My Eat Pray Love Experience – Final Part: An Afternoon with Balinese Healer, Wayan
By Candice Aiken.
Our trip to Bali is well and truly over but I did promise a three part series of my ‘Eat Pray Love’ experience and so here is the FINAL PART… the one you have all been waiting for:
♥ Make sure you check out parts 1 & 2 first:
• • • • • • • •
After our chance meeting Elizabeth Gilbert (or as I like to call her ‘my new BFF, Lizzie’), we settled back down into the dirty chairs and watched as Wayan ‘read’ her next client – the Russian guy. She read his body and noted symptoms he might be experiencing. He nodded along with everything she said. She then took his palm and said some things that appeared to upset the Russian guy. I tried not to listen in because I felt so awkward about it but it was something to do with his relationship and that he would have two loves in his life. He glanced over at us and with a concerned look on his face said “are you sure you want to do this in front of each other? She’s really spot on about everything!”
When Wayan finished with the Russian guy, we were next. I started to sweat profusely. It could have been the intense Bali heat or it could have been my nerves after what the Russian guy had just been told, either way I was sh*tting myself. She asked for one of us and I urged Curtis to go first. I was thankful to have a few minutes to pull myself together. The Russian guy leaned in and said “are you really sure you want to go ahead with this? You may not like what she has to say when she reads your palm”.
My response left my mouth without warning “Oh it’s fine, I know EXACTLY what she is going to say so I’m not scared”. The sweat started to come on strong now and I was thankful to have the heat to blame. Sure, I totally knew Curtis and I were going to be together forever and ever but who knows what Wayan was going to see – this woman had a mind of her own. Wayan began to read Curtis’ body as the Russian and I looked on eagerly. With every organ she ‘read’ came a comment… “your liver damaged… too much drinking”. I wasn’t entirely convinced of her findings considering 99% of people in Bali would have damaged livers! “Your shoulders damaged” she carried on… hmmm, most westerners sit in front of computers and would have the same damage. Again with the really obvious comments. I was growing suspicious.
Are Curtis and I destined to be together forever?
She came to Curtis’ palm and said that Curtis will live a LONG life. Curtis gave me a smug smile. Then came the ‘relationships’ line… you could cut the tension in the air… “you will only have one love”. We all breathed a sigh of relief. Curtis looked over at me and a huge smile formed on his face, “well I knew that!” he said.
She continued reading and began writing numbers down on a piece of paper with the word ‘months’ next to it. “What are they?” Curtis queried. Then she proceeded to tell Curtis (and anyone in Ubud who was listening) every relationship he’d ever had right down to the number of months and kind of relationship it was… ‘not so much love’ she referred to some of them as. As there were no secrets between Curtis and I, I knew all this and so we were shocked at the sheer accuracy of her reading. Now I was convinced. How could she have possibly known every single relationship right down to the month unless she had something uniquely special about her?
Then it was my turn. I was practically stuck to the chair… part sweat, part dirt and part nerves kept me glued there. I chiselled myself off and stood in front of this crazy woman. She began to read my body and explained my blood was unclean (from years of pharmaceutical abuse and alcohol) which explained my temperamental skin. Then, she noted my shoulders were tight much like Curtis’ – well that I knew. She told me I would live a long life… yay! Then came the relationships part. I wasn’t so nervous after Curtis’ reading but still wasn’t sure what was about to come out of her mouth. “I can’t see” she said and ordered me to sit down and hold flowers against my ‘marriage’ line on my hand. Righteo. I am sure you can imagine what I was thinking. Sweet mother of all things if this woman doesn’t tell me what I want to hear I am going to die!
She left me hanging and went back over to Curtis and began reading his palm to find out how many children he would have. Oh this I wanted to hear. We had been so ‘off and on’ (but mostly ‘off’) about the possibility of having children. This week of course was all about us and so we were a little off the idea of having kids. Then she said to Curtis, “you will have 4 children.” He laughed… and not the kind of giggle laugh, but a real hard belly laugh. I can imagine this was the worst news to Curtis because whenever we spoke of kids, it was 2 at the most. “But only if you want to, you can have 1 if you want to”. Phew… he sighed with relief.
Then it was my turn again. She opened my palm and the flowers fell to the floor. Ahhh, the moment we had all been waiting for… I cringed slightly as she began to speak. “You will only have one big love” she said. Well derr! Did we really need the flowers, suspense and all that drama to see that one? Curtis and I grinned at each other and I was immediately filled with relief but also a deep, deep knowing that our vows were not just for show. I love the crap out of this man!
“BUT!” she continued. Oh boy, now what?! “Someone else will love you! At 45, someone else will love you, but not a deep love, just a small love. They will love you but you will not respond at all.” Well I suppose that’s nice. I am 27 so I still have a few years wait in order to find out what that’s all about!
