Thursday, September 29, 2016

Paon Restaurant at Swiss-Belhotel Petitenget

Located at the heart of Petitenget, Paon Restaurant at Swiss-belhotel Petitenget is truly a force to be reckoned with. It is an international hotel that many have classified as deserving a five-star rating. Just 15 minutes away from the busiest spot of Seminyak, the hotel sets itself up as a convenient location for many tourists and guests. One particular feature that people find appealing at the hotel is Paon Restaurant.

Having all kind of food on offer, you can always choose to take the wonderful dinner buffet at the restaurant or sit quietly by the pool side enjoying a quiet dinner. The restaurant is famous for its mouth-watering Rijsttafel menu, which is a delicacy for many people in Indonesia. Imagine a meal where you get to taste all of your favourite sources and yet get to pay for the price of one. The meal consists of chicken, beef, fish, curry, and sweets. It really does not get any more delicious than this. It is a great way to taste different Indonesian foods at the same time, and not get to eat so much. It is the perfect meal for any tourist who does not have time to taste different foods on different days. 

The portions served are just enough to fill you, yet small enough to allow you taste everything else on the table. The food is full of so many delicious flavours. The Rijstaffel meal is simply a bowl of rice that is served with many other small dishes of spicy, hot, cold and peppery side dishes. The side dishes are to be eaten with rice which is regarded as the main course. The Paon Rijstaffel meal is served with side dishes of chicken, fish and beef. What a combination. To top it all up, sweets are served as desert, which are the perfect ending to a perfect meal. 

By Sue Ann Klosterman (Guest Writer)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Luxly's Top 10 Adrenaline Watersport in Bali

Bali is surrounded by crystal blue sea water, and therefore, water activities in Bali become an important part of the island experience. If you are a thrill seeker and exhilarating explorer, have a look at this list of best adrenaline pumping water sports Luxly has selected for you. Get ready to push out of your comfort zone and discover a true meaning of having fun. These water sports will appeal to your unique Bali adventure.

We place surfing on the top of the list because this sport still remains as the prime Bali water sports. The waves in this island are challenging, which make them a perfect fit between fun and precarious that will pump up your adrenaline to its maximum limit. For the first timer, Bali Pro Surf School provides a fun and safe surfing school program with professional surfer to guide you. This is one of a-must-try activities in Bali.

This new sort of extreme sport combines wake boarding with surfing. It is like normal surfing with a kite added to the equation, which allows surfers to fly over those hard waves that normally not easy to beat. When you combine kite flying with another sport, it is going to be an explosive ride on the water.

This is a new style of water activity that combines surfing and jet skiing. Wakeboarding is using cable system that will pull you on the water in such speed that can be adjusted to the individual needs and desires of each user. To maximize the fun, there are deliberately placed obstacles in the water, so you can go for a smooth ride, or for an adventure-packed wakeboard run! Bali Wake Park is the only operator in Indonesia that offer this activity, makes wakeboarding as one of the best things to do in Bali.

Fly Boarding
If you keen for something a bit unusual to trigger a little bit of adrenaline, you might want to try fly boarding. This is one of water activities in Bali that allows you to actually fly across Bali coastline. All you have to do is strap on the kit and off you go. The devices attached to your body can move you in the direction that you wish and take you up in a stand position, all aimed at ensuring your maximum satisfaction while experiencing Bali water sports.

Fly high over Bali's blue sea water and get a clear picture of the island makes parasailing is another option for adrenaline junkies. The excitement of being pulled by a speed boat to enjoy the birds-eye view of the coastal area is incredible. Having the aquamarine waters and white sandy beaches under your feet, plus the palm trees swaying in the warm tropical breeze, makes this water sport an unforgettable moment for your holiday. Worry not of your safety as the professional parasailing guide will ensure you with the high safety equipment and short briefing before you fly off.

Swim with Sharks
How do you feel about swimming with sharks? Of course, some of you will think twice to be around these deadly predators. However, Bali Sharks offers not just the possibility to be nose to nose with sharks, but also a safe and personal interaction with sharks. As a conservation nursery, Bali Sharks will give you a better understanding about protecting sharks and allowing their populations to recover. If you say you are an adrenaline junkie, you might not want to miss this!

The powerful machine will take you to dive a few feet under water before breach the water surface and launch the entire boat a few meters in the air. Using a supercharged engine that will put you in super speed, this hydrodynamics boat will certainly get your heart pumping, making it one of the best things to do in Bali. For those who wants to jump in the air while gliding over Bali’s blue waters, take your time to experience the most delightful water activity adventure and live in a unique moment full of adrenaline.

Diving in a Submarine
How about exploring deeper into the Indian Ocean in a Submarine? Odyssey Submarine will give you an epic Bali water sports experience of admiring the underwater life, something that you don't do on a daily basis. It is a great way to learn more about new findings under the sea, enjoying the beauty of coral reef, fish, and other sea creatures. Getting to see the fish from the biggest to the smallest in their natural habitat is unlike any other experience. You will also get the chance to see the different types of fish that you have read about. Definitely something you can brag about to friends. 

Sea Walking
If you ever had a dream of walking at the bottom of the ocean, then this is your chance to make it real. Bali Seawalker Diving provides an underwater adventure opportunity to literally walk beneath the sea and see the life down there. Luxly Team had recently experienced this activity, and we are confident to say that sea walking is the easiest way to explore and discover biodiversity of Bali’s aquatic life. Worry not about your safety, as professional instructors and operators will be at your side all the way until the end of the trip. 

Stand-Up Paddle
The stand-up paddle is another way to enjoy the waves. These paddle boards are specially crafted to support your weight, and their large size makes it easy for you to cruise through the waves safely at the speed that you desire. Here, you get to control your movement and work out a little. Larger than the regular surf board, the paddles allow you to ride over the equally larger swells. It sounds a little complicated at the beginning, but it only needs to get used to and you will have another cool way to enjoy the best Bali activities.

Referring to the activities above, Bali is certainly full of a wide range of water activities that you surely don't want to miss. Doing activities like this will help you to enjoy your time in Bali, and also create some fun-filled memories that you will remember for years ahead. Do one of these water activities stands out above the rest for you? Or, have you already experienced some of the activities that you want to share with us? If we missed a water activity that you think deserve to make our list, we would love to hear from you. Luxly Team aims to help you make the most of your holidays, and we will be more than happy to help you in making decision for your unique Bali adventure. Contact us should you need any additional information, or have questions about the above list, or any other activities that you want to experience in Bali.

This article is also published online at Luxly Singapore & Luxly Indonesia

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

September's Dining Fiesta

Now, let’s see what the island has on this month’s dining table. From new opening in Tuban to new setup menu from the culinary team of some restaurants. How about pairing wine with seafood for your dinner? Or, perhaps anyone fancy a 400-gram beef burger for lunch? If that is too much for your taste buds, maybe a tender and juicy steak would treat you just fine. We have covered everything for everyone on this month.

Arang Sate Bar brings traditional satay to Ubud
Situated in central Ubud but discreetly set back from the busy main road of Ubud, Arang Sate Bar offers a gastronomic twist on traditional satay by using larger cuts of different types of meat, fish, shellfish and vegetarian options. The Classic Sate selections on the menu feature traditional takes on regional Indonesian satay, including Maduranese duck served with sweet soy peanut sauce, roasted shredded coconut and rice cake; Balinese chicken sate served with green beans, sprouts, coconut urap salad, peanut sauce and rice cake; and Spiced Balinese escargot sate served with watercress, peanut sauce and rice cake. The idea behind these dishes is to experience some of Indonesia’s critical flavours and present them in a way that enhances the experience of that particular dish. The combination of Arang’s dishes and Dutch-era inspired interior décor will bring Indonesia’s cultural culinary heritage in Ubud.

Bebek Bengil opens new branch at Tuban
Open since 1990, starting the first branch in Ubud, Bebek Bengil continues to expand their business by announcing the newest branch in Tuban. Located 5 minutes from the International Bali Airport, this branch is expected to cater to the needs of people who crave for some crispy ducks but do not have the time to go to Ubud and/or those who are leaving Bali with some yummy ducks as a souvenir.
The ambience of Bebek Bengil Tuban is simple and comfortable, and therefore makes it perfect for meetings, birthday parties or casual togetherness with friends and loved ones. Ready to serve up to more than 400 people at once, guests will be treated with the authentic Balinese delicacy. Recommended dish is, of course, the famous crispy duck served with Balinese vegetables and sambal matah.

All you can Steak at The Butchers Club Steakhouse
Coming with a custom-built wood grill, made out of a wheel crank system to regulate temperature and charring during the cooking process, The Butchers Club Steakhouse offers a nice selection of starters, high quality steaks and a wide variety of seafood, all prepared in a variety way. The entry of the restaurant is marked by a working butchery filled with steaks and seafood, which also operates as a retail butcher’s shop that sells sausages, steaks, chickens, fish and homemade condiments.
For guests who are keen to dine-in can reserve a spot in the patio area, or for those who want to be a part of the process making meals can blend with the staff at the open galley-style kitchen centred around the grill. The dining area has an industrial-chic style full of repurposed items, making The Butchers Club Steakhouse is a unique experience for foodies. Having a big bar built into a cargo container is a new level of culinary experience. 

Four Hand Collaboration at CasCades 
If you are a big fan of Mexican food, Cascades at Viceory Ubud will be hosting the first Mexican – European – Indonesian Fusion, Four Hand Collaboration with award winning and multifaceted chef, Thierry Blouet of Café des Artistes, Mexico. Having so many experiences working at Michelin Restaurants, Chef Thierry Blouet has made Café des Artistes an icon in Puerto Vallarta over the past 25 years. He is also active as the Regional Balli of Chaine des Rotissuers, a reputable French-originated gastronomy society.
With 16 years’ experience working in and establishing restaurants in France, Netherlands, Belgium, Vietnam and Bali, CasCades’ executive chef Nic Vanderbeeken builds the reputation of CasCades at Viceroy Bali hotel. These double talents will collaborate to present canapés and six courses with wine pairing that will not only seduce your taste buds, but will delightfully overwhelming all of your senses.

Double melted cheddar of Deus Monster Burger
If you are a biker or just into bikes and surfing, dining at Deus Ex Machina will feast your eyes and stomach at the same time. Combining custom retro motorcycles, surfboards and fine dining you will get a mouth-watering Pan Asian Cuisine. Deus café built their menu straight from the heart, the same way they build motorcycles and surfboards. One of the fun part dining at Deus is that you can order all the dishes in half size, so you can have as many dishes as you can on the table to share. Or if you are not into sharing, then try their “Deus Monster Burger”, a 400-gram beef burger with double melted cheddar, caramelized onion, lettuce, tomatoes, bacon, fried egg and Dijon mayonnaise. That will treat well your taste buds.

Indonesian and Italian taste in one dish at La Cucina Restaurant
With a strong taste of Italy, this signature restaurant of Discovery Kartika Plaza Hotel will take your dining journey into something memorable. Overlooking the hotel’s pool and kids play area as well as the famous Kuta Beach, you will be treated well with pastas and thin-crust pizzas directly from the open wood-fired oven. Set in a lovely garden setting, it is recommended to dine under the stars in such a pleasant environment. Since the beach is only a few walks away from the dining table, makes it perfect for sunset dinners. If you are looking for something different from your daily meals, try their homemade prawn Ravioli with a spinach filling and fragrant saffron sauce, or Lagsana Rendang. Guaranteed will tickle your taste buds.

New taste experience at Faculty Kitchen & Bar
Inspired by the ideas of experimentation, new formulas and innovation, Faculty Kitchen & Bar offers a creation by imparting a personal twist to well-known classics like marinating, infusing, smoking, pickling and dehydrating. Their culinary team is continuously making a new culinary experience with fresh ingredients, hoping not just to feast your eyes but also to experience a unique taste in a casual upscale atmosphere. For the cocktail lovers, a various choices of alcohol are ready to give you a new tasting venture. Choices of goods from BURO Retail are sitting under the same roof of the restaurant, as well as the best coffee of L/S Coffee Studio, bringing you a one-stop destination of everything.

Discover the art of Japanese cuisine with HonZen 
Ayana Resort and Spa Bali invites you to gather for a live performance around their latest Teppanyaki table at Honzen. Highlighting a lively sensual dining performance by the chef, you can enjoy deep fried softshell crab cooked in an original blend of spices or a signature Korean seafood, Bibimpap. Using creative flair, traditional Japanese cooking techniques on a hotplate grill, and a choice high quality ingredients, guests can delight in a feast that is both culinary and visual. As you move forward to the main course, be prepared to be amazed by the chef’s theatrical show right before your eyes, that include fiery displays and samurai-style spinning, banging and flipping of the razor sharp spatula. The food is cooked at a high heat and with only a few drops of oil, making it as equally entertaining as the delicious flavours. HonZEN offers an interactive dining experience, which an absolute must-try if you happen to be around Jimbaran area.

Amazing Josper Grill for juicy steak at Miura Pintxos Bar and Grill
Located a few walks from Seminyak Beach on Camplung Tanduk, the restaurant features an alfresco setting in a two-level rotunda with its top terrace overlooking the street and Grandmas Hotel’s pool. The food is highlighting cuisines of Spain, with Basque Pintxos as the most recommended dish. Recently, they have announced to public a fresh selection of barbeque and grill cooked in their Josper, an elegant combination of a grill and an oven in one machine. This fabulous cooking grill ensures none of the natural moisture or flavour escapes from the food cooked in it. Its ability to reach up to 500 degrees Celsius, makes it possible to produce a tender and juicy steak at the perfection.

Pairing seafood with wines for your weekend getaway
Located in the heart of where the crowd is, Big Fish Bar & Grill offers refreshingly light and healthy meal options, fresh seafood from the daily market fish, and premium Australian beef. How about pairing seafood with wines in an open kitchen dining spot? A glass of Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay will pair wonderfully with fish. Plenty of red and sparkling wines also complement a variety of seafood, from slipper lobster to prawn.
This signature restaurant of The Stones Hotel is inviting foodies to a weekend of seafood and wine. Join in every Saturday or Sunday after sunset for Chef’s selection of fresh seafood and Australian Wine in live cooking stations and prepared in Mediterranean style, only for your dining pleasure.

Pork BBQ Rib with the taste of Indian Ocean
What is the better way to spend or end the day besides the comfort of the endless ocean view from the beach? Sunday Beach Club at The Ungasan Resort is safely tucked away below some breathtaking and imposing cliffs, offering not just a spectacular view of the Indian Ocean but also a bucket full of mouthwatering dishes to satisfy your discerning palate.
On the menu, they have Rolled Gado Gado served with peanuts, Pork money bag served with sweat chili, and Tomato Bocconcini skewers served with pesto & balsamic reduction. While these assorted authentic fusion canapes sound perfect for lunch, you may also want to try Pork BBQ Rib for dinner, served in grill stew with crispy rings and herbal honey. You can choose your best dining spots in the air-conditioned comfort, poolside or oceanfront lawn.

This article is published on the September issue of NOW! Bali Magazine

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Total solitude in the midst of beauty

Contrary to popular belief, Bali is not just about its beaches. Its water bodies are also equally spectacular. Its rivers have produced a number of beautiful and worth visiting waterfalls. Speaking about waterfall, the first place pops up in most of people’s agenda would be the usual touristy Gitgit Waterfall. But there are so many scenic waterfalls around this island, and Aling Aling Waterfall is one of them. 

Located in northern Bali, Aling-Aling Waterfall is 11 kilometres from Singaraja with less than 20 minutes’ drive, while getting from Denpasar will take up to 3 hours. The official location of the waterfall is in Sambangan Village, Buleleng regency. Arriving from Denpasar requires the use of the main highway towards Singaraja. At the junction towards the entrance of Singaraja, turn left to head to Sukasada terminal. Continue along the path to reach Sambangan Village. Signposts (with waterfall banners) will guide you for the remaining approximately 3 kilometres drive to the parking area of Aling Aling Waterfall. As the waterfall is seldom frequented by tourists, it is advisable to seek the help of locals or hire an experienced driver who knows how to get there. 

