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Southeast asia / SEPTEMBER 2013

Digital Destination Guide

The Best of Bali bar crawls on the islaND exploring the north coast saving a corner of paradise


POTATO HEAD BEACH CLUB Jl. Petitenget Seminyak, 80361 Bali, Indonesia +62 361 473 7979 reservation@ptthead.com www.ptthead.com Twitter @pttheadbali facebook.com/potatoheadbeachclub


Editor’s Note

where to find me chrisk@mediatransasia.com @CKucway on Twitter

At Le Meridien Bali Jimbaran.

Time for Bali

W

e’re very lucky in Asia. Everywhere we travel in this part of the world offers a different experience, whether it be any one of dozens of cultures, or simply enjoying the solitude of a quiet beach or the frenetic pace of a big city. Change, too, is always apparent in every locale. One constant is Bali. Not that it isn’t different from last year or a decade ago, because it definitely is. There are always new resorts, can’t-miss restaurants and happening after-hours scenes to explore, all alongside the rich cultural vein that makes Bali unlike anywhere else on earth. This is why we cover the island getaway so often in Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia and why, with this special e-guide, we’re reproducing some of our best coverage of Bali in a digital format. Updated and with the latest news and special room packages from the island, the idea is to provide our readers with a one-stop shop on Bali, one that will grow as the island does. Our Best of Bali story is self-explanatory, covering the range of the island. More intimate, yet just as intriguing, is a night or two out on a bar crawl. We also cater to foodies—and who isn’t one in Asia?—with our take on cooking schools and how they can help you appreciate the island and its customs more. If you’re looking for a quiet side to Bali, then take our journey along the north shore, it’s a trip that will linger in your memory. If all this talk of growth and change leaves you concerned about Bali’s future, you are not alone. It’s a topic we include here in an article you must read before you visit the island. All in all, at the very least these stories should make you appreciate everything Bali has to offer. Better yet, it should make you want to visit or return to what is one of the world’s favorite islands.—c h r i s t oph e r k uc way t r av e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a .c o m

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What’s New

This Just In...

Le Meridien Bali Jimbaran

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check out the Grand Nikko Bali’s superb collection of

17 new addresses. Check in to any one of the wooddetailed villas and your every need is taken care of. At the massive Mulia are villas of a different stripe: modern in every sense of the word, though sitting at your private pool on a hillside, tropical Bali comes through loud, or rather quietly, and clear. RIMBA Jimbaran (rimbajimbaran.com) is a new sister property to the Ayana Resort and shares some facilities with its wellknown neighbor, located in a landscaped forest. Also in Nusa Dua, check out Mantra (mantra.com. au), home to the Chakra

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Spa & Wellness Centre that specializes in revitalizing its guests. Or venture off to Samabe Bali Resorts & Villas (samabe.com) on the

southern shore, where 39 suites and 7 villas each have a stunning view of the sea. Up in Seminyak, U Paasha (uhotelsresorts. com) offers top-flight facilities at affordable prices. The boutique-style property has 94 suites and four contemporary penthouses. Also in the area is the Alana Vasanti Seminyak Hotel

(alanhotels.com). Away from the crowds is The Regent, a resort with a smart look and feel, perfect for getting away and staying put.

Sure, there’s a lot on the menu at Sundara at the Four Seasons (fourseasons. com), but what you’ll most want to drink in is the view. Sundara is a perfect blend of five-star meets lazy beach—think comfort food at lunch, steak and seafood come dinner, and cocktails all the time. Expect Balinese and Singaporean dishes at Baba’s Restaurant (huubali.com) in Seminyak. Coming up: Watch this space for the Potato Head hotel, a new Sofitel, Konderatu and The Chedi Club. Undergoing major changes is the Westin,

where a new wing, Italian restaurant and revamped spa are all coming on line.

c h r i s t o p h e r k u c w ay ( 2 )

For all its laidback charms, Bali stands still for no man. New to the island is the funky Le Meridien Bali Jimbaran (starwoodhotels. com), where a tiered pool dominates the space between 118 mod-con guestrooms, sweeping guests into that Balinese frame of mind. Another Starwood property is even more of a surprise if Kuta doesn’t spring to mind as a place to stay. The Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort is right next to the popular beach but is designed in such a way that you can lounge poolside and your view extends unimpeded to the beach, the sea and beyond. If villas are a necessity,

Grand Nikko Bali


Deals Nusa Dua

US$165 per night

Bali’s Best Deals

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An early bird offer at U Paasha Seminyak Bali—that means at least 14 days in advance—has suites available for US$140 per night, double through December 15. uhotelsresorts.com/ upaashaseminyak At the Nusa Dua Hotel, room nights for two start at a special, direct booking price of US$165 a night, including breakfast until October 31. nusaduahotel.com Free upgrades are on offer at Ayana Resort. Guests who book an Ocean Villa and quote the codeword “Cliffhanger” will enjoy an upgrade to a Cliff Villa, which is almost double the size, with 500sqm of indoor and outdoor living space and exclusive

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benefits including 24-hour butler service. There’s a minimum stay of four nights and the offer is valid until December 23. ayanaresort.com Save up to 36 percent at the newly opened Rimba Jimbaran on all bookings received before December 22 for travel before the end of March 2014. Includes breakfast, Balinese massage and a US$50 resort credit. rimbajimbaran.com At Laguna Resort & Spa, deluxe garden view rooms are available for US$180 a night for a minimum stay of five nights. The special rate includes daily breakfast for two adults and one child, Wi-Fi access and a

complimentary extra bed. Valid until December 31, 2014. starwoodhotels.com L Hotel Seminyak A four-night stay in a lifestyle suite, including complimentary cocktails and canapes at the resort, breakfast, designer Kiehl amenities and a one-hour massage for two at the spa is available for US$980 until December 20. reservation@thelhotels.com At the Swiss-Belhotel Bayview (swiss-belhotel.com), there’s a family package for two-night stays available for Rp3,240,000. It includes a 30 percent discount on food and beverage at the resort and daily buffet breakfast for four.

Courtesy of NUsa Dua Hotels

Exclusive for T+L readers, the Grand Nikko Bali is offering a romantic getaway package for US$600 a night that includes daily breakfast for two, access to the Nikko Club Lounge, a dinner for two, an Elemis face and body treatment at the Mandara Spa and a 20 percent discount on food and beverage at the resort. There’s a two-night minimum booking valid for any stay between September 15 and December 15. Booking code: TLSEA. nikkobali.com Book 60 days in advance and receive 30 percent off of the best available rate on selected room categories at The Mulia, Mulia Resort as well as Mulia Villas. themulia.com


Best of Bali

island allure From top: Traditional Balinese dress; COMO’s colorful vegetable flower salad; a local waiter greets diners at Alila Villas Uluwatu. Opposite: The enticing view over the coast at di Mare Restaurant at Karma Kandara Resort.

m i ddl e : c h r i s to p h e r w i s e

The island that has it all just keeps getting better—from the best babi guling to the most scenic spots for a sunset cocktail. here’s what not to miss. By Holly McDonald and Jen Lin-Liu. Photographed by Lauryn Ishak


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Just another day in paradise. Opposite: Bali comes with its very own distinct soundtrack.


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Hot destinations come and go, but some, like Bali, are perennial favorites. The Indonesian idyll has never been more popular. With good reason. A rich culture still permeates all aspects of life, lending an allure that makes the Island of the Gods a place people return to again and again. Close your eyes and think of a crimson bloom tucked behind a waiter’s ear; a rhythmic gamelan tinkling from a distant temple ceremony, rising above the hum of the ordinary; the scent of sweet incense wafting from a household shrine—all of these weave together to form a compelling and colorful tapestry of life. On Bali, the traditional and modern collide. The southern side of the island offers edgy bars that wouldn’t be out of place in Sydney; quirky boutiques showcase curios both local and from around the globe; world-class spas pamper at competitive prices; and flash beachside cabanas tempt you to sit back in the sun and do nothing at all. But Bali is much more than this and deserves exploration beyond the busy palimpsest of its south. Retreat to the cooler hills of Ubud, beach hop along the east or west coasts, or snorkel in the protected national park in the northwest. Succumb to the slower pace elsewhere on the island, and you too will realize that one trip just isn’t enough. » t r av e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a .c o m

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EAT CLASSICS Australian chef Will Meyrick’s Sarong (Jln. Petitenget 19x, Kerobokan; 62-361/ 473-7809; sarongbali.com; dinner for two with wine Rp1.5 million) pairs Asian street-food inspired dishes with lavish surrounds, showing that top dining in Bali isn’t always about sea views. There aren’t any here. Start with a cocktail in the open-air bar, which flows into the more formal dining area. Keen on something more casual? Meyrick’s new place Mama San (Jln. Raya Kerobokan 135, Br. Taman; 62-361/730-436; mamasanbali.com; dinner for two with wine Rp1.1 million) is a bistro-style setting in a converted warehouse, again serving topnotch Asian dishes but at slightly lower prices. ■ If you’re looking for authentic Balinese food in an upscale setting, there’s nowhere else like The Warung at Alila Villas Uluwatu (Jln. Belimbing Sari, Banjar Tambiyak, Pecatu, 62-361/848-2166; alilahotels.com/uluwatu; dinner for two with wine Rp1.6 million), which delivers simple classics such as ayam betutu (whole roast baby chicken in banana leaf) atop a cliff with soaring views across the Indian Ocean. Note the batik stamps worked into the polished surrounds. ■ It faces stiff competition from new Seminyak bar rivals these days but beachside Ku De Ta (Jln. Kayu Aya No. 9, Seminyak; 62-361/736-969; drinks for two Rp260,000, dinner for two with wine Rp2.5 million) remains a Bali institution and a must-stop spot for sunset drinks at least once during a visit to Bali. The cocktails are taken seriously here, with classics given a hipster twist— think Earl Grey martini or raspberry, cucumber and elderflower Collins—but don’t overlook the award-winning kitchen, either. Among the must-orders is the slow-roasted lamb shoulder, served with potatoes and rosemary galette, garlic greens and tomato relish. ■ Decades-old Mak Beng (just off the beach on Jln. Hang Tuah, Sanur; Rp30,000 per plate) is a hugely popular lunch spot in Sanur, where you’ll elbow locals out of the way for a dish of steaming fish soup and fried fish served with a fiery sambal. Equally popular among locals but also a huge hit with tourists is Ibu Oka (Jln. Suweta, Ubud; Rp30,000 per plate), famed for its owner’s take on Bali’s most celebrated dish, babi guling, or spit-roasted suckling pig. The crowds go through five or six delectably spiced pigs for lunch per day; pair one with a Teh Botol, Indonesia’s popular sweetened jasmine tea, for a typical Balinese fast food meal with class. ■ It’s a rite of passage for anyone who makes it to Bali: a visit to the beachfront seafood stalls at Jimbaran Bay (dinner for two Rp300,000). Diners select their fresh seafood, including crabs, lobsters, prawns and squid, all grilled to perfection and served at casual tables on the beach. Though most stalls are reliable, one local favorite is Menega Café (Jln. Four Seasons Hotel, Muaya Beach, Nusa Dua; 62-361/705-888; dinner for two Rp462,000). ■ You’re always guaranteed a raucous night of fun at the picnic tables of Naughty Nuri’s (Jln. Raya Sanggingan, Ubud; 62-361/977-547; naughtynurisbali. com; dinner for two Rp300,000). An eclectic range of Western and Asian dishes make up the menu, but most come for the barbecued pork ribs and the cocktails. Anthony Bourdain stopped by on his way through Bali and proclaimed the martinis to be excellent. Thursday evenings are sashimi night, which attracts a friendly local crowd. ■

