Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Hear the Nature’s Roar and Snuggle on a Comfy Bed - Glamping in Bali

Try to picture yourself sitting under a million stars, chatting until the early hours, whilst toasting marshmallows over the fire pit. Imagine a lazy morning curling up under your blanket next to the glow of a fuel stove. They say camping is the nature’s way of feeding mosquitoes. Don’t let that joke scares you because glamping is the exact opposite. Glamping is recently growing around the globe and it is a form of camping that comes with utmost comfort. Worry not to find the camp space, setup tiny nylon tents and suffer in cramped sleeping bags. As the newest travelling style, glamping romantically brings you in touch with nature while allowing the 5-star hotel comfort. Glamping is all about escaping from the world into the heart of nature with no trace of modernization yet a luxurious twist.

Though Bali is known for many intriguing sites and activities one can get involved in, glamping gives another reason to believe that there is still much to learn and experience in this part of the world. There are numerous romantic places for Glamping in Bali where you will not have to give up sleeping in bed, running water or electricity. The only comfort that you will give up is the concrete walls. As they say, “Life begins when you start saying YES to experiences.”

In Ubud, Sandat Glamping Tents will take you in the middle of rice fields. As one of the most popular glamping sites in Bali, you will be offered with 5 safari-style tents with each having its private infinity-edge pool together with a terrace that leads into the forest. Lumbung cottages are there for grabs; traditional local houses with alang-alang roofs and balconies overlooking the lush green surroundings.

The interiors of the tents are amazing and fantastic. If you have always harboured the fear of the discomforts in the camping tents, then glamping here can be even more comfortable than your own home. The decorations are down to detail in order to give the occupants the real touch of Bali’s nature. Pearl chandeliers, hand painted furniture, coffee plants and white shells, you will feel at home while in the wild. Each cottage is also equipped with ceiling fan, mini fridge, i-pod docking station, internal phone service, and of course, Wi-Fi connection.

The tents are surrounded by rice fields, vast vegetation and the beautiful mother nature. Perfect seclusion has been done with bamboo screen together with vertical gardens thus giving you all the privacy you need. So when the jungle is alive at night, and surely it will, don’t worry about your safety. For the nature lovers, be ready to enjoy the melodious and at times discords sang by the night creatures. Your night will be memorable in such an elegant surrounding. With the capability to accommodate just a few people, Sandat Glamping Tents will absolutely be enjoyed by any person who loves eccentric things, activities and places. If you decide to go out from the camping site, it will take you just a 10-minute scenic drive through the rice paddies to reach Ubud Central.

Still in the same region of Ubud, hidden away in the rice fields above the Ayung River, Escape Nomade offers simplicity as the new style of luxury with eco experiences for a romantic adventure. You can spend your afternoon embracing the nature around you under a beautiful assortment of tents and live by the moments. These unique air-cooled designed tented villas combine all the natural elements with utter finesse and lend a romantic flair by taking you back in time with grandeur.

Living without walls, Escape Nomade is all about experiential satisfaction. For those who want to experience the idyllic setting under bright blue skies, the “Picnic Lunch” is hosted on a deep gorge above a mountain stream with all the picnic goodies packed in bamboo picnic baskets. Listen to the sounds of nature while seated comfortably on cushions or rugs and enjoying your healthy lunch on low rise tables to give you the epic picnic feel. “The Royal High Tea” experience begins with a sublime footbath and full body massage in a breezy covered tent pavilion next to the river. Freshly brewed tea of your choice is served on the high hills.

Relaxed and refreshed, you retire to the main tent for a divine spread of champagne and sweets. A promenade of unexpected events in the jungle await you after you reach a solitary luxury safari-style tent on the edge of the world. Bamboo flute-playing musicians serenade you, and there’s time for cocktails and canapes before your walk back to the temple at sunset.

If this is still not enough and you are keen on taking your beloved to a classic dining experience amongst the wilderness, then carry on to the dining table. The dinner is set within a tent glowing with lanterns and small shrubs. Wildflowers placed on the table along with linen and fine china. The four-course dinners are a healthy take on local flavours, and each course reflects the main colours of the temple offerings like red, green and yellow. The feeling of being close to nature is intensified as you dine listening to the wind rustling in the palm trees outside, the gentle bubbling of the river close by, and crickets chirping in the foliage.

Outstandingly stylish tents with a touch of magic, Escape Nomade experiences bring you deep into nature’s living space and encourages you to listen to the sounds of nature while spending quality time with your special one. Far more romantic than any other experience, the romance of the evening with its bamboo lights, candles and transparency all shining through and casting its shadows is a joyful rendezvous with your partner. You will find total harmony and peace, feels like a home nestled in the lap of mother nature!

