Sabtu, 23 Januari 2010


Night life in Bali starts late, which means around midnight. Many visitors wonder where crowds of expats suddenly come from around 1:00 in the morning – even when all of Kuta has been very quiet during the whole evening, the IN-places often become crowded after midnight.

There's a simple explanation: during the early evenings many of Bali's night owls either still work, visit friends at home, or simply sleep. Most of them visit pubs, bars, or discos only in the early morning hours. Therefore, if you plan a night out don't start your dinner too early. Between 9:00 p.m. and midnight there are not many places we can recommend.

Visitors looking for company don't need to worry. Wherever you go in Sanur and the Kuta area, there are many other single travellers with the same problem around – day and night. In Bali's discos you'll meet also many "kupu kupu malams" ("night butterflies" or working girls) and young boys who compete with the females and service all sexes. All taxi drivers know the more popular karaoke bars and massage parlours in Kuta and Denpasar, and the various "Houses of ill Repute" in Sanur's narrow back lanes.

As reported in the BALI travel FORUM: "Prostitution is illegal in Bali. However, like in many countries, everyone turns a blind eye. Many girls can be found in nightclubs and bars in most areas. They look usually just like the girl next door, albeit with a bit more make up on, and they usually dress to please the eye. For the most part, they are gentle, easy to be with, and a lot of fun if you want to dance, drink and have a little fun with. Most will be yours for the whole night for about 500,000 Rupiah although prices range from 200,000 Rupiah to 1,500,000 Rupiah and more – depending on the season, the time of night and the situation".


Some quite popular places in Sanur are the BORNEO PUB on Jalan Danau Tamblingan and the TROPHY PUB in front of the Sanur Beach Hotel. Both, however, close around 1:00 a.m.

The discos and pubs in Nusa Dua's 5-star hotels are often rather empty. They are mostly frequented by those visitors who stay in-house and are too tired to make the 30 minutes drive to Kuta.


Everybody looking for some action and fun in the evening goes to "Kuta" which nowadays means the area extending about 4 miles or 7 kilometers North from the original village of Kuta and includes now Legian, Seminyak and even Basangkasa. Here are most of the better entertainment places offering EVERYTHING single male or female visitors as well as couples might be looking for.

There are several places such as CASABLANCA etc. – down-market open-air pubs and very noisy discos full of stoned Aussies courting Javanese "Kupu Kupu Malams". PEANUTS Discotheque on Jalan Raya Legian at the Jalan Melasti corner (about the border between Kuta and Legian) has been re-opened very soon after it was gutted by a fire. The huge (air-conditioned) dance floor is often crowded, guests are a mix of locals and younger foreign visitors.

Closer to the center of Kuta you find the BOUNTY SHIP with a noisy, over-air-conditioned disco in the basement and the re-built PADDY'S not far from the original PADDY'S. Much more "IN" nowadays is the newer M-BAR-GO which features really good music and a better crowd than most other places. SKY GARDEN is also on the main road and an interesting place to go. The bar is on the top floor, the three storeys below feature all different lounge areas. The menu is huge but the food is often disappointing. When most places close around 2.00 or 3.00 in the morning, night owls of all kinds continue drinking at nearby MAMA'S until sunrise.

For a somewhat more civilized evening out, you can have dinner and a couple of drinks at the bar at either TJ's or KORI in Kuta, at the open street side bar at NERO Bali right opposite AROMAS Restaurant in Kuta, at the re-built MACCARONI CLUB in Kuta, at MADE'S WARUNG in Basangkasa (see BALI - Restaurants to Enjoy), or at the trendy HU'U Bar & Lounge near the Petitenget temple, LA LUCIOLA and THE LIVING ROOM.

One of the most "in" venues in Bali is KU DE TA right on the beach adjacent to the Oberoi hotel. This is the place to see and be seen, and from late afternoon there is a DJ providing rather noisy entertainment for Bali's beautiful people. This is a great place to watch Bali's famous sunsets, but expect to pay for a cocktail around US$10 and more.

Something more outrageous and only for open-minded people are the HULU CAFE shows in Garlic Lane between Jalan Padma and Jalan Melasti in Kuta/Legian, a place which called itself the "only real gay bar in all of Bali" with drag shows starting at 11:00 p.m. three times per week. The performances are actually kind of funny! Since the original HULU CAFE burnt down in 2008, the shows are now performed at 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at the BALI BEACH SHACK in the same lane

You'll find a large and quite popular HARD ROCK CAFE right at the beginning of Kuta's beach road with live music from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Expect to find many singles of all kinds here looking for company. If you think this is too noisy, too crowded, or the air-conditioning too cold for you, try the CENTER STAGE at the HARD ROCK RESORT located in the back of the CAFE. As the name implies, the band performs on a raised stage in the middle of the huge round lobby bar until 11:00 p.m. Both HARD ROCK outlets are expensive by Bali standards.

The JAYA PUB on the main road in Seminyak features also live music and attracts many Indonesian customers who don't mind the chilling air-conditioning and the sometimes horrible bands and singers. MANNEKEPIS, a pleasant Belgian pub/restaurant right opposite the QUEEN'S TANDOOR in Seminyak, features live Jazz on Thurdays, Fridays and Saturdays and serves good meals at reasonable prices.

