Acompelling attraction of Spa Village Resort Tembok, Bali is the atmosphere. It inspires and repeatedly draws guests to return to this peaceful location with its beach of black volcanic sand. The Balinese cuisine served at Wantilan nourishes and fortifies the body; the spa treatments restore one physically, while yoga and meditation attune both mind and body to attain peak state.
Every day at the resort, on multiple occasions, something special happens that connects you to the ancient healing traditions of Java and Bali. While you are sunning by the pool after a swim, reading in the shade or basking in the after-glow of a luxurious massage, you will be offered a small glass of spicy liquid, poured from an unlabelled flask. This is jamu, a range of herbal elixirs made from ancient Javanese recipes and a feature of rural life among the fertile valleys of these islands for hundreds of years. There are representations of jamu recorded in the 10th-century walls of the Borobudur temple. Jamu recipes are different for men and women and there are variations for particular ailments, as well as merely to enhance general well-being.
In the villages, the tonics are made by hand, using knowledge passed down through generations and common spices and cultivated herbs or ones that grow wild, such as ginger, turmeric, clove, cinnamon, galangal, temulawak and tamarind. Ladies referred to as jamu gendong wander from village to village plying their wares, a basket of bottles carried on their hip and secured over the shoulder by a tied sarong. A bucket containing a number of cups is hooked over one arm and they sell their jamu by the dose, like roving pharmacists. The Spa Village Resort staff moving around the gardens will be similarly dressed and equipped.
During your stay, you can even try your hand at concocting your own jamu. Check the activities menu for the day and time. You will prepare the ingredients, pound them with a mortar and pestle; then watch with your fellow guests, gathered like alchemists around a bubbling cauldron, as your potion comes to the boil.
By adding a little raw honey or lime, preparing your own jamu is a satisfying process and can prove to be quite a delicious treat.
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DURING YOUR STAY, YOU CAN EVEN TRY YOUR HAND AT CONCOCTING YOUR OWN JAMU.