If you make your way to the west part of the island, Menjangan Dynasty Resort, Beach Camp & Dive Center is the best location for those who want to experience close-to-nature ‘glamping’ with splendid underwater treat. This tented resort sits next to a blissful white-sand beach, catering to outdoor activities for the adventure enthusiasts. You are expected to enjoy the sweeping forest views of West Bali National Park. You will be treated with seamless and comfortable treatment to the protected mangrove and rainforests leaving you with awe for days.

The resort comprises Beach Camp Tents and Cliff Tent Villas, featuring the antique African-style glamping tents from robust top-quality canvas. The interiors of the tents perfectly capture the ambience of the classic safari-style with solid glass doors, natural materials and muted colours harmonised with blackened steel elements. Each room is fitted with canvas roller blinds, wardrobes, inbuilt desks and bamboo lamps. International channels and DVD player can be your alternate entertainment inside the tent. And to make you feel more at home, you can snuggle in the luxurious queen-sized bed with a spacious dressing area. To create a romantic moment with your partner, daybeds and loungers are available in the private deck outside the tent where you can appreciate the tranquillity of the surroundings.

For the vibrant underwater experience, a dive and water sports centre is provided to give you the best water excursions around Menjangan Island. This will include scuba diving, snorkelling, kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddle boarding. If you prefer land excursions, there are loads of outdoor activities to add the sparkling attachment between you and your lover. Trekking to the nearest villages, cycling and mountain biking, birdwatching along the forest, or daytrips to the nearby attractions. Menjangan Dynasty Resort, Beach Camp & Dive Center is for couples who are seeking a totally different experience.

Glamping is the newest way to disrupt your daily routine and shift your focus back to the things that matter. It is the way of celebrating a love of individualism, the nomadic life and being sustainable. After a short trip to the nature, you are expected to be more balanced and brimming with ideas due to the change in perspective! Glamping immerses you in a region’s raw beauty – every trip away is enhanced by the time of year, local topography and wildlife. It gives you a different way of viewing your world and bonding with your loved ones.

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine
 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

One Hundred Dollars for One Newborn’s life

Childbirth is one of the most beautiful creations of the universe, and it is still considered a godly gift for which every woman yearns. The ugly truth according to the WHO, about a thousand women in the world die from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, every day. In developing countries, common complications such as obstructed, preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy) or excessive bleeding can kill the mother, the child, or even both.
 
In Indonesia, the alarming mortality rates of women and babies in Indonesia is leaving everyone grieve struck. The maternal mortality rate is 228 per 100,000 live births, with infant mortality at 27 per 1,000 births, which is one of the highest in Asian nations. In Bali itself, the underlying problem for this issue is the extensive tourism which has led to high cost of living. The basic necessities of life have become so expensive that the locals tend to compromise on keeping babies, resulting on major health concerns.

Bumi Sehat Foundation International is one of non-profit organisations focusing on this issue. They believe that every individual has the right to access quality healthcare where hygienic and culturally appropriate birth right is practiced. To sustain this goal, they provide general health services, emergency care, prenatal, postpartum and birth services, and breastfeeding support; in addition, healthcare and youth education, environmental and disaster relief programs.

Their ideology is very strong, wherein each human being is an essential societal component of peace. They care for the smallest citizens on earth, the babies, thus creating peace within the mother, baby and the family one at a time. It is a branch which is slowly but progressively growing. Bumi Sehat Foundation International's mission is to reduce maternal and child morbidity and mortality as well as to support the health and wise development of communities. It is devotedly working in partnership with communities to improve quality of life.

Back in 1995, Bumi Sehat Foundation International’s founder, Robin Lim, began providing health services free of charge for pregnant women and children under the age of five in the Ubud. Today, Bumi Sehat Foundation International operates two Community Health Education and Childbirth Centres, one in Bali and another in post-tsunami Aceh. Not just restricting to provide health services, this foundation has launched many other welfare programs as well. Education through their Youth Centres, elderly wellness services, scholarship programs for future midwives, disaster relief programs are some of the programs which has been launched successfully. The last year statistics show that more than 600 new-borns peacefully into this world. It is indeed a great accomplishment.

The first Bumi Sehat Foundation International’s clinic is located in the village of Nyuh Kuning, just outside Ubud. This Community Health Clinic has two birthing rooms, a postpartum recovery area, and three general health treatment areas. They provide weekly check-ups, ongoing birth services, and 24-hour a day emergency health services. The major investment has been a fully equipped ambulance which is essential for transporting emergencies that occur in birth. The ambulance is also employed for hospital transport of motorbike accident victims, sick children or the elderly. Their Community Health Clinic conducts approximately 20,000 consultations and more than 500 births per year. A new state of the art clinic has been inaugurated in October 2016. This clinic is designed to be more than three times the size of the current clinic. The design is in concurrence to the way that midwives, doctors and nurses practice. Owing to the volatility of the region, it is earthquake resistant as well.

