Journals of Conscious Travel & Lifestyle

Category: Travels (Page 1 of 8)

Bali Silent Retreat

Bali Silent Retreat is a place to unplug, unwind and reflect. Set amongst peaceful rice fields in the rural and less travelled western part of Bali with views of Mount Batukaru, Bali’s second-highest volcano, it’s a truly special, serene and unique experience.

I was there this time last year, and with limited travel due to Covid-19 have been looking back through my photos and thought I’d share my experience.

Bungalows amongst ride paddies

Accomodation options

There are private bungalows and shared dorms with various pricing options. I’m fussy with accomodation so I stayed in the private bungalow – the most expensive option – but it’s worth it. It was quiet and private with a cute verandah overlooking the ride fields above.

Bali Silent Retreat Lounge
The Communal Lounge and Dining Area

The overall experience, location, activities of yoga, meditation etc and most of all the incredible meals – healthy vibrant (mostly vegan) flavoursome food that’s grown onsite. I’ve wanted to go to the Silent Retreat since hearing about it on my trip to Bali in 2015, and finally went in July 2019.

Meditation at Bali Silent Retreat

The style of meditation is relaxed, unstructured silent introspection and reflection. There are daily optional structured activities including yoga, meditative walks and other classes. The rest of the time you’re free to wander through the tropical gardens or sit and contemplate the world.

Tropical Gardens Bali Silent Retreat
Lush Tropical Gardens

Bali Silent Retreat seemed like the ideal gentle intro to silent meditation to me. I love the idea of silence and reflection, yet Vipassana meditation retreats I’ve heard about sound quite intense and formulaic with the 4am starts and rules, and I was looking for more holiday style relaxation this time.

The yoga and meditation octagon bale

Yoga Classes

Daily yoga and meditation classes are held in an open air structure with a fabric roof (above) called the ‘Yoga and Meditation Octagon Bale’ surrounded by trees. Classes are suitable for all levels and lead by different international yoga instructors. You can choose morning, afternoon or both.

The veggie gardens at Bali Silent Retreat

Tropical Gardens

Tours are available of the impressive productive sustainable gardens which use permaculture principles and have some fascinating tropical plants, fruits and vegetables. the garden tour was a real highlight – we tasted the sweet pods of raw cacao trees, and put the bright peachy-coloured sap of the ‘lipstick tree’ on our cheeks and lips!

Bali Silent Retreat Gardens

The whole grounds are surrounded with well kept gardens. Dozens of ripe passion fruit overhand the chillout hammock zone ripe for picking.

What It’s Like at Bali Silent Retreat

The Retreat really is a breath of fresh air, a chance to reconnect with yourself, reflect, relax and unwind from constant stimulation of everyday life. A reminder to be gentler to yourself and closer to nature. It has a really special energy.

Bungalows from the ride paddies at Bali Silent Retreat

Described as a “five star ashram”, Bali Silent Retreat is certainly therapeutic and relaxing with ashram principles. Guests can do as they feel, participating in as much or as little as they wish. It isn’t linked to any particular discipline or philosophy; this agnosticism really appeals to me!

Photos of Bali Silent Retreat

Given the ‘silent’ subject I decided a photo essay is the best way to share my experience. I wish I’d taken more photos but I switched my phone off for most of the trip in line with the recommendations and purpose. Some fo these pics are from a lovely girl I met there.

Lush green rice fields with volcano backdrop!

Enjoy! Let me know what you think in the comments section below, and if you have any questions. Or if you’ve been to this or a similar retreat I’d love to hear about your experience.

Bali Silent Retreat Flowers
Flowers in the entrance – one of many thoughtful details
Bali Silent Retreat Ashram
Ashram entrance
Bali Silent Retreat Cushions
Cushions in the lounge
Bali Silent Retreat Dining Tables
Dining Tables
Bali Silent Retreat Kitchen
Kitchen: Delicious teas, treats and meals await!
Bali Silent Retreat Daily Steps
Bali Silent Retreat Daily Steps
Bali Silent Retreat Medicine Herbs
Medicine Herbs
So green!
One of the team in the rice fields
The gong that calls everyone to yoga and meditation each day

Day Tour to Mt. BatuKaru Holy Temple

One of the day trips we did included the stunning old temple below. The history and culture are fascinating.

Water blessing ritual
Temples in the mist
River next to the temple

Day Tour to Hot Springs

We also visited some hot springs with pools to swim in,. They had a swing – I love a swing!

Natural hot spring pools near Bali Silent Retreat
Hot spring pool
Swing at the hot springs
Swing overlooking hot springs
Cute bungalow at hot springs
Sunset Bali Silent Retreat Ricefields
Sunset Over Bali Silent Retreat Ricefields

For full info and programs see the Bali Silent Retreat Website.

Testing Out a Tiny House Near Sydney

We went to stay in a tiny house near Sydney in Stanwell Tops, an hour’s drive away, to try out what it felt like.

Once covid restrictions had eased I was craving some time in nature, peace and quiet and fresh air outside the city.

