Ubud is the artistic and cultural capital of Bali, known for its traditional dances, shadow puppet shows, local artisans and now also for its prominent role in the bestselling memoir Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (which is, incidentally, being turned into a feature film starring Julia Roberts). On her tri-country search for personal fulfillment following a divorce, Gilbert ends up in Bali where she befriends Wayan Nuriyasih, a traditional Balinese Healer. In the book, Wayan is described as a “strikingly attractive Balinese woman with a wide smile and shiny black hair down to her waist”. She is also unabashedly upfront about all issues related to the body, health and sex. Gilbert consults her for a number of ailments including a wounded knee, how to make her hair grow faster and a bladder infection. Along the way, the two become close, spending many hours laughing and sharing together so that by the end of the book, Gilbert eventually helps raise enough money to help buy Wayan a new house with a permanent address so that her healing center can finally be listed in Lonely Planet.
So, when Courtney and I arrived in Ubud last month, we consulted our Lonely Planet to find Wayan’s healing center on Jl Jembawan, just a couple streets away from our pension. Courtney is a strong believer in alternative medicine and had been looking forward to visiting Wayan for months. She was also battling the lingering effects of dengue fever and was eager to get Wayan’s help. I didn’t really have any pressing issues that I needed healing for but I was interested to go along anyway to meet this real life “character” from a book I had read.
We found Wayan in her shop and she looked just like Gilbert described – long shiny black hair and a welcoming smile. The entrance to the shop was hidden behind an array of potted medicinal plants and a soothing fountain. Wayan was in the middle of helping another client but she ushered us in, asked us to sit down and had a helper whip up a couple of glasses of freshly grated turmeric juice to strengthen and cleanse our bodies while we waited. It’s the Balinese way to treat everyone as equally important so instead of having to wait for Wayan to be completely finished with her other clients, we were sort of rotated in as Wayan jumped around from person to person.
After giving Courtney some herbal tea and rhinoceros water to help flush out the dengue, Wayan did full body energy readings for both of us. We stood up while she moved her hands over our energy fields, looking for any deficiencies or imbalances in our bodies. She also read our palms. I was fascinated by the results of this reading, although a bit suspicious that Courtney and I had so much in common. Regardless, I pleased to hear that I have a long lifeline and good luck. My energy fluctuates (no kidding!) and I have an easy time finding jobs (so far this has been true!). She sees me having two part-time jobs in the future, which makes a lot of sense if I end up teaching ESL back in the States. She declared me “smart, but not brilliant”, which Courtney and I both laughed about. And my memory is not so good. This is true, especially when I compare myself with my sister, who has an AMAZING ability to recall the smallest details about events that happened years ago. As for friendship, love, and marriage, I have four close friends in life. It’s unclear if these 4 friends are already in my life or if she means I will have four close friends over the span of my lifetime. But she was pretty clear about the fact that four men fell in love with me but I brushed them off. I wonder who they were… She also said I have had two serious boyfriends, which is true. She then predicted that I will marry later in life but it will be a “big and deep” love. I will only marry once. I wonder how late “later in life” is. I’m already 32… We asked about children and she said that I have 3 eggs – 2 good eggs and one weak egg. I interpret this to mean one miscarriage and two children but my friends have offered up other suggestions as well, including two healthy children and one handicapped child or two well-behaved children and one wild child. I guess time will tell. As for my health, I need more vitamin E and A in my diet, I need to drink more water and I need to stop worrying so much.
Following the readings, we were sent upstairs to have full body massages that were designed to treat our specific needs. I’m not exactly sure what needs I was being treated for, but I will say that I quite like being massaged by three young Balinese men simultaneously!