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Monday, December 24, 2012

Bali Dynasty Resort scores a "hat trick"

As the year draws to a close the Bali Dynasty Resort is celebrating its’ latest 3 accolades which have been awarded in December.

Firstly the Bali Dynasty Resort was recognised by the Travel Corporation and awarded a Gold Plaque in recognition of the resorts’ outstanding partnership and cooperation throughout 2012 enabling it to become the number one supporter in Bali. The Travel Corporation encompasses both New Horizons Holidays and Creative Holidays and is one of the biggest wholesaler producers of room nights out of Australia to Bali.

The second award was the accomplishment for the second year on the run for the Bali Dynasty Resort as the Best Family Resort in Indonesia as recognised by the Indonesian Tourism and Travel Awards for 2102/13 which was conducted through an online poll as well as final selection committee who reviewed the hotels credentials and feedback from guests.

The third award was that of achieving an “Emerald”; the highest accolade possible in the Tri Hita Karana awards which recognises the significant achievements in incorporating spiritual, social and environmental principles and practices into the business which the resort has done through the Bali Dynasty Charity Effort, supporting a remote education project in north eastern Bali as well as its’ efforts to support the spiritual beliefs and to ensure that the hotel operates with minimum impact on the environment which it has been focusing on through its’ EC3 programme.

Earlier in the year the Bali Dynasty Resort also received recognition from Holiday With Kids as the best Family Resort in Bali as voted by Holiday with Kids, an Australian holiday publication.

Over the past year the resort has focused on further enhancing its’ facilities to create an even more memorable family experience with the addition of the new Kids Water Fun Zone with its’ giant bucket and water cannons as well as the introduction of the High Flyer Trapeze School, a thrilling experience for all the family which helps overcomes inhibitions and builds self confidence. In addition to this the resort has also launched the Ashoka Spa in June 2012 which offers a variety of spa treatments which also focus on treatments for him and her, as well as for children.

The resort continues to enhance its product offering through an activity programme which runs seven days a week for all ages as well as in the Teen Club and Kids Club offering an array of activities from village walks, water volleyball, towel origami lessons, Indonesian lessons where you cook your own authentic Balinese lunch leaving not a dull moment for those looking for more of a holiday experience than just lying around the pool!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Dance, Sing, Stretch and Meditate in Ubud in December

a weekend festival celebrating dance, yoga, active meditation, sound healing and live music will the held at The Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali December 7-9, 2012.

The Indonesian Ministry of Creative Economy, BaliSpirit Festival and The Yoga Barn jointly sponsor the event

Sapta Nirwandar, Deputy Minister of Tourism and the Creative Economy, said the festival will help attract tourist visitors to Bali while building awareness and respect for local culture.

The Indonesia Spirit Event will continue the Yoga Barn’s program of popular classes and seminars led by world-renowned presenters such as Anya Phelan (Nia Dance); Theva Indrasenan (Estatic Dance); Dr. Diane Butler Ph.D (21 Moments of Stillness); together with distinguished Indonesian presenters: Pak Suprapto Suryodharmo from Solo, Central Java (Joged Amerta); Yayasan Krysata Guna (Gamelan) and Bali's own Ratu Bagus (Laughter & Shaking).

“Ubud is a beacon for conscious travelers nationally and the world over,” said I Made Gunarta, Co-founder of The Yoga Barn and the BaliSpirit Group, “This is an amazing opportunity to create an international community gathering that is focused on promoting Indonesia.”

According to Gunarta, the event expects to draw 300 guests to Ubud. A portion of the proceeds from the mini-Festival will go to the Ayo! Kita Bicara HIV/AIDS outreach program.

Created by the founders of the BaliSpirit Festival, Ayo! is a school initiative that improves awareness and education among kids regarding the growing threat of HIV/AIDS in Bali. The program has already positively impacted thousands of Balinese in less than 3 years, mostly through educational programs in local schools and record-breaking community concerts.

The opening ceremony of Indonesia Spirit which will feature the screening of the documentary film, “Bali: Life is an Offering" on Friday December 7, 2012, together with a special Gamelan Masters Tribute in collaboration Gamelan Salukat, in collaboration with Kryasta Guna Foundation.

Free Things to do in Bali, easy ways to save on your holiday budget....

Spending your holiday in Bali can get pretty expensive despite the island being part of Indonesia. Luckily there are still many great things you can do to discover the beauties of the island without spending one single Dollar or Rupiah.
Here we have listed 10 free things to do in Bali which you can use to fill up a couple of days of your holiday.