The lolly-colored louvre windows at Sea Circus (22 Jln. Kayu Aya, Seminyak; 62-361/738-667; seacircus-bali.com; dinner for two with wine Rp700,000)

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Aswin Pranoto

Nikko Bali Resort & Spa

● “If it’s possible to stop time, Ubud is as close as it gets. I head to the Tegal Alang area and go to Kampung Café [CekingTegallalang, Gianyar, Ubud; 62-361/ 901-201; kampungtari.com; fritters with ice cream and coffee for two Rp70] for a nice cup of coffee or lemongrass tea and banana fritters—which is what they are known for—over a good book, or just daydream while looking over the rice fields on the hills.” ● “If you like Ubud, you’ll love Munduk [pictured above], a 30-40 minute drive from Bedugul, further up the mountain. It’s a must go for those seeking relaxation, serene atmosphere and a return to the old ways. Puri Lumbung [Munduk Village; 62-362/7012887; purilumbung.com; doubles from US$87] provides yoga and cooking classes, a mini library and no TV!” ● “You can’t say you’ve really been somewhere unless you’ve tried the street food. Warung Nikmat, in Kuta, has a semi-buffet style with Indonesian classics.”

time for some classics Opposite, clockwise from top left: Outdoor pathways at Mozaic are surrounded by lush greenery; babi guling at Ibu Oka; an afternoon on the deck at Ku De Ta; Balinese condiments at The Warung.

A b o v e : k i m e v e r u s s / i s to c k p h o to . c o m

AFFORDABLE

INSIDER PICKS


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even without the views, sardine is worth seeking out for fresh cuisine. Never pass up the grilled sardines, salads are a highlight too

suggest whimsy, and indeed the design at this eatery stands up to Seminyak’s best hotels (many of which are just spitting distance away). Accents include cheerful flower sprigs in empty gin bottles and an image of Buddha on the aquamarine bar. The menu is short, sweet and designed to be shared—think snapper ceviche and Baja-style tacos. ■ Its view over a rice field might be endangered as development continues apace in the Petitenget area, but even without the views Sardine (Jln. Petitenget 21, Kerobokan; 62-361/843 6111; sardinebali.com; dinner for two with wine Rp900,000) is worth seeking out for its fresh, unadulterated cuisine served under a bamboo roof. Never pass up the grilled sardines, but salads are a highlight too, with their produce sourced from their very own patch at the Organic Farm Bali. ■ Clear Café (Jln. Hanoman 8, Ubud; 62-361/889-4437; clear-cafe-ubud.com; lunch for two Rp150,000) has become a hit with those who’ve embraced the healthy, granola vibe of Ubud. The beautiful eatery in the center of town features ornate wooden doors, a bamboo-and-stone garden, and marble tables. In a homey atmosphere fitting for a casual lunch or dinner, patrons order from a largely vegetarian menu with salads, pastas, and Southeast Asian and Mexican entrees like tom yam goong and the chili lime prawn burrito. ■ In an elegant, white open-air dining room, Minami (Jln. Raya Sanggingan, Ubud; 62-361/970-013; minami-bali.com; dinner for two Rp500,000) serves the island’s top Japanese food—with affordable prices to boot. Set menus, presented in a series of beautiful bento boxes, come with an assortment of meticulously presented dishes like fresh salmon sushi, miso-grilled beef and shrimp tempura. A good selection of sake and cocktails complements the delicious fare. A new beachside location in Sanur has just opened (Segara Village Hotel, Jalan Segara Ayu, Sanur; 62-812/8613-4471), enlivening the area’s drab dining scene.

WORTH THE SPLURGE Another stunning bamboo construction, just meters from the waves on Batu Belig beach, Karma Beach Batu Belig (Batu Belig, Kerobokan; 62-361/361-8888; karmabeach.com; dinner for two with wine Rp1.5 million) opened in January and is effectively a second branch of popular Nammos Beach Club at Karma Kandara down on the Bukit. Snare one of the comfy cabanas to while away a beachside day in style. If you’ve had enough of the beach for one day, ascend the 85 meters back up to di Mare where spice-encrusted prawns and Moroccan ahi tuna are tops on the menu. Oh, there’s also a 3,000-bottle wine cellar at this semi-circular restaurant with a view. ■ Set in a secluded candlelit garden, Mozaic (Jln. Raya Sanggingan, Ubud; 62-361/975-768; mozaic-bali.com; dinner for two Rp1.1 million) is a formal affair by Bali standards but for a truly special occasion involving adventurous palates, it still can’t be beat. Choose from four extravagant six-course tasting menus that include vegetarian and surprise options designed by chef Chris Salans and expect the unexpected. ■ At Bridges (Jln. Campuhan, Ubud; 62-361/970-095; bridgesbali.com; dinner for two Rp600,000), fine dining without the steep price tag is served on an elegant white veranda overlooking a gorge. The setting—made more romantic by candlelight and jazz music—complements the straightforward continental fare, including excellent homemade pine nut and Roquefort cheese gnocchi, and a mushroom and feta tortellini. Upstairs, the restaurant runs Divine, a cozy wine bar with 180 labels, the perfect place to begin or end your visit. ■ Set in the lush surroundings of the luxury resort COMO Shambhala, Glow (Banjar Begawan, Desa Melinggih Kelod, Payangan, Gianyar; 62-361/978-888; cse. como.bz/eat-and-drink/glow; Sunday brunch from Rp485,000) offers a creative

o p p o s i t e : c h r i s to p h e r w i s e

bali cool Opposite: A welcome dip in a plunge pool at Alila Villas Soori.

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treasure trove of raw-food dishes and drinks that keep even the most hedonistic of diners healthy. Try the mango and alfalfa sprout pizza or the raw lasagna, both of which are just as good as the cooked versions.

SLEEP ■ A collection of wooden houses transported from a number of Indonesian islands, refurbished and now nestled amid lovingly tendered gardens, eco-friendly Desa Seni (Jln. Subak Sari 13, Pantai Berawa, Canggu; 62-361/8446392; desaseni.com; doubles from US$125) is an enchanting place to stay. Healthy cuisine, much of which is sourced from their own gardens, and an airy yoga studio with plenty of classes seal the deal. ■ Get right off Bali’s beaten track and head to the Organic Farm Bali (Munduk Lumbung; 62-813/5337-6905; theorganicfarmbali.com; two nights, full board for two Rp3 million) where you’ll stay on your own private mountain for a night. Meals are prepared using the farm’s own produce and your ablutions will be with the locals at nearby hot springs skirting some rice terraces. A bonfire at night keeps the chill at bay before you retreat to your bed and warm duvet—or sleep under the stars. ■ One hour north of Seminyak by taxi, the cozy, ocean-view bungalows at the Alila Villas Soori (Banjar Dukuh, Desa Kelanting, Kerambitan, Tabanan; 62-361/ 894-6388; alilahotels.com; doubles from US$860) offer top-of-the-line luxury and peace on a black-sand beach framed by palm trees. The modern units come with plenty of indoor and outdoor lounging spaces, not to mention a plunge pool that snakes around the bedroom, a spacious bathtub and an Apple TV unit stocked with movies and music. ■ If you prefer the hubbub of Seminyak, W Retreat & Spa (Jln. Petitenget, Seminyak; 62-361/473-8106; whotels.com/baliseminyak; doubles from US$280) is the hottest new resort, with good reason. Don’t bother springing for a villa, the ocean-facing rooms at W are equipped with all the comforts you’ll need. Each comes with a balcony facing the sunset and a spacious bathroom decked out with Bliss products. The sprawling breakfast buffet, the enormous lagoon-like pool and the beachfront Woo bar will keep you entertained from morning to late at night. ■ Southwest of Ubud there’s a taste of old Java at Bambu Indah (Banjan Baung, Desa Sayan, Ubud; 62-361/977-922; bambuindah.com; doubles from US$75), where the 150-year-old teakwood homes and a series of bamboo structures sit in a tranquil setting on the Sayan Ridge. Guests are surrounded by rice paddies, and there’s that defining feeling that you are in Bali. ■ Three Brothers (Jln. Legian Tengah, 62-361/751-566; threebrothersbungalows. com; doubles from US$38) doesn’t exactly offer luxury, but few guesthouses can beat its rock-bottom prices that attract a steady following from backpackers and Asia-based expats alike. The well-kept grounds include a pool, while the rooms—opt for one with air conditioning—are a tad dark and Spartan but perfectly adequate if you’re looking for a base from which to explore Bali. ■ The panoramic ocean view from the open-air lobby sets the luxurious tone at the Ayana Resort (Jln. Karang Mas Sejahtera, Jimbaran; 62-361/702-222; ayanaresort.com; doubles from US$250). Formerly a Ritz-Carlton, the resort has made considerable upgrades—including the awe-inspiring cliffside Rock bar and a luxurious Thermes Marins spa. Set on 77 hectares of tropical gardens with five swimming pools, an 18-hole putting course, tennis courts and 12 dining venues and bars, the Ayana is perfect if you’re looking for a selfcontained holiday.

