Vietnam Writing Retreat, February 2024 – Hoi An
Dates announced soon!
Find out when retreats resume
We are shifting base in the new year, letting go of our Australian home. While things are in limbo, we can’t commit to new retreat dates, but we hope to resume by September 2023.
We’re definitely back in February 2024. Dates tbc.
Find out when we resume retreats in Hoi An, Vietnam
Sign up to my monthly newsletter
I send out writing prompts, creative inspiration, writing tips & more.
No spam ever.
Ready for a creative vacation of a different sort?
How about combining a restorative inner journey with a week-long exploration of your wild mind and a behind-the-scenes trip to one of Vietnam’s most atmospheric towns?
What would happen if you took a week-long pause from everything that keeps you busy to nourish yourself with mindfulness practices, yoga and writing?
Imagine starting every day with a balancing singing bowl meditation and a gentle yoga session to create stillness and space. Imagine listening deeply and hearing the whispers of your inner voice.
Imagine this. You have spent the morning becoming aligned with yoga and meditation. You are deeply relaxed and connected. Your pen glides effortlessly over the page. Your mind is awake and alive. Imagine the joy of deep creative connection.
And this. You are cycling through rice paddies, past water buffalo and frond-fringed ponds, your heart is filled with the smiles of a people whose language you don’t speak. At the local market you taste authentic cau lao and watch friendly women in conical hats shave banana flower and green mango into the most delicious salads.
Your senses are alive with new sounds and smells. Imagine the vibrant yellow of Hoi An. The magic of lantern-lit nights on a full moon when the Vietnamese honor their ancestors. In your journal you capture the mystical stillness of a weathered pagoda and the gentle waft of incense.
Sharpen your powers of observation while getting lost in the tight alleys of the World Heritage listed ancient town of Hoi An. Writing through the lens of Vietnam will imbue your voice with a sense of wonder. Connect deeply, emerge restored and creatively re-charged.
Let us take you on an unforgettable tour of Hoi An. We came for a month and we stayed a year. Who knows what it will do to you? Come and find out!
Re-connect with yourself through writing, yoga and mindfulness
All of which is part of our Vietnam writing retreat
This retreat is suitable for anybody who believes in the soul nourishing power of writing.
Whether you have an established writing practice or have always wanted to write but never had the time, this retreat is for you.
There will be plenty of free writing time, guided writing exercises, workshops and feedback, including one-on-one feedback. The retreat is designed to nourish mind, body and soul. Feedback will be constructive and gentle and you have the option to share as much or as little of your writing as you wish.
Most days begin with gentle yoga and singing bowl balancing meditations and end with opportunities for after dinner chats and readings.
We combine the quiet, contemplative practice of Yin Yoga with gentle Hatha yoga to connect deeply. Yin Yoga is as much a physical practice of releasing tension, softening and lubricating tight muscles and joints, as a it is contemplative practice in stillness and mindful awareness.
Yin Yoga is a natural companion practice to writing. Yin Yoga challenges us to find stillness, to sit with our physical edge and to observe whatever arises without judging. Observing our reactions when staying with our physical edge, trains the mind to become focused. We observe from the inside out, like a writer.
Learning to observe ourselves in the act of thinking, we become witness to our own stories. Singing bowl meditation and Yin Yoga help us become deeply relaxed and fully present to our unedited selves.
We use mindfulness practices of the Vietnamese Buddhist zen monk Thích Nhất Hạnh to learn how to feel home in the present moment using the breath as an anchor. Whether you are an experienced meditation practitioner or new to meditation, the practices used in this retreat are simple yet very powerful to calm the mental chatter and to feel grounded.