Experiencing tiny house living

I’ve been wanting to experience living in a tiny house for a short period to be closer to nature and to drastically reduce (or nearly eliminate) living costs for a while.

Tiny homes on AirBnB near Sydney

There are surprisingly few tiny homes for rent on air bnb anywhere near Sydney. I expected more given the interest in tiny living in Australia and NZ.

I chose one that looked modern, surrounded by nature yet not far from Sydney. It worked out around $340 for two nights in total.

I wanted to see how the space would feel, if it would be claustrophobic, if things worked smoothly and how warm or cold it would be.

We arrived after dark in NSW winter and the house was very cold at first. It soon warmed up after a few minutes blasting a small fan heater. The space was generally quick to warm up and stayed warm for a long time with just a short blast from the heater.

The tiny home had everything you’d need for a short stay and they even fit two double beds in – one in a loft mezzanine and a pull-down one in a cupboard. The kitchen was functional and didn’t feel too cramped, altho we didn’t prepare any elaborate meals.

The ladder was very simple with a small step that folds flat. I’d want a more substantial stair and handrail as we both had wobbles where we felt we could have fallen when climbing up to the bed.

The bathroom had a standard shower, sink, toilet and cupboard. We’d definitely need more storage in there for longer term living, and I’d want some sort of bath ideally, either in the house or outside. But it was all perfectly convenient to use.

I imagine summer would have a more open feel as the deck would get loads of use. I sat in the sun on the deck for a while and we spotted some curious deer in the woods peering out at us (introduced, not native but obviously thriving).

Things to do in Stanwell Tops

Stanwell Tops area is great to explore – we went to see the local hindu temple, below.

There are lots of bush walks in the area and we chose an easy one that starts at Stanwell Park train station called the Wodi Wodi Track. It goes up the hill and has expansive views down onto Stanwell Tops and the coastline.

We took a few wrong turns and found various viewpoints along the way.

The beach in Stanwell Tops is rugged and scenic with impressive houses dotted around the cliffs.

We had a wander along the beach and took a wrong turn when it got dark…we somehow scrambled up a hill and ended up in someone’s garden in the pitch black!

Driving further down the coast on the Sea Cliff Bridge has incredible ocean views, well worth a drive. The next day at dusk we drove down it to Scarborough and had a drink at the Scarborough Hotel, which has a huge beer garden overlooking open ocean.

Lots of the benches were still cordoned off to keep numbers down due to covid. Will definitely go back in summer!

The verdict – a weekend in a tiny house

Overall it was great to try out tiny living for a weekend. The home we stayed in was pre-fab and obviously intended as a rental. So a tiny house with custom features and more eco-friendly and fixtures and fittings and our own decor it would be an amazing space to live for a while!

Next up is to try out living in a tiny house / RV or converted van on wheels as I really want a custom kitted out van to go on road trips and live in for a while for a nomadic and free existence.

Interested in Sustainability?

The global Sustainability Award helps to identify the best sustainable and plastic-free options, including accomodation. It’s my latest eco-venture, please check it out, and say hello on social media! 

Confest Easter 2019

Photo Essay: My Confest Journey April 2019

“What time is it?” “daytime”.

Losing all sense of time with a dusty digital detox at Confest.

Smiling friendly open souls, naked muddy bodies, yoga in the trees, deep workshops, river swims, wood fires, drums, laughter, dancing, stars, fairy lights, and of course, chai. ?☕?????

Managed to arrive after Sunset Again
Stalls at Confest
Food stalls
Morning Confest People Sitting
Morning Confest
Confest Maze
Confest Maze
Confest Workshop Tent
Confest Workshop Tent
Confest Workshop
Confest Workshop
Space Van Confest
Space Van
Confest Variety Show
Confest Variety Show
Chai Tent Confest
Chai Tent
Confest Time
Confest Time
Chai Tent Chats
Chai Tent Chats
Good night Confest
Good night Confest

Sleep at Confest

For anyone who’s a light sleeper I’d recommend camping in the area called “Listen to the grass grow” Next time I will camp there for sure.

I had an awesome time at Confest but definitely didn’t get enough sleep being a light sleeper. It’s not that it’s super noisy, but I did get woken a few times. I had a sore throat and was stressed about getting more ill so I think that compounded being noise sensitive. I also didn’t drink.

If you’ve been to Confest I’d love to hear your experience in the comments!

If you’re thinking of going and you’re apprehensive, just go! The long journey there is part of the whole experience. Open your mind and be free!

Interested in Sustainability?

The global Sustainability Award helps to identify the best sustainable and plastic-free options. It’s my latest eco-venture, please check it out, and say hello on social media! 

Percy Island Adventure

Percy Island (‘Middle Percy Island’) is one of the Percy Group in the Whitsunday islands. It’s 70 miles out from Mackay on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and is only visited by seasoned sailors. As you approach the white palm-fringed beach of Percy Island’s main anchorage at West Bay, a wooden A-frame hut comes into view…

I could see some sort of large shed on the beach

We anchored at West Bay easily with calm waters not far from shore, and paddled kayaks to the beach. It was like something from a castaway film.

