Monthly Archive: February 2019

A Lovina Hotel – The Perfect Base For Exploring Bali’s Secret Coast

The island of Bali, Indonesia, situated eight degrees below the equator in the Indian Ocean north of Australia, has been a tropical travel destination for over 40 years. It’s hard to pass by a magazine rack without seeing a travel magazine feature article on this island, with its still very-much-alive indigenous culture and wonderfully friendly people. The Singaraja and Lovina Beach area, in the north of Bali on the shores of the calm Bali Sea, are a great place to experience this, but you’ll never see it unless you make just a little effort.

Why is this?

On your arrival at Ngurah Rai international Airport, while in the taxi on the way to your hotel, you might be forgiven for wondering where you can find the idyllic settings that might have motivated you to come. The fact is that the area within 5 miles or so of the airport is an over-the-top maze of cheap trinket shops and wall-to-wall package tourism. Clearly for the majority of tourists this fits the bill, but I have always wondered what percentage of travelers to Bali actually take the time to explore the island a little bit. The craziness is in the south. Everything changes north of Ubud.

If you had something else in mind, a slower pace, don’t despair. Even if you’ve already booked a hotel in one of the tourist centers in the island’s south end, you certainly can and should take a little trip up to Bali’s north coast. Drivers are easy enough to find, and very reasonably priced by Western standards.

So am I suggesting that you actually pay for a hotel in Lovina or some other idyllic place if you have a room already booked for the duration of your visit, down in the other end of the island? It depends on how much you like the southern tourist scene in places like Kuta.

You could book part of your holiday ahead of time and do a spur of the moment booking when you find accommodations that you like up on the north coast. If you’ve already pre-booked for your entire visit you might also be able to negotiate with your hotel to take a few days out of your initial reservation.

Don’t hesitate over logistics. Take your little road trip if you get the urge. And, if you find yourself as charmed by Lovina Beach as some people do, the roughly US$20-US$50 a day that you can spend on a very good hotel in the area (even beachfront, believe it or not) might just seem worth it to you.

You could take a few days, using a hotel in Lovina or Singaraja as a base from which to explore, and head over to the west Bali National Park (Taman Nasional Bali Barat) on the northwest corner of this amazing island. Very few tourists get up to see this park, but it’s a short trip from Lovina over surprisingly good roads and is a wonderful idea especially if you have children. Be sure and park the car or have your driver wait for you while you take a short hike, to really get a feeling for the natural beauty of Bali.

Another short day trip from the Lovina Beach area is to head up to the volcanic mountains of Bali, for example to the Bedugul or Kintamani areas. These are lush, cooler areas in the center of the island with surprisingly large lakes, waterfalls and really superb views from the edge of the caldera in Kintamani.

If you ask more from your holiday than shopping and partying, getting out into the natural beauty of Indonesia for a few days is something you won’t regret. There are lots of special, relatively unexplored corners of Bali aside from the ‘secret north coast’ around Lovina and Singaraja, these are couple of outstanding places to start.

Huts: How to Ensure You Hire the Best Builder

Are you looking to hire a builder of Balinese huts? Before you pick a tradesperson to hire, get some referrals from relatives and friends or better yet from your area’s council.

Since Balinese inspired huts are continuously gaining popularity, you can go online where you can easily find a website that can put you in touch with local contractors and trades people that can perform the job. To ensure that you get to hire the best contractor to build your hut, you should ask to see their ratings as well as online reviews, if there’s any. The internet is overflowing with information and resources hence you will find it fairly fast and easy to checkout as many hut builders as you want. This is an excellent way for you to pick, choose and sieve. You can interview them one by one over the phone or send them emails to get an idea of how much the hut you want to build would cost. Compare at least three to four quotes.

Professional building contractors are usually covered with public liability insurance, so it is best to check on that, too. This will give you peace of mind knowing that your hut builder is covered. It pays to anticipate things that may likely occur if anything goes wrong. Aside from checking them for insurance, it is highly suggested that clients should ask to be provided with proof of professional qualifications, affiliations and membership in professional trade association. It would also help if they can provide references and names of recent clients that you can talk to before you decide.

Once you’ve chosen a tradesperson, don’t forget to draw up a written contract where you lay out everything that you want done. Detailed description of the scope of work, the time frame and expected date of completion, the total cost including materials and labour as well as the mode of payment that’s acceptable to both parties. Don’t forget to have your chosen builder sign the contract. If you chose to hire a contractor that’s employed by a big construction company, chances are, you will have to sign a contract with their terms and conditions. Ensure that you check the written terms and conditions by reading carefully before you affix your signature.