The team at Bumi Sehat is extremely professional. Currently they employ more than 80 full-time members which most of whom are internationally recognized midwives, who bring the new-borns to this world with utmost dedication, love and safety. The Clinics are open 24 hours a day and staffed with midwives, doctors, nurses and international volunteers from around the world. A professional office staff works behind the scenes to manage the organization’s finances to ensure responsible accounting and donation allocation.

Bumi Sehat Foundation International has generous local and international supporters. Some caring organizations and wide hearted Individuals donate generously for this noble cause. Apart from just financial contributions, each of these involved organizations and individuals have walked the extra miles to create greater awareness to improve the quality of life for babies, mothers, families and communities.

We can also become a part of this team. Our continuity support and generous donation means a lot for the live of this organisation. Donation doesn’t always come in form of cash, but can also be items for hospital needs (beds, neonatal supplies, vitamins and supplements, and general office equipment). If you want to get actively involved, by all means to enrol as a volunteer in their ongoing programmes. But more than that, at least you can always give a hand in spreading the word on social media. Any contribution we make goes a deep way in nurturing the roots of this organisation.

“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can definitely help someone”

Bumi Sehat Foundation International
+62 361 970002
Banjar Nyuh Kuning, Ubud

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Conserving Bali's Rice Paddies and Creating New Markets for Farmers

The most commonly identified issues in Bali are environmental degradation, health problems, food insecurity, identity and land loss, water scarcity and economic inequality. Due to increase in tourism, land has been sold relentlessly and development made on fertile sites. The soil in Bali is dead in the past 45 years due to no use of biomass and excessive use of chemical fertilizers. It is creating a paradox of nutritional starvation and diabetes. Decades of mono-cropping and import from foreign countries is leading to economic instability. Due to real-estate speculation, families are selling their ancestral farmland at exorbitant rates which is posing ethical challenges for Bali.

In 2012, UNESCO designated five world heritage sites in Bali. This designation recognizes paddy fields and 1000-year-old canal system known as Subak. Due to over-development and commercialisation in Bali, severe water shortage and food insecurities are being faced by the Balinese common man. Even though Bali has been the most productive “Sawah” in south-east Asia, UNESCO does not provide protection for these sites which are under the constant threat of development. Yayasan Konservasi Sawah Bali (YKSB) has implemented a democratic, community based resource management system that maximizes efficient water usage and makes Bali unparalleled in rice production.

The mission of YKSB aims at conserving and sustaining a working landscape in Bali, and to restructure agricultural production to secure greater economic equality and wellness for Bali's farmers. The vision is very clear and addresses to create new paradigm that will generate food security, food sovereignty, mitigate climate change, retain culture with economic development, so that farmers will stop selling/leasing their land for building development. Farmers will be educated on seed saving, vermiculture and financial aid given so that they return to organic farming methods. Economic opportunities for farmers will be expanded by restructuring their farming methods, connecting them directly to markets with high demands for organic produce and developing value-added products from surplus crops. Agritourism will be introduced where tourists will participate in the farming activities and learn about Balinese lifestyle. On the other hand, this will provide a direct source of income to the farmers. To conserve the Sawah, a U.S. land trust concept will be applied where annuities will be paid to multigenerational farmers to not develop their land. Ongoing land stewardship will be carried on where lands will be under continuous monitoring and best land practices made more available to farmers. The vision is top-notch and covers all dimensions to ensure complete development of “Sawah” and Subak.

The pilot project is on the outskirts of Ubud, Gianyar. This Subak was chosen as it is close to Ubud, which is famous for tourism and hence is threatened. The pilot project “Seeing is Believing” aims to replicate the US Land Trust Model while ensuring that the culture, religion and legal framework of Bali is prioritized. Phase 1 has been a hit with international volunteers from all age participating in the field work and the Mangkok rice hitting the economic boom. YKSB receives no income from the sale of its Mangkok rice, farmers receive 100% from its sale. Phase 2 is in process where the aim is to restore the habitat to health by adding compost and biomass. Growing of heritage rice will continue. In addition, organic vegetables will also be grown. In Phase 3, the price paid to each farmer to not sell their lands will be fixed. Conservation of property will be guaranteed and financial structuring like opening of bank accounts for farmers will be done. Phase 4 will be about monitoring, enforcing and stewardship of the land.

The board consists of highly qualified Individuals and very successful entrepreneurs who have dedicated their time and efforts to protect and conserve Bali. Their efforts have already put a permanent smile on the faces of Balinese people. News channels like CNN, Jakarta Post and Bali TV have regularly covered news addressing the issues of the Subak and “Sawah”. This has spread a lot of awareness on the current scenario of Bali. The involvement of YKSB with its energetic and super-efficient team has ensured that the mission and vision are all aligned with the implementation activities.

