Kuta was overwhelming. The first day I walked around town and people were rushing toward the malls and rolling oversized suitcases into towering resorts. The older women had stems of cocktail glasses hanging between their fingers and were pressing frozen drinks to their mouths. The men were wearing shirts with no sleeves and bright salmon coloured shoulders that omitted their failure to apply sunscreen. Scooters whizzed past me and I felt dizzy from the constant motion.
I needed to get away.
It was only a few days later that I was rattling along a backroad with my bags in the trunk, making the two-hour drive up to the rural countryside where I would check in to the Sarinbuana Eco Lodge for 7 nights.
There was a long winding path surrounded by vegetation that beckoned me into the lodge. I was escorted to my bungalow, the Cozy View Bungalow which had two single beds draped in canopies, a waterfall-like shower that poured over a natural rock floor, and best of all, two glass doors that creaked open to welcome a view of the jungle rolling downhill where you could distantly make out Canggu, Kuta and the lapping waves of the ocean. I stared open-mouthed for maybe too long before unpacking my things.
The property has a Bamboo Bale—an open-air yoga hut—where I would roll out a foam mat and stretch my sore back to the sound of Bon Iver’s voice rising out of my phone with the complementary back up vocals of hundreds of jungle birds. The property also had signs pointing to a natural water hole. When I finally made it to the base of the stone steps I released my clothes to the ground and dipped my body into the refreshingly cold spring. Yoga and an ice cold dip in the water hole became a daily ritual.
I spent a day hiking through the countryside. The rice fields were breathtaking, they were an electric green in the sunlight and carved into terraces. We walked along a mountain spring and my hiking guide informed me that the water was fresh enough to drink and channeled from this bubbling stream into pipes that transported the water to the village, including the eco lodge where our water was refilled daily. Every morning I would start the day with a glass of this cold refreshing water and think of that spring winding its way through the bamboo trees.
One of my favourite parts of Sarinbuana Eco Lodge was the food. They asked that we order our meals the day prior so that each ingredient could be gathered from the gardens and prepared ahead of time. I inhaled the scent of spices and had the pleasure of trying a new traditional Balinese dish each night for dinner. I would start the morning with a refreshing fruit smoothie; my favourite was the Eco Nut Smoothie. It was creamy and rich in flavour and garnished with a ripe slice of banana. I constantly craved the Gado Gado, a traditional Indonesian dish made with steamed vegetables, a generous scoop of rice and peanut sauce. Yet another daily craving was the chocolate mousse, a decadent dessert made from organic cacao gathered in their backyard.
The lodge was also home to two pig-tail macaques, Lilly and Rose. One of the owners Norm informed me that they had seen Lilly chained up outside one of the homes in the village. She was domesticated as a pet at a young age and then left in the sun restrained and alone in her adolescence. After driving by countless times, Norm and Linda decided to buy this little monkey her freedom back. Rose was brought in a number of years later under the same circumstances. The dynamic was immediately apparent—Rose was the boss. I moved forward to present Lilly with a berry and Rose shot her a warning glare. Lilly scurried away just in time for Rose to swoop in and snatch the berry from my palm.
The days passed and the city lights appeared even more distant now. I had grown used to hearing the call of birds in the morning and the buzz of insects in the night. I made friends with the property’s cat Poppy, that now had a habit of greeting me in my room and curling up on my lap as I read my book after sunset. I became familiar with my daily routine—waking up with the sun and meditating until breakfast, hiking through the rice fields and writing in the breeze of the afternoon on my patio. How was I meant to go back to the city now?
It’s my final day and I’m feeling ready to make my way back. I’m excited to dip my toes into the ocean and continue falling off a surfboard until I’m able to catch a wave. I’m so grateful to everyone at Sarinbuana Eco Lodge for making my stay here so comfortable, peaceful and memorable. Every time I would pass someone on the property we would exchange a bright smile. The staff are exceedingly kind and accommodating. This eco lodge is the perfect retreat when you’re looking to rejuvenate mid-travel or if you’re looking for space and time to be creative and reconnect with yourself in a yoga practice, journaling or simply walking silently through these sacred mountain forests. The landscape is breathtaking, the people are gorgeous and the place is really magical.