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Flee the crowds in the seaside village of pemuteran, where you can snorkel off the beach or head by boat to menjangan island


INSIDER PICKS Rio Helmi

Photographer and Gallery Owner ● “There are some great galleries in the Ubud area, including TONYRAKA [Jln. Raya Mas No. 86, Mas, Ubud; 62-361/781-6785; tonyrakaartgallery.com] and Komaneka Fine Art Gallery [Jln. Monkey Forest, Ubud; 62-361/976-090; gallery.komaneka.com] along with the more established Puri Lukisan Museum [Jln. Raya Ubud, Ubud; museumpurilukisan.com; info@ museumpurilukisan.com] and Neka Gallery [Jln. Raya Ubud; 62-361/ 975-034; nekagallery.com]. ● “I like small Indonesian restaurants like Igelanca [Raya Ubud, Padangtegal, Ubud; dinner for two from Rp90,000] or Pulau Kelapa [Jln. Raya Sanggingan, Lungsiakan, Ubud; pulaukelapa.webs.com; dinner for two Rp60,000], in Ubud. At Made’s Warung [Br. Pande Mas, Kuta; 62-361/ 755-297; dinner for two Rp300,000], an old classic, the food can vary but it’s more about the scene. On any given night there will be divas, stars, bankers, tourists, local eccentrics, people from all over. It’s like the bar from Star Wars.”

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● “The places that embody the spirit of Bali for me are up in the mountains [pictured above], off the beaten track. Take time to interact with people on a one-to-one basis, in their own environment. If you want to have a memorable experience, don’t travel in packs. Go out and get lost. Wander.”

■ If you want to feel like a VIP, the COMO Shambhala (Banjar Begawan, Desa Melinggih Kelod, Payangan, Gianyar; 62-361/978-888; cse.como.bz; doubles from US$500), with its sprawling lush grounds suspended over the Ayung River, is a great place to indulge. You’ll be assigned a personal assistant, while the elegant rooms decorated in classy colonial-style furnishings come with a pool and communal open-air living and dining room. The resort offers award-winning wellness programs that focus on cleansing, exercise and stress management. ■ Also known for its impressive service is the Samaya (Jln. Laksmana, Seminyak; 62-361/731-149; thesamayabali.com; two-bedroom villas from US$1,220 per night), conveniently located in the heart of Seminyak. The modern, newly renovated oceanfront villas come with private plunge pools and thoughtful complimentary extras like afternoon tea, a mini bar and laundry service. A second location in Ubud (Banjar Baung, Desa Sayan; 62-361/973-606; villas from US$400 per night) is equally impressive. ■ The Menjangan (Jln. Raya Gilimanuk, Singaraja Km. 17, Desa Pajarakan, Buleleng; 62-362/94700; themenjangan.com; doubles from US$273), in the confines of Bali’s largest national park in the north, offers luxury, seclusion, and an excellent base for some of Bali’s best snorkeling and diving. Choose from newly built beachside villas or renovated lodge accommodations. The resort’s reception and dining takes place in a four-storey-tall tree house, a stunning piece of architecture where you can take in panoramic sunset views.

DO It’s not as twee as it may sound: a birdwatching walk in the terraced paddy of Ubud’s hills originally kicked off by eccentric British twitcher Victor Mason and now generally led by his knowledgeable sidekick Wayan Sumadi. Su will have you both learning and laughing as she spots birds, butterflies, spiders, herbs and flowers and regales you with Balinese flora and fauna tales. (Bali Bird Walk; 62-361/975-009 or 62-812/3913-801; balibirdwalk.com; US$37). ■ Flee the crowds and base yourself at the sleepy northwestern seaside village of Pemuteran, where you can snorkel off the beach or drive to a nearby pier for a boat to Menjangan Island, in Bali Barat National Park. Menjangan is arguably Bali’s best snorkeling or diving location: glide over intricate coral gardens and spot a vast array of sea life on an organized trip or hire a boat from the pier yourself (three hours costs Rp550,000 for two people). ■ Kuta Beach may be derided for a lot of things, but it remains an excellent beach for learning to surf, with a forgiving break and waves that can be ridden at a comfortable depth. Take a class with an established surf school such as Prosurf (prosurfschool.com; 2 1/2-hour group lesson for beginners US$55) and if you’re not standing during your first lesson you’ll be given another lesson free of charge. ■ Tour the world’s largest commercial bamboo structure, which just happens to be a chocolate factory, a short drive away from Ubud. At the Bamboo Chocolate Factory (62-361/846-3327; Jln. Sibang Kaja, Banjar PiakanAbiansemal, Badung; e-mail for an appointment to tours@bigtreefarms.com; bigtreefarms.com; Rp25,000 per person for one-hour tour including samples), you’ll see how the cacao beans get broken down and ground into pure chocolate—in a seven-ton machine built in 1932—then flavored with organic coconut palm sugar or pounded into cacao butter and powder. ■ For an off-the-beaten path culinary experience, head to the new Bali Asli (Jln. Raya Gelumpang, Amlapura, Karangasem; 62-8289/703-0098; baliasli.com.au; set lunch for two from Rp260,000) on the island’s east side, for lunch or a cooking ■

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To p : c o u r t e s y o f f i v e l e m e n t s . b o t to m r i g h t: c h r i s to p h e r w i s e


on bali’s southern tip, pura luhur uluwatu offers spirituality with stunning ocean views. the best time to visit is just before sunset

soothing sights Opposite, clockwise from top: A riverside spa with a view at Fivelements; colors aplenty at Kidsagogo on Jalan Laksmana; the Club Suite at Ayana Resort.

class themed around the lives of villagers and local fisherman. The restaurant and cooking school was born out of Australian chef Penny Williams’ zeal and appreciation for Balinese cuisine and life. ■ One of the easiest and most accessible wreck dives in the world, the Liberty shipwreck in Tulamben Bay, offers a great opportunity to view an extraordinary ecosystem of marine life that includes pygmy seahorses, and large schools of parrotfish and scorpion fish. One highly recommended shop on the island that offers daily trips to the site is AquaMarine Diving Bali (Jln. Petitenget 2A, Kuta; 62-361/473-8020; aquamarinediving.com; three-day dive packages from US$450). ■ Perched on vertigo-inducing cliffs on Bali’s southern tip, the Pura Luhur Uluwatu combines spirituality with stunning ocean views. The best time to visit the temple is just before sunset, when you can take in the Technicolor sky and watch a performance of traditional Balinese dance called kecak. Regardless of when you go, beware of the monkeys, which steal anything that’s unsecured, including eyeglasses.

SHOP ■ They call it the Temple of Enthusiasm and you’ll find it hard to not feel exuberant after a visit to the Bali outpost of Australia’s Deus Ex Machina (Jln. Batu Mejan 8 Canggu; 62-361/368-3385; id.deuscustoms.com). They’ll equip you with all the tools for living the island fantasy: a customized motorbike or pushbike, surfboard, hand-made skateboard and threads. The food’s not bad either—try the Thai duck salad for a tasty light lunch. ■ Drifter Surfshop (50 Jln. Oberoi, Seminyak; 62-361/733-274; driftersurf.com) taps into the same sense of wanderlust but focuses on celebrating the art of surfing. Find a great range of men’s and women’s clothes, surfboards and surfing paraphernalia—organic soy wax, for starters—as well as books and beguiling artwork tapping into the drifter ethos. ■ Tie in a stop at Jenggala Ceramics (Jln. Uluwatu II, Jimbaran; 62-361/703-311; jenggala.com) on your way to a sunset visit to Uluwatu. The standalone building houses a colorful array of glass and ceramic items, from handcrafted small bowls through to complete dinner sets. Kids in tow? Book a paint-a-pot session for them while you have a coffee and brownie at the cafe. ■ For locally based designer kids’ clothes that reflect life in the tropics, trawl the eastern end of Seminyak’s Jalan Laksmana, which is dotted with several boutiques and cafés. Make a bee-line for the Corner Store, Kiki’s Closet, Kidsagogo, Clara Mia and Indigo Kids, and you’ll emerge with the best dressed kids on the island. ■ With an eclectic array of sharply designed clothes for men, women and children, quirky homewares, curios that will make you smile, and otherworldly religious paraphernalia, much of it with a Mexican twist—matador outfit, anyone?—newly opened Horn Emporium (Jln. Petitenget, Kerobokan; no phone) is one of Bali’s best spots to snare an unusual or striking gift for friends or relatives back home. ■ The design emporium Word of Mouth (9 Jln. Kunti, Kunti Arcade Shop 10, Seminyak; 62-361/847-5797; wordofmouthbali.com) is notable for its gallery-like display of contemporary art pieces and edgy furnishings. You’re likely to take home some of the smaller items, which range from pastel dresses with geometric designs to whimsical brass and enamel jewelry pieces. The shop features a café and bar, the perfect place for a cocktail or light meal to unwind from a day of shopping in the hubbub of Seminyak.

