Take a Virtual Vacation: Bali 2024

In which Laura leads 14 writers on a restorative, creative journey to explore the healing heart of Bali.

Waterfall

How many water blessings can you receive on one trip? Apparently, one more. Our third location, Munduk, is great for hiking. Here, we hike in the morning and write in the afternoon. Our first morning hike was to my favorite waterfall. Take a look.

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A News Free Zone

The very first day of our retreat, during our all-group orientation, one of the ground rules I laid out as a core group agreement was this: “One of the great things about being in Bali for 15 days is a break from the news. I know some of you—those from the United States—are looking forward

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The Work I Can’t Quit

Today, we transferred to Puri Lumbung, a beautiful hotel set in the rice fields in Munduk, the coffee growing region of western Bali. It’s my favorite stop on our tour, a deeply peaceful and natural place. After lunch, we met in our new writing space for the first time. And this was what we wrote

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Blessing

This morning, we took a special excursion to south Bali to the compound of a High Priest and Priestess for a purification ceremony for each trip member. The most moving part for me were the high priest and priestess, an older couple who married each other late in life—the first marriage for both of them.

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Purification

Yesterday, we ended the first leg of our 15-day tour of Bali. We moved from Candidasa to Ubud, and travel/transition days are always stressful. We were leaving our idyllic beachside resort behind. I’d warned people in our orientation on Day #1 that people often get cranky during transition days. I see it on every trip,

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Teaching Writing in Bali

Here’s the thing about teaching writing in Bali. From day to day, moment to moment, I never know what we’re going to do. No wonder my pre-planning is useless. I don’t use a set curriculum. Especially not when teaching a group that’s traveling as a community, when writing is just one component of a multi-faceted

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Cremation

Today we got to witness the cremation of Cokorda Istri, a member of the noble family of Ubud. As the time for the cremation procession approached, the street got fuller and fuller until it was teeming with people, some in ceremonial clothing, some in tourist garb, some in bright green or bright orange uniforms with

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The Art of Bargaining

Judy gave us a dramatic lesson in the art of bargaining this morning over breakfast. She began by saying, “Some of you may already be very good at bargaining from yard sales and flea markets. Others are terrified of bargaining, and think, ‘I’ll just pay the first price,’ but bargaining is expected in Bali.” This

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The Best Laid Plans

In our group orientation this morning, I stressed two qualities I wanted the group to embody: courage and flexibility. Courage has to do with taking risks and moving out of our comfort zone. I put it to the group this way: “What I’m going to ask you to do every day you’re on this trip,

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Deluge

This tropical deluge woke me up today… Delightful. Turn up your sound. I guess we’re not going snorkeling this morning after all! Seems like an excellent morning to write!

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Coming of Age in Tenganan

While our remaining travelers were making their way to Lotus Bungalows in Candidasa today, Laurie, who arrived last night, and I headed to Tenganan Village to witness the Mekare-Kare Pandan Wars, an annual ritual for the boys and men of the village. Three hundred people live in Tenganan Village. They are an original aboriginal village,

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My Love Affair with WhatsApp

I have been a huge fan of WhatsApp for years. Having a daughter who travels and lives on the other side of the world makes me so grateful for this versatile communication app that lets you text, leave voice memos, send photos and videos, and make international phone calls, with video or without, all for

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Skin

I came to Bali with my friend Nancy Gertz a week before my students were set to arrive. In the course of that week, Nancy and I became friendly with a couple from Holland and the four of us enjoyed meals and conversation. The three of them, in Bali for the first time, were sharing

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After Diving

This is me after my final three scuba dives of this trip. I’m still drifting on the currents, swimming with schools of fish, watching octopi and bright blue eels poke out of crevices while the most amazing manta rays swoop and glide around me. I hadn’t gone diving in six years and thought maybe I

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Bali Bliss

My co-leaders and Bali partners Judy and Surya gifted me with this “aromatic flower bath” at Andre Bali Spa in Manggis. The spa sent a car to pick me up at my hotel and drove me about ten minutes up the road. The treatment started with a foot washing. Then I was taken to a

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