the blooms garden

What To Do at The Blooms Garden Alone in Limited Time

Situated in Tabanan Regency between Denpasar and Singaraja, Bedugul has its own uniqueness that sets it apart from other areas in Bali. Instead of beaches and sea, Bedugul has beautiful lakes and mountains, that attracts many tourists every year, both local and international. For me, personally, Bedugul is a perfect getaway every time I want to get rid of blazing sun and sweat on the beach. Besides lakes and mountains, there’s also a recently opened flower garden, called The Blooms Garden.

the blooms garden
love garden

Operating since 2019, The Blooms Garden is a 4.5 acres garden, providing several attractive facilities, from rabbit garden, archery, picnic area, camping area, fishing pond until paintball game. These facilities, however, are separated from the flower garden and you need a shuttle to reach them. And I think it would be much more fun to explore all of them with your boy or girlfriend, bunch of friends or family members.

the blooms garden
Goddess of the Lake from the distance

So, what if you’re travelling alone and don’t have much time to spend in one place? The Blooms Garden is just right for you! All you need to do is to focus your visit on the main garden itself, like I did. I can guarantee that within an hour or less, you have all the time you need to walk around without feeling rushed. Besides, the entrance fee is also affordable, Rp. 30.000 ($ 2.20) for international tourists and Rp. 20.000 ($ 1.20) for locals.

Gardens at The Blooms Garden are divided into 7 main themes, such as Garden of Love, Dutch Garden, Oval Garden, The Goddess of the Lake, Peacock Garden and Topiary Barong Garden. Canna, begonia, daisy, zinnia, cosmos, kenikir and lavender flourishing in the garden are derived from different continents and regions. For instance, kasna flower is a local flower from Karangasem, Bali, zinnia from South America and amarilis from South Africa. I also saw strawberry plants near the exit gate as well, yet they were still covered with polybag plastic.

Dutch Garden

Each theme has its own signature look. When you see a windmill and a canal replica, obviously you’re visiting Dutch Garden. No tulip, unfortunately, but still an amazing photo spot. Passing through the heart-shaped gate, then finding yourself taking some selfies next to giant heart statue and L.O.V.E letter means you are at the Garden of Love. Peacock Garden can be easily recognized by the appearance of peacock-shaped giant shrubs. And so on.

the blooms garden
Love Garden
Goddess of the Lake

The largest statue in the garden is the mascot of The Blooms Garden, which is The Goddess of the Lake (Dewi Danu), known as the symbol of fertility in Hinduism. Located at the center of the garden, the Goddess stands gracefully facing Lake Beratan, that you can see from the distance, and a mountain view on the other side. Just take the stairs to the top to witness the magnificent overall view of the garden.

the blooms garden
The Blooms Garden top view

The other scenic view is from Marina Bay Sands. Come again, Marina Bay Sands?? Indeed. The Singapore’s luxury hotel, famous for its infinity pool, appears in a very modest version at the garden. Never mind about its modesty, though, since it has an observation deck offering an alternative angle for beautiful landscape, merely by spending another extra Rp. 5000 or $ 0.30 to get there. I recommend you this. I believe it’s the best view that Blooms Garden can offer.

the blooms garden
Marina Bay Sands at The Blooms Garden

If you have all the time in the world, staying at one of the villas on the higher ground could be a great idea. Imagine that you wake up in the morning on the following day, inhaling some fresh air while enjoying fantastic landscape right before your eyes…

the blooms garden
the villas

When I visited The Blooms Garden in the end of 2021, the villa project was postponed for months due to pandemic effects and the restaurant near the exit gate remained closed until further notice. But fear not. By the time this post is written, restrictions are much less than before and all facilities are (re)opened for public.

Peacock Garden

Last but not least, good news for plant lovers. You may find some plants you love in the garden to take home at the shop near Peacock Garden. Not only does it sell decorative flowers, but also plants for cooking spices, fertilizer, packs of soil and vases. Or, if you prefer to get “regular” souvenirs, such as keychains, clothing, handbags etc, there are kiosks by the parking lot outside the garden.

the blooms garden
plant shop

Overall, The Blooms Garden is a wonderful destination for avoiding hustling and bustling in the city with picturesque view of nature and fresh air that makes you feel more relax, as well as energized. Undoubtedly, there are many great photo spots to show off on social media.

flower

And of course, just like what I previously said, it won’t take ages to enjoy this garden. I only spent about 45 minutes to visit the entire place and I found many interesting photo spots peacefully and no rush at all.

starbucks reserve

Starbucks Reserve Dewata, Coffee House and Sanctuary on the Island of Gods

FIRST DESTINATION SINCE PANDEMIC STRIKES

Perhaps it sounds a little bit strange to make Starbucks as my travel bucket list, where I can find its branches in every shopping mall, shop in shop inside big supermarkets and even there’s one nearby my house in Jakarta.

Nonetheless, Starbucks Reserve Dewata in Bali is exceptional because it’s the biggest Starbucks outlet in Southeast Asia and the second biggest in the world. Operating since January 12, 2019, it has become one of the most happening places to hang out. In the same year, it was the last time I came Bali, yet somehow I didn’t a chance to visit Starbucks Reserve Dewata. Then, as you know, COVID-19 pandemic strikes.

starbucks reserve
almost Christmas

I finally returned to Bali in December 2021, a few days before Christmas. The virus was still there, though, but at least travel restrictions were less intense than before. The situation was under control before Omicron screwed up everything we’ve been fighting for. To be honest, it was my first time to travel outside Jakarta since pandemic strikes in Indonesia and the rest of the world. So yeah, I was more than excited to spend a Christmas holiday far from home.

main entrance

Having arrived in Ngurah Rai International Airport, we directly headed to Starbucks Reserve Dewata on Sunset Road no. 77 because it’s not too far from the airport, approximately 15 to 20 minutes by car.

COFFEE SANCTUARY, NOT JUST CAFE

starbucks reserve
reception counter

The wave-patterned red brick façade with Starbucks logo looked eye-catching, but it didn’t show enough how gigantic Starbucks Reserve Dewata was until we walked into the store. As the reception desk official greeted us, it felt like being in an exclusive lounge.

