this BALI life http://www.thisbalilife.com Thu, 28 Jul 2016 05:10:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 59113197 Getting Wet at Waterbom http://www.thisbalilife.com/getting-wet-at-waterbom/ http://www.thisbalilife.com/getting-wet-at-waterbom/#respond Thu, 28 Jul 2016 05:05:12 +0000 http://www.thisbalilife.com/?p=1369 waterbom lazy river

To get some relief from the tropical weather in Bali, there is nothing better than to head to one of the waterparks, and the biggest and best, and therefore the most popular is Waterbom Park. It is not just for kids, they cater for all ages, so the whole family can have loads of fun. Waterbom is the #1 waterpark in Asia and the #5 park in the world (according to TripAdvisor). It is situated in lush surroundings, with weaving paths through to all the slides and rides. There are heaps of activities and different options for the big, the small, the daring and also cautious swimmers.  A great and exhausting day out, highly recommended.

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Sampai Jumpa Bali http://www.thisbalilife.com/sampai-jumpa-bali/ http://www.thisbalilife.com/sampai-jumpa-bali/#respond Fri, 03 Apr 2015 07:56:36 +0000 http://www.thisbalilife.com/?p=1334 Wood's with Mt BaturGoodbye Bali. After 14 months we have come to the end of our time here. We hope you have enjoyed our writings about this amazing island as much as we have enjoyed living there. We are going to continue blogging about our travels on our other travel site, on This Travel Life, which will include some of our final articles about Bali. See you over there.

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Jl Goutama – Our Favourite Eat Street in Ubud http://www.thisbalilife.com/jl-goutama-our-favourite-eat-street-in-ubud/ http://www.thisbalilife.com/jl-goutama-our-favourite-eat-street-in-ubud/#respond Mon, 30 Mar 2015 11:08:27 +0000 http://www.thisbalilife.com/?p=1282 One of our favourite streets in Ubud is Jalan Goutama, which hosts many of the best and funky places to eat in Ubud. It is a smaller street, with not many cars travelling through due to the narrowness, and is a happening place with many tourists seeking some of the best eats in town. Our top picks include:

Warung Saya

This is the smallest place in town, with seating only enough for about 6 at a stretch, with only two tables. It is a one man show with delicious food from a minimal menu. Book ahead.

Warung Saya

Biah Biah

A very Balinese experience, small tapas plates to share or eat yourself. Very relaxed, and worth a visit.

Jalan Goutama in Ubud

Melting Wok

Run by a fabulously friendly french woman and her husband the chef who is from Laos. They cook up some amazing tasting Laotian food, another one to book ahead.

Melting Wok Ubud

There are many other places to eat, including Japanese from Toro Sushi, and Warung Bernadette with some fabulous artwork to peruse while waiting for food. This street is always changing, and is continually popping up interesting places to check out. It is THE place to be in Ubud for a feed day or night.

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Co-Working in (H)Ubud http://www.thisbalilife.com/co-working-in-hubud/ Fri, 20 Mar 2015 03:34:41 +0000 http://www.thisbalilife.com/?p=525 Working at Hubud
It has not been just one long holiday in Bali despite what many of you may think. Our visas do not allow us to work while here, but we still need to  regularly get online to “maintain our investments” and for study.

At our villa the wifi has not always been reliable and definitely not fast. In addition, for much of the year Casper was at home during the day and provided too much distraction. We needed an office.

View of the Monkey Forest at Hubud
View of the Monkey Forest from my desk at Hubud

There is always plenty of cafes to do our thing, step 1 order a coffee, step 2 access the hotspot and get online, simple, but it can be distracting too. So we made good use of an even better option, a co-working space in Ubud called Hubud (The Hub in Ubud).

Hubud provides plenty of desk space with a reliable and fast internet connection. It also provides the opportunity to work alongside others in a similar situation (the so-called ‘location independent’ workers or ‘digital nomads’). They hold regular education and sharing sessions, and social meetups with the chance to connect with like-minded people. There is free tea and coffee provided, even better coffee from the raw food café on site as well.

living food lab
The Living Food Lab provides great salads and coffee

There is no aircon, so at times it can get hot if it is full and you can’t get near a window or fan. It can get a little noisy too in the busy season, but there is usually a quiet corner to find so you can knuckle down. There are different desk options to choose, the standard seated position, standing desks, the swinging chair or even a beanbag on the grass out back.

