Do you need some silence and fresh air?

Last Friday I headed off with 9 other enthusiasts to a magical place in the heart of the province Kep called The Vine Retreat for a weekend of Yoga and Meditation. A far cry from my usual, familiar, Australia Day long weekends of cider swilling and listening to Triple J’s Hottest 100, I would be lying if I said I was wasn’t even a little bit nervous!

Our retreat was organised by Yoga Phnom Penh, who hold them quite frequently throughout the year, The Vine itself though, is open to anyone looking for a relaxing getaway.

The 3 hours drive south of Phnom Penh to The Vine was made worthwhile by the absolute silence (bar some cicadas and crickets) and fresh country air that greeted us as we poured out of our mini bus upon arrival... this is what I came for!

The facility itself is a 3 story thatched roof building and they have a pretty strict responsible tourism policy that sees The Vine putting back into the surrounding communities while running a sustainable business. You will find plenty of chill out and relaxing areas and our rooms were equip with mozzie nets, fans and limited hot water (due to the use of solar power).

Our first evening was devoted to settling in and an amazing dinner - The Vine uses organic fruit and veg grown from their own garden or locally sourced, seasonal produce. Everyone was impressed by the quality of food we were served over the weekend in our ‘Yoga Retreat’ package. Guests can chose to either have meals included or chose from an extensive menu which does include some Western options. Led by American ‘Bill’, the kitchen team have recently re-vamped the menu to include a lot more traditional Khmer dishes and dishes that are synonymous with the region. Amazeballs!

We finished our evening on the top deck practicing ‘Yoga Nidra’ - basically you have to lie down, repeat to yourself - ‘I am practicing Yoga Nidra - I will not fall asleep... I am practicing Yoga Nidra, - I will not fall asleep’ and get put into a deep state of relaxation for an hour tethering on awake and asleep. Not quite sure what happened but lets just say I think I tethered a little to far on the latter. None the less a perfect way to end our first evening.

Happy Australia Day - our saturday was action packed starting with a 6am yoga sesh followed by a beautiful fresh breakfast - my first go at having Fish for breakfast - I opted for quite a traditional Khmer breaky - it’s like a fish congee and so full of amazing flavours I had to go back for seconds! Other options were fresh fruits, yoghurt and cinnamon toast. There are eggs etc available to purchase from the kitchen.

Next on the agenda was the mountain trek, we were out for around 4 hours and trekked through the ‘Community Forests’ that surround The Vine. The mountains surrounding were once hideouts of the Khmer Rouge and after these soldiers were ‘re-settled’ in aligning areas the forests were pretty much wiped out by the villagers. The government has now given the people of the area a 5 year ‘lease’ of the forests during which time no commercial activity is supposed to happen in a bid to promote reforestation. No funding has been allocated to this so The Vine is working with the villages by providing these treks to it’s guests. The cost of a trek is $5.50, part of which goes to the forest committee as well as paying the guides and representatives that accompanied us from the 2 forests. Once on top we enjoyed 360 degree views of the surrounding areas, we could see the seaside town of Kep and on a good day you can apparently see Vietnam! This is offered as an optional extra to all guests.

More amazing food followed by a massage, pool, more yoga, yet another amazing meal, some meditation and a well deserved sleep. Sunday started with optional meditation and 6am yoga as the sun was rising before us.

The yoga was challenging while still being accessible, as a beginner I didnt feel in any way out of place so I can honestly recommend the Yoga retreat for all levels. We had a nice mix of beginner through to advanced people in our group and it was a really supportive environment. Our morning session finished channeling our inner child with some handstands - this got me thinking - I want to know when exactly it was that I stopped doing handstands, they are so scary and fun! Breaky and then morning to enjoy the resorts facilities (relax by the pool)!

Departure was at about 2.30pm after our final feast and, while I think I could have murdered an icey cold cider, it is safe to say that none of us wanted to leave and head back to the hustle and bustle that is Phnom Penh! A must do for anyone who visits Cambodia.

The Urban Forage low down!

Cost - the 2 day Yoga Retreat cost $230 twin share and included return transfers from Phnom Penh, 3 (amazing) meals a day as well as all yoga and meditation by EXTREMELY skilled and professional teachers.

Massage cost was $15

Trek - $5.50

Coconut - $1.50

If you are thinking of heading to The Vine outside a yoga retreat you can get up to date prices here.

I would love to know if you have been on a relaxing healthy getaway, hit me up in the comments section below!

Ducky xo

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I love her wholesome approach to food, life and adventure, and it's a highlight of my week to follow her travels to places I'd rather be.

- Kelly, Brisbane, Australia

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