Luxury is part of the charm, that’s for sure. However, the main added values lie in the concept of coffee sanctuary and local wisdom in the details of the store design. Starbucks also would like to educate their customers on where their favorite coffee drinks comes from and how they are made, as well as informing them about its participation in sustainability in fun and entertaining way.

starbucks reserve
coffee plantation and mural

The reception counter was linked directly to the courtyard with 10 by 10 sqm arabica coffee plantation, representing an example of coffee plantations owned by farmers in Indonesia that usually come in that exact size. Starbucks doesn’t harvest coffee from the plantation inside the store, though, especially coffee doesn’t grow well in hot weather places.

girl playing zoetrope

Make sure you don’t miss the bright-coloured mural of farmers harvesting coffee plants and and a zoetrope, an animation device showing phases of the growth of coffee tree, situated in the middle of the plantation. If you love being surrounded by something close to nature, the courtyard will be the best spot to sit down and zip some coffee. You can sit on a rattan swing, too.

starbucks reserve
rice terracing bar table and rattan coffee smoke

Since we were looking for an aircon room, we preferred being inside the two-storey glass building with very high ceiling. Not only does the American-based coffee house look lavish, extravagant, modern and hype that attract visitors around the world, but also the infiltrated traditional elements make it unique, distinctive and unforgettable.

starbucks reserve
access to the aircon room
starbucks reserve
closer look at the wood sculpture

Among others, the impressive 9-meter-high wooden sculpture on the wall depicting coffee culture and coffee producing regions in Indonesia, a giant woven bamboo hanging decoration representing fragrant coffee smoke, a terracing rice field shape bar table made of teak wood, wooden cart and a wooden door handle with the engraved mermaid’s tail, which is part of the Starbucks logo.

starbucks reserve
view of the 2 storey outlet

There’s also a digital wall, showing the process of making quality coffee, by pressing, turning and sliding buttons. Suppose you can’t get enough with coffee plantation, go to the 2nd floor to see coffee seedling under the glass roof showing coffee trees from 1 month old until 1 year. Additionally, there’s a theater specifically giving information about Starbucks Farmer Support Center, emphasizing on how Starbucks collaborate with farmers in Indonesia.

starbucks reserve
the bar

Well, even though coffee lesson wasn’t my main intention of visiting Starbucks Reserve, I was glad to know that Starbucks doesn’t only focus its business on profit, but also helping farmers to reach more prosperity by purchasing their coffee beans, providing farming tools, education and high quality fertilizer.

PRODUCT DIFFERENTIATION?

starbucks
Dewata Latte

Basically all food and drinks are just the same in both varieties and price as those at other Starbucks outlets, except Dewata Latte or Pear Tea, that are only available at Starbucks Reserve Dewata. We finally tried a grande cup of Dewata Latte, simply described as coffee milk with original Balinese brown sugar or “kopi gula aren” in Indonesian. It was pretty good, we loved the bittersweet balance between coffee, milk and brown sugar.

starbucks reserve
souvenirs

Polo shirts, umbrellas, mugs, tumblers, teddy bears with either printed or embroidered lotus logo and the word “Dewata” are typical Starbucks Reserve Dewata souvenirs you won’t get in any other Starbucks branches. They are nice memorable things to go, all you need to have is a willingness to spend more. I personally think it’s pricey for local standard, like a polo shirt over Rp. 500,000 ($ 37) per piece. But I think it’s quite normal for develop countries’ living standard.

THE REVIVAL OF TOURISM IN BALI?

It was almost 5 pm when we got there, and nearly all seats were full despite its huge capacity. We were expecting to get comfortable sofa seats to chill out longer, yet we didn’t get any, as everybody at the store thought the same way. The situation was understandable, though, considering it was coffee hour in high season. Only an hour later did we finally get our turn to occupy the cozy sofa.

starbucks reserve
cozy sofa

Considering that COVID-19 still strikes and has made tourism industry tumbling down, it seemed that tourism in Bali has started back on its feet. However, I noticed that there was a slight different kind of crowds compared to the last time I visited the island in 2019.

starbucks reserve
rattan sofa

Since the spread of the virus is usually more intense during holiday season, the government made travel restrictions to keep the situation in control. Bali postponed accepting international flights at the airport. Indonesian tourists had a difficulty to travel overseas due to restrictions and quarantine policies in destination countries.

Therefore, the result of this situation was obvious. The crowds we saw were dominated by local tourists from different cities in Indonesia. Only less than 10 percent of visitors were foreigners under specific conditions, either have a temporary residence permit for foreigners (KITAS), married with an Indonesian spouse and have a family or can’t return to their homeland due to multiple times of lock down.

starbucks reserve

A senior waiter, who has been working since the first days of Starbucks Reserve Dewata opening, mentioned about a Russian guest he served who once told him on how he can survive financially when he can’t go back to his hometown and work for unexpectedly longer period. From what I understand, it turns out that the recent policy related to pandemic in Russia gives him an opportunity to work online for the government.

I thought to myself that Putin has made a great job about this policy. At that time, he had not started the war with Ukraine. FYI, long before pandemic strikes, there have been a lot of Russian people doing business, working or spending their retirement time in Bali.

ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE MATTERS THE MOST

starbucks reserve
counter

When luxury and relaxation collide, that’s how I felt when I was hanging out at Starbucks Reserve Dewata. The grandiose store has mesmerizing local wisdom implementations with modern atmosphere to awe you (and very instagrammable), but there’s no need to be intimidated because it’s still Starbucks, that basically a coffee house for everybody in relatively affordable price, so you can be yourself and no certain dress code needed to be there. It’s also sort of a cafe museum oriented where you can learn something out of it if you want to with interactive tools. In short, it’s an edutainment destination.

Final verdict? It was a wonderful experience and I didn’t regret making Starbucks Reserve Dewata as a travel destination.

secret garden bali

Secret Garden Village: Edutainment Destination of Indonesian Heritage

When I heard about Secret Garden Village, it reminds me of a classical novel called Secret Garden (adapted into a movie several times) about an orphan girl who unlocks her uncle’s hidden garden with tons of flowers blooming everywhere in his estate. Nonetheless, the Secret Garden I visited in Bali is not literally a garden.

