Passion Points: Spa/Wellness
The New Jersey-based author spent four months in Bali while researching her best-selling memoir Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, which was published in 2006
“There are healers a-plenty in Bali—some more legit than others—but I would trust my friend Wayan Nuriasih (Traditional Balinese Healing, No. 5 Jalan Jembawan, Ubud) with any illness whatsoever. I’ve seen her treat everything from kidney stones to arthritis to simple “Bali-belly” with her encyclopedic knowledge of traditional Balinese and Javanese medicinal herbs. She also offers a fabulous, all-natural day of beauty treatments and a nutritious vegetarian lunch.
“For my money—and only $15-$20 a night—the most romantic hotel on earth is a tiny spot called Meditasi Bungalows (Fax: 011-62-363-22166) on quiet rocky Aas Beach about two miles outside the village of Amed. Every time we’ve shown up here, we’ve had our pick of rooms. We always choose number seven (oddly named, since there are only three rooms in the whole hotel), a small bamboo bungalow with a bed outside on the sleeping porch, overlooking the sea. At dawn, we wake to the sound of the fishermen readying their boats for the day, right under the balcony. There’s no telephone, no cell phone signal, no computers, no TV, no swimming pool—just the open bedroom, the sound of the waves and the wind through the palms, and all the nasi goreng you can eat. Bring lots of novels to read and somebody you love. Days disappear here quite easily.”
“When you’ve had your fill of nasi goreng and you can’t face another plate of gado-gado, treat yourself to a steak at the elegant Café des Artistes (Jalan Bisma No. 9; www.cafedesartistesbali.com) in Ubud. This quiet spot is a welcoming haven for visitors who want high-end food but don’t feel like spending a fortune at one of the local five-star hotels. Rudi, the multi-lingual Belgian owner, is the nicest host in town.
“If you live to shop, you’ll never run out of barang-barang (a wonderful local term, basically meaning volumes of cheap stuff), but when you’re ready to move away from the street stalls selling sarongs and coconut monkeys, hire a driver to take you to the antiques shops—and those that sell only excellent reproductions—around the village of Batubulan. Crowded and commercial, this area on the southeast coast of the island, is probably not what you pictured when you planned your romantic beach vacation. But there are some amazing emporiums on the side streets where you can find truly valuable Balinese and Javanese furniture, statues, icons and puppets. Learning how to haggle with the Balinese will show you another side to these gentle, kind people (watch your back, in other words) and will round out your cultural experience more honestly than almost any other encounter.”
“A retired German friend of mine named Stefan Reisner recently completed his life’s dream, which was to sink his entire life’s savings and his considerable energy into creating the Ubud Botanical Garden (www.botanicgardenbali.com). A vast and exquisite study in floral love, the garden is intended to protect and showcase Bali’s extraordinary green heritage. With acres of winding footpaths, ferns, orchid gardens, labyrinths, fountains and lilies, this is the most tranquil and lush place I know in Bali. There’s a serene meditation court in the center of it all—a perfect place to practice yoga, to experience butterfly-communion or, if you plan ahead a little bit, to get married.”
“My favorite swimming spot in Bali is off the quiet beach of Biastugal, accessible only by a rocky footpath, up the hill from the little port of Padang Bai, where ferries depart daily to Lombok and other nearby islands. It’s a scramble and a climb to reach, but well worth it once you arrive. There’s white sand, just enough surf to make swimming fun, and four little wooden shacks along the edge of the forest where you can buy cold beer and freshly grilled fish. When I’m stuck in traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike, this is the place I dream about.”
Read our Bali Cheat Sheet
Read about special hideways on Koh Samui
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