Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bali: Everything a Conscious Traveler Needs to Know

The grand opening party for the Little K,
the very raw friendly cafe situated below Yoga Barn.

So here is the scoop for all you lucky souls
out there considering a trip down to SE Asia.

Just a sidenote:
Those of us born in the "developed" world have
so much to be thankful for. We were born rich.
Most people that you will meet in SE Asia have never
left their own country. When you feel down because
of your tax bill in april or because your computer keeps
shutting down unexpectedly, take a deep breath and
regain the awareness of how UNFATHOMABLY lucky you are. we go.

If you are going to Bali, you will likely want to just stay in Ubud.
The island is relatively small, so you can do day trips from Ubud,
which is centrally located. The beach is an hour away,
the mountains are an hour away...all easily reached.
When you are ready to hire a driver for the day, avoid
all the guys that hassle you on the street yelling
"Transport?" "Taxi?"
You will have to negotiate with them,
and it can be a bit maddening at times.
Use these guys for quick trips around town
if you don't have the time to go on foot.
be afraid to walk away. There are many more of them
down the road, and this bold move will usually get them
to accept your offer. For a quick drive around town,
expect to pay about $2, maybe $3 if its rainy or late at night.
When you are going to do a day trip, call this guy:

Astra: The number one driver in Bali.
Super cool guy, and so flexible.
I swear, he didnt eat or pee the whole time we
were with him, which was over 9 hours.
He translated for us at the cacao farm,
and told us so many insightful things about the island.
Contact him at +62 81 2393 3468 outside Indonesia,
or once you've landed, 081 2393 3468.
8 hours should cost about $32 US, 9 hours $35.
Tell him that Anthony and Dawn say hello.

Where to Stay
We were planning to stay in Ubud for a while, then go somewhere
else on the island, but after realizing how much there was to do
in Ubud, and how easily accessible organic food is there, we decided
to stay put and just do some day trips instead.
We stayed at Lumbung Sari Cottages, right on Monkey Forest Road.
The website makes this place look AMAZING. Its ok, but after
looking at the website we both had a good laugh.

This place is not the Four Seasons, but its pretty decent.
It was very clean, had a nice pool, had air-con and cable tv,
and was located very centrally, despite it being very quiet at night.

We stayed at the Honeymoon Guesthouse 2 the first night we
arrived, and although the place was nice (despite the ants),
there was a VERY active rooster closeby that would not shut up.

Not their fault, but still, you wouldnt want to stay there.
So we moved to Lumbung Sari the next day and ended up staying
there for 13 nights.
We negotiated a good price ($41 a night) because we stayed there so long.
If you are staying longer in Bali, you could find a month to month place
for about $300 a month, but don't count on A/C or a bug free area.

Thats the thing. We always hear about these $10 a night bungalows,
but it depends on what you are willing to deal with.
Sure, if I was alone, I would probably go to one of those places,
but as Ive found recently, traveling with a woman becomes
much more expensive than traveling with a guy friend.

Everywhere else we checked was about $60 a night for a room
with A/C, and many didnt have breakfast included.
Lumbung did, and we had a fruit plate every morning with
watermelon juice (with NO sugar).
Remember...always stress the "NO SUGAR" part.
Bring your own agave or honey along to sweeten it yourself
if you want it like that. Usually it will be just fine without.

Places to Eat

We didn't know of one good place to eat until we looked around.
The more we wandered, the more we found.
Ubud is full of conscious eateries, making it so
much easier than thailand to eat healthy.

Juice Ja Cafe
Our first discovery was Juice Ja, which
is on Dewi Sita road (which connects Monkey Forest Rd
and Hanoman Road). They have good juices, wheatgrass,
coconuts, and some semi-decent food.
Better for just the juice and coconuts.

There, we asked about another place to check out
and a very nice expat lady told us about Sari Organik.

Sari Organik
Its an organic farm, that also has a restaurant on site
so its more profitable for the farmers. GENIUS.

