Monthly Archives: July 2009

Bali Eco Village

We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong we may begin to use it with love and respect.

Aldo Leopold    

High in the hills, in a valley shrouded in morning mists and perpetual tranquility, Bali Ecovillage provides a welcome sanctuary  from the excesses of southern Bali.

Bali Ecovillage  is set in a mountainous valley to the west of Kitamani, surrounded by bamboo trees, rainforests and coffee plantations. Original plans were for a weekend house built in bamboo, a place for the owners to relax and revel in the beauty of nature, but as the walls grew, so too did the idea of turning this peaceful sanctuary into an eco lodge that others could also enjoy;  guest bungalows and a couple of spacious villas were soon added to the plans.

Bamboo is increasingly popular as the eco building material of choice; a fast growing woody grass, it absorbs four times as much  carbon dioxide as slow to harvest timber, is lighter than steel, and five times stronger than concrete. Plants can grow several feet in a day and a field of bamboo can be harvested and used for construction purposes within three years of planting. If well treated and maintained it is also super resistant. The simple elegance and quiet strength of the  bamboo plant is mimicked in the rustic buildings at Bali Ecovillage , thousands of poles in shades of light and dark have been tightly bound together creating rich textures and dimensions. The building design was largely experimental and the results are quirky and enchanting with a hotchpotch of influences from around the archipelago, with a good measure of Italian flair thrown into the mix. The lodge is fitted with comfortable sofas, great books, a pool table, and a dart board, while evocative artifacts from Papua New Guinea  are scattered throughout the lounge and bungalows.  Sunlight peeps through the skylights and an expansive deck offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains,  this is the perfect place to soak up the silence, and breathe in air that is so fresh that the blast of oxygen makes you giddy. The atmosphere is cozy and homely, with evenings spent warming toes by an open fire,  perhaps curled up with a book or a board game, and a mug of steaming hot chocolate.

The word ‘eco’ is often just a catch phrase, but at Bali Ecovillage it is given full credence, the aim is to become a fully sustainable tourism facility, and to ‘give back’ to the local community, providing employment, training and education as well as acting as a model for eco tourism in the region. Waste is segregated with recycling handled by Eco Bali, and  organic matter composted or fed to the animals. Water is locally sourced, and garden water recycled, while the river has been harnessed to create hydro electricity that supplies some of the property’s  power needs. Activities are wholesome and ‘back to nature,’ visitors can learn how to make Balinese offerings; enjoy traditional massage;  bathe in the river or hike through the jungle. Rafting, cycling and rice paddy tours can also be organized. Guests are encouraged to explore the organic farm, with its extensive vegetable gardens, free range chickens, ducks and pigs. The homegrown cuisine adds to the wholesome atmosphere, and is even more enjoyable with an appetite stimulated by the fresh mountain air. Pick your own salad from the thriving greenhouse and enjoy homemade pasta, breads, jams and cakes.

Bali Ecovillage gives a glimpse into another side of Bali and is truly a place to recharge body, mind and soul.

www.baliecovillage.com

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Travel Stories

When I was 21 I left Australia strapped into a giant purple backpack…… I wanted to go everywhere and see everything and my quest took me around the world, from the steamy jungles of Mexico, to the pyramids of Guatemala, and hidden surf beaches in El Salvador. Travels through North America led me to the icy mountain peaks of Canada, and the ancient red wood forests of northern California, then to Hollywood and Venice Beach and a summer tour with the Grateful Dead. From New York I flew to South America and travelled by land from the coke hazed streets of Santa Marta Colombia, across the mountains through Equador and Peru. I saw the sunrise over Machu Pichu and watched pink flamingos dance in a bright red lake in midst of the vast salt planes of Boliva. There was a gut churning flight over the Nazca lines, and the discovery of a desert strewn with mumified bodies (complete with hair and nails) and an awestruck moment watching the sun set and the full moon simultaneously rise over the Valley of the moon in Chile. Across the world, the rosy hued hidden city of Petra in Jordan revealed its secrets, and long summer days were spent exploring the rocky churches of he surreal valleys of Goreme in Turkey. I rode a donkey through the valley of the kings and lost my heart in Istanbul, the magical city that straddles Europe and Asia. There were long cold winters in London and a long term affair with Italy – with its streets of marble, ornate fountains, craggy coasts and beautiful food. Asia called and a dream came true with the rising sun over Angkor Wat in the jungles of Cambodia. There were long slow boat rides through the rivers of Laos and hikes through remote mountains in the north of Thailand, and then there was India in all its colouful chaos, a country like no other, more an experience than a destination. After 15 years wandering the globe I washed up on a beach in the fiji islands. For the next two years travel writing was replaced by an altogether more serious and stationary job managing a resort on a remote island. These days I live in Bali and spend my time writing about food and luxury villas, I miss my days of wild adventure, but you cant carry around a backpack forever! I still travel when I can – Indonesia has thousands (17,000 in fact) islands to explore which should keep me busy.