Now that things seem to be easing up, i’m going to be blogging a lot more about the many trips i took in the past few months! I’d been saying for years that i needed to take my parents to one of my favourite places in the world, and we’ve finally struck that off the list – Bali!
I planned a trip for us to stay in three main areas across the island – Ubud, Lovina, and Seminyak. Our first stop was Ubud, famed for its gleaming green rice terraces, traditional arts, colourful markets, babi guling, and many-a yoga/meditative practices and raw food movements.
Via Agoda, we stayed at Kamandalu, one of Bali’s pioneering 5-star luxury resorts that stretches across 3.5 hectares of private land. The beautiful property is inspired by Panglipuran village (one of the oldest and most traditional settlements in Bali) and is surrounded by lush rice paddies.
In Sanskrit, ‘Kamandalu’ refers to ‘the vessel that contains the water of life’, and the resort prides itself on carrying out its philosophy by providing life-enhancing rejuvenation. Just looking back at the photographs and rekindling how i felt when i was there is rejuvenating enough for me. It was such a beautiful relaxing place to just immerse myself into for days – one of those premises where you really don’t have to leave at all (nor want to).
Having been around for many years, the already beautiful resort recently saw a huge makeover to cater to the demands of today’s discerning traveller while preserving its heritage and timeless serenity. Kamandalu’s main facilities have just been redesigned by Grahacipta Hadiprana, a renowned architect and design firm in Indonesia.
The resort is built on curving ridges above the Petanu River and is a mere 10-minute drive from the centre of Ubud.
Each chalet or villa in Kamandalu comes with a view of either terraced rice paddies or plunging valleys. There are 1 to 3 bedroom villas, some with private landscaped gardens, private pools, or large living rooms, depending on each guest’s desires.
We could choose to dine between the award-winning Petulu Restaurant or Aira Cafe. Petulu, a spacious restaurant overlooking the glorious rice terraces, serves authentic Indonesian cuisine from a menu designed by leading culinary expert William Wongso. Aira Cafe is an open air affair by the swimming pool.
One could also opt to have a special Kamandalu Afternoon Tea, simply dine in the privacy of one’s villa, or have a picnic lunch prepared to enjoy with the view of Ubud’s tropical forest.
They have all sorts of activities and excursions organised, i wish i could have stayed longer to try them all!
There are guided walks/bicycle tours through the rice paddies, bird watching in the evenings, morning strolls through Tampak Siring village and Gunung Kawi Temple, Balinese cooking classes, village trekking, visits to the Peliatan Palace and Elephant Cave Temple… They can even help arrange white-water rafting, golfing, canoeing, surfing, diving, etc.
If you have children (so many of my friends have children so i need to write this down!), you’d be relieved to know there are baby cots and babysitter services, and lots of activities for the kiddies like Bali Junior Chef classes (for ages 4-5, and 5-10), Balinese egg decorating/painting, ceramic molding lessons, gebogan (learn the Balinese way of life by making offerings), canang (weaving with coconut leaves), and gamelan (Balinese dance). A lot right! Tire them out proper so they’ll pass out by bedtime, i say!
Despite all the many activities provided for the restless and adventurous, Kamandalu is ultimately a getaway that effortlessly excels in providing the atmosphere for relaxation. You can’t avoid feeling that; what with all the lush nature, singing birds and gentle breeze tickling you constantly.
One of my favourite features in the resort and something that makes me want to return… is their magnificent yoga and meditation teak pavilion set amidst the treetops of Ubud.
It was here that i had a kismet one-on-one meditation session with their resident yogi Arif (story to come n a separate post). He holds complimentary yoga sessions daily too.
More pix after the jump from my entire stay there!
I had one of the most riveting conversations with a kindred spirit this afternoon.
When I was in Seminyak, Bali; I thought of a friend I have living here – Rachel. We’re not very close, despite having known each other by being at the same parties almost a decade back. But I felt like I could talk to the girl. So I whatsapped her to meet up, and she took me to her fave hang out spot on Jalan Laksamana in Oberoi, called La Favela. An unassuming hidey hole from the oustide, you enter via a wooden walkway filled with lights and foliage into an unknowingly massive establishment.
