We play rugby for almost 12 months of the year nowadays.
I’m not complaining, but it does mean you have to plan carefully those few weeks when you have no commitments at all. Body and mind need real down-time and I know that for some sportsmen that’s not easy.
They get restless and start looking for a challenge. Just like me, in fact.
A very blissful sort of beauty: Bali offers the splendid scenery of Padang Bai Beach – with Mount Agung in the background
The warmest of welcomes: Chris and Camilla mingle with the locals on their Balinese adventure
Flying all the way to Singapore and then on to Bali means you’re serious about having a holiday — but it was also one of those places I had always wanted to visit. A friend went there on honeymoon and quite a few rugby players had recommended the two Anantara resorts on the island.
My girlfriend Camilla [Kerslake, the singer] and I couldn’t quite decide which one would suit us best — so we stayed in them both and were glad that we did.
First we went to Anantara Seminyak Resort & Spa. It has a brilliant location in a laid-back but lively part of Bali on a beachfront. We had a huge suite, with floor-to-ceiling windows and amazing sunset views. The open-air tub on the terrace was big enough for two.
There are only 60 rooms and it’s the perfect place to recharge your batteries. There’s a wonderful big bar and restaurant on the top floor called MoonLite Kitchen & Bar.
The menu is packed with fresh seafood and unusual Asian-inspired cocktails. We loved the view over the Indian Ocean, and the DJ was mixing truly chilled music.
There were lots of things to do and there’s a beautiful beach but at the same time you are only a short walk to the bars, restaurants and markets. Our favourite restaurant was called the Potato Head Beach Club, just a few minutes from the hotel.
The design is really unusual — vintage furniture and a beachfront bar with hand-crafted cocktails.
Monkey business: Indonesia is full of playful simians – and the couple encountered plenty of them at the Uluwatu Temple
Every morning, Camilla had a yoga lesson on the beach. I joined her on one occasion but after that I left her to it.
What I hadn’t realised is that Bali is such a great place for surfing. The waves are impressive, and while we were there everyone was gearing up for a major competition. Camilla and I booked ourselves in for some lessons (this is where the challenge came in) and I’m pleased to say that we got the hang of it quite quickly.
It’s a great sport for building up the core muscles, improving your balance and general metabolism — but I think I’ll be sticking with rugby.
The hotel was a great base from which to explore. One day we were taken out on bicycles to see the rice fields and it was an amazing experience. I will never look at a bowl of rice in quite the same way. It’s hard work because they do it all by hand, working in hot and humid weather.
On another occasion, we went to a village where the hotel is involved with a charity called Yayasan Solemen Indonesia.
The Anantara Seminyak collaborates with the charity, and guests are asked to give a dollar a day to help disadvantaged groups in the country. We could see where the money is going and it was humbling. We came across one man who had cerebral palsy and had spent 10 years sleeping on a concrete floor.
Now he was properly housed and being given treatment to help with the disease. We met some really inspirational people and it was incredible to see how much the charity achieves.
Here I am in the day job: Chris Robshaw will be putting his best feet forward when he leads England at the upcoming Rugby World Cup
After a few nights at our first hotel we moved on to Anantara Uluwatu. The main difference is that it is much more remote, built on a cliff face. It’s a really good option for couples.
We felt totally relaxed, thanks to a few spa sessions. The speciality was the Sensual Spice Journey — a combination of herbal scrubs, foot washes and relaxing massages.
The spa is designed to reflect the mood of a traditional Balinese rice barn. The treatment menu has been put together using Indonesian spices, combining them with ancient wellness secrets and Western practices I was more familiar with. It was a nice alternative to the usual sports massages.
Uluwatu is much bigger than Anantara Seminyak. It’s wilder too, which helps explain how there were far more monkeys scampering about the place than guests. We loved watching them trying to raid the breakfast buffet and decided they must be some of the tamest wild monkeys in the world.
If something was not to their taste, they just spat it out and went back for something else.
One day we went to a seafront temple where Bali locals showed us the traditional kecak dance, as well as a painting and carving ceremony.
At the Uluwatu Temple there were loads of monkeys, too. They were really gentle and we were allowed to feed them fruit — it was fantastic to see them having fun in their natural habitat.
When you play for England you travel a lot, but you seldom stay anywhere for long. This was different. I really appreciated being in a new culture, one where everyone is friendly and keen to ensure you’re having a good time.
I thought a lot about the World Cup, which starts next month. Playing at home will be a great experience and I know the country will get behind us (well, the English part anyway!).
We’ve really come together as a squad and have genuine strength in depth. It’s hard to imagine two more extreme pursuits than sitting on a beach in Bali and knuckling down for a scrum at Twickenham. I love them both.