Seminyak's best place to have a drink and some fun after 11 p.m. are nowadays probably OBSESSION World Music Bar and SANTA FEE Bar & Grill, Jalan Abimanyu (also known as Gado Gado Road or Jalan Dhyana Pura). Life music, reasonably priced cocktails and the friendly girls attract many visitors until the early hours. Other popular night spots nearby in the same street are SPY BAR, LIQUID, Q BAR and MIXWELL ("for the alternative lifestyle"), SPACE and THE GLOBE. New bars and "Chill-Out Lounges" are opening all the time, and most of them feature DJ's and/or live music on certain nights. Just walk down the road and check them out !

Later, from 2:00 a.m., it's party time at the SYNDICATE, BACIO and DOUBLE SIX, a large open-air disco with several bars, big dance floor, and many tables. All three are located next to each other on the beach in Seminyak and charge an entrance fee of 30,000 to 100,000 Rupiah (depending on the day) for which you get a voucher for a free drink. Here and in nearby DEJA VU and LA VITA LOCA you'll find most of Bali's night owls drinking and dancing the night away until 4:30 a.m. or so. (The legendary GADO GADO Disco has been re-converted into a restaurant.)

Also, watch out for notices and small posters in Kuta and Seminyak announcing special events such as Full Moon Parties, House Warming Parties, Body Painting Parties, etc, etc. If these "parties" are announced to the public (even if only by word-of-mouth), they are open for everybody. You'll have to pay for your drinks, therefore, don't be shy.


Don't expect too much here. We are not Ubud nightlife experts, but names frequently mentioned include PUTRA BAR, Jl. Monkey Forest (every night live music ranging from Reggae to rock), MAGIC BAR, Jl. Monkey Forest (live music and sometimes great atmosphere), JAZZ CAFE, Jl. Tebesaya (live music and jam sessions on different nights), EXILE BAR (Saturday nights only, great music), and FUNKY MONKEY (early hours cafe).

Minggu, 17 Januari 2010

Lighten up!

anyone hanging around the bali art scene knows that
balloon-like egos and narcissistic strutting are standard fare among artists and gallery owners. in the battle to become king of the hill, the biggest victim is a much-needed sense of levity

Historically, Balinese and Indonesian art were anonymous until westerners brought their ways and began clamouring for signatures. This does not mean that the great masters of Indonesia’s past were not acknowledged – everyone from king to peasant knew who the most talented artists and artisans were.

The same situation existed largely in the west until the early Italian Renaissance, which marks the first appearance of self indulgent artist superstars who would keep the Pope as well as Medici princes waiting for hours.

In Bali, this would begin in the 1930s when tourists and art collectors from the west demanded that the paintings and sculptures they bought be “signed by the artist”. Since the art was not made for local consumption and it was considered rude to refuse a request from a guest, those early artists did as they were bid. In some cases, such as Gusti Lempad who could only write in Balinese, the paintings were signed by other family members. Little did anyone realise that by doing so they opened the floodgates of future artistic megalomania!

The bad news for the vast majority of artists is that few among them will ever achieve the status of Picasso or Matisse no matter how much they or their gallery owners rant and rave. The drive for stardom planted in the already-sensitive artistic mind can result in numerous negative effects including narcissism, delusion and even mild forms of schizophrenia. In Bali, this translates to openings that often ooze with gravity reminiscent of state funerals, religious cult meetings or heavy metal concerts.

The British artist Paul Whitehead is the perfect counterpoint to this insanity. This is not to say that Whitehead is sane (in fact he is a certified nut case) but that he long ago realised that he had nothing to prove to anyone, thereby liberating himself from all the ballyhoo. “Who wants to be Van Gogh, anyway?” After all the guy only sold one painting in his lifetime (to his brother), cut off his ear to spite a bully who could not care less (Gauguin) and has been portrayed as a crazy spontaneous artist even though his letters prove that he was completely calculated and lucid about what he was doing.

Although Whitehead might not have been completely lucid when he began designing album covers for the likes of Fats Domino in London’s Swinging Sixties, by the time he created a series of ground breaking designs for the mega-group Genesis, which defined the new music art of post-psychedelic era, he probably had some inkling of who he was and what he was doing. Ironically, exactly like the ancient Balinese artists, while the insiders knew him and sought him out, he was for the general public largely anonymous. The lack of ego stroking probably did him well.

Today, Whitehead has settled in Bali and now specialises in paintings that can be best described as visual puns intended to nudge into contemplating the state of the world. While his work utilises juxtapositions that can be compared to those of Belgium Surrealist, René Margaritte, this is only coincidental. Paul Whitehead does not aspire to be anyone else except himself. This was proven by his December exhibition Questions? at the Ganesha Gallery at the Four Seasons Resort Jimbaran.

Curiously one of the least expected children of his self-effacing humour is occasional and perplexing profundity. This can be seen in the painting, Accident, whereby a cup of spilled milk (don’t cry over it) has created a puddle on the floor in the shape of Bali, which asks many more questions than can ever be answered.

Although its message is clearer, Furniture, the image of a giant tree with a bird and tiny boy reminds us of the multifunctional uses of the tree, as well as deforestation. It could easily be a poster for Bali’s Green School.

