A holiday destination that is etched in the minds of people for the sun and surf, Bali has been written about in many variations. But this Indonesian island is more than just Kuta and Seminyak, with neighbouring towns giving alternative insight into this cultural land. Aishah Azali went jaunting through the southern parts of Jimbaran where the culture is strong and the seafood is fresh.
Google Jimbaran in Bali and you will find that this quaint neighbourhood is known for its fresh seafood and less crowded beaches. Many who stay in the more popular areas like Kuta and Seminyak take day trips to Jimbaran to indulge in fresh seafood by the sea.
While there I had the chance to visit the busy marketplace that sells all this glorious seafood, accompanied by my guide Chef Ngurah of The Longhouse. Chef Ngurah explained that as early as 5am, locals and chefs come to bargain and buy seafood that come in batches fresh from the ocean. We arrived at around 8.30am where there were still good catches of tuna and mahi-mahi alongside small lobsters and king prawns.
Right next to the market, restaurants and stalls dotted along the public beach, beachside eateries and stalls mushroom on the sand for foodies to indulge in the best Jimbaran has to offer. You can order seafood by weight and choose your style of cooking as you nosh while enjoying the sunset.
Having spent many beach holidays in rooms by the sand, it was a refreshing change of scene to be settled in a villa on a hill. Jimbaran is known as the hilly side of Bali that allows for breathtaking views of the sea and mountains. Stone, wood and Balinese art come together in the luxury accommodation of The Longhouse where Linda Nederkoon and her husband have built their serene oasis on a hill.
Enter the carved wooden doors to be greeted with four-poster beds adorned with locally-sourced accent linens and a bathroom that resembles a spa. Make full use of the beautiful outdoors as rooms like the Bali room have its very own plunge pool while the Sumatra has an outdoor bathtub.
More than just design, what makes The Longhouse special is the service you will receive. The staff headed by lead butler Hepy made me feel like I was part of their family. I joked around with Chef Ngurah on my chili tolerance and talk about drinks with the bartender Gede. It is vastly different from the service of a big hotel as you get more personal interaction with these lovely people.
What sets Bali apart from other beach destinations is that the land is steep in culture. This culture trickles down to their art and architecture which is a huge part of their identity.
When I first stepped into a Balinese house, I realise how wrong was my initial perspective. A traditional Balinese house is not just one structure but a compound consisting of a courtyard and separate buildings for various family members. This was told to me by the butler of The Longhouse, Hepy who graciously invited me to her truly Balinese home for tea. She showed me the temples in her courtyard, each strategically placed to face a certain direction and used for different kinds of prayers.
I drank black tea while noshing on a Balinese tea time snack called ‘jaje lak lak’ made from rice and coconut. The best part was the entertainment as Hepy’s nieces gyrated to a traditional Balinese art called the ‘Puri’ dance. I was fortunate to be given a brief lesson but I did not move as gracefully as the young ones who started learning when they were as young as 4 years old.
During my travel to Bali, I came across a bathing purification ceremony conducted near the boutique hotel where I stayed. This unique blessing ritual was set in a traditional Balinese house called Banjar Anggaswara which is home to the ‘pemangku’ or Balinese shaman who performs the ceremony.
Wrapped in a white sarong, the ceremony began with me standing in front of the pemangku, who was holding a coconut shell filled with water and flowers in the middle of his Balinese courtyard. He recited some words before I drank some of the water and washed my face with it. Finally he poured the blessed water onto my head and back.
The Maluka bathing ceremony is common in Balinese temples though the procedure may differ from place to place. It is thought to cleanse the soul and bring forth good aura. Try it out when in Bali if you get the chance!
Tiara Nusa Estate, Jalan Goa Gong, Jimbaran, Bali
+62 812 389 7623
The Longhouse can be rented in its entirety or can also be booked by room similar to a boutique hotel concept.