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3 luxury sustainable spas in Bali

Bali has a lot of spas; in some areas, every third shop is a spa. All varieties of spas can be found as well -- from local to international award winning spas. In recent years, a lot of people have become more conscious of what they put on their skin. The skin absorbs up to 60% of what you put on it, so with increasing amounts of chemicals in many products, it can lead to allergies or worse. One way to avoid this is to choose a spa that uses naturally made products and takes an approach that is kind to your skin. Local Indonesian jamu (traditional medicine) methods have always done this but a few luxury spas in Bali not only use natural products but also take the spa experience to a new level of comfort. The Spa at Alila Soori Villas The Spa is housed in a sustainably built house with a view of the Indian Ocean in front. Entering this warm and opulent hideaway, the central spa area is dominated by a beautiful pool that instantly adds a sensuously relaxed atmosphere. The traditional Balinese Beauty Ritual is two hours of pure bliss. Balinese lulur is an ancient village remedy with its origins from the rice farmers of Bali that is recognized as traditional medicine. The treatment is believed to help warm the body, relieve aching joints and help in the recovery of troubled or loose skin. Locally sourced sandalwood, fennel seed, star aniseed, eaglewood and fenugreek are blended together to use during this healing remedy. It is a 60 minutes Balinese Massage, body scrub, body mask and mini facial. The massage uses natural oils and you can choose a beautiful aromatic blend to suit your mood. After the massage, you are gently scrubbed using the herbal warming mixture and then wrapped in a cocoon while the gently heated massage table ensures every pore is cleansed and every muscle relaxed. The therapist performs a revitalizing mini facial as you relax on this wave of warmth. Not only do you feel like you are floating on a cloud after the treatment, but you are also assured that only the most natural ingredients have been used during this process. If you loved the products used, there are a wide range of Alila Spa products for sale to take with you. A particular favorite is the Black Volcanic Soap that is made from Balinese volcanic lava. Ojas Spa, COMO Shambhala Estate This famed wellness retreat outside Ubud is the ultimate luxury hideaway in the forest with an ethos based around holistic principles. If you are not staying here, you can come and get pampered at the beautifully serene Ojas Spa. Ranges of treatments are offered here, including hydrotherapy and Ayurveda treatments. This Zen space is very soothing and, set among vast sounding grounds; it is a quiet retreat to indulge in a treatment. Signature massages are done using specially blended oils made on the estate, sourced from local products and 100 percent natural. The Shambhala signature massage is an hour-long treatment and uses innovative long strokes and medium pressure to both relax and revive spirit and mind. Set in a light airy room looking onto a garden, complemented by clean lines to leave the mind uncluttered, this deeply therapeutic technique performed by a highly skilled therapist feels more like a four handed massage thanks to the expertise of the therapist. This is a deeply relaxing and aromatic experience that leaves the skin smooth and supple. Facials are also available using a range of their homemade products called PURIFIES. These products are based on the principles of aromatherapy, incorporating only premium grade oils free of parabens, petrochemicals, artificial fragrance and color. The PURIFY Holistic Facials are deeply calming and catered to your skin type using these products, along with steam and specialist massage techniques to cleanse and rejuvenate the skin. Not only are the products used at the Ojas Spa kind to your skin, but also to the surrounding environment. Fivelements Puri Ahmisa This healing hotel is located just outside Ubud in a scenic spot with the river flowing through. The spa is perched right along the riverbank so you hear the flow of water easing past as you are experiencing some incredibly therapeutic and natural treatments. This award-winning spa is unique in that not only does it have a wide variety of beauty treatments, but also healing rituals are on offer from Balinese healers and priests. This means that both body and soul can be nurtured naturally in this wonderful sustainably built bamboo spa. Acupressure with Pak Ketut is designed to trigger the body’s self-healing abilities and uses energy transfer to help heal. After starting with transference of energy, the ritual is designed to relieve both physical and mental strain. This can relieve deep-seated tension and trigger the healing process. The healing rituals harness the power of both natural herbal ingredients and energy. The beauty rituals use a wide variety of natural elements found throughout Bali. Probably one of the most healing plants is the coconut. Virgin coconut oil is one of the most healing oils, naturally antibacterial and nourishing. The Coconut Harmony treatment is a deep massage with this oil, followed by a moisturizing bath of coconut milk, the pure blended aromatic Shakti Oil and scattered with Frangipani flowers. A hewn rock bath gently sheltered by foliage looks over the flowing river below melding nature and the spa together. This wonderful bamboo structure is open meaning that it is a totally sensory experience within nature.
