Balinese Zen

By Stephen Ewashkiw | July 4, 2014

15,706 km so far.

Getting around Bali is not a walk in the park. I had set up a meeting for this morning with the owners of Desa Seni, an eco-village resort (their name means Art Village), not 30 km from where we are staying.

Because traffic can be crazy and the hills are steep we decided to hire a car to take us there and back. The incredibly small roads and excessive number of tourists on this part of the island meant we had to leave 2 hours before we were due there, and it actually took us almost the entire time to get there.

balinese umbrella in canggu bali

Parasol in the wind near Desa Seni.

So much for the laid-back, quiet life the name Bali conjures up in our minds.

Artful Village

Desa Seni is one incredible place, actually two places in one. They have a yoga studio, mainly catering to locals (read: expats), and an exclusive resort with 14 cottages. They have been open for 9 years, and in that time they have built a beautiful, tranquil resort that shelters guests from the buzz of scooters and hollers of surfer dudes just outside the entrance gates.

Making offerings at the entrance to Desa Seni, Bali.

Making offerings at the entrance to Desa Seni, Bali.

Inside the grounds, native trees and plants combine with Balinese art and recycled wood structures to made an idyllic compound.

Manuela and Tom gave us a tour of the property, including the yoga retreat centre nestled at the back of the resort, and we talked about the various events they have planned for the next year.

One day, when Jane and I have managed to save an ostrich-sized nest egg, we look forward to being able to afford to come here and spend a few weeks relaxing and recharging.

Speaking of nest eggs... tree ornaments in Ubud.

Speaking of nest eggs… tree ornaments in Ubud.

In the shorter term, we can dream of hosting a yoga retreat here.

Slow Sampling

We spent the rest of the day letting our taste buds guide us around Ubud.

Colorful Ganesha in Ubud.

Colorful Ganesha in Ubud.

Bali Buda comes highly recommended, but we both found our meals left us wanting.

I appreciate their commitment to locally sourced, and organically grown food, but when, after a long wait, my tempeh burger arrived, it was barely warm and my fries were cold. I was pretty disappointed. Normally I would complain, but our food had taken so long that nourishing myself with anything was better than waiting another 40 minutes for replacement food. Our iced vegan chai shakes, which sounded really good on the menu, were in reality closer to cold gingery almond milk than a shake.

We were sitting near the wait station, where the staff all congregated. During our meal, customer after customer had to get up from their tables to come over and ask for something they needed to enjoy their meal.

I know, first-world problems and all, but they are charging first-world prices, so we should be able to expect a certain level of service.

Coffee Freaks

We stopped in at F.R.E.A.K. Coffee so I could pick up some more coffee beans, having gone through my first bag from them like a trooper. They have helped a local coffee farmer transform his farm to produce exceptional arabica beans on the side of Kintamani volcano. They have a From Cherry To Cup ethos, meaning they know exactly what happens with their coffee right from the plant all the way to your cup.

Jane’s note: They also serve a rather tasty vegan brownie and vegan ice cream which we have yet to sample. Yum.

The founder, Asher Yaron, builds his own “slow roasters” to roast the coffee, which is sold as quickly as possible to ensure the best cup of coffee. All the coffee they serve in-house was roasted within the past 24 hours.

Froggie on the window in Ubud.

Froggie on the window in Ubud.

There is much debate about how long you should let a bean breathe once it has been roasted, and I have always preferred a short window. Whether down to the growing conditions, roasting style, or freshness, F.R.E.A.K.’s coffee is absolutely delicious. In reality it is probably a combination of all of these things that produce a fantastic cup.

When in Ubud, skip the trendier, larger, coffee shops and visit F.R.E.A.K.  


  1. Comment by artificial reef park indonesia

    artificial reef park indonesia October 4, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the pictures on
    this blog loading? I’m trying to find out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane October 4, 2014 at 2:01 pm

      We haven’t had any other complaints about blog photos not loading. I know when I was in Indonesia that some slideshows didn’t load – they were being blocked as “inappropriate” content, which I think must be something the government (?) has set up. If there is something specific you want to see, let me know.

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