It was like a hidden wonderland of a restaurant and bar, divided into many oddly-shaped sections filled with antiquities and oddities of a time from long ago. Chandeliers, lots of plants and flowers and trees everywhere, a pond in the middle under the sky, a bathroom with a lounge area and art all over the walls (and there are many walls!).
The place was packed, and it was a Monday night. We managed to find a table where we had a bottle of red wine. A couple of people stopped by the table separately to say hi to Rachel and chat. They both worked at La Favela – Luigi and Iman.
Next day, I rushed through my work so i could have Rachel come over in the evening to enjoy the pool villa and chill with me. In the middle of our conversation, she mentioned that Iman, who was the resident art director at La Favela, was dropping by to pass something.
We went downstairs to meet him and TS Suites is such a mighty space we had trouble finding him. We finally found each other in the courtyard and he shyly held up a rolled up canvas to me.
I was like, “Whatttttt” and put my beer down on the ground to open it slowly with both hands.
It was an art piece… of me! In blue! I was just so shocked and delighted… noone had ever painted a pic of me before! Wait, has anyone? *scanned bad memory* Well not that I can recall!
It’s awesome and definitely going up on a prominent wall in my upcoming home. I gave Iman a big hug and thanked him. But I think I said “oh my god” more than “thank you”. He then left cos he was going elsewhere, and I still couldn’t believe how someone was so sweet to just do a picture of me like that!
Rachel was all I don’t know what fairy magic dust you sprinkled on him, he won’t even do one of us, and he just met you briefly yesterday.
I was just so taken aback in happiness! I even hugged myself and swayed my body from left to right cos I was buzzing from feeling so good! My heart totally expanded from the love!
When I realised that I was to stay in Bali for another day cos I accidentally bought my flight for 24 hours later, I was thinking if there was anyone I’d like to meet and I thought of Iman. I mean, I barely spoke to the guy and he gave me such a cool present, I wanted to get to know him better.
So I planned to work that night and in the morning, then see him for lunch and return to work in the afternoon and evening before my flight. We decided on La Favela cos it was where he said he’s most comfortable and I agreed, wanting to see what it looked like in the daytime and try the food.
The place looked even more awesome in the presence of sunlight and I realised how many details I’d missed seeing.
One of the first pieces Iman did for La Favela.
Iman introduced me to his boss, and the chef Marco, who spoiled us by sending out more food in addition to the tuna carpaccio and salad I ordered.
Ah the food was really good! I ate till i couldn’t stuff myself anymore.
I’d totally recommend you to eat there!
When we sat down at a table in the garden, Iman said, “I have a present for you,” and I was like, “Whattttt” and he produced another rolled up canvas.
It was one of a tiny My Little Pony, that I’d given to him as a token which was already in my bag when he’d surprised me the day before. I was like, “Oh Imannnn nooooo!!!”
What have I done to deserve such love! #HeartExpandsEvenMore
I showed him the tattoo I have of Rainbow Dash on my ankle to exemplify just how MUCH I LOVE the magical ponies, and he said that the tiny colourful things have inspired him.
I feel like it usually takes a while to delve into meaningful conversation when you first talk to someone new, but for us, we dived right in.
We spoke about lovers from our past lives,
lucid dreaming, past life regression,
creative work and phases we’ve experimented with,
past relationships, running away from home,
having premonitions about Bali,
serving prison time (“you’re such a bad boy!” I exclaimed),
clearing spiritual blocks that prevented growth,
and other stories involving Balinese princesses, wolves, doppelgängers,
and experiences of a spiritual realm.
There were so many moments when i had goosebumps all over my face and body!
Iman himself is such an interesting person (obviously) who seems to have lived different lives in one lifetime. In a way, he has, cos he formerly had another identity before legally recreating himself a new one.
What makes him so fascinating is his openness about journeying through life and embracing every experience along the way. He tells his stories in an honest and unpretentious manner with humourous resignation thrown in for those with a less-than-happy ending.