Its located on the west side of town, and you have to take
a walk through the rice fields to get there.

You get to see stuff like this, so its an enjoyable walk.
If you have a mobile, then can come and get you, but
its really nicer to walk.

The place is owned by Nila, who is SUPER nice
and really cool. She is married to an Israeli guy
who has US citizenship, so she has been to the NYC
and LA farmer's markets a bunch in the past.
This inspired her to start the Organic Farmer's Market
in Ubud every Saturday from 930 to 2pm.

The food here is really good. Service is a bit slow,
but thats ok because you have a great view and the
place is really cozy and relaxed. So try not to stress if
it takes a little long. Order a coconut with limes, and
reflect on where you are in the world at the moment.

Raw friendly items, wild mountain honey, and good juices.
Big green coconuts, and if you eat bread,
you'll be amazed at the freshly baked stuff she puts out.

You can buy fresh produce there too, and they
also deliver, usually within 3 hours.
When they get your order, they go and pick it. NICE.
You can wander around the garden too, no problems.

Bali Buddha
The third place we found was Bali Buddha.
Located across the street from the post office
and the office of Wayan from Eat, Pray, Love.

This place is also super cozy. And the menu is HUGE.
Lovely juices and smoothies, and one good salad.
We were always dissapointed with the other items
on the menu though, as were other people we talked to.
Best to go there for juice and smoothies. Maybe dessert.
They have wi-fi too, as do the other restaurants listed here.


We checked out a place called Terazo,
which we read had really good reviews.
They had a great beet-carrot-ginger juice
that was hard to beat.
Nothing really raw friendly though.
Spinach Tortellini was amazing, Dawn ordered it twice,
so you know thats a good sign. I ordered it too, and was glad I did.
We were also impressed with the Balinese wild ferns
that they sauteed and served in a big bowl.
Surely worth a try if you arent aiming for 100% Raw.

Little K

We knew about Little K from Leah,
who we met at he WLIR meetup in DC last fall.
She spends a good amount of time in Bali every year,
and came up with the menu for Little K.
Its located behind Yoga Barn, in a wonderfully landscaped
area that I simply couldnt get enough of.

We ordered a green super smoothie, and it was really nice.
Could have used a little more time in the Vita-mix...but still great.
The raw tacos are wonderful, as are the curry chips and thai spring rolls.

We only found out about this place 3 days before we left.
People mentioned it, but we assumed that they were talking
about Little K, not knowing that Little K was the offshoot
of the much larger Kafe.

Alexandra from
took us there, and we were really happy with it.
Look at their juice menu!

(click to see better...add one zero and that is your price in dollars. WOW.)
I had the belly juice many times, and will
be making it at home often. LOVE the turmeric.

Here is the map to get there, along with the noni
tree I discovered while walking to the market.
More on that in a later post :)
GPO in the upper right corner is the post office,
Bali Buddha is right across from there.
Juice Ja Cafe is just past the soccer field in
upper right corner along Dewi Sita.

If you wake up early, head to the Traditional
Market on the corner of Monkey Forest Road
and Main Street, its where youll find fruits and veg.
But after 9am, those vendors leave and the clothing
sellers take their place. Its a good place to find
things to take home, unless you can contact the
artists themselves, in which you will save for sure.

Spas and Massages

This post is getting super long, so Im going to
make this short and sweet.

Daily massages: We found a place called Kenko Reflexology
which was right in front of our hotel on Monkey Forest Rd.
This place gave a MEAN foot massage, for about $3.50 for 1/2 hour.
You can get the full body, which is 1/2 hour body, and 1/2 hour foot,
and that will cost you 75,000 rupiah, or about $7 US.
We left that place feeling VERY good. And at $7, it should be a daily
occurence to stop in.

Special Massages.
Special? What kind of special? No...not those.
These massages Im talking about are the ones that
are pretty intense, and much longer (2hrs-3.5hrs).

There were two places we tried, and both were great.