Normally, clients are asked to make a down payment of at least 50% of the total cost, so you do not need to make a complete payment to cover the entire cost of the work up-front, but most likely both you and the contractor will have to agree on a payment schedule. Whenever there is a need for you to sign a contract, always ask for the company’s policy and what you need to do should you decide to cancel the contract.

Builders of Balinese huts understand well that by law, a client is always afforded a seven day cooling off period for purchases and contracts made regardless if they’re done over the phone, online or during face to face meeting. This applies if the agreed service didn’t commence on the date specified.

Tips For Taking A Spiritual Vacation in Bali

The culture of Bali is in sharp contrast to what we are used to in the West. A large percentage of the population are still dependent on farming for their living, people live on less money per day than what we would spend on petrol to get to work, and above all, most of the population is deeply spiritual as well as superstitious. If you want to feel that you’ve reconnected with your simpler side, a Bali vacation is the perfect way to do so. Today we look at some of the spiritual travel options in this tiny Indonesian island.

Temples in Bali

Bali, like many South East Asian countries, holds much of its art, culture and architecture in the temples of the region. Locals have believed for many years that the deities of the local area had a direct influence on the success of their lives, which is why there is such emphasis on inward-looking, on spirituality and on reverence. There are some truly beautiful temples to be accessed only minutes from a range of Bali hotels, including:

* Pura Besakih: This incorporates pre-Hindu beliefs into the temple complex, which consists of five compounds as well as the main temple. There are plenty of day-long Bali tours to Pura Besakih

* Taman Ayun Temple: This temple is around 18 km south of Denpasar, and is much quieter than the other famous and easily accessed temples. It is surrounded by a wide moat and beautifully kept gardens; visitors cannot enter the temple, but you can watch ceremonies being conducted inside.

* Temple of the Meeting of the Three: Intriguing name for an intriguing temple! This particular building has only been there since 1917, but there has always been a temple on this site for over a thousand years.

* Uluwatu temple: There is some controversy about whether the monkeys at Uluwatu temple are tamed or trained to be naughty. But the temple itself is a must-see for a Bali vacation.

* Yeh Pulu Temple: This is said to be a very quiet temple, although visitors are often ‘required’ to give an offering to the temple gods.

Spiritual Festivals

Much as we in the Western world take time off our usual work to be with our friends and family, people in Bali often take time out of their day to honor locally recognized gods and deities. These events are a great way to get insight into the minds and motivations of the Balinese people… simply a very special thing to be around! You can check out most of the temples at any time of year, so if you want to up the ‘heart factor’ of your trip, take your Bali vacation around the dates of the following spiritual festivals:

* January 2 Tempe Kandang – Special day of thanks for the gift of livestock

* February 06 Tumpek Wayang – Special day of thanks for the gift of Art

* February 26 Prophet Mohammed’s Birthday – Moslem Holiday

* February 27 Saraswati – Special day of thanks for the gift of Knowledge

* March 03 Pagerwesi – Special day for meditation to enhance balance in the world

* March 13 Tumpek Landep – Special day of thanks for the gift of metal

* March 15 Tawur Agung Kesanga – Held to welcome Nyepi holiday at every family compound; followed by procession of Ogoh-Ogoh (huge monster / evil dolls)

* March 16 Nyepi – Balinese New Year; The I Saka New Year 1932, the day of absolute silence for Hindu followers

* April 17 Tumpek Uduh or Tumpek Pengatag – Special day of thanks for the gift of fruit-bearing plants

* May 22 Kuningan – Believed to be the ascendant day of ancestral holy spirits and deities, back to the eternity

* May 28 Vaishakha 2554 – Buddhist holiday to celebrate the birth anniversary of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism

* July 31 Tumpek Kandang – Special day of thanks for the gift of livestock

* September 29 Pagerwesi – Special day for meditation to enhance balance in the world

* October 09 Tumpek Landep – Special day of thanks for the gift of metal

* December 07 1 Muharram 1432 H – Moslem New Year

* December 08 Galungan – Praying for the victory of virtue (Dharma) upon evil (Adharma)

* December 18 Kuningan – Believed to be the ascendant day of ancestral holy spirits and deities, back to the eternity

Ancient Spiritual Sites

Bali is beautiful and quiet… unless you are in Denpasar or the other urban areas, there is usually nothing to hear but the wind in the leaves, the faint chattering of monkeys and the call of the ocean! Perfect for meditation and some private yoga sessions. Check out spiritual sites perfect for these practices on your Bali vacation, like the West Bali National Park and Bali Barat National Park.