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Bali

Eat suckling pig, pray in a temple and practise yoga

Elizabeth Brown | July/August 2015

Do steal yourself away from five-star resorts and book into Bambu Indah in Ubud, where home will be an antique wooden building or joglo. Only for those in the know.

Don’t get stuck in the beach resort of Kuta. In fact, just don’t go. For some, this is the only Bali they will know.

Do stroll on the beach in the early morning or at sunset. On Sundays, it belongs to the Balinese: families, picnics, satay stalls and beach football.

Do go for a culinary lift – it’s no longer just ribs and dirty martinis at Naughty Nuri’s. Try chef Will Meyrick’s glam Asian street food at Sarong, and for cocktails and molecular creations, head to the sultan of sweet, Will Goldfarb at Room4Dessert in Ubud.

Do join the queues at Warung Babi Guling Pak Malen, a roadside shack known for the local delicacy babi guling (suckling pig). It’s every bit of pig and every bit delicious!

Do take a leaf out of the book “Eat, Pray, Love” and track down a Balian – a traditional healer who will treat physical and mental problems with herbs and incantations.

Do get out and about. Head to the hills for fresh air and the Botanical Gardens; to Jatiluwih and its UNESCO-protected view; to Lembongan for a sighting of the Mola Mola, the largest fish in the ocean; and to Tenganan, where village life hasn’t changed since Majapahit times.

Do visit a temple. The Island of Gods has about 20,000 of them; bring a sash and sarong.

Do learn to surf. For your maiden wave, try Double 6 beach or Batu Bolong. Hire a board, a local guide and paddle, paddle, paddle. 

Don’t get confused about religion. Indonesia may be the world’s most populous Muslim country, but the Balinese worship nature and ancestors through a mixture of animistic, Buddhist and Hindu practices.

Do fall in love with Bali dogs. Indigenous to Bali, man’s best friend is Bali’s best protector.

Do buy a yoga mat and join the many soul-searching spiritual warriors that descend on Bali. The yoga bunnies head to Desa Seni in Seminyak and Yoga Barn in Ubud.

DoN’t be confused by Balinese names. There are only four and they are attributed chronologically, boy and girl. The eldest is Wayan, followed by Made, then Nyoman third and finally Ketut. The fifth child? Yup, it’s Wayan again. Easy.

Do visit Green School, a cathedral of bamboo in a jungle clearing. This pioneering school was designed to be ecologically sustainable and to teach Balian and expat children about the environment. Daily tours in term time.

Don’t miss the three-day ceremony of Melasti, which ends with the Day of Silence (Nyepi). On Nyepi eve, join the processions of Ogoh Ogohs, huge hand-sculpted effigies, and scare away the evil spirits for another year.

Don’t visit in the rainy season (October to March). Bali has only two seasons: wet and dry, and wet really is.

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