Taking random pills in Indonesia = risky business
After our reading, it was time for us to get into the real healing. Tutti (Wayan’s daughter) and her little helpers were in the kitchen making some concoctions. While the girls were doing what they were doing, Curtis, the Russian guy and I shared stories about our experiences so far in Bali (including what had just happened) and where we’d all come from and where we wanted to go. I felt so comfortable with this guy and strangely enough now, with Wayan. We had a laugh about how Curtis had been spat on by a Balinese healer earlier in the week (seriously… with leaves chewed up that were especially hand picked for Curtis). Then Wayan interrupted our joy with a glass of water (filtered – don’t freak out!), turmeric, lime and honey to ‘clean our blood’ for each of us. “Drink it” she said. We looked at each other and laughed. “When in Bali”, I said. We downed the drink and I was surprised at how un-poison-like it was. Note to self: make this awesome concoction at home!
Then Wayan started handing out brown pills. Immediately my defences came up. “I don’t do pills!” I said. But I was assured (convinced) these were not the kind of pills I was used to. I hesitated for a minute and started picturing some worst case scenario (death by weird Balinese pills) but Wayan quickly pointed me to the ingredients laid out on a plate… all herbs and plants. “Traditional Bali healing”, she said. Without giving it too much thought, I smelt the pills (as you do) and noticed they smelt like plants. Good enough for me, I downed them with a glass of what I hoped was filtered water. Apparently 6 were for my stomach, 2 for my skin and the others… well I don’t really know.
She then came around with a bunch of leaves and gave us each a few and told us to place them on our stomachs, underneath our belly buttons. Ummm… awkward. But in the spirit of ‘going with the flow’ we all did what we were told.
She handed us more leaves and told us to chew on them until a paste formed. Apart from those instructions, all I made of the rest of it was the word ‘bitter’. Great! The minute I began chewing I was surprised I missed the words ‘disgusting’ and ‘you will regret it’ in her explanation. We all giggled at each other with bits of green in our teeth and with screwed up ‘I totally regretted that’ faces. With every pill and every leaf we consumed, Wayan did the same – possibly to show they weren’t going to kill us or possibly because this is just what she does. Either way, it gave me some comfort. Tutti and her helpers then made us put some sticky oversized bandaids on each of our knees and were told to go upstairs. I failed to ask what the pads were for; I half knew I’d never understand the answer anyway and I half didn’t want to know.
Leave your dignity at the door and enter the torture chamber
When we got to the top of the stairs we were given the following order… “Take off all your clothes and put on a sarong then sit on chairs.” Wayan said as she pointed to the corner of the very tiny room with 3 chairs laid out over plastic. My initial thought was ‘is she going to murder us?! Why the plastic? Was this a scene out of the new Dexter series?!’ We all looked at each other with fear in our eyes. There was nowhere to get changed, but then, if we were going to get murdered, did it really matter?
We asked how long it was going to take and what we were to expect. Wayan responded and said “an hour or so” and that we were getting a massage. Phew, no murder! We had been there for a few hours already and we had an appointment booked for a colonic after our experience with Wayan. Well, it’s just a massage and shouldn’t take more than an hour we told ourselves. The Russian guy chimed in again with “you shouldn’t make appointments in Bali.” Ok, ok we get it! But I couldn’t imagine we would be here much longer.
I asked for the toilets knowing I had to wait an hour (that, and I wanted some privacy to change into this sarong) and was shown back downstairs to a traditional Balinese toilet. “When in Bali… when in Bali” is what was on constant repeat in my head. “When in Bali, do as the Balinese do!” After yet another awkward experience in a Balinese toilet, I reminded myself not to drink water EVER again as I got changed into the sarong and regrettably took myself back upstairs. What was I thinking?
I was instructed to sit down, facing Curtis and the Russian guy. I didn’t even have a chance to take in my surroundings before I suddenly had little hands all over me. Three girls took to scrubbing my bare skin as hard as humanly possible with wet leaves and warm brown water. I had so many thoughts running through my head. Firstly… ‘how the hell are these tiny girls so damn strong?’ and secondly ‘why am I paying to be so incredibly violated?!’ Not knowing the point behind any of this ‘scrubbing’ and what the hell was in that water, I felt myself welling up due to the sheer vulnerability and unfamiliarity I was being exposed to. I allowed them to continue and with every scrub of the soggy wet leaves and dirty brown water, I grew more paralysed. I began questioning my sanity, and their sanity! Then looked down through mascara stained eyes and noticed how exposed I was. I was thankful for the fact it was just us three and that we were all part of the same ridiculous ‘paid torture treatment’. After what felt like an hour of painful scrubbing head to toe, they finally stopped. Curtis and the Russian guy were asked to lie down on separate massage beds and I was forced to sit there in my filth… or actually – their filth! Or was it my filth?! ARRGGH!