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I feel calm just looking at these pictures~
@nokcha glad to hear that :) @gabyrich haha you're welcome!
@nokcha that is how I feel about all the cards in the bali collections. thank you @keshie for reminding me that I need (and I would say deserve) a vaca.. ha!
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Must-try Lousiana-style crabs in Bali
Bali is one of the best places to enjoy seafood in Indonesia. Jimbaran, for example, has long been one of the island's most popular spots to savor this particular dish while enjoying an amazing sunset. For those longing for Lousiana-style seafood, there are at least two crab restaurants available in Bali; allowing you to eat with your bare hands on the table, without any fancy plates and cutlery to bother you. The Holy Crab Following its popularity in Jakarta as the 'it' place to eat Alaskan crab, Bali's Holy Crab on Jl. Petitenger No. 50 offers a great combination of world-class seafood and traditional Louisiana cooking techniques in a chic yet cozy dining atmosphere. “There has been such a great response to The Holy Crab from food lovers in Jakarta that we are bringing the whole concept and experience to Bali. It has always been a dream of mine to be a part of the island's culinary scene, which has a broader international audience,” said The Holy Crab owner as well as executive chef Albert Wijaya. Choices available on the main menu include Dungeness crab, king crab legs, snow crab legs and lobster with prices ranging from Rp 88,000 (US$7) per 100 grams for the Dungeness crab to Rp 120,000 for the king crab legs -- all served in a delicious secret recipe sauce with mild, medium and hot levels of spiciness. Sausages and corn are also available as additional dishes. According to Albert, the restaurant's crustaceans are imported straight from Alaska and some are from Indonesia. Crab Bar Situated on Jl. Batu Belig 106 in Seminyak , the Crab Bar was founded by famous Indonesian chef Ragil Imam Wibowo in August 2014 with the aim of becoming the first destination for people seeking to savor Lousiana-style seafood on the island. “In Bali, if people want to eat pork, they will head straight to Ibu Oka. We want that to happen to us too; we want to become the first place people recommend when they talk about eating crab in Bali,” said the restaurant's general manager Don Domingo. For newcomers, the Crab Bar's most popular dish is CB's Hot Bag which consists of 500 grams of mud crab, 150 grams of prawn, 200 grams of yabbies (Australian freshwater crustaceans) or clams, sausages and corn. A portion costs Rp 495,000. The CB’s Cold Platter, priced at Rp 450,000, is also recommended with cold Mud Crab, 200 grams of prawn, 200 grams of clams and four pieces of oyster or yabbies. The Crab Bar offers six types of sauce for its hot-platter menus with three levels of spiciness (mild, medium and TNT). The choices include original Lousiana-style with smoked Cajun butter, oriental-style CB’s Bali Sauce, Bangka curry sauce, chili sauce, teriyaki black pepper and garlic butter. While for the cold platter menus, foodies can try garlic mayo, tomato tartar and tom yam mayo sauce. - See more at: http://www.jakpost.travel/news/must-try-lousiana-style-crabs-in-bali-otImxpP0OU7Hu4aJ.html#sthash.rQELFKmb.dpuf
The story behind the most expensive gourmet coffee in the world: Kopi luwak
The life of a civet cat, strangely known as the coffee rat in Indonesia or tree dog on the Indian subcontinent, is not at all that bad. In the wild, they are free to roam anywhere they fancy, from the tropical forests of Sri Lanka all the way to the dense jungles of Sumatra. They are solitary creatures for most of their lives, but are persnickety eaters and thus discard rotten fruit and diseased mammals. The males get together with their female counterparts whenever they have to, receiving the better end of the deal by mating with no strings attached. They are nocturnal save for when a bright moon comes out. Then they sleep all night like they normally do during the day. And as long as their intestinal tracts remain fully functioning, they will continue pooing out a tradable commodity, one that also happens to produce the most expensive gourmet coffee in the world: the kopi luwak. There are over a hundred types of coffee in the world but only three -- Arabica, robusta and liberica -- are farmed exhaustively and made commercially available. The luwak coffee can be made from all three types but result in varying tastes. The Arabica bean in Indonesia is the most popular for the luwak blend, as well as for non-specialty coffee consumption. With a name like “cat-poo-ccino” and Jerry Seinfeld’s blunt “cat shit coffee” description from his hit TV show, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, the luwak and its history in Indonesia is nevertheless by no means a laughing matter. Before the introduction of coffee plantations, civet cats and coffee production were an unlikely pair. The civet cat was in fact a creepy pest scurrying over rooftops and eating prize-winning tajen cocks. Their utility hadn’t been explored at all as coffee “fermenters” and their fecal matter was a mere inconvenience to the villager, as is dog crap to the jogger in New York City. The luwak’s prodigious poo-coffee discovery came when the Dutch launched their cultuurstelsel program of enforced coffee planting