A Different View of Bali
Article by Ruth Palmer.
For me, it is the outstanding natural beauty and fascinating culture of Bali. I am not one for knock-off shopping or spending my time with other Aussies drinking in Kuta. Don’t get me wrong, I have done it on a girl’s trip and enjoyed it. However, it is the peace, the cultural experience and the hidden gems that I keep returning for.
My most recent trip to Bali took me to the Bali Eco Stay resort, which is a 2.5 hour drive from Denpasar on the southern slopes of Mt Batukaru, in central Bali, Indonesia.
This particular trip held a special quest for me. I took my good friend Krissy along, who is a photographer at Darwin Photography Professionals.
While it was awesome to have her along to take fantastic photos, the real reason was because she had gotten to a point where she hated Bali. It took a lot of convincing to get her to agree to come with. For me, the aim of this trip was to get her to appreciate and fall in love with the place that isn’t just a party destination for bogans.
We arrived at Bali Eco Stay at around 3am and were awoken by a view of sheer beauty. Overlooking working rice paddies, we embraced the fresh air and felt instantly rejuvenated.
At the working rice paddy field on the property , we met with our host John, an Aussie expat, who gave us a run-down of the resort and the activities we could try during our 5 day stay. From that point, we knew we wanted to try everything available and get as much in as possible.
Bali Eco Stay employs all its staff from the local villages and activities in and around the resort are all offered by locals.
We had no idea that we would end up in villager’s private homes, making coconut oil from scratch!
A stand-out point was how genuinely friendly and happy the staff were. Everyone was always smiling and more than happy to accommodate our needs. You could feel their enjoyment and their love of their working environment, and with all fresh produce and eco products, how could you not?
We were lucky to have our visit coincide with a Temple Birthday Celebration in a village of 22 families.We were warmly welcomed, joined in on prayer and were blessed at the temple. The amount of effort and planning undertaken for this day was incredible and reinforced to both Krissy and myself just how much we take for granted in our daily lives at home.
The activities that Krissy and I participated in during our stay included:
Balinese Cooking Class
This class was undertaken with the girls at the restaurant of the Eco Stay. We cooked our night’s dinner and learnt how to pair local ingredients and use all flavours to their full potential. All products are organic and locally grown on the property.
Flute making with Kakek using bamboo
Kakek, warmly known as Grandfather, spent a couple of days with us making flutes and baskets from bamboo. I think he hurried us along with the flutes towards the end, as you can imagine our excitement in playing a finished a product (BADLY).
Kakek’s patience and generous nature had us totally at ease while we watched and learned. He didn’t speak a word of English but we could understand him completely by his facial expressions and movements.
Making traditional coconut oil for cooking
This was done in the local village of Kanciana. We went to the home of a local Balinese couple and made coconut oil from scratch. It took a good couple of hours to make and process and was very rewarding.
In the same home we had a session on how to make offerings – we made a selection of offerings that were then used for the Temple’s First Birthday – this was one of the most intricate things I have ever done! The work and effort that goes into the offerings and the reasons behind why they have certain materials in them was a fascinating insight into local culture.
There were numerous walks around the Eco Stay and through the village. I quickly learnt Krissy has no sense of direction, and had we listened to her, who knows where we would have ended up!
To be quite honest, Bali Eco Stay really will change the way you think about eco-tourism. As we took a wander through rice fields and food forests, swam and relaxed under the waterfall and in the mountain stream, we were in absolute astonishment of how much this amazing place really does stand out among the rest. It is one of the most beautiful, peaceful and welcoming places I have ever stayed.
After our 5 days of reflection, appreciation and no TV, Krissy and I had a new vision and appreciation for those who make do with a lot less than us and still have a smile on their face.
We felt healthier, rejuvenated and ready to get home to see our children and hit the ground running back to work.
My quest for Krissy to love Bali again was a success. She was so taken by the place and in absolute awe of the beauty that surrounded us.
If you have the chance to come here, prepare to be surrounded by nature and the sounds of nature and be willing to open your heart to the Balinese as they open their arms to welcome you.
If you want to experience Bali like it used to be then please head to the Eco Stay, you will not be disappointed, John and his family will be more than happy to make you stay the best you have ever had.The Blundstone Family – The Masters behind this creation!
All images taken by Krissy from Darwin Photography Professionals