You can sign up for blocks of hours each month like we did, or go full-time. It is not cheap, but the benefits make it worthwhile for  many people. You can pay monthly for 25, 50 or 100 hr blocks, or unlimited. For more information see their website www.hubud.org.

Bali, and particularly Hubud, is getting a reputation as an exotic place for this modern way of working, and we have been thrilled to be a part of it.

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Bali Coffee In Many Ways http://www.thisbalilife.com/bali-coffee-in-many-ways/ Tue, 10 Mar 2015 00:54:07 +0000 http://www.thisbalilife.com/?p=1078 coffee with style
coffee with style

For coffee drinkers travelling in Bali there are plenty of opportunities to get your caffeine fix, however you need to be aware that whenever you order a coffee you may not always get what you were expecting.

Indonesia is well known as a quality producer of coffee, though whether the good stuff makes it to the local market is unknown.

If you go to a local warung and order coffee, it will usually come Bali style. It will be the cheapest coffee at less than a dollar, but may not be to your taste. The way they make the coffee here is to just mix the very fine coffee grounds in hot water, usually no milk is added. If you do want milk, often you can only get creamer. If you do get milk, it may be UHT which we all have our opinion about that. We always add lots of sugar and milk to make it palatable, or avoid it completely!

I’m not going to say that the Bali coffee is bad, just that they make it differently and it is not to my liking. I know many people may not like the coffee I make myself, with plenty of milk and sugar. We all have our preferred way of drinking it, or not drinking it at all. That is part of travelling, experiencing the differences between cultures. At least here when you have had enough of trying the local brew, at least there are many other options to try.

bali coffee
If you drink coffee Bali style, be prepared for the sludge at the bottom of the cup

Another coffee type you may come across in Bali is luwak coffee (Kopi Luwak), marketed mostly to tourists as the most expensive coffee in the world. Luwak coffee is not socially responsible as the possum-like luwak animal (Asian palm civet), are being caught in the wild and kept in cages to do their business.  The luwak eats the coffee beans, which are subsequently excreted and collected. The collected beans are roasted and brewed just like other coffee. The coffee is served short and black, Bali style, with no milk and usually with the grounds in the cup, but you can have sugar. Quite a nice tasting coffee, but very strong.  It is expensive as it is rare, not necessarily because of the flavour.

coffee luwak
Contraption used for brewing our luwak coffee

The most likely place you will try luwak coffee is as a part of a tour. You will visit a plantation, see some luwaks in a cage, be shown some local fruit trees, then be served a sample of flavoured coffees and teas. You can get some pretty interesting flavours – ginger, lemongrass, chili, chocolate.

samples of flavoured coffees
samples of flavoured coffees

Another way of enjoying coffee here in Bali is instant. Instant coffee here is much different than found in Australia. It comes already mixed with sugar and powdered milk, which makes sense with the difficulty of getting fresh milk here. Our favourite brand ‘Indocafe’ can be found in Australia, but there are huge numbers of different varieties to choose from here.

instant bali coffee
Rob’s favourite instant coffee mix

For those who need their coffee fix like back home, there are plenty of cafés where you can find western-style coffee. There’s a Starbucks in Ubud, but that is not as popular as many trendier cafés. The best by far is our favourite Seniman on Jalan Sriwedari, which has a large selection of coffees. Another place we like is Animale on the Ubud main road, expensive but good coffee.

Coffee from Seniman
Coffee from Seniman

Many other places have invested in commercial coffee machines, but not all of them have a good barista to back it up. Drinking western style coffee means paying western prices. A cappuccino can cost between $3-4, as much as we (used to) pay back in Australia.

Making our own coffee in Bali
our stovetop coffee percolator

At home in our villa we use bought coffee grounds from our favourite café, and make it in our stove-top percolator. It is difficult to heat up milk so we usually have an iced coffee. Actually in the heat an iced coffee is often our first choice.

Depending on where you buy it, an iced coffee from a café or restaurant can be made from espresso, Bali coffee or packet coffee. You can also buy cold coffee in a can from the deli.

As you can see there are many options for the coffee drinker in Bali. Whichever way you like you coffee, you won’t have far to go in Ubud to find one.

