Wild Ginger, Bali-Refreshes the Soul

Modern Bali still manages to somehow retain its mysterious façade, in parts, but you have to look for it.  You can find the enigmatic Bali of Walter Spies, the Russian born German diplomat, found his home in Bali and who for months intensively observed and captured the Balinese landscape influenced by Breughel and a Persian miniaturist.  Listening to stories from a photographer of Ubud and upon recommendation, I headed for the magical island of Bali.  AirAsia was the best choice with several flights at reasonable prices, even last minute, I managed to book with confidence and relative ease. On the way, airbourne, we passed Indonesian islands peppered with smoking volcanoes. Already I felt as if I was entering a Arthur Conan Doyle's Lost World.
Wild Ginger garden Photo (c) Toni Greaves
After passing through immigration, there was mass of men almost climbing on top of each other waving name-tags.  Mrs. Volker, Mr Schmidt, Heather Coombes all waving back at me. Up and down I walked as a couple of people eagerly raised they sticks with name cards up higher for me to see, but I shook my head. Finally I read "Jessica White" out of the sea of names.  My driver, a friend of the host, turned out to be a savvy exporter of hand-carved wooden Balinese crafts and furniture, as well as having impressive historical knowledge of his country, so that by the time I had reached Wild Ginger, I felt as if I had been on the island for a few days. 

Wild Ginger Homestay (c) Photo Toni Greaves

I was greeted by Nyoman and Putu in his elegant family home that is also a restaurant.  Nyoman escorted me through the garden that boasted a splendidly designed pond with golden carp happily swimming around.  Passed the guest rooms that faced the garden, up stone steps with tiny artistic stone motifs in the middle, to a grand room displaying a four-poster bed.  As I looked up the hand-crafted wooden beams I looked down upon a large room with kitchenette.  There were two lounging bean bags that gave the whole ambience a modern feeling paired with an elegant hand carved wooden Balinese cushioned chaise-longue with beautifully crafted coffee table.  One of the nights I spent there basking in the well designed amber lighting listening to Gamelan music from my open window in the jungle beyond.  There was even a water tank so that you could, in the heat always feel refreshed.  In the charming stone bathroom, you could wash under a hot sunflower like shower with morning sunlight streaming through the  well crafted flower motif window, leading out onto the jungle and surrounding houses, temples and farms yards. 

Natural bathroom  Photo (c) Toni Greaves
Wild Ginger home stay is just around the corner from central Ubud, so it is close enough for you to feel near the action and yet it is set back a bit from the noise and bustle of the main road running through Ubud, so you feel already in the countryside amongst the local life.  I would awake each morning to the sound of cockerels and tropical birds and watch as the local Balinese started their day in their traditional ways with washing and morning offerings.  For the Balinese, ritual mark points within the day and time by the clock is less adhered to.  I found this some getting used to, but I realized that if I stuck to my Westernized way of understanding the daily rhythms, that I would not be resonating with my surroundings.  The fact that my watch had stopped upon entering Bali, was just another synchronicity that amused and accented my stay upon this curious island.  

Wild Ginger Homestay Photo (c) Toni Greaves
Every morning at 8:30am I came down for breakfast.  Hot Balinese coffee with omlette and toast that prepared me for the numerous surrounding temples of: Pura Gunung Kawi, Tirta Empul, Goa Gajah.  Nyoman offered to drive me to every one of these scared sites that were not far from central Ubud where I was transported back in time. In the evening, I returned often weary, to be bathed in the warmth of Nyoman, Putu and their children who cooked Balinese delicacies such as: Betutu or Soto. With exotic drinks such as Ginger Fizz that consisted of ginger, lime, soda, sugar and lemon grass.  Putu`s Malaysian and Indonesian cooking was to die for.  There was the right amount of spices and sauces, so that the delicacies were never too hot or bland. 

View from bedroom Photo (c) Toni Greaves

In just the few days that I stayed there Nyoman and Putu had started to teach me a few Balinese and Indonesian phrases that after   This was invaluable for communicating with the locals, as they smiled when I spoke and opened up, chatting away further luckily in English, but I felt I had made a simple connection by communicating with them in their local language.  After a couple of failed attempts I started to pick it up.

Welcomed as one of their family, even though my visit was brief I came to understand the warmth of Nyoman and Putu`s gestures as being an intristic part of the traditional Balinese life.  Yes, Bali has someone been worn down by the influx of spiritual tourism and sufers looking for a cheap paradise, but under the surface, staying at Wild Ginger, you can experience a lost Bali.  One that I feel was experienced by westerners such as Arie Smit or Walter Spies on their artistic journeys and enchanted by Bali enough to make them want to stay.

photo (c) Toni Greaves

Toni Greaves: http://tonigreaves.com/ is a documentary, editorial and commercial photographer with a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Australia, Toni has lived in the United Kingdom and the USA, and is widely traveled. She has an extensive background in design, having worked for fourteen years as an Art Director & Creative Director in both the USA and Europe. © Copyright Toni Greaves 2015. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or reproduce any images or content from this blog or her website without prior permission.