Eat, Pray, Love Fans Rejoice: My Experience With a Balinese Healer

It was generically reading Eat, Pray, Love six years ago because everyone else was doing it that made me want to go to Bali in the first place. So, when I finally got around to doing so, and found out that tourists are able to go and see the actual son of the medicine man from the book, I obviously jumped on board.

It was around the middle of the tour during our stay in Ubud that I found out about it. Turns out sadly that the cute little medicine man from the book, Ketut, passed away not too long ago, and his son has stepped in for all the eager Eat, Pray, Love tourists on the island, reading palms and curing man dem of their ailments. Me being me, I jumped at the chance.

I’m 99% sure that Ketut’s son’s name was Wayan. Or was it Nyoman? Can’t bloody remember can I – let’s stick to Wayan for now. The house – the same one Elizabeth Gilbert went to in the book (and the same one Julia Roberts did in the film, for that matter) – is situated a couple of streets away from the main road in Ubud. After a brief struggle with Google Maps combined with the confusion of the roads in Bali, as well as the fact that I had to step over several open sewers to get there, I eventually made it.

The house, set out in the traditional Balinese style which is made up of several small temples in one complex, was beautiful. With bright and colourful offerings dotted along the entrance pathway, the scent of incense in the air and a cute little cat running around, I was instantly excited to find out my destiny ‘n that. I paid the man at the entrance for a palm reading and a healing and took a seat.

In one of the small temples opposite where I was sitting, there was a blown-up photo of Julia Roberts, Ketut and Wayan/Nyoman, smiling alongside the rest of the Liyer family. I couldn’t believe I was actually there. It was the book that gave me the longing to go to Bali all those years ago, and there I was, at the focal point of the ‘Love’ part of the story.

I sat and listened to Ketut’s son giving the couple before me a reading, telling the woman how she works too hard and she needs to slow down and enjoy life more. “I feel you there, pal,” I thought to myself. After about half an hour, the couple left, and it was my turn. I sat on the floor with my legs crossed opposite him, and chatted to him for a bit before holding out my left palm for him to read.

“Lauren lucky,” he said.


“Yes, you a writer, and hopefully one day you will write many books like Elizabeth Gilbert,” he said as he pointed to the copy of Eat, Pray, Love on the table behind me.

“You will be very successful, and your career will go in lots of directions. You will travel lots, and you will be very fortunate financially.”

“Dece,” I thought.

“You will meet a kind and intelligent man, who will be enough for you.”

“I definitely haven’t met him already, then,” I thought.

“You will have a long and happy life, and die at 92. You will have two children. Do daily meditation and have confidence, then you will be truly happy.”

And that was the palm reading over. I’m not going to say whether I genuinely believe any of what he said or not – I mean, I hope I’ll have a long and successful career, go on to have two mini me’s, and finally meet a guy who doesn’t have the mental capacity of a 14-year-old, but only time will tell.

Then it was time for the healing part.

“You don’t mind getting wet?” he asked as he filled a big bowl with water from the outside tap.

“No, it’s fine,” I said, underestimating how much I’d end up looking like a drowned rat.

He made me close my eyes and put my hands together in a praying motion, and placed a burning incense stick between them as he chanted some sort of song.

Then he started flicking water at me, which was a bit of a shock at first. Still trying to meditate and connect to the within and all that, I couldn’t help but feel a bit distracted.

Next thing I know, he tells me to stand up, and pours the entire contents of the bowl over my head. I’m talking about three litres of water. There’s getting a bit wet, and then there’s that.

He finished by winding three pieces of string into a cute little bracelet, and tied it round my wrist.

“I have same bracelet for one year,” he said proudly, grinning as he pointed to his own.

We said our goodbyes, and I told him how amazing it was to meet him. Because even though I walked the streets afterwards looking like I’d been in a wet T-shirt competition, I wouldn’t have missed meeting Ketut’s son for the world.


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