It’s that time of year again!
After a hectic year and feeling absolutely drained, it was time to clean up the body, mind and spirit with a fast.
Last year I did my annual fast at Atsumi in Phuket. It was a resort specifically designed for fasting. Everything was prepared for you and available within the resort – which during a fast is like a dream (since you sometimes barely have the energy to think). It was simply wake up – drink tea – go to yoga – get a colonic/enema – get a massage – sit in the sauna – meditation – sleep. They also take care of all your water needs and preparation for breaking your fast.
While I felt it was worth every cent, it was rather expensive (about $2,500 USD for 14 days).
This year I wanted to see if I could do it slightly cheaper, DIY style.
I scouted many locations, including other areas in Thailand, the rest of Asia, Costa Rica, Europe, but Bali came up as the best candidate. Firstly, because it’s closer to home (five hours closer than Thailand!), secondly, because there’s a beach and it’s warm (very important!), and thirdly, because it’s inexpensive.
The first task was to find a place where I could do my daily enema/colonic.
There are actually many places you can do this in Bali, mostly around Kuta and Ubud.
However, the only place that used the colonic system (closed system) that I prefer was based in Canggu.
That was perfect, as I’ve always wanted to check out Canggu since it popped up on the backpacker map some years ago.
Next step was to find a place to stay that was both nearby so I could walk to my daily colonics, and also inexpensive.
Since I’m a bit of a Bali newbie, I didn’t realise Christmas time was absolute peak season so the pickings were thin. However, I did find a great no-frills place at EVA Guest House, about a ten-minute walk from Aqua Spa.
There were also many health food spots in the area, perfect for when it came time to break fast and rebuild.
With everything booked, it was time to get down to business!
This year I started my fast on the day of travel.
Normally I wait until I arrive, since not eating on the plane is kind of hard (since it’s so boring and there’s nothing else to do). However, I decided this time it would be efficient to start fasting the morning of my travel day, so that I was already 24 hours in when I arrived.
I landed in the evening at 9 p.m., so when I arrived at the guesthouse I was already 21 hours fasted.
While it was upsetting to give up all my free food on the plane, it was a huge mental boost knowing that I’d already gotten through Day 1 on my first night in Bali.
I woke early, around 6 a.m. and headed straight for the beach.
I was surprised to see even that early, the beach was packed and there were hundreds of surfers in the water and walkers on the sand.
Canggu happens to be a hot surf destination, so there were lots of people getting surf lessons early in the morning and people renting out boards.
I spent about thirty minutes there doing some light walking and stretching, then headed back to the room to do some housekeeping – I needed to buy water and some other supplies.
One thing I was doing during my fast in Phuket was taking psyllium husk and charcoal each morning, which helps push things through your system so you can expel it during your colonic. I managed to find these things at Active Whole Foods, which was just a $1 moto-taxi away.
Then it was time to head for my first colonic session.
It was easy enough to book – it’s all done online and the clinic is easy to find on the main street.
When I arrived I was greeted by three nurses who talked me through the treatment – since I’ve done it many times before it didn’t take long and then it was away to the races.
The clinic is great and the system looks new, however, the one thing I wasn’t a fan of is there’s no shower in the room to wash off after your treatment. Otherwise, I was really happy with the staff and equipment.
At around $45 per session, it’s pretty good value.
If you don’t know what a colonic is, it’s a treatment where you insert a small hose up your bum and it flushes your system with water for about 45 minutes, kind of like doing an enema over and over. The amount of junk that comes out of your colon even after not eating for several days will amaze you.
My first colonic was surprisingly pretty clean.
After passing some old matter in the first five minutes, it was mostly clean for the rest of the session. Who knows if it will stay clean for the week, or there’s a lot of trash hiding up there that will take a few more sessions to clear.
After that, it was time to simply head back and lay low for the rest of the day. While it’s tempting to try and work, I’ve learned the first days of a fast work best when you clear body and mind.
I went for my daily colonic again around lunchtime, and passed quite a lot of waste.
It’s always suprising to see how much still comes out even after not eating for days!
Overall, I still was feeling strong without too many symptoms.
This is kind of a good thing and a bad thing, because when your body starts to detox, you really start to feel bad.
This means things like fatigue, light-headedness and just feeling kind of shitty in general.
This is known as the herx reaction, or die-off.
So this could have meant two things – either my body is so clean and has not many toxins to clear, or the worst is yet to come.
However, one thing I did notice is my sweat started to smell.
We know our body purges things through the three P’s – poop, pee and perspiration.
With my sweat starting to smell, this seemed to be a good sign that my body was finding and expelling toxins.
The perfect thing to do at this stage is a deep heat sauna, so I headed to Power + Revive – a gym about 10 minutes walk from my guesthouse – and signed up for their 5 day pass.
This gave me access to the gym and their workout classes, but more importantly, to their recovery area!
This includes a dry sauna and a cold plunge, which were both excellent.
I spent about 20 minutes in their sauna sweating out demons, and then spent a few 30 second dips in the cold plunge, which was so much colder than I expected!
