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Your weekly up-close view of those wow factor extras that make our villas outstanding. After all, attention to detail always makes a difference.
See Bali Island in the 1970s’
Travel back in time and catch a glimpse of daily life on the island of Bali in the 1970s. Ring of Fire: An Indonesian Odyssey is a must-see material for anyone who loves Bali and Indonesia. I for one got hooked from the very first minute I started watching this series of five documentaries. It was back in 1972 when the English brothers Lorne and Lawrence Blair set off from Great Britain to the Indonesian Archipelago to explore mystical lands and indigenous tribes, not knowing if they would ever return. Their journey led them from the deep jungle of Kalimantan to pirate territory in Sulawesi, to primitive tribes in New Guinea and Sumba, to giant lizards on Komodo Island and finally to the sacred island of Bali with all of its temples, shrines, Gods, demons and mysticism. I found it inspiring and intriguing to watch these two brothers going off-the-grid like true explorers without any modern-day luxuries such as Google Maps, Google Translate or whatsoever. They went on a crazy insane adventure and they were lucky to survive…
How it all began
Following in the footsteps of naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, Lorne and Lawrence Blair initially traveled to the Spice Islands of Indonesia to capture footage of the legendary Greater Bird of Paradise. The things they discovered on the way were more compelling than they ever could’ve imagined. Before they knew it, a decade had passed, exploring places, islands and indigenous tribes off the map.
When they started out, Lorne was an ethnographic filmmaker who had been working for BBC and Lawrence had just earned his Ph.D. writing a doctoral thesis on psycho-anthropology. The brothers left their familiar civilization behind on a Phinisi boat with Bugis Pirates on the island of Sulawesi and they jumped into a world unknown to them.
A decade of exploring lands unknown
The brothers Blair made nine expeditions between 1972 and 1985. In total, Lorne shot over 80 hours of video footage on a 16mm film. The footage is authentic, raw, intimate, wild, utterly cool and interesting. You get a real glimpse into the cultures, traditions and rituals of indigenous Indonesian tribes. Lorne and Lawrence may have been the last true ‘explorers’ like we had them in the old days, long before the digital age kicked in.
A colourful and quirky artists’ enclave hidden away in the southern neighbourhood of Rawai, the Phuket Art Village is a hippy chic collection of working art studios; home to some of the island’s most outstanding local artists. Both eclectic and charming, the Phuket Art Village oozes artistic flair.
Home to a group of unique studios that were built by their artists (and are in many instances lived in) the Phuket Art Village functions as a creative space for both the artists in residence and the local community… travellers included.
As well as selling their wares on-site, the artists host painting classes, sculpture workshops, environmental awareness seminars and jam sessions. A visit to the village makes a good outing for art-lovers and groups of all ages including families (contact the venue in advance to find out about scheduled art workshops and shadow puppet shows for your kids).
There are several studios and galleries to explore within the village. Most are open daily, although hours vary depending on the season. Here we introduce two of the artists you might meet:
Niran Art Gallery
A slight, kind and softly-spoken man originally from Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand, artist Niran Chanhom relocated to Phuket several years ago because of his love for the sea. And it is the sea that has become his greatest inspiration.
Driftwood in all shapes and sizes collected from Phuket’s various beaches are the beating heart of many of his creations. His artistic flair is perhaps best captured in his life-size wooden sculptures of fish and other marine life. These driftwood sea creatures are not only beautiful, but also reflect Niran’s hopes of protecting the ocean.
While making art from driftwood will always be his favourite medium, in recent years Niran has evolved his craft and taken to large canvases – often depicting a lonely fisherman with his fishing pole or catch of the day – to let his creativity explode. His abstract paintings are both bright and colourful and introduce new characters to his artistic line-up. Niran’s latest works are a series of mismatched faces and a few smaller pieces that highlight the bond between mother and child.
A visit to Niran’s art gallery in Phuket is an opportunity to admire his work and get up close and personal with the artist himself.
“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” – Luciano Pavarotti
In 2017 Phuket was crowned a City of Gastronomy by UNESCO and anyone who has ever experienced real Thai food will agree that it’s arguably one of the best foods in the world. A balance between sweet, spicy, bitter, salty and sour is the main reason why Thai food is so special. But in internationally renowned Phuket, you find there’s actually much more than Thai cuisine to tantalize your taste buds.
