There’s nothing much at Nyambu Village, Tabanan. It’s a Balinese village that had just officially opened its doors to visitors April 2016 and now seeking function as a tourism destination. Nyambu is so raw, very little sugar coated for tourism. It’s the ‘non-touristy’ the off the beaten destination people have been looking for, especially those that are looking for the authentic Bali experience. When people ask me “What’s there to see?’, I can only say ‘Not much. But it’s perfect!’
Thanks to the British Council, we were invited to see this authentic Balinese experience. Life in Nyambu wasn’t too traditional, but even with that said the Balinese tradition was dense with information. I was definitely overwhelmed by their livelihood, all summarized in two packages that they have prepared for curious visitors.
Passing the west coast of Bali, I’ve always wanted to walk in between the rice paddies. The undulating terrain seemed appealing, refreshingly green and serene. But, I never knew whose land I’d be trotting on or would I be trespassing or how the whole Balinese rice paddy system worked. That day, it finally came true.
At Nyambu, there’s a program where the locals will take you around the rice paddies and explain to you about the Subak system, which seemed very intricate. It’s about 2-hour walk through the fields with a guide. There’s a lot of daily ritual and overall tradition that is still applied in the system. From the 11.5 cm measurement of irrigation width for each rice patch to the community function, all were structured and maintained for generations. There was so many interesting and lovely minor information that I enjoyed, such as the Nyambu people believe that when a rice paddy is 2 months old, it’s considered pregnant. The rice paddies are then given ‘sour’ offerings, similar to sour cravings of a pregnant woman, just to keep the rice paddies happy.
The Subak system also maintains ecosystems within the field for many creatures and organism that keep the environment healthy. The humans are part of the system, preparing offerings to birds that signifies that we have to share what we have, even to animals. The rice paddy system has a horizontal and vertical relationship. All this gave me a warm fuzzy feeling on how the Balinese respect nature.
Most people in Nyambu are farmers and they pray daily to the gods at small temples and small shrines scattered around the rice fields. There’s one that signifies the beginning location of the village, another was to respect the spirits that happen to gather at one spooky spot, another at each rice fields. A lot! They are also known to be the ‘6-7’ farmers. Everyday, during 6-7 o’clock, a.m. and p.m., they would check their fields, unless it’s harvest time. During the day, they do other jobs like being hard labors, tailors, etc.
I’ve believed this for some time now, but personally I’m reminded how Bali is so blessed. The people sacrifice and offer so much to their gods, it’s no wonder that the island is abundant with beauty and richness.
I was very much impressed with Dewi, my guide and homestay host, as she explained the system to us. As the next generation, she seemed enthusiastic and genuine about her culture and way of living. She didn’t look too enthusiastic with whatever the kids were doing these days. She kept her hair long like most Balinese girls, she sews outside of the ‘6-7’ hours and she was exuberant during the official opening, because it had been a year of trainings building up to that day.
This tour kind of blew my brains out. It was intensely dense and a little much to digest. The history of the village and the explanation of the four Balinese temples left my brain saturated to a point I could absorb very little.
Nyambu Village used to be a warzone. It was highly abandoned to a point where the king offered free land to those that would want to live there. With land, I guess, people chose to plant food, rice in particular. It’s now part of an extensive rice paddy field of Tabanan. The cultural tour includes walk to several temples and the making of a canang. Bli Satria broke everything down to the wire, leaving my brain soft like a vegetable, feeling stupid hardly knowing anything about the Balinese culture.
I did remember a few conclusions such as the north and east direction of the compass is very important for the Nyambu people because that’s the direction of the mountains, where they believe they should cast their prayers. Nyambu people has been through a few different Hindu systems, from separating the temples to combining altars for the three main gods, Brahma, Siwa and Wisnu.
Interestingly, the Balinese year is 420 days, which means they’re actually younger in numbers than everyone else on the regular calendar. So be a Balinese if you want to stay young. My favorite info has to be the fact that the temple behind Pura Rsi, which is located amongst rice paddies, had to be moved about 1.5 meters just to prevent it from constant collapsing. Freaky!
See? A lot of information!
By the end of the day, we were on bikes riding through a very short route to the last tea session. Aside to the bike, which I really liked, the tea time in the afternoon was spent with a painting class, mentored by the local painter Nyoman. Somehow, the packed information during the whole day easily blended with a simple silent treatment in front of a blank canvas and limitless amount of paint. Surprisingly, it was one of the best relaxing sessions, especially after a boiled up brain.
Getting to know the people is to immerse in their lives. I took a chance to be the first official guest at Dewi’s homestay. A room was set for guests with twin bed, with access to the clean family bathroom. No AC, but the mornings are slightly cooler than expected.
You can’t beat the authentic Bali experience when staying at Dewi’s house. Their home is a simple Balinese compound with a dog farm, with puppies. The mother cooks, makes cakes and ‘canang’s to sell. Dewi’s cousin, Yeni, also lives with her. Their parents are 6-7 farmers who head out to be hard labors during work hours. Waking up to a family like theirs is such a homey feeling. Seeing them start the day with a prayer and daily routine really let me see the regular Balinese life. Definitely recommended for those that want to be amongst the people.
Rooms are IDR 150,000 / person, including pre-breakfast and breakfast. Yes, the Balinese have a weird tradition of having coffee and snacks before breakfast, usually of fried rice or noodles; the pre-breakfast. There are 2 homestays in Nyambu, another is at Pak Nyoman’s house, the painter.
For more information you can check out the village’s social media:
I was invited to the launch Nyambu Ecotourism program, initiated by British Council and Pt. Langgeng Kreasi Jaya Prima, and assisted by Wisniu Foundation. But the opinions are all mine.
I hopped off the Perama shuttle bus at their office on Jalan Hanoman, only a few steps away from Ubud’s famous Bebek Bengil restaurant. I had not booked a place to stay, so I took the Perama staff’s advice to check out the north part of Jalan Goutama for the criteria that I was looking for: a room under IDR300,000/night, an area with easy access to food and a walking distance to Ubud Market.
One of the staff drove me to Jalan Goutama on a motorbike, with my big bagpack placed in between him and the dashboard, with IDR30,000 fare. He dropped me off at the intersection between Jalan Goutama and Jalan Dewi Sita. I randomly checked on two home stays that looked right – totally depending on gut feeling – before I decided to stay at Goutama Home Stay.
Why I chose Goutama Home Stay:
Other than that, Goutama Home Stay also has/is:
Although there were so many options of places to eat, I only ate at Biah Biah restaurant, right across Goutama Guesthouse, in all the 3 days I stayed there – sometimes I had meals around the UWRF venues on Jalan Sanggingan or at the center.
I like Biah Biah restaurant because:
Jalan Goutama is dubbed – in a mocking kind of way – as “the hipster street” by two people that I know. Seeing all the vegan, raw food restaurants, kombucha and homemade jam shop, taichi and yoga lesson signs along the street, I wasn’t surprised. I actually like the area because of the varieties offered – and because things are affordable to me. If I was to stay longer, I might just sign up for the tai chi class. I regret for not bringing home the homemade jams. I would’ve peeked in the fashion and jewelery boutiques, but I was actually stopped myself ‘cos I didn’t have the budget to go crazy with the lovely dresses and necklaces they displayed.
In the middle, Jalan Goutama intersects with Jalan Dewi Sita, a very long street with an array of boutiques – from fashion to soaps, restaurants and accommodations. Some Jakarta people that I know are crazy about the massage oils of Blue Stone, the homemade jam of Kou, both shops nestle on Jalan Dewi Sita.
On the north end, Jalan Goutama intersects with Jalan Raya Ubud, which is the busy main street of Ubud town, often jammed with cars in the weekend. Ice cream parlors, mini marts, fancy restaurants and Indonesian chain coffee shop Anomali are within short walking distance from the intersection.
Most shops are closed at 9 or 10 pm, so the street gets pretty dark afterwards since the street lamps are almost non-existing. Although it’s relatively safe to walk there at night, there’s no harm in putting extra carefulness. Some more things that I like about Jalan Goutama is that there was only a few stray dogs roaming the streets – and none was bothering me by following or barking at me like my experience last year when staying at Taman Mesari on Jalan Sandat, and the street is so alive from afternoon until around 10 pm that I wouldn’t have to worry about being lonely staying by myself.
Do you have a favorite street in any destination?
We tried. We tried not to write about Bali again and again. But what can we do? The island has endless charm and I happened to stumble into yet more interesting things on my trip there to attend the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival. So here we are again, summarizing the stories we’ve written about Ubud activities and a few more things you might need to know for your trip to this lovely highland in Bali.
Known for the rice paddies, there are so many Ubud activities revolving the green terrace. One can walk on the pathways, sometimes even bike there. What I did was take the Herbal Tour, getting to know about Balinese herbs with an experienced guide. It was like learning something new with the beautiful scenery as the reward.
Click this to find out what I learned about Balinese herbs.
Eventhough Ubud is highland; it can get pretty hot and sunny, especially in the dry season. A pampering session at the spa after varied outdoor Ubud activities would be a smart choice.
Here’s how my friend Sefin and I indulged in the infinity pool and spa of Pita Maha, just click here.
It’s an annual event and it attracts international participants, both the speakers and attendees. It doesn’t only consist of book discussions, but also cultural performances, cooking demo, and my most favorite were the sketching classes and poetry slam. To me, the event is about almost anything creative and you don’t have to be a bookworm to enjoy the event; take me for example.
Here’s my take on Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in 2014, and I’m thinking about going to the next one.
Ubud activities include so many more, you can check out our older posts on some of them. This one was about downhill biking and this one was basically all about Bali but it also has some things on Ubud.
You cannot be out of food choices when in Indonesia. We love food. However, when in Ubud on a very very tight budget, I had to choose wisely where to eat. Thank God for Warung Kelapa! It’s the only restaurant that fit my budget around the main area of UWRF’s venues on Jalan Sanggingan. It’s also a good place if you want to try Indonesian food for real.
Here’s my review on Warung Kelapa restaurant.
Lately I’ve been using Airbnb services whenever I can. So many variety of accommodations are listed there with a wide range of prices, including the ones in Ubud. With the budget I had, which was under US20/night, I settled for Taman Mesari. Though it wouldn’t be my top choice if I had more budget, it was not bad at all, considering service, cleanliness and space.
Public transportation can be tricky in Ubud, or in Bali in general. That’s why I thought I needed ot summarize what I know about the transportation in case you’re lost, too.
Here’s how to get to Ubud and to get around when you’re there.
Scooters fit the narrow streets of Ubud best.
Transportation in Ubud could be a challenging part of your trip in Bali. If anything the whole island is known for, it’s definitely not the easy public transportation. That’s perhaps why the locals prefer to have their own cars or scooters, and that is why I often get a headache about getting around when in Bali. Based on my last trip to Bali, here are my notes on the transportation in Ubud (and pretty much everywhere else on the island), just in case you’re wondering for your upcoming trip there.
A post(card) from Vira, while she’s traveling.
Rent A Scooter in Bali
A scooter or the little motorcycle, usually with around 125 cc machine, works best for a town with narrow streets like Ubud. Here in Indonesia we call it ‘motor’. You can find a rental motor or motor rental at random spots in Ubud. The rental fee is usually IDR 50,000 per day, excluding gas. You could find it on your own or have the staff wherever you’re staying to arrange it for you. If you’re going to Ubud on high season, it would be wise to make an advanced booking because rental motors would sell out fast. Or, should I say, rent out fast. This happened to us on the weekend of the UWRF. (link)
Note: The rule is to wear a helmet when you’re riding a scooter. You might see people riding without one since the law is weak in the country and it does feel cool (literally) when wind is blowing your hair on a moving scooter. But I strongly recommend you to wear the helmet, else you could go back home in an ambulance.
Ojek or taxi motor
Since most Bali people own at least one scooter in a household, an ojek isn’t very popular there. I always found a hard time looking for ojek. If there was one, the rate is so high (compared to many other places in Indonesia, even Jakarta). Based on my experience, a 3-minute ride (1 km distance) from the Perama bus pool to the Taman Mesari guesthouse on Jalan Sandat cost me IDR 30,000. Good news is that now my favorite ojek service is operating in Bali, Gojek. You can try to order their service by the mobile app. It might not be so cheap if you’re going under 5 km distance because the minimum payment is IDR 30,000, but at least now ojek is an easier choice of transporation in Ubud!
