Bali – the Island of Gods
Summer time in Bali, is a dream come true. I’ve been there many times, seen the changes that have occurred over the past twenty years, and despite that I still love going back to spend time on this magical Island of the Gods.
From the magnificent mountains, to rugged coastlines to volcanic hillsides, black sandy beaches and green lush rice fields. Located between Lombok and Java, Bali hosts a rich and diverse culture that is totally unique. Why is it called the island of Gods? Apart from the fact that you pick up the goods vibes from the moment you set foot on land, Bali is home to thousands of Hindu temples in every nook and cranny. The predominantly Hindu culture is a rare form in the Muslim dominated country of Indonesia.
There‘s a spiritual feeling on the Balinese island as you wake up every morning. The women religiously begin their day with prayers at their homes or at temples. A cleansing ritual that starts at the crack of dawn, when the women splash a bucket of water in front of their porch, putting together their daily offerings from the local markets for the famous Hindu purification rituals.
Bali became popular in the late 1970s when a flock of hippies went on to explore this beautiful island. Especially attracted by the beaches of Kuta, that hosts many surfers still now.
I am naturally attracted to anything that is spiritual. What feels good, does good and these offerings in Bali also look good! They are made up of bunches of Plumeria and various colours of Frangipani, adorned mildly on an intricately square-shaped palm leaves pinned together with bamboo sticks like a basket called the Canang Sari. What I only just found out is that the different colours of flowers in this palm tray symbolizes a Hindu God. Sometimes the offering include betel nuts, lime and even tobacco. The Balinese offering known as Banten is a firm dedication to god as a Thank you note as well as to the demons – not as a prayer per say but as a request to go away. Sounds like me when I am burning smudges and Palo Santo in my house, wearing evil eyes and diffusing feel good incense.
There are many new places to explore on Bali, one of them being Canggu. Once a remote quite green place, now the centre of hipsters, boutique hotels and a stylish cafe lined up one after the other.
Eat, Pray, Love.
STAY – UBUD
Bisma Eight – a boutique hotel in central Ubud with private infinity pool looking towards the lush green forests a step away from the Monkey forest. Excellent breakfast menu and my favourite way to start each day is on their rooftop with a yoga session. If you are staying there, don’t miss the chance to visit their vegetable gardens (although they will soon be converted into luxury villas with their very own vegetable patches).
Honeymoon Guesthouses – my little hidden gem. Backpackers, shoppers, lovers. The guesthouses give a glimpse into the Ubud living in traditional/retro architecture. If you are around, go grab your breakfast there. The breads are fresh from their own bakery (try the cinnamon roll), juice you can imagine is just the best Vitamin boost and their coffee’s great. Also offer morning yoga classes I enjoyed going there a lot.
Como Hotel Ubud – want to hit the pause button to restart? Try this hide-away. Pilates, yoga, Ayurvedic cuisine with local organic produce. Pure bliss.
Janat Resort – A hard to beat view onto the wast forests of Ubud. Truly a place to reconnect with nature. A gorgeous luxury hotel.
EAT – UBUD
Juice Ja Cafe – a discovery when we were thirsty for fresh juice. Organic everything, food, drinks, shopping. We ended up going back for more.
Sari Organik – a simple place for lunches in the in amoungst the rice fields. No high expectations, just enjoy the track there, the view, the fresh home made food and juices and lay back.
Casa Luna – Another place to taste local delicacies. This place is run by the lovely Australian-Indonesian couple who also have the Honeymoon Guesthouse close by.
Locavore – Casual, modern cuisine made of local and fresh produce, with special menus for ‘herbivores’ . All ingredients are 100% traceable from sustainable, supporting domestic farmers, the local community.
Nusantara – Get a taste of Indonesia. You won’t recognise anything on the menu. A refreshing feeling of discovering at Nusantara which means “Indonesian archipelago”. Home cuisine, excellent service, modern interior. A place to remember.
SHOP – UBUD
Gaya Ceramics – There is not a visit to Ubud without visit to the gorgeous Italian couples ceramic atelier and shop Gaya Ceramics. Looking for something unique, classy, locally made, this place will be your Eden. And while you are at it, go grab one of the best Italian gelato to top your table ware , home goods shopping, at Gaya Gelato.
Are you Bali Coffee hunting? Since there’s a new trend of coffee in Bali, it was quite difficult to find the ‘real’ Bali coffee in cafes although it is becoming a little easier now. We traveled all the way to the centre of Denpassar to one of the oldest coffee distributors, to sip on one of them with the locals. A great experience.
Whilst in Ubud we found this place, Seniman Coffee, which sells coffee that is grown on Bali as well as blends from neighboring islands. Great taste and stylishly packaged that spending a bit more for a Bali Kopi was totally worth it!
Want to do something different? Attend a weaving workshop at Threads of Life and learn the traditional art of weaving and natural dies using local plants. Fascinating!
SPA – UBUD
Being a prevailer of natural beauty, finding the right spa is a must for my vacation trips, especially when Im traveling without my kids (because they always come first in line for me). I was delighted to meet Ketut Jasi and discover her all natural herbal local spa, Cantika Zest.
My recommendation, book a scrub, massage and petal bath for two, and make room to go back in your schedule the next day, because you will be obsessed by that time. All her products are hand made using local botanics, ancestral recipes, serving the best quality and toxic free products.
STAY – SEMINYAK
Katamama – A Balinese boutique hotel, balancing tradition with modernity, showcasing centuries-old crafts of Indonesia in a contemporary context. Handmade artworks and wooden furnishings, yoga classes, fruity elixirs, a boutique Canaan gathering delightful local products to bring a bit of Bali back home.
EAT – SEMINYAK
Mama San – Step into colonial Britain in Shanghai feel of the 1920’s with marble tables, chersterfields, high industrial style ceilings with a cuisine to die for from Australian star Chef Will Meyrick.
Bali Batik – a colonial feel, clean touch, with the charm of South East Asia, spice filled space for delicious Asian dishes from Indonesia, Vietnam and neighbouring countries.
Shelter Seminyak – from preservative free ice lollies, to club sandwiches with a twist, to fruit bowls and Indonesian peanut-filled dishes, it’s a great escape from the buzz of the boutique filled streets.
Sardine – romantic setting with view on the rice fields, lit by night. Sophistication on a plate, sweetness in the service. Love this place for a date and dinner with friends.
Sunset beach time at La Laguna – think hippy chic, gypsy style, Legian beach, Cafe del Mar and the scent of Frangipani. This is it!
SHOP – SEMINYAK
Definitely the mekka of shopping in Bali. Here some of my favourites for fashion (Magali Pascal (dresses, tunics and everything pretty for assertive feminine ladies) , The Bali Tailor (bags and shoes handmade with sustainable local leather), Gooseberry Intimates, nice to see the lace in store as opposed to online. My ultimate favourite under-neath brand that makes you feel special instantly), Kim Soo Home (although Im not a fan of black and white interiors, I loved her shop and sense of style in this cute Balinese refurbished house with mini pool and deliscious breakfast treats).
STAY – CANGGU
Villa Suami – When traveling with family or friends, nothing beats that “at home” feeling than staying in a private villa with no scheduled times for meals and no pool closing times. A quick drive up from Deus cafe, this is an amazing place to stay and get the full Bali rice field feel.
Villa Fellas – a hidden gem, by the Fella Swim – wear designers that instantly makes you relax. Refined designed gallery type villa featuring art from local and international artists and photographers.
The Slow – a walk up from the beach boutique hotel with artisanal furniture, an art gallery, all-day dining, run by the superstar couple Geroge Garrow (creative mind behind the surf brand Insight & his model wife Cisco. They met on a set n Australia and stayed together ever since.) ‘A place to rest your bones, stir your senses, and expand your mind.” as the couple says.
EAT – CANGGU
Little Finders – a swift mix of Melbourne flavours and Bali spices set in a chilled environment not to be understated by the hidden space. Behind the scene is award winning chef Fany Hermawan.
Cafe Organic Bali – cafe and juice bar- dishes made with raw organic local ingredients, serving vegetarian dishes, smoothie bowls and salads.
Betelnut Cafe – breakfast, brunch, healthy lunch, afternoon snack, birthday cake or just eat your cake for what ever reason. Keeping healthy with seasonal fresh local cooking, mixed with international favourites. We loved this place!
On my Eco Lodge hunt I found a few amazing places to spend the night in stylish sustainable Balinese lodges and hotels. Quite amazing what the architect firm IBUKU who also made the famous Green School is setting up for urban conscious consumers like us.