was a beautiful set of wicker furniture in the main part of the room with paintings and traditional home furnishings. Dining area, tall chairs, kitchenette, high ceiling with huge wooden fans – all was there. Pinch me, it’s still the living room. The best part was TWO (!) terraces hanging above the jungle – one in the living area, one in the bedroom. From either of them you could see beautiful rice terraces surrounded by tall palm trees #balilife. To top it off, the bathroom was also quite grand. Being partially outdoors, the banana trees were nearly climbing through the bamboo blinds bringing you closer to nature. There was also a jacuzzi, making it a real executive jungle experience. Honestly, what could be better after a long day of… relaxation?
Early morning is the nicest part of the day, when you see the palm trees covered in morning mist, birds singing and flying around, and sun rays peaking through the trees. The view from the restaurant is really nice as you can see the river below. Our couple of mornings went like this: waking up and opening the terrace doors, and then snuggling back into the sheets to listen to the sound of the river below, and watching the sky changing colours. Then you grab a cup of coffee and move over to the comfy seats out on the terrace and admire the undisturbed jungle. It must be even prettier during the rainy season with more moisture in the air. That’s the reason we skipped yoga class the next morning as the view from the terrace was too good to miss. During our stay we were visited by a lonely cat, a very bright firefly, and more often by two giant geckos, who we think actually own the villa, or even the whole Svarga Loka resort.
Svarga Loka resort offers yoga in the morning, martial arts in the afternoon, Balinese offering making, walks, and more importantly, NO TV’S IN ROOMS, so it isn’t your every day resort. With views like this why would anyone even think of watching TV anyway? The whole resort was like a temple complex with stone walls and sculptures. Even the reception area looked like a temple, with huge Balinese gates. Personally I think the resort grounds are special because there’s just so much nature: the river below, jungle surrounding every part of the resort, and the view of rice paddies and palm trees. It’s so peaceful. Just being there is relaxing. We also noticed that they take steps to be environmentally friendly (makes us happy!). In the room shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel were all in beautiful refillable ceramic bottles instead of disposable plastics. They also explained that they use some kind of vitamin to compost toilet waste.
At their Wellness Centre they offer a wide variety of treatments, and often have internationally known visiting practitioners, healers & mindfulness coaches. This is just a couple of things that they offer: life coaching, psychotherapy, colonics, Reiki, Crystal Healing and the list goes on. There are also tons of different kinds of retreats ranging from couple relationships to healthy eating and weight loss, to yoga and mindfulness. But even if you don’t go on a retreat, just being there, with all possible facilities and an amazing view, you feel more connected with nature and yourself (you can’t hear a single sound of a car). During our stay a Raw food retreat was taking place, they had Kirtan sessions on Mondays, so it looks like there’s always something different going on and you have plenty to choose from. In terms of activities, here are a couple of things from the myriad of possibilities that we’ve experienced ourselves – yoga, spa, Kirtan and a wellness consultation.
Auste went to sunrise yoga class which was amazing. I, on the other hand, would rather have gone for the actual sunrise, since I haven’t done yoga in a while. The good thing is that Svarga Loka resort has so much greenery that the air is cool in the morning. Auste still sweat a lot though! The yoga teacher was really lovely, easygoing, and helped her with correct form for each of the poses.
Believe it or not, last time we had an oil massage was in Cambodia, TWO AND A HALF YEARS AGO, after a really bad Khmer massage experience (link). The massage at Svarga Loka was very personalised, with different oils to choose from, specifying the required pressure levels and even marking which areas we’d like them to concentrate on more. The best thing is – the spa complex is basically a multi level wooden villa built into the slope of the valley, right above the river in the middle of the jungle. They don’t need to put on a soothing forest soundtrack, because you’re surrounded by real forest and river sounds while you’re getting your massage. Super relaxing. The full SPA service list was really long and we didn’t investigate it much, but basically you’re spoilt for choice: herbal compress, rock bath, body wrap, cleansing, revitalising, and even honeymoon packages with a bit of everything. I know it’s a small thing, but they also serve tea in a very pretty tea set after the massage. I feel good just thinking about it, haha.
Never heard of this Kirtan thing? Me neither! It seems to be a thing in Ubud, with a very international crowd. I wondered how all these people actually do that in their own countries, maybe they don’t? There were about 40 people, including 5 newbies like ourselves, sitting in a circle, and “singing” Hindu-like songs. Basically everyone was repeating one sentence at different tones, so altogether it sounded like an amazing acoustic concert, but with everyone singing along. It was really exciting to witness such a peaceful gathering. One internet source simply describes Kirtan as “a very different kind of music. Based on ancient chants, it has the ability to quiet the mind if listened to with intention.” For closed minded people that may sound like shamanism or some kind of cult activity, but for us this was really fun, and sounded a bit like Lithuanian folk songs. Think about it, all sorts of people sitting in a room quietly (most of them!), singing acoustic songs and sending each other positive energy – why would anyone NOT want to take part??
Professional wellness consultation:
Auste had an hour-long consultation with a holistic health consultant, Nigel McFarland. It must have been a good session, because when she came back, she didn’t speak to me until she wrote down her hundreds of ideas! The session can be about anything you want (or don’t want!) to talk about, because he doesn’t just concentrate on one issue, and takes in different factors to get closer to the root of the problem. That’s the beauty of holistic approach, because you realise how much everything is connected. We also met Mr Paul Emery, a life coach, at breakfast. He was a visiting practitioner who, in his own words, “can change stuff in you by tapping”. I almost feel I don’t belong here with these specialists!
*note the word ‘almost’ 😛
WELLNESS ASIDE / THE UBUD EXPERIENCE:
We went to Ubud city centre the first evening simply because it was our third day in Ubud and we hadn’t even seen it yet. As soon as you leave the resort grounds you’re hit with noise and loads of motorbikes zooming past. Every 2 meters there’s somebody offering you a taxi, some beggars asking for money. Not exactly how we imagined Ubud, but it’s 2017 – you have a choice of what you want to experience. We kind of wish we had done all the exploring BEFORE going to Svarga Loka resort, but either way, it was amazing. I think it’s just being in that kind of atmosphere of yogis and health enthusiasts that has an influence. You know, who you spend time with, is who you become.