– Daranna Gidel
While we are in the season of celebration, it’s also a time to wind down and reflect on the year that has been.
In 2022, the restrictions on travelling were finally lifted and the world collectively rejoiced at the freedom of once again exploring across borders. It’s been an insightful year for us at Blue Sky Escapes. Let us take you through our fondest 2022 memories and milestones.
We continued our journey to create safe and nurturing spaces within Singapore for healing and respite. Blue Sky Escapes’ Retreats in Singapore continued to blossom this year as we hosted and closed another four retreats as part of our An Emergence of Self series— the retreats covered the themes of Finding Stillness, Releasing & Resetting and Awakening New Patterns and took place in the picturesque enclave of Tamarind Hill. Guests were invited to shake off their daily stresses and to embark on a journey to their inner worlds. Sessions, involving meditation, sound and movement, were guided by master practitioners Dani Van de Velde, Wil Kolen and Stephanie Bovis.
We were also invited to participate in the inaugural Wellness Festival of Singapore by the Singapore Tourism Board. Together, we brought to life STB’s vision of positioning Singapore as an urban wellness haven, reimagining the spaces in our island home and inspiring more people to incorporate holistic wellness experiences into their daily lives. Sessions included a virtual Intuitive Flow session with Nashwa in partnership with Class Pass and two half-day retreats to find inner balance in collaboration with The Living Cafe. Participants took part in interactive talks on nutrition and gut health, got grounded with a taichi flow session and serenaded into a space of zen in a sound bath.
In October, we geared up to host our very first cross-border wellness retreat since the pandemic. With a desire to uplift and rejuvenate our tribe, our journey brought us to Laos, the hidden gem of South East Asia.
The 4D3N wellness getaway allowed each participant to experience sacred Laotian rituals, local personalities and wildlife native to the land. A journey that allowed rest for weary heads and brought harmony to their inner landscapes.
We were thrilled to collaborate with our close partners and friends at Belmond, and host our guests at the beautiful La Résidence Phou Vao, situated in a UNESCO Heritage region surrounded by lush nature and steps away from vibrant local villages.
This year also granted us with a treasure trove of magical experiences. From communing with the Namibian Himba tribe, watching majestic whales in Iceland and bathing in serenity through a silent trek with Laotian elephants, these one-of-a-kind experiences had us in constant awe.
Namibia’s Himba tribe are one of the last semi-nomadic tribes in the world. Meeting them in the Moçâmedes Desert, observing their astounding ability to survive in the harsh desert climate while herding and breeding livestock as well as farming sturdy crops like maize and millet was simply astonishing. Relying purely on Mother Nature’s bounty, the tribe has adapted their way of living to protect their bodies against the extreme climate. As they remain to be one of the communities untouched by the terrors of COVID, this real unfiltered experience with one of Namibia’s native tribes will open your eyes to other ways of living, a testament to the resilience and tenacity of mankind.
One of life’s greatest moments has to be the sighting of a majestic whale in person. The world's largest mammals, known to be graceful creatures, are best spotted at the lovely fishermen’s town of Husavik, the whale watching capital of Europe. Surrounded by the picturesque mountains of Vik, one can embark on a unique adventure on Skjálfandi Bay, home to countless pods of whales. Sailing across the northern bay, you will be in reverence of the breathtaking scenes of wilderness and sheer expanse of the landscape.
Laos is a land rich with natural resources and remains mostly untouched, making it a perfect spot for silent retreats and forest bathing. Traverse along the luscious jungle landscape as you learn about local legends and Buddhist lore. Passing burbling streams and lovingly tended paddies, one can’t help but feel the contentment that life could bring whilst being in complete harmony with earth and nature. An enriching memory that includes silent walks and forest bathing whilst accompanied en route by elephants, who were now liberated from their agonising lives in logging camps to enjoy a more peaceful existence.
We wanted our tribe to experience firsthand the otherworldly landscapes that Africa offers beyond its safaris and tribal encounters. Namibia made the cut, being a destination on the bucket list of seasoned safari enthusiasts from all corners of the earth. Explore vast striking landscapes that are a photographer’s dream; from the burnt orange dunes to the golden savannahs and the red-ringed salt flats, Namibia’s bursting colours and culture will leave a lasting mark on you.
For thrill seekers and history buffs, Egypt was the answer we were looking for. A wondrous land rich with ancient history and artefacts contrasted with the charming capital city, Cairo, that is dotted with churches and shrines for key religions of the world makes Egypt alluring to any visitor. A rare opportunity will bring you to the Great Pyramids of Giza as you marvel in solitude at the ancient world wonder before sunrise and the crushing crowds set in.
Another destination that tops the list of cultural connoisseurs is Israel. Deemed as the “navel of the earth”, Israel has been in the centre of history of all mankind, drawing pilgrims and revellers alike to this captivating land of milk and honey. Trace the paths trodden by Jesus Christ himself through the well-preserved Old City of Jesus before breaking bread with Palestinians.
Meanwhile, another desire we had while curating our experiences was to explore regions in this world that remains undiscovered. Georgia remains under the radar of even the most seasoned travellers, but its mountainous crossroads of Asia and Europe is home to some of the most interesting cultures. The oldest wine tradition on earth stems from here, where you can harvest and stomp away to produce wine as they did nearly three millennia ago.
Finally, for our tribe who seek familiarity, the land down under is no stranger to many of us. Australia presents you an array of natural wonders and one-of-a-kind wildlife plus an impeccable dining scene. Indulging your every sense in ‘Straya is not impossible, whether you are marvelling cliffs of the spectacular Great Ocean Road or devouring a classic Aussie seafood “barbie”.
We hope you’ll join us in finding your true calling in any one of these exceptional destinations whilst treading these lands with a sense of wonder and exploration.
As for our personal highlights, the Blue Sky Escapes team took to the skies again, embarking on various journeys across the globe to quench our own desires to explore the world again.
With a sturdy faith, we were able to spread our wings to soar to new heights in search of new routes and growth as the borders have steadily reopened and welcomed visitors across the world.
While the reopening has ushered in a demand to travel and explore unlike before, we are deeply mindful in making sure each of our tribe members have a profound yet rejuvenating experience, whether you are in Laos or Namibia.
Nothing gives us a greater sense of purpose than seeing our tribe of travellers coming together as they make meaningful journeys together. The new year will also be a time to embark on once-in-a-lifetime journeys to destinations such as Iceland, Peru, Africa, Egypt, Mongolia, Bhutan, Israel, Antarctica and Norway.
We are deeply grateful to you, our community, and our partners and friends who have supported us in this year of rediscovery. And as we usher in a brand new year, we invite you to join us in this life-long journey of learning and revelations as we navigate our inner and outer worlds.