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Dreaming of Bali? Here’s Why This Indonesian Island Means So Much To Me – By Expat Andrea McKenna Brankin

I have always mistaken the lyric from Sting’s song “Fields of Gold” as “fields of Bali”, not “fields of barley” – the actual lyric. I’ve been dreaming of Bali my whole life. Never did I imagine that I would end up living two and a half hours away by plane from this fabled Indonesian island.

Yep, the joy of being an expat in Southeast Asia is the close proximity of some of the most amazing vacation spots in the world, including Bali, The Maldives and Thailand. We are so very lucky to see and experience these places, first hand – pristine beaches, spiritual ruins – and the hospitality that goes along with them.


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Bali is called the Island of the Gods and is considered to be a “healing” place. I learned this in 2015 when I stayed for a month-long Kundalini yoga training. I can’t believe I managed to stay so long away from my family, or that it has been more than two years since I’ve been back.

During that month, I worked on yoga, and I worked on myself, as many visitors do in the wonderfully spiritual island. While it is a yoga mecca, particularly Ubud, it also is a place where many come to practice the healing arts, from Shamanism to Reiki to sound or crystal healing. I did ayurvedic massage, had readings from spiritual mediums and even laid in a sun-bed-type thing that flashed chakra crystal lights as a treatment.

At that time, I realized that my life in Singapore was overly convenient, if there was such a thing, and I needed help to do everything, including calling a car or taxi, ordering food on the phone or just getting around town. I guess what I mean is that I felt not so independent. So, it was a big deal for me to live at a retreat centre by myself and have to deal with navigating the airport by myself, currency exchanges, language barriers and finding someone to hang out with on our Sundays off.

After it was over, I came back to Singapore refreshed and more confident. I was able to take better care of myself by myself, and not be so dependent on my husband. The funny thing is that since then, life has gotten even more convenient here with Uber improving as well as having many more options for dry cleaning delivery, food and grocery delivery and even online applications for renewing my maid’s work permit.

Now, I’m going back to Bali, but not alone – I am bringing my 5-year-old daughter, my husband, our nanny and my in-laws, who are here for a month from Chicago. I’m so excited to stay in a friend’s villa, though it is unlike a hotel, in that we have to do the meal planning ourselves. But, still, a tropical pool, home-cooked Balinese meals and in-home spa services are in our near future.

For this trip, I am the Bali expert and I feel really good about coming this far as an expat and learning not only my way around Singapore but also taking another shot at getting around this fantasy island. So, dreams are coming true for me this week. Bali, I’m coming for ya!

About Andrea McKenna Brankin

Andrea McKenna Brankin is journalist and author from the United States who lives a full life with bipolar disorder. Her book, Bipolar Phoenix, is awaiting a publishing contract. She is also currently a volunteer at the DaySpring Residential Treatment Centre for teen girls in Singapore, providing befriending-family support, therapeutic writing and rugby coaching.


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