Tag Archive | "Bali"

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5 perfect places for sunset watching in Bali

Posted on 06 November 2012 by Stefan Russel

Bali is famous for its spectacular sunsets, that paint the sky yellow, orange and purple all through the year at around 18 o’clock. Whether you prefer a quite sunset on a beach on your own or you rather be sipping cocktails in a stylish bar, Bali has just the right spot for you. Have a look at these 5 places, that – if conditions are right – are perfect for enjoying the sun sinking into the ocean.
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Bali’s top destinations for culture, adventure, romance, luxury and island relaxation.

Posted on 04 July 2012 by Stefan Russel

One of the reasons that I love Bali so much is the diversity of the island. A short drive can take you from one place to something completely different, making you fell like you have crossed several borders.
Below my tips to destinations in Bali depending on whether you prefer temples and museums, candlelight dinners on the beach, volcano climbing, holidaying with the rich and famous or you just want to get away from it all on a tropical island.

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Lonely Planet’s backpackers’ tips for Asia

Posted on 10 September 2010 by Joel Quenby

Lonely Planet’s Tom Hall recently gave the UK’s Guardian newspaper his picks for the hottest tickets for young travelers looking for economical ways to navigate the region

INDONESIA: The Eastern Islands

Flying into Flores, though LP says go by boat (by Prilfish via Flickr Creative Commons License)

Flying into Flores, though LP says go by boat (by Prilfish via Flickr Creative Commons License)

LONELY PLANET SAYS: Flores is home to world-class diving, volcanic lakes and empty white-sand beaches. Start … from Bali via Komodo or Rinca on a Perama boat—you’ll pick up enough suggestions on the way to work out the rest for yourself!”


Volcanic beauty: El Nido (by Vanna GocaraRupa via Flickr Creative Commons License)

Volcanic beauty: El Nido (by Vanna GocaraRupa via Flickr Creative Commons License)

LONELY PLANET SAYS: “If you’re in search of stunning coastline and beaches, El Nido in northern Palawan is the place. This small, chilled-out town has plenty of amenities, but development remains slow meaning accommodation can be limited and the place never gets too busy.”

ASIA: The Andaman Islands

Not a lot in Havelot, I mean Havelock (by Kai Hendry via Flickr Creative Commons License)

Not a lot in Havelot, I mean Havelock (by Kai Hendry via Flickr Creative Commons License)

LONELY PLANET SAYS: “Two and a half hours by ferry from Port Blair, the islands’ main town, Havelock, is a pretty good approximation of a backpacker paradise, with great snorkeling,  and cheap eating and lodging.”

ASIA: Bangladesh

Boating at dawn near the Bay of Bengal (By joiseyshowaa, courtesy of Flockr Creative Commons License)

Boating at dawn near the Bay of Bengal (By Joisey Showaa via Flickr Creative Commons License)

LONELY PLANET SAYS: “This underrated country might just be the world’s best-value country for travelers. Marvelous meals will cost less than US$1, and a midrange hotel room less than $10.”

ASIA: India’s Northeastern States

in Northeastern India (by Old Fashind via Flickr Creative Commons License)”]Technicolor melting pot and spotting rhinos  [inset] in Northeastern India (by Old Fashind via Flickr Creative Commons License)

Technicolor melting pot and spotting rhinos [inset

LONELY PLANET SAYS: “India’s final frontier—the “seven sister states” of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizaram, Nagaland, and Tripura—hides obscure tribal societies, forested hills and the feeling you’re breaking new ground.”

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Traveling the ‘Eat Pray Love’ way

Posted on 06 September 2010 by Joel Quenby

Elizabeth Gilbert’s autobiographical travel yarn is a literary showcase for Bali’s exotic tropical locations. Here is our guide to four of the tale’s Indonesia-related travel recommendations

Movie star parade. Javier Bardem and some Pretty Woman wander a Balinese market

Movie star parade. Javier Bardem and some Pretty Woman wander a Balinese market

American writer and Travel + Leisure contributor Elizabeth Gilbert authored a bestselling 2006 “chick-lit” memoir of post-divorce globetrotting: Eat Pray Love. Her yarn was adapted into a movie and is now an international box-office sensation.

The original Pretty Woman, Oscar-winning Julia Roberts, plays “Liz” as desperate to escape her miserable existence in New York as a respected, profitable writer. So the 34-year-old hits the global byways seeking enlightenment (a journey outside her comfort zone, she never hesitates to tell everyone).

After attempting to eat Italy out of pasta and then go spiritual in India, Gilbert/Roberts lands on the Indonesian isle of Bali, which she thinks is “a fairly simple place to navigate … It’s not like I’ve landed in the middle of the Sudan with no idea of what to do next.”

However, this once-carefree paradise was shattered by terrorist bombs killing more than 200 young Australian tourists in 2002. The hangover of terrorism persists. New York Times movie desk don A.O. Scott, among others, criticized Gilbert’s, “Western fetishization of Eastern thought,” concluding the flick was, “unlikely to change anybody’s life or even to provoke emotions anywhere near as intense as those experienced … by its intrepid heroine.”

Not many cared, if 170 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List means anything. The book resonated with readers to the tune of more than 1.35 million copies, after 15 printings. Gilbert was on Oprah, and her book translated into 40 languages. Now the movie has given rise to a new customer for Balinese tour operators: spiritual seekers.

Not that Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika was complaining in 2009: “We have to be thankful, because the presence of the Hollywood movie star has given birth to Bali’s new title, ‘Island of Love,’” he said, “which will of course support our tourism.”

As for Elizabeth Gilbert, will Bali be forever in her heart? For those seeking a stretch, she recommends yoga tours of Bali with, “my sweet friend Mario at the Ubud Inn, at mariourip@yahoo.com.


“It isn’t near any beaches, so the tourists who come to Ubud are a self-selecting and rather classy crowd; they would prefer to see an ancient temple ceremony than to drink piña coladas in the surf.”

A view over Ubud, Bali's cultural hub (by Brian via Flickr Creative Commons License)

A view over Ubud, Bali's cultural hub (by Brian via Flickr Creative Commons License)

“This could be a lovely place to live for a while,” wrote Elizabeth Gilbert of Ubud, Bali’s arty cultural hub, where traditional painting, dance, carving, and religious ceremonies still thrive. The author spent four months cycling through quiet villages on the slopes of Mount Batur, sampling Indonesian food, acquainting herself with locals, taking yoga classes—and writing a certain book.

Ubud is famous for holistic traditions; here lie foundations upon which Bali’s thriving spa industry are mounted. Even its very name derives from the word ubad, describing the abundance of medicinal plants indigenous here. Rock-cut temples tucked into layered rice terraces also grace the landscape. The Balinese worship a unique composite of Indian cosmology, Tantric Buddhism, local animist traditions and ancestor worship.

Local medicine man (in reality, as in the film) Ketut Liyer claims Ubud is a rare tap of the earth’s healing energy. That is tricky to confirm, but the place is demonstrably removed from Kuta’s surfer scene and Seminyak’s trendy shopping. This is Bali’s hippie chill-out zone, where alternative lifestyles are staples. Ubud has twice hosted the Bali Spirit Festival—an annual celebration of yoga, dance and music.


“The medicine man, as it turned out, was a small, merry-eyed, russet-colored old guy with a mostly toothless mouth, whose resemblance in every way to the Star Wars character Yoda cannot be exaggerated.”

Julia Roberts cycles Penestanan to study The Force with Ketut Liyer

Julia Roberts cycles Penestanan to study The Force with Ketut Liyer

Just outside Ubud lies quaint Penestanan where a signboard indicates the Hindu-style compound where the small, weathered seer from Eat, Pray, Love lives. Gilbert learned meditation with this local balian (shaman).

Gilbert describes Ketut Liyer as “a priestly figure, somewhat mystical.” Nobody knows Ketut’s age, but his business card offers health, meditation, palm reading, astrology, painting, woodcarving, homestay … Plus a map to his front porch.

Many Indonesian communities prefer traditional healing to science. Medicine men address spiritual as well as physical needs, blending massage and meditation with herbal recipes. Ketut hails from long line of mystics; his grandfather inducted him into the family trade—after he had died, incidentally. That’s right, the deceased man apparently mentored his grandson via the medium of dream.

