Destination Bali Travel

A Bali soul journal

Discover at your own pace The Lempuyang temple

Discover at your own pace The Lempuyang temple  

The Indonesian island is more than just sun, sea and sand. K Jeshi spends her days creating customised perfumes, cooking up a storm and learning to live sustainably

Green notes

A Bali soul journal

The Green School campus located on the banks of the Ayung River is filled with beats from the marimba. A music class is in progress and Kate Druhan, chairman of the Green School Board of Management, explains: “The students learn with Nature. They spend less time in the classrooms.” The children, some as young as three, play an active role in growing vegetables (140 kilograms of fresh produce every month). They learn where the food on their table comes from. Students are also part of sustainable social enterprises like Bye Bye Plastic Bags, an NGO, to rid Indonesia of plastic bags. The school buses run on bio-diesel (from used cooking oil collected from homes and restaurants) — a project managed entirely by the students. They also built a bamboo bike from scratch. Says Druhan, “We give space and inspiration for children to incubate ideas. We have parents from 34 countries and about 80% of them have moved here for the school, as they believe in the model. It’s about training students to lead now.”

Going glocal

A Bali soul journal

I enjoy the heart of palm in a coconut milk base. It is fresh and delicate. Then comes the turmeric pillow with lemon grass emulsion followed by crunchy spinach fritters. Locavore Restaurant ranks No 22 in the list of Asia’s Top 50 Restaurants in 2017. “Locavore is a movement to encourage people to eat local produce. About 40% of the ingredients like pumpkin, beetroot, iceberg, and passion fruit, come from our garden. We want to support the local economy,” explains Adi Karmayasa, manager. The creative team meets every Monday to look for new ingredients available locally and incorporate it in the menu. Betel leaf is the latest entrant. I try the tomato sorbet with celery infused sea salt in a hot consommé, which is sour, sweet, and spicy. For the main course, I have tempe mole — fermented soybean in mole sauce made from spices, palm sugar, and topped with cream and bitter chocolate. The sinful kluwek is the best. It has black nuts paired with chocolate ganache, vanilla ice-cream and peanuts, cashewnuts and cocoa nibs…

Shaken and stirred

A Bali soul journal

The local flavours continue with the cocktails. Mix lime juice, honey syrup, vermouth, spiced rum, gin, throw in kaffir lime leaves and burn the casa bark for richness and added bitters, shake it up and your cocktail is ready to go, says Raka, the Balinese bartender at The Night Rooster bar (rated as one of the top 50 best bars of Asia 2017). At a cocktail workshop, he is whipping up cocktails that use seasonal fruits and vegetables, and infused with herbs and spices like turmeric, ginger, and cardamom. I bite into juicy longan, one of South-East Asia’s most popular fruits. There is also a delicious snack made with sago, coffee cream and chocolate. Raka shows us how to make Almost There, a cocktail made with tamarillo ( or with mango or pineapple) that has a distinct local flavour, with kemangi leaves, raw honey, burned cassia bark, basil blossom, and mint leaves... The sugarcane juice Raka serves also comes with a heady flavour of kaffir lime. The home-made sweet vermouth is spiced with star anise, cardamom and cloves.

The digital nomad

A Bali soul journal

It’s a rainy day in Bali. We stop for lunch at Hubud, a co-working space that has people from over 30 countries working there at any given time. It’s a stone’s throw from Ubud’s shopping area and the Monkey Forest. Over a platter of beetroot chips, Steve, who founded Hubud, shares its success story. One of the founders floated an e-commerce company to sell bracelets made in Bali. It also empowered the villagers through the profit-sharing model. Then, there is Risyiana Muthia, who moved to Bali from Jakarta, built her home here and is now an Airbnb superhost. “The millennials (20-35 years age group) are likely to change jobs 15 to 20 times in their lives. It’s a digital nomad movement, where people are motivated by passion. It’s about changing the way we travel.” We also meet the winners of Start-up Weekend Bali. It’s a team that launched nomastay.in to connect travellers with community spaces. They met as strangers and formed a company — all in 54 hours!