Having lived and worked in Phuket for the past 11 years I thought I had experienced most of southern Thai food, as well as some of the dishes from the North. In my culinary journey, (which does make me sound like a foodie millennial) have tried chicken feet and chicken heart, fried silk worms, raw prawns in fish sauce, chili and lime (this is one of my favourites to order) and a bitter-tasting green vegetable thing that to this day I have no idea what it was, although it was disgusting.
In May this year, it was announced that the legendary Michelin Guide will now include restaurants from Phuket and Phang Nga. With all the accolades that Thai food has received and now with the car tire manufacturer’s marshmallow man in the picture I thought it time to jump on the food cart wagon and see what is out there in terms of food tours and adventures.
A CHEF’S TOUR
There are of course some fabulous cooking schools in Phuket that will teach you how to cook an authentic Pad Thai or a Green Curry, but isn’t it better to get out of the TV kitchen and hit the streets? I wanted to eat and drink with the locals. So, along with my friend we chose to go on A Chef’s Tour, which is a boutique tour that gives you a true flavor of food in Phuket and as you will find out, this tour gives you a whole lot more.
On the steps of one of Phuket Town’s largest indoor markets,
We reckon most parents will agree that keeping the kids happy on holiday is the Golden Ticket to making sure everyone has a good time. So here’s a great suggestion to keep your kids happily occupied while teaching them about Balinese history, geography and culture at the same time. The interactive kids’ guide Leap & Hop Bali is a winner.
About Leap & Hop guides
Part-French, part-American Isabelle is mum to three boys and the author of the Leap & Hop guides. Her first Leap & Hop guide started as a little surprise for her kids on their Christmas trip to Cambodia. Her plan was to prepare a journal for them to record their impressions of the Khmer temples which later became a 100-page book with games, treasure hunts, scavenger hunts and fun snippets of information about the country’s history, geography and religion. Isabelle also encourages drawing and scrapbooking through her books.
“For me,” says Isabelle, “a good kids’ guide is a book that covers adult topics in a way that kids can understand without ‘dumbing it down’. The idea is also for the kids to ‘own’ the trip; they can pick and choose to learn about the places that interest them and the activities they enjoy. The illustrations are essential. I’m very fortunate to work with an amazing illustrator, Emilie Sarnel. Kids really relate to her unique style, which is whimsical and colourful without being childish.”
Isabelle’s top 5 things to do in Bali with kids
We’ve got plenty more fun things to do with kids in Bali up our sleeve.
Idyllic destination, exciting new experiences, exotic food and summery cocktails all day, right? You bet. Our Koh Samui villas offer exactly that and a whole lot more. Although, when it comes to domestic Thai spirits worth drinking, the selection in Koh Samui is underwhelming. Unless you know this: there is magic rum on this island.
IMAGE FROM MAGIC ALAMBIC RUM
Of the few distilleries in Thailand, Magic Alambic Rum is the only one producing a Caribbean agricole-style spirit and they offer a true island experience right here in Koh Samui – local rum tasting.
Located on the southern tip of Koh Samui, this rum distillery was founded in 2003 by entrepreneurial couple Elisa and Michel Gabrel. Elisa, originally from Martinique, and Frenchman Michel experimented with brewing alcohol from the abundance of locally-grown tropical fruits available. Unsuccessful at first, they decided to make rum in the agricole style, a process that uses distillation from freshly-squeezed sugarcane, which is readily available in North Thailand. This facility is the first French distillery in Thailand.
AGRICOLE SUGARCANE RUM
While most industrial rums are made from molasses and additives like caramel, rum agricole is an exception because it originated in the West Indies where the French government strictly controlled its production.
Agricole-style rum is made from a single ingredient: 100% pure first-press sugarcane juice, which gives it a dynamic and delicate earthy taste and a high alcohol content. Here’s how: raw sugarcane stalks are pressed to extract fresh juice, which is naturally fermented for two to three days before being distilled and put to rest in stainless steel tanks or aged in wooden barrels.
IMAGE FROM MAGIC ALAMBIC RUM
RUM TASTING IN KOH SAMUI
Visit the Magic Alambic Rum distillery in South Koh Samui for a fun memorable experience. We recommend renting a car for a leisurely day trip to this remote area. Make sure not to drive under the influence after a tasting.
Visitors are greeted by Ludovic or Martial Leplutois (owners since January 2014) with an invitation to see the rum production facilities and sample the final products in the tasting area surrounded by beautiful palm trees.