Without a doubt, YKSB’s world-class model will ensure the protection of thousands of Balinese families. The successful beginning of the pilot program has enforced this trust and further belief. With this being a hit, future programs will be replicated on the same model of land conservation. The program has already gained momentum with an effective response from the Balinese government. YKSB seeks out the support of individuals to make this program 100% successful. All the generous contributions will go directly to 135 family farms. You can pledge to donate any amount, and for every pledge you make you will receive small gift hampers that will remind you of the contribution you are making to make Bali more beautiful and the stability of Balinese families. The feel good factor is an added bonus. Be a part of this movement and earn the blessings of thousands of Balinese families.

Credit to Yayasan Konservasi Sawah Bali
 
This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine
 

Friday, April 21, 2017

April's Kids Discounts & Deals

A lot of monthly promotional subscriptions are available for kids nowadays. You could check out the options and maybe select some as gifts or you can use them yourself. This year April’s promotion is featuring dining discounts, spa & dental treatments for kids, as well as entrance packages to the amusement parks and kids’ clubs. These special offers create an experiential gift to the kids which makes it all the more enjoyable for them.

Entrance Ticket
This park is home to 1,000 birds from 250 different species. If you are a bird lover or simply just a bird watcher, you would love this place. Nestled inside a two-hectare tropical garden, you can find any kind of bird from parrots, peacocks, hornbills, cranes, pelicans, flamingos and even the rarest ones Bali Starling and the exotic Birds of Paradise. Open daily from 9AM to 5PM, Bali Bird Park offers special admission fee for kids. Children between 2 – 12 years old will get 50% off adult price, which already includes all bird shows and feeding experiences.

As one of the best zoos in Asia Pacific, Bali Zoo offers kids not just as a recreational park but also a fun education centre on wildlife. Their April’s promotion focuses on Zookeeper for Kids. Starting from IDR 110,000, the package includes Zoo entrance, Tour Guides (2 persons), Explore Aviary, Lemur Keeper Talk, Lorry Keeper Talk, Animal Presentation, Petting Zoo, Lunch, Explore Kampung Sumatra, Shuttle Bus, and zoovenir. This package is only valid for children under 12 years old.


Dining
Proposing spectacular views as well as stunning interiors/exteriors of each restaurant, dining at Conrad Bali boasts a wealth of dining experiences. You can choose to dine with a Japanese Classics & Innovations touch, Full flavoured fare & cool ocean breezes, or Delightful Asian Selections. Enjoy free meals for kids under 12 years old in any of the restaurants. This includes breakfast, lunch and dinner. Please note that any one of the parent must be present at the restaurant with the kids.


This restaurant at Four Season Resort Jimbaran is not all about dining in style for adults, but it can also a perfect spot for kids to play around. Viewing the wide curve of Jimbaran Bay, Sundara is now launching a new 3-course menu for kids. The idea is to provide healthy, full meal for kids which packed in bento box. There are six options which inspired from variety of meals reflecting each of its name; Oceans, The Farm, The Field, The Village, The City and Roma. To celebrate this new menu, Sundara offers 20% off for the new Kids' Menu.

Serving healthy cuisine in the heart of Seminyak, Frestro & Bar features a captivating glass frontage at the entrance. The dining area is quite comfortable for the little ones to move around, and it comes with great atmosphere. Offering no chemicals and addictive in the menu makes the restaurant a perfect selection for lunch with kids. Special promotion for kids IDR 75,000+ which includes pasta, pizza, grill and complimentary juice or soft drink selections.


Spa
Offering an oasis of serenity in the busiest street of Kuta, this spa at Anvaya Resort will take you to the ultimate sanctuary for spa and beauty rituals. The environment of the spa is unique in its expression as it immingle cultural and native values with technology to provide deluxe in elegant way. The spa renders numerous treatments, messages, baths in the environ that most suits the treatment or message thus augmenting the efficacy of the treatment. It has over 30 rituals ranging from massages and body scrubs to facials, manicures and pedicures, perfect leisure time for mothers and daughters. This month promotion, kids range from 4 – 10 years old will get 10% off.

The spa has all the pre-requisite paraphernalia with vast range of auxiliary services to be provided in dazzling environment and the services being doled out by the proficient professionals. Offering almost all kind of treatments for your needs, it also excels in providing oil and non-oil therapy in various dimensions. Now, how about combining a pampering package with play date. For every book of a 60-minute Soothing Warm Stone Massage at Body Temple Spa, your kid will receive a 2-hour entrance to Cubby House Kids Club.

Spa at Hard Rock Hotel won’t let the adults have all the fun. The little ones can get spoiled with a 45-minute yummy fruit facial of Tutti Frutti treatment only for IDR 350,000++, or a 25-minute foot rub with melted strawberry lotion for IDR 250,000++. If they want the whole kit and caboodle, opt for The Sweet Shop 2-hour treatment for IDR 800,000++. They will get a full treatment from top to toe with a facial, manicure, pedicure and a mini foot massage, all with a lip-smacking juice and snack to make life super sweet!