The power of less pretentious and more focused work can also be seen in the current exhibition, Intelligent World, which features the latest works of two Balinese graphic artists, I Made Saryana and Mega Sari. Amazingly Saryana and Mega Sari, both whom formally studied in Jogjakarta, have chosen the oldest and most difficult of all the graphic arts – woodcut, which is usually associated with Albrecht Dürer and Katsushika Hokusai.

Their choice of this ancient medium was courageous not only because of the difficulty of the technique, but more so because the lack of understanding and appreciation of all classic graphic arts – woodcut, etching and stone lithography – by Indonesian collectors who have favoured paintings on canvas since the Sukarno Era. Fortunately, a growing number of collectors have come to understand that signed, limited series of art prints are not only modestly priced and attractive but also genuine art, not cheap photocopies. These techniques also have unique qualities as explained by Mega Sari and Saryana who emphasise that their original attraction to woodblock making was the edgy textures that result applying multiple handcut wood blocks to handmade paper.

Saryana shows his mastery of the art in complex, colourful compositions inspired by Balinese mythology and everyday life. In Pura-Pura Baik (Making Believe Everything Is All Right), he makes use of angular lines and the tension of a coiled naga (dragon), the symbol of the Balinese Underworld, to express an ambivalent emotional state of being. Another print, Endless Prayer, is also an absolute masterpiece.

In comparison, the prints of Mega Sari, who has held numerous exhibitions in Japan, is like her gender, decisively more feminine and subtle in colour and form.

In particular she is attracted to flowers seen in A Parade of Dragonflies and still life compositions with vases. Like Saryana, the surfaces of her prints are highly textured and complex but instead mirror a radically different but equally valid perspective. Twenty five years after the publication of E. F. Schumacher’s “Small is Beautiful” and the first year of the 2nd decade of the 21st century (Y2K + 10), it is probably a good moment to remember that Bali is a small island. While large egos are inevitable, lets celebrate smaller victories and accomplishments too. Like the cool clear water of mountain streams, the benefits are many. Artists and megalomaniacs take note of Paul Whitehead, I Made Saryana and Mega Sari – deflate your ambitions and lighten up, at least occasionally.

Métis Magic

the recently opened métis restaurant is the answer to cravings for the now-gone but still legendary kafe warisan. we go behind the scenes to dig into their culinary charm

Said Alem sits behind a desk at the nerve centre of the new MÉTIS Restaurant and Gallery. It’s not that him being there disturbs the fine setting of the establishment’s interior, he actually makes a very good looking live statue, but it just doesn’t look like a pose he strikes very often. The man’s tall, fit, casually clad in a T-shirt and bursting with an energy that can’t possibly allow him to remain immobile for long. This energy, no doubt, has been tapped into repeatedly recently as he and his business partner have worked relocating their old restaurant, the Bali institution of Kafe Warisan, to spacious, modern MÉTIS.

Perched on the paddies of Jalan Petitenget, the freshly open eatery is already a must-visit restaurant on the ever-shifting island scene.

Outside the office doors, workers scurry to put finishing touches to areas of the new restaurant, a stylish U-shaped building with an Indonesian-inspired roof soaring overhead. It’s all sumptuous browns and beiges, golds and bronzes, the decor understated yet exuberant.

Along one side of the 160-seat restaurant is a hip lounge-bar, with sleek wooden tables and chairs and geometrically inspired cushions. The feel is ever so slightly “Mad Men”-esque. Vodka gimlet, anyone?

But Said has not even heard of the US television series, set in a New York City advertising agency in the 1960s, joking as to whether I’m asking if he’s a mad man when I inquire whether it was perhaps a source of visual inspiration.

Perhaps it’s a question he’s been asked many times, business being what it is in Bali, but Said is apparently quite sane. The chef came to the island some 17 years ago after starting a cocktail bar at a ski resort in France from scratch. He’s often worn entrepreneur’s hat together with his chef’s toque.

Said worked as a chef at the Bali Bird Park when it opened back in the day, before helping others start a few restaurants, and finally taking over Kafe Warisan with his business partner Nicolas “Doudou” Tourneville. They ran Warisan for almost 13 years. Both cleverly married fine French cuisine with classic Balinese paddy views which deservedly earned their restaurant a legendary status.

Warisan’s lease, however, was up in October last year and though they could have stayed, “The deal offered was not very interesting for us,” explains Said. Renovations were required on the too-small kitchen, which on top of four or five years’ rent in advance, made starting from scratch somewhere else more financially appealing.

The pair did not own the Warisan name – the old restaurant is being renovated and will reopen under the same name in 2010 – nor did they own the gallery at the old Warisan, itself a well-known antiques store. So they decided on a new name, and to open a gallery themselves, along with a patisserie, currently stocked with delicate pastel-coloured macaroons and glistening chocolates, as well as a jewellery store, with the works of five or six designers on display.

delicious and healthy, a culinary anomaly

The concept, in a nutshell, of this ambitious development? Similar to Warisan but more modern?

“Exactly!” Said exclaims. “We wanted to keep the U-shape because it really worked. People really liked the terrace. And we wanted a nice bar/lounge, so we have worked to expand it and have a chill out space with sofas, because that’s what people are looking for now.”

MÉTIS also has a private function room upstairs – it’s being prepped for a glamorous looking event tonight – which is something Warisan did not have, making it awkward sometimes when trying to mix a large group into the restaurant.

“I’m very happy with the look,” Said says, which he describes as “Warisan, updated”.

On the other hand, food wise, most things stay the same.
“We have some items we couldn’t take out – like the escargots, the foie gras, the duck confit,” he explains.

For the opening, about 40 percent of the items have changed, with more alterations on the agenda for early 2010. For example, the foie gras menu has been extended, while a completely new menu has been devised for the lounge, which Said says is more like a tapas menu – think freshly shucked oysters or a cheese plate.
Dessertarians take note: All the desserts have been changed because a French pastry chef is now on board.

Still, according to Said, MÉTIS is “a work in progress”. The entire Warisan team of 70 moved here and the overall team now numbers at around 110. However, more staff still needs to be hired. There’s a larger bar, a different floor configuration and larger tables, which all conspire to leave the staff running around a lot more, so more runners are what’s particularly needed. An upstairs terrace area is yet to be opened, waiting for more staff to be on hand.

Any dishes one should try? “All of them!” he claims. “We have a nice selection of foie gras – so our foie gras dishes. The meat too especially is really good quality – of beef, of lamb.”

metis’ minimalist splendour

Bali is seeing more fabulous restaurants opening, so why should people come here?

“Good food. And we are working hard to have good service – we are not there yet – and of course the atmosphere, the paddy field views – there are many things!”
The 250-square metre kitchen – six times larger than Warisan’s old facility – is just as impressive as the restaurant patrons are meant to see. The kitchen, infused with the sweet scent of roasting capsicums when I peek in, is air-conditioned.
The wine cellar is a similar size to what Warisan’s was but Said says he wants to double it.

“I want to have one of the best wine cellars in Bali – and I will,” he pledges.

He seems like the right person one wanting to head into the restaurant trade in Bali should ask for advice. What would he say?

“Have a strong character and passion... I like what I do, first of all. I’ve always been in the restaurant business, I mean as a chef before, but I really like what I do. I’m having fun. And I love working in Bali with the Balinese people.”

Sabtu, 16 Januari 2010

Land of Oysters

it is mid december. mister rain man has started pouring out the buckets of nippy water he has been lining up all year. nevertheless, the rain doesn’t cease the singing, and a gem is found

Too bad”, I think out loud, “to be arriving in cloudy Manado after dark.”
Spears of yellow light crack open the sky every other minute or so and are followed by a deep ominous growl. If there had been a moon, it’d have been covered with ink-stained cotton. The night is wrapped in clouds, yet the frequent flashes of fire uncover a pretty, sleeping forest with white cows guarding its secrets.
The thirty minutes it takes to get to the Kima Bajo Resort & Spa fly by on a magic carpet of stories and making-polite-conversation inquiries.

Kima Bajo literally means oyster village, so I guess you could say I have been summoned to discover its pearl. As does the sparkly gem – one of nature’s most perfect forms – Kima Bajo and the Kima Bajo Resort & Spa both symbolise innocence, purity, perfection, humility, and a retiring character. It warms my insides when I choose to believe my own fictitious tale describing that Kima Bajo, too, is thought to be the result of lightning penetrating the oyster, and therefore regarded as the union of the fecundating forces, fire and water. It so represents birth and rebirth – fertility.

Sulawesi – Indonesia’s fourth largest island – stretches out like a squashed four-legged spider between Kalimantan (Borneo) and the Maluku Islands. The island’s forested mountains and breathtaking underwater world are surpassed only by its fascinating biology. Sulawesi is the largest and most central island of Wallacea (Wallace’s Line) – a unique region that refers to the remarkable change in wildlife that exists east of a figurative line drawn between Bali and Lombok and between Kalimantan and Sulawesi. As a result of the peculiar mix of plants and animals, you’ll find Asian monkeys sharing the forests with Australian cuscus mammals; Babirusa (deer-pig) – with tusks that curl upward through the snout – roam the area; a chicken-sized bird called the Maleo incubates its large eggs in hot volcanic soil; and the tiny teddy bear-like tarsier primate conquers the hearts of many with nothing more than a wide-eyed glance.

Last night’s clouds have given way to a ballet of woolly marshmallows pirouetting around the sun. It is the perfect day for a “tarsier tracking tour” (Rp. 85,000 for a guided trek) at the Tangkoko Nature Reserve in Bitung City – a two-hour drive from the resort – where the world’s smallest primate hides from curious eyes and an extraordinary large concentration of black crested macaques stroll around the woods.

I wonder as I wander out under the silky sky, how on earth the teeny tiny tarsier monkey is to defend itself against major threats. They include habitat loss due to illegal logging and forest conversion, the detrimental use of agricultural pesticides, predation by domestic cats and dogs, and illegal trapping for the pet trade and consumption. Sadly, it is cruelly understandable that the tarsier monkey is regarded as one of the world’s twenty-five most endangered species, as the ogling monkey is just so damn cute and edible.

During your first trip to Sulawesi, you will come to understand that most things can be eaten. Unusual foods such as bats, dogs and rats are sold at the island’s many morning markets where they lay barbecued, on a stick and ready to be devoured – head and all. The mere thought of smelling the blackened animals might make your stomach squeeze into the farthest corner of your abdomen, but no one can dispute it to be incredibly interesting.