- 7 x nights accommodation in single room in river-fronted boutique resort, halfway between Ancient Town and the beach
- Bicycle rental and some local transfers to and from town/beach
- All breakfasts, all lunches & 4 dinners
- Guided excursions & cultural workshops in and around the UNESCO listed town of Hoi An
- Daily morning yoga & meditation
- Daily writing workshops, feedback sessions & one-on-one sessions
- 1 individual sound massage with Himalayan singing bowls & group sound bath
- airport transfer on arrival
What’s not included:
- International or domestic airfares/bus/train tickets to reach Hoi An (Da Nang is the closest airport)
- Visa fees and travel insurance (highly recommended)
- Additional activities can be organised at own cost and on demand.
- Alcohol and personal items
Price per person from $ 2750*
A non-refundable deposit of $ 450 will reserve your spot.
*All prices in US dollars
Your home for the week is An Villa Boutique Resort, half way between Cua Dai beach and the World Heritage listed Old Town of Hoi An.
Situated right on the river, this small boutique resort is a tranquil oasis amid palm trees and tropical gardens in an authentic Vietnamese neighborhood.
There are six unique living spaces – ranging from two-person studios to three-bedroom family villas – designed by a French expat architect and furnished with an eye for artistic detail.
Each living space comes with a private garden or terrace and a well-equipped kitchen, though you’ll hardly be cooking at home during this retreat.
There are plenty of quiet spaces to retreat in contemplative stillness and to connect with your creative flow.
Money can’t buy happiness …
…. but it can buy you a week of healthy habits that will leave you feeling deeply nourished, re-balanced, inspired & re-energised.
You’ll take home with you:
- a stack of new writing
- insight into your creative potential
- a new sense of wonder and deep connection with yourself
- mindfulness practices to keep you centred and focused
- re-newed focus on where you are headed as a writer and on life’s journey
- self-care practices and a deeper understanding of the transformative power of writing
- knowledge of easy yoga asanas you’ll be able to do at home to prevent writer’s back pain, hunched shoulders, tightness in hips and legs
KERSTIN PILZ, Phd – Retreat Leader
Hi fellow writers and creative seekers,
I’ve taught a wide range of forms of communication, writing and reading in over two decades as a university lecturer and education manager.
As a keen traveller, I’ve led academic study tours in Europe, sailed aboard a floating university campus to 12 different ports and developed the curriculum for the first ever Bachelor in Visual Arts for Maldives National University.
I’m also a certified yoga teacher and a practitioner of mindfulness meditation. I divide my time between Vietnam and the Wet Tropics of Australia and regularly travel throughout Asia to deepen my practice.
Since leaving full-time employment for the freedom of the open road, I’ve dedicated myself to bringing together my passion of writing, traveling, yoga and meditation with my other passion, teaching and mentoring.
Writing has always been my preferred way of making sense of the world.
Let me introduce you to
who will help you unleash your creative genius with unique sound bowl balancing techniques.
NIGEL ROWLES is a professional musician with over 30 years experience teaching music, playing in bands and as a solo performer.
His first sound bowl massage was life changing. He had never felt so deeply relaxed within minutes of lying down. Four weeks later, he was on a plane to Kathmandu to begin his training with Himalayan masters and to explore how sound can be used to balance the body’s frequencies.
In Nepal he spent many hours hand selecting a set of eight tuned bowls and perfecting his personalised method of playing the bowls. As a trained musician he prefers chord structures, rather than matching the bowls to the body’s chakras. By using tuned bowls to create chords, he can generate a larger number of harmonies which bring about inner balance and help relief stress.
Sound Bowl Balancing takes us to a place where …
…. creative energy flows and the inner voice speaks freely
The rich sounds we hear and feel when the bowls are placed on or around the body, are a succession of frequencies that resonate in concentrically swelling sound waves, penetrating every cell of the body. Sound bowl balancing is like a massage at the cellular level.
Like an orchestra, our bodies vibrate at many different frequencies. If an instrument is out of tune, we feel off key and unbalanced. Too many discordant frequencies can affect our wellbeing, creating stress, anxiety and disease. Sound bowls vibrate our frequencies back into balance and make mind, body and soul feel in tune.
