There is so much to visually feast on in Bali and the art scene is stimulating and exciting. I have captured some market art, some street art and some artists.
Bali Street Art
Wandering through the streets of Bali, passing rice paddies, cows, children playing, men working, there is so much to see and take in but it would be a shame not to notice the street art. It is beautiful and far from “grafetti” in a vandolism sense.
It is beautiful, heart felt art.
Funky wall art at Lacalita
I am not too sure if it the Balinese Hinduism that comes across so eloquently in the many signs, but all of them seem like little positive affirmation messages from the universe.
These are but a handful from this visit.
Bali is predominantly Hindu and signs express their witty, poignant interpretation of a beautiful faith. I love keeping an eye out for signs.
The many markets can offer some incredible art and are definitely worth a look if you are considering taking home a piece.
Bali is a creative hub and draws in world class artists. Some have their own galleries, others sell on-line and others sell into larger galleries.
I discovered Harry Holiday this trip around in Canguu (his exhibition room is at Deus). With many original funky pieces I found it really hard to settle on three to bring home. Priced really well, you can take home a print or an original lacquered treasure.
Doors and Openings
What can I say? Only a trippy space cadet or architect would notice doors and arch ways and I DO!
Bali has an incredible array of door sizes, door ways, hinges, styles and arches. I am so fascinated with many that I photograph them. Some of them really capture my imagination and I drift off wondering what is behind the door… a fantasy world, a cloud, maybe it’s a door to another dimension. HA, you can see, I am a pixie and love doors. Here are a few from last visit.
Canguu is a region in Bali, west of the more popular beaches of Kuta, Legion and Seminyak. Canguu is a very laid back area of rice fields, farms, coast line and beaches. It is famous for its surf breaks of Canguu, Batu Balong and Echo Beach (far away in time… sorry couldn’t resist).
The coast consistently caters for all sorts of surfers: long board riders, short board riders, kite surfers, beginners and big wave junkies and draws people from around the world. It’s not a “shopping mall” crowd, it is a down to earth “I-dig-surf-and-life” kinda crowd.
Aside from chasing the perfect wave along Canguu, you can also find eclectic organic, hipster restaurants, funky music venues, a healthy art scene and a plethora of yoga and health venues. Hence why I love the region so much: i t has everything I need.
These are my top three restaurants and cafes in Canguu
Breakfast at the Shady Shack
For breakfast (either before or after your morning surf), is the Shady Shack.
It’s sister cafe, Betelnut is really well known and on the other side of the paddy field, but Shady isn’t far behind it in popularity and the times that I go there it is packed.
Both cafes offer local and organic produce, turned into inspired creations. The vegetarian options are amazing and really well priced.
I meet Gypsy the owner briefly and we discuss the diverse menu, her use of medicinal plants and even bee pollen in her shakes. Being an avid subscriber to Hippocrate’s advice of “let food be your medicine” I am an instant fan of the Shady Shack.
The menu is extensive and caters for vegans to meat eaters but it is predominantly a plant based food fest.
The creations are beyond my imagination and I love the way each meal is it’s own art display and visual orgasmic delight. Nourishing one’s soul and body is so important with food and Gypsy and Shady Shack have nailed it, 10/10.
Today I have the Haloumi Bowl at Shady Shack and it is sensational: rocket, zucchini spaghetti, roasted capsicum, pickled beetroot, quinoa, chick peas, and a couple of devine sauces. A tasteorgasm!
At Betelnut my favorite would be their big salad bowl with 4 different salads. But the last two days I have had the fish burger, with chippies and salad. Also yummy.
Lunch at Old Man’s
If you haven’t already, go for a late morning surf at Batu Bolong then head to Old Man’s for lunch.
Old Man’s is the communal meeting place for locals and travellers and I don’t think a day goes past when I am not there .
You can literally come out from a surf, rinse off the Indian Ocean in a shower at the back of the pub and order a chilled bintang while still dripping wet.
Sean the owner is a great guy, known by many and very hospitable. It’s laid back atmosphere is accepting and there’s usually a band playing most nights of the week.
Batu Balong Beach is at the end of the street and is an awesome place to watch life slip by or roll by, with the many hypnotic waves. Grab a coconut and make yourself at home. No one is in a rush around here.
I usually have the snapper and chips but the menu, for a pub, is very accommodating even offering vegetarian options.
Every day has a happy hour, but my advice would be to head there for lunch and or an early dinner. Which brings me to my favourite dinner dine in place Lacalitas.
Dinner at Lacalita
Chef and Aussie ex-pat owner, Will, opened up Lacalitas after his Seminyak sensation, Lacalaca was rated a winner by trip advisor. Both restaurants boast mexican flavours but both have their own individual flare and style.
Lacalita is an infusion of contemporary and mexican foods. I love Lacalita’s menu and have eaten here nearly every night for the past week!
La Taqueria Tostaditas and the Ahi Poke are delicious for starters and the soft crab is my favourite for mains. The menu is worth drooling over and whatever you do don’t rush .
The BEST thing on the menu (in my humble opinion) is the chilli margarita. I am not sure if I am going back any more for the food, the chilli margaritas or the fantastic atmosphere and decor.
The walls have lots of interesting items to check out, wonderful photos and memorabilia. It all comes together to be one of my favourite restaurants, quite possibly in the world.
The smiling friendly staff really do make you feel at home and Putu, who I have got to know reasonably well, will remember your name so by your second visit you will feel like Lacalita is home.
Will and Lacalita it’s a big 10/10.
Congratulations for producing a world class restaurant with the best trimmings in the humble, laid back region of Canguu.
There are a swag of fun and cultural activities to in and around Ubud.
Ubud is considered the spiritual hub of Bali but it offers so much more.
These are some cool ideas to try if you have a day, a week or a month.
Situated one hour from the air port and worth the $25USD in an private car is trendy, organic, yoga, arty, find-your-groove-on town Ubud.
To hire a driver for the day will set you back around $80USD.
I have stayed there several times now. I do love it’s vibe, it’s bars, multi-coloured cocktails and lush surrounds.
Many ex-pats chose Ubud to settle down for a while. This gives Ubud it’s wonderful cross section of personalities, nationalities and flavours. It an awesome melting ground for forward thinkers and I can’t recall ever meeting someone and thinking “this is boring”.
It is the mecca for anyone serious about starting a food movement and is the world capital for vegetarianism and yoga.
I only discovered Ubud a few years ago but now it feel very familiar and very “home”.
Funky bars, incredible restaurants and lots of things to see, Ubud is worthy of a holiday. Just be careful of lady-boys on motor cycles. While visiting the first time, we were bailed up and jostled around by four lady boys. They fled when the guy I was with challenged them and I quickly realised what was happening. Fortunately they took off. I went from thinking “this is a funny situation, ugly girls stopping to offer us directions..” to “OMG these girls are guys and they are trying to rob me!”
These are five things you must do when visiting Ubud
Rafting in Ubud
Located on the gentle lush river, the Ayung River, along side Ubud, are many opportunities to take a raft down the river.
When I rafted down the river it was January and the experience was very gentle and relaxing. Rafting is cool. I have been doing it most of my life and worked as a quasi guide in my 20s. This river is soft, calm and quite serene. There are some very funky carvings half way down, a few nice drop falls and some opportunities to stand like a goddess and wash away your sins.
Rafting is always the perfect anecdote and cleanse for a dirty, normal, stressful modern day existence. Give it a go!
These guys have reasonable prices and you will find most of the companies are all similar. Most of them offer a swim mid river, a snack break and a few photo opportunities.
Monkey Forest Ubud
I am not a big fan of monkeys, as they can be unpredictable, cheeky and bordering on being aggressive. They can grab items from you (sunglasses, watches, wallets, etc) never to be seen again. The other thing to watch with these dear little critters is rabies.
I was bitten a few visits back but didn’t have it seen too. Now I would. Now I how prevalent rabies is in Bali I wouldn’t mess around. If they bite you (and trust me every day someone does get bitten), go to a medical centre or hospital and get the jab.
Now that I have slammed the monkey, I will confess that they are cute to watch and Bali has a few monkey forests and reserves. The one near Ubud is called the Monkey Forest and has a few temples to explore. Worth a visit as most people will know it and will have been there if in Ubud…
Everyone will be able to direct you to the Monkey Palace.
Lunch in a Rice Paddy
There is something very “UBUD” about having lunch or dinner in a rice paddy.
I go here every time I am in town and haven’t had a bad meal yet. The staff are great, the food is devine and I even love the toilet! Check it out if you are in town and try one of their fish dishes.
Chakra Water Falls
Pura Tirta EmpulThese sacred falls are beautiful and simultaneously cleansing. The correct name is Pura Tirta Empul. Pura means temple and this place is destination for Hindus so very busy.
Once there you have to don a sarong and the idea is to pass under each of the fountains in each of the pools. You can dip, dodge dive… sorry couldn’t help that. It’s best to dip under each one… just follow everyone else around you.
Under each fall make a wish, let go of something that has been bugging you and move yourself to closer enlightenment. Hindus believe in Kharma and this is the place to ask for forgiveness.
Nung Nung Waterfall
Not many people venture to this waterfall but they should! The falls are about 50 minutes from Ubud.
