Ubud, Bali among the friendliest tourism destinations
Worthy of note it that Bali’s hillside community of Ubud tied for ninth place together with Kilkenny, Ireland as the friendliest place to visit on a holiday.
Conde Nast’s list of the friendliest tourism destinations:
The town of Ubud, in the uplands of Bali, Indonesia, is known as a center for traditional crafts and dance. The surrounding Ubud District’s rainforest and terraced rice paddies, dotted with Hindu temples and shrines, are among Bali’s most iconic landscapes. Ancient holy sites include the Tirta Empul temple complex, intricately carved Goa Gajah (“Elephant Cave”) and Gunung Kawi with its rock-cut shrines.
Ubud is pronounced ‘oobood’ as in the same way as the ‘oo’ sounds in ‘good’ (but not the ‘oo’ in ‘mood’). Even if you mispronounce the name, the locals aren’t likely to do anything more than titter. As they say, seng ken-ken!– Balinese for ‘no worries!’.
While Ubud seems to outsiders like one small town, it is in fact fourteen villages, each run by its own banjar (village committee). Ubud has grown rapidly, and some central parts are creaking under the strain of coping with the number of visitors. That said, most development is sympathetic to the zeitgeist, if not designed specifically in the local style. Growth continues apace, but there are still terraced rice fields along the rivers, and away from the town centre, regular, quiet village life carries on relatively undisturbed.
Villa Sabandari, small boutique hotel in Ubud, Bali
President Yudhoyono to ‘Soon’ Inaugurate Bali’s First Toll Road
Following reports that the inauguration of Bali’s new toll way connecting Benoa to Nusa Dua would be delayed due to Presidential scheduling conflicts, the Minister of Public Works Djoko Kirmanto has confirmed that the President would open Bali’s new toll road sometime in the coming few weeks.
© Bali Discovery Tours
Now here’s a challenge: visit Bali’s cultural center of Ubud and not see any art. Creativity is everywhere here, from pura (temples) to palaces, galleries to gardens, with shops and handicrafts and lovingly decorated shrines. In this village there is a sense that beauty is cherished, though in general Bali is one island that really knows how to work a stone carving and a water feature.
Walking around Ubud it seems every second shop is a gallery, or has art for sale, with almost too much to choose from should the traveler decide to buy.
Ubud’s history goes back to the 8th century, when a Javanese Buddhist priest meditated at the confluence of the two Wos rivers at Campuhan, just west of the modern-day town centre. A shrine was established and the area became a centre of natural medicine and healing, giving Ubud its name from ubad, ancient Balinese for medicine.
To appreciate contemporary Balinese art it’s useful to look at some classical Balinese art, and west of town on Jalan (street) Sanggingan is a good place to start. Here you’ll find the Neka Art Museum, which aims to help visitors learn more about Balinese art and culture, with a rich collection of local, Indonesian and global works. Collector and former teacher Suteja Neka established the museum, which opened in 1982, to help preserve Bali’s artistic legacy, and the surrounding gardens are cool on a hot afternoon.
Walking towards town you will pass a number of small galleries, and another worth a look is Sika, which has been promoting contemporary Indonesian and Balinese fine art since 1996. Collections by young and established artists are displayed around a peaceful courtyard.
Symon‘s large “Art Zoo” studio is a bit further down, and this entertaining American (who ran away from home when he was 17 to look for writer Henry Miller) has lived in Indonesia for decades, producing paintings drawing on Balinese customs and pop art. He said he was moving from this location, but welcomes visitors to his “Art Zoo Camp Color”, two hours north of Ubud (inquiries: email@example.com).
Eating is also an art, and Ubud is fortunate to have a world-class restaurant in Mozaic, located approximately halfway between Sika and Neka. Mozaic serves culinary art – an innovative blend of classic French techniques and Indonesian ingredients. It offers an experience rather than just a meal; on arrival guests relax in the slickly modern lounge with a canapé before they are escorted to the tropical gardens, where the soft lighting is perfect for romantic foodies.
French-American chef Chris Salans opened his award-winning venture in 2001, and it was the first restaurant in SE Asia to be recognized as one of Les Grandes Tables du Monde, and is listed as the best restaurant in Indonesia by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2013. Diners choose from four six-course degustation menus, including a vegetarian option, with optional wine pairings by sommelier Cok Bagus Senajaya from the excellent winelist. The “Discovery” menu incorporated local ingredients, such as ginger flower (its gel a rose-flushed base for seared king prawns), delicately spiced baby starfruit with glazed Tasmanian salmon in a perfectly seasoned broth, and sweet kluwek puree accompanying a slow-roasted duck breast with a crunchy orange-hazelnut salad.