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Getting A Sporting Fix in Bali http://www.thisbalilife.com/getting-a-sporting-fix-in-bali/ http://www.thisbalilife.com/getting-a-sporting-fix-in-bali/#respond Thu, 05 Mar 2015 06:17:13 +0000 http://www.thisbalilife.com/?p=499
having a Bintang at the AFL grand final
having a Bintang at the AFL grand final

With both of us being sports fans and working in a sports related field, living in Bali and away from Australia’s strong sporting culture, it has been challenging to keep up with the latest news in sport. It has meant that we miss a lot, and have needed to be creative to get keep up to date.

The first villa we were in had no TV, but our current place has a TV with Indovision cable, the local version of Foxtel. The Australian Network Channel (now called Australia+) is great for showing ABC news and selected sporting events. The other major source of information is online. Wherever you are in Bali you can usually find free wifi, and with access to the internet you can get the latest news online, sport results and even streaming video in some cases.

the crowd watching the AFL grand final
the crowd watching the AFL grand final

We were able to watch many games of AFL last year. A couple of times the game we were interested in was not being shown, or the reception was bad, so we resorted to online and were able to find a radio streaming of the footy commentary. It is surprising how excited you can get just listening to the game on the radio, like people used to do. For the grand final we usually go to the jam-packed Wembley in Perth to enjoy the game, we missed this ritual. Our Bali alternative was going to the Lobong Cafe in Ubud, sitting at a table with a few Aussies and watching the game. Same same but different. There was still excitement, just slightly less of it!

During the Winter Olympics, it was really challenging to see events. There was no coverage at all on Indonesian TV, and due to strict IOC licencing rules, we were not able to stream any events online. Clare was keen to watch some the WAIS athletes complete, but unfortunately we did not get to see much at all.

FIFA World Cup
World Cup match at Coffee and Copper

The FIFA World Cup was another big sporting event last year, very popular in soccer-loving Bali with many houses flying their favourite nation’s flag. The matches were at ungodly hours (same as in Perth though). A local warong, Coffee and Copper, were showing the games so Rob ventured up there a couple of times in the middle of the night to watch Australia play. There was just a bunch of Balinese and a few other people, not surprising for that time of night. At other venues around town, for the major games, there were much bigger crowds.

There is no live coverage of cricket test matches on TV, so Rob did what he did back in Australia anyway, which was to have the Cricinfo ball-by-ball commentary showing on his desktop while he is ‘working’. No visuals though.

The race that stops a nation, the Melbourne Cup, is not surprisingly a minor event here in Bali. Clare went to a promoted function at our shared office space, Hubud. Herself and one other Aussie couldn’t get coverage via foxsports as expected or any other avenue. They resorted to listening to the audio of the race only, which was very uninspiring with only two people. Back home, Rob who wasn’t even that interested, was able to watch it on the TV with Australian network.

Over a year, we have missed many big sporting events, although we have been able to get just enough news to keep us in touch. The Olympics was the one main thing that we did actually miss. Often we get on board with sport because of all the excitement and hype that surrounds it, and in Bali we have had none of that at all. In some ways it was a welcome break from all the media hype surrounding famous sporting events, where we could get the results without finding out all the trivial minor details… thus focusing on This Bali Life!

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Recycling the Ubud Way http://www.thisbalilife.com/recycling-the-ubud-way/ http://www.thisbalilife.com/recycling-the-ubud-way/#respond Tue, 03 Mar 2015 12:16:55 +0000 http://www.thisbalilife.com/?p=1202 Bali Creative Reuse Center in Ubud
Reuse Recycle

There is a fantastic ‘Bali Creative Reuse Center’ in Ubud on Jalan Bisma. It is next to an early childhood centre called The Spring, and has many colourful flags out the front for easy spotting. If driving though it is a long way down Bisma.

There is a small entry to a small space, where there is a huge array of recycled material from straw, can and bottles to fabric, ribbons and button to  paper and cardboard! It is colourful and appealing and is every kid’s heaven. Well ours anyway. We spent hours here playing, creating, glueing, cutting and making loads of stuff. In fact I think if we didn’t need to eat we could have stayed all day!

Bali Creative Reuse Center in Ubud
The entrance to the Bali Creative Reuse Center in Ubud.

