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Balinese art of monster-making

in News by
nyepi ogoh ogoh bali art

Nyepi is the first day of the Saka lunar calendar, a sacred occasion in Bali when people stay indoors for quiet reflection. For many visitors in Bali during this time of year, the message is strong and simple, for respecting ‘Silent Day’ is mandatory: stay in, turn off the lights and be quiet. From dawn until dawn, the island completely shuts down, including the airport. Only pecalang (neighbourhood security) go out in public, whilst everyone else takes time for personal reflection at home.

What more is there to know about the annual Nyepi holy day in Bali, and what do the papier-mâché monsters in the streets have to do with it?

Arts are integral to Balinese culture, and the Balinese have a long history as accomplished woodworkers, stone sculptors, gold- and silversmiths, and textile- and basket-weavers, as well as being ingenious horticulturalists. Balinese artisan crafts, ceremonial customs, daily offerings, performance arts, masks, costumes, adornments and agricultural traditions are all ways of life which honour the values of Balinese Hindu ideology; at the crux a divine balance between people, God and nature.

Balinese customs preceding Nyepi are all about maintaining this trinity, known as the Tri Hita Karana, by cleansing, warding off all evil forces and giving selfless offerings before the start of the new year.

The great task of ridding the island of a year’s worth of evils is taken care of by giant ogoh-ogoh statues of mythological witches, grotesque demons or modern anti-heroes.

Just one of the many essential rituals surrounding Nyepi, the ogoh-ogoh are paraded around by their creators in raucous processions late into the night on the eve of Nyepi. They scare away or encapsulate bad entities, then get set on fire at the cemetery to burn to complete non-existence.

Despite their short lifespans, ogoh-ogoh can be elaborate monstrosities with impressive construction and attention to detail. A popular and visually stunning trend is to create artworks which appear to hover in thin air or connect multiple figures in a dynamic pose. In each of Bali’s thousands of banjars (community organizations), young adults begin making an ogoh-ogoh weeks or even months in advance of Nyepi.

Many adults can’t resist joining in this artistic tradition. Local Bali tattoo artist and graphic designer Putu Marmar Herayukti is one of them. For the ogoh-ogoh parade preceding Hari Raya Nyepi 1940 (17 March 2018),

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5 brilliant things to do in Koh Samui

in Recreation by
Boating and diving in Koh Samui

The range of things to do and see in Koh Samui, Thailand is extremely varied and interesting. The island offers a host of activities for those looking for adventure, sport, nature or just relaxing and enjoying a holiday at one of our Koh Samui beachfront villas. Discover Koh Samui’s natural splendour, modern man-made attractions and religious and cultural sights. Of course let’s not forget the perfect beaches, night markets and lively nightlife, either.

There is so much to see and do on this island, it can be hard to fit it all into one trip or, for that matter, one blog. With our guests’ invaluable feedback, our own local insight and some ingenuity as longtime villa holiday experts, we’ve narrowed it down quite a bit to five essential experiences in Koh Samui.

1. MAGIC BUDDHA GARDEN

Magic Buddha Garden Koh SamuiCopyright image from Magic Buddha Garden

This lovely and quiet place was created by a Thai farmer Nim Thongsuk. The whole area looks like a sculpture garden; it is located along a small mountain river flowing across the Magic Buddha Garden. Khun Nim wanted to build a place where people could enjoy peace and nature.

Statues here depict creatures and deities from Buddhist mythology. There are several viewpoints along the way to Magic Buddha Garden offering a stunning panorama view over the southern part of Koh Samui. There is also an artificially created waterfall named after the creator. The waterfall is located right at the entrance and greets the visitors of the Magical Buddha Garden. It’s a unique treasure best enjoyed in the morning.

2. BOAT TRIPS

Koh Samui boat tripsImage by Sailing in Samui

The Gulf of Thailand is an exciting sailing destination. There are five islands nestled closely together; Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, Koh Matsum and Koh Tan. Close by, and the famous Angthong National Marine Park. Each island has its own distinct beauty and offerings of unique terrain, beaches, and attractions.

Boutique Yachting based in Koh Samui offers luxury day trips and private charters to Angthong Marine Park and around Koh Samui. Boutique Yachting has two boats, Naga, which is a classic Turkish Gullet and Baidee, a traditional Indonesian Ketch, and if you chose the private charter or day tour you will be able to view all the stunning islands around Koh Samui from different angles and take in the breathtaking scenery from the sea.

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Healthy Restaurants in Phuket with a pinch of Samui

in Dining by

“Let’s face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot for a lot of people; it does for me.” – Audrey Hepburn

There are some restaurants in this list that are farm to table, there are others that just have a great choice of food with some healthy options, and most also make sure they don’t use products that use pesticides and preservatives,. The bottom line here is that it’s up to the individual to choose what they need to have a balanced and thus healthy diet.

PRU

PRU is located at the five-star Trisara resort close to Naithon beach and is a place where the wild forest meets the sea. PRU’s meals tell a story, drawing out subtle and bold flavors from the herbs, flowers, plants, and roots that grow wild in their own garden. They say their culinary style is founded on Western tradition and influenced by the exotic, and local regional cuisine. PRU at Trisara is pursuing their own culinary ambition – to elevate farm-to-table cooking to a new level. They use nature’s gifts from their own farm and do their part to give back, ensuring that life’s cycle continues to blossom.