After the movie’s release, Time said, “his bamboo mat is an almost necessary stop on Bali’s increasingly popular spiritual tourist circuit.” The Yoda-alike’s bank account is no longer empty. Ketut charges almost the average weekly wage, US$25, to read your palm. For that price, though, he will say you are smart—and live to be 110-years-old.

Traditional Balinese Healing

“Thank God my best friend in Bali is a healer,” and I ran into Wayan’s shop … She took one look at me and said, “You sick from making too much sex, Liz.’”

Wayan Nuriyasih's Traditional Balinese Healing: a small clinic, home and restaurant

Wayan Nuriyasih (top left) in Traditional Balinese Healing: a clinic, home and restaurant

To Gilbert, Wayan Nuriyasih is a “strikingly attractive Balinese woman with a wide smile and shiny black hair down to her waist.” She can be found in Traditional Balinese Healing—“a very small medical clinic and home and restaurant all at the same time.”

The gentle herbalist speaks proficient English, although, “because she is Balinese, she immediately asked me the three standard introductory questions,” according to the writer. “Where are you going today? Where are you coming from? Are you married?” (Despite this stock-standard patter, Gilbert lingered five hours on her first visit and later raised $18,000 to build Wayan a better house.)

Wayan treated the author’s urinary tract infection with strange noxious potions. “In less than two hours I was fine, totally healed.” After that, Gilbert “would trust Wayan with any illness whatsoever,” reckoning her “one of the most successful businesswomen in Ubud.” (In fairness, bloggers also rave online about Wayan’s miraculous abilities.)

Gilbert had previously noticed Wayan’s shop’s blackboard with a curious handwritten advertisement for the Multivitamin Lunch Special outside a nondescript building behind a restaurant garden of ginseng, aloe vera and jasmine. The “delicious and nutritious” concoction of water spinach, ginseng, salty seaweed and spicy tempeh comes with each ingredient carefully labeled with its healing properties:

Red rice: for a healthy heart
Grilled coconut: relieves rheumatitis
Tomato chutney: healthy for gums
Mutabilis leaf: relieves stomach gas
Bean sprouts: strengthens weak muscles

Maya Ubud Resort & Spa

The grand Maya Ubud - where Elizabeth Gilbert wrote sections of 'Eat, Pray, Love' in 2006

The grand Maya Ubud - where Elizabeth Gilbert wrote sections of 'Eat, Pray, Love' in 2006

Where better to base a pilgrimage than the very hideaway where Elizabeth Gilbert wrote the Balinese section of her memoirs back in 2006? (Maybe you can even reserve the exact room occupied by the author in her moments of literary inspiration.)

Set amid 10 hectares of landscaped garden enveloped by steep valleys, the layout of Maya Ubud Resort & Spa flows from its hilltop vantage point down to rice paddies besides the Petanu River 30 meters below. Pitching itself as a “spacious, stylish, luxurious environment in which to enjoy some of life’s better moments,” the resort has won loads of awards. VIP International Traveller readers voted it Most Beautiful Wellness Resort Worldwide in 2006.

“The task in Indonesia was to search for balance,” wrote Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love—a balance between pleasure and devotion, specifically. Well, Devotion To Pleasure Leaving One Balanced is probably the mandate of the therapists at Maya Ubud’s riverside spa, who cater to romancers in customized couples’ thatched treatment pavilions.

The resort’s website convincingly essays its spa’s sensual wares: “soothing hands … aromatic herbs, oils and lotions … flower-filled baths … treatments that smooth, stimulate, and pamper … private treatment pavilions provide individual oasis in which refreshing and aromatic oils sooth and relax.”

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A Must-Go Spa in Noosa

Posted on 25 May 2010 by Kim Inglis

Noosa, 120 kilometers north of Brisbane on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, is a laid-back, relaxed area that is beloved by “those in the know”. There’s none of the frenzy of the Gold Coast, little in the way of suburban sophistication, and lots in the way of good old-fashioned hospitality. It’s become known as a “lifestyle choice” destination — people haven’t moved there to opt out, but rather to opt in to what the area has to offer: clean fresh air and abundant natural beauty, a healthy climate and a healthy attitude, an outlook that encourages creativity.