 

It is open each weekday afternoon from 3-6pm (except Monday), and on weekends 10-4pm. You can drop in for a session for 50,000 rp (about $5), and you can stay and create for as long as you want. You can also sign up for a month and use it more regularly. This cost includes all materials used.

Bali Creative Reuse Center in Ubud
The staff are there to help too

 

The kids all had their own ideas about what they wanted to make. Casper was the most particular about the details, while Olive often got overwhelmed with all the choices. There is just so much you can create.  There are lots of examples on display of potential craft ideas, which is inspirational, although the helper who was there to assist the kids says she often gets inspired by the visitors’ ideas too!

Bali Creative Reuse Center in Ubud
Casper’s lion

 

There is also a shop to buy some pretty cool things all made out of recycled items. We have bought some drinking glasses made out of bottles, jewellery from recycled tyres, and bamboo straws.

Bali Creative Reuse Center in Ubud
The shop selling many items made from recycled goods

 

The centre happily accepts all donations of materials, so support them if you can, as they are doing a small part to prevent more rubbish going into the waterways of Bali. They also play a role in educating the locals about other uses for rubbish!

website: www.balicreativereusecenter.com

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A Christmas in Bali http://www.thisbalilife.com/a-christmas-in-bali/ http://www.thisbalilife.com/a-christmas-in-bali/#respond Wed, 28 Jan 2015 06:24:34 +0000 http://www.thisbalilife.com/?p=1226 Coming up to a year in Bali, we were ready to escape back home to Perth for an Australian Christmas. We arrived a week before Christmas Day, glad to have missed the mad rush leading up to it, and were able to slot right into just the family celebrations.

Christmas in Australia
Our Christmas Day family portrait in Australia

It was disappointing to not see how they celebrate this Christian tradition on a Hindu island in a Muslim country. Before we left, all we saw of Christmas was a tree or two at a western restaurant. The Balinese observe the Christmas Day holiday, and the people we asked said they exchange gifts, but I don’t think they make a big deal of it. They already have so many other ceremonies and celebrations on the calendar, so it is a relatively minor event.

On the other hand, one of the most important celebrations for the Balinese is Galungan. This year the Galungan holiday time corresponded to the Christmas period. It is not always the case, as that holiday is on a 210 day cycle. We found that Galungan has many similarities to the Christian holy day.

The staff at our villa making their penjor
The staff at our villa making their penjor as we look on

The most obvious sign that Galungan is approaching is the display of penjors, which some people have dubbed the Balinese Christmas tree. The whole island sprouts these tall bamboo poles, usually decorated with rice stalks, coconut leaves, and flowers, and erected in front of every residence entrance. It makes for a very pretty streetscape while driving around the villages. At each front gate, you’ll also find small bamboo altars, each one bearing woven palm-leaf offerings for the spirits.

Bali Panjor at Galungan
Penjors lining the streets

Another part of Galungan is Ngelawang, which brought memories of the Christmas choir roaming the streets singing carols. We saw this being performed by a group of children with a bangkung barong (a barong pig figure), as they paraded around our village accompanied by a very noisy gamelan. Not quite the sweet harmonies of carols, but you can hear them coming! They go from house to house and perform a dance to drive out evil spirits. Afterwards, the homeowner will donate money to the group.

Bali Galungan
Group of local kids performing Ngelawang on our street

So we were fortunate to see both of these celebrations at this time, and got a small taste of each.

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Royal Cremation Ceremony http://www.thisbalilife.com/royal-cremation-ceremony/ http://www.thisbalilife.com/royal-cremation-ceremony/#respond Sat, 13 Dec 2014 09:01:35 +0000 http://www.thisbalilife.com/?p=1190 cremation ceremony
The portrait of Ir.Tjokorda Raka Sukawati, member of the royal household

We were very fortunate to be in Ubud for a royal cremation. There have been one or two of these big events in the last couple of years, but this was the first we had seen.