Bali Botanica

We did the "Good Morning" Package,
which included the 2.5 hour Ayurveda Chakra Dhara massage
and a body scrub, with a soak in a bathtub filled with flowers.
They used SO much oil...and really worked me. I felt amazing
afterwards. They pick you up at your hotel, and bring you back as well.
For 3.5 hours, it cost about $45 US. WELL WORTH IT.
You can do the "Good Morning" Package in the afternoon too,
they are very accomodating.
They have a great ginger-cinnamon tea as well.
Note to the timid: they will rub you everywhere except
your lower private parts. Prepare to have your glutes totally rubbed down.
Ladies, it is certain that you will have a woman therapist,
but she will definitely massage your chest muscles unless you tell her otherwise.

Taman Rahasia: Bali Secret Garden

Leah turned us onto this place.
If you go, get the "Intuitive Massage"
with Dharsa. He is an older Balinese healer
and he WILL work you.
He was trained at the Esalen Institute
and really knows his stuff. He uses his
own oils that he makes only during a full
moon, and prays over each batch. Very cool.

Here is the map. Most taxi drivers will know how to get there.
You can even call for transport, and they will pick you up.
I think it will cost around $ biggie.


Candi Kuning (Largest Market in Bali...Bring $$$)

Mount Batur...go on a sunny day, otherwise you cant see the top.

On the way up to Batur, you will see lots of Agritourism places
on your left. Stop at one or all of them. You don't have to buy
anything...just check around and say hello.

Monkey Forest...bring some fruit if you want to get
hassled by some VERY friendly monkeys.
Bring a camera.

Go with Westi on a Bali Herbal Walk.
Youll learn allot about the rice culture too.
Bring sunscreen and water.
The more questions you ask, the longer the tour. :)

Ubud Sari
This is the detox spa that serves raw food.
We did colonics there, and I had a good one
but Dawn got really sick after hers, so I would
recommend that you do more research.
You can get a day pass for the infrared sauna
and whirlpool for $5 or $7...cant remember.
Those items are included if you do a sauna.
Bring a scrub glove so you can really release the skin toxins.

Visit the "White Sand Beach" near Candidsa.
This is the best beach in Bali,
but you'll need to rent a 4WD or hire
a driver that has one. Rocky road to the bottom.
Ask locals at Kafe, and they will tell you more about it.

Visit with local artists. You can take classes,
and get great deals buying directly from them.
Dawn did a great Batik class, and really enjoyed it.
I bought some nice wood bowls and
windchimes from the artists directly.
It feels good to support them instead of a middleman.

See a Legong Dance, or a Kekak dance.
Kekak is the one shown in the movie "Baraka".
Legong is the one with the girls pictured here:

By the way, this little booklet will totally get you on
the right track about Ubud and Bali. You can find
it in any of the resturants listed above.

Visit Nomad Organic Farm.
We didnt make it because it was only
available twice a week, and since we did
the Big Tree Farms tour, we passed.
But if I were back, I would do this.
They meet in front of Nomad Restaurant
every Wed and Sun at 9am.
The tour is like...6-7 hours and includes lunch.
Cost is about $25 US.

Visit the Botanical Garden.
You can walk there from town, but it will take about 30 min.
Drivers will know how to get there.
Really beautiful place, and super quiet.

My camera just died, so no more pictures,
but I want to recommend a great Gamelan
CD that one should buy if you like Gamelan music.
A great CD to listen to as you cruise through
the Bali countryside.

Bring a couple mix cds for the car rides...
Astra thought we might like "Monster Ballads"
so we ended up singing "Every Rose has its Thorn" by Poison.
Fun...but the gamelan would be better.

Alright. Longest post ever.
If you are going to Bali, please let me know
how it went and if my tips helped at all.
Some (Dawn) say the fun is in finding these places on your own,
but I would much rather prefer to cut through the mess
and get right to the good stuff while on vacation.
Time is precious, and shouldnt be wasted
on mediocre restaurants and massages.

This monster took me 3 hours to post!
This is what I am doing in Bangkok...yikes.