Situated in Luwus Village in Bedugul, the mountainous province in Bali, Secret Garden Village consists of beauty store, cafe, restaurants and rice field under one roof, with an added value: educational-oriented destination, focusing on introducing Indonesian heritage in beauty products and coffee.

secret garden bali
modern minimalist

The building facade of Secret Garden Village wasn’t something I expected at first, blending contemporary and minimalist style with elements of nature, such as some shrubs on the roof, palm trees, grasses and fish pond. But it still impressed me in some way.

secret garden bali

BEAUTY TOUR

Founded in 2016 by Billy Hartono Salim, the entrance ticket to Secret Garden Village was Rp. 50.000 ($ 3.50) on weekdays and Rp. 100.000 ($7) on weekends, including Beauty Tour. Overtime, the management found out that there are only a small percentage of visitors who really want to spend time for the 20 minute Beauty Tour in reality. Therefore, the policy has changed into free of charge entrance. An additional Rp. 25.000 ($ 1.70) per person is available for anybody interested in joining Beauty Tour. Well, that sounds more flexible and fair, I think.

secret garden bali
the heritage museum

As the first timer, I believe there’s no harm to take the Beauty Tour. Beauty tour is a guided tour of basic knowledge of beauty product ingredients of Herborist, a Balinese brand of face and body care, including coffee cupping at Black Eye Coffee Shop.

The first part of the tour is the Beauty Heritage Museum, exhibiting some best-selling Herborist products, followed by benefit of the plants used to create the products, among others are lemongrass, olive, frangipani, rose, aloe vera and many more. Nearly all the plants harvest in many parts of Indonesia, some of them from its own plantation. Olive is the only imported ingredient because it doesn’t grow well in Indonesia.

se
photo spot at the museum

Apart from that, there are displays of traditional tools used for processing and storing spices and plants, such as scale, mortar, pestle, vase etc, merely for aesthetical purposes and not used for Herborist production process. A rickshaw and an old bike at the corner of the museum are nice photo spots, too.

The second part is watching the production process at the factory, where all guests must use a lab coat, shower cap and shoe coverings provided. This is where the curiosity goes the most, yet unfortunately its not allowed to take pictures inside, except on the photo spot with chemistry-themed background. The factory at Secret Garden Village is the smaller scale of the bigger one in Semarang, Central Java, since it’s only to fulfill the needs at the store. From weighing, mixing ingredients, soap moldings until placing products in bottles are by machine, except labelling, which is still by hand. Instead of using paraben, Herborist uses sodium benzoate as a preservative, which is saver.

The last but not least is the 5 minute theater explaining the history of Herborist products and Secret Garden Village facilities. A soap making class is also available for another Rp. 125.000 ($9) per session.

SHOPPING AT OEMAH HERBORIST

Trust me, don’t skip this part if you love skin care and beauty products! Oemah Herborist beauty store is huge, offering multiple brands from PT Victoria Care Indonesia, Tbk., from Herborist, Miranda Hair Care, Victoria, Nuface to CBD. There’s also Secret Garden, although it’s doesn’t belong to the corporation. Of all the brands, my attention went to Herborist and Secret Garden.

se
secret garden products on sale

Herborist has a wide range of beauty products, from skin care, body care, essential oils massage oil, bath salts etc, with various scents, such as olive, frangipani, rose and lemongrass offered starting only from Rp. 20.000 ($1.50). Moreover, there are fancy shape soaps from fruit to flower shapes, that are nice for gifts.

sec
fancy soaps

On the other hand, Secret Garden is the more premium brand for body care products, such as soaps, scrubs, hand lotion, body butter, body mist perfumes and room fragrance, yet less variety of (facial) skin care line, except fresh face masks. Compared to Herborist, Secret Garden contains more natural ingredients and the scents tend to be more natural. For instance, the honey body lotion smell is pretty much similar to natural honey in supermarkets. The frangipani body lotion from Secret Garden has more subtle smell than that of Herborist. For sure, the more premium the products, the more price they have. The lowest price starts from Rp. 60.000 ($ 4.30).

Since Covid-19 strikes Indonesia and the rest of the world, Oemah Herborist sells hand sanitizer and disinfectant in many sizes and fragrances, from travel size to large bottles whose contents are more than a liter.

I ended up buying 7 soap bars, shampoo, traditional body scrub (lulur), 3 bottles of body lotion and 2 shower gels. Most of them were on sale, some were even half price. So why not? Now I have more than enough stock to bathe all year long.

COFFEE CUPPING

The coffee cupping session is unguided and feel free to go to bar section inside Black Eye Coffee Shop if you want. The barista will give you some basic knowledge about coffee. When it comes to tasting, I chose Bali Kintamani coffee. It was lightweight, not too bitter with fruity after taste. I’m not a coffee drinker myself, except lattes, but I still could enjoy it.

secret garden bali
the bar
coffee cupping

Apart from coffee, it also offers approximately 20 flavours of ice cream, croissants and cakes. The vanilla ice cream was pretty good and not too sweet, anyways. There are souvenirs as well, from whole bean coffee, t-shirts to wooden cutlery. But for me, the number one reason why you should hang out in this coffee shop is the picturesque view of rice field right in front of you. Zipping a cup of coffee doesn’t only awaken you, but also peaceful and relaxing by just looking at the greenery.

souvenir shop

RICE FIELD

Yes, the real “secret garden” is the rice field, where you can see it from Black Eye Coffee Shop. The best way to enjoy it is to explore on foot for about 15 to 20 minutes walk. The path is super easy, comfortable and safe for all ages. There’s no way to get lost because it starts and ends from the same spot. It is of course instagrammable in every angle and a lot of fine spots for selfie.

secret garden bali
rice field
secret garden bali
secret garden bali

DINING EXPERIENCE

The only thing I didn’t have a chance to experience is the dining part, except ice cream at Black Eye Coffee Shop. The specialty is bebek timbungan at Bebek Timbungan restaurant (yes, the restaurant is named after the food), the aged-duck traditionally cooked for 12 hours with lots of spices. This is one of the rarest food you can find in restaurants on the Island of Gods because the cooking method is complicated and time-consuming. Half a day for one dish, are you kidding me? However, just to remind you that bebek timbungan is enjoyed best when you can handle (very) spicy food. Since I know I can’t stand spicy food, I decided to take suckling pig nearby instead prior to the visit. As an option, you can try Indonesian food buffet for more variety at The Luwus inside Bebek Timbungan restaurant.

secret garden bali
Bebek Timbungan Restaurant

Both Bebek Timbungan and The Luwus Restaurant are situated on the same row as Black Eye Coffee Shop, although in a different building, where you can see the rice field. There’s also a juice bar on a separate counter close to Bebek Timbungan.

INTERNATIONAL BEAUTY STORE DESTINATION?

Overall, Secret Garden Village is relaxing, entertaining tourist attraction with educational value at the same time. On educational thing, however, I would say that it’s up to visitors. To be exact, you have a freedom to create a purpose of your visit. Completing a guided tour to the heritage museum means you have made it an educational oriented destination. The more you ask, the more knowledge you get. Tasting the rare cuisine of bebek timbungan and zipping a cup of coffee means you want to achieve ultimate culinary experience, and so on.

s
Oemah Herborist Store

It’s a bit unfortunate that most visitors tend to skip the educational part, unless you have visited the place for more than once. Although the beauty tour entrance fee doesn’t generate the income that much compared to dining at Bebek Timbungan restaurant and shopping at Oemah Herborist, I believe the tour is a great opportunity to popularize Indonesian products, to both local and international tourists, by introducing the richness, diversity of Indonesian spices and how they benefit health and wellness when used in products.

Somehow it reminds of my holiday to Korea years ago, where buying Korean skin care and cosmetics were my main purpose of the visit because the collection are much more complete and they cost 50% cheaper than those in Indonesia. I mean, it’s not really about price comparison in the end. It’s more about how Korea promotes their local beauty brands to the world, that their products are not only more internationally known, but also trigger western beauty brands to launch K-beauty inspired products, such as BB cushion, lip tint, cooling eye stick balm etc.

It’s still a long way to go, but as an Indonesian citizen, I really hope that someday Indonesian brands will be able to follow Korean footsteps in the sense of popularity and inspiration for major players in beauty business, as well as others types of industries. Secret Garden Village could be a starting point to make it happen!

Warung D’Bishe and Fantastic View of Rice Fields

https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d65332253.26636864!2d78.18305220225601!3d-1.9260242728351253!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x2dd220ebccafea0b%3A0x9545988e1e41c5a1!2sWarung%20D-bishe!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sid!4v1607630544278!5m2!1sen!2sid

On the way to Ubud, we took shortcuts passing some villages and rice fields in Petang Village. Unexpectedly, we saw a food stall on the side of the street that managed to drive our attention called “Warung D’Bishe”. I love how the warung transforms used materials, such as slabs of wood and containers, into seating.

Honestly, I don’t wanna brag that I know everything about this warung. In fact, what came first to my mind when I got there was that I only wanted to chill out, enjoy the view, do some small talk and no intention to dig some more information about this place. I didn’t even think to share about it in this post. However, it would be kinda selfish if I know a great place but not telling you guys. So, I did.

Basically, Warung D’Bishe offers typical warung style light bites, such as Kacang Garuda (Garuda peanuts), Beng Beng chocolate snack, Taro Snack, as well as traditional coffee so-called kopi tubruk (unfiltered coffee) and tea. Not to mention Indomie, the nation’s best selling instant noodle, served hot on the table. From this point of view, Warung D’Bishe is like any other warungs.

Nonetheless, the picturesque view of rice fields is something you should not miss, as it is very refreshing for your mind and soul. I instantly could forget about hustling and bustling life in a big city like Jakarta with its concrete jungles. Besides, the warung has a swing, a sky tree and a cute hut with an attic you can climb on, that are instagrammable. I haven’t tried, but I hope the safety’s good.

If the warung is so instagrammable, how much does it cost?? Fear not, Warung D’Bishe is not the kind of so-called warung only by its name that charges you like an upscale restaurant. A cup of coffee is about Rp. 4000 ($ 0.30) for locals and Rp. 10,000 per cup ($ 0.80) for foreigners. But still, it’s less that $1 for great Balinese coffee, magnificent landscape right before your eyes and a small playground where you can have more fun with.

By the way, I recently check their Facebook Page and they actually have chicken feet soup served with rice noodle for heavier dish. Even there was a couple doing a pre-wedding shot in this warung and the result was incredible!

Last but not least, my advice is spend more time with friends and family, don’t stare too much at your phone screen. Enjoy the nature as long as you can, that’s for sure. Anyways, great view doesn’t have to be pricey.

fun quotes
snacks
outdoor seating
a cup of coffee
seating made of slabs of wood
do more social interaction instead

Banyu Wana Amertha Waterfall: Hidden Paradise in Wanagiri

https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d3948.8998221414954!2d115.12003841478094!3d-8.21282899408958!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x2dd18f0a0b36a42f%3A0xf64c6ae42a96c645!2sBanyu%20Wana%20Amertha%20Waterfall!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sid!4v1603743998005!5m2!1sen!2sid

Wanagiri may not be the first place popping up in your mind when you’re talking about Bali. Especially, it’s merely a small village in the mountainous area of north Bali, situated 2 hours from all-time tourist destinations on the island, such as Kuta, Seminyak and many more, where all of them are located in the south.

Yet believe it or not, the news about the picturesque view of Wanagiri village has widely spread overseas. There are even more foreign tourists than local ones. Banyu Wana Amertha Waterfall is one of the must-to-see destinations in the village.

4 WATERFALLS IN ONE PLACE

The best part of visiting Banyu Wana Amertha Waterfall is that by paying merely Rp. 10,000 ($ 0.80) for locals and Rp. 20,000 ($ 1.50) for foreigners, you automatically have an access to 4 waterfalls since all of them are located close to each other.

NON-TOURISTY, PRESERVED NATURE

If you embrace tranquility and purity, Banyu Wana Amerta Waterfall is the right place for you. You won’t feel any touristy atmosphere, from overcrowded traffic to loud chit-chats, shouting and all that. Another advantage for not being a touristy place is that there aren’t too many trashes and less chances for nature destruction.