It’s a steep descent down and a rewarding waterfall at the end where you can swim, chill and reflect. I loved it and definitely felt something spiritual shift inside me.
The falls are about 70 metres high and project a big swell and nice mist. It’s all pretty safe.
When you walk down try to notice the cut bark on the trees. These trees are cinnamon trees and you can literally slice a bit off and chew. Cinnamon is now being researched for it blood sugar balancing properties and use in obesity. Me… I just love the taste.
Find this place, take your swimmers and enjoy the peace.
Have fun in Ubud!
There are so many things to do, elephant walks, chocolate farm trips… But these are may favourites so far.
For a bit of fun I thought I would try the cooking school on Gili Trawangan at Sweet and Spicy.
As I said it was a bit of fun.
You get to cook five dishes but eat six.
It was good for me being a nutritionist seeing how food has been bastardised to suit the Western Palate. Loads of MSG (salt) and loads of other things that just are not healthy but it was fun and for two girls in the group it looked like their first cooking experience. Including stirring something in a pot!
We made some green sugar balls in sticky rice…. I think they call this food but I could debate that.
We also made gado gado (frozen vegetables with a chilli peanut sauce).
My favorites were definitely the chicken Lai (recipe from a Lombok village) and the steamed fish.
For all the herbs we used it lacked the same dynamic taste sensations that other countries have in their foods – that or the herbs were old and had lost their kick.
The most fun by far was flaming the chicken.
I had a scary kitchen incident growing up and we accidently torched my friends kitchen when cooking popcorn. The fat caught on fire, then exploded. I ended up with stitches in my leg (after diving through a window to escape) one girl ended up in hospital with concussion and the girl closest ended up with nothing as the flame died down pretty quick! Oh that’s right. She threw water on the burning fat. An absolute no-no.
Anyway getting comfortable with flames in the kitchen was cathartic and fun.
Would I recommend it – sure. It was only 350,000 (35USD) and you got to eat the food. Times were at 11am, 4pm and 9pm.
If you haven’t traveled to Asia before your first trip is always an eye opener.
Most parts, aside from the big cities, are third world and developing countries… Singapore and Hong Kong are not but most other places are. Asia has done a massive catch up with the rest of the world and each country is slightly different than the next. Same same but different.
These are some essentials that I suggest you travel with:
Mozi born diseases such as denghue and malaria are alive and well in most parts of Asia. They breed in wet areas and there is plenty of rain around so avoiding them is almost impossible. It used to be you only had to be cautious on sunset/dusk but denghue mosquitos bite during the day.
You can use natural ones like tea tree and apparently (although I haven’t tried it) baby oil or coconut oil is a good barrier too.
First Aid Kit
It doesn’t have to be over the top but scratches that get infected are really common. Last year when I broke my toes in Bali the biggest risk was infection. Clean wounds quickly (use bottled water not tap waters) and cover so they don’t get infected. If they start to get infected use some betadine or dettol, whatever your kit has in it or natural agents, like diluted tea tree or neem and keep it clean.
Infections are rampant – they start off red, sore and create pus. There are medical centres every where so if in doubt go to one. Don’t end up with septicaemia because you didn’t think an infection might kill you. It can.
Tampons with an inserter.
Sorry guys this is for the girls. Personal hygiene is a little bit of a challenge here so stay ahead of the ball game and use this applicators. They are really expensive so bring them from home. But the good thing is they offer some hygiene when some of the toilets are really unhygienic.
It depends a little on what you are doing while in Asia but there are lots of tropical diseases and there are many effective vaccines for these. Hep B, Hep A, Cholera etc… The vaccine debate is interesting but I would suggest to see a travel medicine doctor if you are traveling to Asia to see what they recommend.
A solid bout of gastroenteritis is the most likely thing that is going to wreck your Asian holiday. With hot temperature and dodgy cooking preparation (by Western standard) it’s easy to pick up gastro (viral or bacterial).
You ned to get on top of it quickly.
This trip I have used charcoal tablets – really effective and a probiotic. You can use immodium but it can block you up and leave the infection in your gut… there are all sorts of fluid and hydration drinks to take and these are a good idea – better than trying to hydrate with coke or alcohol. Double your water intake.
If it is really bad (sweats, feeling faint, passing out) go to a medical facility. I had a healthy bout of gastro in Nepal this year and thought I was going to die. It took massive antibiotics and antifungals and I made it through. But people do die from these things and you need to be smart about it.
I think those are the essentials. Things have come a long way in Asia so unless you are going off the beaten trail most things are available at pharmacies and convenience stores. Have fun and try to NOT get sick!
Medical travel Insurance has long been a debatable topic …. until your actually experience a medical mishap overseas.
