Like sur­prises? Then take the plunge

Eyes wide open on the is­land where some­thing spe­cial hap­pens ev­ery day

Warwick Daily News - - ESCAPE - The writer was a guest of Wyn­d­ham Jivva Re­sort.

ONE trip to Bali is rarely enough for most peo­ple.

Some say it’s be­cause it is easy on the bud­get but I think it’s also be­cause we like to be sur­prised.

And Bali is good at sur­prises. A plunge pool on the bal­cony of my third-floor room was un­ex­pected.

Black sandy beaches as far as the eye could see also took me by sur­prise.

The food, the peo­ple, the scenery – ev­ery­thing was bet­ter than I imag­ined it could be. Ev­ery day some­thing spe­cial hap­pens or you see some­thing that takes your breath away.

Bali ap­peals to all the senses if you let it and given that tourism is the is­land’s big­gest em­ployer it’s a win-win for every­one.

The back­packer style of hol­i­day is how many Aussies first get to know Bali but there’s a world of lux­ury be­yond that and it won’t cost a for­tune to en­joy the best Bali has to of­fer.

One of Bali’s new­est re­sorts, Wyn­d­ham Jivva Re­sort, is off the beaten track and a world away from the ev­ery­day.

At the end of a dirt road lined with rice pad­dies, the re­sort ap­pears out of nowhere. Made of tim­ber and stone, the re­cep­tion build­ing is sur­rounded by wa­ter and lush gar­dens.

Jivva loosely trans­lates to “soul” in San­skrit, the clas­si­cal lan­guage of In­dia and Hin­duism.

With that in mind I headed straight to my spir­i­tual home, the in-house spa. Tirta Spa has been thought­fully de­signed so each ther­a­pist works in an in­di­vid­ual thatched-roof hut, cre­at­ing the ul­ti­mate pri­vate re­treat for guests. And the treat­ments range from 30 min­utes to three-hour pack­age deals.

After each treat­ment guests are en­cour­aged to sit on the ve­randa of their hut, en­joy tea and home-made cook­ies and ad­mire the wa­ter buf­falo graz­ing just me­tres away. To­tally nat­u­ral when you look around the grounds but quite un­ex­pected in my post-mas­sage haze.

Ar­riv­ing at my room on the third floor I stepped out onto the bal­cony to get a closer look at the view of the black sandy beach and nearly fell into the pool.

Most of the 214 rooms have ei­ther a plunge pool or a ju­cuzzi on the bal­cony. For those look­ing for a touch more lux­ury there are eight pri­vate vil­las and each has its own pool.

Din­ner time de­liv­ers an in­sight into Ba­li­nese cui­sine. The chef at Jivva’s in-house restau­rant serves up a menu based on tra­di­tional Ba­li­nese cui­sine, with many of the dishes based on what lo­cal fam­i­lies cook in their own homes.

Th­ese dishes are cooked with lots of love, a sense of touch rather than pre­cise mea­sure­ments and years of prac­tice. The re­sult is de­li­cious food you wish you could cook at home.

The good news is you can. The chef hosts cook­ing classes where amid laugh­ter and lots of care­ful chop­ping guests dis­cover the se­cret blend of flavours needed to recre­ate some of the chef’s favourite dishes.

The restau­rant is an over­sized thatched hut and tables are dot­ted around the gar­den area. The fan­tas­tic food, live mu­sic sev­eral nights a week and the gen­tle sounds of the ocean set the scene for a fun-filled party where guests feel right at home.

Head­ing out of the re­sort for a day of trav­el­ling we booked a driver – not just to ne­go­ti­ate the traf­fic but be­cause they of­fer in­sight into life in Bali that just isn’t pos­si­ble if you try to go it alone.

The mar­kets in Ubud are well known and well worth a visit if you are shop­ping for trin­kets. We found our bar­ter­ing at­tempts were much more suc­cess­ful if we chal­lenged our­selves to find a par­tic­u­lar item, rather than aim­less wan­der­ing which made us a slow-mov­ing target for the savvy sell­ers.

If you go to Ubud make sure you step away from the mar­ket strip – the streets around the mar­ket were lined with shops selling ev­ery­thing from hand­made sta­tionery to de­signer clothes and jew­ellery. Cafes and mar­ket-like shops are right next door to fa­mil­iar brands like Star­bucks, Ray White Real Es­tate and the Com­mon­wealth Bank.

The streets were busy with a mix of lo­cals – some bal­anc­ing bas­kets on their heads – and tourists from ev­ery cor­ner of the world. The best way to ap­pre­ci­ate the pass­ing pa­rade of peo­ple was to take a seat in a restau­rant with a view.

We chose Spice, which has mas­sive glass win­dows fac­ing the street. The restau­rant is one of three bear­ing the name Chris Salans, a celebrity chef in South-East Asia, and I could see why he is so pop­u­lar – the crispy pork belly (with turmeric dress­ing and dukkah spice) is the best I’ve ever tasted.

Bali is not just a feast for the eyes. It is rich in his­tory and cul­ture and it would be re­miss of any trav­eller not to visit some of the tem­ples where many Ba­li­nese peo­ple still go to wor­ship and pay their re­spects.

The Tirta Em­pul Tem­ple is a Hindu wa­ter tem­ple near Tam­pak­sir­ing and it was hum­bling to be al­lowed to wit­ness faith in ac­tion. Young and old took their turns to drench them­selves in the wa­ters that would bring them fer­til­ity, health and good for­tune. It was hard not to be touched by the sheer num­bers of peo­ple and the solem­nity that filled the tem­ple.

Play­ing tourist can take you in many di­rec­tions, phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally, and the visit to the tem­ple was a truly mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence.

But like any tourist we soon moved on to dis­cover the next sur­prise Bali had to of­fer. Days later, after vis­it­ing rice pad­dies, a but­ter­fly en­clo­sure, a batik fab­ric dis­play and a few other uniquely Ba­li­nese sights it felt as though I’d only touched the sur­face of what Bali has to of­fer.

The up­side to that is that it’s no sur­prise where I’m go­ing for my next hol­i­day.

PHO­TOS: ISTOCK AND CON­TRIB­UTED

◗ Wor­ship­pers make an of­fer­ing at the Tirta Em­pul Tem­ple in Bali and, be­low, the The Wyn­d­ham Jivva Re­sort re­cep­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.