IT was the best laid schemes of mice and men. After a wretched year of studying full-time at university and working, my partner and I decided to take a health break in Bali. Ubud, in the mountains, is the capital of healthy living and detox. There are organic raw food restaurants, a daily supply of yoga classes, endless natural healing therapies, and massage. We found a lodge surrounded by nature, away from traffic fumes and the hustle and bustle, and allowed ourselves a couple of days to unwind.
I have a friend living by the sea in Seminyak, an hour or two away, which is the exclusive end of what we Australians know as Kuta beach. At his request we reluctantly decided to leave our retreat for one day and have lunch with him near his home on the beach.
Twelve days later we stumbled on to our plane, sodden with partying day and night, having eaten rich foods obsessively — and never having gone back to Ubud, sending a driver to retrieve our luggage instead.
My friend is a true party boy and knows lots of fun-loving expats living on the island. One of his friends is a famous chef to New York society and Hollywood celebrities who took a shine to us and decided to take us to the best restaurants run by his colleagues. One night he cooked us a feast. We also connected with people in the entertainment industry, hoteliers, and a crowd of people who knew how to live well.
It was 24/7 decadence and indulgence to the point that we never moved a muscle unless it was to get into a car, and never ate a vegetable unless it was swimming in cream sauce.
Yet I haven’t felt healthier in years. My body is considerably fatter, but my soul feels nourished. My stressed mind was soothed by pleasure and laughter, music and song, and I realised that the panacea to our tough, draining lives is not to go cold turkey and detox, but to find fun people and enjoy ourselves.
The food and wine was a bit over the top, and it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing to run into a leading chef. But the being irresponsible and childish, the staying out late, getting the giggles, and singing old songs in the back of a car, just brightened my life and reminded me of the bliss we leave behind to grow up.
There’s health for the body, in the ‘‘Eat your spinach’’ vein. But there is also health for the mind and soul, and the two simply don’t meet. For the time being, I’m wearing my spare tyre like a ring reminding me of the good times I’ve just had before responsible, ‘‘sensible Ruth’’ gets me!