Rent A Car In Ubud (with a driver)
If you cannot stand the heat and humidity of a tropical country, you might want to take the car, or ‘mobil’ as we call it. A car rental is also easily found in Ubud, with a rental fee around IDR 150,000 to 250,000 per day, for the car alone and excluding gas. It’s much more expensive than a scooter rent, but you can share it with up to 5 people or 6 if one of you is driving, depending on what kind of car. A hired driver would cost you about IDR 100,000 per day, usually charged together with the car rent. An extra of IDR 20,000 per meal is usually paid directly to the driver. The cars are usually equipped with AC and it’s a good choice for rainy season, which is usually from November to March.
Note: Do buckle up eventhough you’d see many people could careless about it here, but the potential damage just isn’t worth damaging your vacation.
Bus, Angkot or Train
Nope, non-existent. Not an option of transportation in Ubud. Angkots may be available in some other parts of Bali, but even that is pretty rare to find. That is perhaps why most of Bali people seem to have their own car or scooter, as they are also not fond of walking much.
Taxi (with meter)
If you don’t want the hassle and responsibility of renting a vehicle, then a taxi is always up for grabs. There are several taxi companies operating in Bali, but my personal trusted one is Bluebird simply because it’s familiar to me and they always use the meter. It is also available in Ubud. You might not see the taxi units on the street a lot, but you can order them by phone (+0361) 728200, or by their own mobile app (you can download here)
Transportation to and from Ubud
If you’re taking a taxi from the airport, you don’t have a (legal) choice but to take the official airport taxi. It’s an orderly system, where you just need to walk from Arrival Hall to the taxi stand not far from the Starbucks Coffee, then tell the officers where you’re going and they’ll tell you how much it will cost. They don’t use the meter system but at least you know how much to pay in advance. The ride to Ubud was IDR 250,000 per taxi (October 2014).
Perama is an established company of transportations including intercity bus and boats in Bali and Lombok, and I think to Flores as well.. They have routes from and to Kuta, Legian, Ubud, Lovina, Sanur, and a few others. The rate for Kuta-Ubud route is IDR 60,000/ pax (May 2015), and they can give you 10% discount on the following trip as long as you show them your last trip’s receipt. Check out their official website for a complete information.
There are a few others you could try, which I have only heard of. Kura-kura Bus looks interesting, and it’s something our blogger pal Meidiana has tried. She has written the review here.
There is also the Priority Plus shuttle services, which Mumun has tried on another route and you can read her review here.
So. You need to be confused no more about transportation in Ubud, Bali. It might not be easy breezy like that in Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, but I hope this guide will save you some hassle.
Finding a budget accommodation in Ubud is fairly easy because options are abundant. When it’s not high season, you don’t even need to reserve ahead. A quick stroll around almost any area would get you a place to stay. In my case last year when I visited Ubud for UWRF, I decided to reserve a room eventhough it wasn’t high season, for the sake of using my Airbnb voucher.
My accommodation budget was about IDR175,000 (in Oct.2014) per night. For that price on Airbnb, I didn’t get many options that were located within walking distance from some of the UWRF venues, which were actually spreaded around Ubud town. Taman Mesari Guesthouse was the only one that accommodated my requirements: close to city center (or the Ubud market), within my budget, looked decent, was on Airbnb, and the host was responsive enough to my queries.
Haley and Bu Kopang were the hosts of Taman Mesari Guesthouse. As it turned out, Bu Kopang is the owner and Haley is her friend who helps marketing her guesthouse online. When I arrived, I was welcomed by Bu Kopang and never got to meet Haley at all. if you’re not into Airbnb, don’t worry, the guesthouse is open for direct reservation as well.
Taman Mesari Guesthouse is one of so many Balinese house compounds turned into a complex of budget accommodation in Ubud. It consists of the main house almost at the back of the compound, where Bu Kopang and her family lives, a shrine, and a few bungalows. Upon my stay, Bu Kopang was having a few more bungalows built at the front part of the compound, and one was being built on the second floor. Looks like business is doing well!
