Category Archives: Bali

Indonesian Bossa Nova

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Waterbom

My favorite day in South Bali was, embarassingly enough, probably spent at WATERBOM, Bali’s own water park, right in the middle of Kuta.

Waterbom immediately distinguishes itself from your run of the mill Six Flags with its striking and total cleanliness. Not a piece of litter in sight. There’s also a convenient and waterproof system for traversing the park empty handed—upon arrival at the ticket counter you can deposit extra money into an account which is monitored via a Velcro wristband, scanned at the food stalls, locker room, and game counters (all slides are included in the price of entry for 26 USD.) At the locker room most guests decide to strip down to bathing suits and bare feet in exchange for another key-toting wristband—leaving you totally free to jump in unencumbered.

Waterbom is relatively small but the slides are classic, satisfying, and addictive. We rode the majority three or four times. And to Waterbom’s greatest credit, the lines were short—even on a Sunday. Waterbom incorporates three great race-style slides—my favorite was the Jungle Ride, on which slide the two competing paths to the bottom are not parallel but wind apart, so that the winner of the race remains a surprise until you hit the pool at the bottom.

Waterbom’s best slide, however, is unquestionably its newest, the aptly-titled Climax. As we waited on line to ride the Climax, I couldn’t figure out exactly what made it so “scary”—until I heard a recurring dense thud above us. As it turns out, at the top of the climax you climb into a chamber, standing on your feet, the staff closes shuts the door, you hear a soothing British woman count down from three… and then the floor drops out from beneath you, sending you free-falling into a clear tube. The momentum (2.5 gs of force, according to the website) is so much that you shoot up through the tube, defying gravity to perform a full loop. It’s exhilarating.

Anyway, it may seem like a waste to spend a day at a waterpark when you’re in a tropical, culturally-rich paradise covered with beautiful beaches and temples, but I’m here to tell you… it’s not.

WATERBOM BALI:

Open daily (including holidays) from 9am-6pm

+62 361 755 676

Spa Hati Ubud

My favorite day in Ubud was probably spent at SPA HATI HANDS. On or around Valentine’s Day, my boyfriend and I searched Ubud for an atmospheric and affordable spa. We started at COMO Shambala Estate, which is perched along the side of a huge gorge, and is one of the most beautiful properties I’ve ever seen in my life, but was definitely out of our price range. (Worth a visit purely as a voyeur, but be warned that security is tight. They practically wouldn’t even let us in the front door without a reservation.)

We ended up at Spa Hati, which was a blessing. They’re known for their four-handed massage, which wasn’t included in our Valentine’s Day package, but the staff was incredibly accommodating and let my boyfriend exchange his pedicure (?) for the four-handed. I decided to stick with the facial, but he assured me afterwards that the four-handed massage was amazing. Our package included for each of us: a 90 minute oil massage, a 30 minute body scrub, and a 30 minute flower bath, which was filled for us with rose petals and frangipani. After that, they let us hang out in the jacuzzi and sauna for as long as we liked before I went off to enjoy my facial, atmospherically situated in a japanese-like outdoor pavilion with sliding shoji screens, candle-lit inside. It was evening by then and I could hear the frogs croaking. All of this was only about $60 each. No kidding.

And that’s not all– Spa Hati operates in financial support of the Bali Hati Foundation, an NGO which runs the Bali Hati school for children grades 1-6 as well as a mobile health clinic and other social programs. On their website I read that they are currently in the process of opening the Bali Hati Education and Community Center on their land in Lodtundah village, which they call “An eco-friendly center where the whole environment is designed as a place of learning that empowers people and promotes resource sustainability.”

Anyway, go visit the spa if you’re in Ubud. It’s win win win.

SPA HATI:

Jln. Raya Andong #14, Peliatan – Ubud
Ph.: +62 361 977578

My Favorite Bar in Bali…

DEUS CANGGU

I didn’t party so much in Bali, but I did have a great time going out at DEUS. Deus Ex Machina (I think the full name goes) is a motorcycle/surf shop by day, bar by night. It’s housed in an enormous barn called the Temple of Enthusiasm (DEUS EX MACHINA printed in huge letters across its side), out in Canggu, which is a rice-paddied and peaceful area just north of the hustle and bustle of Kuta, Legian, and Seminyak. It took us about a half an hour to drive there, and definitely worth it. The bar scene was relaxed–the DJ was a friend of a friend, and about twenty people were milling about the bar or dancing on the dancefloor. And the music was eclectic and awesome–everything from Paul Simon to Biggie.

N.B. that if you’re heading out to Canggu for a nice night out, you would do well to make a reservation at Hotel Tugu’s restaurant, WAROENG TUGU, right next to the Deus barn. Set in a “private kitchen” (there were about 5 tables, but we were the only people there), Waroeng Tugu serves huge set-menu meals of delicious traditional indonesian fare. The kitchen is in a romantic, dimly lit garden, filled with Indonesian and Japanese rustic touches. The food was served in a big boat and included grilled fish wrapped in banana leaves and sweet and small, grilled green eggplants. Reservation essential and don’t plan on cancelling less than a good half-day in advance–they take your credit card number upon reserving. The entire meal cost about $100 including alcohol for two.

Food in Ubud

Eating in Ubud was a treat. The food there is delicious. Here are my two best recommendations:

NAUGHT NURIS: The meal we had at Naughty Nuri’s was actually my favorite in Indonesia, period. This side of the road shack with corrugateed metal roofing is a fun modern interpretation of the warung (roadside foodstall)–sort of Indonesia meets the wild west. Which makes sense, since Naughty Nuri’s is the love child of a Javanese woman and her American husband. We tried the ribs, which were delicious, and the steak sandwich, covered in cheese and peppers and onions, also very good. But the crown jewel was definitely Nuri’s sashimi plate–12 pieces of delicious, succulent raw tuna for only $4.50. Maybe best deal in Bali. (Note: sushi and sashimi only served Thursdays, when the restaurant apparantly overflows and goes standing room only…but we went for a late lunch and were fine getting a table.) Naughty Nuri’s is also famous for its martinis, which Anthony Bourdain calls the best outside New York. Apparantly another Nuri’s has opened in South Bali, and doesn’t live up to its name, although we didn’t get a chance to try it.

WARUNG IBU OKA: Again, not quite a warung, but certainly authentic. Ibu Oka serves one thing: Babi Gulung, or suckling pig, an Indonesian favorite which yes, means piglet. And how delicious. A friend told us beforehand that the pig was like an “explosion in my mouth” and to describe the experience as anything less explicit was to do it an injustice. I’m not sure I was that blown away, but it was definitely a great lunch, and as we sat on cushions on the floor eating, a huge funeral procession passed, which was cool. Obviously not suitable for vegetarians.

Some other places we tried and liked were MURNI’S WARUNG, where the food was standard Indonesian/Western fare (I liked my burger more than my companion liked his Indonesian duck, I think) but the real winner here is the insane view down a green, green gorge; and INDUS, which served us alone in the restaurant long after the other restaurants had closed. Indus has some bad reviews on line, but I loved my salmon, and again, the views were beautiful.

Little South Bali Shopping Guide

If you’re headed to Bali, congratulations, I’m jealous. It’s an amazing place. It’s hard to explain what’s so great about it, because it occupies a weird niche. On one hand, it’s hard to counter claims that Bali offers a highly developed, curated, and tourist driven experience of tropical Asia; on the other hand, Bali is filled with a riotous beauty, an overwhelming hospitality, and a stunning design aesthetic which are all inimitable and indescribable. And often, in places like Ubud, the mushrooming development remains tasteful and understated, only adding to Bali’s appeal as an island of tranquility and friendly service. Best of all, in Bali good design pervades everything, meaning that the Balinese lifestyle can be enjoyed at pretty much all price points. And there is a lot to do.

Here is a list of my favorite stores I visited in the Seminyak/ Legian areas of South Bali. All of these stores are located across two streets: JL Laksmana/Oberoi, and JL Seminyak. The perfect way to shop in Bali is to rent a scooter (if you can) for $5 a day (500,000 rupiah) and drive up and down these two streets and the small ones which lead off of them.

I spent the majority of my time shopping with my boyfriend so I didn’t get to go into all the stores I might have liked, but in exchange, I did get to experience a larger slice of menswear than I would have otherwise, which was fun and worth it. Here are my recs:

MOONROCKS: Moonrocks is actually a brand based in Saint Sebastian, Spain, but its made its way to JL Seminyak, right next to the expat-popular Moka Café. Moonrocks trafficks in brightly colored t-shirts with funny and whimsical illustrations, and other casual streetwear.  I bought two women’s tank tops, but my favorite things there were the men’s boardshorts which came in fun colors and covered in a small black print of things like elephants, spiders, and tear drops. Really cool and really affordable.

DRIFTER: Drifter was probably my favorite store in Bali, which is funny since there is no womenswear. But everything at this surf shop is just so cool. We were told to look out for The Critical Slide Society, and indeed we found their awesome line of boardshorts and t-shirts (the prices seemed to range from about $50-$100). Other brands include: RVCA, Obey (with Shepard Fairey’s ubiquitous Andre the Giant logo), Brixton, and Patagonia. They also sell surfboards here, if you’re in the market.

C BOUTIQUE: If you have money to burn and you want a great suit for the beaches of Bali, this is the place to go. Filled with cool Australian and American brands like Zimmerman, Lover, Camilla and Marc, and my favorite—Anna & Boy. But be prepared to part with a hundred bucks at least.

Located @ Jl. Oberoi N. 8

A SIMPLE KONSEP STORE (SKS): Beautifully designed, simple pieces with a bit of an Asian feel.  Aptly described on their website as “East meets Chic.” Lots of block printed sundresses, origami wallets, toy watches, and smartly tailored trousers. For both guys and gals. Also carries some home design. Designers come from across the globe.

Located @ Jl. Lasmana N.40

http://sksbali.com/index.php

MAGALI PASCAL: The eponymous line of a Parisian designer, Magali Pascal is filled with the most beautiful, feminine, floaty creations (think lots of printed chiffon), arranged on racks by color. The website rightly describes the line as being girlish without the frills or frippery. I tried on almost every dress in the store and came away with a sophisticated black pair of shorts ($120) and a cool, studded leather wallet ($60)(which I managed to stupidly lose the next day much to my chagrin.) A small disclaimer: this seems to be the sort of line that women love and men are indifferent towards. When I tried on a loose, floaty, cream-colored dress with small blue flowers and a plunging neckline, my boyfriend said that I lost my figure and that it did nothing for him. But I wouldn’t let that stop you.

http://www.magalipascal.com/index.html

SHAKUHACHI: Another cool and boho-chic line of womenswear worth visiting.

www.shakuhachi.net