Thursday, October 2, 2014

Eco Living in Bali

Touching lion cub!
Bali is a very beautiful place with fantastic weather year-round and has unique eco-system. Beaches, mountains, jungles what else you want for a perfect vacation? And if all of this comes serene eco living then it's a Big YES! It was my son's first vacation and he was thrilled to see big trees in rainforest. touching lion cub, orangutan and riding elephant in Bali safari and marine park. And seeing his favorite owl and hippo in their habitat in reality. It was a great opportunity for superfast development of a child's senses and wide realization of the surrounding and Nature in general. We can see big difference in him after just few days of vacation!

There are many famous beaches but we avoided them completely and stayed in mountains and jungles, and we are glad we did. It was the untouched Bali; filled with art, culture, village living and very close to nature, away from all commercial tourists things and parties. I read so much about 'Bali Belly' before going there, it is diarrhea famous amongst tourist who visit Bali. But from our experience I would say food of Bali is the most eco feature of Bali, if you stay away from commercial coastline, if stay in mountain where local stay. Because they grow almost all the vegetables, fruits and even spices in their garden. They also keep ducks and chicken in their rice paddies, which almost like a backyard! So there is very less chance you get Bali Belly, we never did.
One incidence I would like to share about how fresh the food stock could be. Being Indian we missed spicy, oily food and requested at a point turmeric powder to be added in our dish. After a little search they came back to tell us they don't have turmeric powder. We were totally surprised, be we had tasted traces of turmeric in their food (local dishes). But then chef visited us and told they don't have turmeric powder because they use fresh turmeric roots in their food. That was the point I fall in love with the freshness of the Bali food.

After visiting stone and wood carving places in Bali, one starts wondering how the art also could be  sustainable and green thing! In Bali I think they can making art out of anything, the rice terraces is the best example. Firstly how they thought of growing rice on the mountain steps? I haven't seen any green mountain more beautiful than those in Bali. And the most notable thing about those rice terraces is the water management system. For this same reason these rice terraces are listed as UNESCO world heritage sites. Amongst all the rice terraces in Bali, Jatiluwih rice terraces are the widest.

Snake fruits on tree

Drying cocoa beans
On this tiny island they grow amazingly tasty fruits like Snakefruite, very delicious Mangosteen, Rambutan, Jeruk and many more and of course different types of coconuts. We were lucky and had chance to pick snake fruits from the tree during our rainforest stay. The spices like clove, cinnamon, vanilla are also grown in Bali. here is the picture of cocoa beans drying on roadside in interior village on mount Batukaru.

Tranquility is filled in air of Bali, once you leave behind coast and start going to mountain. Even in Ubud you can just seat back in your hotel balcony and hear the sound of nature; wind, rustling trees, chirping birds, ducks it's heaven! One morning I got chance to see and capture some interesting birds in camera, couldn't find names but you will enjoy the pics.

One of the best thing for any nature lover or animal lover in Bali will be Bali Safari! I won't talk positively  about the monkey's in the temples like Uluwatu etc. Because those monkey's are aggressive, sometimes they hurt people as well. But not because of their behavior, our local driver told us the Uluwatu area in Bali is arid, there is not enough food for these monkeys so they grab things from tourists hoping it is food and the worst is the Temple management who earn good money from entry/dance fees don't feed them. So it is definitely a very non-sustainable example.

Komodo Dragon
But animals in Bali Safari looked healthy and well cared. Elephants were so very well trained for the show, it felt as if they are acting with the actors too! I generally don't like the animals to be treated for commercial purpose or in captivity. But here I could see a positive example in Bali Safari. The theme of the show was about awareness of how elephant habitat is trespassed by humans. The treasure of Bali Safari were Komodo Dragons. They are the largest monitor lizard on earth. They are vulnerable species and are on IUCN red list. They are found only in Indonesia and very few are in wild on Indonesian islands like Komodo and Gilli.
Orangutan at Bali Safari
These kind of Safari park are very educational along with entertaining element. The animal human interaction like animal feeding is in way necessary in theses days, otherwise our kids will not learn about caring and loving even wild animal even after knowing all about them instead of developing fear. I remember when I was happily surprised to see my son holding orangutan's shoulder lovingly when I was still thinking of touching her :).