Aling-Aling Waterfall can be visited by all, but young children and the elderly are advised against participating in the water activities and cliff jumping for their own safety. Those intending to participate in the water activities should bring a change of attire and/or swimsuit. Also, you may need to prepare yourself for a tiring walk down hundreds of stone steps about 400 metres to reach the waterfall.

While the descent down the many steps was tiring, but it was definitely well worth the effort. I was greeted with a magnificent view of the waterfall, 35 metres high falling from a steep cliff and surrounded by lush greenery as well as rice fields. The water emanating from the falls was crystal clear, while at the same time the air was cool and refreshing, with a hint of the scent of the surrounding mountain fog.

However, what probably stands out most about Aling Aling Waterfall is that visitors will notice how the falls are separated into two adjacent cascading falls at the top, with the right falls having a much larger discharge and speed than the one on the left. As a result of the greater velocity and volume of water, the thunderous sound of the right falls crashing into the basin fills your ears, creating an impressive juxtaposition with the surrounding serenity of nature that is amplified by the lack of visitors. Interestingly, for budding photographers or those with good photography skills, the waterfall is also a good photo opportunity precisely because its separation into two separate falls with varying speeds can produce stunning photographs using the correct camera settings.

The fun does not stop with the spectacular view of the fall and its surroundings. Adventure junkies will enjoy the water activities, including jumping off of a cliff at a height of 5, 10 or 15 metres. The adrenaline rush that you will attain from the jump is nothing short of what you had expected. However, for those who are afraid of heights can also opt to slide down a natural water slide created by the natural process of erosion. It promises much fun, and yet is not as unnerving as jumping off a cliff. Other water activities include swimming and bathing in the waterfall basin at the base of the 4-metre-deep waterfall. Don't feel like immersing your entire body in water? Just put your hands in the water and have fun playing and splashing with the fresh and cool water. However, be wary of the slippery rocks surrounding you to prevent any injuries.

If you are not exhausted from the walk and the activities, continue to explore the whole area. Aling Aling Waterfall is only one of the seven waterfalls in the area, with it being the highest. The other waterfalls all within walking distance from Aling Aling are Pucuk, Kembar, Kroya, Canging, Dedari and Cemara Waterfalls. I highly recommend incorporating the visit to Aling Aling with an organised trek as I did, because you get to explore the surrounding area which gives you an insight into quintessential Bali villagers' life. A long trek would take you to all the waterfalls.  

During the hike, I was afforded sweeping views of the surrounding landscape of rice fields and cocoa, coffee and clove plantations. Besides, I had the chance to interact with friendly local people and farmers, allowing me to get a glimpse into the traditional lifestyle that they lead. In fact, so beautiful is the place that many call it "the secret garden of Sambangan".

All in all, Aling Aling Waterfall is an oasis of unspoiled nature, one that will take your breath away. Moreover, you will be pleased to note that you are supporting the locals who work hard to maintain the pristine beauty of Sambangan Village with your eco-tourism efforts. A waterfall is, to many people, a spectacular product of the fury of nature. Therefore, schedule your next holiday destination to visit a place that will bring peace to your soul.

This article is published on September issue of NOW! Bali Magazine

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Bali’s Up North Trekking

Not many of us know what it actually means to be on a vacation. Is it just about booking a room in a luxurious resort, having meals at fancy restaurant, sitting by the beach with a beer in hand or just enrolling for a guided day tour with some travel agency? There is a lot more than this. Vacation is a time to set your mind free, plunge into soulful thinking, absorbing the beauty of nature and letting go off all inhibitions. The place can be far away from home, or can just be a spot in your hometown. The essence is to explore and be adventurous to the core, something which we are deprived of in our mundane life.
Bali is blessed to have all that one could wish for. Gorgeous mountains, volcanoes, breath-taking crater lakes, dense green jungles, lush rice fields, spectacular beaches, fairytale-like waterfalls and the list goes on. Speaking about mountains, Mount Batur Sunrise trek is a very famous one in Bali. The trek usually starts at 2 AM in the morning. You need to walk around 4 km up to the hills. There are few huts on the top where you can wait till the sunrises. If you are lucky and the sky is clear, you will see millions of stars. Enjoy an unforgettable sunrise from the top of an active volcano. The sun rises behind Mount Abang and Mount Agung, and on clear days it is also possible to see Mount Rinjani in Lombok. You can enjoy the bird-eye view of Bali. Lake Batur is covered in fog and looks like a dream. On your way down you will come across few hot springs where you can soothe your tired muscles. If you are on a guided tour, the guide will definitely take you to the coffee plantations or Bali Agro-tourism at the foothills of Mount Batur where you can sample the world’s most expensive “Coffee Luwak” and have a hearty breakfast.
Mount Agung is believed to be the home of the God. You can choose the starting point from either Pasar Agung Temple or Besakih Temple, both of which covers a distance of 5 km on an average. If you choose Pasar Agung, then you can enjoy the view of craters and if you choose Besakih Temple, then the trekking commences through the dense jungle of Besakih. No matter which route you take, the view is destined to be mind-blowing. You can see small vents letting out smoke from the volcanoes. This is the moment where you fell the closest to nature. For both these treks, you need to be physically fit and is not recommended for family and kids. Also do carry water and woolen clothes.
Unlike Mount Batur, Caldera Batur not only lets you witness stunning sunrise overlooking Mount Rinjani but also gives you the opportunity to explore the rural and real countryside of Bali. Mount Abang is the highest point on the rim of the Batur caldera. Enjoy the scenic view of Mount Batur, Lake Batur, and Mount Agung form up here. Caldera Batur trekking will lead you to the one of the Bali Aga village called Trunyan Village 6 km for Ubud and famous for its cemetery.
The jungle of Tamblingan and Buyan are famous for jungle treks. These rainforests are dense but not dangerous. Apart from the famous lakes and waterfalls keep an eye open for the smaller waterfalls gushing out form the rocks. Do not miss out on using a dug-out canoe for travelling on the lakes. Trek in to the tropical mountain rain forest near the lake village of Bedugul, where flora and fauna thrive. You can encounter the wide variety of flora thriving in this unique environment: orchids, ferns, palms, fungi, vines, creepers, strangling figs and ground cover.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Dream Journey in Maldives