Moreover, there’s no such thing as burning heat in Wanagiri. If hot and sun is the first impression about the weather in Bali, it’s time to broaden that perception. Generally speaking, the afternoon temperature in Wanagiri is approximately 25 degrees with the real feel of 22 degrees because of the breeze.

I personally love the mild weather in Wanagiri, that affects me for not being too sweaty and too exhausted during the hiking activity, thanks to the refreshing mountain breeze.

PERFECT FOR DEBUTANT HIKERS

The way to the waterfall is quite steep and narrow, but still safe for cars and motorcycles to pass by. The asphalt street has a very good condition with an even surface. What you need to do is to control the speed while driving.

If you love to explore the beauty of nature but afraid of falling, getting slipped, getting lost and ending up in the middle of nowhere? Fear not! The trails are suitable for all-level hikers. The safety is pretty good, too.

At first, you will pass residential houses after passing the ticket counter. This confused me in the beginning, thinking that I took the wrong way to the villagers’ house complex. Nonetheless, a wooden board saying “waterfall” with an arrow sign implied that I was on the right track.

You will step on paving blocks along the way to the main destination, surrounded with greenery and some flower. It’s completely an easy and save trail for everyone.

on the way to the waterfall

Within 20 minutes walk, you’ll find an intersection with a big board mentioning the direction and duration spent to all 4 waterfalls. Each waterfall are simply named “BWA Waterfall”, “One Waterfall”, “Two Waterfall” (without “s”, probably because of grammatical error) and “Spray Waterfall”.

an intersection

Starting from here, the trail starts to be “closer to nature”, aka a bit challenging, and no pavements like the previous one. But still, it is suitable for those who are not used to hiking. There are some slippery paths you need to pay attention, though not too many. The risk of being slipped is lessened by used tires implanted on the soil. Steep surfaces are modified into stairs in accordance with the contour of the soil, completed with handrails made of bamboo, wood or twigs to support safety, while maintaining the original landscape as it should be.

BWA WATERFALL AND ONE WATERFALL

banyu wana amerta waterfall
one waterfall

If you don’t have all the time in the world, just visit One Waterfall and BWA (abbreviation of Banyu Wana Amertha) Waterfall. Both waterfalls are on the same location that takes only a minute walking distance from the intersection, separated by a wooden bridge. The difference between them is that One Waterfall only has 1 spring water, whereas BWA Waterfall has several sources of spring water in one place.

banyu wana amertha waterfall
the bridge to BWA waterfall

The view is not only magnificent for taking pictures, selfie or wefie, but also great for swimming and bathing. So don’t forget to bring a swimsuit to enjoy the fresh and unpolluted water. It will re-energize your body and mind to continue your journey. Not far from the waterfall, there’s a changing room that looks like a hut at a glance.

BWA Waterfall

TWO WATERFALL AND SPRAY WATERFALL

These waterfalls are also spots you should not miss during the visit. Starting from the same intersection, it takes 5 minutes to Two Waterfall and 7 minutes to Spray Waterfall. Bear in mind that these waterfalls are in the opposite direction of BWA and One Waterfall.

Two Waterfall and favorite photo spot

Most visitors love capturing themselves standing on the wooden bridge with a waterfall background in Two Waterfall. On the other hand, there’s no bridge in Spray Waterfall and the water stream tends to be heavy. You also can bathe and swim in both waterfalls, however they are more popular for photo spots and no changing room provided.

banyu wana amertha waterfall
spray waterfall

TIPS FOR VISITORS

The best time to visit is in the morning because it often rains in Wanagiri in the afternoon, and the paths are getting more slippery as well. Bringing a raincoat to anticipate the weather is highly recommended. Make sure you wear comfortable clothing and non-slip shoes or sandals. To maximize the experience at the waterfall, bring a swimsuit if you wish.

There’s only one traditional food stall or so-called warung inside the area with limited options, such as Indomie instant noodle, coffee and snacks. It’s completely a traditional warung, nothing commercial and very cheap. Just $ 0.30 for a cup of coffee, who can’t afford that?

The other warung is outside the waterfall complex, facing the street. Selling more or less the same thing, they have an $ 0.80 rice noodle with meatballs, that unfortunately the meatballs are not good and too floury. So, I suggest you to get an Indomie instant noodle instead, since it already has a sort of “standard” taste regardless who cooks it. Though still, some say that eating Indomie at any warung tastes better than you cook it at home.

this looks good, but the taste isn’t

If they don’t suit your taste, bring your own food and don’t litter. I advise you to bring a paper or a plastic bag to collect trashes and throw them away after returning to the hotel.

Bali has so much more than just beaches and sun. To feel the new sensation of Bali with waterfalls and colder weather, that could be 10 or even 6 degrees at night, it’s time for you to visit north Bali that includes Banyu Wana Amertha waterfall on your bucket list.

Nasi Ayam Kedewatan Ibu Mangku: Legendary Chicken Rice from Ubud, Bali

Ubud is famous for Monkey Forest, Ubud Market, The Royal Palace as well as shops, restaurants and cafes along the way that are often quite pricey and touristy. Well, suppose you step away a little bit from the crowds to Kedewatan Village in the outskirt of Ubud, that takes about 20 minutes, you’ll find a rather ordinary house façade saying “Nasi Ayam Kedewatan Ibu Mangku”, translated as Mrs. Mangku’s Kedewatan Chiken Rice, on both neon box and engraved limestone.

nasi ayam kedewatan
the facade

Mrs. Mangku started selling her signature chicken rice back in 1960’s on a flea market around Kedewatan Village. Before she succeeds, she moved from one place to another until she has many regular customers and settles at the present location.