Not all Sulawesi specialties involve memories of your precious Fifi, Batman or Stuart Little, though. Bubur Manado (vegetable and rice porridge with hot chillies), Nasi Jaha (sticky rice mixed with red onion and ginger, cooked in bamboo and coconut milk), Saguer (sweet and sour brew obtained from the sugar palm tree’s liquid; low in alcohol), and yummy coconut tarts are typically North Sulawesian and definitely worth a taste.

For now, perhaps most visitors to the four-armed island are looking to discover its mesmerising sea life and coral reefs, and for good reason. Diving possibilities range from the magnificent coral gardens at the Bunaken Marine Park or the Bangka Strait to the walls of multi-coloured fish and underwater volcanoes at the Sangihe Islands to the unusual and rarely seen critters at North Sulawesi’s Lembeh Strait.

North Sulawesi is known to be one of the last frontiers of pristine diving with remote islands and reefs. Not many diving locals, the world over, can outshine the exquisiteness and beauty of Indonesia’s coral jungles. Having never dived before, I have to limit my underwater expedition around Bunaken Island to sun-soaked hours of snorkelling around the boat or cooling dips in the translucent indigo-blue water. I tag along with Eco Divers – one of Manado’s top dive centres, based on the Kima Bajo Resort & Spa’s grounds.

Back on shore – looking out over majestic Mount Manado Tua, Siladen Island, extensive Bunaken Island, Mantehage Island, and the farthest and smallest of the minute island group, Nain Island – the sky licks away the remains of a scenic pink and purple sunset and darkens to a navy blue. After less than an hour it is as if the moon has poked a hole in the melancholic colour and out spills a fountain of tears.

getting there

  1. There is a regular flight service to and from Singapore – with Silk Air – as well as to and from most major cities throughout the Indonesian archipelago. AirAsia offers its direct service between Kuala Lumpur, in Malaysia, and Manado three times a week. For domestic flights, you can rely on Garuda Airlines.

when to go

  1. During the rainy season (November – February/March), some areas might be harder to get to as a result of floods. Temperatures in North Sulawesi are at their best in July and August.

where to stay

  1. Kima Bajo Resort & Spa
    Desa Kima Bajo Dusun I
    Kecamatan Wori
    Kab. North Minahasa
    North Sulawesi
    T: 0431 860 999
  2. Eco Divers:
    T: 0431 824 445
  3. Gardenia Country Inn
    (one hour drive from Kima
    Bajo Resort & Spa)
    Kakaskasen II, Tomohon
    North Sulawesi
    T: 0431 351 282

travel tips

  1. As it is accustomed when travelling to tropical islands, you are in need of a good mosquito repellent, anti-malaria pills, suntan and after-sun lotion, Imodium tablets, a sunhat, a mixture of tolerance and patience, and a friendly smile in order for you to blend in with the local people. Also bring with you a pocketsize Indonesian dictionary, read up on local customs so you are able to avoid embarrassing situations, and learn how to count in Indonesian. Don’t stuff your backpack with beauty products, deodorants, shampoos, toothpastes, etc, from back home! You can find everything you need in Manado, including appropriate clothing and medication.
  2. Watch out where you eat. The rule is: “go where it’s crowded” and if you’re not a fan of dog meat, stay away from “sate” carts with the letters RW written on them.
  3. Buy bottled water, as your stomach might not be comfortable with boiled tap water.
  4. Many divers enjoy underwater photography and wish to cultivate the best possible images or video from their dives. Their enthusiasm can often lead to damaging the environment as they poke critters into a more photogenic position, bend sea fans to better see pigmy seahorses, push framers into sensitive sponges, flash strobes relentlessly at critters who cannot escape, or cause stress through other means. Do follow these simple precautions: Boats should use mooring, NOT anchors!
  5. Guides must take care to avoid other groups on the same site.
  6. If an animal shows signs of stress, divers should leave it alone. Do not chase any creature that is trying to get away.
  7. If divers are harassing any animal, or when they are handling marine life, guides should immediately signal them to stop and lead them away, informing them after the dive that such behaviour will not be tolerated.
  8. If guides are harassing any animal or causing damage, guests should report them to the management.
  9. Guides often want to make guests happy, but there is no situation in which it is acceptable to cause stress or damage just for the sake of a photograph or in order to more easily view marine life.
  10. Visitors should not dive with operators who do not follow these simple rules.

Karma Spa - Top Draw

it’s not one of the highest-located spas on the island, but it’s definitely one with one of the best views. and indubitably, one of the most innovative

the look
One of the best things about living in a place like Bali is that you don’t actually have to leave the island to feel like you’re somewhere else. Over the years, thanks to its tourism industry, the island has developed many a facet. There are now its Buddhist side, Indian corner, cosmopolitan areas and many others. Just like other popular areas in the world, Bali is becoming global.

Karma Kandara provides an escape from an escape. The massive villa complex is built on a hilly area with the best view of the Indian Ocean. And everything in it is built to maximise that advantage. When the sky is clear blue, it looks like you’re somewhere in Greece, probably in a scene from “Mamma Mia!”. Yes, the movie musical.

The walk to Karma Spa involves a lot of steps. To get to the spa, it’s mostly downhill, but still not for those with acrophobia.