“I don’t want to be tied with someone. I want to be set free with someone…” This is an ideology fast setting in among couples all over the world. Most of them have bucket list of places they need to travel alone or with their beloved. One such have-to-go place is Maldives, a place where God has secured the best of everything. Famous for its beaches, blue lagoons and extensive reefs, Maldives has become very popular among the couples and is considered as one of the dream honeymoon destinations. This exquisite island sets your spirit free and gives you the amazing combination to enjoy nature as well as to spend the most romantic moments of your life.
Maldives is one of the most stunning nation surrounded by Indian Ocean. It is a tropical nation and comprises of 26 ring-shaped atolls made up of more than 1,000 coral islands. The small picturesque islands with dense tropical vegetation including shrubs, flowering plants and tall coconut palms and surrounded by dazzlingly white beaches, sparkling lagoons exhibiting all shades of blue and green has acclaimed Maldives to be “The Paradise on Earth”.

Being a tropical island, Maldives gives visitors a lot of option for water activities. Water sports such as diving, fishing, wakeboarding and windsurfing, snorkelling, scuba diving are the facilities which can be availed at most resorts. Morning fishing in Maldives is one of the most commonly experienced modes of sport. When the first rays of the tropical sunrise touch the sapphire waters of the Indian Ocean, the local Dhoni vessels set sail with fishing enthusiasts on board. Tourists enjoy the astounding marine vistas as they set off in the early hours of the morning. The Maldivian waters teem with fish and visitors can hope to catch unique specimens like barracuda, wahoo, rainbow fish, sailfish, swordfish, marlin and yellow fin tuna. The Bluetribe Moofushi diving centre is a famous one offering the best experience in terms of water sports activities, such as windsurfing, diving, snorkelling, kayaking, riding on catamarans/pedal boats, and many more activities. Moofushi is also known for the excursions where you can spot whale sharks, manta rays and a lot of fish from the shore.
When in Maldives, you should definitely opt for a one-day island tour to Fua Mulaku, Kudahuvadhoo, Mirihi Islands or Alimatha Island. Apart from soaking in the sapphire waters or sunbathing in the crystalline sands, you will find exotic tropical fruits and vegetables in the trips. You will come across unbelievably beautiful coral reefs of vivid colours found nowhere else. One such place is Banana Reef, which is the most sought out diving site in the Maldives. It is called Banana Reef because it has the shape of a banana that extends 300 meters from north to south. The major feature of the reef is its marine life, where you can find Napoleon Wrasse, Moray Eels and the rare Bannerfish. Manta Point is a diving area for the adventurous couples where you can enjoy seeing large numbers of manta rays being fed and cleaned by wrasses. You can swim with them and feed them plankton.
For the philosophical tourists, the Hukuru Miskiiy, also known as the Old Friday Mosque is a place to admire. It is the oldest mosque that can be found on the island. The interior of the mosque is superb, and its coral stone walls with carvings of different kinds of patterns and Arabic scripts is truly remarkable. It also houses tombs that have been erected for the memory of sultans, heroes and nobles. The calm and quiet place would be great for people to discover the Islamic culture the Maldivians follow. For the history admirers, the National Museum of Maldives gives a lot to explore. The building houses a lot of different kinds of historical artefacts that reflect the history of the country. The original museum was the old 3-story museum that is the only remaining part of the Maldivian Royal Palace. Another famous tourist attraction is the Male Fish Market where you can find almost any kind of fish. The market is very vibrant and colourful and is a great place to watch the life of Maldivian people up-close.
Maldivian nightlife tends to be on the calm side. Most of the resorts organise musical nights within the premises, near the ocean. It is an unforgettable experience listening to heavenly music and dancing away with your beloved beneath the stars, soaking in the beauty of ocean. Still, if you want to party the hard way, you can visit the chic Fifteen Below at W Retreat and Spa, the unique underwater Subsix nightclub at Per Aquum Niyama Resort or the Reethi Beach Resort, which enjoys a reputation of a socialites' magnet.
What good is a honeymoon without sharing tasty meals with your partner. Explore the Maldivian cuisine including skipjack tuna, little tunney, yellowfin tuna, frigate tuna, bigeye scad, wahoo and mahi-mahi. Coconuts are a major part of many dishes in Maldives and can be served in grated form, as milk or as coconut oil which is used to deep fry foods. Visitors should also make sure to eat in the cafes, known locally as hotau.
Honeymoon is the most special time of our life, and we definitely want to make each moment memorable. So while planning a honeymoon getaway, booking the appropriate hotel/resort is the most important task. Maldives provides plenty of beautiful resorts to choose from. These high-end resorts are dedicated for those couples who do not mind going slightly over-budget and choose to indulge only in the best.
Palm Beach Resort & Spa is located in Lhaviyani Atoll, in the island of Madhiriguraidhoo reachable in 40-minute from Male International Airport via seaplane transfer. Surrounded by a 4 kilometres sandy beach, this resort brags of a pool bar, beach bar, coffee shop and a romantic, candle light dinner themed restaurants giving the guests no reason to step out of the resort. It has luxurious villas, suites with by the ocean with either sunset or sunrise view choice.
Adaaran Hudhuranfushi offers a holiday experience filled with sun and sea on Maldives’s Lhohifushi Island. The main attraction of this resort is the Water bungalows that allow unregulated access to the ocean waters and private sun decks. Wake up to the splashing of the morning tides and fall asleep listening to the gentle murmur of the waves all around you. Welcome to the contemporary tropical stay. Adaaran is about 19 kilometres from Male International Airport. From there, it is 30 minutes by speedboat to the island.
Anantara Dhigu offers stylish beachfront and over-water villas in the South Male Atoll where the beach goes around the entire island. Choose to stay in an over water pool villa, sunrise villa or a sunset villa. Savour your taste buds in the Maldivian, Thai and Japanese cuisine served in the finest restaurants here. Do not miss out on the Fresh seafood dishes served at Fuddan Fusion Grill. Anantara Dhigu is a 35-minute speedboat ride from Male International Airport.
Baros Maldives Resort is a one-minute walk from the beach. Apart from the stunning villa to stay in, the guests are provided with unique destination dining options. Dine in style at the ‘Sandbank” surrounded by the turquoise water or enjoy a breakfast on the “Wooden Piano Deck” amidst the ocean. You could also sail away with your beloved on “Nooma” a traditional wooden sailing Dhoni to enjoy cocktails and dinner while watching the sunset. Baros Maldives is a 25-minute speedboat ride from Male International Airport.  

