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Bali, the Island of the Gods

Style | 14 Nov 2016

Canguu Desa Seni

 

The infinite of the present. Perhaps this is the treasure sought by travellers who choose Bali, to confirm the life energy that moves them. Moving us in a different concept of happiness, where serenity and the length of time occupy a timeless place. "Bali", the word with which this island was baptized in the ninth century, derives from a native word meaning "worship", "cult" or "offering". Under the positivism of the word and after a month on the island of the gods, I confirm the special vibration that surrounds it, as the destination which annually attracts so many travellers from around the world.
After a journey of about 30 hours to reach Indonesian territory, I arrive in Bali with the brightness of the night. The dark and the unknown have this sensorial effect, opening our senses at a location where we are asked to arrive with an open heart.
Bali has a lot of Quiet Chaos. It is in great losses and when emptying ourselves of everything that we unite with the gods to understand the meaning of life. Being passionate about the tapes of Nanni Moretti or Antonello Grimaldi, I have no doubt that we are drawn to the island, not because it is a beach destination, or an island paradise without anyone, but rather because of the energy of fullness that challenges us constantly, a confused and intense island flooded with travellers, often alone, looking for a new way of being in life.
People. Bali is the people. A piece of land in this universe where the reflection of a religion is felt more than any other part of the world I have ever been. The Hindu culture witnesses in his serene joy, that, after all, happiness may be our natural state. Books do not confirm when the Bali-Hindu religion was formed in the country, but in 500 B.C. the island had a predominantly Buddhist influence, probably brought by the first colonists from China. Hinduism on the island, imported from India by traders during the fourth century A.D., resulted in a powerful Hindu dynasty, absorbed by existing Buddhist philosophies, acclaimed by Java kings, of which little remains today, except for the impressive ruins of the temples of Borobudur. Thus, the beginning of everything was born, a moment of gold where the exodus of an aristocracy of artists, thinkers and intellectuals, made this 5.700 km2  island the special location for which it is recognized.
The temperature on the island is tropical and, although July and August are the most populated months, it is also when the temperature is most mild. Its sweet and engaging warmth finds in these months it`s most perfect and less humid state.
To travel almost to the other side of the world, I advise a minimum of three weeks to get to know the island. I always considered myself a traveller, not a tourist, as is so well distinguished in The Sheltering Sky by Bernardo Bertolucci. As for priorities, I define, remaining as the most important, forget for a moment the measurement of time, letting life take us freely. And many are the treasures that the unknown offers when we deliver ourselves in the hands of the rice fields – perhaps because of them I have lost count of the kilometres I travelled by motorcycle. With the permanent feeling of being at an amusement park, in a rapturous joy that is only possible on Asian roads, the madness of adventure put a constant smile on my face, while delivering myself in the hands of the gods. And, if there are those who go to Bali looking for love, I remember a sentence that one of the travels said to me: in Bali, "the journey will always be our essence and the path is ours, but we are never alone". There are, there will always be, a generous smile that expects nothing of the world. This was my journey, but never forget that in the day you decide to leave, this will be your journey, the most magnanimous of all.

 


Bali

 

Bukit 

In Bukit Peninsula burst the waves of the most beautiful beaches of the island. Do not expect a paradisiacal destination. Our Atlantic beaches are more exciting, but Bali, although not worthwhile for the sands that we can only reach after long adventures and staircases, where we are constantly scared by cheeky monkeys, has fascinating surroundings. So, I raise the curtain of The Ungasan Clifftop. With open arms to the Indian Ocean, the immense beauty of its views are breath taking. With an entire villa just for me. In Bali, in these type of hotels, of a more luxurious category, it is normal to have a butler. My "Merta", that in local culture means "blessing", does the honours. On the first night I am startled by the only type of fauna I would come to find and of which appearance in the jolt of tropical nights I was so often warned about. Ladies traveling alone: from stories with cockroaches, scorpions, monkeys and spiders, the only sweet appearance I had in four weeks were two frogs making love. In the nearby surrounding, Sundays Beach Club is Ungasans private beach club, with wonderful beach lunches and a bonfire at the end of the day which brings together the complicity of unknown travellers.
In a more relaxed style, I found two Portuguese houses on Indonesian territory. I moved to Sal Secret Spot, where you breathe in surf culture and taste the best banana pancakes on the planet. But it is in Gravity that I place my bets. Ricky Teixeira Gomes opens to me the doors of the most beautiful boutique hotel in Bali. Recently inaugurated, pristine white, with Santorini aromas and handpicked details, offers a breath taking view and a stay that is a perfect experience, and accompanies the most urgent of all sophistication, the beauty of simplicity. In this small peninsula south of the island, be sure to visit Bingin Beach and taste Kellys Warung`s juices, have a drink at sunset and eat the wonderful pizzas of the Single Fin Bar, or lose your mind with the famous bows of The Cashew Tree, a café-restaurant but also a temple of good food, with a must-visit party every Wednesday where people dance freely and barefooted. Also, not to be missed is a sunset at Uluwatu Temple, in Suarga Hotel, and a visit to Thomas Beach, Green Bowl and Balangan. In my opinion the less populated and most beautiful beaches on the peninsula.