Home by the river

A Bali soul journal

A splash in the pool accompanied by chirping birds is just one of the experiences at Steve and Renee’s home by the forest. Steve and Renee, Airbnb hosts now, have been nomads for over 20 years, and have worked across the globe. “We worked for the UN. In the last assignment, Steve was cleaning land mines in Cambodia. We came to Bali to re-invent ourselves,” says Renee, as she walks us through her home. Recycled wood, including used fishing boats, are used in the interiors. There’s a master bedroom, a tastefully done-up kids’ room, and a massage room upstairs. And, for honeymooners, there is a separate suite done in glada style (like a fancy shed). “We wanted our house to connect with Nature and to have least impact on the land. We chose land that wasn’t used for farming. Because of spiritual beliefs, Balinese don’t live in or use the land next to rivers. So, it was a win-win situation,” says Renee. The house has knick-knacks picked up from their travels.

In the lap of luxury

A Bali soul journal

I soak up the warm morning sunshine by the pool and stare at the swaying rice fields in Villa Mannao, tucked away in a quiet lane in Seminyak. It is just 20 minutes away from the buzzing Seminyak Square shopping area. “The rice fields are rented out to farmers and they maintain it to ensure that our guests enjoy the view,” says Edouard Garret, head of distribution. You can lounge around in cosy sofas at the pavilion and enjoy the view. There are a total of six villas with 26 rooms (family, deluxe, and empire suites) and a spacious lawned garden facing the rice fields. “We rent out the villa as a whole for families. The lawns are used to hold weddings and large get-togethers,” says Garret. The villas, designed in the Javanese Joglo-style, with towering roofs, are intimate and chic. Inside a deluxe room, I snuggle up in a comfortable mosquito-netted king-size bed. In the morning, I wake up to the beautiful sight of dancing lilies in a small pond at a zen-like courtyard.

A world of taste

A Bali soul journal

The dinner table is outdoors. The wood fire grill is burning bright and there’s a mixed aroma of cooked meat all around us. And, Pablo is smiling. He is from Argentina, but has lived most part of his life in Spain, and that’s why his restaurant Batubara serves up Argentinean, Mediterranean, and Balinese fare. I begin with sangria garnished with kaffir lime leaves. Spinach tempura made with local greens is accompanied with a mayo dip of red paprika infused with olive oil and garnished with ginger flower. There is also Argentinean chimichurri sauce made with fresh chopped parsley. And, the classic Spanish tapas, where fresh shrimp is sautéed in olive oil and lots of garlic. From the grill, a platter of crunchy mixed vegetables makes an appearance on the table and signature non-veg specials keep coming: beef tenderloin, rib eye steak… “In Argentina, we love beef. We have grass-fed cows. We try and source the same in Bali. The inherent culture in Bali is deeply spiritual. I love the rhythm. People are real, rooted, and love their food,” he says.

Designs on food

A Bali soul journal

“I spent two years researching gluten-free food before starting my bakery. Farmers in Bali by default are organic, so sourcing organic grains, vegetables and fruits is easy,” says Mara, who runs House of Schnitzel, a café bar and gluten-free bakery in Ubud. She has laid out a lunch buffet for us. There is super-soft Moroccan pie stuffed with spinach, baked potatoes and peanut sauce dip, a greens and carrot salad, red rice, yellow rice, crisp vegetable rolls served with sweet chilli sauce, assorted vegetables in coconut gravy, and a few meat dishes too. Mara is from The Philippines. She moved to Australia, where she lived for 30 years before making Bali her home. She calls herself a food designer. I enjoy her gluten-free brownie made with dark chocolate and sticky rice, and it is melt-in-the-mouth. The passion fruit tarts made with organic red rice and coconut flour have a fresh, natural flavour. Other treats include desserts with mixed berry, coconut and lime. Eat healthy and in moderation is Mara’s philosophy.

A bitter-sweet ending

A Bali soul journal

A poolside dinner with tamarind gin and sides of fried plantains dipped in guasacaca dip, (made from avocado and corn shallots), and escalivada (wood-fired egg plant, onion, paprika and thyme) all served on crisp crostini. The team of Room4Dessert, run by pastry chef Will Goldfarb, is hard at work, tossing steamed cauliflower in a browned butter dressing. Crystal, who is overseeing the menu, says Room4Dessert is known for the amazing nine-course dessert it serves. “We have desserts called ghost face killer and taro card. Local fruits are our inspiration.” We join Koman Sukrada Yasa as he gives a demo on making bitters with local ingredients. We take some bitters home too, packed in coconut leaf pouches. There are sweet treats too. I scoop up mini little tarts topped with blue biru flower, and watch the beautiful evening drawing to a close.

The writer was in Bali at the invitation of Airbnb

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Printable version | Jul 2, 2020 3:53:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/the-indonesian-island-is-more-than-just-sun-sea-and-sand/article19917623.ece

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