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SPAS

NIGHTLIFE Offering a stunning location at the base of the sea cliffs at the Ayana resort, the Rock Bar (Jln. Karang Mas Sejahtera, Jimbaran; 62-361/702-222; ayanaresort.com/rockbarbali; drinks for two Rp270,000) gives you a chance to get up close and personal with crashing waves while enjoying delicious cocktails and tapas. A steep inclinator shuttles visitors to the secluded locale, and live bands and DJs on the weekends add to the vibe. ■ If you’re looking for a spot for some down time, a place that feels like you’re in someone’s home, then head to hu’u Bar (hu’u Bar; Jln. Petitenget, Seminyak; 62-361/473-6576; drinks for two Rp450,000). Its comfy leather chairs on a wooden deck are a great place to chill, though stick around until the sun goes down: the pan-Asian menu makes it a good spot for dinner. After that, anything goes here. ■ The Woo Bar (W Retreat and Spa Bali, Jln. Petitenget, Seminyak; 62-361/4738106; drinks for two Rp124,000) overlooks the ocean and a lagoon-like pool that snakes around the resort. A revolving mix of international DJs livens up the dance floor on Fridays while the Monday through Thursday happy hour offers two for one drinks and complimentary tapas. ■ Next door is Potato Head (Jln. Petitenget, Seminyak; 62-361/473-7979; ptthead. com; drinks for two Rp450,000), a beach-club-cum-nightclub venue. Built out of 18th-century teak shutters collected from the Indonesian archipelago and decorated with retro furnishings, the venue attracts posh locals and visitors, who flock to the infinity pool during the day and the dance floor by night. ✚ ■

INSIDER PICKS Morgana Reid

Cocoon Restaurant & Beach Club ● “It doesn’t take long to get out of the hustle and bustle of Kuta and Seminyak: head north up to Balian or inland to Bedugal and you’ll see a very different landscape and a much slower pace. For island hopping, Lombok, Nusa Lembongan and Gilli Trawangan are beautiful.” ● “My weekends are spent mostly with my children. We love heading over to the beaches in Nusa Dua [pictured above] or Sanur for a day on the white sand and gentle ocean. Sometimes we even jump on a boat and head off to Nusa Lembongan—it’s only 30 minutes away—if I can get a long weekend.” ● “The rooms at the Prana Spa [Jln. Kunti 118X, Seminyak; 62-361/730-840; pranaspabali.com; 60-minute treatments from Rp450,000] are stunning, with an opulent, Middle Eastern feel, and the staff are helpful and experienced.”

bliss in bali Opposite: Awed by the view at the Rock Bar.

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■ The Spa at Maya (Jln. Gunung Sari, Peliatan; 62-361/977-888; mayaubud. com; treatments from US$49) on the outskirts of Ubud perches on the edge of the Petanu River, and the roar of its rushing waters will sooth your ears as much as your masseuse’s hands relax your body. This is one of the island’s best spa locations, meaning a soak in a tub is an exquisite experience. ■ Owned by a husband-and-wife team who searched high and low for the island’s best Balinese healers, Fivelements (Banjar Baturning, Mambal; 62-361/ 469-206; fivelements.org; 90-minute massage from US$85) offers some of the top therapies and treatments on the island. Spa sessions, which range from traditional Balinese massage to more holistic “chakra balancing” treatments, take place in tranquil riverside bungalows outfitted with balconies and luxurious open-air bathtubs. The spa menu offers biographies of their traditional healers, giving the experience more of a personal touch. ■ A favorite of expats and visitors alike, Jari Menari (Jln. Raya Basangkasa 47, Seminyak; 62-361/736-740; jarimenari.com), which means “dancing fingers,” offers excellent and affordable treatments by a professional, all-male staff. The four-hand massage harmony treatment, where two therapists work in sync to turn your muscles into putty, is highly recommended. Massage classes ( full-day courses US$220) are offered every Tuesday. ■ There's no getting around the fact that Thermes Marins Bali (Jln. Karang Mas, Sejahtera, Jimbaran; 62-361/702-222; treatments from US$100) is a one-of-akind spa that centers its curative treatments around water therapies— everything from seawater circulatory showers to thalasso therapy rooms.


Radar drink

Bali Bar Crawl Once the sun sets, the island is just starting to heat up if you head to Petitenget or Batu Belig to slake your thirst with a spiced cocktail or three. Holly McDonald makes a night of it.

5 p.m. Mozaic Beach Club

The beachside incarnation of Ubud’s culinary institution, Mozaic offers a chilled take on fine dining that’s won over Bali’s modish sunset crowd. Install yourself in a curtain-draped cabana or grab a seat on the deck to bid farewell to the day. If with a crowd, go for one of the punch bowls, such as Heaven Citrus, a blend of rum, tangerine, pineapple, lemon, pomegranate and soda (1.5 liters, Rp500,000). A tapas-style snack by the luminous electric-blue pool should sustain you through to dinner. Jln. Pantai Batu Belig, Kerobokan; 62-361/473-5796; mozaic-beachclub.com.

7 p.m. Petitenget

One of Bali’s newest chic locations, Petitenget oozes an elegant yesteryear charm; think handglazed ceramic tiles, a fluted concrete bar with a Carrara marble top and a separate lounge papered with 1940’s Martinque palm, as per the original Beverly Hills Hotel. Perch yourself at the bar with a lychee martini (Rp95,000) and watch the early dinner crowd preen, or tuck into a meal here yourself—we love the soft flour tortillas with grilled fish, avocado, mango and green chili salsa (Rp45,000) and you will too. Jln. Petitenget No. 40X, Seminyak; 62-361/473-3054; petitenget.net. ➔

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At Lacalaca, a bartender blows off some steam.

Photographed by Nikko Karki


Radar

Book ahead at Mamasan.

Late nights at Mamasan.

Mixing at Mantra.

8:30 p.m. Mamasan

Asian-street-food inspired Mamasan remains one of the few places in Bali you really won’t be able to snare a table without a reservation during peak times. Not that organized? Head directly to the gleaming upstairs bar to put their mixologist-designed menu to the test. Pull up a tan-leather lounger, savor the exposed red-brick and wood-panel surrounds, and order one of their imaginative cocktails, such as the Rambling Tart—Chambord, vanilla, strawberry and Prosecco (Rp110,000). Hungry? Bypass the reservation system by grazing at your little table here; the pork and prawn siew mai (Rp75,000) are divine. Jln. Raya Kerobokan No. 135; 62-361/730-436; mamasanbali.com.

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10 p.m. Bistrot

French industrial vintage is the vibe at the tasteful Bistrot; all soft grays, chocolates and orange-red brick. Slip into a high-backed velvet-patterned love seat for an intimate ^ ` ^ or grab a table, tete-a-tete cleverly fashioned from recycled antique sewing machines. The range of signature cocktails includes the Green Beast, a mix of Pernod, cucumber, lemon juice and water (Rp85,000). The French food here is fab but if it’s getting late you might want to sample a dessert—the Indonesian spiced panna cotta with passion fruit coulis and nougatine (Rp45,000) should give sugar lovers a satisfactory high. Jln. Kayu Aya No. 117, Seminyak; 62-361/738-308.

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11:30 p.m. Lacalaca Cantina Mexicana

Inject a serious dose of cheer into your night with a stop at Lacalaca, where bright pinks, blues, oranges and yellows conspire to light up the one-floor, partly open-air cantina. Cocktails are rumand tequila-focused, putting new twists on old classics. With apologies to Castro, the bar muddles a vanilla pod, adding tequila, lime, sugar syrup and coke (Rp80,000) to create their Mexico Libre. A three-cheese roasted zucchini and oregano quesadilla might hit the spot by about this hour of the night as well (Rp65,000). 1 Jln. Drupadi, Seminyak; 62-361/736-733; lacalacabali.com.

1 a.m. Mantra

Uber-hip Mantra morphs from restaurant to pumping party as the night goes on, but you can retreat to the outdoor patio if the crowd gets too much. Eclectic furniture, mismatched antique lights and unframed art are thrown together in a grittier and more unstudied way than is usual for Bali. The signature Rocket Mantra (Rp90,000) is fired up with wasabi and the bar snacks are imaginative–the spicy kaffir lime peanuts (Rp20,000) will have you calling for another drink– though the focus is more on drinking in the early hours. Jln. Raya Petitenget No. 77x; 62-361/473-7681; mantrabali.com. ✚


B ALI ’ S H I G H LY P ERSO N AL I SED H O T EL

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SEMINYAK, BALI

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Jalan Raya Petitenget No.8L Seminyak, Bali T +62 361 894 7898 E enquiry@thelhotels.com www.thelhotels.com


Bite-size

Bali


A cooking class at Hotel Tugu. Opposite: Lining up the local ingredients at Bali Asli.

Tour Bali through its cooking schools and, as Samantha Brown discovers, you’ll uncover a lot about the island and its favorite dishes. Photographed by Johannes P. Christo t r av e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a .c o m

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Opposite from top left: the results of a day at Bumbu Bali Cooking School; steamed fish in banana leaf at Hotel Tugu; a prayer before cooking at Bali Asli; a colorful mix of local flowers.

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hear the man in the tree before I see him. He’s perched so high that the foliage initially hides him. He uses a stick to whack the fruits that will be used to brew tuak, a slightly fizzy sweet wine popular with Balinese farmers. As far as missions go, so far this one is successful. I’m determined to explore Bali one cooking school at a time, and I’m far away from any kitchen, getting sun-kissed and, occasionally, startled by a lowing cow. With my guide Ketut and another student, I’m rambling through the surrounds of Bali Asli, a restaurant and school set up by British chef Penelope Williams outside Amlapura on the east coast. Though we started our walk on the asphalt road outside the school, in a few minutes we’re encircled in farmland. We roam through a field of cassava trees, past gleaming caged fighting cocks, until the view opens to the ocean. Lombok sits in the distance. Sarong-clad women wash in the canals of the Balinese subak system, which irrigates the emerald paddies crisscrossing toward the horizon. It’s a small, no, make that bite-size, slice of Bali. Then it’s off to the kitchen. Our class takes place in full view of soaring Gunung Agung, Bali’s highest and most revered volcano, and begins with a crash course in all the key ingredients of Balinese cooking. As with many other Asian cuisines, it’s about getting four flavors—sweet, salty, sour and hot—just so. One of the spices I’m most intrigued with is kencur, or lesser galangal, a gnarled turmeric-like root. Bite down on a slice and it leaves your tongue gently anaesthetized, almost like chili without the heat. The “Balinese truffle,” or pangi, is also new to me. It’s the nut of a fruit, which when broken open reveals a deep brown flesh reminiscent of fine dark chocolate. Williams says she’s added flecks to a chocolate pudding with success. The key to Balinese dishes is nearly always a version of a bumbu, or spice paste. It’s a dish I’ll repeat at all the schools, one that contains a combination of at least some of the following: chilies, garlic, Asian shallots, candlenuts, nutmeg, ginger, turmeric, kencur, torch ginger, tamarind, palm sugar, shrimp paste, lemongrass and salam leaves. In this class we use a bumbu that includes coriander seeds, common in Balinese cuisine, mixed with minced chicken to form satay on lemongrass skewers. Our pesan be pasih, a spiced fish fillet steamed in banana leaf, plus a tofu version, uses the key bumbu, as does our urap paku kacang merah, a fern-tip salad that is heavy on coconut and red beans. t r av e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a .c o m

