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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.