Adaaran Prestige Vadoo is another luxurious resort in Vadoo, which is famous for its bio-luminescent beaches. The glowing water in the dark is no less than a fairy-tale. This resort has villas enclosed in the Indian Ocean. Apart from the marvellous diving, snorkelling, spa and dining experiences, this resort provides the “Renewal of Vows”. Indulge in the best marriage ceremony exquisitely designed for you followed by a dreamy night with your partner and wake to champagne and lobsters. Adaaran Prestige Vadoo is 8 kilometres from Male International Airport, which is about 15 minutes by speedboat.
Anantara Veli Maldives Resort is a paradise enveloped in soft white sands and turquoise waters. Here, time is a luxury which is well spent in leisure and tranquillity. It houses only water bungalows leaving you with no other option than to spend each moment living in the ocean. Some amazing services provided by this resort are a memorable night at the movies where there are private cinema screenings amidst the coconut palms, and comfortable beanbags to sink into while keeping the sand between your toes, or taking a yoga class in the pavilion overlooking the Indian Ocean, guaranteed to uplift and inspire you and last. But the most romantic experience with your partner would be when you step into an aromatic floral bath filled with blends of lavender, lime and rosewood and enjoy the toast of Veuve Clicquot Champagne, decadent chocolate dipped fruits with gold leaves. Located within the South Male Atoll, Anantara Veli Maldives is a 35-minute speedboat ride from Male International Airport.
Maldives is one place which guarantees an experience of a life time for honeymooners. The romantic ambience just sets you in the mood and you cannot help but be awestruck with all the beauty around. For people who are in search of a peaceful place where natural reserves are carefully preserved, staying options are advanced yet exotic, where people are welcomed with open hearts and their happiness and safety is never compromised, then Maldives is the place to be. As a quote says, “Sky above your head, sand beneath your feet... life is good.” You are bound to create the best memories of your life on this dream journey in Maldives.

Bali Online Editor - Bali Editor - Bali Writer

Monday, September 19, 2016

Experiencing culture from a gastronomic point of view

Balinese cooking class is an experience of great satisfaction and self-gratification. The focus is not limited to the food only, but also the process and history behind it. You will be surprised to know that there's so much history embedded within each meal you are about to cook. Each spice has a story, each herb has a fragrance, and when each of them is combined with meats and vegetables, they turn into a medley of culture and history. Each dish you create is a testament to the oral history of the cook.

Bumbu Bali
Aiming to discover the spiced flavours of Bali’s virtually unknown cuisine, cooking class at Bumbu Bali offers a fascinating introduction into the exotic ingredients and specific culinary heritage of Bali. It provides a valuable insight into the mix techniques of food preparation and the cooking style used in Bali.

Before the class starts, a small group of twelve persons will be taken to the local markets to purchase the ingredients, including spices, meat, chicken, and fresh seafood. This will be followed by a hearty Balinese breakfast at the restaurant. The participants will then spend a very informative morning in a specially designed kitchen, grinding a minimum of 20 spices, in small quantities though. Thatched roofed pavilions and a traditionally crafted village setup gives you the feeling of cooking in paradise. You will discover and feel the peacefulness of a harmonic Balinese home.
A lot of Balinese cooking revolves around tossing, stirring and steaming the dishes, which will be taught to you in five hours. Each enticing recipe prepared is accompanied by precise step-by-step instructions for easy reference. Your day will be filled with the bright flavours of lemon grass and kaffir lime, red chilies and the mild sweetness of garlic. The exquisite taste of coconut cream and the royal of dark palm sugars in the dishes take the cooking to a whole new level. Throughout the class, there are also pop-quizzes about handy cooking techniques.
After five most informative and entertaining hours in the kitchen, as the final task, it is time to enjoy your own creation – the mouth-watering dishes which the participants have prepared for the last few hours. A strong of hot Balinese coffee and some sweets will company you during the lunch.
The classes are hosted by Heinz von Holzen, a Swiss born chef, Restaurant proprietor and author of five highly acclaimed cookbooks. With him, you will embark on the best Balinese culinary journey. There are three types of classes conducted, which are “Normal Class”, “Vegan Class”, and “Extra Day Class”, of which each consists of six preparations. Please be advised that no politics talks are allowed during the cooking process. It will ruin the taste.

Specialising in mainly Javanese and Balinese cuisine, the cooking class in Hotel Tugu introduces guests to the ancient Indonesian gastronomy and indigenous cooking techniques. The outstanding hands-on kitchen experience allows you to experience the exotic richness of old Indonesian culture, dining and cooking altogether.
You can choose up to 10 dishes from the menu, depending on your choice of Javanese and Balinese cuisine. Feel free to tell the culinary team of Hotel Tugu if you have any specific dish to learn, as they will be very happy to accommodate it. The class will start early in the morning to a nearby local market where you can buy your own spices, vegetables and meat. This is a unique experience, as you are introduced to Indonesian culture where you are allowed to communicate and bargain with the local shopkeepers to buy all that is needed. You are then brought back to the hotel outdoor kitchen.
The classes of a maximum ten persons are held by Iboe Soelastri, the Indonesian chef who began her journey of cooking since four years old. Amazingly, she has been devoting her life with Hotel Tugu for decades and had cooked for the past 3 presidents of Indonesia. Therefore, without a doubt, she has a bucket of stories to share, not just limited to her cooking experiences but also about Indonesian culture.
The cooking is done in a very traditional way, using stone grinders to blend spices and woks, steamers, and wood-fire terracotta stoves to prepare the food. You will be introduced to the old tradition of Indonesian gastronomy, specifically the authentic Javanese and Balinese cuisine. You are then offered a tasty lunch of some of the chef specialties and your own cooking.
Located in Jimbaran Bay, side by side with the local fishing community in the area, cooking class in InterContinental Bali Resort offers a unique opportunity to learn about the famous Balinese Seafood dishes. The class starts with an early tour to the Kedonganan Fish Market, which only a cosy 15-minute drive from the resort. The chef will guide you through the entire process of purchasing supplies for the class. One of the benefits in this part for the participants is to know how to select the fresh and good fish to cook, as there will be a lot of tips are given for free. The small group of a minimum 5 people is then taken to the nearby spice market to choose from an array of fresh herbs, fruits, vegetables and aromatic spices. 

The cooking process begins around 12 noon in the open kitchen of Bella Cucina. This is a hands-on cooking class where you will be taught to cook four Balinese seafood dishes using the ingredients you purchased earlier. The selected and famous dishes are Crab Soup, Squid Lawar (a traditional Balinese salad), Pepes Udang (steamed prawns wrapped in banana leaf), and Fish. All the dishes here are seafood centric, which is the specialty of this cooking class. At around 2PM you can relax in the opulent indoor dining room of Bella Cucina and sample your delicious preparations. You are also allowed to pack and/or take-away your lunch, in case you want to share it with your loved ones at home. A recipe book will be handed over at the end of the class for your future referrals.

Maya Ubud Resort 
This resort has its own organic spice and herb garden where you will be taken on an informative tour before the class. After spending a leisure time at the garden, you will then be escorted to the village style kitchen where the cooking class commences. The cook will teach you the simple but tastiest of five Balinese dishes. Some of the local condiments used in most dishes are inger, kerupuk, laos, lemon basil, lemongrass, lime, nutmeg, shallots, turmeric and soy sauce. It is the unique blend of these quite common spices which lends a mouth-watering taste to the dishes. But there are also a few secret spices, like alam leaf, kencur and tamarind pulp which offer inimitable taste sensations.
The Balinese chefs also share their concepts of food and small cooking tips that will be very useful for your own benefit. The cooking class at Maya Ubud is both fun and informative. The motivational part of the class comes later on where you actually have lunch eating what you have prepared all this while. You will also receive an email of the recipes that you have prepared. 

Cooking at The Breezes allows you to learn about Balinese cooking in a luxurious way. There is one appointed head-chef and a lot of helpers in the kitchen. So you can either prepare the whole meal on your own or the helpers can assist you while you just watch them cooking and interact with them. The class is conducted in small lively groups. The staff is extremely friendly and always keen to answer all of your queries.
The chef will introduce the basic ingredients prepared on the table, like ginger, lemongrass, and other exotic spices that will be incorporated in the food. You can choose to prepare an entire 8-course-meal or just learn to make some quick and tasty Balinese starters. The friendly instructors will walk you through each classic dish and show you how to replicate with fresh produce and fragrant spices. Most of the dishes are laid on or wrapped in fresh banana leaves which lend an exquisite taste and aroma.

This article is published on September issue of NOW! Bali Magazine 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Weekend Getaway to Phuket

The “Land of Smiles”, Thailand is a holiday destination where you can have it all. Enchanting turquoise beaches, gorgeous islands, diverse wildlife, glittering Buddhist temples, lip-smacking cuisine, Luxury accommodations and the very hospitable Thai people. Because of the diverse offerings that Thailand makes to its tourist, this island is one of the most popular vacation spots in South East Asia. Among all the different things to do and places to stay in Phuket for all type of visitors, in this article, I have listed some of the most suitable luxury hotels for families and couples looking for a memorable and comfortable holidays at the best price.