in Java in the 19th century. Due to exploitative practices, the local indigenous workers were forbidden to enjoy the fruits of their own labor. Of course, prohibition piques interest and so the workers gave their beans a go, but only after they were passed through the guts of the civets running amok on the plantation fields. Fast-forward one hundred and some years. In 2012, the value of coffee exports from Indonesia reached US $1.5 Billion. Seventy percent of Indonesia’s total coffee production was exported, yet how much the luwak contributed to that figure is largely unknown. Regardless, being a highly sought after specialty blend, cat poo coffee has proven to be a lucrative business attracting global consumers for its rich taste, as well as its novelty factor -- sometimes more of the latter than the former. Its labor-intensive production process, as well as scarcity on the global market, drives up its price to anywhere from $300 to $600 per kilogram, making it the most expensive coffee in the world. A cup in the US can go anywhere from $50 to $80. Though coffee estates are seeing a decline in Indonesia, large-scale “wild-sourced” luwak plantations are still in operation, mostly in Sumatra. There are also the small backyard ventures popping up here and there that are proving to be quite profitable enterprises. Harmoni Bali Organik is an example of a successful homegrown luwak plant run by Kadek Ardhi, 54, and Santhi, 51 -- a husband and wife team. They operate right from their traditional Balinese home in Bangli where civet cats roam naturally in the forests and are even brought in by farmers in exchange for a 25-kilogram bag of rice. Unlike the coffee’s history, Kadek and Santhi’s roots in the business are not as deep. “In 2006, I had a Japanese visitor who recommended I merge business with pleasure,” says Kadek, 54, while sliding a tray of Arabica cherries into a civet cat’s cage. “At that time I had only two civets and I kept them just for fun. But he recommended that I breed them and so my capacity quickly grew to 18. Every month I was visited by my Japanese friend who inspected the cages -- now I have 94 luwak and I export my special coffee to Canada and Japan.” The production of kopi luwak is by no means a complicated process. The civet cat sleeps all day with their eyes creepily open and wakes up around sundown. Santhi and her team then begin sliding trays of about a kilogram of Arabica cherries to each cat for dinner. They gorge until satiated, defecate, circle their cages for a bit and then go back to sleep. It was a surprise to see that they meticulously sift through the best cherries -- a selling point that inflates their price tags because of this ability to distinguish good beans from bad. Surprisingly, they spit out the fruit, which is then collected and used as organic fertilizer -- sometimes even dumped on the side of the road next to the plantations where the cherries originated. Their feces are collected in a sieve from right under them in the mornings. The cleaning process begins by laying out the feces on trays in the open sun. “We don’t use water in cleaning the feces,” says Santhi. “The sun does the cleaning through drying and it takes anywhere from one to two weeks, depending on the sun.” Much debate surrounds the luwak coffee’s taste, with many experts asserting that the quality is in fact quite poor and nothing to be excited about. Some connoisseurs swear over the coffee and will go out of their way to make a purchase. Some claim the taste to be less bitter and earthier, yet the overall quality and robustness of flavor varies widely region by region. For Santhi, luwak coffee from Java and Sumatra is spicy while from Kintamani it is a bit more acidic. Nowadays, the kopi luwak can be seen as a business model of micro-economy interconnectedness. Take Santhi and Kadek Ardhi’s plant, for example. Coffee cherries are purchased from a Kintamani farmer and arrive every day at the same time before sundown: two bags weighing anywhere from 95 to 100 kilograms. They hire local help to feed and tend the cats, maintain the cages and package the final product, which then goes to what many might consider a sampling showroom, or sales point, for tourists, in a forest near Ubud. However, one drawback to luwak production is that the Arabica bean is ripe from April to June in lower altitudes (700 to 900 meters) and from April until September in higher altitudes (900 to 1200 meters or even more), such as in Kintamani. Despite a season-dependent output, Santhi and Kadek still manage to produce 25 kilograms per month for the international market, as well as 50 kilograms for the domestic one. However, luwak or not, the irony is that coffee in Indonesia appears to be unpopular. According to investment statistics in 2012 the per capita consumption was relatively low at 0.95 kilograms, compared to Finland where it was 11.7 kilograms. Unscientifically and by observation only, it seems that the artificial variety is preferred by Indonesian consumers, a powdery kind, which in fact has less coffee and more sugar with creamer -- a blend that is atrociously sweet and lacks real flavor and effect. Coffee culture has yet to catch up, although domestic numbers are slowly growing. All in all, the luwak coffee, or any other Indonesian-grown coffee for that matter, is worth boasting about and for thumbing the nation’s nose at the ex-colonizers.
