Monthly Archives: October 2010

Fivelements

Fivelements, Puri Ahimsa sits at the end of a narrow country lane surrounded by rice paddys and fields of ripening corn. Thatched circular buildings with conical roofs reach for the sky, the gardens are filled with lush foliage, and the gushing of a fast flowing river  intermingles with birdsong. It is the ideal setting for a healing sanctuary and from the moment I enter the spacious grounds I am immediately aware of a shift of energy, a kind of higher vibration.

I have a traditional Balinese healing treatment that is a mix of reflexology and chakra balancing with Pak Dewa, a wonderful and powerful energy healer. At times the session is painful and I shed tears,  but by the end my spirit is soaring. Afterwards I sit on the verandah drinking ginger tea and reflecting on my life and my need to restore balance.

http://www.fivelements.org

DESA SENI

This led me to Desa Seni a boutique resort/arts village in Caggu that offers a variety of yoga classes. I have practiced yoga in many beautiful places around the world  but the Desa Seni experience is unique. Traditional wooden houses from all over Indonesia have been transplanted into a fairy tale like setting with pretty vegetable gardens, lush tropical foliage and an atmosphere that creates a sense of well being  from the moment you enter.

http://www.desaseni.com

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Bombastic plastix

 

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They are handed out gleefully by cashiers the length and breadth of the island, used once and abandoned. Their fate − to float down rivers, ride the waves, wash up on the beaches or smolder in black smoky fires.…. In Bali there is no escaping  plastic bags.   But there is always hope, and a small company called Bombastic Plastix  is hard at work turning plastic trash into  funky fashion accessories.

Recycled products often get a bad wrap (no pun intended) because they are produced poorly with little thought for design. But Bombastic Plastix has turned recycling into an art form and their products – bags, purses, wallets,  are attractive in their own right, regardless of their ‘greenness’. Let’s face it, most of us want to do our bit to save the planet but there is nothing wrong with looking good while we are doing it.

It all started a few years ago, on Bombastic founder, Sam Miller’s kitchen floor. He was a man on a mission, armed with an environmental conscience, a keen sense of design, a heap of plastic bags and an iron. Through trial and error he discovered a way to fuse plastic bags into sheets of plastic fabric, which form the base of all his products.  “Its hardly like we are using all the plastic in the world,” he tells me, “but at least we are using some of it; and we are taking something that has a service life of 30 minutes  and converting in into something that lasts years.”

Check out the website, its great fun and really informative, and you will love Sam – he is one super cool dude!

http://www.bombasticsplastix.com

BAWA and Bali Dogs

BAWA (Bali Animal Welfare Association) was founded by Janice Girardi, a Californian native who rescued her first Bali dog in Kintamani 27 years ago, so beginning a one woman crusade to improve life for man’s best friend across the island. Her passion for animals and their welfare is consuming, and she is an inspiring example of how one person really can make a difference. For years she has been feeding street dogs and rescuing sick and injured animals, loading them on to a makeshift stretcher and driving them to the vet in Denpasar. In 2007 she formalized her position and along with one of Indonesia’s top veterinarians, Dr Dewa Dharma, created BAWA. Finding homes for puppies is just one of BAWA’s programs: The not-for-profit charity also supports a 24 hour clinic; an animal ambulance; a mobile sterilization clinic; an education program; and a range of community projects.

The care centre in Gianyar is run by a dedicated team of volunteers and staff and houses an average of 50 dogs and cats at a time. The level of care is heartening and eventually BAWA will find homes for all these animals, even if it means paying impoverished farmers with monthly rations of rice to take them on.

Dogs have not always fared well in Bali and the notion of having a dog as a pet is a new concept, but one that is slowly catching on. Janice describes education as, “The only hope for lasting change,” and her staff are active in schools and in the local communities. “The Balinese are learning that if you love a dog, it will return ten-fold,” she tells me.

BAWA survives soley on donations and the recent outbreak of rabies in Bali is consuming enormous amounts of resources as Janice and her team embark on an island wide mission to vaccinate dogs. For more informaion or to make a donation check http://www.balibawa.com

 

A different side of Singapore

Singapore, a gleaming metropolis of soaring skyscrapers, manicured gardens, and people in suits; where shopping malls are supersize, electronics are truly king, and chewing gum is illegal. I have passed through the city many times, but never considered it as more than a brief stop on my way somewhere else. Now I have a three-day visa run and am determined to get a glimpse into life beyond the shiny facade. I catch a bumboat to Pulau Ubin, a small island that is home to one of the last remaining kampoengs (traditional villages in Singapore).