In Bali cremation ceremonies are a big deal, and an even bigger deal when it is someone in a high caste or wealthy family. This cremation ceremony was in honor of Ir.Tjokorda Raka Sukawati, a member of the Royal Household who died at age 83 on November 11, 2014

We made our way to the main street and found a restaurant to sit and wait for the action to come past us.  The procession started at the Royal Palace, passing along Ubud’s main road with thousands of onlookers, locals and tourists, lining the street.

cremation ceremony
two well-dressed girls were also carried along with the procession

First in line was a procession of military, police and other uniformed dignitaries, a couple of young girls being carried along, then the small bull, then the large bull, then lastly the almighty tower.

cremation ceremony
the smaller bull came first

The black bull (or bulls in this case) become the funeral pyre that is burned at the end of the day. The impressive bulls are made of bamboo, then covered in velvet and then decorated. The bulls and tower have a large bamboo base that accommodates between a hundred and a thousand men, who all do their bit to carry the structure.

big tower
The more important the person, the bigger the tower

There is a lot of effort put into the preparation of the heavily decorated cremation tower (bade), which was 24 metres high. There were a couple of guys sitting part way up the tower, which must have been a frightening place to be.

cremation ceremony
A lot of man power required to carry

It must have been hard work to move. They only move for a short distance before taking a rest. Their struggle was evident as they passed by us. Navigating down the street and dodging all the obstacles was also a challenge. At one point in front of us, there was a no parking sign post that needed to be completely removed to allow the platform to pass. There was also a few trees knocked down long the way!

A large crowd followed on behind.  The procession continued to a temple where the ritual burning occurred. We did not see that, but we hear it is pretty spectacular too.

Here is a video we took as the tower went past.

 

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Walking the Campuhan Ridge http://www.thisbalilife.com/walking-the-campuhan-ridge/ http://www.thisbalilife.com/walking-the-campuhan-ridge/#respond Thu, 20 Nov 2014 10:07:48 +0000 http://www.thisbalilife.com/?p=1146 Campuhan Ridge Walk

There is a popular walking track in Ubud that we had been meaning to do for 6 months, but with kids who complain about a short walk up the street, the thought of a 2 hour hike in the heat was daunting. We knew we could not take the stroller, and accepted that there may be some child carrying required. So with this in mind, and drinks and snacks a plenty, we set off!

Campuhan Ridge Walk
Happy faces before the uphill start

Ideally you want to leave as early as you can to beat the heat, but we have no chance of that with three small kids. The beginning of the track was tricky to find, even with detailed directions we found online.

If you want to follow in our footsteps, here are some tips for you. To get to the start of the walk, head out of town along Ubud main road heading west, before the main bridge on your right you will see a sign for IBAH Hotel. If you are in a car park near here, otherwise walk or ride your motorbike into the hotel entrance, then take a road to the left that goes downhill. From there you need to walk, taking the path to the right, following the signs (as shown by Jetson in the photo below). Follow this path, past a temple, eventually leading you to the ridge.

Campuhan Ridge Walk
The sign pointing to the walking track

As you walk along the path meandering along the ridge it is easy to imagine you are miles away from town, it’s so quiet compared to the busy street you just left. The views are fabulous, and you can get a glimpse of rural Bali once more. The walk is mostly a stone path with a few logical stopping points under shady trees. You can see some dramatic housing on the steep ridge edges, including private homes and restaurants. As you get towards the end of the ridge there is the start of a little village, which signals you are close to the end of the walk.

Campuhan Ridge Walk
Great views of rural Bali from the track

You might be surprised what else you will see along the way. We were lucky enough to see a bride and groom getting some wedding shots. A beautiful place for photos, but slightly hot for their attire!

Campuhan Ridge Walk
We were not the only ones that found the ridge walk appealing

Heading out early is the best time to go, as it is a little cooler, and less busy on the track, as there can be a few tourists doing the walk. If you choose to go during the late coolness of the day, take a torch as if it takes longer than you think you could find it hard to navigate the return in the dark. Either way take lots of water, as it can get hot.

Campuhan Ridge Walk
One rest stop

Many guides to the track list the end point as Karsa Cafe, which is a lovely place to end the walk, or turn back at. You can order a refreshing drink or a meal if you want. We chose to buy some fish food too for the kids to feed the fish. This is however, not the only place to stop, as there are a few other options starting to pop up just before and after Karsa Café.

Campuhan Ridge Walk
The Karsa Kafe, a comfortable end point of the walk

From the Karsa Café you can organise a lift back to Ubud, although it is not cheap. Otherwise, do as we did and turn around and walk back, though you will find it a lot easier if you don’t need to carry a child like we had to.

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