This was me last year. A medical mishap that I am still paying off because my travel insurance wasn’t the right cover for me!
As you can see from this blog I travel a lot. I decided a few years ago to get an annual travel policy that covered me in all countries for all conditions and that way I knew when I traveled I was covered. It worked out cheaper in the long run and less hassle getting insurance out every trip.
In June last year I decided to go to Bali. I had been four times over the last 8 months so another trip seemed easy to my “new second home” and I was looking forward to it.
I also realised at the time of booking the trip (using rewards points for one of the legs) that my new credit card came with complimentary travel insurance. It seemed pretty straight forward and seeing as I was doubling up on travel insurance I cancelled my other annual one.
This was to be a mistake.
I arrived in Bali and my boyfriend at the time picked me up on his proper rental bike to take me to the beach. He had just purchased a helmet and it seemed very James Dean and exciting! Off we went from the airport and I had a sense of adventure and exhilaration that I recognised and loved. This was going to be FUN… so I thought.
Literally 500 meters from the airport another bike ran into us. We weren’t doing any thing wrong except hesitated when we should have kept driving forward.
The impact of the other bike crushed my foot against our bike’s exhaust pipe. I knew instantly that my foot was crushed and broken.
It was funny, they say things slow down in adversity and it did…. I remember calmly thinking, “my toes are crushed in multiple places and this is going to be an operation or plaster at the minimum.” Unfortunately, after looking down and seeing my bone sticking out I knew an operation would be necessary.
We found our way to the nearest hospital (which is a story in itself)!
Once at the hospital I was ushered in and made to sign lots of paper work. Apparently fracturing your toes on a motor cycle is common in Bali (and as it turns out good money for the locals). I thought I had insurance so we rang back home to Australia to inquire about how to fill in forms and inform them of the accident.
“You are not covered!” we were told. “WHAT?!”I quizzed. What do you mean I am not covered? I always have travel insurance.
It turns out with most credit cards you must spend a minimum of $500 AUD on the particular trip (and call them before leaving the country to notify them of your travels) to activate the cover.
Of course, as fate would have it, I had only spend $450 towards this holiday on that particular card.
Lying there with multiple fractures toes, and open wound that needed debridement and cleaning I didn’t feel I had much choice but to pay the hospital fees.
I sent messages back to doctor friends in Australia who confirmed it would need a general anaesthetic to clean the open fracture and that I was at a high risk of osteomyelitis (bone infection) which can lead to amputation. I didn’t feel I had a choice. I signed over $10,000 on credit card to have the operation.
An operation that would have only cost $5000 in Australia in a private hospital.
Clearly white tourists are a healthy source of income for the locals.
I had the operation, was wheeled back to the Emergency Room, never offered food or water and was discharged from the Emergency bed. They did want to keep me for three days to give me intravenous anti-biotics but I chose to come back in morning and night for these over the three days.
All in all a very expensive lesson about medical travel insurance.
Since coming back to Australia I have resumed my 365 day policy and will never replace it again. I do not trust credit card insurances as they are an added-on upsell and often have so many clauses that it’s not adequate cover.
Check it out properly and make sure you are covered.
You need to know the following:
what you are covered for (flying back to your home, hospital bed stay, operations, etc
are you covered for incidentals (physio, pharmaceuticals etc)
what is your minimum spend to activate the insurance (VIP for credit card insurances)
are you covered for adventure activities (most don’t cover bikes over 200ccs etc) and if you are planning on rafting, abseiling, etc you may need additional cover
find out if your health issues are considered “pre-existing” . Once I was denied a claim for pneumonia because I was diagnosed with asthma as a child. If you have a pre-existing condition you will need to fill in additional paper work before leaving your home country to make sure you are covered
Last year I stumbled across the Puri Sunia twenty minutes outside of Ubud.
It is a new resort that is very beautifully designed and connected to greenery in a very Bali way.
I stay in a deluxe room and it is deluxe. Much better than some of the other similar rated resorts in this region.
The spa area is good and everyone is welcomed with a complimentary foot spa massage. It really does work – massage is relaxing.
You could simply whittle time away at the resort starting with early morning yoga and stretching. If you want to slide in and out of the pool like I did, you can order excellent pool side dining.
I think you should venture into town for a few “must experience” in Ubud.
Great restaurants, music and bars and funky art shops, Ubud is a well known in-land town higher than the better known beachside town of Kuta near Denpasar.
I love Ubud for it’s organic cafes, it’s colour, it’s history, and clothing shops. A friend of mine has her own female clothing range called Goddess on the Go and she has the material made out of wood! Great fabric, nice and cool and easy to wash. Say I said hi if you make it to her shop.