He used to be an assistant chef in Singapore, quite by accident, when someone didn’t turn up for work one day. Offering to cook a dish or two, the head chef tasted it, liked it and appointed him new assistant chef.
Most of his life was spent in the music industry, when he took on the moniker Electrofux for 20 years. When he had transitioned into putting his art on the streets (after being inspired by his late friend and fellow artist Quint), he turned his nickname around, and Xuf came to be. Xuf had been brandishing the public walls of Bali with his stencil art when it got noticed by the boss of La Favela, who hired him to be its resident artist.
Some people say that Iman sold out by shifting to work on an establishment’s walls instead of the street, but the beautiful reality is that he’s created a world for himself where he’s paid to experiment with art, every single day. He gets to work on whatever he wants, and all his bills for materials are covered for by the restaurant (which i know can cost a lot). He gets to do what he loves daily and get paid for it. How cool is that! That’s pretty much an artist’s dream. He could make a fortune selling his art to people but he’s not bothered.
“I don’t earn much but I don’t need it. Money can be found anywhere. What I want is to work on my art.”
I’ve had a really amazing week traveling around Bali with my parents.
We spent 2 days in Ubud, then moved up North to stay in Lovina for 2 days,
then back down to Seminyak for another 2 days.
It’s my mum’s first time in Bali, and she went mad taking hundreds of pictures cos she loves nature so. My dad has been enjoying the shopping and babi guling.
Some pretty amazing stuff has happened to me too, without me expecting it (but that’s when the best happens innit, when you have no expectations).
- meeting Arif by pure chance and was stunned when i found out he’s one of the most sought-after yogis in Ubud. I had a one-on-one meditation session and learnt life lessons from him that made me laugh and cry for over an hour, while we were perched in the most beautiful teak yoga pavilion set amidst the treetops in Kamandalu
- being in an AMAZING rainbow circle as i waded out into the cold waterfall in Gigit. I stood in awe right in the middle of it, not believing my eyes! It disappeared just as suddenly as it came!
- my dad invited this Balinese wood carver from Lovina to join us for dinner one night and it was perfect. The restaurant and food were amazing, and Made made us laugh so much. We exchanged numbers, hugged and i feel like i found an older brother. Now i have to return there to visit him!
- Rachel of Tanks & Kinis layaned me proper and took me to her fave spot, La Favela. I met the owner Luigi and resident art director Iman, and, for some crazy reason, Iman did one of his signature stencil artworks to give to me. I was floored. I am honored!
So many big and small wonderful moments happened too, but i’ll leave those stories for when i put all my pictures together!
Earlier this afternoon, i spent almost an hour gently packing all this shopping my parents and i did into my Rimowa, we said bye to our 2-bedroom sky pool villa at TS Suites, and headed to the airport to catch our flight home.
As we were checking in our bags, the counter lady said that there wasn’t a record of my name on the flight and i was super calm while getting her to check again. Turns out i bought the WRONG date of my flight home cos my parents are touching down after midnight and i referred to the landing date (21st) instead of departure date (20th).
The stupid thing is… when i was buying my tickets and referring to the flight times i’d booked for them months prior, i REMEMBER THINKING to myself, “God, better check the dates properly cos it’d be so dumb if i booked the wrong flight.”
AND I STILL MANAGED TO.
I have nothing to say to myself.
My parents were a bit distraught and wanted to buy me a flight home with them but it cost RM900 and i just couldn’t bring myself to waste money for something like THAT. I actually felt MORE upset when they offered to do it cos if i wouldn’t pay something for myself, i don’t want them to either.
I felt it made more sense to book myself into another hotel for one more night, and stay in Bali till my REAL flight home 24 hours later. I’d probably get more real work and writing done without the distractions of being back in the office too. After assuring them i’d be ALRIGHT and it was meant to be; i exited the departure area, sat on the airport floor and booked a cheap room on agoda for RM120 at Bliss Surfer Hotel. It’s contemporary, clean and rated 8.2/10.