My room was the one closest to the gate. Since it’s a small road and I was mostly out all day, I didn’t get any impression of a busy street. Only howling dogs, as you can expect almost anywhere in Bali. The room was totally spacious, with a double bed and an extra matress ready to be rolled out for extra people (but maybe some extra charge would have to be paid as well). A desk really came handy to me, what with all blog posts I had to write, and the wifi connection was pretty good. Bathroom was also spacious and I liked the natural touch they added with stones on the shower floor. Hot water, checked. Towels, checked. Soap and shampoo, you need to bring your own. Doesn’t actually sound like a budget accommodation in Ubud, huh? The facility is so complete.
Staying true to the typical of budget accommodations though, Taman Mesari Guesthouse does not provide breakfast. It provides, however, free coffee and tea every morning, served on the table on the terrace. A few diners are open as early as 8 a.m. around the area, so if you need to have an early breakfast, make sure you have something from the previous night. A simple diner at the far end of the street (toward the main Ubud street) became my savior for having cheap meals. The menu are all Indonesia food, I forgot the name of the place.
Though located almost at the fringe of Ubud town, it only took me 15 minutes to walk from Taman Mesari guesthouse to Ubud Market. Trendy cafes and restaurants align on the parallel streets and around the Ubud Market, mostly operate from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. A few motorbike rentals can be found nearby, make sure you reserved ahead when it’s high season. Motorbike rental fee was about IDR50,000/day excluding gas (Oct.2014). You could have Bu Kopang help you arrange the motorbike rent as she is very helpful with her guests.
Cheap is the word. Mumun likes to tease me for using the word ‘cheap’ so much on my writings for Indohoy. Well, what can I say. When it’s cheap, it’s cheap. Often cheapness is the reason I choose what I choose when traveling on tight budget. Like that time, when I had spent my sources on the UWRF ticket, accommodation and transportation, I was so happy to find a restaurant that had cheap food in Ubud!
Warung Kelapa is the name. This Javanese restaurant is located on Jalan Sanggingan, the street where many of UWRF sessions were held. There are a lot of restaurants at the area but only Warung Kelapa fit my budget, having the average food price about IDR35,000-40,000/dish or about US$3,5-4 (Oct. 2014).
The menu consisted of mostly Javanese food, like the tempe penyet (fried tempeh pressed and mixed with chili), sayur asem (meaning sour veggies, basically a soup of vegetables with tamarind), and pecel Blitar (vegatable salad with spicy peanut sauce, originated from Blitar). A few of the beverages were also Javanese, like cendol (or dawet, with the best one being in Solo) and hot wedang jahe (basically ginger tea) with the average price of about IDR20,000 (Oct.2014). In general, I’m not much of a fan of Javanese food because they’re known to taste very sweet. But the ones provided here are mostly the savory and spicy ones, which I like!
The ambiance feels very much like how I imagine a house in rural Java. Wooden everything with natural cooling system called windows (and a few fans, actually), and bent prism shaped roof. Lots of old photos and paintings are hanged on the walls, alongside wall plates. A round dining table placed outside among the green grass front yard, makes a nice alfresco lunch when it’s not too hot out.
In the back yard, behind the restroom area, they actually have another part of restaurant, named Kamasan Cafe. If I remembered correctly, it’s a café that serves mostly desserts and cakes. Too bad I found out about it on my last visit to Warung Kelapa and I was just leaving for my next UWRF session, so I haven’t had a chance to eat there. It might’ve been another finding of cheap food in Ubud!
If I’m ever visiting Ubud again, I’ll definitely try to dine at Warung Kelapa again, especially if it’s still cheaper than the others.
Meanwhile, I’d like to know, what is your favorite dining place in Ubud? And what is your favorite cheap food in Ubud?
Infinity pool has become da bomb in the resort world. The illusion of adrenaline rush of almost jumping down a cliff allures many to dive in the pool, including moi. Knowing that Pita Maha is one of the luxury resorts in Ubud, I didn’t dare to dream to swim in their well-known infinity pool with lush green valley in the background..until one day I found out about a special discount from my friend Nidinda! Woohoo!
This spa experience added up to Indohoy’s last 5 spa experiences in Bali.
