Bali: A Must-Go Destination
Bali is special. Really special. There are dozens of places in the world where people swear that the air is crisper, the sun is brighter, the people are more connected with each other and the world around them … Bali is one of those places with a reputation for other worldliness that everyone who visits raves about. Ever since I visited Sedona Arizona for the first time I have always thought reputations like Bali’s to be the kiss of death. How can any place live up to the hype? And would I be buzz killed in Bali the same way I was in Sedona at the sight of my first tour bus, a McDonalds, or a theme park eater-tainment venue? I expected so, but I was wrong.
Bali is magical, and our show does a great job of showing you the water buffalo races, cricket fights, tooth filing ceremonies, funeral cremations, restaurants and most importantly the superbly gracious and spiritually connected Balinese people. Just take one look at Pitu and his mom in the Negara water buffalo race day sequence and you will get it. The Balinese make their daily spiritual practice more attractive than any other that I have ever witnessed. Small offerings of baskets and flowers are literally everywhere, and locals make these offerings several times a day, blessing everything they do with a simple token of gratitude. It’s quite something. Driving around Bali for a week is the best way to see the island and its people. There are awesome places to stay and relax all over Bali. On one day we had 4 hours to kill in Ubud, one of Bali’s most famous towns (the Monkey Temple is there) and a haven for artists and travelers for years, and we wound up stopping by Panchoran, Linda Garland’s estate, and saw a side of Bali that convinced me that this is one of the most special places in the world.
After shooting all morning at a tooth filing ceremony, and cruising by the Monkey Temple for some b-roll we found ourselves at lunchtime in Ubud, and no where to be until 6pm that evening. Driving back to Seminyak would take 2 hours and we needed to be near Ubud at nightfall so one of our local producers arranged for us to have lunch, tour and relax at Panchoran, the estate of Linda Garland, one of the people most responsible for putting Bali style on the forefront of world consciousness. She is a world renowned architect and designer and has built homes for everyone and anyone, but her style is ‘open source’ and accessible even if you don’t have 15 million dollars to spend on a piece of property and house to sit on it. Over the last few decades the Irish-born Garland has became inextricably linked with this island and its people, becoming the loudest and most attuned voice for sustainable land management and eco-practices in Bali, she has almost singlehandedly made bamboo awareness, bamboo science and bamboo furniture/buildings her personal cause over the years and because bamboo is strong, durable, adds water to the local water tables wherever it blooms and grows to useable size in 3 years versus the 15 for most tropical hardwoods it might be that bamboo should be your cause du jour as well. Check out www.bamboocentral.org to learn more about it. But I digress …
Architectural Digest named Linda one of the hundred most important architects in the world and her sense of space and style that I saw at Panchoran (check out her website www.lindagarland.com), her private 10 hectare estate nestled on the riverbanks of the village of Nyuh Kuning, on the outskirts of Ubud makes it clear why. It’s the ultimate retreat, and it’s a template for the kind of spread that stars like David Bowie have commissioned from Linda, but the difference here is that not only can you visit Panchoran but you can stay in anyone one of the 5 houses on the property all standing sentry above a running river with over 40 natural springs flowing through them. The rooms all offer stunning views of rice terraces, farm fields, lush jungle and foliage and all are built amongst roughly 80 different species of bamboo. There is a spa on the premises manned by some of the most talented and bone wrenching masseurs in the country, and the chefs produce some of the finest Indonesian food I tasted in my two weeks traveling around the country.
Linda gave us a tour of her workshop, her gallery, her think tank, her office and her own home on the estate, and when we left we couldn’t wait to return to hang out with her, she is a magnetic talent and force of nature when she starts creating but her peacefulness and serenity, her talent and her style is also a reflection of this amazing land, a place that is unique enough to nurture and inspire the Linda Garlands of the world. Bali should be on your short list of must-go destinations. I promise you it lives up to the hype.