OK I know I have talked about a lot of special places on this blog, but this one takes the cake. I almost don't want to post about The Gedong Gandhi Ashram in Candidasa because it holds such a special place in my heart.
To give you a bit of background the ashram was founded in 1976 by Ibu Gedong Bagoes Oka, when she passed away in 2002 it was her dying wish that her trusted six sons continue to use the land for the purpose of the ashram.
The ashram is a well respected pillar in the Balinese community, if you are a Balinese child and you receive a scholarship here, the ashram will support you through your education, a lot of locals in the Candidasa community went to school at the ashram.
The members have a strict routine of puja or pray time four times a day plus English, general or yoga lessons with the guests when they are not at school. Generally the young Ashram members have an advantage in English through these lessons and through interaction with the guests at the Ashram. Out of school hours the kids have duties to up keep the ashram and the bungalows for the paying guests.
The money that you spend to stay here goes to the education of these amazing kids!
If you fancy a bit of acupuncture, there is a practice on site headed up by Sadra. He will tell you lots of nice stories about Bali's history and religion too if you let him.
I visited the ashram firstly in February 2016 on my way back to Australia after living overseas in the UK for 10+ years. I'd just said goodbye to all my beautiful friends and I was moving back to a country I still don't even know if I want to live in! Suffice to say it was an emotional and stressful time for me and coming to the ashram on my way through was just what the doctor ordered. I met some amazing friends and got to know some of the amazing people living at the ashram.
For me the best part about travelling to new places is the people that you meet and connect with along the way. It feels as though we are supposed to meet the people we do and as though it all happens for some higher purpose. This is what happens when you go to Bali, you get all spiritual and you talk about the universe a lot : )
The second time I hit Bali (December 2016), there was no way I was going to miss out on another trip to the ashram to say hello to everyone again and of course to get my Kawi yoga fix. Kawi is one of the yoga teachers who also helps run the Ashram. His classes are super super chilled and he has a special way of teaching that leaves you feeling like you have sunshine and rainbows inside of you ☀️🌈.
The bungalows at the ashram are really cute, although they are pretty basic and there is no hot water. But you really don't need it as its so hot in Bali! Mine was right next to the ocean and on the other side a massive lotus pond. My favourite thing to do in the afternoons before yoga is to have a snooze in the hammock outside the hut. One of the lovely students will bring you a homemade Balinese snack and you get a fresh cask of tea every morning delivered outside your bungalow. Mmmm.
HOT TIP: Beware of falling coconuts.
I can't get enough of the food here, probably because it is made with such love by lovely people. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is all included. If you feel like going out in the evening, or you are going on a day trip you just need to let them know you won't be attending.
My favourite dishes include: the Dragonfruit (I AM OBSESSED WITH DRANGON FRUIT), pancakes with coconut, papaya and palm sugar for breakfast with ginger and tumeric tea. But all the dishes are so yum and healthy. All vegetarian, although sometimes there is some mackerel. Seriously so good!
Sound advice 🙌.
When I was here the first time, much to my happiness my flight was delayed so I got to stay another two days. Only problem was that the ashram was booked up! As the airline was paying for my accommodation I wanted to find the best place I could in Candidasa, I did a lot of research and found The Aquaria hotel. It was nice to 'live it' up here for a couple of days and take a hot shower.
Ask the ashram about snorkelling, they will recommend one of the local fishermen to take you out with snorkels. I remember the first time being more beautiful as the second time a lot of the corals and fish had disappeared, which is pretty sad. Apparently there are some evil fishermen that go fishing with explosives. Not great guys! Stop messing with the ecosystem!
Take a day trip to one of the nearby villages and you might stumble upon some romance ❤️.
If its beach you want, get your driver to take you to the white sand beach nearby. Or if its just you, one of the staff at the ashram will take you on the back of their scooter for IDR50,000 (AUD$5).
Until next time Candidasa.