Witness a temple ceremony:
Ceremonies and religious festivals are a big happening in Bali especially if it's an important one.
If you happen to be in Bali during for example Kuningan, Gulungan or during a temple ceremony then you will be in for a treat which is totally free.
Hundreds of beautifully dressed Balinese carrying amazing offerings will gather at a temple throughout the day. On these days you don't even need to enter the temple grounds as you will be able to view typical Balinese scenes right at the entrance.

Admire the arts and crafts of Bali:
Bali is famous for its works of art such as paintings, stone and wood carving, textile and jewelry. Around Ubud you can find many little villages that specialize in a specific form of art.
You can either visit their workshops along the road and many side roads where the art is made. Here they love to tell you how it's made and which tools they use.

Walk through the rice fields of Ubud:
This is one of the best of the free things to do in Bali. We can't get enough of it and we always go for a stroll whenever we are there.
There is a small trail in Campuhan Ubud taking you right through the wonderful green rice fields. Walk till the end of Jalan Kajeng and from there just keep to the most obvious trail and you won't get lost.
The walk takes about an 1 to 1,5 hour and is best done in the morning or before sunset. Don't forget to order a refreshing drink at the Organic Restaurant. O wait that will cost you...

 Gaze at the sunset at the Bali beaches:
Nature offers the best free things to do in Bali such as the amazing sunsets that attract hundreds of people everyday to the beaches.
From Kuta beach all the way to Seminyak is probably the most popular place to watch the Bali sunsets. Everyday you can expect different colors and patterns.
If you want a bit of more romance and prefer to have the feeling of owning the entire beach then head to Lovina beach in the North, Candidasa in the East or go to Nusa Lembongan. For the early risers or the ones suffering from jet leg you can wake up to a beautiful sunrise at Sanur or Nusa Dua beach...

 Tour aimlessly through the countryside:
Technically this is one of the few free things to do in Bali that is not entirely for nothing since you'll need to rent a bike or motorbike for this.
But if you already have one on hand then it is fun to drive through the little village hamlets of Ubud. Here you can still find scenes from decades ago, as if time has stood still.
If you have the entire day then driving around East Bali is the best way to explore the real Bali. Check out one of our favorite routes from Candidasa to Ubud.

 Hiking around the mountains and fields:
Hiking in Bali can be done without a guide if it doesn't involve hiking up a mountain such as Gunung Agung and Gunung Batur. For these hikes it is essential to have a knowledgeable guide as the trails are not always that obvious.
But many accommodations such as those in Munduk, near Batu Karu, Tirta Gangga or Candidasa offer detailed maps with trails.
They will take you along rivers, through local villages and their rice fields. Leave early in the day and take enough water and food with you just in case you do get a bit lost...

Go snorkeling:
The best snorkeling sites are reached by boat such as those in Menjangan island and Nusa Lembongan. But there are a couple of snorkeling sites in Bali which you can reach from the beach. So there is no need for renting a boat....
In Padangbai you have the Bloo Lagoon beach where you can jump straight into the water with your gear on. Other sites are the Japanese wreck at Aas beach in Amed and from Pemuteran you have good access from the resorts especially Taman Sari Resort and Spa.

Stroll along the beach:
If you want to be a bit more active on your Bali holiday then you can walk miles on end along several beaches.
Sanur has a paved walk-way that takes you along its beach and along many shops, restaurants and resorts. If you are lucky you even have a view of Gunung Agung.
On the other side of the island you can start off your walk at Tuban beach and continue along Kuta, Legian, Seminyak and ending in Canggu beach. It's a wonderful way to watch people surf, flying kites, swim and having fun on the beach....

Watch surfers tackle the Bali waves:
As you can tell many free things to do in Bali involve around the beach like watching great surfers riding big waves. If you don't surf it is still great fun to watch especially if its from a beautiful Bali beach.
Head to Uluwatu beach to witness the best waves or go to the laid-back Padang Padang, Bingin or Balangan beach to enjoy the tropical setting while checking out the moves of beginners and advanced surfers.

Join the fishermen at Jimbaran beach:
Early in the morning fishermen in traditional fishing boats head into sea to catch their share of fresh fish which is then sold to thousands of hotels and restaurants in Bali.
At Jimbaran beach you can see them come back in with nets full of fish and how the catch is then packed in ice to be brought to the fish market. It's another great place to witness how things are done in Bali. If you are coming from Europe, Australia or U.S.A. it is likely to be done differently then at home...;-)

If you want more tips on cheap Bali holidays have a look on what we recommend checking out so you can save some extra money for something else during your time on the island.

Surfers paradise at the South Bali Beaches

South Bali Beaches -- Jimbaran

Jimbaran beach is one of the finest of the south Bali beaches, it’s wide, long (5km) and it is perfect for jogging or swimming.
The white sandy beach is located just south of the international Ngurah Rai airport but you won’t notice any of the noise.

monico at jimbaran beach south bali
My girlfriend at Jimbaran bay...

When you arrive early in the morning you can see the fishermen coming back with their catch in the half-moon shaped bay of Jimbaran. The women come up to the boats and help to unload the fish. Afterwards they sort and sell them on the market.
Most of the fish ends up in the luxurious hotels of Jimbaran, Nusa Dua, Kuta, Sanur or on your plate in the evening ;-)
If you like to make a tour around the coast of the south Bali beaches or along Jimbaran reef, the fishermen will be happy to take you along on their colourful boats.
Since the reef is far out, it’s not really suitable to surf here.
At the end of the Jimbaran beach, at the southern side, you can find the Pura Ulun Siwi temple which is worth a visit. This temple was built in the 17th century by the Mengwi dynasty and is now maintained by rice farmers.
Rice farmers in Jimbaran?
Yep, the temple is built to honor Dewi Sri, the rice goddess and it’s the most important rice temple on the whole of Bali island.
Jimbaran beach is also home to several very good seafood restaurants and you have to try it out whether you stay in Kuta, the Intercontinental hotel Bali or the Four Seasons in Jimbaran. It’s practically just around the corner.

jimbaran beach restaurants
Waiting for the sunset and the seafood...

You can just sit here with your toes in the sand while enjoying one of the best seafood platters around and watching the amazing sunset.
When it gets dark the staff lights up the candles at your table and then it’s time for some more romance ;-)
This is what I call a holiday...

Surfers paradise at the South Bali Beaches

South Bali Beaches -- Balangan

There are two roads leading to Balangan beach. One is a side road just before entering the Dreamland gates. This one is well paved and leads through a couple of Balinese villages until you arrive at the dirt road that takes you to the beach.
If you are travelling by car it can get pretty bumpy from here. It makes it easier to go by motor bike.
We took the road from Dreamland Beach. It passes the newly built Comfort Inn hotel and leads to a small road through bushes where the cows are grazing peacefully and where there are a couple of thatched farmer’s huts. We soon ended up at the dirt road to the beach.
Sometimes you might feel that you are lost but don’t worry you are on the right road...
There are hardly any signs to one of the most secluded south Bali beaches. You will only see signs improvised by small hotels. However once you arrive at these hotels you know you’re almost there.
There’s a small parking area for your car or motor bike, the rest is walking on the rocky path down to the beach.
Ahhh what a sight...

monico at balangan beach south bali
Ready to book a ticket..?

The beautiful white beach has soft sand where you can stroll without any of the pushy hawkers or masseurs. It’s a very romantic spot, quiet and perfect for watching the sunset or just to spend a couple of days.
At low tide you can perfectly cool down in the puddles just along the coast or walk to two deserted beaches for some more privacy.
On the outer left side of Balangan beach you can watch surfers catch fantastic waves coming from the left side. To get to the surf area you need some rubber footwear because there are lots of rocks, which can make nasty cuts.

matt at balangan beach south bali
Enjoying one of nature's gifts...

There are a couple of Balinese styled sea view cottages catered to the surf crowd and other independent travellers.
Parasols and beach chairs are there waiting for you to come and laze, read a book or watch little Balinese kids searching for clams together with their parents.
This is definitely one of my favorite of the south Bali beaches ;-)

Surfers paradise at the South Bali Beaches

South Bali Beaches -- Dreamland

Dreamland beach is located south of Kuta, half way to Uluwatu. It is an amazingly beautiful strip of beach that is located right at the cliffs.
The last time we were at Dreamland there was just one restaurant at the beach. But we expect some big changes in a short period of time.
There was a lot of construction work going on so there might be more restaurants and shops coming in the near future. The white sandy beach has clean soft sand.
Most of the people rent one of the many beach chairs to enjoy some sunbathing along the beautiful sea.
However if you walk further to the right the beach becomes less crowded and sometimes it feels as if you are the only one on the whole beach.

dreamland beach south kuta bali
You can have the feeling of being the only one here...

