Saraswati Day

Saraswati

Saraswati Day is a sacred day in the Balinese calendar dedicated to the Hindu goddess of wisdom and learning and knowledge. Students will attend school in traditional Balinese Dress. Books and other learning materials will be gathered and blessed by teachers and priests. But Saraswati Day is celebrated by all Balinese since knowledge is regarded as the most important thing for human life.

The day after Saraswati day is Banyu Pinaruh. People often take a bath in the sea, lake or river on this day. The philosophy behind this is that wisdom should flow like water. People also drink traditional medicine made from special leaves since good health is the next most important element in human life.

Soma Ribek follows on Monday and on this day, prayers are offered to Dewi Sri in thanks for the food and drink that is necessary for human life.

Three days after Saraswati day is Sabuh Mas meaning “gold belt” On this day, thanks is given for cloth and gold and the material things in life.

Finally, on Wednesday is Pagerwesi. This day is the second biggest holiday after Galungan. Offerings will be made in the home temple and prayers offered to Sang Hyang Pramesti Guru. Knowledge, health, food and cloth and gold must be looked after for a balanced life and to maintain balance in the universe.

Palm sugar – Gula Bali

Making Palm sugar

Making Palm sugar

Palm sugar, which is gaining popularity as an alternative sweetner tastes like a combination of maple syrup, brown sugar and caramel- all rolled into one!

The Village of Pedawa, an isolated Aga Bali village in the northern mountainous regions of Bali is famous for their small natural production of this traditional product. The palm is tapped placing the sap into the large gourds that grow in the region. It is then boiled down over a wood fire for 6 or 7 hours. The sugar produced is a rich dark color and mouthwateringly delicious.

If you are in the area and are looking for a place to eat, Terrasse du Lac is a hidden treasure. The owners are French Canadian and Balinese, the food yummy and very unexpected in this rural area. Their number is 081 916 178874. Call for directions – it’s off the beaten track.

To find Pedawa you will need a map and someone who speaks Bahasa Indonesian. It is down a dirt track barely accesable by car.

Having fun in Jimbaran – there’s so much to do!

Looking for things to do in Jimbaran? Here are some of the things we recommend to our Longhouse guests.