Dental
It is always better to make a dental visit early to get the better chance of preventing dental problems as well as helping your child to have healthy teeth. The paediatric dentist of Ultimo specialises in taking care of children from infancy to the teenage years. The treatment includes preventive & restorative, oral hygiene & diet counselling, pit and fissure sealant, topical fluoride application, aesthetic restoration, preventive resin restoration, colourful restoration, stainless steel crown restoration, root canal treatment for children, space management treatment & early orthodontic treatment. Kids below 12 years old will receive 10% off all dental treatments. This promotion is valid until June 2017.

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine
 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Learning Balinese Dance at Tender Age

Dance is the most beautiful form of expressing yourself. It brings out the best in you and sets you free. It is an art well-practiced and appreciated around the globe. Balinese dance is one such enticing dance form. Popular all over the world for its elegance and colourful nature, this dance form is very unique, dynamic and highly stylized. A dancer must be able to move every part of their body, from head to toe, and for that reason, Balinese dance is easy to pick up at a tender age.

Apart from its uniqueness, Balinese dance is also closely connected to religious rituals. Dances are often performed at ceremonies, typically as part of dramas, and most involve the Balinese version of the Hindu Ramayana epic. Traditional Balinese dance forms are passed on to boys and girls at a very young age, and training is often rigorous and disciplined. So, it is advisable to impart Balinese dancing coaching at a young age so that kids learn this art form with finesse and grow deeply connected with it.

There are places in Bali to get your kids enrolled for Balinese dance class. In an introduction session, normally the experienced teachers gently guide the kids to take their first Balinese dance steps. The integration of body movements, hand and facial gestures is what makes this dance so appealing to watch. The teachers also explain the meanings behind the individual postures and gestures that comprise the basics of the dance. It is a wonderful way to expand the kid’s knowledge of the Bali-Hindu culture while at the same time enjoying and having fun.

Some resorts in Bali host dance demonstration classes for kids. In Jimbaran, Ayana Resort and Spa is conducted a class in the open air viewing the ocean wide. The kids are expected to get the basics lesson of Pendet Dance. It is originally a dance of worship which was exhibited at many temples. This dance symbolises the welcoming of the gods fall into the natural world. The dance is a lot about the varied facial expressions and symbolized the purity of the soul. Fresh flowers are handed to the kids while teaching, to invoke the true devotion of the almighty. Classes are conducted for an hour every day. The timings and fees varies according to the batch size.

Still in the same location, Balinese dance workshop is also available at Ganesha Cultural Centre of Four Seasons Jimbaran every Monday and Wednesday from 3PM to 4PM. Your little ones will get traditional dance lesson almost as soon as they can walk. At first, they can observe the impressive skills of children from Jimbaran village, and if they fancy trying it, they can join in. This class is free of charge for staying guests, and a small fee will apply for public. At Ganesha Cultural Centre, your kids will get the opportunity to personally meet and learn from Bali’s talented artists, who are hand-picked and invited to share their knowledge and skills. This programme represents the evolution of Ganesha Gallery as an independent fine art gallery. This art space has been refurbished to create an inspiring place for people and artists to connect and interact.

Not far from Jimbaran, Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa conducts Balinese dance classes every Friday from 10AM to 11AM at Lagoon Pool Bale where the highly-experienced staff teaches the kids patiently all the intricacies of Balinese dance forms, giving them a close look of Bali’s cultural and artistic tradition. The Barong dance is loved by kids where they are dressed up as dragons, monsters and other mythical creatures.



In Canggu, Hotel Tugu specialises in teaching kids the basics of Balinese dance before going into specific styles. The class is held every Sunday from 3PM to 4PM and costs IDR 100,000 per session. Local kids from the Canggu neighbourhood can join the class for free. The skilled students will have the chance to perform what they learn in the class on Bale Agung Garuda stage.


Most of the workshops will not ask the kids to bring or wear anything in particular. However, it is recommended to wear lose and comfortable clothes as the postures involve a lot of stretching and turning.  Costumes will be provided to get the real feel of Balinese dance but only after a few classes once they learn the basics. Sometimes the workshop starts with a little presentation of culture, heritage and tradition just to give an overview of the background of the dance forms.

The classes are pretty interactive, making them a fun and quick-learning process. Learning Balinese dance is a special takeaway, and the kids are bound to enjoy thoroughly. As someone rightly said, “There are shortcuts to happiness. Dancing is one of them.”