I rent a bicycle and pass through palm groves and rubber plantations and soon find myself in thick rainforest; sunlight peeps and teases through the leaves, interspersed with drizzly rain. It is disgustingly humid and I feel like I am trapped in a steam bath, the gentle rises in the road have me pedaling madly and I regret not paying the extra for a mountain bike. A giant − almost komodo size − lizard stalks across the road in front of me, and monkeys swing through the canopy high above. Eventually I come to the Chek Jawa wetlands, a conservation area that is home to Singapore’s richest ecosystems. The timber boardwalk starts on a pretty boulder strewn beach, and winds around a seagrass lagoon. In the shallows I spot cowrie shells, shrimp, star fish and a pair of tiny seahorses. It leads on through giant mangroves and mud mounds, built by the illusive mud lobster, then back onto a path through dense coastal forest. I reach the parking area and find that it has been overrun by monkeys, one perches on the seat of my bike another sits in the wicker basket. Thunder rolls in the distance and the sky has turned black. I really don’t want to get caught in a tropical storm and once I regain possession of my bike I pedal furiously, passing small farm houses surrounded by fruit orchards, trees laden with ripe durian and fields of tropical flowers. I arrive back at the kampoeng with its quaint houses and Chinese lanterns, just as the rain sets in. I find shelter in a quirky restaurant swamped in pot plants and twisting vines and wait out the storm. It’s dark by the time I get back on the boat and the bright twinkling lights of the city beckon across the water. The natural jungle of old Singapore is left behind and I am soon back in the concrete jungle that is modern Singapore. The bus passes through suburbs filled with colonial mansions and then right through the heart of Geyland, the vibrant and garish red light district with sleazy massage parlors, night markets, and xxx girly bars with pumping music.

Little India
Refreshed and showered I head out into the labyrinth of streets that make up Little India which is buzzing with all the trappings and trimmings of the Southern Indian Tamil Culture. The streets are rowdy and chaotic with hawkers selling garlands of yellow flowers and kitch Hindu iconography; Bollywood music blares out from loud speakers. I take a seat in a sidewalk cafe and am soon eating aloo gobi, palak paneer and chapatis, washed down with a mango lassy. The air is thick with the smell of cardamom, and women glide by sheathed in bright saris and laden with gold jewelry. I wander past ornate temples swathed in garish colour and am overcome with nostalgia for my days spent traveling in India. I am easily lured into a costume jewelry shop filled with sparkling adornments, and eventually leave with a bag filled with gaudy earrings, hair trinkets and jingly jangly anklets.

The Evolution Gardens


 

Located at the famous Botancial gardens, This 1.5 hectare area provides a journey through time and depicts the evolution of life through the ages. The entrance is marked by a column of petrified trees and the path leads through different areas, starting with the barren, desolate ‘Lifeless Earth’ 4,600 million years ago. Onwards through time, I pass prehistoric plants and trees that look like something out of a sci fi film, as well as giant dinosaur footprints, and a magnificent grove of Cycad palms, modern survivors from the Jerassic era. Then on through the first flowering plants that sprang from the earth 144 million years ago.

Kampoeng Glam
I have just a few hours left and one item remains on my agenda, and that is to visit Kampoeng Glam – the heart of the Muslim community with streets named Arab, Kadahar and Bhagdad. The breathtaking Sultan Mosque acts as a landmark; it’s design was influenced by the Taj Mahal and it is composed of a mesmerizing swirl of minarets and turrets topped with a shiny golden dome. A pedestrian street lined with tall palm trees leads up to the mosque and the area is imbued with a quiet, lazy charm. I spend my last hour exploring the alleyways and small shops filled with spices, Persian rugs and rolls of shimmering silks and rich brocades. And then my time is up, and its with more than a little regret that I make my way to the airport. A city that I had dismissed as boring and soulless has turned out to be multi faceted and endlessly fascinating