The main offer in the special package was the spa treatment. Having interest in the infinity pool since ages ago, I definitely went for the one with swimming before or after a massage session. On the program they had in October 2014, I only had to pay about IDR330,000 for an hour massage, swimming in the infinity pool however long I wanted, and a hot chocolate treat afterwards. Normally, if you’re not the hotel’s guest, you’d have to pay for a minimum order of IDR200,000 at the restaurant to swim in the infinity pool. And the Coffee Sensation massage normally cost US$55/session or about IDR550,000, then’s rate. (So I saved up about US$40 there, not bad!)
I dragged Sefin, a fellow blogger, along in this spa and infinity pool excursion at Pita Maha. We were given massages in the terrace of the spa house because the room inside was being prepared for the next guests. The room inside was more styled up, but to me, being massaged outdoors feels much more comforting. The massage beds were facing a jacuzzi, in which unfortunately we didn’t have time to bathe, and again, the green valley. The wind was blowing softly, Sefin and I quickly disappeared into dreamland.
Like any spa massage I’ve had, I hated it the most when the masseuse let me know that time is up. Oh, why couldn’t I stay asleep for more hours? Why??! But anyway, we were then scrubbed with yoghurt in the shower, before finally bathing to rinse it off. That was my first time bathing with a girl friend. It felt weird!
We then swam after the spa (we wanted to swim beforehand but couldn’t because we had to catch the appointed spa time). It was only a little before it got dark, but we were lucky because there was almost nobody else in the pool. Swimming in the infinity pool definitely felt like, well, swimming in any pool. Resting at the cliff edge is what made it different because I was looking out to the valley, where usually I’d look to only plain ol’ cafes and poolside chairs.
I wonder how acrophobic people (those with fear of heights) would feel swimming here.
Lastly, we claimed our hot chocolate at the restaurant, a few stairs up from the pool. You’ve got to have good enough knees to walk up and down this resort because it consists of so many levels. The chocolate was nothing special. We suspected it was regular sachet Milo. Too sweet for my liking and not what I expected from a luxury resort’s restaurant like Pita Maha. I could imagine though, how sweet it would be to sip a cup of tea at the restaurant in the morning, when the valley is still well lit by the sun.
The day after, I was killing time between UWRF sessions by checking out the resort area –with a permission from the staff. Here’s what Pita Maha Resort & Spa looks like, other than the awesome infinity pool.
“Paddy is like a pregnant woman. That’s why you need to take care of it and put offerings to relieve the morning sickness,” said Westi, our Herbal Walk guide. About eight of us were walking behind him on the causeway in between paddy fields, listening to his knowledge and wisdom regarding Balinese herbs.
“This is Philippines rice,” he referred to the paddy field surrounding us as far as the eyes can see. “Balinese rice is taller. It’s also more delicious and satiating. But it’s also more expensive, twice the price of the Philippines rice, because you can only harvest it once a year, whilst the Philippines’ is three times a year. Harvesting Balinese rice also takes longer time because it needs to be cut one by one,” he continued with a tad show of regret.
That’s just one of so many Westi’s stories on the 3 hours walk. As one of the owners and guides of Bali Nature Herbal Walks regular program, Westi didn’t just fill us up with information on the herbs per se, but also the relevant cultural insights.
According to Westi, the paddy field and irrigation system in Bali is very well organized. You’ve probably heard of Subak, the unique Balinese irrigation system that’s been applied since the 9th century, and was created in order to distribute water fairly to every family’s rice field. There are 235 subak groups in Bali, at the time of this tour, each one with an elected leader. Decisions are to be made with discussions, including what rice to grow. The rules are strict, there are fines to be charged for violations.
“Bali is a fertile land. Throw things to the land and they’ll grow. Like the papaya, right here. It didn’t have to be planted, it just grew,” Westi said with an amazement on his face. Bali is not only fortunate because it’s fertile, but also because these plants come very handy in everyday life. “Young papaya leaf can be eaten but not for pregnant women because it can cause a miscarriage. It is also used as antiseptic. You know, the monkeys in Monkey Forest eat young papaya to self-heal when they’re sick.”
To tell you the truth, the plants that Westi was explaining and ‘claimed’ as Balinese plants, aren’t really exclusive to Bali. Most of them are easily found in other parts of Indonesia, as well as a few other South East Asian and tropical countries. However, I did gain so much new knowledge from his guidance.
