L’île sans Pareil
This year Santa came earlier. On the 21st of December to be precise and he brought tickets to Indonesia. So take a cup of coffee and prepare for a mix of travel and fashion post.
“From the moment he sat eyes on the sea coast and skyline of southern Bali, and encountered the handsome and animated Balinese in their own milieu, Kol, like many a Dutchman and other Westerners before and since, felt or rather prostrated himself under the spell of what was already becoming known as l’île sans pareil.” This is the first impression of Henrik van Kol, a Dutch politician who visited Bali in 1903 when Indonesia was a Dutch colony. Unlike other parts of Indonesia, inhabited by Muslims, Balinese people embrace the Hindu religion. The Dutch Government rapidly understood that Bali’s unique culture and religion could be marketed internationally. They started advertising Bali “relying heavily on images that emphasized the topless habits of Bali’s women. Accounts from the time are ripe with imagery of supposedly culture-seeking Europeans who really just wanted to see a boob or two.” Speaking about this in the year of #metoo seems a bit audacious, isn’t it? Still the question remains: would Bali be as famous as it is today without the curious Dutchmen? We may never find out.
Waking up Next to the Fake Bird of Paradise
Our first stop in Bali was Seminyak, one of the most touristic resorts in the south of the island. A favorite place for Australians to surf and to party. It is not because Australia lacks amazing beaches and perfect waves for surf, but apparently the jellyfish and sharks attacks are a real problem there. As a consequence, Seminyak became less traditional and more touristic to satisfy the Australian crowd. Luxury hotels, restaurants, cafe and shops are all there. The beach in Seminyak is not something I would recommend, but the temple, the Nyaman Art Gallery, the Balinese jewelry shops and Lulu Yasmine clothing shop worth a visit. We were lucky enough to arrive in Seminyak during the full moon ceremony, known as Purnama, when Hindu people satisfy and honor the gods with offerings such as food, fruit and flowers. Hundreds of temples all over the island celebrate this special day hosting ceremonies and rituals using holy water, incense smoke, petals and rice grains.
One of the best part of the stay in Seminyak was the villa with a private pool. Waking up with heliconia flowers, also known as the fake bird of paradise, and jumping from the bed into the pool is quite an experience. There are plenty of villas to choose from and the prices for this type of accommodation are not so high. In terms of eating, there are endless possibilities, but it is worth mentioning the fancy diner at Ku De Ta and the lunch at the Vietnamese restaurant Bo&Bun.
The One Who Leads to Essence of Self-knowledge
Ubud has became a touristic location due to the well-known book Eat, Pray, Love. But even if touristic, the place is not as posh as Seminyak. If the location of Starbucks next to the Saraswati Temple (where these pictures were takes) means less posh for you. Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts and wisdom. So if you, unlike those first Europeans, are looking for the “essence of self-knowledge” and not boobs, I recommend a visit to the Saraswati Water Palace/Temple in the center of Ubud. The place was not busy at all and I could enjoy some moments next to the pond, overflown with gorgeous lotus blossoms. Another place to visit in Ubud is the Monkey Forest/Temple. The monkeys are so cheeky and their human-like behavior amazed me. We also saw the monkeys on the roads outside Ubud when we visited the rice terraces, the Gitgit waterfalls and tasted the Luwak Coffee. The rice terraces are impressive even if it was raining when we got there, just check the last pictures of this set. Not only an UNESCO site due to their unique irrigation system, but the rice terraces also express the Balinese philosophical principle which draws together the realms of the spirit, human world and nature.
Singapore and Gingham
Singapore is the opposite of Indonesia: corporate people, rooftop terraces, sky scrapers, large boulevards and shopping malls. A Western city with too many rules as one of the Uber drivers stated. Our accommodation was close to China Town which gave us a more authentic taste and smell 🙂 of the big city. I liked the view from Marina Bay in the evening, the food markets in the financial district where we had to fight for a table with the locals, the Gardens by the Bay and the huge Victoria’s Secret shop :).
Keep it colorful!
Headband: MyJewellery; Bag: MyJewellery (sold out, but you can find it all over Bali)