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Recreation - page 8

Must-see places and can’t miss things to do from Malé to Bali

The Muntigunung Trek: A Walk on the Wild Side of Bali

in Destinations/Recreation by

If you’ve visited Bali before, you might have taken a day trip to Kintamani to take in the stunning views across Lake Batur towards the mountains. And the experience will have stopped there. But beyond the lake and the steep mountains is a side of Bali so far off the tourism trail that few have had the chance to visit — unless they have joined the exclusive and award-winning Muntigunung Trek. Seduced by the promise of breath-taking vistas and heart-warming encounters in the once-forgotten villages of Muntigunung, we eagerly signed up and set our alarm clock for the pre-dawn start.

Muntigunung Bali charity hike with Elite Havens – Sunrise on Muntigunung

After driving northwards for two hours in the company of Pica, our principle guide, we stopped on the crest of the caldera to marvel at the sun rising behind the mountains beyond the lake — an early Instagram-worthy moment. “That’s where you will be trekking”, he pointed. The drive itself was part of the experience; we drove past amazing rice terraces and rural vistas, then dropped down into the caldera weaving across lava fields from Gunung Batur’s 1968 eruption and along the lake to Songan.

Ready for jaw-dropping vistas?

Time to lace up your boots, lavish on the sunscreen, have selfie-stick at the ready, select a sturdy bamboo walking stick, and  then take to the trail with Pica and the local guides as they lead their way up the steep mountainside. The views are spectacular — at one stage the trail follows the top of a ridge and the expanse of ocean shimmers towards the horizon on one side while, down a vertiginous drop far below, Lake Batur sparkles towards Kintamani perched on the far rim of the caldera.

Muntigunung Bali charity hike with Elite Havens – Views of Lake Batur

It is unimaginable to think that this mountain trail was once the only route the women and children of the Munti villages could take to secure water for their families – a perilous five-hour round trip every day. It was also the start of their journey to go begging with their children in Ubud and on Bali’s main beach resort streets — then their only source of income.

EH Muntigunung logo

Making a difference, step by step

But that’s one of the joys of completing the trek; with every step, you’re making a positive contribution to the livelihood and wellbeing of the island’s poorest, most neglected communities.

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Samui Elephant Sanctuary Review

in Destinations/Recreation by

“For the herds of wild elephants show no resentment when domesticated animals join them. They have none of that herd instinct directed against the stranger that one finds in cattle, in small boys, and among many grown-up men. This tolerance is just one of the things about elephants which makes one realize they are big in more ways than one.”

― J.H. Williams, Elephant Bill

Samui Elephant Sanctuary opened on 16 January 2018 by Founder Wittaya Sala-Ngam and is the first ethical elephant sanctuary in Koh Samui. Currently, there are five elephants in their care; Cartoon, Kham San and Sri Nin (50 – 60 years old) who came to the sanctuary from the local riding camp on Koh Samui. The sanctuary also has two younger elephants; Nong Pech (7 years old) and Moloair (9 years old) who came to the elephant sanctuary from Surin province.

Samui Elephant Sanctuary offers tours that educate visitors about the importance of these extraordinary, majestic giants. You will be able to feed and walk and observe the elephants as they forage, socialize and play, and do what elephants do, and that’s be elephants.

These five elephants that now live, at the Samui Elephant Sanctuary, have come from an extremely hard life, working long hours in the entertainment or logging industries. These stunning animals have been beaten and made to do what their owners wanted by use of force and torture. Having a chair strapped to their back or painting a picture has never been part of their natural environment. The positive news for elephants is that times are changing and projects such as the Samui Elephant Sanctuary are becoming the new way for a tourist to experience elephants. 

The Samui Elephant Sanctuary is the perfect opportunity for families, couples, and friends to discover the life of elephants in a stunning natural setting and enjoy these beautiful creatures in a way that does not take advantage of the animal. The project works under the Save the Elephant Foundations “off Saddle” program.

On arrival, you will be welcomed by extremely friendly and highly dedicated team of staff, many of whom are volunteers, that are all committed to the well-being of the animals. The tours focus on observation of the elephant’s natural behaviors and as such, they do not allow guest to join the elephants in the mud pit or swimming pool and of course NO RIDING.

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‘A Chef’s Tour’ A Phuket Must

in Dining/Recreation by
Produce Market Phuket

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” – Luciano Pavarotti

In 2017 Phuket was crowned a City of Gastronomy by UNESCO and anyone who has ever experienced real Thai food will agree that it’s arguably one of the best foods in the world. A balance between sweet, spicy, bitter, salty and sour is the main reason why Thai food is so special. But in internationally renowned Phuket, you find there’s actually much more than Thai cuisine to tantalize your taste buds.

chinese doors phuket

Having lived and worked in Phuket for the past 11 years I thought I had experienced most of southern Thai food, as well as some of the dishes from the North. In my culinary journey, (which does make me sound like a foodie millennial) have tried chicken feet and chicken heart, fried silk worms, raw prawns in fish sauce, chili and lime (this is one of my favourites to order) and a bitter-tasting green vegetable thing that to this day I have no idea what it was, although it was disgusting.

In May this year, it was announced that the legendary Michelin Guide will now include restaurants from Phuket and Phang Nga. With all the accolades that Thai food has received and now with the car tire manufacturer’s marshmallow man in the picture I thought it time to jump on the food cart wagon and see what is out there in terms of food tours and adventures.