Aged Oven Roasted Duck – 
PRU Roasted Duck
Aged duck roasted over the open fire with sweet tamarind, red onion marmalade and a duck sauce infused with pickled Thai cherries. The duck is from Petchabun and slowly roasted above the open fire for 2 days.
Divine restaurant

Located in Thanyapura Health & Sports Resort on the east of Phuket and tucked into the side of a mountain, DiVine is an all-day dining restaurant, with freshly baked bread, free-range eggs and organic fruits and vegetables. The menu has been designed mindfully to include elements of local Thai favorites, raw plant-based, vegan, western, European and Asian specialties. They are strong believers in sustainable agriculture and supporting local farmers. They were one of the first restaurants to offer raw plant-based dining in Phuket, and even have a separate part of the kitchen for raw meal preparation.

Raw Food Wrap – 
Divine Raw carrot and broccoli hummus wrap
With carrot, beetroot, broccoli, chickpea, lime juice, Himalayan salt, avocado, cucumber, capsicum, kale, beetroot sheet, carrot sheet, mango, cherry tomato, pomegranate, rocket salad. Sauce – Coconut curry yogurtProject Artisan

Project Artisan is tucked away in Cherntalay. The concept (at time of of writing they have only completed phase 1 of 2) is to create a place that embraces the culture of Thailand.

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Top 5: Bali Chinese food restaurants for Lunar New Year

in Dining by
chinese food restaurants in bali 2018

Lunar New Year, also called Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, is about starting fresh for a prosperous new year. It’s a time to clean your home, don new clothes, gather with family, give lucky gifts and eat lucky food.

Lucky Chinese foods for Lunar New Year

Eating fresh citrus signifies fullness and wealth. Dumplings, spring rolls and nian gao (sweet glutinous rice cakes) bring prosperity. Catfish, Crucian carp and other fish are symbolic of surplus, traditionally served on both Chinese New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Don’t skip the noodles – they represent longevity and happiness.

chinese fortune cookie art by jiha moon

Chinese restaurants in Jimbaran, Seminyak and Canggu, Bali

There are hundreds of Chinese restaurants in Bali, Indonesia. These top five are award-winning establishments robust enough to host your Chinese New Year gathering and tasty enough to surpass expectations of the most discerning foodies from around the world.

best chinese restaurant in bali is ah yatIMAGE BY AH YAT

Ah Yat Abalone & Seafood Restaurant

Named Best Chinese Restaurant in Bali by NOW! Bali Magazine in 2017 with 720 votes is Ah Yat (there are several restaurants by the same name in this chain, including renowned locations in Jakarta, Indonesia and Singapore). Executive Chef Cheung Kin Kau boasts over 20 years’ experience in fine dining. The menu is both adventurous and traditional – expect Japanese food, Hokkien food and Chinese food that demonstrates the chef’s Cantonese heritage.

The beautiful restaurant hosts massive saltwater tanks of live seafood, so fresh fish dishes and shellfish are centre stage. This large restaurant is the only place in Bali with a selection of Japanese special grade dried abalone and Greenlip abalone. A dim sum lover’s delight, there are 30 types of Hong Kong style steamed dumplings on the menu too.

HOURS 11AM-3PM, 530PM-10PM
PRICE $$$

Ah Yat Seafood Restaurant
Jl. Karang Mas Sejahtera,
Jimbaran, Bali
(+62) 0361 846 8468
ahyatrestaurant.com.sg

Kwee Zeen

Taking the top award for Best Pan Asian Restaurant in 2017, Kwee Zeen caught our attention. The dining concept here is upscale Asian street market “kwee zeen” – get it? Cui-sine.

Executive Chef Daine Gilbert has a buffet of delights from China,

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Sri Lanka National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries

in Recreation by
Birds at Kalametiya Park

Famed for the historic Galle Fort district, tea industry and pristine family-friendly beaches, Sri Lanka is also known for its several national parks, animal reserves and wildlife sanctuaries.

When holidaying on the south coast, don’t miss the chance to visit at least one of the protected wetlands or other animal habitats. Day trips are fun for the whole family and easy to arrange ahead. Road trips around the country require a bit more planning. Why not start now? Here are a few of the most popular animal attractions in Sri Lanka.

1 Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary

Established in 1938, this is one of the oldest protected wildlife parks in Sri Lanka and is celebrated as one of the best eco-birdwatching destinations in the entire world.

Heron birdwatching at Kalametiya Bird SanctuaryKalametiya Bird Sanctuary

THINGS TO DO Birdwatching, photography, kid-friendly rock climbing, early morning or afternoon paddle boat cruise

ANIMALS Over 150 bird species including Indian Reef Heron, Sri Lankan black-capped purple Kingfisher, Glossy Ibis, Jungle Fowl, Black Bittern, Slatybreasted Crake, Watercock, 20 mammal species, 40 types of fish, 40 exotic reptiles

BEST TIME TO VISIT Kalametiya is home to several local bird species, and more migrant birds come to roost and nest each year between November and March

LOCATION 20 km from Tangalle city, the sanctuary is near the village of Hungama on the south coast of Sri Lanka

GETTING THERE Via train or private transportation, the exit for the sanctuary is clearly marked on the A2 near the 214 and 218 km posts

WEBSITE kalametiyabirds.lk

2 Minneriya National Park

The site of The Gathering, a world-famous elephant spectacle, Minneriya is a protected 8,890-hectare reserve within Sri Lanka’s famed Cultural Triangle. Critical to the biodiversity in this habitat are its natural wetlands, water tanks and irrigation systems.

The Gathering at Minneriya National Parkimage by marvelloussrilankalk.blogspot.co.id

THINGS TO DO Jeep tours; Wildlife photography

ANIMALS Approximately 200 wild (Asian) elephants, various migratory and aquatic bird species, wetland mammals

BEST TIME TO VISIT The dry season, usually late August to October is when groups of elephants congregate here

LOCATION Less than 10 km from Habarana on the Colombo Polonnaruwa road

GETTING THERE Entrance requires a permit from the Ambagaswewa wild life conservation office,

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