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Jenggala Ceramics The Longhouse loves Jenggala and most of our plates come from here. Wonderful colors and creative shapes featuring lotus leaves, frangipani and other Bali images. Paint your own ceramics (kids too) and enjoy periodic exhibitions and the trendy cafe. 
Jimbaran Seafood Market Buy vanilla and spices and bargain with fishermen for freshly caught seafood! (The first stop for The Longhouse cooking class) 
Nusa Dua Theater World Class theatrical performances with state of the art stage, sound and lighting systems in fully airconditioned auditorium. Cirque de Soleil meets Asian tradition.
Museum Pasifika This hidden gem contains amazing paintings of Bali by world famous artists curated in a historical context. Wonderfully organized and beautifully displayed in a series of pavillions. We love this place!
The Bali Collection Collection of shops and restaurants gathered together for the convenience of Nusa Dua tourists. Not a first choice for shopping or eating as a destination point, but if you are passing you may want to drop in. There is a branch of Uluwatu here featuring some lovely ladies clothing. 
Benoa Bay: Fishing, Glass bottom boat snorkling A day of fishing can be arranged from boat owners at Benoa Bay. Start early in the morning for a lovely voyage and bring your fish back to be cooked by Longhouse chefs! Enjoy other seafaring activites from this popular port.
Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park A huge statue of the Garuda looks down at the scene of this former quarry that has been changed into an activity center with segways, flying foxes and daily cultural shows. Go in the cool of the morning since the rocks radiate heat! It is a little old fashioned, but you can have some fun there with a positive mindset. 
Belangan Beach and temple Beach beds and quiet atmosphere make this a getaway escape. Picturesque temple nestled in a cave next to the beach is sometimes locked but can be visited when open for those wearing appropriate dress – sarong, sash and appropriate blouse/shirt. 
Uluwatu Temple For a breathtaking sunset experience, you can’t beat Uluwatu Temple which seems to grow out of the rocks and perches dramatically many meters above crashing waves. The kecak dance is performed every evening at  6pm and is a sight that shouldn’t be missed! Bring your sash and sarong and arrive early – it’s popular! 
New Kuta Golf Course Drive down the dramatic entrance to Dreamland. Charming lady caddies will guide you through the picturesque course.
Pandawa Beach Beautiful hidden beach that has now been developed and “discovered”! Still a fun place to visit. Paddle boats and protected water on one side and surfers on the other
Nusa Dua (Geger) Beach Haunt of seaweed farmers this beautiful beach has been shortened by the construction of the new Melia hotel. Stop at Nusa Dua beach Grill for a cozy lunch.
Jimbaran Beach Perfect for swimming, lounging, viewing the sunset and long walks with lapping waves. Nearby seafood restaurants are famous but get a recommendation since some are less than scrupulous. Recently opened Sandara lends new cool to the beach. Wear your smart casual best for stopping for the delicious food at Sandara.
Padang Padang Beach Padang Padang is the beach that many people rate as the best in Bali (and one of the best in the world –  Dramatic rocks!  Churning surf! Many small surfer shops and casual restaurants in the vicinity. 
Bali Cliff Beach Lots of steps beautiful clear water, clean sand and surfers. Watch out for the monkeys in the car park! Lots of steps! 
Pecatu Graha Water Park The three-hectare tourist attraction offers a range of activities including flying fox, paintball warrior and bungy trampoline in addition to a wide range of water attractions. “Water park” may be your toddlers first words after a visit here. Entrance fee Rp. 100,000, Fun for the whole family. 
L’Atelier Parfums et Creations at the Ayana Hotel (reservations required and can be made by our Longhouse staff)  Create your own lovely signature fragrance in a 90 minute workshop guided by charming and knowledgable ladies. Relax in front of your “organ” of scents and enjoy learning how to make your very own perfume. Highly recommended.
Jimbaran Corner Light shopping and lunch. Jimbaran corner has a pleasant selection of easy restaurants where you can enjoy western, Japanese or Indonesian food. Cute little shops include Bin House with is super lovely high quality batik unlike all other!
Balique Restaurant Shabby chic café with charming décor and great food. There is a small shop inside to entertain while waiting for your order. Right next to Balique are 3 lovely shops with Jewelry, home furnishings and pretty things. 1 minute down the road from Jimbaran corner. 
El Cabrone Beach club and restaurant. Amazing sunsets and dramatic Cliffside view make this a must do for Longhouse guests. Go before sunset and stay for a dinner of light tapas and Paella. Spanish owner and Spanish chef ensure you are getting the real thing.
Made in Italy Restaurant Italian son and mum ensure you are getting real Italian home cooking. This charming eatery near Belangan beach has high standards and yummy food. Love the freshly baked bread sticks.
Budda Cafe More for the local expat scene, but if you have run out of your favorite health food or detox aids stop into Budda on Jalan Uluwatu. Yummy healthy sandwiches  and juices too.
Salt Restaurant Basic wooden benches and tables with surfer dude owner tucked in the corner. Simple cheap food in charming rustic setting.
Garasi Local and western food with a German accent. Sit in the outdoor courtyard elbow to elbow with local expats. Great friendly service and nice food.
Cuca Molecular gastronomy in a sophisticated environment. Cutting edge and delicious food at prices to make you come back for more!

 

Beggers on holiday- what should you do?

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You’re eating and drinking like royalty in Bali, dressed in your designer togs. Two scruffy children come up to you with an outstretched hand. One is pointing to his mouth indicating he needs to eat. It’s so little to you and would mean so much to them, right? Wrong.

The children haven’t thought this up by themselves. They are “working” for an adult gang who send them out. Why? Because children are normally more successful at getting money from tourists than adults. Any chance at going to school, learning skills to become employable are quashed. They will be beggers then perhaps graduate to thievery for their life’s work. By giving money you are teaching them that begging is the road to success.

