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Inner Western Courier Thursday Not Used Anymore : July 9 2008
INNER-WEST WEEKLY, Thursday, July 10, 2008 53 TRAVEL The colourful fishing boats in Jimbaran, Bali. The spell of Bali NINI LAXAMANA Throw away your cares GETTING THERE: Garuda Indonesia flies from Sydney to Bali five times a week. There are no flights on Tuesday and Friday but from September 1, there will be daily flights except Thursday. STAY: Novotel Nusa Dua Hotel, Bali or Novotel Benoa Bali. Visit website www.novotelnusaduabali.com or www.novotelbenoabali.com. For reservation visit website www.novotel.com/asia BALI ON ANY BUDGET: Attractive air and land packages are available from Garuda Indonesia and Accor hotels. Phone1300 365 331 or visit www.BalionANYbudget.com.au An elephant ''painter'' puts on a show at the Elephant Safari Park in Taro. Bali-style landscaping like the Novotel Nusa Dua's is serene and green. IN a small food and vegetable stall, amid the noise and hubbub of a busy morning market, a chicken was being hypnotised. A man was stroking the chook's neck and almost instantly, its eyes were closed. He clapped his hands, the chook woke up, was touched again and came under his spell. Welcome to Bali, the island of the gods, east of Java. Watching poultry put to sleep by chef Heinz von Holzen, a foremost exponent of authentic Balinese cuisine, is quite far from the long- held image of Bali as a surf and sand paradise. But learning about the secrets of Balinese food is a delightful experi- ence for newcomers to Bali looking to do more than surfing, snorkel- ing and diving. Heinzs's chicken-hypnosis dis- play was mere seconds in an eight- hour cooking program which in- cluded buying the fresh produce from the early-morning market in Bali, a visit to Jimbaran fish market where we were shown the telltale signs of fresh fish -- firm flesh and eyes not red or somewhat bloody. The day's highlight was our small group cooking 25 recipes of authentic Balinese cuisine in Heinzs's impressive Bumbu Bali Restaurant kitchen. Another attraction in Bali is the Elephant Safari Park in the high- lands of Taro, about 12km north of Ubud. A brainchild of Australian Nigel Mason, this 2ha park is a sanctu- ary for some 27 endangered Sumatran elephants. We touched and hand-fed the gentle beasts, and rode them through the park. Watching some of the elephants show off their talents including painting and ball throwing, it was hard not to love them. After cooking up a storm and getting up close and personal with the elephants, reward yourself with serious pampering. Bali has turned massage and spa into an art form and the services are offered in most beach resorts in the island. At the Novotel Benoa Bali and Novotel Nusa Dua, you can have a top-to-toe massage out in the open, on the beach, in the garden or in a private room. I had an aromatherapy massage using sandalwood, was scrubbed with grains and special herbs. Then my body was covered with a yoghurt mask. To cap it all, I soaked in a warm bath of herbs and spices while soft strains of music lulled me into a stupor. Sheer bliss! Throw away your cares. Most of the mid-to-top range accommo- dation in Bali have gardens follow- ing the Bali-style which can be tonic. Often a calm oasis, the land- scaped gardens are lush, with curved paths and a water feature. Sit under a tree and smell the flowers, this is something most of us dont get to do nowadays. Step out of the gentle cocoon and soak Bali's atmosphere. Driving in the streets of Bali in the morning is to drive alongside motorcycles carrying up to two passengers. Seldom wearing helmets, schoolchildren wear freshly pressed uniforms, the girls with colourful ribbons in their black, shiny hair, sit in front of the motobike rider. Outside of the shops and night clubs of the Kuta-Legian-Seminyak areas, the rhythm of Bali is a bit slower. Indeed people joke about Bali time. But in Kuta and everywhere there is a reminder that Hinduism is the predominant religion in this tourist haven in largely Islamic Indonesia. In the middle of the street, in little nooks and crannies, there are colourful and artistic offerings to the gods . The offerings, usually food dec- orated with leaves and flowers, are made to honour the gods and the Balinese ancestors, or to ward off evil spirits and demons that can bring harm to their lives. But the people and the culture are the keys to Bali's magic. On my first night in Bali, our group dined under the stars on the hotel's private beach. We drank Bintang beer and sipped delectably-named cocktails served by smiling Balinese men with frangipani petals tucked in one ear while a boy band played popular western music and requests. The Balinese seem to be a happy and gentle people. 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