Did you know more than 4 million people visit Bali each year and there are only 3.5 million inhabitants on the whole island. Since Julia Roberts filmed Eat, Pray, Love in Bali the buzz surrounding the island has been electric. The island of Bali does very little to advertise itself to the outside world but still acts like a magnet for a plethora of tourists from all over the globe.
That is one of the main things I like about the island is that you really do get a mixing pot of races, nationalities and religions. Bali has an all-round appeal with its, nightclubs, beaches, surfing, extreme activities, nature, mountains, unique culture, backpacking hostels, luxury villas and boutique resorts. In Bali you can find rich tourists, tourists travelling on a shoe-string and expats, all from Europe, China, Japan, Jakarta, America, Russia, Korea, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Dubai.
Bali's location in south East Asia, its welcoming religion, cheap rates and natural features make it the perfect holiday destination for people from all the continents of the world.
Poppies 1 and 2 have been serving the needs of surfers, students and backpackers for years now; but the development of luxury designer villas and hotels is accelerating at a fair old pace. If you look anywhere in Ubud, Sanur, Kuta, Seminyak, Keroboken and Changgu you can see development. The great thing about this development is it is mostly low rise so you do not see the ruinous development like that seen in Spain (Costa del Sol). The big hotels tend to only be a maximum of 5 stories tall but the majority of the construction is single story villas.
If you do decide to visit Bali on holiday I can be very confusing when deciding where to stay. There are many popular areas but my favourite is Seminyak.
In Seminyak you are far enough away from Kuta to get away from the backpackers and students but close enough to take part in the madness if you so wish. In Seminyak you have great beaches that are relaxed and have less people trying to sell sarongs and massages. Also on certain days the waves get really big and you can watch the pro surfers catching waves at 66 or KuDeTa wave breaks. Seminyak also has some great shops for any kind of retail therapy you need; fashion, design, antiques, technology. The cherry on top of the Seminyak cake is the busy but not crazy nightlife; great restaurants (cheap and expensive), bars and nightclubs.
It took me a long time to decide where to stay but I settled on a fantastic place called Essence Villas. The villas have a traditional open Balinese design but with all the modern comforts. The villa has a private road taking us into a quiet location where I could really kick back and relax. As we sat drinking our morning coffee I could feel the cooling breeze come sweeping through the open kitchen. After taking a dip in the pool and soak up some tropical sun we headed down into Seminyak town to taste some local food. I really suggest you try the ‘nasi campur’ which is literally translated ‘mixed rice’, it is white rice served with a choice of vegetable dishes or meat dishes.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in Bali and I am glad that I stayed in Seminyak. A drive to the airport and I was away from the magical island of Bali. I forgot to mention that without the Balinese people Bali would not be the place that it is. There is something about the aesthetic beauty of the Hindu religion that makes you feel you are in a special place – every where you look you can see temples. It is the spirit of he Balinese people and the constant offering to Krishna (the Hindu God) that can be seen everywhere – this is the true essence of Bali.
Essence Villas is an interesting investment that offers you the opportunity to own a little piece of this Magic Island.
PRICE 350,000 EURO contact tel. +6281.8055.031.19
Since the 8th century, Ubud, on the island of Bali, has been a destination for Hindu pilgrims. The Gunung Lebah Temple still to this day remains a destination for Hindu pilgrims but now Ubud has a different sort of pilgrim. This pilgrim comes looking for Hindu culture, relaxation, romance, yoga and Balinese art.
I have been living in Bali for a long time and have come to really appreciate the non-intrusive nature of Balinese Hinduism. The main stories that hold Balinese Hinduism together, such as Ramayana, Bhagavad Gita and Mahabharata, come from ancient Indian Sanskrit. Hinduism is considered the oldest organised religion.
The Balinese combined these ancient stories with their existing religion, what scholars call animism. The Balinese believe the mountains, rivers and beaches have a living spirit. The Balinese of times past painted, danced, played music and designed architecture to celebrate the love they have for Krishna and the other Hindu gods. This is the tradition that is being built upon and the tradition being kept alive in paintings, sculpture, wood-craft and the exterior and interior design of private luxury villas.
Ubud has become a popular tourist destination for people all over the world during the last 40 years. What is it about this romantic setting in Bali that has seen the quick development of so many private and luxury villas and hotels.
Located near the centre of Bali, west of the Ginayar Regency, Ubud is the cultural home of the Balinese people. Ubud exists as an anti-thesis to the ego driven Kuta, the shopping parade of Seminyak, traffic on the Sunset Road and the general hectic life on the south coast of Bali. Ubud is an escape from all of this; it is a place where you can chill-out in a relaxing and romantic setting, amongst glorious natural beauty.
A testament to the tolerant nature of the Balinese people can be shown in a story from 80 years ago. In the 1930 the royal family in Ubud encouraged foreign artists to live, learn and paint amongst the local people. This meant such pioneering artists as Walter Spies and Rudolph Bonnet could expose the world to this type of romantic art. A two way symbiosis occurred allowing the foreign artists to learn form the locals and the locals being able to unlock the creativity that was restricted by the traditional ways.
Ubud is surrounded by stepped rice paddies, deep ravines and breath-taking tropical beauty. This is the real inspiration for the artists and luxury villa developers in Ubud.
Wellness Bali, yoga, healing are all words that you will hear often in Ubud. Many tourists choose to go on private villa retreats to help mind, body and soul. This is certainly in keeping with the name of Ubud which comes from the Balinese word ‘ubad’ meaning medicine, as Ubud was originally an important source for medicinal herbs and plants.
Bali is a changing place and the truth is Ubud is becoming more and more busy. The tourists, expats and locals alike must do what they can to keep the spirit of Ubud alive and stop it from becoming another run-down tourist destination. As long as Ubud small businesses continue to focus on Balinese dance and art; and not focus on nightclubs and surfing Ubud should be able to remain as the cultural home it is.