Once I arrived at the restaurant, I didn’t quickly take a seat in an ordinary dining room in front of me. Instead, I walked further to find the beautiful Balinese house hidden behind it. The 6-pavilion house is the residence of Mrs. Mangku family and one of them is the kitchen to produce the signature chicken mix rice. The atmosphere is very homey rather than a commercial place and peaceful with soft background of Balinese keroncong music. The scenery is fantastic and the combination of red brick, engraved wood, gold and red color make the house look earthy and elegant at the same time.

nasi ayam kedewatan
the pond

The seatings are situated on the side of each pavilion and some on stage, like the ones near the pond and the rice barn. Most of them are performed with lesehan style, meaning that you will dine using a very short table and seat on a carpet, that somehow similar to a traditional Japanese dining style. Since the house is spacious and the distance from 1 seating to another is a bit far, it is very suitable for those who love privacy and tranquility. Take some to walk around the house, the greenery and serenity are completely relaxing your mind and refreshing your eyesight.

ubud bali
modified rice barn into seating

nasi ayam kedewatan

Although the signature menu is called nasi ayam (chicken rice), probably it is more suitable to call it nasi campur ayam (chicken-based mix rice) because unlike the Chinese food Hainan Chicken Rice, it is a mixture of different kind of chicken-based dishes, from sate lilit ayam (minced chicken satay), boiled egg, crispy chicken skin, ayam betutu (Balinese style chicken), lawar (mixed vegetables) and peanuts.

nasi ayam kedewatan
privacy and serenity

nasi ayam kedewatan

nasi ayam kedewatan
after work

Bear in mind that don’t do what I did by asking, “Is there any other menus other than chicken rice?”, because they only have 1 menu for many years and there haven’t been any new ones ever since. Therefore the waiter asked me if it was my first visit to the restaurant. Certainly, it was!

The only variety is how it’s served, either all contents in one plate including rice and poured chicken soup on the rice or in different plates, where rice and soup are served separately. Nonetheless, it’s the same food. The chicken-based mix rice in one plate costs Rp. 25.000 ($ 2) and the separate one costs Rp. 35.000 ($ 3) because it has a bigger portion of rice and soup. I was hungry, so I took the Rp. 35.000 dish.

nasi ayam kedewatan
chicken-based mix rice

All I can say is I got more than I paid. It was very delicious with all the rich spices penetrated into the chicken dishes and the soup tasted so heavenly. I struggled with the burning hot soup, to be honest, since I’m usually not a spicy food eater, but it was all worth it.

nasi ayam kedewatan
Yes, I sat here!

Fresh juices are sold starting from Rp. 7000 ($ .50) to Rp. 20.000 ($ 1.6). There are some varieties of chips, crackers as well starting from Rp. 1000 ($ .10) for a thumb size package of snack you can get in front of the cashier and the price range for the rest is about Rp. 5000 to Rp. 10.000 ($ .30 to $ .80).

nasi ayam kedewatan
fountain and snacks behind it

temple inside the house

No wonder why the business lasts for over 60 years, how cool is that! I was lucky that I could choose the seat very easily since I came around 2 pm on weekdays where lunch time was over.

My experience tells me (and you) that this is not a tourist trap and nothing scammy about it. You definitely don’t need to empty your wallet for dining in an authentic and instagrammable place and satisfy your appetite with great food.

Nasi Ayam Kedewatan Ibu Mangku

Address: Jl. Raya Kedewatan No.18, Ubud, Bali
Phone: 0361 974795
Opening hours: 6.30 am – 8 pm

monkey

How Safe and Wise to Feed Monkeys in Buleleng, Bali?

As we all know, monkeys are intelligent animals in many ways, even considered the closest relatives to human beings. Nonetheless, when it comes to interacting with people, there are pros and cons. Some say they are cute and lovely, some say they are nasty and dangerous. Which one do you think is right?

For me, they are just unpredictable. So I stay safe when I face them. Don’t wear accessories, from earrings, a hat to sunglasses. Don’t feed them. Don’t touch them. When they climb on me, keep calm until they go down themselves. The only thing I dare to is to look at them and take pictures, but trying my best not too close to the subjects.

But a single shot experience in Buleleng may change my perception about monkeys. FYI, Buleleng is a regency situated in the north side of Bali, whose capital city is Singaraja. Suppose you’ve been to Kuta and Denpasar in south Bali, it takes about 2 hours drive from the south to the north. It is said that the monkeys in Buleleng are nice and don’t steal stuff.

ARE THESE MONKEYS THAT NICE?

When I was on my way up to Wanagiri Village, passing the hilly road in Buleleng, my dad asked the driver to pull over and stop the car on the side of the street full of long-tailed monkeys.

“Here?” I asked with disbelieve.

I’d always thought that the location would be either a park, a sanctuary or a zoo. Forget about a place like Monkey Forest in Ubud. It’s actually located on the side of the busy street, facing the beautiful lake Buyan and Tamblingan. No entrance fee needed to see these monkeys. They were just everywhere, especially in the forest where they reside across the street. I could even see them from the car window.

When I got off from the car, I saw a lady leaving the hut nearby, bringing a basket of peanuts and bananas, and started feeding a fat monkey with peanuts. However, he hissed, showing his small yet sharp teeth and eyes wide open. I was a bit shocked.

time to feed the monkeys

monkey
Jack being busy with banana

“That’s all right. He just wants bananas, not peanuts.” She tried to calm me down, convincing that feeding monkeys in the area is safe. I didn’t know monkeys could be so demanding.

Having changed the bait into a banana, the fat monkey, let’s call him Jack, quickly grabbed and enjoyed it for himself.

Next, she fed the smaller monkey, let’s call him Chad, on top of the roof. Later on, she gave me a turn to feed the perpetually hungry monkeys, passing me the basket. Since I know it wouldn’t be for free, I asked her how much it is.

“Twenty thousand.”

Rp. 20.000 ($1.5) for a basket filled with 7 pieces of banana and a handful of peanuts is not too expensive compared to buying banana for Rp. 10.000  ($ 0.80) per piece in Monkey Forest. You can bring your own food, but I wasn’t ready. Anyways, she or anyone else in charge for the monkeys would be much happier if you get a basket of food from her or him.

I started giving a piece of banana to Chad, yet he unexpectedly move a few steps behind. The lady suggested me to move my hand further toward the monkey, therefore he could reach the food more easily. Well, I was just being cautious no matter how tame they are, that’s all.

However, in seconds, I noticed that real the reason why Chad couldn’t grab the peanuts from my hand was because he didn’t dare to step further. He could have done that, but Jack was standing in front of the hut while staring at the rooftop. It turned out that Chad was intimidated by Jack’s presence.

That also happened to other monkeys whose body size were just like Chad. I fed all of them equally, interchangeably between peanuts and bananas. However, when Jack was near them, they kept the distance from him, even ran away until the situation is “safe”.