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine
 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Romantic Cruise to Nusa Lembongan

Bali is without a doubt one of the best wedding destinations in the world. However, it is where and how to get there is the most crucial decision that will lead to either a memorable or disaster honeymoon ever. A romantic cruise honeymoon getaway to Bali’s neighboring islands can be an option. There are a number of companies in Bali offering honeymoon cruise packages leading to Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida and the Gillis Islands. As much as there is a lot to enjoy and appreciate in these islands, the main romance must always be accorded while you are on the sail.

romantic cruise to nusa lembonganIdeally, most of the cruise packages available start with a breakfast before set out for the waters. This is more so the case in luxury cruises. And of course, for the honeymooners, you can expect to go the luxury way. Inside these vessels is fine comfort and sophistication. All the amenities are luxurious, starting with the washrooms, all the way to the ambience of the catering tables. In a normal vessel, there should be some tables for different groups with the possibility of offering a provision for bigger group eating on a single table. Enjoy your romantic cruise with drinks and music that blends with the stunning sea views. And because it is your honeymoon, everything is tailor-made as your request. Special décor, custom prepared cakes, flower arrangements together with other delightful ways are provided for anyone to give their significant other a surprise of their lives. Remember that you really want to pour your heart to your loved one during this cruise. Be assured of getting the real surprise of your life.

Lembongan is a village that anyone would easily spend the whole day in, admiring and appreciating the on goings in an ideal island village. The village has so much in store for you to do and see, yet it is such a small island indeed. Doing a village tour is a must-as this, imprints in your mind the best sense of what an ideal village life looks like on tropical islands.


Catching with the peaceful and quiet early morning ceremonies of Nusa Lembongan ensures you start your day on a high note. And along the main street of the island are a number of shops with some of them selling fresh fruits and super strong coffee, which you can give it a try with your loved one as you head downwards to the seaweed farms. Seaweed farming can easily be concluded as the hardest job within the island as it is tide reliant.

So many things can be done or seen on this island. This includes diving, visiting the underground village house and sailing between the islands. You can also just enjoy the stunning beach views. If you opt for luxury packages, your day’s trip will include total access to private beach. For accommodation, staying at Hai Tide Beach Resort can be another journey to meet people to exchange stories of this beautiful island. In the evening, enjoy the best part by the poolside as you get ready to be in touch with a romantic diner in the hotel. A pool-side romantic dinner is a great option for the two of you and the experience is one worth spending some extra ducks on.

Don’t let dreams be dreams. And when it comes to expressing love, the sky is the limit. To have a luxury experience doesn’t always end up with high budget that will hurt your pocket. You can create your own luxury moment with your own style.

An important note to remember for safety and comfort purposes, when having such cruises, wear as limited jewelry as possible, wear tight tropical clothes, head wear, swimwear, and sunshade and apply sunscreen & UV protection. Also be in flip-flops or sandals for wet landing.

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine
 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Livelihood in the Eastern Bali

Eastern Bali is where you can come closest to the Balinese lifestyle and local people. This is the region from where people draw out their livelihoods thus accounting for the maximum employment opportunities in Bali. Famous for the lush green paddies, eastern Bali is the core of producing fruits, vegetables, nuts, rice and all such items which not only fill the stomachs and hearts of many.

People in eastern Bali has gone beyond the obvious and converted what little they have into something which we all are in awe of today. The livelihood activities of Bali have given rise to the humongous tourism and placed Bali on the global map.

Where to go
Eastern Bali is known for its beautiful coffee plantations. Hundreds of years ago, Dutch planters had recognized Bali as a perfect growing climate for the heirloom cacao and they moved cacao beans onto Bali soil. Eventually, the trees spread informally and evolved into a unique, high quality cocoa. The Kintamani region is still considered as Bali’s primary coffee growing region. Most of Bali’s coffee is grown by small local farmers organized in Subak Abian. Subak originates from rice production and is an organization where farmers within the same trade join forces and cooperate about the technical, social and religious aspects related to farming. One of the characteristics of Bali coffee is the processing method. Wet processing is the traditional way of coffee processing in Bali, while dry processing is the most common method on the other part of Indonesia.

Balinese soil is very favourable for growing cashew nuts, owing to the fertility of soil. In Ban Village, Karangasem, the cashew growing community has created huge employment opportunities for women in eastern Bali. These cashews were earlier exported to India or Vietnam for processing. But now a lot of cashew filtering and processing units are also being setup in Bali. These units employ about 300 staff to crack, pry, peel, roast and bag the cashews. Now the cashew farmers are able to sell ready-to-eat cashews at a much higher rate.

Arak workshops also create huge working opportunities in eastern Bali, and Sidemen Village is a well-known area for Arak producing. Arak is the traditional Balinese liquor that is derived from the palm tree. Arak is clear and colourless, high in alcohol and has a very sharp, biting taste. It owes its popularity to the powerful taste and cheap rate. These workshops take you through a tour of how Arak is produced and how it should be consumed so that the bitterness does not hit hard.

