Is It Still ‘Eat Pray Love’ When You’re ‘Finding Yourself’ during a 5-Star Resort?

Sunrise during Amed beach in Karangasem on a island of Bali. Bat Ismoyo/AFP/Getty

Waking adult before morning is not customarily one of my elite activities on holiday. And conjunction is carrying a foreigner lard me with cold H2O and chuck rice in my eyes. But some-more on that later.

In Aug of this year, we motionless to let go of my dear Soho unit and transport a universe for a year or so, with a goal of reckoning out what we unequivocally wish to do with my life, or during a unequivocally slightest anticipating a abounding Brazilian landowner to marry me like in Eat Pray Love (Elizabeth Gilbert has given divorced that male and come out as a lesbian, that is conjunction here nor there, though during slightest I’ve beaten her to a entrance out part).

I began my outing on Bali given we am an unimaginative, sad, white copycat from America, so of march I’m going to obey Gilbert’s itinerary. And after a integrate of weeks in an economical, ideally gentle nonetheless simple guesthouse in a rice paddies of Canggu, we motionless to provide myself to a integrate of nights during a Ritz-Carlton, Bali for a small pampering, or during slightest a small Western-style H2O pressure.

“Welcome, Mr. Plummer,” says a front table on check in. we am immediately embarrassed. we don’t merit to be called “Mister”—I deserved to be deloused. we am wearing what we like to call my “Bali Uniform,” a husky Lululemon tank we had been sweating in for about 5 days, some aged using shorts, flip-flops, and a good allegation of mud down my left calf. It’s extraordinary they let me by security.

After removing my credit label and a signature for a room, a front table offers me some hibiscus iced tea and a chair while a brings my bags down to a villa. Dusk has begun to set, and golden object drenches all in a comfortable glow. we lay there for a moment, take a breath, spin my legs so that allegation of mud was reduction visible, and consternation about what we am doing herewhether staying during a fanciful review is in line with my goal for this trip, either “five stars” can assistance me in any approach “find myself.”

Just as my thoughts are starting to get a small too real, a desirable male comes along and introduces himself: “Hello Mr. Plummer, we am Cipta, a hotel’s Cultural Concierge.”

A large Balinese male around my age (late twenties), he wears an unblemished cream-colored jacket, rose bullion jacquard Balinese conduct hang and Ray-Ban wayfarers. Not a hair out-of-place. we have array stains and haven’t showered given surfing a day before. Cipta explains how his purpose differs from a hotel’s unchanging concierge, how he is reduction about creation cooking reservations and scheduling taxis, and some-more about creation certain guest have an authentic Balinese informative knowledge while during a resort. 

“I have designed a essence catharsis rite for you tomorrow, Mr. Plummer.”

“Well, that sounds great.” Was my essence in need of purifying? we wasn’t sure. But a whole thing feels very Eat Pray Love so we go along with it. 

“Excellent, I’ll see we on a beach at 6 a.m. tomorrow.”

I scarcely throttle on my hibiscus tea. “Come again?”

6 a.m. Sunrise. The rite is during sunrise. Is that O.K.?”

Already feeling out-of-place given my infrequent attire, we don’t feel like we have a negotiate energy to negotiate maybe a mid-day essence purification, or improved yet, a happy hour essence purification. So I acquiesce.

“Sounds great,” we contend by my teeth. 

Surely enough, in a still dark of a subsequent morning, Cipta kindly knocks on my villa door. He escorts me down to a beach, where, as promised, a internal clergyman is watchful in a dunes. An aged man—at slightest 80 years old, all smiles and rugged skin—sits on a golden bamboo pad going by a litany of tip and ancient prayers, an array of flowers, fruits, scent and offerings laid out before him. After assisting me take a chair behind a priest, Cipta whispers, “Give me your phone, we can take pictures.” we wasn’t waking adult this early on Bali but during slightest removing a explosve Instagram out of it. we palm him my phone and smile.

I wasn’t waking adult this early on Bali but during slightest removing a explosve Instagram out of it. Todd Plummer.

The rite begins, and deduction in a approach that we can usually report as perplexing. we am told to call my arms, so we call my arms. we am told to lift my hands to a sky, so we lift my hands to a sky. Again, again, again. It’s what we suppose would occur if Tracy Anderson and a Long Island Medium partnered on a devout examination class. And afterwards things unequivocally start to get strange. Cipta whispers to me a whole time, delicately explaining any step of a priest’s ritual. But we am so held adult in the strangeness of it all that we have positively no thought what is going on—why a clergyman is pouring frozen seawater on my head, staining my face with spices, and throwing rice in my eyes. 

Before we know it, I’m left sitting alone on a beach, sopping soppy and lonesome in coriander, not distinct a marinating duck breast.

Was that it? Was that all it takes to freshen my soul?

Probably not. we have no approach to know what only happened to me. And I’m certain Elizabeth Gilbert is somewhere out there cackling, meditative about a era of navel-gazing narcissists she desirous to go to Bali and “find themselves.” 

But what we do know is that I’ve done it this far, that we had a aplomb to leave my life behind for during slightest a integrate of months, and that I’m sitting on a beach examination a primitive Balinese sunrise. My essence competence not be purified and we competence not have found myself—and I’m not even certain what those things unequivocally even mean—but whatever it is I’m acid for, we am closer now than we was yesterday. And that’s what this outing is all about. 


After covering society, party and conform in New York for 5 years, Todd Plummer walked divided from it all to transport a world. An alumnus of McGill University and St. John’s University School of Law, he is now somewhere between Boston and Bali, engagement his subsequent general flight. Follow him on Instagram @eatgaylove.


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