Jack was indeed territorial as if he ran the world. He only wanted the food for himself, not really pleased when other smaller monkeys accepted it from men’s hands. He even chased those monkeys, including Chad, trying to scare them off. I did my best to give all the content in the basket for those poor monkeys, rather than Jack. Although I still spare some for Jack.

monkey
grabbing peanuts

Despite Jack’s domination and the poor monkeys, it is true that they are more “polite” than those in other areas. They only approach you when there’s food in your hands meant for them. Nothing more. They don’t grab sunglasses, hats or accessories. They don’t climb on you. They don’t bite. In one condition: as long as you don’t touch them.

A few days later, we passed the same street, going down to the airport. I spotted some tourists holding a camera feeding the same monkeys I fed last time. Due to the development of tourism in north Bali, the cuteness of the monkeys is getting more popular. Feeding them is indeed a fun activity for many.

FUN, YET NOT WISE 

Nonetheless, weeks after returning home, I accidentally stumbled upon on Mongabay, an environment news site, mentioning that actually it is unwise to feed them because nowadays the monkeys are 3 times fatter than how it should be. Overfeeding does not only have an impact on their health, but also changes their surviving behaviour in the wild and increase their aggressiveness on searching for food.

If I knew it from the start, I wouldn’t have done what I did.

In that case, local government should educate its people on side effects of offering monkey feeding activities for tourists to earn money, although it’s not a quick scheme to get the expected results to protect the future of  long-tailed monkeys population.

 

Pringga’s Grill Restaurant, Ubud: Terrible Service and Inverted Racism

The night was still young. Although my sis, my brother-in-law and I were not about to party all night long till the morning light, we were not ready to sleep like a baby at 8 pm either. After all, night life in Bali is something everyone should experience, at least once.

The intensity of crowds at night in Ubud is much less than that in Legian, including the main street of Monkey Forest. Ubud is more famous for art galleries, artsy stores, yoga centers, and the Monkey Forest itself, than pubs and discotheques. As these places are closed at night, the whole street looks partially dark.

pringga's ubud bali
dining rooms

Nonetheless, no worries. Walk further, passing all the (closed) stores, and the more vivid part of the street appears, thanks to the lighting from hotels, hostels, restaurants, pubs and mini markets, including Pondok Pundi Village Inn where we stayed.

pringga's ubud bali
the bar

Within 5 minutes walking distance from the inn, we finally found a very cozy place and not too crowded to hang out: Pringga’s Grill Ubud.

The open air space, homey feeling and traditional atmosphere, enhanced by barong statues, engravings and Balinese gamelan music background, managed to drag us to sit on one of their big sofas to get lazy and have some booze despite the emphasis of “grill” in the name of this cafe restaurant.

fibra ubud bali
to the bungalow entrance

My brother in-law ordered a glass of cocktail for himself (I forget what he had), while my sis and I got a grenadine-based cocktail for sharing. My sis is not a huge fan of cocktails, after all, but wanted to have some zips of sweetness.

fibra garden hotel ubud

At a glance, I noticed something pretty behind Pringga’s Grill, especially the building is adjacent with Wibawa Spa and Fibra Inn Bungalow, a Balinese Garden Hotel. While waiting for the drinks, I took a self-walking tour to the hotel and spa area.

hindu shrine ubud
shrines

ubud bali

Balinese traditional house is clearly the main inspiration of the property, something that I found beautiful and serene. The use of secluded building to separate one room to another is one of the signature styles of Balinese houses because of the application of Hindu dharma principle, where objects must be properly located, aligned with the universe to create harmony.

fibra ubud bali

 

Probably, it is formerly a family residence transformed into a business area. I noticed several additional rooms in modern architecture. Besides, I believe that Pringga’s Grill was built later to cater the needs of guests and maximize the potential to earn more.

fibra ubud bali
the pond

Anyways, this was a great place to kill the time before my drink arrived.

Returning to our seat 15 minutes later, the cocktails had not arrived yet. I was expecting they would be on the table by the time I got back.

fibra hotel ubud bali

I looked at our surroundings. It wasn’t a very busy day. The occupation of seats were less than half of the room. If our orders were grilled food, I could understand that it may take longer. But for heaven’s sake, ours were just 2 glasses of cocktails!

We all agreed that something was not right and called the staff to remind that our orders were still pending after a while. She nodded and walked to the bar area.

ubud bali

Another 10 minutes went by. My sister noticed that those who were served first were foreigners, that happened to have Caucasian look. The only local guests in the room was my sister and I. My brother-in-law is not even an Indonesian, but a Chinese-Fijian nationality. However, as he joined us, he looked just like any Chinese-Indonesian people.

I felt the same. I observed approximately 4 small groups of (Caucasian-look) guests arriving later than us and they all got their drinks first.

We could have scolded the staffs or left our spot without their knowledge. But we came to this place to relax, not to argue and lecture them about service excellence. We called the staff once again, asking for our drinks.

They finally arrived, nearly 40 minutes the orders were made. Great. First come, last served!

There was no problem about the taste of the cocktails. The grenadine cocktail was a bit too sweet, but it was still okay and enjoyable.

ubud bali

Well, I believe that the real issue behind the terribly slow service was not about operational mismanagement. Blame it on inverted racism attitude or valuing other races more than your own (www.urbandictionary.com).

Unfortunately, there are some Indonesian people who still consider that foreigners (Caucasian-look people so-called bule, to be exact) have higher social status than locals (Indonesians). Literally means “pale”, bule, is an Indonesian slang for fair-skinned people.

Since the bules tend to spend more freely when they come to Indonesia, they look rich. So, these inverted racists have a stereotype that “all” bules are rich. And spendy.

I mean no offense about this. But in fact, not all bules are rich for real in their hometown, although some of them are. They generally become rich by conversion rate. Say, they can get more stuffs in Indonesia for $50 (about Rp. 400.000) than in their own country. So, they take a chance to be splendor travellers while visiting cheaper countries (by currency), which is something normal to do.

On the other hand, not all locals are poor. And not all of then are rich either. These inverted racists, who undoubtedly are narrow-minded, are not able or refuse to see this.

No one should judge the book by its cover. All guests deserve an equally good service regardless social status, outlook, skin colour, religion etc. As you have heard before: customers are kings. Customers are the real boss of your business.