After those delicious dishes, it’s off to class number two. Hotel Tugu in Canggu on Bali’s west coast offers classes in a replica of an old-style Indonesian warung, or streetside restaurant. Before we start cooking though, we’re up at 7 a.m., heading to Pasar Badung in the island’s capital Denpasar. A stream of black pickup trucks belch fumes, engines idling, as they offload produce from the island’s cooler northern hills. The more we walk, the more we buy. A porter balances our groceries in a basket on her head as we wend our way past benches curving under the weight of produce: limes; mangoes; fresh coconut oil; torch ginger; cauliflower; cabbage; eggs from ducks, geese and chickens; banana stems and leaves; papayas; bananas; soursop; avocados; turmeric—one type for cooking, another to make jamu, or traditional medicine—broccoli; coconut oil; and chilies. Ayu from the hotel and I buy ingredients for the five dishes I’ve selected out of the 10 on the hotel menu. There’s no lecture—it would be foolish to stop to chat amid this mayhem—but Ayu answers all my queries. On our menu: lodeh tewel tahu tempeh, a Javanese soup of young jackfruit with tempeh and tofu; another version of pesan be pasih; lawar kacang panjang, or long bean and chicken salad; the banana-stem soup known as jukut ares; and ayam pelalah, or Balinese shredded chicken. Back at the hotel, Ayu stays in the kitchen to help chef Ibu (a term of respect meaning “mother”) Soelastri and I prepare our feast. Nothing is pre-chopped or ready, so the two of us become kitchen hands, chopping, bruising, slicing, crushing, grating and sniffing ingredients laid out for us in neat banana-leaf pockets. And I can, therefore, announce the real time it takes to produce five authentic Indonesian dishes, right from the start: an hour and 40 minutes, which is not that much longer than it takes me to produce a slightly complex meal in my own Western kitchen. Ibu Soelastri, from Malang in East Java, speaks Bahasa Indonesian and Javanese, but barely a smattering of English. It’s not a problem though, because in her humming kitchen, where two woks and a steamer hiss or sigh without pause, words don’t matter too much. This is a demonstration I feel privileged to be able to participate in; it’s not a technical account of ingredients or a lecture in the subtle differences between a Balinese and Javanese curry (though the answer, I’ve learned elsewhere, involves cardamom and cumin). And forget recipes—though I’ll be given a booklet at the end—as Ibu Soelastri tosses and tastes without consulting anything at all. When we run out of banana leaves, she dashes to the adjacent garden for more.


Garden ingredients are also on the menu at classes developed by Australian Janet de Neefe in the hill town of Ubud in central Bali. Today Balinese chef Inengah Oleg Sudira plucks the stamens from three ruby-red hibiscus flowers and pops them into a glass. He pours in boiling water, stirring as the water turns a purple-black. With a squeeze of lime, the magician watches our reaction as the liquid lightens dramatically to lollipop pink. A little white sugar and we have ourselves sweet hibiscus tea. It’s a reviving drink after a morning spent at Ubud’s traditional market in the heart of the tourist quarter. It’s easy to see the market building as a palimpsest; during the early hours, it’s filled with Balinese buying ingredients for their daily cooking, then later in the day it’s crammed with tourists snaring souvenir fare while trudging the grime-slicked aisles. Sudira explains along the way the nuts and bolts of Balinese food. Black and white pepper come from the same plant, but the white is soaked and dried in the sun twice. Nutmeg is a natural hallucinogen—have a little in milk with ginger to sleep well. The “saffron” you see everywhere in Bali is “cheap saffron,” likely safflower seeds. We talk fruits, vegetables, rice, tofu, even quotidian knives and coconut graters.

Back at school, we have breakfast then start cooking our dishes for the day: chicken curry, anchovy sambal, wok-fried eggplant, tofu fritters, bean coconut salad and sago pudding. We take turns grinding, chopping, frying and tasting in an open-air pavilion at one of de Neefe’s guesthouses. “It’s like aromatherapy,” Sudira sighs, standing over the wok as steam dances away from a bumbu frying there. Little details again surprise. Did you know the direction you cut purple Asian shallots in Balinese cooking depends on whether they’re going into a sambal or are being fried as a garnish? We wash down our feast with a glass of tuak.

I

t’s almost a two-hour drive from Ubud down south to Jimbaran Bay, once home to a fishing village and now fringed by some of Bali’s top resorts and seafood restaurants. Classes held by Swiss chef Heinz von Holzen begin at the market behind the beach at 6:30 a.m. Though top-flight hotels line the same road as the market, duck just a few meters down a side street and this large market shows you the real Bali alive and well, he says. While von Holzen takes us through a riveting explanation of chicken hypnosis—really—spices


and fruits, a kul kul, or traditional Balinese village drum, sounds, a high-pitched rat-tat-tat. The men of the village forget about work and immediately head to a community meeting, he explains. Our next stop is Jimbaran’s seaside fish market. The beach here is gorgeous in the filtered morning light; red, yellow and blue Balinese jukung bob offshore, a scene that most who visit the island yearn to see. At the same time von Holzen, who has been bringing travelers to the markets since 1997, despairs of dwindling catches. A few years ago massive hauls were being pulled in daily, but now most fish are trucked in from Java under questionable conditions. The boats that bring in the fish now are often merely acting as nothing more than taxis from other craft that are fishing to Bali’s east. Back at the school, set in guesthouse grounds in Tandjung Benoa adjacent to Bali’s luxury enclave of Nusa Dua, we have a quick tour of the on-site pig pen where von Holzen is raising his own very happy pigs. The chef is an acolyte of Harold McGee and Heston Blumenthal, meaning our recipes tell us how much garlic to use right down to the nearest gram, and definitely not by the clove. Nevertheless, get a few of the key recipes—yes,

the bumbus—truly correct, and we can then let our imaginations at home go a bit more wild and crazy, he says. The dishes we make here—with the assistance of Ida Bagus Wisnawa, von Holzen’s assistant, and an entire behind-thescenes kitchen—are simply too numerous to list. It’s a jam-packed, high-energy, exhausting day. At one point von Holzen becomes distracted. “It’s our latest problem,” he says. “We have a pig that’s too big for the oven.” He’s clearly amused at this development. “Ah, I love it.” He means all of it, this, Bali. And after four days in some of Bali’s best kitchens, I have to say I share his feelings. ✚

Chef Heinz von Holzen leads a market tour. Opposite: An array of ingredients for Balinese spice paste.

Cooking in Bali Bali Asli Jln. Raya Gelumpang, Gelumpang village Amlapura; 62-828/ 9703-0098; baliasli.com. au; classes Rp880,000. Hotel Tugu Jln. Pantai Batu Bolong, Canggu Beach; 62-361/4721-701; tugu hotels.com/bali; classes with market visit Rp860,000. Casa Luna Bali Cooking

School Honeymoon Guesthouse; Jln. Bisma, Ubud; 62-361/973-282; casalunabali.com/ cooking-school; classes Rp350,000. Bumbu Bali Cooking School Jln. Pratama, Tanjung Benoa; 62-361/ 771-256; balifoods.com; classes with market tour US$90.

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go north

Away from Bali’s crowded south, the other side of the island offers stunning volcanoes, lush rice terraces, blacksand beaches and a cast of colorful local characters. By Lara Day Photographed by Christopher Wise the road less traveled Above, from left: A carving of a Dutch cyclist at Pura Maduwe Karang temple, in Kubutambahan, north Bali; nasi campur in Singaraja; the black-sand beaches of Air Sanih, on Bali’s north coast. Opposite: The rices terraces of Munduk.

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n 1930, the Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubias and his wife Rose, a photographer, boarded a steam ship in New York bound for Bali, a place they had pointed out on a map to friends as “a tiny dot in the swarm of islands east of Java.” After six weeks of monotonous sea travel, they landed in the regency of Buleleng, the island’s traditional gateway, on the north coast. There they saw “a high dark peak reflected on a sea as smooth as polished steel, with the summit of the cone hidden in dark, metallic clouds,” as Covarrubias wrote in his 1937 book Island of Bali, an illuminating, if quixotic, account of Bali’s rituals, beliefs and ethnography. Despite the beauty of that first vision, the Covarrubiases didn’t linger in Buleleng—they took a tortuous car journey south, to Denpasar. Today, few people ever venture north of Ubud. Not that Bali has any shortage of visitors. If, in 1930, the island was a barely perceptible dot in the outside world’s eye, in 2011, it’s a giant splash of paint on the atlas of global tourism: last year it received 2.27 million visitors, almost its entire population, between January and November. And while Bali has suffered its share of deeply felt setbacks—most damagingly, after the bombings of 2002 and 2005—it has also witnessed frenzied, rice-field-razing development, heavily concen­trated in the south. All of which makes the north an attractive bet for today’s interested, intrepid traveler. It may be harder to get to than some places—expect at least a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Denpasar, now home to Bali’s international airport—and you won’t find the south’s surfeit of modern conveniences, from DJ-spinning sunset lounges to street-corner ATM’s. But you might encounter something rarer and more elusive in today’s world, where taking a plane is almost as easy as hopping on a bus. his car is very tired,” says my driver, Pak Ketut. “Every day it’s up and down, up and down.” He means: up and down giant mountains; up to the north, down to the south. “Very tired” means something is wrong with the suspension, or the ignition coil, or maybe the carburetor. Pak Ketut doesn’t know the word in