The water is good for swimming, but in the late afternoon the tides can switch quickly and big waves can suddenly appear. Every time we wanted to go for a swim, the low tide would set in and a rocky shore would appear.
Just like most of the other south Bali beaches there is a current that can make swimming difficult and somewhat dangerous. So check it out first before going into the water.
Surfers on the other hand appeared in large numbers to catch the waves. I could see that the waves are pretty good and excellent for intermediate surfers.
In this picture they seemed to be having a ball...
surfers on the waves
Sadly the people who used to live at Dreamland had to pay a heavy price for this amazing beach setting.
Tommy Soeharto, the former president's youngest son saw the beauty of the beach as well and included it in his plan of developing the area.
However the 200 Balinese families who were living here were not part of the plan and they were cleared from the land together with their temples and fruit orchards.
After Tommy’s arrest, the development plan was terminated for a couple of years. Today the land is still barren except for the 4 lane road to the beach.
In the beginning of 2008 there were some changes going on: there was a golf course overlooking the sea and the Comfort Inn hotel had also just started their construction work. Another huge hotel group had also just finalized the construction of their resort.

matt at dreamland bach south bali

So it looks like the development plan has continued again and that in a couple of years the complex will be another tourist lure with big hotels and many shops.
Nevertheless, if you are in the area then you should definitely go see Dreamland. Just head towards the south Bali beaches and follow the signs to Uluwatu. Halfway you will see a huge entrance of Pecatu Graha.
Drive in and follow the road till you end up at a car park. Make sure that you have arranged a ride back. It can be a hassle to arrange one from Dreamland and drivers waiting at the entrance offer unreasonable prices. Expect to pay Rp.50.000 for one way.
It is often said that the former land owners stand at the entrance with a sign which tells the visitor about the land that has been stolen from them and that they ask for an admission fee because they have no source of income anymore.
However we didn’t see any of these signs and if we had not known about the history of Dreamland we wouldn’t have guessed that there was a heavy conflict just a decade ago.

monico at dreamland beach bali
Strolling along the clean soft sandy beach...

You do have to pay Rp. 10.000 at the car park about 100m from the beach but this is not unusual in Bali.
If you are on the motor bike you can drive all the way up to the stairs leading to the wonderful beach. You will definitely have a great time there...

Surfers paradise at the South Bali Beaches

South Bali Beaches -- Bingin

Bingin beach is a very secluded beach, which means you have to put some effort to get there. But once you are at the beach you can catch your breath while watching the unforgettable ocean view.
You can reach the beach by driving towards Uluwatu. At Pecatu you have to turn left and then right at the junction. From there you will see small handwritten signs showing you the way to the beach. So keep your eyes peeled...
There are several dirt-roads you can take that lead you to the beach. At the end of one dirt road a lady told us that it would be a 15 minute walk, 5 minutes through the bushes and then 10 minutes down to the beach.
There wasn’t really a path so it looked more like a hike than a walk to me...

bingin beach south bali
The beach with a view to the south...

We decided to take another turn further north. From there the villagers are happy to point you to the right direction and show you where you can park your car or motorbike.
Don’t expect to see the beach yet...It takes another 10 minutes by foot to get there. A lady showed us the way between village houses, along narrow paths and home stays. We were pretty much walking in their backyard...
After climbing down the stairs we finally ended up at the beach. We were surprised that despite the heavy hike, there were a lot of restaurants and places where you can spend the night.
The places aren’t fancy but hey, they are built on the cliffs and have the best view you can get.
Most rooms have balconies right on the beach overlooking the dark blue ocean. This is an ideal spot for surfers to wait for the big waves to come...

bingin beach south bali
Rooms with stunning views right on the beach

When we were at Binging there were a lot of waves and people surfing. This is one of those south Bali beaches, which are perfect for die hard surfing; the surf break comes from the left side and challenges the very best surfer.
Sunbathers will be disappointed here because the beach is very narrow so there is not a lot of space to work on your tan.
Like most of the south Bali beaches, Bingin is a great beach located right below the cliffs and has a laid back atmosphere. It’s also an ideal spot to relax and chat with the local people.
But to get there, prepare for a heavy work-out because once you have climbed down the stairs to the beach, you have to climb up again. A good exercise on your holiday...