However, once you arrive at the spa, it’s worth all your blood, sweat and tears. The lobby is an open-plan concept that’s still cool and serene even on a hot sunny day. The Indian Ocean is still very much visible. Blue and majestic, but far enough even for the most heights-fearing of us to know it’s finally safe enough to enjoy the sight, and not afraid of falling off the cliff.

the touch
Just like how it looks, Karma Spa’s touches (at least the one I had) were out of this island. Living on an island with millions of Balinese-style massages, once you surrender your body on that treatment bed, it automatically expects pointed pressures from well-trained Balinese fingers. And similarly, I did. But once the therapist started working using other parts of her hands (palms, elbows, knuckles, etc), I knew I was going on a different kind of trip. On top of that, while most massages starts on your left leg and then moves to your light leg, this one is designed to thoroughly work on one particular side of your body first before moving on to the other side. So instead of right leg – left leg – right back, it is right leg and moving upwards to right shoulder and neck before moving to the left side.

the ingredients
The Himalayan crystal healing journey starts with a body scrub made of Himalayan salt infused with crushed rosehips, juniper berries and aromatherapy oils. Then the treatment moves to the steam room where you are allowed 15 minutes to have a conversation with yourself while inhaling herbal steam. After that, powder body wrap is applied all over you once again to work on your skin before the massage and the facial.

the exceptional
One of the highlights of this spa complex is their Jacuzzi. It’s set on the edge of a cliff with a sublime ocean view that would make you excusable if you tried to convince yourself that you were watching God.

Karma Spa (Karma Kandara, Jl. Villa Kandara Banjar Wijaya Kusuma Ungasan, T: 0361 848 2200, karmakandara)

New Moon

welcome to 2010? or is it still 1931? or 1943, 1431, 2552, or 2670? clearly the way we calculate years and when we number them from is a complicated matter and subject to some dispute around the world, not least here in bali where not only the measurement of time but also the calculation of the cosmological, religious and household significance of each day is an arcane science

The Balinese calendar is not for the faint hearted or numerically challenged. In addition to the solar based Gregorian system now commonly used throughout the world –365 days (usually) divided into 52 weeks of seven days and 12 months of 30, 31 or 28 days (usually) – two other distinct calendrical systems simultaneously circulate through it like geared wheels within wheels, both of which are riddled with their own complexities.

The first of these is the Saka or Sasih lunar calendar derived from one calculated in India in 79AD, which comprises 12 months (sasih) of 30 days, each month beginning on the day after the new moon (tilem), and its middle point marked by the full moon (purnama) 15 days later. To synchronise with the solar calendar, every 30 months an intercalary “leap month” is added. Because of this adjustment, and because 79AD constitutes its year zero, according to the Balinese lunar calendar we are now living in the year 1931. The day after the new moon on March 15 is Nyepi, the day of silence that marks the beginning of 1932.

This lunar calendar is accompanied by the 210-day Pawukon calendar indigenous to Java and Bali. This is divided into 30 individually named weeks or wuku and is believed to derive from the growing cycle of rice. The Pawukon “years” are not tallied and numbered but the system is crucial to determining the complex schedule of temple rituals and ceremonies and identifying the most auspicious and inauspicious days to perform a whole range of other activities from when to lay the foundations for a house to when to get your haircut.

But what day is it? The Pawukon calendar is further divided into concurrent “weeks” of one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten days. The names of the days of these weeks, or “wara”.

The most important are the three, five and seven-day weeks: the Triwara, the Pancawara, and the Saptawara. Incidentally, each day of the Saptawara coincides with the seven days of the week in the Gregorian calendar so that Redite is the equivalent of Sunday, Coma is Monday and so forth right up to Saniscara which is the equivalent of Saturday. And not only because they occupy the same spaces in time: the names of each of the days in the Saptawara also refer to the same astral bodies referred to in the Gregorian week. For instance, Redite (Sunday) comes from the Balinese word for the Sun, while Saniscara (Saturday) refers to Saturn.

The three, five and seven-day wara repeat uncomplicatedly through the 210 day cycle, and the conjunctions between them are used to determine the most important religious ceremonies. One of the most significant of these is Kajeng Kliwon, the coincidence of the third day of the Triwara with the fourth day of the Pancawara. It is a day to beware of malevolent forces.

In the month known to many of us as January, named for Janus, the Roman God of beginnings and endings, Kajeng Kliwons fall on the 7th and 22nd. But this is just one of the many auspicious conjunctions. Another, known as Hari Tumpek Kandang, occurs on January 2 with the conjunction of Kliwon and Saniscara, a day to give offerings and prayers to domestic animals like pigs and cows. The 35 possible conjunctions between the days of the Pancawara and the Saptawara are also used to determine the astrological “star signs” of people born on those days.