First come, first served!

I actually don’t care what the staffs thought about us, but service discrimination is totally unacceptable. I was am totally pissed off about it until now. And there’s no way I will return to that place again, ever!

Nonetheless, deep inside my heart, I feel sorry for them. They don’t only look down their own people, but also themselves. It gradually crushes their self-esteem and that’s pathetic.

It’s been 2 years and I hope that this inverted racism is no longer part of the company culture. Especially a new chapter of life has begun, marked by the arrival of year 2017.

I wish you all brighter days this year. Happy new year 2017!

 

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Object

Who’s the Real Object?

no pictures, please!

Is he posing for Aqua, the famous Indonesian mineral water brand, or he’s protecting himself from “paparazzi?” No matter what he’s doing, I ask him once more to face the camera and smile. Let’s try this in a different location. May be he’s more comfortable and finally will make up his mind.

And here’s the result……

again, no pictures, please!

He insists on hiding his face with the Aqua bottle. I give up. He’s too shy for the camera.

The Aqua bottle wins. It’s the real object. Full stop.

Gods Bless Us Everyday and Everywhere

No matter where you go in Bali, I believe you notice the presence of woven trays filled with shredded leaves, colourful flowers, a pinch of rice and some man-made delicacies, such as a Mentos candy and mini Ritz biscuits, or even a cigarette stick and coins.

The artistic home decoration look-alike demonstrates the simplest and the most staple way of Balinese Hindu people to thank God, or Sang Hyang Widhi, by creating a daily offering called canang sari. The word canang sari derives from ca means beautiful, nang means aim, and sari means essence. In other words, an offering should be created aesthetically with full of sincerity and attention to details.

I am particularly interested in chronological aspects of canang sari, from weaving the trays, placing the offering until what happens next after being abandoned in public. Its contents and locations presented indicate the recent adaptation of an ancient faith practice.

After several visits, I finally succeeded gathering series of canang sari images in several places all over the island.

WEAVING TRAYS

Weaving, Ubud

Square trays symbolize the power of moon, made of woven young coconut leaf called janur. Due to the extremely wide use of coconut leaf in the offerings, Bali needs more supply from Java island to keep the tradition alive. Some local women are dedicated to create the trays. Unless you have time for this, fear not. There are suppliers providing ready-made ones, whose clients include major hotels and resorts.

PLACING OFFERINGS

Daily Dose, Ubud

Although it’s called a daily offering, you may hear different opinions about how often it is presented. An official from Pertiwi Resort, with whom I spoke, said that placing an offering once a day is enough. However, some intense devotees place it three times a day, while on the other hand some non-intense ones only do it once to three times a week. Is it a matter of a different interpretation of the word “daily”?

Say It with a Prayer, Ubud

The main contents of the tray are pink, yellow, red, purple, blue flowers, shredded pandan leaves, coins and some home cooking food purposely set aside for the offering. Pink flower is heading to the east, blue or purple to the north, yellow to the west, and red to the south.

Unless you have time for this? Make time! Filling the tray themselves is a symbol of sacrifice. No catering service to replace the activity, unfortunately!

Bless Our Home, Tenganan Village

Balinese Hindu people place the offerings in temples, shrines, in front of the entrance door, stairs, on top of store merchandise, cash desk and everywhere else where they need protection, safety, prosperity and blessings.

Have A Smoke, Legian

“What’s the cigarette for? Is it part of the offering?” I asked.

The lady from a store in Legian replied, “Well, most of the spirits here are old people who like smoking. So yeah, we give them cigarettes.”

Safe Ride, Ubud

For More Fortune and Prosperity, Tegallalang Village

Tegallalang Village is famous for the rice terrace field blessed with splendid beauty and fertility, attracting millions of tourists every year. Local government reinforces business owners to cover metal-roofed restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops with hay to retain traditional atmosphere. Nonetheless, the hay seem to have a bit too short supply to obey the rule….

To Bless a Man at Work, Tenganan Village

“Which one do you praise?”, A Restaurant across Krisna Souvenir Shop

I’m not sure what’s going on with this one. Is the owner a Buddhist doing a Hindu ritual?

Starbucks Goes Traditional, Ngurah Rai Airport

“It is a matter of time for KFC’s fried chicken, McDonald’s burger, and Coca-Cola to be part of the offering to Gods.”(Kompas, April 28, 2013)

Sounds so true to me. Starbucks presents a cup of espresso and a piece of espresso brownie to replace rice. It doesn’t serve rice anyway, does it?

Rice Colouring, Menega Seafood Restaurant, Jimbaran

Besides canang sari, there are colourful rice offerings called segehan, as a symbol of strength and unity. White rice to the east, red rice to the south, yellow to the west, and black rice to the north. Only natural food colouring is allowed, while artificial colouring signifies deception.

AFTER A WHILE….

Scattered, Sanur Beach

No one can guarantee that the offerings remain intact after being left unattended. Kicking or stepping on the trays is a sign of disrespect. However, I admit that it’s pretty hard to remind them not to do so as they are often in the middle of pedestrian areas. Offering destruction is acceptable when natural causes occur, such as wind, animal occupations, and many more.

Great Spot for Nesting, Segarra Resort, Sanur

Yummy, Tenganan Village

The Treat, Tenganan Village

Would End Up This Way Eventually, Tegallalang Village

I hope Bali will remain home for the Gods and their worshipers will never stop praising their Gods, regardless modern exposure from floods of tourists and investors from time to time. But some say modernity and foreign influence actually unite Balinese people to maintain their rituals to lure their visitors worldwide.

I certainly hope so…..

Weekly Photo Challenge: In The Background

fishing in Kutuh Village offshore, Bali

Taken from Timbis Hill, Bali, about 800 metres above sea level, deep blue sea withdraws the attention from the initial subject: Kutuh Village people fishing in a seaweed plantation site. The offshore holds one of the biggest seaweed exporters in Bali to China, giving more prosperity of its inhabitants. It’s up to the eyes of the beholders how to interpret the message or from which angle they view the  image: the sea, the “dots” (people) in the coastline, the green-brown thing (seaweed) situated before the sea, or the calm wave.