Magnificent Madakaripura
If you don’t take a picture it never happened, or so it seems nowadays with the popularity of selfies and all and sundry owning a selfie stick. But with the popularity of most tourist sites it’s hard to get a composition that doesn’t include someone in the background. However, Madakaripura falls provides an all-natural backdrop without another soul for miles. Dubbed as the final meditation place of Gajah Mada, the elephant general of the Majapahit Empire, a visit to the misty, streaming falls is the ideal post-Mount Bromo excursion: It offers a much less strenuous experience than climbing up the 250 steps to the sulfur caldera. The falls are located roughly 35 kilometers from Bromo near a village called Sapih and can be reached via Jl. Raya Bromo to Lumbang on the way to Probolinggo. It is a pleasant ride — ideally on motorcycle — on which you will find yourself unconsciously pressing the brakes as the villages you pass on the snaking mountainous roads are enshrouded in lush and equally mesmerizing greenery. Five kilometers away from the waterfall’s parking lot a man will appear from what seems to be a bus stop and will charge the entrance fee of Rp 3,000 (3 US cent). A narrow dirt road flanked by banana and durian trees along with casuarina and some colorful apiaries will lead you to another “check point” which is unchecked and abandoned with a permanently raised barrier. From there, it is another kilometer to the stall-laden parking lot with a statue of the great Gajah Mada in the lotus position and an empty fountain sitting dryly right in the middle of it. Be assertive and be on your guard. No sooner than alighting and touts will hound you. The trail however is quite visible making the falls easily accessible. A guide is in fact not necessary but if you choose one — or passively allow one to latch on to you — the cost will range anywhere from Rp 100,000. There have been instances of groups being charged over Rp 400,000, an outrageous price especially for a local doing nothing more than hold your hand when crossing the river. Negotiating is as advisable as bringing common sense since the area is still wild and mildly challenging to get through. You may have to cross the river about five times in total so proper footwear is essential as some rocks are deceivingly slippery. En route you will also encounter a number of stalls selling fried bananas, kopi panas (hot coffee) and tempeh (fermented soya bean cake) as well as hawkers selling ponchos for the stretch of trail which is rained on by bigger streams of cold and refreshing water. Do bring your own raincoat, unless you don’t mind getting drenched and riding home using the wind as your natural blow dryer. After a kilometer trek you will find yourself wading anywhere from shin-deep ripples to a mid-chest pool before getting to the lagoon, the hidden reward for your hard work. This last step requires clambering over a crest of rocks. There, the 200 meter-high waterfalls reveals itself in full showing how the canyon is really like a special chamber of sorts of all things natural. Apart from the several waterfall cascades, when light pours in at the appropriate time of day it illuminates the basin making the cliff’s fauna even brighter and more vibrant in color. The rushing water makes it difficult to hear and the large boulders lining the river are reminiscent of dinosaur eggs. It isn’t recommended to visit during the wet season as the water gets pretty muddy and the risk of flooding and landslides are much greater. Though we didn’t see any macaque monkeys, I heard that in fact it’s a good thing—they sometimes toss rocks off the cliff’s edge. But don’t worry, helmets are not required and if they were, I’m sure there would be several hawkers renting them out for a nominal fee. Finding yourself away from the frenzy of shutter-pressing tourists will make you really appreciate the pristine waterfalls and the feeling of being like Indiana Jones trekking right into the heart of the jungle. Crossing barefoot a river and pushing through branches sticking out into the pathway, your only obstacle to good times and people-free selfies!