Bali is renowned world-wide for its unique and intricate textiles. The Balinese women are considered to be the guardians of the secret knowledge of textiles, and like the ingredients for certain dyes and a rich compendium of sacred motifs. Bali’s rarest textile can be found in the village of Tenganan, known for its sophisticated weavings. The Geringsing of Tenganan are produced by what is known as the double ikat method, a technique in which resist patterns are applied to both warp and weft threads before weaving, so that the final pattern appears only on completion. The most striking feature of all Geringsing is their muted colouring – combining red and reddish-brown tones, eggshell and dark blue or black violet. Double Ikat is a technique in which both warp and the weft are dyed with a specific pattern prior to stringing on the loom. This extremely demanding and time-consuming process requires a lot of skill and employs skilled craftsmen only.

Amed is a vibrant fishing village where the daily life has not changed in decades. This area is responsible for employing hundreds of fishermen. More than 80 percent of the people in Amed rely on fishing. Traditional fishing boats line the beach and various sized motor boats are moored to the shore. The local people are very friendly, and most of the times they welcome visitors into their homes to see their day-to-day activities. Each morning before sunrise the local fisherman leaves on their jukung boats to catch mackerel in the Lombok Straights. The fisherman usually returns early morning, while the women and children are waited to collect the fish and take it to the markets. Mahi-Mahi, Rainbow Runner, Spanish Markel, Travelly, Tuna are some of the common Balinese catches.

Step outside a little bit, Lombok is known for its golden ‘South-Seas’ cultured pearls. Lombok produces some of the best South Sea Pearls in the world with over 24 active pearl farms. Pinctada Margaritifera, the black-lip pearl oyster, exhibits a variety of colour morphs ranging from the commoner reds and browns to greens, bronzes and creams. Hyriopsis Schlegeli is freshwater mussels which are common throughout the world, but those used for pearl cultivation are mainly found in freshwater rivers, lakes and ponds. These pearls are unique and of the finest quality. Most of Lombok’s pearl farms are located along the south west coast of the island, from Sekotong Timur to Bangko-Bangko, Sekotong Tengah and Lembar. At present, Lombok exports over 700 kilograms of pearls per year. It not only puts Bali in the global map, but provides jobs to a lot of people along the coastlines.

What to do
For the underwater lovers, there are several breathtaking diving sites like Paradise Reef, Kubu, Lipah Bay and Waterloo. The east of Bali underwater attraction is mainly known for the US Liberty, a world war II wreck that lies close to Tulamben. Shipwreck diving enables sport divers to visit the past. Each wreck is considered a time capsule into history waiting to be explored. There are many rare animals living in the small reefs and sandy areas close to the wreck. The excellent diving in this area makes it well worth an extended visit, especially for photographers interested in critter diving.  You can see mimic octopus, boxer crabs, eagle ray or a couple black tip reef sharks, a big barracuda or Spanish mackerel.

Eastern Bali has stunning beaches for the beachgoers. Bias Tugel Beach and Blue Lagoon are beautiful white sandy beaches near Padang Bai port. The clean water here allows you to swim or snorkel to see the beautifully coloured coral reefs and various ornamental fish. Jemeluk Bay in Amed is another snorkelling spot. The offshore waters offer good snorkelling with live coral in shallow waters. The coral reef is right up to the shore and is very gorgeous.

For all those who just cannot get enough of the ocean, Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan beaches offer sea kayaking activity. You can paddle along the coast taking in the beautiful landscape, including the cliffs and natural caves. Also experience the beautiful sunny mornings and afternoons paddling along the shoreline of Mushroom Bay and Lembongan Island. Depending on the tides, you might experience flat water or some manageable waves.

Telaga Waja river hosts a variety of water rafting activities for the adventure seekers. The action starts when you launch into an 9.6 kilometres river stretch, set to a backdrop of wild unspoiled rainforest, towering gorges and magnificent rice paddy terraces. Test your adrenaline and feel the sensation of how the thrill of conquering the rapids of the wild river.

One of the most adventurous things to do during a trip to East Bali is to go hiking the volcanoes. Mount Agung and Mount Batur provide hiking trails that will challenge your core stamina. Mount Agung is the most favourite one among the hikers. Before or during the hiking, you can also camp a day to get the real sense of being a true traveller. Imagine watching the starry skies, trading stories over the campfire and enjoy the solitude all around.

East Bali will give you loads of options for sight-seeing, adventure sports as well as brings you very close to Balinese way of life. With so many livelihood activities around you, there is no scope to miss out understanding the Balinese tradition and culture. If you keenly observe the local people, you will not fail to notice how hardworking and sincere these people are and how their occupation has given rise to such wonderful tourism options.

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine
 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Cruising through Ho Chi Minh’s colourful streets and waterways in style

The hotel that once and for all re-defined Vietnam as a destination for the glitterati and the one-percent is popping the champagne bottle on how best to maneuver Saigon after dusk. A one-of-a-kind package by The Reverie Saigon, ‘Cruising Saigon’ dispatches hotel guests with a personal butler in tow on a private two-hour sunset cruise on the Saigon River, then switches gears at sundown for a city-chic adventure on a chauffeured vintage Vespa.

