Deeetouring with Dee in Indonesia
Ubud is synonymous with wellness and healing - for centuries, not just since Eat Pray Love made it famous. Today's Ubud is a healing haven, attracting lesbian and gay travelers from around the world – not just from Australia 3 hours away.
If you want to spa, detox, yogercise and enjoy a healing or relaxing massage, this is the place in Bali. During my three-months' living in Ubud, I experienced many kinds of spas – from the home-style bathtub in the rice paddies to the five-star, upmarket wellness retreats – and everything in between spa-wise.
One of the best remedial massages I had was at a small spa and massage training school just north of the main street, where local therapist Amy ran the academy for traditional Balinese massage (full-body techniques). She was excellent and charged $8 per half hour, $10 for full hour). At those rates, I could afford to go often, which I did because the massage school was 1km or 3 min by scooter from my villa.
The most unforgettable treatments were “Hawaiian elbow” technique at Taksu Spa in the centre of Ubud, and the old healer who worked on my specific arthritic ailments inside his compound on a bale next to the family temple. The luxury one was a gift, the basic one on my dime.
My healer, about 50 years old, was recommended by word of mouth via my local driver, himself a younger healer-in-training. (The knowledge is passed down from generation to generation to the village medicine man or woman, if you will.) Two treatments over two days cost $20 each. This was a fair offering, and good value, as I've had no pain since the deep tissue massage. I swear it's what's in the ointment – a combination of coconut oil, sandalwood, green onions and a secret ingredient or two!
If you go to Ubud for body, mind and spirit style holiday, plan ahead for your wellness treatments and remedial sessions, as the famous old healers and top-end spa resorts require appointments. If you go by word of mouth once you get there, you will have no trouble finding a good Balinese massage. But if you want a healer, better to research before you go and also get an insider's opinion.
I recommend you ask your local host for suggestions. There's always a cousin, brother or uncle happy to scooter to your accommodation and work on you on the spot. Open air bale's lack privacy, so if this is an issue, make arrangements to have it done in your room or private area of the guesthouse. Negotiate the rate in advance (ask in Bahasa, if possible, or have your local driver act as translator). I usually offer a generous donation at the end if he won't name a price – between 150,000 - 200,000 rupiah.
My rating: Ubud is best place in Bali for a holistic holiday, if you can stand the hordes of tourists flocking there since Eat Pray Love. Ask me before you go to find a suitable treatment and/or healer and places to stay in and around this cultural district.