So yeah, here i am… still in Bali!
I figured since i’m here, i might as well make the most of it, and messaged Iman on whether he wants to have lunch tomorrow. He said he’ll take me on a proper tour of La Favela, so i plan to wake up for The Big Life at 9am GST (6pm PST), quick breakfast, get work done, lunch and hang out with Iman, work till flight, work on flight, home.
Admittedly, it feels good to have a surprise extra day in Bali.
I will never say no to Bali.
Since Joyce was in Europe, I had the opportunity to experience Club Med’s Body and Soul event a few weeks back on behalf of KinkyBlueFairy! It was a 4D3N trip in Club Med Bali and all I did was eat, swim, do yoga, talk, and drink! I was with 2 other Malaysian members of the media (Claudia from Tongue in Chic and Evelyn of MissyBlurKit) and Lena, the representative of Club Med who was our guide during the trip.
Club Med from France has been known for being the original and premium all-inclusive vacation resort, with 80sun and snow resorts set in exotic locations around the world. Established in 1950, Club Med today has vacation resorts scattered around the world from Europe to Asia, and is considered one of the best go-to resorts especially for families. We even have one here in Malaysia itself – Club Med Cherating in Kuantan!
A premium package in Club Med usually includes:
- return flights (special arrangement upon request)
- gourmet international buffet 3 times a day and all-day bar + snacks
- bars and nightclubs with free flow of drinks
- sports and leisure activities
- night performances
- child care services
Club Med upholds a longstanding company culture that is unique. All staff are called G.Os - Gentils Organisateurs (Gentle Organizers); whilst customers are G.Ms - Gentils Membres (Gracious Members). The resort is known as a village, whereas the resort manager is called the Chef de Village (Village Chief). There are 94 G.Os in Club Med Bali of different (18!) nationalities, so no G.Ms need worry about language barriers.
In 2013, Club Med came up with a programme named ‘Body and Soul’ – an annual retreat focused on health and wellness to boost and transform overall well-being filled with activities based on 4 colour themes – Yellow, Red, Green and Purple.
The event was initially launched in Club Med Cherating and Bali, but this year it was decided that Bali is the best location for the retreat, with the program being extended for a month. Club Med Bali is located in Nusa Dua, a secluded premium location with breathtaking scenery that is only less than half an hour away from the airport via the new highway in Bali.
Another great reason why Bali is the best destination for the Body & Soul event – their new Zen Pool was just launched in March!
Club Med Bali is huge. Initially I wondered if i would have some time to step out of the resort to explore Bali a little, but it turns out four days weren’t even enough for me to fully explore the resort area! Each night’s walk was a new discovery for me.
The Body & Soul event is designed with optimal relaxation in mind, as Club Med recognises the need to awaken our spirits and hearts, heal our bodies and transform our lives. With the belief that colours deeply affect us in our daily life (from how it impacts our moods and emotions, to our sense of well being) the event tagline was – 4 colours in 4 days: Get rejuvenated, energised, balanced and revitalised inside and out.
The retreat spans four days, with each day featuring a different colour.
Yellow is the day for rejuvenation;
Red representing energy;
Green for balance;
Purple for revitalisation.
Each day offers different specialized classes designed by international relaxation experts, colour-coded fitness activities, and healthy colour-coded meals.
There were yoga lessons twice a day to focus on detox + balancing for our body and soul.
Morning yoga lessons were usually carried out by the beach area, with fresh morning sea breeze and calming sound of waves to boost our morning mood. Our instructor for the lessons was Samantha from Hong Kong, a patient and smiling spirit who was always gentle and calm with everyone.
Trapeze lessons available for all ages!
The most challenging part of the trip was how to do EVERYTHING in what suddenly seemed like a short span of time. There were so many activities, fun games to play and beautiful areas to explore. There are lush green fields everywhere, up till right to the front of my room which tempted me to pack food from the restaurant to have a picnic on.
Read more about my experience in Club Med after the jump!
Thank you to both my parents who made me, and molded me into the person i am today
They were supposed to be celebrating in Bali with me but my dad’s accident with his back prevented him from flying so… next time.
