ISLAND OF THE GODS SECRETS
"The Bali of twenty years ago does not exist anymore." This is the phrase we have heard repeatedly, like a broken disc, since we moved to live here. Indeed, the very strong expansion of the real estate market, particularly in the southeastern part of the island, has helped to wipe out many rice paddy and small warung (the typical Indonesian restaurants), which in the late 1980s faced Sea, in the then village of Kuta.
Actually, however, we are talking about a very restricted area, considering the size of the island, which is big like about two-thirds of Corsica. Thirty kilometers separate, in fact, the town of Canggu, famous among surfers for the black volcanic beach of Echo Beach, from the transparent waters of the white-washed beach of Geger in Nusa Dua. And it's only in these thirty miles that focuses the so-called Tourist Zone, where you will find a host of restaurants, chains of hotels, shops, spa and trendy venues.
Bali, in the last decade, it has become a pole for the nightlife of Southeast Asia, so that every night, it's easy to attend an event or a theme party to stay awake until dawn, cradled from international DJ music, in one of the Seminyak's Discos, the island's most glamorous town. But Bali lifestyle of twenty years ago has not disappeared, in fact, his heart beats still strong, especially in March, when Nyepi is celebrated, the day of silence. A unique event in the world during which the island disappears for twenty-four hours from the face of the Earth.
Our journey begins west of Canggu, where we rent a scooter that will allow us to lose in the villages that dotted the coast, up to Jembrana, outside the tourist routes. Here, every year, during the dry season, which runs from May to November, the Makepung, a race of hundreds of water buffaloes. Along the way we stop at Seseh, a fishing village, to admire the small Tanah Lot, a temple on the sea very similar to the renowned brother, but still keeping its charm untouched, without stalls or street vendors. In this part of the island it is easy to watch a roosters's fight or decide to stroll in one of the many traditional markets where you can taste tropical fruits growing spontaneously in the jungle with a few cents.
Going to north to Pemuteran at this point is a must. Menjangan Island, with its colorful coral reef, is only an hour's boat ride away. The time to photograph a couple of turtles and swim in its crystal clear waters, surrounded by murines, and it is time to return to the south coast; But not before, crossed the wonderful Pupuan rice fileds, on the slopes of Batukaru, one of the three active volcanoes on the island, where the beautiful temple of Purah Luhur awaits us.
Returning to Canggu, we stay for a few days in one of the many B & Bs that have been born in recent years. Angie, the hostess, welcomes us to his villa, Casalia Home, furnished in a traditional style, where we enjoyed a glass of Australian sauvignon blanc, under his Balé, before meeting Akar, an Indonesian healer specializing in ancient Shaolin curative technique.
The culture of the "good well-being" is in fact one of the strong points of the island, a kaleidoscope of pleasures ranging from the art of massage of Jari Menari's specialists (which literally means dancing fingers), one of the premier Spa in the world , to the modern techniques of Hypnotherapy, practiced by an internationally renowned professional, such as Kartika Alexandra; To pass on to the delight of the palate, delighted by the excellent cuisine of the Archipelago that amazes us with the spicy aroma of the typical Satè Ayam (chicken skewers) accompanied by a sweet soy sauce, green lemons and peanuts, which we taste in the Brand new Café 45 at Villa Ombak in Cemagi.
And this is perhaps the secret formula that makes Bali a unique paradise of its kind. A blend of contrasts, a small dot, randomly thrown, between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, where serenely live the comfort offered by globalization and the tradition passed down from generation to generation. A magic charm stunning. From the beautiful girls who move their fingers slowly, at the cadence of Gamelan, the traditional orchestra; to the rugged smile of the peasants, in the ricefileds terrace of Jatiluwih. From the fierce gaze of Tenganan warriors, where men fight with the leaves of Pandanus, in honor of the God of War; to the light of the candles, which light up around the bonfire, where dancers gather before Kecak, one of the typical Balinese dances. From the fish, which are empitied at dawn by typical boats in the Jimbaran market; to the song of a flock of birds, which follow the Agung profile as you walk on the coral beach of Nusa Lembongan. This is Bali we discovered. This is the Island of Gods.
Written by Sarah Falchi - Photos by Paolo Castellari
WHERE TO STAY – SOME ADVICE AND USEFUL LINKS
Canggu - South Bali: Casalia Home
Jembrana - West Bali: Puri Dajuma Beach Eco-Resort Spa
Pemuteran - North Bali: Taruna Homestay
Nusa Lembongan: Indiana Kenanga Luxury Boutique Hotel & Spa
WHERE TO EAT
Cemagi - South Bali: Cafe45 - Villa Ombak
Seminyak - South Bali: Cafe45 - Sardine
WHERE TO HAVE A MASSAGE
Seminyak - South Bali: Jari Menari SPA
Canggu - South Bali: Therapy SPA
WHERE TO HAVE SPECIAL TREATEMENTS
Healing Therapy - Umalas2 - South Bali: Akar Healing
Hypno Therapy - Umalas2 - South Bali: Kartika Alexandra