Highlight of our Bali vacation was the Sarinbuana Eco lodge! winner of 2013 Wildforest best Eco lodge. We never stayed this close to Nature in tropical rainforest before, the nights were so calm and still loud with all the natural sounds, it felt like an adventure (with all comforts ;D)! This lodge was truly an eco lodge, we could see so many sustainable features around us all the time. The wooden Balinese style villas and rustic furniture were made up of local timber. The washroom was covered but outside, it was an ecosystem in itself. Very intelligently there were plants on the side  and walls of shower, which were thriving on washroom water or rainwater. I saw few insects and snails thriving on these plants too!

Sarinbuana staff picking fruits from garden
There was a vegetable garden and almost all their food came from their garden. Every morning we had to give order of all our meals during the day so that they could pick raw food from their garden and then cook it. This is one thing I would love to do sometime during my life!

There was dedicated compost area, seeds area and recycle area, which explains how that vegetable garden must be working. There are organic, recycle waste bins are kept in all villas too. Linda, the owner of lodge showed me around for the sustainable features. The grey water from the washroom is taken to leach fields and on that water vegetation is grown for which doesn't required fertilization too. A fishpond is made near spa, which keeps control over the insects. There is lamp installed near the surface of water, the insects are attracted to lamp and the fish can eat them all.
Vegetated leach field
Few animals are sheltered in lodge, rescued monkeys, rabbit etc. The lodge follow green housekeeping. The sustainable features are used in building structure to reduce energy consumption. Sky light is used in restaurant and kitchen. It was pleasure hearing some interesting things about eco lodge from Linda. Sarinbuana eco lodge founder Norm and Lina are staying in Bali since quiet long years, they have developed some more eco resorts and are involved in environmental consultancy work. There environment oriented rich library could be a feast for any nature lover.

Treehouse terrace
Living in eco lodge, close to nature felt like a challenge to us on the first day, we are not used to having moths, geckos, spider, bees in the bedroom or banging of them on glass doors while we sleep. And then a good morning from a pet cat jumping in your bed :)! But this cat instantly became our favorite. My son woke up and started mimicking the meow cat, the morning was never this beautiful before!
We could not sleep longer after sunrise, but we all were very fresh, energetic and happy.

View from treehouse living room
Seeing a beautiful tropical rainforest, palm trees and lit up sky from our bedroom was ecstatic! The fresh smell of pure Nature is out of the world. Sometimes I feel, in these big urban cities where we stay, we kind of forget the fresh air, smell of un-spoilt jungle, trees. During the day we used to see top of mount Batukaru, which was just next to us but till the sunset clouds and fog used to gather to cover the mount and far away sights. We explored the surroundings of eco lodge, yoga barn, water whole down in valley, snake fruit plantation, rice paddy and at the day end I gathered all the treasures collected during the day on rustic table on the balcony hanging on tropical rainforest. The Bali orange blossom, smelling like Jasmine, snake fruits and a keepsake tropical forest leaf for my natural collectibles.

We went in valley during daytime, but the forest gets crowded with trees and we felt dark in the valley. We walked a lot and hiked back to our treehouse, but were not tired at all, we were fresh, energetic and tranquil; that's the magic of staying close to nature. It explains the fitness level and stamina of these mountain people. On last day from our treehouse to car, there is long uphill path, and one of the local average physique helper took our 30 kg bag on her head and walked up to the car!
Stay at Sarinbuana felt like a staying with local Balinese family. Those lovely Balinese ladies, from nearby villages made fantastic food, played with our son while we had dinner. An elderly lady was called from nearby village when we booked our Balinese massage. All the staff right from driver to caretakers and Linda made us feel at home! So I would say it was not just an eco lodge, but it was truly sustainable for the environment as well as for the people living in surrounding villages.
Road from Sarinbuana to Denpasar goes from mount to mount through crowded trees, rice terraces, beautiful villages and millions of village temples.

Eco living in Bali was so fantastic that I would have never left from there if possible.

Finally I would like to inform about Bali kids charity, this organization provide medical care for ill orphans in Bali. Here you could do donations or donate their wish list items. I preferred to buy medicines from Dubai, which were listed on their site and asked them to arrange pick up from my hotel in Ubud. If you can manage to spare some time, you can visit them and drop your donations.

Till next eco vacation, I need to start finding more ways to live Green at home!
Happy Green Living you all!

No comments: