Browsing Tag

bali

Travel

Bali Part II

IMG_6944

INDONESIA SERIES | Bali Part II

THE HANGING GARDENS RESORT UBUD

Arrival 

We arrive at the Hanging Gardens after darkness has fallen. The resort is located at Banjar Susut, Desa Buahan, Payangan, Kec. Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia. The service is flawless, everyone here seems to be smiling regardless of any worries they might have left at the door. I am a huge fan of hotels featuring the most areas in open air and this is just one of them.

Once arrived at one of the Panoramic Villas I notice the traditional asian elegant design in a contemporary living space, all built in natural wood and surrounded by nature – it seems to be the perfect balance between traditional and new. As we step into the room I am once again speechless. The room includes a super king bed, two large bathtubs – one indoor and one located on the side terrace. An additional queen size bed is placed on the very corner of the terrace, next to…well a private infinity pool, just above the rainforest, allowing countless hours of stargazing. I start loosing any track of time once again, the numbers and hands miraculously disappear from my watch.

I drop everything on the floor and jump into the water enjoying the silence which soon converts into a beautiful soulful song. All my thoughts disappear in a nanosecond.

AT A GLANCE

Best time to visit – there is a tropical, warm and humid season all year around, however the best time to visit Bali is during the dry season, from April until September.

Currency – Indonesian Rupiah. You can use your credit cards in most places, although it is always beneficial to carry some cash with you in the local currency. Easiest to exchange at the local airport.

How to get there – there are no direct flights if you are travelling from Europe. Best connecting flights are via Doha, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Dubai.

Highlights – private dinner by the pool at the Hanging Gardens Resort.

Top Fact – The Hanging Gardens of Ubud resort was built by 700 local craftsmen using traditional materials two years, from 2003 to 2005.

Dress code – Very relaxing, light-weighted clothes. A pair of heels is more than enough, make sure you also pack a pair of trainers for hiking.

IMG_67672

Resort & Surroundings 

The sun comes up and just when I thought it can’t get any better I wake up to an outrageously beautiful landscape, as the bed faces a panoramic view through a glass wall. The only thing that might potentially dampen my mood right now is one of the numerous torrential rains we have had so far. But the sky couldn’t be clearer nor bluer.

I wonder around the resort whose architecture is defined based on existing natural contours and lush vegetation. The design is built on a 45 degree angle with Feng Shui principles, expressing a world of infinity and stability of energy. Highly important for me is the idea of a boutique hotel. Rather than choosing landmark hotels in exotic destinations, I prefer the resorts with a maximum of 50 rooms / villas. The Hanging Gardens features a perfect no. of 45 villas set on two levels.

IMG_6848

Dinning Options

I discover a luxurious restaurant called The Garden overlooking the lush rainforest, Ayung River and the ancient Dalem Segara temple. Encompassing global flavours combined with traditional organic recipes, the garden restaurant creates the perfect nourishment for your taste buds. Just below the main restaurant there’s a breathtaking lounge area – The Garden Bar, partially open-aired featuring picturesque views of the infinity pool.

Whilst my mouth drops open at the beauty set on the very edge of the rain forests’ valley, a friendly member of staff informs me that the resort also provides private dinning by the pool and the unforgettable experience of dinning at the temple. Be sure to book any of these on the day of your arrival as they prior notice to be able to organise.

The Rainforest

After a couple of blissful hours spent at what has been fairly claimed no. 1 best pool in the world and a delicious & beautifully presented tuna steak I can’t help but wonder what’s on the other side of the infinity pool’s line?

I gather my thoughts, grab my Havaianas and walk down the stairs all the way down to the rainforest. I am immediately introduced to alluring landscapes, waterfalls that shimmer into the warm glow, several surreal bridges all throughout the forest overpassing the Ayung river and an array of colourful butterflies. What surprises me most is that I can’t see anyone else wondering around here although it’s extremely easy to reach.

IMG_7205_2
IMG_6910

TEGALALANG RICE TERRACE

As incurable nature lovers, we decide to visit one spot that has been on our Bucket List for a long time, the Rice Terraces located at Jalan Raya Tegalalang, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia.

We pick up the car and adventure into the unknown, a 30 minutes road trip through the narrowed & curved streets of Ubud. A slight insecurity filters through as our car is slowly letting us down but once we’ve made up our minds there’s no way back. NOTE: Make sure you input your destination on your GPS well in advance as the internet connection might drop out when less expected.

Once closer to the terraces, bear in mind that there’s no parking within the actual grounds, however there’s a parking available on the left hand side, approximately 50 meters away from the main entrance.

There is no need to purchase any tickets outside, I simply donate money to the workers inside which I find on my way in and all throughout the terraces. I step inside and remain speechless, this is truly quite like nothing I have ever seen before, layers and layers of lush green vegetation loaded with countless palm trees. The idea of hiking the unstable wet grounds for at least an hour until reaching the final point is slightly scary yet fascinating. NOTE: Important to grab a pair of trainers or rain boots and comfortable light weighted clothing. You might find a few ants tribals eager to climb up on your legs, although if you’re geared up appropriately you’ll be fine.

IMG_6936

In the unusual case of arriving in flip flops (as I did), it is best to walk around barefoot as all of the workers here, especially on a rainy day. I sit on the wet ground and absorb it all in one more time. The light has already dimmed outside and so starting to look for the exit around here can become a trickier situation than what it initially seemed. Out of nowhere, a worker comes our way and simply says: ‘Follow me’.

IMG_6895

He is showing us the way out, but we stop on the way at his cabana built within the Rice Terraces. We didn’t carry any water and were beyond dehydrated, so he offers us coconut water whilst caring our worries away with his handmade musical instrument. My eyes are in tears and I am stood humble in front of this men that has just made our evening with the very little that he had.

I leave filled with joy and happiness after not only exploring some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world but also by having discovered the kindness, wonderful souls and spirituality in each person I met along the entire journey.

Up next from the Indonesia Series: Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Lombok

Travel

Bali

IMG_6646

INDONESIA SERIES | Bali Part I

Bali, an oasis full of surprises.

We sometimes think we have seen it all & done it all. We sometimes forget to open up and let our five senses explore, learn and see new things every day. Keeping an open mind might lead you to both good and bad choices. But the upside of this is that both good and bad choices generate good stories that will last for a lifetime.

Travel comes in so many different shapes and manners, being different from one person to another, although we tend to always go for our habitual travel patterns. So this time, I wanted to travel far, far from my comfort zone and far in distance.

As per each weekend I commence my research for my next destinations. I use several different websites to purchase my hotel and at times the entire package including flights. They have a wonderful array, make sure you check them out.

Secret Escapes is an exclusive members only travel club offering up to 70% on luxury hotels and holidays. New offers land every week which will be also sent to your email to keep you inspired.
Similar to Secret Escapes, Voyage Privé specialises in online private sales for quality exploratory holidays and luxury trips.
Booking.com is a digital accommodation booking website offering a wide range of hotels in 85000 destinations worldwide.
Expedia offer top deals on package holidays, launching daily travel deals from luxury to low cost hotels, holidays, city breaks and flights.

 

AT A GLANCE

Best time to visit – there is a tropical, warm and humid season all year around, however the best time to visit Bali is during the dry season, from April until September.

Currency – Indonesian Rupiah. You can use your credit cards in most places, although it is always beneficial to carry some cash with you in the local currency. Easiest to exchange at the local airport.

How to get there – there are no direct flights if you are travelling from Europe. Best connecting flights are via Doha, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Dubai.

Highlights – Stay at the Hanging Gardens Resort, Visit at the Dewa Putu Toris Art Gallery and Dinner at Matis.

Top Fact – Bali is part of the Coral Triangle featuring over 500 reef building coral species which is 7 times more than in the entire Caribbean.

Dress code – Very relaxing, light-weighted clothes. A pair of heels is more than enough, make sure you also pack a pair of trainers for hiking.

Bali enchants all who visit, although this destination is no typical voyage. You have of course the option to remain within the resort’s premises throughout the whole period of time and step out for the occasional dinner and drinks. On the other hand, I saw an ample opportunity to learn about its complex culture all the way from wildlife experts and historians to the most vision changing people – the locals.

JOURNEY AND HOTEL

This time I book a package on Voyage Prive including flights via Doha with Qatar Airways and the Novotel Hotel in the region of Bali, Benoa. Being part of the Accor Hotel Group, Novotel provides a variety of advantages worth while. Make sure you sign up here.

After a long yet pleasant journey with Qatar Airways I arrive to a tropical splendour surrounding a beautiful 4 stars hotel built on the beach and featuring the most alluring traditional balinese design. I have thought of several different hotels prior to my trip such as the ultra modern Trans Hotel in Seminyak, which under the management of Alex Jovanovic offers an impeccable service and overall experience. However, I am magnetised by natural settings, must be the flow of the water that we usually seek to translate in our lives.

FullSizeRender-1
FullSizeRender

As we (my sister and I) are restless explorers, renting a car wherever we travel comes natural. This time around we encountered slight issues, whereby everyone’s reaction to tourists potentially renting a car is rather inconclusive and somehow even disturbed. Characterised by incurable stubbornness, we decide to rent a car from the hotel (if you are looking for a higher end car brand, forget about it! A Fiat will do, you will find out later why).

The check in process runs smoothly and we are quickly accompanied to one of the villas across the road. We pass through a path covered by bright green exotic plants (some of which I have never seen before) with a relaxing pool on the side. As I step into the room, I realise this resort is all about soul satisfying-stillness, starting from the oriental music on the background, furniture fully built out of natural and local wood all the way to the bed covered by Plumeria petals (unmissable from Balinese culture).

DAY 1

I wake up early so I can enjoy the breakfast overlooking the Indian Ocean. I start devouring the fruit platters whilst I surprisingly also discover the most delicious porridge in the world alongside the Salak, or differently called the Snake Fruit.

Once finished I feel the urge to start exploring the unspoiled nature of the island and so I decide to spend the day on the hotel’s beach despite the cloudy and lower temperature climate. Upon a brief research I realise that my visit is at boarder line between the dry and rainy season. However, my hippie spirit filled with joy and excitement at the thought of exploring the Indonesian land suddenly breaks out.

The resort includes 3 swimming pools, 3 restaurants and bars, a fitness centre, a tennis court and a wonderful balance spa.

12764843_10153905760959362_5090049276515676248_o

Whilst I enjoy the magnificent views, a concentrated dose of boredom kicks in due to the extreme laid back atmosphere. The Hotel Novotel Benoa is absolutely perfect for families, but my nomad side drags me back to booking.com in the search of a new adventure in the neighbourhood. I soon land on The Hanging Gardens resort which rings a bell as being the most alluring sanctuary hidden within Ubud’s Jungle. I book a room for two nights and look forward to my first road trip in Bali unaware though that I am set to discover a piece of Paradise that goes beyond unexpected.

DINNER IN SEMINYAK

In the evening I reserve a celebratory dinner at METIS located at Jl. Petitenget No. 6, Kerobokan Kelod, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali, Indonesia before heading off to The Hanging Gardens the following morning. Although I am not expecting any level of luxury in Bali, this restaurant is beautifully inspired by Asian tropical architecture yet infiltrating a modern, chic & elegant twist on it. Wonderfully spacious, it features 5 areas – indoor lounge and restaurant extending into a blissful terrace, private garden and lounge bar converting into a club post dinner and a Gallery & Boutique selling top balinese fashion & art. The French Mediterranean cuisine is absolutely exquisite and further more, the deserts are highly eclipsing the mains. The relaxed atmosphere sets the stage accompanied by the sophisticated setting and impeccable service. The club however is annoyingly crowded missing the elegance spread on the rest of the areas. Make sure you book prior to your visit as it might be difficult to find a table, even more so during the weekends.

entrance Metis

DAY 2

Road Trip

The second morning brings with it a unique experience that enables me to genuinely understand and appreciate the local people and their endless kindness. Despite being set to drive straight to The Hanging Gardens resort in Ubud, the traffic is far away from being any sort of helpful or friendly. Hundreds of scooters appear out of nowhere and there are 3 different traffic lights for the same intersection. Patience is not a virtue for local drivers, therefore the honk noises almost turn into a large instrumental ensemble without a conductor. Unfortunately, taxis are a rarity here, therefore self-driving is still the best option.

Kopi Luwak Coffee Plantation

As we are trying to solve the puzzle, a local man approaches us by scooter and provides us with tips on how to drive in Bali, followed by an invitation to drive behind him to his work place as he is certain that we will love it. After making up our minds several times we decide to follow him and as we approach his so called office we realise that he is taking us to the Kopi Luwak Coffee Plantation located at tJL. Pura Dalem, Tegal Tamu, Batubulan, Gianyar – Bali. This place was brought up in our exploring planning conversations before but seemed impossible to find. Once arrived, I am sat down by lovely Adex at a table in the middle of the plantation to enjoy the best coffee & tea tasting. The taste is absolutely irresistible and so I end up with 3 bags full of different flavours of coffee and tea from the local shop. Kopi luwak includes part-digested coffee cherries eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet. It might not sound as appealing, however the Luwak Coffee’s flavour is by far the best I have ever tried. What’s more, the civet coffee is also one of the two most expensive coffees in the world with retail prices reaching €550 per kilogram. #1 is occupied by the Black Ivory Coffee retailing at €850/kg.

coffee
coffeee

Dewa Putu Toris Art Gallery, Tegenungan Waterfall and the Tek Tok Dance

The coffee plantation is followed by a visit to the Dewa Putu Toris Gallery, Jl. Raya Batuan No.12, Batuan, Sukawati, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia – an impressive art collection curated by both established and new balinese painters. Not to be missed, expect an array of traditional activities such as the fire dance recreated through the point of the brush. The setting itself is unexpectedly inspiring, recalling the design and architectural details of a temple.

We then follow the route that leads us to the Tegenungan Waterfall, Kemenuh, Sukawati, Kec. Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia, known as one of the most alluring cascades in Bali thanks to its unforgettable lush green surroundings.

art
FullSizeRender-3

Having lost any notion of time, I realise now how late it is and that we will end up with a nocturnal driving to the Hanging Gardens. Despite this thought I want to make one more stop at the Ahadewa Barong Dance to experience the balinese dancing called the Tek Tok Dance. This is often presented at the Bali Culture Centre, however if you are looking for the real experience in a traditional setting, than this is your go-to place. Accompanied by the musical sound of the Tek Tok repeated by dancers, the balinese dance represents a message of truth, devotion and genuine compassion.

Balinese Dancer

Ubud is the cultural representative area standing for the history of Bali itself. There is a wide range of historical & cultural attractions such as art museums, centres and temples. I would recommend spending two days in Ubud so you can enjoy the full experience. Besides the points mentioned above, make sure you also visit the Monkey Forest. Bring nothing else but your camera and hold tight to it, there are some expert monkeys that will still away any possessions.

Stay tuned for my experience at the mesmerising Hanging Gardens resort and Day 3 activities.