It was the midnight hour, the air was balmy, and a gentle breeze lapped by. You could hear the powerful sound of water all around and smell the distinct scent of dew forming over river rock and moss. Nature ruled this mystical world. I stepped forward onto a meandering path, it led to a dimly lit bamboo pavilion. I paused and drifted into thought, "Where am I, is this really happening?" Back to the present moment, I was at Fivelements Puri Ahimsa, a holistic wellness retreat that aims to share the Balinese way of life, nurturing a greater harmony with spirit, the environment, and one another. Fivelements is located in Mambal, a story-book village twenty minutes outside of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. That pavilion was the hotel's open-air lobby, and the powerful sound of water was the sacred Ayung River. I checked in and continued down the path, surrounded by whispering bamboo, moon-lit koi ponds, and fragrant frangipani blossoms.
The villa was a reflection of Johann Wyss' novel, Swiss Family Robinson; it was a fantasy bamboo structure with a conical roof that rose some 15 feet! It featured a circular floor plan designed in respect to the golden ratio Phi, at its centre a king size bed draped in white netting laid low to the rich cocoa coloured floor. I would quickly learn this netting was both atheistically pleasing, and functional! Like the remaining eight villas, mine faced the sacred Ayung River, the darkness of night hid it from my eyes, but its song was ever present. After collecting myself, I went to take a bath, but had a hard time choosing over my options. Each villa features an open-air soaking tub carved out of a river stone, these al fresco bathhouses include chromotherapy lighting fashioned after the seven chakras. The villas also include separate outdoor rain shower areas that let you gaze towards the skies while remaining in complete privacy.