The first ever Halong Wellness Cruise of Lumina Retreats, in partnership with Bhaya Group, set sail on May 27, 2022. The journey guided guests towards customising their wellness practices and finding inner freedom, against a stunning backdrop of mountains, beaches, and caves of the majestic Ha Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay in Northern Vietnam.
On this journey, we had an opportunity to talk to our guests and listened to their heartfelt stories. We'd like to share with you the inspiring journeys of Anne and Alice throughout the retreat.
The first impression
When we first welcomed Anne* as she checked in at the Bhaya Cruise office in Hanoi, she appeared shy and reserved. She sat in a corner by herself to observe what was going on around her. Perhaps she felt slightly uncomfortable being there in the first place, not knowing anyone just yet.
During the nationwide lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, she suddenly found herself cut off from her friends and the outside world. The situation was not easy for her. Alone with her thoughts, she was drowned in worries about the past, the present, the future, and her identity.
Anne began to open up to us about her journey, on the last day of the retreat:
“2020 was quite a hard year for me. During the lockdowns because of the pandemic, I faced a big question in my life: "What should I do next?" I had a stable job, I could do and buy whatever I wanted but I felt a little bored. I didn't have any goals anymore.”
As time in lockdown progressed and Anne’s stress became increasingly worse, she made an internal decision not to let it take over her life. She remembered that she used to do yoga as a way of physical fitness and relief. She had forgotten about it since becoming too busy with work. She wanted to go on a journey that will help bring back her internal strength.
Anne found Lumina Retreats on Instagram and decided to join the Halong Wellness Cruise. She thought that this retreat would be a good opportunity for her to figure out what she wanted from life while also making some new friends who could help her along the way.
The adventures that
brought new friends together
Contrary to Anne, Alice* seemed very adaptable and outgoing at first glance. Alice was invited to join the Halong Wellness Cruise by one of her business partners and was excited to take a break in nature. She was cheerful, and confident, and talked to many people upon her arrival at reception. She seemed at ease with the world, ready to embark on an adventure - any adventure.
As different as they seemed to be at first, the two women took on the classes and activities with enthusiasm and full energy. They participated in the sunrise and sunset yoga classes and went on nature excursions to the pristine caves and beaches. They cycled through Cat Ba Island - a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and meditated amidst the soothing sounds of the forest. Anne soon warmed up to the other participants. She found herself talking to Alice and they became friends. Anne was surprised by her ability to make friends so easily. She realised that she did not have a problem making friends, it was just that she had been too busy with work and other obligations to find time for herself.
It was through these various activities of mindful movement, yoga, meditation, and adventures into nature, that both of them discovered a new depth within their souls.
Some activities, such as swimming or kayaking, brought them relaxation and rejuvenation. Other practices like the soft candle-lit Yin yoga sessions under the night sky, or the forest walking meditation to Viet Hai ancient village provided calmness and quietude to tune in and learn about the connection between the movements of their bodies and minds.
Discovering a new depth within
Alice told us that when the group was cycling across Cat Ba Island on the second day, there was a part where they went through a dimly-lit tunnel. Moving in the dark must have been quite an experience. When they reached the end of the tunnel, seeing a glimmer of light shining brightly outside was so special. It was such an awakening moment for her. It reminded her that through all the ups and downs in her life, there was, and always would be, a light at the end of the tunnel. The group, herself included, was so moved by the sight that everyone stopped to briefly embrace the moment, capturing it before going on.
We sat with Alice for an interview on the evening of our second day together as the sky changed colours and the sunset cast shadows on the islands and cliffs of Ha Long Bay. Smiling as she relived the experience, Alice told us that she realised “everyone has dark moments in their life, but if we keep going until the end of the tunnel, there will be light.”
For Anne, the transition built up more subtly through each activity. She seemed to enjoy every part of the journey, mingling and laughing with others as the group went on nature excursions, and practised yoga and meditation. It was only on the last day on board the Au Co cruise, when the closing ceremony was being held, and while everyone was sharing their experience throughout the trip, that she found her moment. When our hosts asked everyone to stand in a circle and hold hands, close their eyes and feel the connection and love with others, she finally broke down and cried - tears of joy, of rediscovery.
We asked Anne to reflect on her 3-day journey with Lumina Retreats. She said, “I feel calmer now and can reflect on what I want in the future thanks to yoga and various programmes on the retreat”. She also told us that through this retreat she learned how she can better manage her stress by finding ways to relax when needed.
It was truly touching for us, the Lumina team, to witness such emotional transformation. We are reminded of our wholehearted mission to assist people on their personal development journeys.
*The guests' names and some personal details have been changed for their privacy.