I am not new to ice baths, but for some reason, this cold plunge pool felt much colder than I’m used to, even though it wasn’t at ice temperature. Maybe not having eaten for 3 days had something to do with it.
By night time, I was finally starting to feel some hunger pangs.
72 hours down! 48 more to go.
Day 4 was definitely the toughest day.
After my colonic I sat in the waiting room and zoned out for about two hours. I didn’t feel sick, but I felt so fatigued and definitely didn’t have the energy to walk home.
When I finally got home, I collapsed on the bed and stared at the ceiling for hours.
I was also supposed to hit the sauna, but didn’t have the power to walk up to the gym, and also take a walk on the beach to do some grounding and get some sun, but didn’t have the legs for that either.
I just lay in bed and watched shows on my laptop, trying to let my body rest and do its thing.
On this day I did manage to get my butt out of bed and head down to the beach in the morning.
I took a half-hour walk and did some stretching.
I had my colonic booked for later in the day, and knowing it was the last one I tried to get the most out of it. When doing colonics, it’s not just a matter of lying there and passing the time. You are constantly working, trying to let as much water into the colon and then expelling it, and the process can be exhausting. However, the more you’re willing to work, the better the results will be. Even after five days, I still passed quite a lot of gunky green matter. It’s such a good feeling knowing it’s out rather than in!
After a slow walk home, the rest of the day was pent in bed reading and scouring the internet for what I was going to eat the next day.
However, at this stage I had fasted around 115 hours, and was feeling strong again. In previous fasts, the “sick and tired” stage of the fast usually lasted around 2-3 days, but it seems on this one, I only had one shitty day (Day 4).
Now it was just a matter of chilling out and waiting until re-feed time.
I went to bed early the night before, but didn’t sleep well. Not sure why.
Just kept waking up and going to the toilet.
Eventually, I got out of bed at 7 a.m. and spent an hour or so just relaxing and drinking water.
Then it was time for my first meal.
When I say “meal” I mean my first calories, and for me I like to break my fasts with bone broth.
I had ordered some organic bone broth from Bali Broths and felt myself coming back to life just watching them heating up on the stove.
Then I sipped down about 400 ml slowly by the spoonful and felt amazing.
After a short break, it was time to break with some fruits.
Fruits are always great to break a fast with, since they’re about 90% to 95% water.
My go-to is always watermelon!
One of my favourite parts about Asia is you can always find fresh fruits, usually cut and packed for you fresh daily, and Bali is no exception. For about $3 you can get a big box of fruits like so:
Finally, the last part of my fast was to get in some fats with some raw milk.
Raw dairy is not easy to find in most places around the world, but Milkup in Bali runs a beautiful dairy and whole foods operation here which sells both raw goat and cow milk.
Some people say dairy is not great to break a fast with, but I think raw dairy is great and full of nutrients! It’s always food in liquid form so doesn’t stress your digestive system too much. I took down a few glasses of raw milk, and then a cup of goat kefir. Delicious.
After that, it was back to eating as normal.
Later that day, I started with a few small meals from some cafes on my street.
First was some salmon and veggies, and a gluten free wrap.
It’s hard for me to say how “refreshed” I feel after a fast, I seem to return to baseline quickly now that I’ve done it so many times, and also since I don’t drink, smoke, or eat much junk food, my body never really feels that “dirty” to begin with. But, I can say I’ve seen definite benefits from making it a regular part of my life, and I’m sure I will continue to do so!
The following week was a full on week of just exercising and eating.
It is one of my favourite things in the world to experience your body rebuilding after a fast.
I spent my afternoons at Body Factory Bali, which is a fantastic gym, probably one of the best I’ve ever been to.
After working out, I would spend the rest of the day eating and reading at the various cafes around Canggu.
There are so many good healthy-food cafes in the area, I was spoiled for choice:
How Much Did It Cost?
How much is it to do a water fast in Bali?
Here’s what I spent:
Colonics, 4 sessions: 2.2m IDR/ $145
Guest House, 6 nights: 3.8m IDR/$250
Gym/Sauna 5 day pass at Power + Revive: 55k IDR/$35
Bottled water 10 litres: 50k IDR/$5
For breaking fast:
Fresh fruits delivered: 100k IDR/$6
Milkup (raw milk/kefir): 155k IDR/$10
Supplements – Charcoal, Bentonite, Psyllium, Diatomaceous Earth, electrolytes (I brought these from home): ~$50 USD
Total: $501 USD, or about $83.50 per day.
This compares to around $200 per day I spent doing my fast at the fasting center in Phuket.
So, definitely cheaper overall, and still a really good quality and worthwhile experience with good facilities.
However, be aware I am an experienced faster and it’s not a problem for me to do a 5 day fast unsupervised. However, if it’s your first time doing a fast of this length, it would be important for you to have someone guiding you, which fasting centers and resorts are ideal for.
As for the rebuild, here’s what I spent:
Body Factory Bali Silver membership (7 days): 1.3m IDR, or $85.
Eating: Around $30-$40 per day for 3 meals.
Would I do it again?
I’m already planning to do my annual fast again next year in Bali, and while I’m open to other options such as Ubud, I think Canggu is the easiest and cheapest option. Looking forward to it!