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English to describe our automotive travails and, for that matter, neither do I. We’re moving at the pace of a sea turtle in hot sand, and it will take more than four hours to reach Pemuteran Bay. Luckily, the journey is a diversion in itself: jagged volcanic peaks mark the division between the island’s south and north, and as the car climbs uphill I look out to see bright rice fields emerge in the distance. Behind them loom dark mountains, their bases swathed by clouds that cling like half-formed memories of rain. As we approach Bedugul, a sign for Strawberry Hill Hotel appears. The “hill” in question rises above 1,000 meters and is ideal for cool-weather crops—strawberries, lettuce—as well as the Bedugul Botanic Garden, a horticulturalist’s fantasia of 160 hectares comprising nearly 2,000 plant species, including 320 orchid varieties. The road dips toward the crater lake of Bratan, home to Ulun Danu temple, possibly Bali’s most photographed sacred site, then rises again into the Monkey Forest. Naturally, I ask about monkeys. “You probably won’t see any here,” warns Pak Ketut, just as some appear. We veer west toward the rice terraces of Munduk. I peer through a wall of vine-covered tree trunks and glimpse watery fragments of Tamblingan and Buyan, both crater lakes; the sun catches on their glasslike surfaces, refracting silver and copper as it begins its descent for the day, at the same time as we reach our peak. “One thousand, four hundred meters,” announces Pak Ketut, my personal GPS. From there, the drive down borders on perilous: we swoop and curve along a tapered two-way road, all deep potholes, wiry barking dogs and trucks laden with cloves and coffee beans. One side bursts with vegetation, the other is a sheer drop. A goat hops across the dirt path that leads to Puri Ganesha, at Pemuteran Bay, in north Bali’s western balinese dream reaches. “Upstairs is your Opposite, clockwise from top left: Pura Maduwe Karang, in room,” announces Putu, one Kubutambahan; a rice farmer; of two butlers who attend to a festival in Bedugul; a stone my villa. The room, up a carving at Damai, in Lovina; spiral wooden staircase, the natural springs at Air turns out to be of palatial Sanih; boats on Lovina Beach; Puri Ganesha, in Pemuteran proportions, with a soaring Bay; strawberries at Bedugul’s Balinese thatch ceiling and market, on the shores of Lake towering wraparound Tamblingan; the market sells French doors leading out to vanilla pods.


courtesy of puri ganesha

bright rice fields emerge in the distance. Behind them loom dark mountains, their bases swathed by clouds that cling like half-formed memories of rain


through a wall of vine-covered tree trunks, i glimpse the watery fragments of two crater lakes; the sun catches on their glasslike surfaces, refracting silver and copper


a generous veranda. Dramatic white drapes billow down, while the cloth-swathed fourposter bed conceals a Balinese offering basket blessed with a kimono, slippers, insect repellent— and ear plugs. Later, I understand: after dark, a lizard vigorously exercises its vocal chords. In go the earplugs, and I enjoy a blissful night’s sleep. It’s true that there aren’t many top-end hotels in north Bali, but Puri Ganesha would stand out just about anywhere. Not only does it offer a luxurious sense of privacy—40 staff to just four sprawling villas, each with its own pool, spread across 2.2 hectares—but guests are afforded a tremendous amount of freedom. You can eat the fresh, organic fare where you want—at the restaurant, in your villa, at your poolside balé— and do as much or as little as you like. In fact, this feels less like a hotel and more like an unfathomably stylish friend’s tropical beachside hideaway, where you’ve been lucky enough to get an invite. In this case, that friend is British owner Diana von Cranach, an Egyptologist turned interior designer turned hotelier turned chef and rawfood advocate. She moved to Bali following a failed marriage, speaks German and Indonesian fluently—“I absorb languages by osmosis”—and now runs Puri Ganesha with her Balinese husband, Gusti Wishnu Wardan. It occurs to me that Diana embodies the archetype of Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert’s book turned film, before it became cool—or cloying, depending on how you look at it—and has somehow managed to transcend it. Diana and Gusti have left little notes in the villas, gently asking guests to be patient in case anything goes awry—upscale as Puri Ganesha is, this is, after all, the Southeast Asian countryside. Do not forget where we are, reads one. R emember we are in the tropics, cautions another. It’s ironic that these notes are necessary, because surely this is the purpose of travel: to be where you are. Gusti tells me most guests are content to accept that coming here won’t be a Disneylandorchestrated experience, though naturally, it’s impossible to avoid detractors. “One guest wanted marble in the northern exposure bathrooms. Marble!” He Opposite, from top: shakes his head. Enjoying the water at Banyar Speaking of where we Hot Springs; Tamblingan, a crater lake. are, I explore the shore of

Pemuteran Bay. If you’re looking for a typical picture-postcard beach, its appeal isn’t immediately obvious: black sand and dull volcanic rock, a handful of fishing boats, a fringe of trees overlooking paper-still waters that are the polar opposite to the brash surfing beaches of the south. But the water conceals some of Bali’s best snorkeling and diving, at the reefs off nearby Menjangan Island, while more visibly, a sweep of volcanic mountains cradles the bay’s moonlike crescent. Breathtaking as those mountains are, they’re also a reminder of tragedy: many of north Bali’s inhabitants came here in 1963, when east Bali’s Mount Agung erupted in the most devastating explosion in a century, killing a reported 2,000 people and displacing 100,000. “People here are not rich,” Gusti says as we drive to a foundation supported by Puri Ganesha, which helps 110 children continue their schooling from the ages of 12 to 17. The foundation pays for school fees, books, uniforms, after-school tutoring and activities, even motorbikes. There, a group of girls practice a local Balinese dance. I quiz Gusti on how he thinks north Bali compares to the south. “People in the north are rougher, like cowboys,” he says. “People in the south say it’s like Texas here.” He’s clearly not a fan of the south, and I ask him if he’s ever been to Texas. “I don’t travel anywhere!” he grins. “I just feel happy here, I don’t know why.” hen I arrive at Shanti, it’s dark. Somewhere, a waterfall rumbles. The shapes of a man and a woman emerge out of the black night. “Hi, I’m Kadek,” says one shape. “Hi, I’m Kadek,” says the other. Patiently, the woman explains that Balinese first names depend on the order of a child’s birth: Kadek means second child. Confusion dissipated, I sit down in a wooden dining pavilion to feast on succulent chicken satay with peanut sauce and tasty nasi campur. But only in the morning’s first light does the real reason for coming here become clear: below, a stunning cascade of rice terraces leads down to a high waterfall. An alfresco breakfast of fresh fruit is the perfect way to soak in the setting. The female Kadek guides me on a trek through the next-door village, Sambangen, lined with tin-

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roof houses to the one side and rice fields framed by coconut palms to the other. We turn into a field, follow a ridge and pass through a carved wooden gate flanked by tall plants with succulent red leaves. Then it’s down steep, gently winding stone steps covered in bright green moss. The sound of rushing grows louder, more fierce; I’m focused on my footing. “Look up!” Kadek says. Giant fan palms loom in the foreground of green upon green soaring skyward. “This is Bali: up and down, up and down.” Across a wooden bridge, we reach an “island” fringed by two gushing streams. At last we see the waterfall. Its mist wafts toward us, immersing us in a gentle cool, like a natural outdoor air-conditioner. Kadek stops at a giant banyan tree, its trunk wrapped in a black-and-white poleng cloth: she lights two incense sticks and lays out an offering of flowers, dropping more red, violet and orange petals from her bag. She wafts the incense smoke with her hand, releasing her prayer to the universe. Since Pak Ketut isn’t available, Made picks me up in his car. He speaks excellent English, thanks to the Australians he’s met in the south. “G’day mate,” he says, mimicking. Impressive. “How ya going?” Outstanding. “Azitaka!” Azi… what? I nod politely, but in truth I’m perplexed. Is it a boat? A dish? A purveyor of Bondi beachwear? Later, I ask my boyfriend, an Adelaide native, what he thinks this “azitaka” might signify. It sounds like Aztec, which sounds like Anzac, which sounds like… I give up. He laughs. “Tucker,” he says. “It’s Australian slang for food. Who’s asking for Aussie tucker in Bali?” Made takes me to Banjar Hot Springs, a sacred watering hole that came into being when water gushed forth at the building site of a temple. There are three bathing pools. In the large, main pool, a scattering of mainly foreigners bob about like so many red apples. Fierce concrete serpents spill yellow, sulphurous water from their mouths. An immense, rubicund Dutchman lowers himself into the water like a dainty teabag. Is this really what people come here for? In the corner of the highest pool, an old Balinese man bathes himself; his skin hangs

loosely from his bones. I decide to test the waters. Here it’s tepid, like lukewarm tea. The large pool, below, is almost body temperature. I try the smallest, lowest pool, off to one side, where water spouts from three high metal pipes. Everyone here is local: two small boys piggyback each other like playful hippos; their mother, pregnant, relaxes under a falling stream; a young couple flirt in a corner. I realize why this humble watering hole is so popular: its size means it retains heat much better than its wider counterparts, and the tumbling water makes for one of the best headand-shoulder massages around. Next up is Wasiri, Bali’s Buddhist monastery, set high on the slopes of a mountain. The structure is made of brick and whitewashed concrete, with a series of ascending pavilions graced with shrines. On the way up, I detect the unmistakable scent of pine—am I hallucinating? Apparently not: in a courtyard, stately rows of pine trees stand amid palms, bougainvillea and giant ferns. The loveliest pavilion of all is at the very top, where a frangipani- and bougainvillea-lined path leads to an almost-empty temple. And yet, there are no monks in sight. As I turn to leave, rain starts to fall. That’s when I hear it: a lone voice, beautifully chanting a sutra. The sound is ghostly, disembodied. It could be a recording. I move to the outer edge of the courtyard, scanning the scene for its source, but all I can see is a wall of leafy green, thick and impenetrable. At sea level in Lovina, the signs of development are predictable: Western Union signs, neon minimarts, sports bars. At Lovina Beach, a stalllined stretch of sand known for its cheap resorts and dolphin tours, there’s a Dolphin Monument. Five gleeful-looking dolphins stud its base, while a dolphin with a crown caps its summit. “They say that dolphins are being chased away,” says Made. “Too many tourist boats.” Wandering along the sand, I’m taken through the litany of touts everywhere, albeit framed in the language peculiar to this location. “You want dolphin?” No. “Perla?” No. “Bling-bling?” No, no, no. Maybe this is what it feels like to be under the sea, assaulted by the roar of oncoming motors.