What can you do? By coming to vacation in a third world country you have already contributed to the economy. By staying at a hotel or a villa you are helping

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a company that employs local people, teaches skills in a positive way .  By eating in local restaurants, buying local handicrafts from their makers you are showing respect for the culture and helping the economy.

Want to do more? Check out some of the charitable organizations  that have pinpointed the needs of the community. Make a contribution there. Does handing out money willy-nilly make you feel like you’ve done a good deed. It shouldn’t. Show respect for the culture of the place you are visiting and think through the long term effects of your actions. People don’t want or need pity, they need jobs and an appreciation of their skills.

HUNGRY IN JIMBARAN?

Jimbaran is home to some of the best luxury hotels on the island. You can get wonderful food at the Ayana,, Four Seasons, Intercontintental and many more. They are all lovely, easy to locate and charming. BUT sometimes, you don’t want to pay hotel prices. There is a huge difference between the cost of a meal in a hotel and that of a private restaurant. Here are some good independent places to try in and around Jimbaran. There are more to add to the list! Please add your own in the comments

Balique
Jalan Uluwatu No 39
Jimbaran, Bali
Phone 036170 4945

Quirky décor with overstuffed sofas and eclectic “shabby chic” ambiance, Lots of fans to keep you cool! Balique’s quality food can please any palate. Both Western and Local Dishes are available and there is a cute little shop – take a peek.

Grocer and Grind
Jimbaran Corner
Jalan Bukit Permai
Jimbaran, Bali
Phone: 0361 703342

Want a no fuss lunch or dinner, good quality food, fast and tasty? Here you go. You can bring your laptop and catch up on emails while sipping freshly squeezed juice and munching.

Chocolate Cafe
Jimbaran Corner
Jalan Bukit Permai

Jimbaran, Bali
03617 66304

Comfy and aircon this little coffee shop is a great place to take a break and have lunch- although dinner is also available here. They are particularly know for their great pastries.

Oishi Tei
Is a sister restaurant to Chocolate Café at Jimbaran Corner featuring Japanese food. Nice ambiance and the food is good.

Warung Keramic
Jenggala
Jalan Uluwatu 2
Jimbaran, Bali 80361
03617 03311

I just got a tip that the coffee shop at Jenggala is excellent. I have only gone for a cup of tea, but looks like I have been missing out. Carrot cake is said to be excellent!

And not too far away…

Chiringuito El Kabron
Jalan Pantai Cemongkak
Pecatu, Bali 80571
Phone 07803 416

Cool atmosphere, gourmet Spanish food (including tapas and Paella) dramatic cliffside location with the best sunset in Bali. Come early for sunset and stay for dinner. What are you waiting for?

Bali Budah
Jalan Raya Uluwatu
Br Wanagiri
Badung, Bali
Phone 0361 701908

Small health food store with small meals to go or to eat on the spot. Bakery goods, bagels and lots of things that are hard to find elsewhere. Yummy and healthy.

Made in Italy
Jalan Pantai Balangan
Ungasan, Bali 80364
Phone: 03618 470201

With an Italian Mama in the kitchen how can you go wrong? Homemade pasta, pizza and specialty Italian dishes in a charming rustic atmosphere. Drive towards Balangan Beach – no you didn’t pass it…..keep looking left!

BALI’S BEST SUNSET AND FOOD FROM HEAVEN

Jimbaran/Bukit area is one of Bali’s best kept secrets. Far from the traffic and crowds of Seminyak, the Bukit area has so much to offer. I’ll talk about the fabulous beaches, amazing views and charm another time- but great restaurants are also popping up – you’re not “far” from anything!

Sunset at El Kabron

Sunset at El Kabron

El Kabron Jl. (Pantai Cemongkak Pecatu Bali 80571 – Phone : +61 7803416 http://www.chiringuitoelkabron). is fast becoming the place to be and be seen on the Bukit. Even if it didn’t offer a spectacular Cliffside sunset, waves crashing below, Cool music and great atmosphere – the food by Chef Marc Toreces is well worth the journey.