The Pawukon is further divided into 35-day months representing a full cycle of five (x7) and seven (x5) -day weeks. Six of these make up a full Pawukon year, the end of which, while not celebrated for its own sake, is usually marked by important temple anniversaries (odalan). But because 210 is not evenly divisible by four, eight, or nine, the Caturwara, Asatawara, and Sangawara respectively, require the addition or repetition of extra days according to exact prescriptions. Furthermore, just to complicate matters, the one (Ekawara), two (Dwiwara) and ten-day (Dasawara) cycles, despite their apparently unproblematic numerical relationship with 210, are also subject to mathematical intervention to decide the order of their days. Each day of the Pancawara, Saptawara, and Dasawara has a number value or urip. They are as follows:

5, 2, 8, 6, 4, 7, 10, 3, 9, 1
5, 4, 3, 7, 8, 6, 9
9, 7, 4, 8, 5

To calculate which day it is in the one, ten and ten-day weeks you simply add the urip of the days occurring in the five and seven day weeks, then add one, then, if the sum is greater than ten, deduct ten. If the resulting number is even, then it is Pepet in the two-day week, and Luang in the one-day week; if the number is odd then it is Menga in the two-day week and not a day at all in the one-day week. To calculate the day of the ten-day week, the resulting number is matched against the urip of the ten-day week. This month for example, January 29, the day of the full-moon, is Paing Sukra, that is, the first day of the Pancawara whose urip is nine and the sixth day of the Saptawara, the urip of which is six, giving us the following equation:

(9 + 6 + 1) – 10 = 6

Therefore, January 29, as well as being a Friday, is Luang Pepet Pasah Jaya Paing Tungleh Sukra Guru Erangan Eraja in the wuku of Ugu and the lunar month of Kaulu and tonight you can settle back and enjoy that full moon!

bali events....!

crystal clear

Kayumanis Spa at Ubud joins a number of illustrious spa brands across the Asia Pacific to be recognised in the Crystal Awards 2009. Success for the island of Bali also extends to COMO Shambhala Estate, which was chosen as Best Wellness Retreat.

Kayumanis Spa at Ubud (T: 0361 705 777, kayumanis)

join the club!

Sanur Beach Bali, the premium hotel in Sanur introduces the new Pool Villa Club. These beach front villas highlight the hotel’s continued efforts to provide guests with comfortable surroundings in a lush getaway. Located right on the beach and nestled in tropical surroundings, two pool villas indulge guests with spectacular ocean views.

Each villa with private terraces and pools also comes with a majestic bed, private dining area and beautiful gardens. Guests may take the option of dining at the gazebo while enjoying the beach over the ocean. Direct access to the white sands of Sanur Beach from the villa is another privilege for guests. The Pool Villa Club will make your holiday in Bali a memorable one.

Sanur Beach Bali (Jl. Danau Tamblingan, Sanur, T: 0361 288 011)

give me a k, give me an l, give me an m

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines resumed their direct flights from Bali to Amsterdam on Dec 7. This airline last saw direct services to Bali in 1997, but has now reinstated the direct flight services to Europe and North America as well.

Operating three times a week, the 425-seater Boeing 777-300ER transits in Singapore on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, and departs Denpasar at 9.30pm.

This flight will conveniently arrive in Amsterdam at 8am local time, with connections at Schiphol Airport to destinations across Europe and North America. The return flight to Bali departs Amsterdam every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday at 9pm and arrives on our island at 8pm the next day.

Special promotional fares will be offered from December until Mar 31, with booking periods ending on Jan 15, where a return flight is priced at a reasonable US$ 555. (airfrance)

damar terrace restaurant reopens

The new concept was designed by Yasuhiro Koichi of Japan’s Design Studio SPIN, who also designed the Rock Bar and other iconic restaurants and bars in Asia.
A new thatch-roofed bale (open-air gazebo) extends out over a pond with plush day beds that almost appear to float on water. Carved wooden partitions divide each day bed for maximum privacy, allowing guests to enjoy intimate dining while watching colourful koi fish dart beneath lotus plants lit by dozens of floating candles at night.

The original central bale has been completely renovated, with a large carved dragon hanging directly over the bar, made from recycled ancient ship wood

Damar Terrace Restaurant (AYANA Resort & Spa Bali,
Jl. Karang Mas Sejahtera, Jimbaran, T: 0361 702 222)

zona bebas, a collection of visual freedom
Until Jan 9

Curated by Putu Wirata Dwikora, Zona Bebas (Free Zone) showcases artworks by Arahmainani, Astari Rasjid, Ito Joyoatmojo, Made Djirna, Tatang BSP, and Sujana Suklu. Come and witness freedom in all its glory.

MahaArt Gallery (Club House Balibeach Golf Course,
Jl. Hangtuah, no. 58, Sanur, T: 0361 289 566)

questions by paul whitehead
Until Jan 4

Opened in Dec 10, the art of Paul Whitehead stands as proof of the old saying that “first impressions never last”. His favourite technique is to catch the viewer off guard with a visual pun that mirrors a wry sense of humour and possibly a profound message.

A graduate of a phenomenal era, his contemplative paintings and antics are guaranteed to amuse, surprise and astonish art lovers and fools this holiday season.

Ganesha Gallery (Four Seasons Resort Jimbaran Bay, T: 0361 701 010)

steve aoki clubs out klapa
January 3

Famous Los Angeles DJ Steve Aoki pumps up Klapa to usher in the new decade. Check out hellobali’s Afterhours department for more information about this multi-talented remixer and all-around hip kid.

Klapa (Jl. New Kuta Beach, Pecatu Indah Resort, T: 0361 848 4581)

animadness at the delicious onion
Every Thursday, 8pm

This month, Delicious Onion will feature Japanese anime as their theme for Thursday Movie Night. Some flicks that will make their roster this month include the critically acclaimed “Spirited Away” and super-cute film from Studio Ghibli, “Ponyo”.

