After blazing a trail through San Francisco, Tony returns to his spiritual home of Bali to catch up on Bintang, massage and explore the East Coast.
The author, two wheels, and the open roads of Bali.
For many years Bali has been my spiritual home, and a place of many friends. I am thrilled to be back. ‘There’s no place like home’ and Bali feels just like that. The first surprise come’s at the airport. It’s brand new! I hadn’t expected it to be finished and it was weird yet wonderful to grace the large arrival halls. A little too voluminous for a tropical island? Perhaps, but it certainly made landing a lot more comfortable. I jump in a cab and take the famous Ngurah Rai bypass and get stuck in NO traffic … hang on a minute this isn’t supposed to happen, why is the traffic moving? Seems like three years of transport upgrades and improvements have finally paid off.
I rent a small house in Echo Beach. The location is a good one and feels like genuine Bali with village life, narrow winding roads, chickens, kids, markets and temples. Situated north of sprawling Kuta and west of the capital Denpasar it attracts many surfers and is favoured for it’s big, powerful waves. The beach itself is clean and you can get the obligatory coconut and massage right on the sand. I’m no surfer but I watch and admire the boys who do, and it’s thrilling. I find a nice little café ‘Beetlenut’ and make it my second home. The organic food here is absolutely delicious.
The gigs begin and it’s good to be back in the old haunts among old friends. The action takes place in ‘Seminyak’. This hip and cool urban metropolis is filled with funky bars, quaint restaurants, boutiques, spa’s and coffee houses. It’s a bohemian paradise and bustles day ‘n’ night. I play the opulent ‘Metis’ restaurant on Petitenget. Fine dining menu, world class wines and a sumptuous lily garden make Metis an essential experience. Partners Said & Doudou are welcoming as I take up my Friday residency with them. I also spin regularly at Russian chic-boutique ‘Oazia’. The amazingly-unusual ‘La Favela’. Old favorites ‘La Plancha’, ‘Cocoon’ and ‘Sky Garden’. And new comer ‘Townhouse’. The thing I love about Bali is the variety of venues. There are so many to chose from and all have their own unique décor and charm.Click to view slideshow.
After three weeks of drinking and massages I decide to switch things up and take my Tiger motorbike to the hills, the forests, the volcanoes, and bona fide rural Bali. And I find it in East Bali. First stop is Ubud. I pitch down for a few nights at the very special ‘Bamboo Indah’. Built on a cliff edge of a deep ravine with dramatic views, this garden of earthly delights has eight small joglo (old Javanese house) and a large yoga barn constructed entirely of black bamboo. They serve organic food grown in the garden and the tranquility of the place quickly makes me feel like I’m in an untroubled world. In Ubud town I shop around the many jewellers, carvers, spice shops, organic cafes and take in a Monkey Chant dance. A traditional ceremony passes by. Wafts of incense and colourful costumes demand the attention of my senses. The atmosphere is buzzing and relaxed. Ubud really is a wonderful place.
But it gets better. I make my way towards the market towns of Gianyar and Klungkung, and up a steep and winding road towards the largest of Bali’s volcanoes, Mount Agung. Near the top I stop at the fabled Sideman and spent three nights in this serene village. Sideman sits atop a giant ridge, protruding down from Mount Agung and stretches each side by a wide valley comprising of terraced rice paddies and pristine jungle. I stay at the charming ‘Mountain View’ guest house and enjoy a evening meal of nasi campur. Firefly’s flick in and out of the darkness. Crickets serenade the moon. Everything is still and quiet. The next day I am woken by Adhan, the call to prayer, and sit on my balcony gawking at the view. As the morning fog lifts a breathtaking scene unfolds and it truly feels like Eden. This is nature at it’s finest. Walking is the best pastime here and I take a few long hikes to explore the area. Lush green rainforest edge to perfectly manicured rice fields. Nearby torrents offer good water-rafting. Perhaps next time. I unwind and feel more relaxed than I have in a while. Sideman is sublime.
Bali is just perfect with it’s long accommodating beaches, myriad places to eat, stay and be pampered, friendly and funny people, and a rich, and deep culture. You could do so much worse than to spend a little time there. For the intrepid traveller there are many rewards and you might, just like so many people, fall in love.
It was sad to say goodbye, but the travelling DJ must take off once again in search of new adventures, new friends and new places to spin. Next stop, the Middle East.
Here are Tony’s latest two mixes to download