My Eat Pray Love Encounter with Balinese Medicine Man, Ketut Liyer


During my recent trip to Bali, I planned to detox, undergo some healing treatments and unwind. I wasn't planning to follow the footsteps of Julia Robert's character in 'Eat Pray Love'.

Ketut Liyer's home in Ubud, Bali - SFF's Eat, Pray, Love Experience

On my last day in Ubud, a conversation in a cafe started from a cookbook and led to Ketut Liyer, the 9th generation Balinese medicine man who read Elizabeth Gilbert's palm and sparked her year-long journey of self-discovery which led to her successful memoir 'Eat, Pray, Love'. Although I'd been to Bali at least 10 times since 2000, I never knew he existed. K assured me that Ketut Liyer was a real medicine man but only got popular after tourists flocked to visit him. Since his home was only 15 minutes away from the cafe and I was on a journey of self-discovery, I indulged my curiosity. Ketut Liyer lives in a traditional Balinese home. Walking into his residential compound, I was reminded of the artists homes that I visited during my first trip to Ubud in 2000. I was given a number tag and told that the consultation would cost IDR 250,000 (about USD 21).

Ketut Liyer with a French tourist - Ubud, Bali

Ketut Liyer giving a French tourist a reading

Ketut Liyer's readings are conducted on a bale in plain view of the visitors who were waiting for their turn. He read our palms, checked our shoulders and legs. I couldn't catch everything he was saying because he was a little incoherent at times and seems to have a limited English vocabulary. Occasionally, he would smack our knees to highlight a point whilst I would try very hard not to stare at his teeth. What did he have to say? Well, he started off by telling me that he's very old and tired. I asked if he would like to rest but he didn't. He told me that he doesn't speak much English and proceeded to read my palms. His palm reading was very positive and repetitive. It focused on these main sentences that were uttered in varying order (not verbatim):

1) You are very lucky.

2) You will be very successful.

3) You will be very rich.

4) You are very good with your work.

5) All your wishes will come true.

The reading was very different from what was portrayed in 'Eat Pray Love'. The session ended with his son taking pictures of us. As I was leaving the bale, Ketut Liyer said "See you later, alligator." I couldn't help but laugh out loud whilst trying not to miss a step. A quick chat with the French tourist before me revealed that we had the same reading.

Though this wasn't quite what I expected, I shrugged it off as an excursion with a souvenir photo for keeps. Ketut Liyer must be about 100 years old by now and certainly didn't seem to be very lucid at times though he tries hard to keep his energy level up. After a relaxing detox and healing retreat, I was in an upbeat mood and decided to treat Ketut's rambling as a positive affirmation mantra.

Eat Pray Love - Official Trailer

If you'd like to visit Ketut Liyer for your very own 'Eat Pray Love' traditional medicine man experience, go early as I hear the queue can be very long on some days and he only sees about 20 - 25 guests a day.

Ketut Liyer

The Medicine Man from Eat Pray Love

Banjar Pengosekan Kaja, 

Mas Village, Ubud Districts, 

Gianyar Regency,

Bali, Indonesia

Ketut Liyer's home on Foursquare

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber