Let's just say my first trip to Bali in 2010 was forgettable. It certainly wasn't terrible but it wasn't what I expected. Our mid-price hotel which was supposedly in the trendy area, was miles from everywhere, and the car we rented so that we could drive and have freedom turned out to be a curse. We spent half the time lost and the other time stuck in traffic jams which rivaled peak hour in Bangkok. Add to that, groups of loud, drunk Aussies everywhere I turned (I'm Aussie too) and altogether we had an ordinary time.
Aussies in Bali
It seems my version of Bali is not shared by many others, and so my good buddy has been trying to convince me to come back ever since. He's been promising to show me Bali, the way it should be done. I finally got a long weekend away from work, and grabbed a cheap flight with Air Asia, so I bit the bullet and said "Bring it On, Bali !"
Lesson 1: GET YOURSELF AN ENTIRE VILLA - NOT A HOTEL ROOM
My first lesson to be learned: If you want to do Bali correctly you didn't want to be in a hotel, you wanted your own Villa. There is no shortage of villas on the island to suit every budget, from affordable to outrageous. If you are with a small group then it is very affordable. And so it came to be that through a mutual friend, Ian invited me to stay for 3 days in his wonderful Villa Plawa.
I was collected by a driver at the airport, after my customs ordeal and driven directly to the Villa. The villa is located in Seminyak, and while drunken louts on football tours are drawn to Kuta like moths to a flame, Seminyak is for those with more refined tastes. Upon arrival at the villa, the first thing I noticed was the ornate Balinese wooden gate. As you pass through the gate you enter another world. The private compound of "Villa Plawa" sprawls over 1/4 of an acre. The pathway meanders its way from the entrance through a lush garden of tropical plants, ferns, and bougainvillea all growing under the filtered shade of mature coconut and mango trees.
The Meandering Path Invites Relaxation
As you enter, on the right is the first of 4 guestrooms. This one is free-standing and contains its own ensuite. The detached guest house offers a degree of privacy from the main house, has its own small terrace, on which to sit and ponder.
The Detached Guesthouse
From here, the path then leads on to the kitchen and outdoor dining pavilion. The kitchen is deliberately placed in a separate building for practicality. The service staff can come and go with little interruption to the guests. The Villa has its own maids and security to tend to your needs. To the right and ahead are the other bedrooms and the living pavilion, with the pool and massage Baa-Lay (a gazebo) behind.
The Massage Baa-lay(Gazebo)
The compound has been designed and built in the typical "Kampung" layout of individual pavilions that together make up the villa. The buildings and various relaxation areas are carefully laid out according to traditions on a large and long piece of land. The rooms follow a North-South orientation to make use of the prevailing winds, and the open rooms all have high ceiling to promote natural air-flow.
The Outdoor Lounge Pavilion
Stone-footed merbau-wood columns and thatched roofs combine to create the "Bali-style". The thatched roof is constructed from a local grass known as "alang-alang" which is collected, carefully laid out to dry and then painstaking tied by hand to the strong bamboo framework. I could sit for hours in the living room and aimlessly look around me, admiring the intricacies of the finest Bali craftsmanship in every nook, cranny and corner. The seamless blending of materials that make the cohesive, stylish whole.
Living spaces and areas to rest and relax are found throughout the property, including the hardwood sundeck with lounges and private swimming pool. Often, the 3 of us staying would all be doing different things within the Villa without noticing or bothering each other. Ian, would be working at the outdoor dining area, my other friend would be sprawled out reading his Kindle on one of the large sofas, and I would invariably be around the pool. Each of us oblivious to what the others were doing.
The Master Bedroom
The villa has 4 bedrooms; 3 in the main building and then then the detached bungalow near the front of the compund. each with their own en-suite bathroom. My bedroom was the one by the pool. It featured a glorious bed fitted with mosquito netting, air-con, and my own tv & DVD player. I could lay in bed and look out at the pool.
Mosquito Netting in Pool Bedroom
View from Pool Bedroom
The villa follows traditional Balinese building planning, including a small temple devoted to the Hindu gods and paying homage to the "mother temple" of Besakih, located on the slopes of Mount Agung.
Some Night Shots of the Villa
After 3 days of blissful eating, swimming and relaxing at Villa Plawa, i felt as if I had been on holiday for a month. I even found time to do some steeming on the lazy afternoons. I can't recommend Villa Plawa enough and will be counting the days till I can sneak another long weekend there, under the trees.
Be sure to check out the Villa Plawa Website
Most images were taken by me, however other image sources: