Today we play rugby for almost 12 months of the year.
I’m not complaining, but it means you need to carefully plan those few weeks when you don’t have any commitments. Body and mind need real moments of relaxation and I know that for some athletes it is not easy.
They become restless and start looking for a challenge. Just like me, in fact.
A very blissful kind of beauty: Bali offers the beautiful scenery of Padang Bai beach – with Mount Agung in the background
Warmest Welcome: Chris and Camilla mingle with the locals on their Balinese adventure
Flying to Singapore and then to Bali means you’re serious about taking a vacation, but it was also one of those places I’d always wanted to visit. A friend went there on his honeymoon and some rugby players had recommended the two Anantara resorts on the island.
My girlfriend Camilla [Kerslake, the singer] and I couldn’t decide which one would be best for us so we stayed in both and were glad we did.
We first went to Anantara Seminyak Resort & Spa. It has a beautiful location in a relaxed but lively part of Bali on a beach. We had a huge suite, with floor to ceiling windows and fantastic sunset views. The outdoor bath on the terrace was large enough for two.
There are only 60 rooms and it is the perfect place to recharge your batteries. There is a wonderful bar and restaurant on the top floor called MoonLite Kitchen & Bar.
The menu is full of fresh seafood and unusual Asian-inspired cocktails. We loved the Indian Ocean view and the DJ was mixing really relaxing music.
There were many things to do and there is a beautiful beach but at the same time you are within walking distance of bars, restaurants and markets. Our favorite restaurant was called Potato Head Beach Club, just minutes from the hotel.
The design is truly unusual: vintage furniture and a beach bar with handcrafted cocktails.
Monkey business: Indonesia is full of playful monkeys – and the couple met many at Uluwatu temple
Every morning, Camilla had a yoga class on the beach. I joined her on one occasion, but left her afterwards.
What I didn’t realize is that Bali is a great place for surfing. The waves are impressive and while we were there everyone was preparing for a big competition. Camilla and I booked in for a few lessons (this is where the challenge was born) and I’m happy to say we got used to it pretty quickly.
It is a great sport for developing core muscles, improving balance and general metabolism, but I think I will continue playing rugby.
The hotel was a great base from which to explore. One day we were taken on a bicycle to see the rice fields and it was an amazing experience. I will never look at a bowl of rice the same way. It’s hard work because they do everything by hand, working in hot and humid weather.
On another occasion, we went to a village where the hotel is involved in a charity called Yayasan Solemen Indonesia.
Anantara Seminyak collaborates with the charity, and guests are asked to donate a dollar a day to help disadvantaged groups in the country. We could see where the money is going and it was humiliating. We ran into a man who had cerebral palsy and had spent 10 years sleeping on a concrete floor.
He was now properly housed and receiving treatment to help with the disease. We met some really inspiring people and it was amazing to see how much the charity gets.
Here I am in day work: Chris Robshaw will do his best when he leads England to the next Rugby World Cup
After a few nights in our first hotel we moved to Anantara Uluwatu. The main difference is that it is much more remote, built on a rock face. It is a really good option for couples.
We felt totally relaxed, thanks to some spa sessions. The specialty was the Sensual Spice Journey – a combination of herbal scrubs, foot washes and relaxing massages.
The spa is designed to reflect the atmosphere of a traditional Balinese rice barn. The treatment menu was crafted using Indonesian spices, combining them with ancient wellness secrets and Western practices that I was most familiar with. It was a nice alternative to the usual sports massages.
Uluwatu is much larger than Anantara Seminyak. It is also wilder, which helps explain how there were far more monkeys roaming the place than there were guests. We enjoyed watching them try to raid the breakfast buffet and decided they must be some of the most docile wild monkeys in the world.
If something wasn’t to their taste, they would spit it out and come back for something else.
One day we went to a waterfront temple where Bali locals showed us the traditional kecak dance, as well as a painting and sculpture ceremony.
There were also a lot of monkeys at the Uluwatu temple. They were really nice and we were allowed to feed them some fruit – it was great to see them having fun in their natural habitat.
When you play for England you travel a lot, but you rarely stay anywhere for long. This was different. I really enjoyed being in a new culture, where everyone is friendly and eager to make sure you are having a good time.
I thought a lot about the World Cup, which will start next month. Playing at home will be a great experience and I know the country will follow us (well, the English side anyway!).
We are truly united as a team and have genuine strength at depth. It’s hard to imagine two more extreme activities than sitting on a beach in Bali and bustling for a scrum in Twickenham. I love them both.
Travel information: plan your getaway in Indonesia
United Arab Emirates (0344 800 2777, emirates.com) flies from London to Bali from £ 686 return. Double rooms a Anantara Seminyak (0062 361 737 773, bali.anantara.com) start at £ 236 per night B&B, ea Anantara Uluwatu (0062 361 895 7555, bali-uluwatu.anantara.com) from £ 239 B&B.