Continue down the hill, towards the Wos River ravine and Campuhan Bridges, towards town, and on the right there will be signs for the Antonio Blanco museum, dedicated to preserving the flamboyant works of the “Bali Dali”.
Across the bridge going up on the left hand side, an Australian teacher called Sandy Elliott recently opened Sari Aktif, an agency for organizing all kinds of local activities. If you want to commission a work and don’t where to start, she knows a range of local artists and can offer guidance.
In busy Monkey Forest Rd, Komaneka is an attractive modern gallery with changing exhibitions. Ubud also has many shops selling homewares. For the best shopping, head north on Jalan Raya Andong (the road to the Tegallalang rice terraces) – it’s a virtualhandicrafts highway.
For art with less bustle, there is Alam Puri Art Museum & Resort, a boutique hotel with gardens and innumerable water features that are a work of beauty in themselves. To reach its 10 villas of varying sizes and sumptuousness, you pass its own gallery, the Putrawan Museum of Art, which contains the only collection of tribal art in Indonesia.
Located about 20 minutes south of Ubud (shuttle provided), Alam (meaning view) Puri (meaning kingdom) is set in about three acres of grounds, with a view of another 70 acres of peaceful rice paddies. The villas are named after artists – and feature plenty of art – as the owner is a collector and painter. It also has an intimate spa, next to the small river, open to light breezes, where relaxing but firm Balinese massage is accompanied by the sound of birds and tumbling water.
Back in Ubud again, the Agung Rai Museum of Art, is another venerable institution in attractive grounds which shows traditional and contemporary works. On my first visit to Ubud I recall seeing a cremation (street procession, body exhumed and placed in decorated bull for incineration) in the Monkey Forest in the morning, and paintings of past cremations that were remarkably similar at ARMA that afternoon.
Of course not everyone comprehends the need to create art. But most people understand the need to dispose of garbage, and they might appreciate Oh Waste in Jalan Jembawan (near the post office) where recycle artist Pat makes bracelets and accessories from old tyres and discarded toothbrushes.
(c) Carolyn O’Donnell
Surrounded by azure crystalline waters, Indonesia lies between the two continents, Asia and Australia. Speckled with mesmerizing islands, Indonesia is a panorama inspiring nothing but awe.
One of the most popular travel destinations, the exceptional beauty and the rare culture draw people like a magnet. With an aim of treating all holidaymakers alike, Indonesia has several facilities to allow disabled tourists to enjoy and experience Indonesia to their heart’s content.
Particularly famous in this regard is the city of Bali where ease and accessibility reach new heights. To accommodate the needs of the physically challenged, Bali has everything from wheelchairs to ramps. A lot of temples and parks have been specifically designed without stairs so that those with issues of reduced mobility can move and explore the area effortlessly.
Some of the most accessible tourist attractions in Bali are as follows:
Tanah Lot Temple:
Set against a backdrop of beautiful beaches, proudly sits the Tanah Lot temple. A park progresses to the temple and this is the place where you will come across divine beauty with an air of purity. The most famous temple in Bali, Tanah Lot was built by fisherman and legend has it that it was protected by sea snakes. All the walkways in park are wheelchair accessible so you can roam and absorb the beauty easily.
GWK Cultural Park:
An embodiment of Bali’s heritage and cultural performances is the renowned GWK cultural park. Unique with its limestone pillars, this park promises some of the most exceptional vistas of Bali’s valleys and peaks. Home to two giant statues, one of lord Vishnu and other of a giant mythical bird, this park is definitely worth a visit on a trip to Bali. One can explore the entire park and statues on wheelchairs that are easily available.
Mount Agung and Pura Besakih:
Perched atop Mount Agung is the celebrated and most sacred Pura Besakih temple. Adorned with vibrant banners, visitors get to see the multitude of courtyards and the trinity shrines. Although the ground is not very uniform, the disabled can enjoy it with the help of numerous ramps and wheelchair facility provided in the area.
In short, Indonesia does not limit you one way or the other. Even with any physical disabilities, you can have a fantastic holiday in Bali, Indonesia. Most people will reach Indonesia by air. U.S. and E.U. airlines only will guarantee certain standards of service to travellers with disabilities. Assistance to travellers with reduced mobility on all other airlines may vary considerably.
Read more on the exhibition: www.bridgesbali.com/theo-zantman.php