My visit to a "famous" Balinese medicine man!
If you’re a fan of romance, slightly spiritual and believe in fairy tale endings, then you’ve more than likely read the famous book, written by the oh so talented, Liz Gilbert – “Eat. Pray. Love”. This book has sold approximately 9 million copies, and became a Hollywood hit soon after, starring one of my favourites, Julia Roberts, and the delicious South American man that is Javier Bardem.
For all those that know the novel (and those that don’t), Liz Gilbert writes a memoirs style book about herself, her divorce, mid-life crisis – and her travel experiences, as a result of wanting to venture out into the world to “feed her soul’ and nourish herself back to being the passionate woman she once was. A huge part of her story starts and ends with a Balinese medicine man, called Ketut Liyer.
When I arrived in Bali for the very first time, I knew one of the things I wanted to do was to find where Ketut lived and get a reading from him. Bali is known as “The centre of the universe” amongst the Balinese people, and I’m really spiritual so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to live out that side of me, and find the man that inspired Liz Gilbert – fitting I thought, seen as I was massively inspired by Liz & her words.
Healers & medicine men in Bali are believe it or not, relatively easy to find, but you don’t want a “knock of” or “fake” experience, which is why I went looking for the man that came highly recommended.
Before Bali, I had been travelling solo for 6 months, and had spent 3 months in the States and 3 months in Australia. All of my experiences had been life changing and beautiful and marvellous – and all of those all-encompassing positive words that make up the English language. My best friend from London had flown out over Christmas to be spend a month travelling the East coast of Oz with me, and when she left, it left me with a feeling of loneliness and emptiness. I’d gotten to a point in my travels where the presence of my best friend had given me so much comfort, and that all too familiar feeling of home – that when she left, the feeling of homesickness started to rear its ugly head, and gradually creep up on me bit by bit, until I found myself struggling with feeling all the wonderful things I’d felt whilst travelling.
Every traveller knows that this moment in your trip is inevitable. Travelling the world with your “home” on your back is a hard thing to do for a long period of time, but the lessons you learn, the things you see & feel, the people you meet and the personal growth and awareness that changes your soul, are all reasons why the good out ways any real presence of the bad. It’s how we react and respond to these moments that really builds your character, and shows how much strength you have, and when travelling on the road – these lessons are more important than ever. That’s why a big part of me sought out the great medicine man Ketut Liyer. I needed to feel his energy, for him to feel mine, for him to read how I was feeling and to reinforce the strength that I’ve always felt inside, even when I’m away from home on the other side of the world.
I was travelling Bali with two great friends, a couple, Josie & Dean, and my friend Dean spent months at a time there, away from the mines back across the water in Perth. His passion for surfing drew him back to the Balinese waves, and as a result I was able to see Bali in the best possible way, through the eyes of a “local”, but not just that, through the eyes of someone who had been travelling, on the road for 15+ years. Myself and Josie were on a mission to find Ketut’s layer, and believe me it wasn’t that easy – what with the film that featured his story making £200 million +, the Balinese people were protective of him, and didn’t want him to be exposed by Hollywood.
We eventually found him in his little homestay in Ubud, Bali. Surrounded by nature, beautiful coloured shrines, with the most tropical flowers, there he sat, robed in traditional Balinese dress.
I remember walking into his space, and thinking it was really quiet, peaceful, zen like. We spoke to an older woman, maybe a relative of his, or wife, I’m not sure – but she was so helpful and guided us towards him so we could meet him. His face was so kind, so warm and so open. He had that beautiful brown Balinese skin, with chocolate, honey brown eyes that felt like they peered deep into your soul and heart. I remember thinking his voice was quite high pitched and squeaky, speaking broken English as he welcomed us up onto his platform to sit, speak and (we were hoping) take a photo with him. He took my hand in his, and I could feel his warmth, his healing energy through his hands. Ketut looked at me and smiled this huge toothless smile, his eyes widening as he studied me. Saying his famous line of “You are very preeeeetttyyyy!”, made me laugh and smile the biggest smile. If I’m totally honest the rest is a blur, and I can’t really remember what he said to me after that, but what I do know is that I had found myself again, and my spirit was dancing deep inside, revelling in the fact that I was surrounded by such power, such beauty – I was in Bali. Those feelings of loneliness and homesickness, of sadness, left me – and it was as if I had been jolted back to the person that I am. I was travelling the world, a female, on her own – experiencing all of these new and incredible things, and `I felt more grateful and alive than ever. They always say that in order to feel such highs, we must experience some lows (especially on the road).
Travelling will always be a part of my soul, and I will do it for as long as I possibly can – because the lessons you learn on the road, are real and truly enlightening. “Thank you for opening my eyes Ketut. You are a true medicine man!”