Just some quick pix before i have to head out for lunch with Rahul and Clouds.
There are thousands of pictures we snapped so i need a LOT of time to edit them… Below are just a few pix from Sunday (my birthday eve).
We met up for lunch at Biku. Everyone is looking slightly shattered cos we’d already been partying for 2 days…
Road to paradise! Rahul fell off the buggy. He was standing on the back and was holding on with one hand, with the other hand carrying a plastic bag of drinks. He said it was so beautiful going down the lane, that he wanted to take a picture and decided to let go with the hand that holding on, to reach for his phone… -_-
Danny chilling in the kitchen
Since Clem named the evil koala Joyce, i figured it was only right she had a birthday party too
Man. I don’t even know where to start with Awesomeness Fest.
It was like, the BEST thing i ever went to… and there is SO much to tell about it, not to mention the HUNDREDS of pictures i took over the four days it happened.
I made so many amazing new friends-for-life from all over the world, from Africa to New Zealand.
I learnt, partied, laughed, cried, and EVOLVED.
I learnt SO MUCH STUFF, things which i’ve been sharing with lots of people since i got home, but i think it’s about time i start sharing it here with you all too Well, i’m gonna try to fit in as much as i can across a few blogposts. It”ll end up being an impossibly long post if i tried putting it in ONE!
OK OK breathe, phew! I feel so overwhelmed on where to start.
So i’ll start from the VERY BEGINNING.
I FIRST heard about Awesomeness Fest when i went to Mindvalley for an event in January.
Loved it so much i blogged about it *HERE*
After watching it i was like, “What the hell is this… i have NO IDEA but i WANNA GO.”
Here’s another vid to explain what Awesomeness Fest is (soddof)
After i decided i wanted to try to go, i found out how much it cost (RM6K) and thought HMM can i really afford this what with all the money i’m planning to pump into my business this year? And then thought OK I’m just gonna try, and if it happens then it happens. If it doesn’t then at least i know i tried to go.
So i took the first step by sending in an application. Yup. You can’t just pay and go for it, you have to fill in this form on what you do and what you think and why you want to go. Serious stuff. Basically they just want to ensure that they only accept the type of people they want to draw – people who are driven, want to or are running their own business/es, want to better themselves, want to contribute to the community/world. Every year thousands of applicants vie for only 250 spots in Awesomeness Fest. So you see… i wasn’t very sure if i could even GO in the first place.
Sent in my application. Got word that i passed through the first round (yay!) and was requested to schedule a Skype meeting for an interview. Once i got through the interview process then i’d be confirmed as an attendee.
Somehowwww it was SO hard to get that interview done. The person who was to speak to me was Lara Berg, who’s based somewhere in the US which simply meant the only window of hours she could interview me was 2-6AM Malaysia time -_- I canceled the first meeting cos i had too much work and not enough sleep. The second time was cos i was sick and needed sleep so badly. And she was SO nice that when i told her the truth, she suggested to do one at 7AM my time so it wasn’t so bad. I groggily woke up one morning, had a Skype chat with her and found out after that i was IN.
YAYNESS! Then was the paying part. I felt that paying for something that was going to help ME in my life, was money well spent. I also didn’t feel like i was being cheated cos Afest is a 100% non-profit event, and all the money they make from it gets channeled to 3 different charities globally.
Fast forward, and i’m at Afest!
I purposely took a Wednesday night flight so that i could catch the extra sessions on Thursday. Afest is Friday-Sunday but i figured it’s not like i have to take leave, and the Chinese side of me wanting the bang for my buck kicked in :p
I. am. so. glad. i went that extra day.
Thursday afternoon session was held by Lisa Nichols of Motivating the Masses, and perhaps THE most powerful speaker i’ve experienced in person! She’s been interviewed by Oprah and Larry King, and personally spoken to up to 10,000 people in one event at a stadium!
[[ crap. i have to go out now. i think this is gonna be one of those blogposts where i continue it when i can. TA! Happy WEEKEND!]]