Percy Hilton, Percy Island

Percy Hilton

The ‘large shed’ we could see from the boat is an A-frame hut with a quirky hand-written sign naming it the ‘Percy Hilton’,  filled with plaques bearing boat names and souvenirs left by passing boats over the years. I imagine passing yachties may have sheltered here when anchoring, perhaps staying for a while when seas were rough.

Percy Island swing

Me on Percy Island Hilton swing

The view from the 'Percy Hilton' Percy Island

The view from the ‘Percy Hilton’

Boat shed Percy Island

Giddyup Go boat plaque Percy Island

Our boat’s plaque, left here a few years ago

Boat plaques Percy Island

Yachtie memorabilia Percy Island

Yachtie memorabilia left over the years

View from West Bay Percy Island

There’s a hut that works as a book exchange chock-full of books and more random memorabilia.

Percy Island Book Exchange

Percy Island Book Exchange

Boat signs Percy Island

Bra Percy Island

At the other end of the beach is a big ramshackle multi-level treehouse, with windows overlooking the beach.

A couple of local guys and and a group of other yachties who had just arrived were on the beach when we visited. One of the guys showed us around the treehouse. We walked up the ladder through three levels with basic bedrooms. I bet there are some stories from that place!

Treehouse Percy Island, Whitsundays

The tree house!

Steps up the treehouse Percy Island

Steps up the treehouse

Bedroom 1 in the treehouse Percy Island

Bedroom 1 in the treehouse

Bedroom 2 in the treehouse Percy Island

Bedroom 2 in the treehouse

A ute passed and the drivers asked if the other yachties and I wanted to see the rest of the island. Of course I said yes, and we got an unofficial tour of the island while Ric waited on shore (he’d seen it before and there wasn’t space for him). We drove along a steep narrow dusty track for five minutes to the middle of the island and stopped at a ramshackle old house high on the hill overlooking the ocean. Tropical fruit trees surrounded the house.

Dinghy Winch Percy Island

Dinghy Winch Percy Island

The ranger / caretaker showed us around and we met a tall lean German guy who lived on the island, and an older woman who lived in the main house. The German guy had come to the island as a backpacker 20 years ago and never left! He said he had arrived a vegetarian, but living on the small island meant he’d adapted to available food by hunting wild pigs!

Durian Fruit, Percy Island

Durian Fruit

The yachtie guys asked if the the islanders had any limes they could buy to go with their rum. The German guy suggested we to go find some limes, so off we went on his motorbike, whizzing around the island looking for lime bushes.

Prickly pears, Percy Island

Prickly pears

We saw various trees and bushes along the way before we finally found the lime bush he’d had in mind, but it didn’t seem to be fruiting, except one old lime in the middle which wasn’t worth risking the thorns to get to. There are some incredible viewpoints from Percy Island across the sparkling blue sea dotted with islands.

View of Whitsunday islands from Percy Island

View of islands from Percy Island

Back at the main house the German guy said he’d guide me and the yachties back if we wanted to hike through the island. En route we stopped at his little wooden house that he’d built himself.

Me and the German guy on his newly built yoga deck

He’d recently installed a big wooden deck overlooking the ocean where he practiced yoga. What a life! After a quick photo on the deck we all set off walking back to the beach where we were anchored.

Lagoon, Percy Island

It was pretty hot, and the hike took much longer than I expected. We passed through some tough terrain and had to jump over a lagoon at one point!

Boat Jetty, Lagoon, Percy Island

Calm Blue Lagoon, Percy Island

There isn’t much info about Percy Island online, but the few articles I found were fascinating.

An entertaining old Independent article about the late ‘eccentric Englishman’ Andy Martin who held the island lease for years claims he abandoned his family in England and moved to the island circa 30 years ago. The writer was his step-son and went to visit him on Percy Island years later as an adult. He wrote an amusing but abrupt account of his trip, including some crazy island history about botanists being eaten by the original inhabitants, three gold-diggers who visited only to be murdered, commit suicide and disappear, corpses of escaped convicts found washed up on the beach after their stolen yacht sank and treasure being buried and never found.  –  The Riddle of Percy Island. 

A more informative article with info about anchorages is here.

I visited Percy Island for the day while on a slow month-long sailing trip on a 40 foot catamaran from Airlie Beach to Hervey Bay in 2014. We stopped and explored many islands including Lady Musgrave and the fascinating abandoned resort on Brampton Island.

The Percy Isles are only accessible by private boat and aren’t included on tours that I know of. I’m glad I got to see the island, and feel lucky given it’s not on the tourist trail. I hope it’s unique quirky charm is preserved for years to come.

Our entry in the log book

Interested in Sustainability?

The global Sustainability Award helps to identify the best sustainable and plastic-free options. It’s my latest eco-venture, please check it out, and say hello on social media! 

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