Getting there is tricky. Enter into Dreamland from Jln Uluwatu. You best just get your driver or taxi driver to call for the directions from there. You will be turning left at the last roundabout before the golf course and taking another left which is signposted. As you drive through winding roads, you will think you are lost but finally, as you bump into the drive you’ll know you have arrived by the welcome buzz of people and cars.

Come at about 6 to catch the sunset on the beanbag chairs with drinks and tapas, then move to a table for dinner. The food is amazing – Spanish food by a chef who has worked in a three star Michelin restaurant. Whether you opt for Paella or the wonderful new menu – or even work your way through the tapas menu you will be in heaven.

Dress is chic casual. Service is top noch. If you have one night to go out on your trip to Bali – go to El Kabron!

Tailor-made Clothing in Bali

I normally don’t think of Bali as a place to tailor clothing. But… A friend of mine just returned with a nice leather jacket and a sharp suit at amazingly reasonable prices. Next time I am going to check out the places, but here they are in case you want to have a look.

MERRY’S COLLECTION (Leather Fashion & Tailor) Jl Padma Utara, Ruko No 6, Kuta, Bali phone 03617453145 or 081338353167 website http://www.merryscollection.com YOGI BEAR TAILOR (Exclusive Dress Maker & Textile) Jl Padma Utara, Kuta Bali Mobile +628174702611 email is yogibeartailor@yahoo.com

Please let me know if you try them. My friend’s items looked good. My only reservation was the quality of the suiting material – but it may be that there are other options that he did not select.

Fab Fabric

Why has it taken me this long to find out about Wira’s ? (Jl Raya Kuta – on the right side coming from the direction of the airport – phone: (0361) 751727) All you need is patience, your creativity and imagination and possibly a flashlight. Wira’s is a treasure trove of fabric from all over Indonesia.

First I’ll tell you what I bought. I was looking for some Batik napkins to use for BBQ’s and other messy-finger meals. US90 cents a piece in a pretty red pattern. Then, I needed some replacement Batik for some cushions and bed runners in my favorite hand drawn pattern from Cirebon. I have seen this fabric selling for about US$60 or more for a 2 meter sarong length. US$12 per meter! It was in a bolt, but beautifully hand drawn and just what I was looking for.

One of my favorite Batik motifs from Cirebon

There were silk scarves in Batik and other woven fabric, blouses that didn’t really catch my fancy, and just about anything you can imagine that is made from fabric. If they don’t have it, they will make if for you at a reasonable cost in a few days.

Just before I was ready to leave, in amongst the stacks of fabric, I saw the most beautiful hand woven silk. It is a bit stiff and would make a gorgeous window shade or a wonderful cushion cover or….maybe it could be used as a background for a framed artifact…. I wonder if it would work in a piece of clothing? But now 3 meters are mine and I am going to let my imagination lead the way.

 

Nyepi

On Friday, 23 March 2012 Bali will celebrate the Lunar New Year and if you are in Bali you will have the experience of participating in one of the most important and unusual traditions on the island. Nyepi is a day of absolute silence. No one is allowed on the streets, no cars may drive on the roads, no planes may take off or land in the airport. The island is bathed in an other worldly silence since even within the home, people use this day for contemplation and meditation.As darkness falls, there will be no man made light visible.

The evening before Nyepi is a stark contrast. There are various rituals leading up to the day of Nyepi, but perhaps the most colourful is the Bhuta Yajna Ritual preformed the night before. Banjars (religious neighbourhood groups) throughout Bali create giant ogoh-ogoh, created from bamboo and paper. The ogoh-ogoh are demonic figure representing negative elements or evil spirits. These figures are paraded around the village before being burned and in some cases swept out to sea. As all evil elements leave the island, Bali is symbolically brought back to its time of creation. It is an exciting spectacle and you are encouraged to view one of the many processions.

There are some practical considerations for the day of Nyepi since even visitors to the island are required to follow certain guidelines and all hotels and villas must comply with the rules. You may be given a flashlight, because no large lights may be used and dinner will be finished before dark since the flame of the gas stove must not be seen. If you are in Bali it is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the complex Balinese culture and to experience first hand a most unusual tradition.