It’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere, but the weather is always set to “tropical paradise” on Bali. A predominantly Hindu island in largely Muslim Indonesia, Bali conjures up images of cocktails, sunsets, and getting away from it all.
But Bali’s not just about the fabulous climate and delightful local culture. Dive in to Bali’s lesser-known joys, courtesy of Ayni Raimondi – our Events Manager and two-year resident of Bali.
1. Eat right from the farm
A farm-to-table dining experience is no stranger to the Balinese. Sari Organik has been serving organic, healthy, and delicious fare from the connected field for years. From the center of Ubud, which is set among the rolling hills of Bali’s interior, walk or (carefully!) ride your motorbike through the rice paddies until you come across a large open-walled restaurant and farm. Here you’ll eat organic Balinese delicacies while you enjoy views of green terraces and blue skies. Relax like you’re in the middle of nowhere: you are.
2. Mosh it up in the local punk rock bar
The ’90s are alive and kicking in Bali, and there’s no better place to find flannel-clad Cobain fans or mohawked men than Twice Bar on Kuta’s Poppies Lane Two. Founded by members of the famed Indonesian band Superman Is Dead, they feature live music, cheap arak (a local spirit made from palm sap), and some of the most diverse fashions in town.
3. Get lost in the silver village
Bali’s villages are home to longstanding craft traditions. Each village has a specialty, and Celuk is among the best. In the so-called silver village, you can source amazing locally designed pieces, have your own creations made, or purchase jewelry inspired by John Hardy. Most shops are competitively priced and you can browse designs and watch the makers in action.
4. Fly a kite – oh, what a kite!
Though the annual Bali kite festival takes place in June, you can buy amazing handmade kites on the beach year round. Shops in Sanur, Kuta, and Seminyak all stock them, but for the best deals head to the Sukawati Market and take your pick. Whether it’s a pirate ship, or the more traditional fish or bird, flying a kite can be more than child’s play.
Just beyond Ubud’s Monkey Forest is one of Indonesia’s most well known NGOs. Nestled in the village of Nyuh Kuning is a free clinic specializing in women’s health care and childbirth. Schedule a volunteer session, drop buy with some items for their wish list, or just get inspired by the amazing work CNN’s Hero of the Year is doing to reduce the mortality rates of mothers in Indonesia.
6. Eat grilled prawns on the beach
OK. Maybe you knew you wanted to do this. But did you know just how good it can be? Visit Pantai Putih on Bali’s East side – one of the last undeveloped white sand beaches on the island, where a few warungs (small restaurants) are spread out across the sand, and the catches of the morning are grilled with shallots, chili, and lime. A hefty plate of huge prawns goes for about US$4.
Top image courtesy didiz, Flickr Creative Commons.