Sweet mother of all things, is it over yet?!
At that moment, another victim was brought upstairs. Turns out the whole time, there was someone else partaking in the same ‘treatment’ downstairs. This beautiful girl was from Switzerland and I was ever so grateful she spoke amazing English. We laughed at each other, ourselves and the situation we were in. We drank more potions that were forced upon us and then the minute I thought it was all over, Tutti placed some raw garlic cloves straight onto my skin. And not just any part of my skin, but an open cut. Tears began to well in my eyes, and this time due to extreme pain moreso than embarrassment.
Then it was our turn to lie on the beds. We were poked, prodded and scrubbed even more as I overheard Curtis on the phone explaining to the colonic hydrotherapy clinic that only one of us would make it. I told Curtis to go ahead without me (there was no way I was going to ANOTHER appointment after this). Then I noticed Wayan chewing on something. I made a joke to my new friend about how the Balinese really like to chew on plants and spit them on people (Curtis experienced this from another healer a few days back). Then without warning, Wayan pulled my sarong up and spat all over my stomach. I felt… hmmm… words can’t really describe it. What just happened and what was I going to do about it?! I laid my head down and pictured myself back in our villa, overlooking the mountain, swimming in the pool and tried to take my mind off the knowledge of her spit in my belly button. There was more prodding, poking and near neck breaking (with her ‘massage’) and I was more than ready to leave… my body AND this place. Curtis had left to go to his appointment by this stage, I recall waving to him but I was so out of it, maybe I didn’t.
I was taken downstairs for a shower… I was so thankful and I was craving being clean more than ANYTHING. I had spit on my stomach, leaves in my hair, brown sh*t all over me and a general layer of filth on my skin. I don’t know what I was expecting when I got to the shower after everything I’d been through. It was the same room I went to the toilet in. “where’s the shower?”, I asked one of the ladies who had been torturing me. She held up a bucket of brown water and a tiny cloth. “This shower”, she said. And without warning, in one swift move, she ripped my sarong right off me, grabbed a cup of the brown water and poured it all over me.
“So I guess this is happening”, I commented as I stood there completely naked. She continued with the ‘washing’ and I said in my head – ‘this too shall pass’. After 30 seconds, I thought I’d try my luck at speaking again… “Umm, how about some clean water, maybe a sponge? … Or maybe I can do that?!”, I told her as she was getting a little too close. The lady didn’t understand a word of English! She laughed, handed me the bucket and muttered something in Indonesian. I was able to catch the last part which was something to the effect of: “clean the rest”. She handed me a tiny dry cloth (the size of a napkin) and said “to dry you with”. Large towels are overrated anyway; I always thought they were too big. I’ve never dried myself with a napkin before but there was always a first for everything!
Seriously… it’s not over yet?!
With Curtis gone, it was just me, the Russian dude and the girl from Switzerland. I must have made a comment about missing my appointment and being alone because the Russian guy laughed and said “see, this is why you don’t make appointments in Bali, you never know what is going to happen and for how long”. I couldn’t agree more. I ran my hands over my dirty skin… though it was a little softer (and much dirtier) there were no noticeable changes. What the hell had just happened to me?!
I was about to make my way out, I just wanted to leave but we were told to sit at a table. It was dark outside and I could hear thunder close-by. “You eat vitamin dinner now”, Wayan said. She shoved our meals in front of us. Thankfully, they were quite delicious, though it could have been turd on a plate and I wouldn’t have noticed I was in such a daze. We ate our dinner without question and then were finally able to speak about our experience, or whatever that was that happened to us up there. Wayan handed over some extra pills for us to take when we got home with the worst instructions I’ve ever seen. Then I noticed a text from Curtis saying he would pick me up in 45 minutes.
Clean at last…
We said our goodbyes and I made my way down one of the streets, not really knowing where I was heading but knowing it would be as far away as possible. I wondered if I smelt like dinner what with all the leaves, brown water and garlic on my skin still. I didn’t really care and I expect people would assume the smell was coming from one of the local cafes. I walked not more than 20 metres and the heavens opened up. The heaviest rain I have ever experienced. My desperation for cleanliness must have been heard loud and clear. This was the shower I so desperately wanted. I stood in the middle of the street and let the rain wash the day away. It was over at last.
• • • • • • • •
Words of Wisdom for Today:
“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Now I KNOW I am not the only one that has gone into a treatment and experienced sheer torture! I would LOVE to hear about your horror treatment stories so please leave a comment below to let us know.
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