As a result, there are a number of truly excellent outlets visitors can patronize: some fabulous markets, an extraordinary cooking school with attendant modern Thai restaurant, a Queensland winery beginning to make waves on the international scene, a spa or two. Actually one spa — Ikatan. www.ikatanspa.com at 46 Grays Road, Doonan, Noosa.

Laid out in Balinese village style, Ikatan is serenely beautiful

ikatan spa

ikatan spa

ikatan entrance

ikatan entrance

Marketing itself as a Balinese day spa, Ikatan is eons away from the average Aussie Day Spa in attitude, offering, setting and service. Certainly it has an inspired Balinese-style setting with garden pavilions, tropical plantings and a wonderfully inviting vibe; but day spa? No, it’s more like a mini destination spa (without overnight rooms … but we can always hope for expansion in the future) that looks at its patrons with an all-encompassing eye. Catering to the whole person — mentally, physically, emotionally — it is run by a dedicated team that are truly committed to giving, as the owner says, “sincere, authentic quality treatments with plenty of time for clients and a quiet, relaxed environment”.

There are two broad bands of therapy: those that have their roots in the natural ingredients and traditions of Bali and those that use the Elemis product range. This may not be as antithetical as it first appears, because the success of British spa and skincare brand Elemis lies in its ability to combine natural active ingredients with cutting-edge technology. So, as with Balinese therapies, the core lies in the natural world.

I highly recommend one of Ikatan’s three-hour packages, but if you have time to spare, splash out on a five-hour extravaganza that throws in lunch as well. Body treatments include massage tailored to clients’ needs as well as spicy, warming Balinese borehs, vanilla bean and coconut wraps and body scrubs, as well as the usual foot and hand pampers. Facials all use Elemis products which are great for sensitive skin, harnessing specific ingredients for specific results: anti-ageing, reduction of fine lines, de-stressing of skin, tightening and firming, reduction of pigmentation and acne scarring and sun damage. You name it, the therapist with advise and administer.

My therapist, Joy, hailed from the Philippines and was a real joy. She didn’t talk when I wanted to relax and tune out; she intuitively sought out neck and shoulder stress; and her hands were suitably strong on the back and light as air on the face. The massage pavilion was airy and comfortable, the music unobtrusive and the whole experience chilled enough for me to snooze off for a while in the middle! In my book, that’s always a sure indicator of a spa’s credentials; if you are comfortable enough to nap lightly on the massage bed, you must be in safe and secure hands.

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Amy Ma

Food & Drink + Hong Kong

Amy is a regular contributor to the South China Morning Post and Wall Street Journal amongst other publications. [...]

Pua Mench

Hong Kong

Pua is a writing and traveling enthusiast based in Hong Kong, with a weakness for all things related to the culinary arts and healing modalities, and a passion for sustainable living. [...]

Kim Inglis

Wellness Spa

Kim has been an editor and journalist for over 20 years, more than half of which has been spent in Asia. [...]

Nellie Huang

Travel Adventures + Singapore

Nellie has been published in Food & Travel magazine and Lifestyle, and is a contributing author of V!VA's Guatemala Guidebook. She writes to travel, and travels to write. [...]

Sarah Jane Evans

Travel Adventures + Borneo

She has published travel articles in Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia in publications including: Vacations and Travel magazine... [...]

Carrie Kellenberger

Photo Blog + Taiwan

She has traveled throughout Asia, finding work as a writer, editor, educator, voice over artist, photographer, and nightclub singer. [...]

Mark Lean

Kuala Lumpur

From writing about music, Mark expanded his focus to design, fashion, food and travel. In recent years, he has explored the highs and lows of Asia. [...]

Joel Quenby

Entertainment + Asia News

Joel is a British writer and journalist who's lived, worked and traveled in Southeast Asia since 2002. He's filed yarns for numerous publications...[...]

Alex Gunn

Chiang Mai

After several diverse careers as a circus performer, school teacher, psychotherapist, stunt pilot and university lecturer he can now be found poking about far flung markets, museums, restaurants and odd places in and around Chiang Mai.. [...]