Monkeys. Motorbikes. Massage. Temples. Incense. Offerings. Hot springs. Rice Paddies. Yoga. Smoothies. Snorkeling.
Bali is an island of magic. A place best seen riding tandem on a motorbike, dipping in hot springs, and sipping banana smoothies through a bamboo straw. The first memory I have stepping out of the airport was the sweet smell of spices and cloves in the air. Even more encouraging, most of the restaurants were committed to sustainable and organic foods, and almost all of our villas were constructed using eco-friendly and natural organic recycled materials.
Indonesia has the largest Muslim population of any country, and is home to 12.7% of the world's Muslims. However, Bali is almost entirely Hindu. The ceremonies and traditions of Hinduism are so apparent in every alleyway and community. The Canang sari is a Balinese daily offering, often including sticks of incense on top of beautiful flowers in a folded banana leaf tray. Canang sari are placed throughout Balinese temples, on the ground throughout the villages, and atop small shrines that serve as the entryway to shops, homes, and compounds. It is a traditional daily offering by Balinese Hindus in praise and prayer.
Sustainable Meets Luxury
The first stop on our visit was Bingin Beach, where we stayed at Mu Resort overlooking the ocean. We drank straight from coconuts while perched in our stilted bungalow, enjoying daily morning yoga and a juice bar. For lunch we frequented the coolest cafe, Cashew Tree, and ate our fair share of acai bowls and raw vegan desserts. We then traveled to Ubud and were lucky enough to snag accommodations at Bambu Indah, by far one of the coolest places in all of Bali. Bambu Indah is a sustainable luxury boutique resort overlooking the Ayung River, comprised of 13 restored antique Javanese bridal homes. These charming teak wood houses are historic traditional homes built by native Indonesians over 100 years ago. Each served as bridal houses to a Javanese nobleman whose duty it was to provide a home for his new bride. These antique homes were carefully dismantled and relocated to Bambu Indah. Their restaurant, Dapoer, produces all of its vegetables and herbs on site, and uses natural fertilizers including compost made from their organic waste. In Ubud we enjoyed several inspiring [challenging] yoga classes at Yoga Barn, a well-known and loved destination for yogis from all over the world. After Ubud we stayed on a coffee plantation in Munduk with an infinite pool to die for, and finally made it to our own private pond and pool at Villa Campuhan near Candidasa.
Sustainable, organic, local. Many restaurants in Bali grow their own produce. The land is plenty and the weather is optimal for growth. One of our favorite warungs (restaurants) was Sari Organik Ubud, in the middle of a field of rice paddies, crowded with locals, and sporting menu items such as rainbow sweet potato ball with coconut milk and palm syrup, iced Kombucha with Rosella flower tea, and of course, the ubiquitous Balinese Nasi Goreng, a spiced fried rice with garlic, tamarind, ginger, egg and vegetables. There is a high emphasis, in Ubud specifically, to serve clean, farm to table meat and produce. Very little of the food we ate was processed.
Now that we are back home, countless sticks of incense in tow, safely away from the thieving monkeys of Monkey Forrest, we are feeling centered and enriched by the beautiful lifestyle of the Balinese.