 

Canggu

It is said that Ubud is the mecca of Yoga, but it is at the Desa Seni Eco Yoga Organic Retreat and Spa, near Canggu, that I can feel the horizon of the soul in another perspective. Upside down in a fly yoga class, I confirm the privilege. Small individual houses overlooking the organic gardens which constitute the grounds of this sustainable hotel. In addition to having a team that involves local habitants, some of them living in extreme poverty in the past, this is a place for remaining. With the most beautiful foot washers of the world, massages, evening meditations accompanied by an orchestra of crickets and aura cleanings, seal the uniqueness of this special piece of land on the island.
Downtown and in a more Lusitanian register, more relaxed and accessible, both Villa Paz and Villa Lua are two good options. It will be difficult to forget the breakfasts or dinners at The Shady Shack and at the Betelnut Cafe, two locations owned by an Australian couple who surrendered to the island`s charms. In the Canggu area you must also have lunch at Crate Cafe, dinner at La Laguna and Deus Ex Machina, visit Tanah Lot Temple, and have a surf class at Mondo Surf Village.
Near Canggu is the famous Seminyak which, in a more consumerist vibe – and I do not think this is the energy that brings us to the singular simplicity of the island –, only deserves one afternoon, where you cannot miss Café Bali and Sisterfields Cafe.

 

Ubud

Although iconic due to the book Eat, Pray, Love written by Liz Gilbert, I never went to Bali with this reference. The healer Ketut Liyer already departed from this world and I think Bali is a journey to find love, yes, but more the kind of love that is felt in society as a Hindu gift.
In the Sayan slopes we face a sense of magnitude. Many are the rice fields that make the Ubud landscape an idyllic postcard, one magnetizing location where I chose to stay for about ten days.
It is at Como Uma Ubud Hotel that I receive the best massage on the island. I am received by a team which, following the rigor of this chain of hotels is coordinated with the Balinese sweet magic.
In the walk through the rice fields you cannot miss lunch at Sari Organic or at Pomegranate Cafe. The most beautiful and famous Balinese dances, the Legon, are at the Water Palace Puri Saraswati Temple. You must enter the Lotus Cafe and not be fooled by the ordinary aspect because the rear of the property guards the palace like in a stunning postcard. Do not miss lunch at Clear Cafe Ubud or Alchemy, Ubud Raw Chocolates and dinner at Bridges or at the Mosaik. Another extraordinary program is the Bamboo route, visiting Green School, Bamboo Villas, Big Tree Farms, with lunch at the beautiful hotel Bambu Indah. Yet, from Ubud, be sure to visit the Pura Tirta Empul temples, where the waters are known because of a ritual of purification and gratitude, and the Pura Gunung Kawi. Also the rice fields of Tegalalang, the Kanto Lampo and Tibumana waterfalls. Because you are near the heart of Bali, where the dramatic volcanoes of the central mountains breathe, climb to Mount Batur, which is, according to Hindu belief, one of the holiest places on the island, given that, being higher, it is closer to the good spirits. Even climbing in a pilgrimage at dawn, crater owner monkeys, eggs and roasted bananas in the volcano fumes await us, with a stunning sunrise.

 

Notebook:

  • Traffic is hell, so change location in the evenings using a taxi or Uber and at each location rent a motorcycle at the hotel. Renting a motorcycle costs about € 5 / day, but don`t be scared if you see chickens jumping from trees. In case of emergency you can always invoke the gods.

  • Gasoline is sold in Absolut Vodka bottles and costs about € 0.80.

  • You will need water shoes, almost all beaches have coral.

  • Get away from Kuta and Jimbaran, they are confusing and very touristic.

  • Anyone visiting Bali normally goes to Gili, three small islands near Lombok. I recommend Gili Meno for couples and Gili Air for a more festive spirit. But do not expect anything too transcendent, except snorkelling to see everything at 20 meters deep. Perhaps it makes more sense to take the boat to Lombok, to dive in the most beautiful beaches of Kuta, but be prepared for the differences between the Hindu and Muslim culture.

 

When to go:

  • Dry season, from April to end of September. Rainy season, from October to end of March.

 

Books I recommend:

  • Bali, A Cultural History, Arthur Cotterell
  • Under the Volcano: A Story of Bali, Cameron Forbes
  • A House in Bali, Colin McPhee`s
  • Bali, Lost Guides, Anna Chittenden
  • Flavours of Bali, Smudgeeats

 

Bukit Pecatu Gravity


Canguu Desa Seni


Canguu The Shady Shack


COMO Uma Ubud


COMO Uma Ubud


Bali


Bukit Pecatu Gravity


Bali


Bukit Pecatu Gravity


Bukit Pecatu Gravity


Bukit Pecatu Sal Secret Spot


Bukit Uluwatu The Ungasan


Bukit Uluwatu The Ungasan


Bukit  Uluwatu The Ungasan

 

Bukit

theungasan.com

salbalihotel.com

gravitybalihotel.com

facebook.com/kellys.warung

singlefinbali.com

facebook.com/the-cashew-tree

suargapadangpadang.com

 

Canggu

villapazbali.com

airbnb.com – villa lua canggu beach

facebook.com/Theshadyshackbali

facebook.com/Betelnut-Cafe

facebook.com/cratecafebali

facebook.com/lalagunabali

deuscustoms.com/cafes/canggu/

llbc.com

mondosurfvillage.com

sisterfieldsbali.com

facebook.com/daunandco

 

Ubud

comohotels.com/umaubud

umaya-villa.com

roam.co

cafepomegranate.org

cafelotusubud.com

clear-cafe-ubud.com

alchemybali.com

ubudraw.com 

bridgesbali.com

mozaic-bali.com

greenschool.org

greenvillagebali.com

bigtreefarms.com

bambuindah.com

Mont Batur +62 817 568 038

 

Gili Air

slowgiliair.com 

giliairescape.com

scallywagsresort.com

facebook.com/pachamamagiliair

facebook.com/miragebar

 

Gili Meno

seriresortgilimeno.com

karmagroup.com/karmabeach

 

Text: Sancha Trindade (Author of television program "A Cidade na ponta dos dedos" broadcasted by RTP3, Económico TV and TAP TV.)
Photos: Sancha Trindade

Sancha Trindade

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