Wandering along the sand, i encounter the litany of touts everywhere. Maybe this is what it feels like to be under the sea, assaulted by the roar of oncoming motors


Lovina Beach at sunset.


Past the lotus-dotted pond and beyond the garden courtyard, i reach the shady inner sanctum, blessed with shrines, live turtles and mr. ang, the temple’s garrulous custodian The sun drops steadily in the sky and giant cumulus clouds gather like bunches of ripe grapes, luminous with gorgeous shades of burgundy and purple. A woman makes an offering at the shoreline. “Do you know what she’s praying for?” I ask Made. “Yes,” he says, confidently. “Her business.” n my last night in north Bali, I stay at the Damai, a swanky, 14-villa property high on a hill behind Lovina—its tagline is hard to find, hard to leave—and wake to a strange, otherworldly sunshine filtered through clouds. Pak Ketut arrives, his car fully functional, and we head to Singaraja. I’d heard that the former colonial capital, a Muslim city on this Hindu island, would have mosques, colonial architecture, winding back streets, grand government buildings. What I didn’t expect was a fire-engine–red temple beaming like a beacon of eternal cheer from the city’s faded, rather disappointing waterfront. Ling Gwan Kiong, a Chinese Buddhist temple, dates to 1873, but it looks like it was built yesterday. That’s because it was repainted yesterday—its owners spruce it up every Chinese New Year. Past the dazzlingly red lotus-dotted pond, through the blindingly red Chinese gate, beyond the spankingly new garden courtyard, I reach the shady inner sanctum, blessed with shrines, live turtles and Mr. Ang, the temple’s garrulous custodian. He fires off information with machine-

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gun enthusiasm. “This is a ship bell, from England,” he says. “This is a Chinese drum.” “This tells the story of the Three Kingdoms, but I can’t read Chinese.” “Where did I learn English? BBC London radio.” Bali’s Chinese immigrants are visible and successful, but many have lost touch with their roots. Ang and I discover we both have ancestors from Fujian; his grandfather studied at a Catholic school, with a pastor from Holland. He says all denominations come to the temple—Muslims, Christians, Hindus—to pray for good fortune. A young Dutch couple arrive, and Ang shows off an unexpected skill: fortune telling. He points out the figures of the Chinese Zodiac on the wall, like a diligent schoolmaster. “You, Horse,” he tells the man, reading from a sheet of paper. “Diligent, clever, sometimes angry.” Now it’s the woman’s turn: “You, Ox. Pregnant in one year. Passion problem.” The woman looks aghast. Ang looks triumphant. “I’m a Goat,” I say. “When you born?” I tell him the year. “Monkey, not Goat,” he corrects me. I try to protest, explaining that my early birth month means I fall under a different Chinese year, but in vain. “In Indonesia you’re a monkey,” he harrumphs. “In China different, I don’t know.” The rest of Singaraja pales in comparison: rundown shop houses; workaday mosques; a island charm plethora of bike and From left: A devotee at a priest’s blessing; the pool at motorbike shops; the odd oneof Damai’s seaview villas, Dutch colonial house. The in the hills above Lovina; highlight is the Gedong barefoot in the sand on Kirtya Library, which houses Lovina Beach.


more than 1,500 lontar manuscripts—palm leaves inscribed with a blade and candlenut ink— enshrining the wisdom of ancient religious mantras, Balinese astrology, black and white magic and traditional local medicine. Close to the city are a number of temples featuring bizarre carvings of foreigners among their traditional sacred motifs: at Pura Maduwe Karang, said to be one of north Bali’s most beautiful, there’s a white man on a bicycle, a fresh frangipani tucked behind his ear (note that it’s relatively touristed, and your “donation” is enforced before entrance). It’s time to go. Driving back up into the mountains, we take the eastern road toward Bangli, a steep, potholed route bordered by green grass and patches of randomly strewn litter. At Tejakula, the mountains roll down toward the sea, revealing an expanse of rice-field-covered hills. Tall conifers appear as the road climbs the 1,640-meter peak. My ears pop. As we start to descend, three volcanoes reveal themselves to our

left: Batur, Abang and Agung, all equally menacing and magnificent. Below us, dense agriculture— mandarins, carrots, bananas—flourishes in the fertile volcanic soil. In the town of Kintamani, old men smoke cigarettes and walk down the street wrapped in quilts—it’s a chilly 20 degrees Celsius. As we drive past a procession of halal restaurants patronized by busloads of international tour groups, Pak Ketut lowers his window. Quickly, he rolls it back up. “It’s too cool for me,” he says, and we laugh. Outside is significantly warmer than his car’s hyper-efficient air-cooling system. On the gently winding drive down, we almost run over a small menagerie: a white cat, a gaggle of geese, two roosters—“chicken soup,” Pak Ketut jokes. The sky shimmers in the glistening paddies. Suddenly, the heavens open and rain starts to fall, feeding the thirsty ground. Then it stops and we’re back to sunshine, the water a memory carried away by clouds. ✚

guide to north bali Flights to Bali arrive at Ngurah

doubles from US$267.

Rai International Airport, in

Shanti Two clean, converted

Denpasar. The only way to the

rice barns with a view.

north is by car or bus. Several

Sambangan, Singaraja;

routes are possible, including

62-362/700-1331; shanti-

the road through Munduk and

northbali.com; doubles

Lake Bratan toward Singaraja.

from US$60.

Once there, public transport is scarce and won’t take you to

SEE & DO

more secluded corners, so it’s

Menjangan Island National

best to hire a car and driver

Marine Park Superb diving and

(from Rp600,000 per day).

snorkeling, with soft corals, drop-offs, caves, a 6-meter

STAY

wreck dive, tropical fish—

Puri Ganesha Pantai

clownfish, seahorses,

Pemuteran, Gerokgak;

fusiliers—and manta rays. Try Shanti Lunch or dinner

62-362/94-766; puriganesha.

Reef Seen Aquatics (reefseen.

playing Dutchmen. Sangsit;

com; villas from US$550.

com), which also operates a

admission by donation.

for two Rp150,000.

Damai Jln. Damai, Kayuputih,

turtle hatchery.

Pura Dalem Fascinating temple

Damai Fine French

Lovina; 62-362/41-008; villas

Banjar Hot Springs Banjar,

of the dead, with violent

cuisine with Balinese

from US$215.

Lovina; admission Rp6,000.

depictions of

inflections. Dinner

Matahari Beach Resort & Spa

Brahma Vihara Banjar,

the afterlife. Jagaraga;

for two Rp850,000.

Sixteen villas and 32 rooms

Lovina; admission free.

admission by donation.

Sea Breeze Café Relaxed

nestled in lush, beautifully

Ling Gwan Kiong Jln.

Pura Made Warung

beachside sunset spot; order a

tended grounds. The spa is a

Erlangga No. 65, Singaraja;

Kubutambahan;

Hatten white wine or Storm ale,

highlight. Jln. Raya Seririt,

admission free.

admission by donation.

both produced in the area.

Gilimanuk, Pemuteran,

Pura Beji Ornate pink-

EAT & DRINK

Central Lovina Beach;

Gerokgak; 62-362/92-312;

sandstone temple; look out for

Puri Ganesha Dinner

62-362/41138; drinks for two

matahari-beach-resort.com;

the carvings of instrument-

for two Rp500,000.

Rp100,000.

t r av e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a .c o m

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Saving

Bali Could a new resort built to strict environmental standards represent the tipping point for Bali? JENNIFER CHEN investigates. Photographed by LAURYN ISHAK

The pristine waters of the Indian Ocean in Uluwatu, Bali.

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Opening September 2013 The newest member of AYANA’s family tree

RIMBA Jimbaran Bali

* Rock Bar Priority Access is exclusively for in-house guests of AYANA and RIMBA.

WORLD’S BEST HOTELS - 2013 Travel + Leisure Awards ASIA’S BEST RESORT - Conde Nast Traveller Readers’ Awards AYANA Resort and Spa Bali | www.ayanaresort.com RIMBA Jimbaran Bali | www.rimbajimbaran.com Karang Mas Estate Jalan K arang Mas Sejahtera, Jimbaran, Bali Jakarta Sales Tel: 021-570 8787 | conference@ayanaresort.com


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aturday night, and I’m sending my friends a second text message warning that I’ll be late. Traffic has slowed to a crawl, and the cabbie is drumming his fingers against the steering wheel. In Bangkok, where I live, schedules are often held hostage by traffic. But I’m not there. Nor am I in Beijing, Manila or any other congestion-plagued Asian city. I’m in Bali, caught amid the trucks, tour buses, vans, SUV’s and motorcycles wending their way along the two-lane Jalan Uluwatu. By now, the litany of environmental damage to Southeast Asia’s storied island paradises is dishearteningly familiar. To varying degrees, Phuket, Koh Samui and Koh Chang— with Phu Quoc, Boracay and a half a dozen other Thai islands not too far behind—all struggle with sewage, garbage, water shortages, eyesore developments and beach erosion. Whatever problems these resorts experience, Bali—one of the region’s most enduringly popular destinations—is witnessing in spades. A recent report by an environmental consultant pegged Bali’s garbage output at 5,000 tons a day, 20 percent of which comes from hotels.

By now, the Litany of environmental damage to Southeast Asia’s storied island paradises is dishearteningly familiar Municipal governments don’t collect garbage, so roadside mounds of litter and the smell of burning trash have become ubiquitous. In southern Bali, the heart of the tourist industry, villa developments have replaced the island’s famed rice fields, threatening ecosystems and livelihoods. Add traffic woes, threatened mangrove forests and a growing population that’s straining resources, and it’s clear that the island is headed towards an environmental reckoning. But I’ve come not to bury the island, but to praise efforts to save it. Specifically, I’m here to inspect the Alila Villas Uluwatu, a new property on the island’s southern Bukit peninsula that—in a first for Asia—was designed and built according to the standards of Green Globe, a tough Australian environmental auditing scheme. In Asia, Green Globe has certified 44 resorts and hotels. That means they’ve taken measurable steps to save water and electricity, reduce and recycle waste, promote environmental awareness, and help local communities—so guests know a hotel is truly serious about being green. But those properties sought certification after they were built. Alila went a step further.