Old Town Phuket

A CHEF’S TOUR

There are of course some fabulous cooking schools in Phuket that will teach you how to cook an authentic Pad Thai or a Green Curry, but isn’t it better to get out of the TV kitchen and hit the streets? I wanted to eat and drink with the locals. So, along with my friend we chose to go on A Chef’s Tour, which is a boutique tour that gives you a true flavor of food in Phuket and as you will find out, this tour gives you a whole lot more.

WHAT’S INCLUDED:

  • 4-hour guided walking tour of Phuket Old Town
  • Tastings at hidden “street eats” and local restaurants
  • History and culture lesson on southern Thai cuisine
  • Great photo opportunities
  • Drinking water and Thai refreshments
  • Private fully-licensed (foodie) guide

red Chinese lanterns Phuket

On the steps of one of Phuket Town’s largest indoor markets,

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Bali Restaurants and Party Venues for Groups

in Destinations/Dining/Recreation by
La Laguna

Bring a crowd. Bali loves a party and whether your crowd is 10 or 100 people, some of Bali’s best venues are happy to host and do it brilliantly. Here are our top picks.

Bali Restaurants for Groups

La Laguna

Spread out over a large garden, with views over the long stretch of beach from Kuta to Canggu, La Laguna on Kayu Putih Beach, is a fantasy. The whimsical restaurant and garden bar is festooned intimate corners, where creative moments are coloured by tumble-down chic. Choose your space, your menu, drinks and they’ll even lay down a soundtrack just for you. Villas Zelie and Avalon are right next door.

La Laguna
Jl. Pantai Kayu Putih, Berawa, Canggu
Monday-Sunday 9AM-12AM
+62 0812-3638-2272
lalagunabali.com

Ling Lings

Ling-Lings has brought Asian-fusion to a whole new level of delicious. The menu is a mix of Korean, Chinese, and Japanese street food, and the cocktails almost steal the show. The animated restaurant has a large terrace overlooking the street, a long bar, booth seats indoors and a funky backyard just made for parties. Choose from a la carte or cater for a crowd with finger food, sushi platters and canapés. Cocktails by the jug or served in real fruit containers add colour and fun to any event. Check their VIP room for a more intimate setting.

Ling-Lings
Jl. Petitenget No. 43 B, Kerobokan
Monday-Sunday 12PM-1AM
+62 819-1641-7867
linglingsbali.com

Da Maria

This modern Italian restaurant will soon have you speaking Italian and dancing through their cocktail menu. With great wine, and great design, Da Maria turns on the charm from lunch to late dinner! Known for its Neopolitan pizzas (and the handsome pizzaiolo), and hand crafted pasta, Da Maria sings for its supper. Book tables inside, take over the bar or throw a cocktail party in the Capri-inspired entertaining space at the back.

Da Maria
Jl. Petitenget No.170, Kerobokan
Monday-Sunday 12PM-2AM
+62 361 9348523
damariabali.com
Bali Party Venues

Waterbom

It’s not just for kids anymore. Waterbom has teamed up with one of the island’s top caterers, M&M, to throw parties with a difference. From simple cocktail receptions to fully catered gourmet events,

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The Balinese Art of Monster-making

in Culture/Destinations/Recreation/Shops by
nyepi ogoh ogoh bali art

Nyepi is the first day of the Saka lunar calendar, a sacred occasion in Bali when people stay indoors for quiet reflection. For many visitors in Bali during this time of year, the message is strong and simple, for respecting ‘Silent Day’ is mandatory: stay in, turn off the lights and be quiet. From dawn until dawn, the island completely shuts down, including the airport. Only pecalang (neighbourhood security) go out in public, whilst everyone else takes time for personal reflection at home.

What more is there to know about the annual Nyepi holy day in Bali, and what do the papier-mâché monsters in the streets have to do with it?

paksi ireng crow ogoh ogoh

Arts are integral to Balinese culture, and the Balinese have a long history as accomplished woodworkers, stone sculptors, gold- and silversmiths, and textile- and basket-weavers, as well as being ingenious horticulturalists. Balinese artisan crafts, ceremonial customs, daily offerings, performance arts, masks, costumes, adornments and agricultural traditions are all ways of life which honour the values of Balinese Hindu ideology; at the crux a divine balance between people, God and nature.

Balinese customs preceding Nyepi are all about maintaining this trinity, known as the Tri Hita Karana, by cleansing, warding off all evil forces and giving selfless offerings before the start of the new year.

bamboo frame

The great task of ridding the island of a year’s worth of evils is taken care of by giant ogoh-ogoh statues of mythological witches, grotesque demons or modern anti-heroes.

Just one of the many essential rituals surrounding Nyepi, the ogoh-ogoh are paraded around by their creators in raucous processions late into the night on the eve of Nyepi. They scare away or encapsulate bad entities, then get set on fire at the cemetery to burn to complete non-existence.

ohoh ogoh head

Despite their short lifespans, ogoh-ogoh can be elaborate monstrosities with impressive construction and attention to detail. A popular and visually stunning trend is to create artworks which appear to hover in thin air or connect multiple figures in a dynamic pose. In each of Bali’s thousands of banjars (community organizations), young adults begin making an ogoh-ogoh weeks or even months in advance of Nyepi.

Many adults can’t resist joining in this artistic tradition. Local Bali tattoo artist and graphic designer Putu Marmar Herayukti is one of them.

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