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Ring of Fire: An Indonesian Odyssey

in Destinations/Tips by

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.

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Learning and Leisure with Leap & Hop Kids Guides

in Families by

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.”

Leap and hop Bali Cover web96

leap and hop Bali SPREAD kites WEB96

Isabelle’s top 5 things to do in Bali with kids

  1. Go on a nature walk to explore Bali’s picturesque rice paddies in Ubud or Canggu.
  2. Visit marvellous village temples. You might get lucky and see a traditional ceremony while you’re there.
  3. Make and fly your own kite on the beach. Sanur is famous for its kite festivals, but many other beaches in Bali are excellent for kite flying.
  4. Eat fresh seafood at a restaurant on the sand in Jimbaran. The tanks of live seafood will fascinate the kids, and the beach provides an excellent place to play.
  5. Explore Bali’s fascinating underwater world. Blue Lagoon and Padang Bay are great for snorkelling. If you are looking for something more adventurous head to Tulumben and explore the WWII wreck of the US Liberty.

We’ve got plenty more fun things to do with kids in Bali up our sleeve.

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Bento, yakitori and sushi in Bali

in Destinations/Dining by

You have to love a cuisine that managed to invent another flavor. Umami refers to that extra layer of deliciousness that defies description.

Japanese food has infiltrated the far corners of the world, satiating our interest as well as our appetites. Read on to discover Japanese restaurants and places to order sushi in Bali, Indonesia.

Sake no Hana

contemporary Japanese

Sake no Hana may be new in Bali but they come with a serious reputation in other parts of the world, most notably in London’s fashionable Mayfair. Described as contemporary Japanese, Sake no Hana’s Executive Chef travelled from London to create this menu and it is filled with temptation and flavor. From their signature menus, which offer exotic imports like Kobe beef, Hamachi sashimi and Alaskan king crab, to bento boxes to a scale of signature menus, this is worth the splurge.

Overlooking the sparkling new daytime destination, Omnia, on the Uluwatu coast, Sake no Hana is filled with light by day. At night, as the club closes, it becomes a sophisticated destination restaurant. With a refreshingly different menu of bespoke cocktails alongside some wonderful wine and sake selections, Sake no Hana adds sophisticated new flavours to Uluwatu. 

Top tip: leave room for desserts, which are beautiful, creative and delicious.
Cover image credit: Sake no Hana. 

Ryoshi

sushi, yakitori and jazz

Ryoshi’s owner, Sagon Togasa, opened his first Ryoshi in Seminyak to house his two great loves; sushi and jazz. It still does that and more. With Ryoshi now in Sanur, Ubud and offering welcome respite to shoppers in Galleria, the menu has expanded alongside the empire.

At heart is the sushi window, with chefs slicing sushi and sashimi to order, fresh seafood is also part of the philosophy. There are grills, braises and rice bowls. A range of delicious kushiyaki, grilled food on sticks, and some delicious vegetarian options.

Agadashi tofu is a hit here as is the Japanese steak, the traditional fried chicken and steaming bowls of udon with your choice of toppings. Best of all it’s ultimately affordable.

Top tip: Monday night is the most popular night as the jazz is always world class, head upstairs and take a seat in the restaurant or hang out at the bar.

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Through the Keyhole: Villa Zelie

in Destinations by
Villa Zelie - Canggu, Bali

Villa Zelie owners tell us about their unique private pool villa in Canggu, Bali.

Villa Zelie - Outdoor living area

where stress is unknown.

People have described Villa Zelie as a private Eden or Heaven on Earth (and we agree!). How do you describe it?

It is a garden of Eden. Villa Zelie is a haven of peace and calm in the middle of Seminyak and Canggu. You forget about the world, the heat, the dampness, the noise and the traffic as you arrive at the villa. There is only peace and harmony there. That’s why I do not hesitate, several times a year, to make this long trip just to relax a few days. There are only good energies at Zelie, where stress is unknown.

Les gens ont décrit Villa Zelie comme étant un Éden privé ou un paradis sur Terre (et nous sommes d’accord!). Comment la décrivez-vous?

C’est un jardin d’Éden. La Villa Zelie est un havre de paix et de calme au milieu de Seminyak et Canngu. Vous oubliez le monde, la chaleur, la moiteur, le bruit et la circulation dès que vous arrivez à la Villa. Là, il n’y a plus que calme et harmonie. C’est pour cela que je n’hésite pas, plusieurs fois par an, à faire ce long voyage juste pour venir me relaxer quelques jours. Il n’a que de bonnes énergies et le stress y est inconnu. 

 

Villa Zelie - Outdoor living area

Where is your favourite place to relax at your villa?

I actually have two. During daytime, the pool house by the pool, from which you can hear the sound of birds and the rippling water. Simple pleasure but so relaxing. In the evening, the sofa in the living room, facing the garden, which is adorned with all its lights. I can watch this for hours, with a glass of wine, it’s magic.

Quel endroit dans la villa est votre préféré pour vous détendre?

J’en ai deux.  La journée, le pool house au bord de la piscine, vous écoutez le bruit des oiseaux et le clapotis de l’eau. Plaisir simple mais tellement reposant. Le soir, dans le canapé du salon, face au jardin, qui s’est paré de toutes ses lumières. Je peux regarder cela des heures, avec un verre de vin, c’est magique.

 

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Ubud Royal Cremation attracts thousands

in News by
Royal Cremation Ubud Bali photo by Sonny Tumbelaka AFP

Attending a cremation is unlikely to be top of the ‘must do’ list for the average vacationer. But then Bali is far from an average holiday destination.  As anyone who venture a few kilometres from the main tourist beaches will discover, this really is the ‘Island of 1,000 temples’ – an understatement if ever there was one. The fabled sea temples of Uluwatu and Tanah Lot, the mother temple of Besakih on the slopes of the sacred Gunung Agung, and the oft-photographed Ulun Danu Bratan temple feature on many a day-trip itinerary. And driving through traditional villages and across swathes of rice terraces can bring many unexpected sights as you come across small temple festival and colourful processions. 

Visitors to Bali’s cultural heart in early March found themselves in the right place at the right time to witness something spectacular: the cremation of Anak Agung Niang Agung, the wife of Tjokorda Gde Agung Sukawati (1910-1978), widely known as ‘the King of Ubud.’

ANAK AGUNG NIANG AGUNG

 “Strange as it seems, it is in their cremation ceremonies that the Balinese have their greatest fun. A cremation is an occasion for gaiety and not for mourning, since it represents the accomplishment of their most sacred duty: the ceremonial burning of the corpses of the dead to liberate their souls so that they may thus attain the higher worlds and be free for reincarnation into better beings”. The words of Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubias ring as true today as when he wrote his Island of Bali book in the 1930s.

A ngaben – literally translated as ‘turn to ash’ – is perhaps the most unique ritual in the unique form of animism-influenced Hinduism followed by the deeply spiritual Balinese, who believe that life, and death, are transitions. Even more elaborate is the pelebon –  the cremation ceremony reserved for members of the royal family.

For the preceding three weeks, visitors would have seen intense activity outside Ubud Palace as the community gathered to construct the two enormous structures that are the core of the ceremony: the Bade, an intricately decorated, gravity-defying multi-level tower in which the body is placed and carried from the Palace to the Pura Dalem Puri, and the Lembu, a magnificent black velvet bull sarcophagus, to which the body will be placed for cremation.

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