Phuket is one of the popular destinations in Thailand. It has everything from party spots, sightseeing, nightlife, and loads of street shopping as well as street food. In the last few years, Phuket has been gaining high popularity among tourists. Formerly known as ‘Thalang’ which means cape, Phuket contains of two words; ‘phu’ meaning hill and ‘ket’ meaning jewel, and therefore it is now known as “The Pearl of Andaman”.
There are tons of tourist spots in Phuket, but you need to plan well and prioritize the spots, in case you are on a short trip of 3 to 5 days. A well-planned itinerary helps you to see the places of your interest and also keeps the budget in check. I have prepared you with suggestions and recommendations to make your holiday in Phuket with family or partner not just memorable, but also affordable.
Traveling with family or partner is really fun, and Phuket really delivers the true meaning of being fun with the things to do for families and couples. You can start by renting the famous Thailand ride “Tuk-Tuk” for the whole day to visit places in Phuket. Please bear in mind that most of the regular taxis prefer to operate from the airport to the hotel, and vice versa. For that reason, besides hotel taxis or motor-taxis, “Tuk-Tuk” is an optional transportation around the island. 

One most famous destination to visit from Phuket is Phi Phi Island. The island consists of 6 islands, out of which the famous ones are normally covered in a tour. Phi Phi Don, Phi Phi Leh with Maya Bay, which featured in the movie “The Beach”, and the “James Bond” Island are one of the most preferred islands to visit. Phi Phi Islands are famous for its limestone cliffs rising sheer out of the emerald green waters, white powdery beaches and its many coral reefs.
Next up, there is The Promthep Cape, which offers an irresistible view for those who are keen for a good old-fashioned sunset photo. Another such spot is the Karon or Kata viewpoint, which means “Hill of the three beaches”. You can view Kata Noi Beach, Karon Beach and Koo Poo or The Crab Island form this spot. The best way to enjoy this view would be going on an elephant trek through the hills and forest of Phuket, and then view the beaches atop the hill while sitting on the elephant. 

Another must-see tourist spot in Phuket is the “Big Buddha”. It is a 45-meter-tall white marble statue and is visible from anywhere in the Southern part of Phuket. The huge Buddha statue gives you a greater than life feeling. Follow this up with a visit to “Wat Chalong”, which is the largest Buddhist temple in Phuket. Offer your prayers with candles and lotus, before view the walls and ceilings which are decorated with beautiful paintings that illustrate the life of Buddha.
What good is a visit to Phuket if you have not witnessed the world class spectacular performance of Siam Niramit? Spending an evening to watch this dazzling show is a must. The Siam Niramit show boasts an 11-meter proscenium which is certified by Guinness World of Records as the world's highest stage. The show comprises of royal processions, sword dances, bamboo dance, boxing matches, realistic rainfall, thunder and lightning. Huge ship, elephants with state-of-the-art special effects will make you wonder whether it is actually a stage show.
Another interesting place to visit would be Phuket’s “Trickeye Museum”. It is an interactive 3D painting exhibition offering amazing photo opportunities, perfect place to go if you are traveling with children. Needless to say, Phuket has so many shopping destinations, like Ranong Road, Phuket Weekend market, Patong market, and many more. 

I have featured some of the high-end accommodation in the island, specifically for families and couples. This information will help you choose the best place to stay according to your needs, while at the same time narrowing down the selection among the large number of luxury hotels that Phuket has. 

Starting from the west coast, The Centara Blue Marine Resort & Spa is located in Patong Beach. It is designed in Thai contemporary Style and offers four distinct room categories. Rooms and Suites offer both Thai and Western amenities. The beautiful Patong beach is famous for its aquamarine water, and the ultimate party destination “the Bangla road” is just around the corner. The Phuket Fantasea, a nighttime cultural park, is also within a convenient reach from the resort, making The Centara Blue Marine Resort & Spa a perfect place for families.

If you are around Nang Thong Beach, you could stay at Centara Seaview Resort. While it is perfectly framed in the emerald blue waters of the Andaman Sea and a lush mountainous background, the resort offers a wide range of accommodation options ranging from comfortable garden view rooms to relaxing pool villas, along with a stunning beach. This tranquil spot is, however, only minutes away from the center of Patong, with its endless leisure attractions, shopping opportunities, and amazing nightlife. For travelers interested in restaurants, diving or sunsets, Nang Thong Beach is just a few walks away. The tranquil location, the facilities and easy access make this resort an ideal place to stay for families.

If you are looking for a place closer to the beach, Twinpalms Resort is only 100-meter distance from Surin Beach, which is perfect for couples who are looking for soothing tranquility of a secluded getaway. The area is famous for its beautiful stretches of golden tropical sand, making it a romantic spot to spend valuable time with your lover. The resort is surrounded by palms and features a private terrace facing the lagoon pool with garden view. For sure, by now you can imagine how lovely your holiday is going to be staying at Twinpalms Resort. 

If you are keen for a mix of lavish gardens, clear sapphire-blue water and a sparkling white sandy beach, then The Haven Khao Lak is a place to be. Situated on the famous Khuk Khak Beach, the resort offers a private beach, very suitable for a long romantic walk at sunset. For honeymooners, the Oceanfront Jacuzzi villa is highly recommended to embrace the perfect ambience. 

Phuket holds a special place in everyone for its amazing hospitality, natural splendor and unique culture. It is a perfect destination if you are traveling with family or your loved one. At the end of the day, the most important thing in travel is not simply just about where you want to go, but it is also about how to spend most of your valuable time with the special people next to you.