At the beginning of the walk, we were passing a bamboo garden. Westi explained that there are 25 kinds of bamboo in the whole Bali Island. Some make really good building materials, some can function as wind barrier, and the young ones can be cooked as ‘rebung’ or young sprout. And I thought there was only one kind of bamboo, the kind that panda eats.
“We have the best quality of aloe vera in Bali,” Westi continued, when we got to a small garden of aloe vera, without explaining why it is the best. But he did explain that aloe vera grows easily as long as there is enough sun and sandy soil. It doesn’t even need so much water as it is a member of cactus family. Having an aloe vera-based cosmetic business, Westi has got to know a lot about this thorny kind of plant. All I know is that it makes great after-sun lotion!
The herb walk is really packed with information and is a good walking session among the greens. It’s true that Ubud’s tourism has developed fast. More cars and motorbikes are spilling on the narrow streets. But the herb walk route steers clear from it all.
Almost at the end of the route, we visited a thatched-roofed diner in the middle of the rice field, where they served us young coconuts. The kitchen staff chopped off the top part of the coconut, and we sipped the water with a straw, scooped the coconut meat with a spoon. It has been one of my favorite drink (or food?) since forever. I love how coconut water has a subtle sweetness and is light and fresh, especially when you plunge in some ice cubes in it!
The herb walk ended at Westi’s herbal workshop and store “Nadis Herbal” on Jalan Suweta. We were served with a herbal tea drink, and were welcomed to check out the stuff they sold. They didn’t push us to purchase anything, and they were cool with participants that decided to split even before entering the shop.
This herbal walk that I signed up and paid for was a part of the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival. There might be slight differences with the regular walks, like the meeting point. I have a hunch that Westi remains friendly and informative at the regular walks as he did on my herb walk.
If you’re heading to Ubud, Bali, you can contact them for a walk. Really, it’s refreshing, healthy and you’ll walk out with a lot of interesting information.
For more info on the Herb Walk by Bali Herbal Walk by Westi and his partner Lilir, go to:
Bali has gained an international reputation as a heavenly destination for surfers. It’s a small tropical island surrounded with surfable waves and the water temperature is relatively warm. Being the beach where most surfers chase waves and located closest to the international airport, it quickly swarmed up and gain popularity even amongst non-surfers like me. Only when visiting Bali a few weeks ago, I found out that some advanced surfers directly go surfing in Balian and skip the crowded beaches.
I visited Balian beach as an invitation from Pondok Pitaya along with Vindhya and the professional surfer Gemala Hanafiah. While Vindhya and I were mostly lazing around and swimming in the pool, Gemala was trying out the waves of Balian with the surfboard she brought from Jakarta. So there is no better way to tell you about surfing in Balian than through a quick interview with her.
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You have to at least be fluent in paddling and ‘reading’ the current. The entrance point has a quite strong current because it’s close to an estuary. But once you’re further out, it’s much calmer.
Balian has mellow waves, so a fun board or a malibu would do. With a fun board, you don’t have to paddle too much, just glide with the wave.
Expect left and right-hander, both long ones.
I would say it’s safer to surf at mid to high tide so that the water is not too shallow, because it’s quite rocky with corals underneath. I was lucky to be there on an off-season, so I didn’t have to wait for my turn too long after the other surfers. But still, it’s much less crowded than Kuta over all.
Actually there is a surfboard repair place near Pondok Pitaya, so you don’t need to worry. Pondok Pitaya at that time didn’t have complete fixing tools, but having many surfers around I was lucky that there was another guest at the resort that helped me with that.
Overall, I liked it! I liked the long wave, I just wish I had a chance to try the right hander, too. It looked more hollow and faster compared the left hander. I don’t like when surfers get too aggressive, so I enjoyed surfing in Balian because we were all waiting for our turns. Oh, I really want to go back there again!
Definitely. I find Balian a suitable area for surfers who are into calm and natural ambiance.
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There you go, surfers. Experiencing the Balian waves, you must try. If you don’t want the hassle of bringing your own board, Pondok Pitaya has several long and short boards to rent out for the price of IDR50,000 per day.
Photos of Gemala are courtesy of her and Pinneng.