Travel 2023: Explore Ways to Nurture Your Health and Wellness

Go Slow

The Health and Wellness Retreat in Ubud, Bali. Photo: Stephanie White

Escape and find a purpose! In our February/March 2023 issue of Zoomer magazine, we featured “23 Reasons to Travel in 2023″. In this edition, we focus on destinations to master the art of travelling mindfully. Click on the link at the bottom of the story for more ideas and inspiration for your next trip.


As the sun rose on my 47th birthday, I greeted the day from the top of Batur Caldera in Bali. We had been up since 3 a.m., when our vans left the Bagus Jati Health and Wellness Retreat north of Ubud. After a one-hour drive, patient Balinese guides took our group of 13 women in three small boats across Lake Batur to a tiny village.


The author, first row at left, with the group of women on their Bali retreat. Photo: Stephanie White


I didn’t know what to expect when we put on our headlamps and anxiously set out on a two-hour “hiking with the gods” trek, in the dark, up the wall of the caldera, a depression formed after an erupting volcano collapsed and filled with water. When we reached our hike summit, 1,717 metres above sea level, I paused to take in the breathtaking views of sea, sky and mountain peaks and reflected on the feeling of accomplishment I shared with these amazing women, most of whom had been strangers the week before. We all hugged, laughed and held hands as our retreat leader took us through a meditation. An overwhelming feeling of joy and gratitude washed over me.

 It was one of the highlights of a 10-day yoga retreat organized in 2019 by Canadian practitioner Laurita Gorman. Called Rewilding the Feminine, it was designed to break destructive patterns, help women live in the moment and develop resiliency to lead a more joyful life.

 Each morning started with an hour-and-a-half yoga practice in the open-air studio, trying to still my mind as the birds sang and the monkeys chattered in the trees outside. I lazed on the veranda overlooking the garden, dreaming of a more balanced life. I wrote daily reflections in my journal, rather than countless hours with online distractions.


Love in the open-air yoga studio at Bagus Jati, north of Ubud, Bali. Photo: Stephanie White


The retreat taught me to love myself for who I am, embrace life, try new things and meet new people. I continue to use breathing and meditation to ground myself, especially during these challenging COVID-19 times, and to let go of things I cannot control. My memories of that trip, and those women, inspire me to be my best self, no matter how many monkeys are yelling at me. 

Stephanie White

A version this article appeared in the Feb/Mar 2023 issue with the headline ‘Nurture Health and Wellness’, p. 75.


Go Slow


The hours pass. Then more. Nothing happens … and then, everything does. To perfect the art of being in the moment – and doing it in style – little can compare to the experience of being a passenger on the Eastern & Oriental Express, a Belmond train. These green and gold carriages (inspired by the 1930s Marlene Dietrich film, Shanghai Express) gently crouch through three countries – Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore – and cover close to 2,000 kilometres. 


Go Slow
A cabin on the Eastern & Oriental Express. (Photo: matt hind/Belond) Inset: ‘Shanghai Express’ poster (Photo: LMPC via Getty Images)


Whether you are gazing through the window of your appropriately handsome sleeper car or banging on in the piano bar every night after supper, fleeting moods unfurl like the scenery itself: noble temples, mosques in the distance, mist hanging over paddy fields, spiffy tea hills, colonial-scarred towns and palm groves, with sun spilling gold over everything and leafy twists of jungle passing by like strokes of calligraphy.

The itinerary starts with departure from the Thai capital of Bangkok, the train branching off the main line at Non Pladuk junction as it bends towards the River Kwai, eventually travelling along the Thailand-Burma Railway. Thailand meets Malaysia at the border town of Padang Besar, and then it is onwards to the moody island of Penang, followed by the Cameron Highlands and village after village … until, finally, the train arrives in the city-state of Singapore, shimmering, modern and fragrant.

By the Way: In other luxury train news, Belmond is launching the Orient Express La Dolce Vita this year. Running eight itineraries throughout Italy, the glamorous rail voyages will whisk passengers to Piedmont in the north, the pristine slopes of Tuscany and the cinematic coastal towns of the south.

Shinan Govani

A version this article appeared in the Feb/Mar 2023 issue with the headline ‘Go Slow’, p. 75.

For more ideas and inspiration for your next trip, go here


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