The cruise includes a picnic hamper, brimming with sweets and savories from a choice of five menus to choose from – including selections such as potato cream soup, smoked duck & egg sandwiches, cherry compote and traditional Vietnamese banh mi – all exquisitely prepared by the hotel’s culinary team and served by one of its butlers, and paired with a bottle of Taittinger champagne.

Leaving from a riverside pier near the hotel, the sunset cruise by Les Rives plies the storied waterway through the late afternoon, skirting giant rafts of water hyacinth and myriad river traffic, from sampans to ocean-going vessels.

The boat’s captain may elect to steer up lesser travelled canals and tributaries, though the main event is the river itself, lined with a colourful array of structures illustrative of Saigon’s past, present and future – from the landmark Dragon Wharf built in 1863 and the monumental Gustav Eiffel-designed ‘Rainbow Bridge’ of the same era, to the modern residential enclaves rapidly sprouting at the water’s edge and the corrugated tin-roofed shacks that intermingle between them.

As the sun sets over the city’s rapidly changing skyline, Cruising Saigon abandons waterways for roadways for a night-time adventure right out of La Dolce Vita. Part night excursion, part street food fest, the ‘Saigon After Dark’ excursion by Vespa Adventures lets travellers experience the city’s nightlife the way most locals do, and from the back of a vintage Vespa scooter. The evening begins with a six o’clock pick-up at The Reverie Saigon and a chauffeured transit to the first stop, Café Zoom, to meet one’s guide and kick-off the evening with casual drinks and appetisers.

From there, the tour ventures to a popular local, street-side eatery, cruises through Chinatown and then into the busy streets and alleys of District 4 for street-side snacks, including banh xeo (savoury Vietnamese pancakes) and more cold drinks. Along the way, the four-hour tour also makes a stop at a tucked-away coffee house for a taste of live Vietnamese music, before concluding at a lively club with a local cover band.

The Cruising Saigon package also includes round-trip airport transfers via choice of a Mercedes-Benz S-class or BMW 7 series, breakfast daily at Café Cardinal, as well as access to the lofty Reverie Lounge on the hotel’s uppermost floors.

The Reverie Saigon
A member of The Leading Hotels of the World, The Reverie Saigon offers an astonishing hotel experience, showcasing extravagant, unapologetic European opulence in a storied Asian setting. The latest luxury addition to the country’s flourishing hotel scene features 286 rooms and suites alongside 89 fully furnished serviced apartments, all of which are among the largest in the city and feature incomparable views of the winding Saigon River and the city skyline.

Renowned Italian brands furnished the rooms and suites of both the hotel and residence, and set the ambiance with exquisite and, in some cases, one-of-a-kind pieces. The property features five distinctive food and beverage outlets, a 1,200-square-metre spa & fitness centre, an expansive outdoor swimming pool and 16 versatile and elegantly decorated function spaces.

The hotel and residences are located in the 164-metre tall Times Square building, a mixed-use development, which includes eight storeys of prime office space and the showrooms of some of the same high-end Italian furniture brands whose pieces are featured throughout the hotel.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Honeymoon Guide for the Newlywed

It is important for one to indulge and explore some of the good honeymoon packages in Bali. One such package is the Jimbaran Honeymoon package which happens to be one of the best packages offered in the southern part of the island. This is a package that will make your wedding to be the greatest day to be reckoned in your life.

Bali offers a mix of atmosphere, culture, adventure and above all fun, such a perfect destination for honeymooners. However, without a clear plan, you may be spoilt of choice thus ending up with a confused honeymoon. With a well-engineered honeymoon guide, you have the guarantee that your entire time in Bali is great indeed.

Honeymoon package at The Leaf Jimbaran starts with a honeymoon cake to welcome you to the new era of love, affection and romance. A two-night stay of total privacy at Spearmint is something that you need during honeymoon. This also comes with a mouthwatering breakfast for two in the signature Sattvic Restaurant or in the solitude of your villa with a honeymoon theme setup. A romantic 4-course-dinner at Cage of Cilantro rooftop bar will create a special attachment with you and your partner. This includes a glass of selected cocktail to enjoy with the best view of sunset.

No honeymoon can be complete without spending time at the beach, and access to beach activities can be the climax of your honeymoon in style. You will get free shuttle from and to the famous Jimbaran Beach. If you need to travel a bit further, you can also use free shuttle service to the Discovery Mall Shopping Center in Kuta and souvenirs hunting around Nusa Dua area. After a long day outside, a 90-minute Balinese massage for you and the loved one is something that you need to make the day with a perfect end.

After a long and tiresome though interesting wedding day, why not get a proper honeymoon guide that will enable you to relax as you indulge and explore not only Bali, but also your newly rubber stamped love and affectionate life.