Delicious Onion (Jl. Drupadi, no. 1001, T: 0856 383 3750)

lux lumina: a solo exhibition
Until Jan 14

Filippo Amato Sciascia will present a solo exhibition of his recent works titled Lux Lumina at Kendra Gallery of Contemporary Art from the Dec 12 until Jan 14. Lux Lumina (Luminous Light) refers to the characteristics in Sciascia’s paintings that expose artificial light observed through optical technology using photographic and digital media. The works of Sciascia in Lux Lumina visualises light in its capacity as an element in photography, the most current medium that is thought to deal with truth and reality.

Kendra Gallery (Jl. Drupadi, no. 88B, Seminyak, T: 0361 736 628)

Is Bali Really The Best Island in The World?

plenty of media fora have done their own surveys and came to a conclusion that bali is the best island in the world, but is it really? to welcome the arrival of 2010, we think it’s the perfect time to find out the truth. not because we don’t believe that it is, but because we love bali so much that we want nothing less than reality

how we do it
The number 100 symbolises perfection. And so does 10. Therefore, we have divided our scoring system into ten categories, where the highest score is (obviously) 10, which then will be added up to measure how close Bali is to reach 100 (read: perfection).

To avoid scoring fallacy, we’ve handpicked our survey respondents. They are people who are knowledgeable about Bali, experts in the fields mentioned as categories. They love this island, but they are also fair. So after a qualitative survey, here is the truth about our beloved island:

1.nature and outdoor activities
We think one of the best proofs of the quality of nature here is the amount of animals you see in your house everyday. Lizards, geckos, dogs, snakes, you name it. On top of that, you can also do almost anything outdoors, from mountain hiking, bird watching, parasailing, surfing to riding a camel. It’s the best place to be for those who want to stop wearing shoes and go barefoot all the time. Score: 10 and nightlife
Underground bars. Check. Live music venues. Check. Cocktail bars with amazing sunset views. Check. Performances by famous international DJs. Check. Gay bars. Check. A road-side haunt with the best martinis on this hemisphere. Check. Other watering holes in which you can get completely smashed. Check. But is Bali’s nightlife scene comparable to that of Ibiza? Has the island been consistently producing successful musicians? Yes, it would have been a very good score if it weren’t for those two reasons. But it’s getting better all the time and we are fully aware of this. Therefore, to encourage even more buzz, we come to a decision on a score: 06 and drink
Most people, especially us here at hellobali, have learned that visiting or moving to Bali equals weight gain. What else do you do when it’s hot outside - but eat? Or is that just us? In terms of quantity, there’s no question whether the island has enough restaurants for all of us to eat out at. But in terms of quality, Bali has not yet earned the world status as the island of fine food. Having said that, the street food scene is something to boast about. Still, we reckon that we need more Mozaics and Kemiris please. Score: 07

4.arts and culture
There is no doubt that Bali is the island of artists and artisans. People also come here not merely for the natural wonders, but for the culture. The Balinese are very proud of their culture and rightfully so. Not many places on Planet Earth posses as much charm. So in terms of culture, our beloved island is perfect. But there is an on-going debate about the quality of the art scene. Critics are yearning more variety, which we are confident that Bali can produce. So, for this reason, the score is a little less than perfect: 09 and dating scene
This category basically means: Is it easy to get a date in Bali? No, the ones where you end up paying the next morning don’t count. Apart from Elizabeth Gilbert [author of “Eat, Pray, Love”], how many people have found the love of their life in Bali? Plenty, of course. Look at the rapidly rising number of the local Balinese residents. But for the others, are there potential dates right left and centre? Tourists come here to honeymoon. So unless they are looking for a third partner to swing with, they don’t count. Score: 05 cost
More and more expensive places have started to grow like mushrooms in Bali. We’ve found that sometimes a full-blown night out in Bali costs more than Jakarta. And taxi fares here are indubitably more expensive. But cost of rent, water and electricity are very good. One of our survey respondents claims that they pay as little as Rp. 500,000 for three months worth of electricity. So just like anywhere else in the world, it depends on your lifestyle. But for the average Joe, their pay check can go a long way. Score: 08
There are at least ten universities in Bali. But in order to be smarter than a fifth grader, most people tend to leave the island. However, for those who want to learn about the Balinese arts and culture, the venues are plentiful. Score: 06
Singapore is still the destination for anything medical. Bali, unfortunately, doesn’t compare. But for your spiritual health, the island boasts a lot of yoga studios, classes and the kind. And to be fair, you can even go for a chiropractic therapy here. Still, we need a lot more hospitals with international standards. Pharmacies that sell you almost anything without prescriptions are just not enough. Score: 05

From a semi-wet bed full of bugs, to a room that costs you US$ 1000 a night, Bali has it all. And it’s getting better all the time. The choices are there, and in abundance too. Score: 10

10.environmental awareness
Yuyun Ismawati, one of Time’s Heroes of the Environment 2009 is based in Bali. And more and more eco-friendly properties are being built. There is also a recent trend to use bamboos instead of concrete to build buildings. And the UN Climate Change Conference was also held in Bali. So the island is indeed moving to the right direction in this department. Score: 06


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