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LIVE YOUR LIST: Tammy Guest’s Cultural Immersion

Freedom and sheer joy is the way a local entrepreneur describes her time in Bali. In April 2015, the Wallsend resident had planned to tick off her bucket list a structured four-week immersion business course. However, like all good adventures; it did not unfold that way.

After months of planning – for three kids, husband and thriving business to survive while she was away – Tammy Guest received a phone call, five days before her departure, to say it was cancelled.

“I was devastated; my dream was gone. However, with my husband’s encouragement, I organised to stay at a villa on Ubud outskirts and do my own version. It ended up being like an adult-gap month,” Tammy said.

Her first discovery was burnout; she was totally fatigued and started her recovery through being fully absorbed in the Balinese culture, a women’s retreat and co-working space.

“For me, it was easier to wake up early in a tropical country. It feels good, and I didn’t want to waste a moment. From my villa, I loved watching the day dawn over the rice paddies and the smell of incense wafting in from the gateway offerings,” she said.

Everyday life – the temperature, smells, sounds and sights, especially the food and culture – felt good to her. She loved the food, especially the vegan and plant-based dishes and ate them daily.

“The women’s retreat was not something I would do at home. It was incredible – I reconnected with a part of my femininity that had been forgotten due to my busy-ness. When I was away, there were more “yes” moments – I felt braver.”


Above: The setting for Tammy's five-day women's retreat. Top: Tammy Guest Loved her adult-gap month in Bali


One of the moments was deciding to hire a scooter for $30 a week then learning to ride it within two days. The first day in traffic Tammy found scary; however, by the second day, she found there was a flow and quickly felt part of it.

When she decided to work, it was in a more relaxed way, like by the pool or in her first co-working space.

“It was amazing to have WIFI and work while on my bucket-list holiday, either solo or with company in the in co-working space, which had the same camaraderie as a backpackers hostel. The best part was creating this work environment and knowing that work can look like this.”

Tammy found the digital nomadic lifestyle she craved but in another format. The sense of freedom she wanted was still there and amplified due to the lack of structure.

“It was extraordinary; I was able to recapture the same freedom of my teenage gap years. It appeared in serendipitous moments when joy was found in unexpected encounters with nature and people.”

One such occasion was on her scooter on a dirt road through a rainforest arch with monkeys on either side chattering away in the light rain.

“I was in flow – in the right place, time and space – aligned with the road, rain and air. The memory is still vivid, and I use it, sometimes, in meditation and the flow returns.”


“The month in Bali exceeded all my expectations and sits high on my bucket list ticks.”


Her other ticks include climbing Mount Kinabalu (4095m) in Sabah, Malaysia; holding a sea turtle hatchling in Borneo; walking out of London’s Waterloo Station to see Big Ben; living in London for two years; snow on Christmas Day while staying in a 600-year-old mill in Scotland; and watching the sunrise over Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

Next, is Kumano Kodo trek, Japan with her husband for their 10th wedding anniversary – by the time this article is in print, it will be done!

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