Paradise, for Now From opposite, far left: A quiet beach in Bali, a rarity these days; jeweler John Hardy’s Ubud home is a green haven; Dreamland beach, once a surfers’ spot; at the Alila Villas Uluwatu’s spa; the resort’s pool and Cire restaurant.

To follow Green Globe starting from the design and construction phase is to take on a whole other set of standards: everything from what materials are used to how much fossil fuel is consumed is carefully monitored. Amanda Pummer, the former general manager of Alila’s Ubud properties who now works with environmental consultancy the GreenAsia Group, calls it, “a gutsy move.” The fact that Alila chose Bali as the location for the first property under its new eco-luxe brand, Alila Villas—the second being the climatically challenged Maldives—was happenstance, insists Mark Edelson, president of Alila. “They’re two of our favorite places, and it’s fortunate that it turned out that way. But I can’t say we did it by design,” he admits. However, it’s tempting to think there might be something more to it. In recent years, Bali has seen a growth spurt in environmental awareness and activism. Several nonprofits have started tackling the island’s daunting waste problem, while governor Made Pastika has stressed that the environment is high on his government’s agenda.

Meanwhile, an organic movement has flourished in recent years: restaurants hawk locally grown, seasonal produce and a couple of organic farmers’ markets have sprung up. Even before the Alila Villas Uluwatu opened in July 2009, several high-profile hotels, such as the 360-room Conrad Bali near Nusa Dua, earned Green Globe certification. All this makes me wonder: is there a concerted effort in Bali—arguably the harbinger of mass tourism to Southeast Asia—to start reversing decades of degradation? If so, there might be hope for the rest of us. “Bali is not the same place that it was five years ago, ten years ago—not the same place it was three years ago. And in [the environmental] sense, it’s definitely moving in the right direction,” says Michael Burchett, the genial, straight-talking former general manager at the Conrad. The Alila Villas Uluwatu represents a step in that direction. Like other properties that mix green design with luxury, the 83-villa resort doesn’t wear its eco credentials on its sleeve—no rammed earth huts or mounds of compost here. Nor does it, by design, have solar-voltaic cells or other high-tech, energy-saving gadgetry. “We came from the point of view that Bali is part of a developing country, and even if you did put in something fancy, it would probably break down or not be properly maintained,” says Richard Hassell of WOHA, the Singapore-based architecture firm that designed the resort. “If you make things difficult, it’s too complicated and expensive, and probably wouldn’t survive.” Hassell and his partner Soo K. Chan decided the most important step they could take was to source local t r av e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a .c o m

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Green Shoots Clockwise from left: The Alila’s reception area; the resort sources batik made with natural dyes; one of its villas.

materials. Around 60 percent of the materials used to build the resort are either recycled or sustainable, and their origins read like a roll-call of Indonesia’s islands: bamboo from Bali; batu candi, or lava stone, from Yogyakarta; wood from throughout Java. Communal tables in The Warung, the Indonesian eatery, are fashioned out of wood taken from old houses, while the resort’s salas are constituted out of ironwood salvaged from telephone poles and railway cars. Most stunning of all, hundreds of copper caps, or batik stamps, line the interiors of Cire, the fine dining restaurant. Because of high copper prices, batik workshops on Java have been selling caps, which are then melted down, Sean Brennan, the Alila’s general manager, tells me—a bit of cultural heritage quite literally being scrapped. As you’d expect, the resort’s design also incorporates energy- and water-saving measures. Inside the villas, guests can slide open the windows that line two opposing walls, allowing the ocean breezes to cool the interiors naturally. In addition, the black volcanic rock roofs suck up hot air while providing nutrients for plants. It might sound like an experiment concocted by a couple of clever graduate students, but the design actually works. Even in the noonday heat, I’m content without the air-conditioning. 48

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Biodiesel generators provide power and there’s talk of installing a wind turbine. Elsewhere on the property, an intricate system of soakways direct water to more than a dozen 125,000-liter tanks. That water is put through a reverse osmosis process and then pumped to the villas; in fact, most of the water used at the resort is recycled. “Our goal at the end of this year is having 80 percent water retention,” Brennan says. There’s another crucial way in which the resort conserves water. As you drive down the long, winding road that leads to the Alila, you’ll be struck by how bare and exposed the resort seems; the way the streamlined villas cling to the rocky hillside bring to mind the Mediterranean coast. The Bukit peninsula, after all, is Bali’s driest region—a fact the designers honored by planting native, scrubby vegetation rather than replicating a lush, Ubudstyle garden that would guzzle water. Garbage—Bali’s bugbear—is handled by Jimbaran Lestari, a private, pioneering company that sorts through trash, recycles and composts what it can, and properly disposes of the rest. In fact, the Alila also pays Jimbaran Lestari to collect and sort the trash for nearby residents—a move Brennan claims has helped bring down cases of dengue.


Local Heroes Clockwise from left: John Hardy, the founder of the Green School; I Ketut Siandana, an architect and hotelier; Hardy’s living room.

One hotel, of course, can’t save Bali. Collectively, the 11 Green-Globe certified hotels on Bali are a mere drop when you consider the more than 1,000 properties on the island. That’s not counting the numerous villa developments still being erected despite vows to stop issuing permits. A large part of the problem with controlling development in Bali has been the devolution of power, a process instituted after former president Suharto was ousted. During an interview with two officials at the provincial tourism office, I’m told that a 1999 moratorium was re-issued in 2003. When I question the effectiveness of that moratorium, since clearly hotels have been built since 2003, blame is handed off to the next level of government: “The province is the principal authority, but it’s the regency that decides whether to build.” The end result is, according to some long-time residents, graft and haphazard enforcement.

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ali is also a one-industry island: officials reckon 80 percent of the population depends on tourism. With the highest standard of living in Indonesia, many Balinese—and the migrants pouring in from other parts of the archipelago—understandably want to cash in on tourism. “It’s hard,” a waiter tells me. “Money on one side, culture on the other side.” I hear this on the terrace of Klapa, a glass-pyramidshaped club with alarmingly green décor that looks out over Dreamland, a beach once prized by surfers for its 50

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breaks but now filled with Russian and mainland Chinese tourists. Klapa, where you order drinks called “Crazy Crush” and “Fresh Bitch,” is part of Pecatu Indah, a 400-hectare development owned by one Tommy Suharto, the youngest son of the former president. It’s being marketed as the New Kuta—just so you know exactly where its ambitions lie. Along with hotels and villas, Pecatu Indah will be home to an 18-hole golf course, a hospital, an international school, a shopping mall and a convention center; soon to open is the improbably named, 900-room Rich Prada Hotel. This is another vision of Bali, and frankly, it’s terrifying. Next door to Klapa are the concrete foundations of another hotel—halted not because of building regulations, but because of the global financial crisis. No doubt, it will proceed when the funds are found. By the beach is a denuded hill where a handful of local boys study the tourists below—perhaps wondering how to make a buck off these sunburned visitors. Bali will never be the way it was, but it doesn’t have to be this. And there’s still time to save it from the fate of Benidorm. Over and over again, locals and expats alike tell me that respect for nature is intrinsic to Balinese culture, which is surprisingly sturdy despite the incursions of tourism. “Originally, we respect the tree, we respect the stone—we don’t cut down the tree, we don’t move the stone, and we’re careful in using nature,” says I Ketut Siandana, an architect and one of the brothers who run the Waka hotels. And at least one prominent developer has pledged not to build on rice fields. “What we’re doing as foreigners, as a group, is that we’re in very grave danger of destroying the goose that lays the golden egg,” rails Nils Wetterlind, the managing director of Tropical Homes, whose next project involves reviving antique joglas, Javanese-style houses, because “nobody needs 600 square meters and eight bedrooms.”


SUBSCRIBE NOW TO OUR DIGITAL EDITION Available at www.zinio.com 1 year / 12 issues for US$29.99.


Taking the Lead Clockwise from top left: You can’t get lost at the resort; the restaurants use locally sourced spices; old plates get a new life; the resort’s villas open up, allowing the ocean breezes to cool them naturally; The cliff-side cabana at the Alila Villas Uluwatu resort.

Bali also stirs up passion and loyalty. People want to defend it—its culture, its natural beauty, its legendary magic—fiercely. Yes, we need to protect the environment for future generations—that’s a truth that can’t be repeated enough times. But if you’re sitting in Bangkok or Singapore or Hong Kong, it’s hard to look out and think, I want to preserve that intersection or apartment block. In Bali, you know exactly what you want your children to see—those shimmering rice fields, those moss-covered temples flanked by jungle, that procession of Balinese wading into the sea with their offerings to the gods. On my last afternoon in Bali, I travel up to Ubud to have lunch with John Hardy, the jeweler who’s become a green visionary and Cassandra of sorts. Unlike too many others, Hardy, who founded the Green School, which teaches sustainability to students from preschool age to high school, actually lives according to his beliefs. His residential complex is made of bamboo—a sustainable building material because it grows quickly—and is openaired, eliminating the need for air-conditioning. As we talk, he gazes out onto the rice paddies that surround his home, as if drawing strength from the scene’s beauty. Let’s get one place right, he tells me. “And I vote for Bali.” ✚ 52

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GUIDE to green bali WHERE TO STAY For a complete list of Green Globe–certified hotels in Indonesia, log onto greenglobe.org. Alila Villas Uluwatu Jln. Belimbing Sari, Banjar Tambiyak, Desa Pecatu; 62-361/848-2166; alilahotels.com; villas from US$720.

Bambu Indah Four vintage Indonesian homes on an eco-resort by John Hardy in Ubud. Banjar Baung, Desa Sayan; 62-361/975-124; bambuindah. com; bungalows from US$185. Conrad Bali No. 168 Jln. Pratama, Tanjung Benoa, 62-36/177-8788; conradhotels1. hilton.com; doubles from US$218.


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The Best of Bali  

The island that has it all just keeps getting better—from the best babi guling to the most scenic spots for a sunset cocktail. here’s what n...

The Best of Bali  

The island that has it all just keeps getting better—from the best babi guling to the most scenic spots for a sunset cocktail. here’s what n...