Sound bowls balance the brainwaves of both hemispheres of the brain allowing us to journey deeper into our creative potential.
Learn more about Sound Bowl Meditation
Browse our meditation packages and listen to a free sample here.
Instant calm & focus.
Any time, anywhere.
Be inspired by the colours, flavours and people of Vietnam
The silting up of the mouth of the Thu Bon River, making it unusable as a sailing port, and the decline of the Nguyen dynasty, led to the remarkable conservation of the historic street scape. For the next 200 years little changed here.
The arrival of tourism has brought new life to the historic streets, which for most of the day are closed to motorized traffic. Today, the wooden shop houses are abuzz with trendy wine bars, artisan tailors, art galleries, fine restaurants, and everything in between.
This retreat is for you if you:
- need to get some writing done and crave to dive deeper into your creativity
- yearn to step away from all that keeps you busy, distracted and disconnected from yourself & your writing
- desire a nourishing environment that will allow you to release long-held stories
- are willing to surrender to the flow, because we’ll let all of it flow – our creativity, our writing, our breath, our wild minds, our voice, our stories. Gentle yoga, sound bowl balancing and mindfulness practices help us work through the blockages to find spaciousness in mind, body & soul
- are a published author working on a specific project, a beginning writer wanting to get started, or if you’re simply wanting to deepen your personal writing practice
- therapy; We’ll use writing as a form of self-care, to get to the deep stories, but we are not therapists, we just facilitate the journey to access your true voice
- network to get published or pitch industry experts
- lecture you on plot or structure; Of course I’ll share with you everything I know about the nuts and bolts of storytelling, crafting good sentences and characters, but I’ve retired from my position as University teacher. I am here to guide you towards the stories you need to write and to discover your voice
- athletic yoga; we’re not about Ashtanga or Power Yoga, but will make you feel fabulous with Gentle Hatha Flow and Restorative Yin Yoga
- critique your writing; of course we will share our writing in daily reading circles and I’ll be available for one-on-one feedback, but this retreat is about letting your writing flow without judgement or anxiety
- preach Eastern philosophy; we are about using mindfulness and sound bowl balancing sans all the esoteric fluff
Praise for our Writing Retreats
As the week progressed, we all went deeper and deeper into our creative expression. I particularly liked that there were a variety of approaches to opening up our writing: visual, verbal, drawing.
The yoga, meditation, sound baths and excursions were all wonderful. Kerstin attended to every aspect of being in a foreign country. The individual consultations were extremely helpful, motivating and inspiring and as a result, I am leaving with a project that I knew I needed to do but was avoiding.”
Heidi, craniosacral therapist, Woodstock, NY
“If you are thinking of a writing retreat, I wholeheartedly recommend Kerstin’s retreats, for seeing with fresh eyes. You will love the self-care, stimulation, reflection and perspective it provides. The writing experience on the retreat prompted us to hone in on our unique voice. Writing sessions focused on a theme such as beginner’s mind, writing for the senses, storytelling, memoir and crafting a personal creative manifesto.
Kerstin was adept at crafting a gentle writing curriculum experience that opened us up to our voice and skill. It was so valuable for me to work with themes, prompts and exercises to dust off and access my voice.
An individual hour-long sound bowl meditation with Nigel was included and involved the placing of sound bowls around us and on our body. It was the deepest of relaxation experiences. That night I slept like I hadn’t slept for a long time.
Kerstin arranged a well-balanced itinerary and journey through the week. The yoga and writing complemented each other perfectly as we attended to both practices.”
Terri, life coach, Sydney. Read her full write-up on her blog Quiet Writing.
The individual sound bowl session that I had with Nigel was my first time doing sound bowl meditation. I will definitely be trying it again, it was so relaxing and calming, literally the best thing ever!
The overall organization was fantastic. I enjoyed everything about An Villa! The staff were fantastic it was so good of them to provide us with all that we needed and go out of their way to ensure that we were comfortable.”
Flora, poet, activist & youth worker, Melbourne