28 Jul Our Bali Overview
Bali is one of our favorite island destinations in the Pacific Rim. We do not recommend travel to Bali for the beaches, but, rather, for its beautiful, lush interior, most unique Hindu-animistic culture and for its world-class, high-touch resorts. The gray/black beaches here are nice, though not nearly as impressive as the beaches in Hawaii, or many other places. During our last Christmas visit to Bali, Bev, Zen and I very much enjoyed walking through the lush green terraced rice fields and villages near the artists’ enclave of Ubud. Religious festivals are held throughout the year and add a special dimension to any stay. The verdant Bali countryside is idyllic and surreal, perhaps the most lush, green paradise you will see anywhere!
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Cultural Landscapes of Bali, The Subak System, Manifestation of the Tri-Hita Karana Philosophy
UNESCO recently recognized Bali for its lush, green, inland farming system, one of the new wonders of the world. The “Cultural Landscape of Bali” consists of five rice terraces and their water temples that cover 19,500 hectares (48, 185 acres). The temples are the focus of a cooperative water management system of canals and weirs, known as Subak that date back to the 9th century. Included in the landscape is the 18th century Royal Water Temple of Pura Taman Ayun, the largest and most impressive architectural edifice of its type on the island. The Subak reflects the Balinese concept of Tri Hita Karana, which symbolizes the bringing together of the spirit, human world and nature. The philosophy was born of the cultural exchange between Bali and India which over the past 2,000 years has shaped the landscape of Bali. The Subak system of democratic and egalitarian farming practices has enabled the Balinese to become prolific rice growers in the region, despite the challenge of supporting a dense population.
The Jatiluwih terraced rice fields are some of the most picturesque hikes on the entire island. Please note the eastern approach, north of Tabanan City, is the less-visited, most surreal route. Approx. an hour drive from Ubud. Jatiluwih is a surrounded by a cool atmosphere, being located at 700 meters (2296 ft) above sea level. Jatiluwih is one of the World Heritage site’s designated 14 Subak and 11 villages representing Bali’s unique rice field managed irrigation system (Subak)
A Lynch family favorite, and well-known by our clients, Singapore-based AMAN represents the pinnacle of world-class luxury hotel/resort hospitality. While Peninsula, Four Seasons, and Mandarin rule the 5-Star deluxe hotel category, AMAN alone occupies the elite level; small remarkably high-touch, singular, and personal. Each resort is characterized by a small number of rooms (typically less than 40) and minimalist architecture designed to complement the location’s natural setting/local culture. Among our favorite AMAN properties in Asia are Amanpuri/Phuket, Amansara/Cambodia, Amandari-Amankila/Bali, Amantaka/Laos, Amanoi/Vietnam and Amankora/Bhutan.
Notwithstanding the new luxury resorts opening up throughout Bali, Amandari is still among out favorites. Overlooking the Ayung River Gorge (nice for river-rafting!) near the artist’s village of Ubud, the resort consists of 30 pavilion suites, many overlooking the adjacent lush, terraced rice fields. Similar to other Aman locations, the Amandari has an amazing spa, wonderful food featuring local delicacies, and a well-stocked library. Of special note here is the spectacular 100 ft. infinity pool. The pool, set against the idyllic, terraced rice fields is quite a picture – enjoy!
Ayung Valley Walk & Picnic Breakfast (1-2 Hours)
Bev, Zen and I feel this is one of our favorite walks when staying at the Amandari – natural beauty + fun! This guided walk into the lush Ayung Valley is best done early in the morning. The big re-ward at the end point is a picnic breakfast at Amandari’s bale (a traditional Balinese rectangular open-sided pavilion with a steeply pitched thatch roof(!) Your walk will take you through rice paddies and sacred springs, shrines and stone statues that have existed for centuries for the surrounding villages. At Bongkasa Village you may relax in the shade of what is considered to be the oldest banyan tree in Bali.
Bev, Zen, and I stayed here following our last visit to Bali and very much enjoyed. The Amankila’s 34 stone-thatched villas are linked by a network of raised walkways, amid lush/verdant vegetation. Perhaps most striking about this property is its tri-level infinity pool – most unique! The gray/black beach is nice and located at the base of the hotel’s cliff location. Interestingly, an oil terminal is located quite far out in the sea (Lombok Strait) – you see frequent tankers passing within sight of the property. Wonderful food here!